Saudi Prince Making His Pitch From Silicon Valley to Manhattanby
Prince Mohammed’s focus is the kingdom’s new economic plan
The foreign minister called a Washington visit ‘very positive’
After a week in Washington, Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince is heading west to meet with technology executives in Silicon Valley and then to New York to pitch his nation’s new economic plan to Wall Street investors.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman wants to discuss how Saudi Arabia can benefit from innovations spawned in California and then talk with New York investors about opportunities, including with the state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co., according to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. The kingdom plans an initial public offering of the world’s largest oil company, known as Saudi Aramco, which the prince expects to be valued at more than $2 trillion.
The prince, who’s the son of King Salman, is leading Saudi Arabia’s biggest-ever economic shakeup, moving to cut subsidies and diversify the economy away from oil by generating an extra $100 billion in non-oil revenue by 2020.
In Washington, he discussed economic and business issues with Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, National Economic Council Director Jeff Zients, U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials and executives from U.S companies.
He also discussed sensitive defense and foreign policy issues with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and visited the CIA to meet with Director John Brennan.
In the Oval Office on Friday, Prince Mohammed and Obama discussed conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen as well as Iran’s "destabilizing" activities in the region, the White House said in a statement.
"I would describe the meetings as very, very positive," al-Jubeir told reporters at the Saudi Embassy in Washington. The aim was to "exchange views and ideas on issues of the day on challenges that our two countries face in the region and the world," he said.
On the kingdom’s economic plans, "people in the U.S. were very pleased with it and very supportive of it -- the scope of it and breadth of it -- and look forward to working with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the implementation of it," al-Jubeir said.
The visit comes at a sensitive time in a U.S.-Saudi relationship that Obama described as “complicated” in an interview published in March by The Atlantic magazine. The prince arrived two days after the killing of 49 people at an Orlando dance club by an American who proclaimed support for Islamic terrorist groups and had traveled twice to Saudi Arabia. And it takes place amid continuing demands that classified portions of a Sept. 11 report be made public and criticism among political leaders that the kingdom doesn’t do enough to stop extremism.
Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in a speech on June 13 that it’s time for “the Saudis, the Qataris and the Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations” and “stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world.” Asked about Clinton’s comments, al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia has enacted laws and taken other measures to counter terrorism and terrorist financing.
"The charges that are leveled at Saudi Arabia are, one, not correct. I think they’re exaggerated, I think frankly, they’re not fair," he said, adding that Clinton has "tremendous experience" and knows the region well.
He said the country’s relationship with the U.S. will remain strong regardless of who becomes president next year.
"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the U.S. is bipartisan," he said. "It doesn’t matter who’s in the White House, this relationship will go on."