Crown Prince: UK Supportive of Saudi Concerns over Iran

Tuesday, 6 March, 2018 - 07:30
Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said on the eve of his visit to Britain that London is “very supportive” of Riyadh’s concerns regarding Tehran’s activities, describing ties with the UK as “super.”

“Britain is very supportive of our concerns regarding Iran and other regional security issues. It is always trying to help us and to fix things when there are issues,” he said in an exclusive interview with Britain's Telegraph.

As the Crown Prince prepares to make his first official visit to Britain on Wednesday, he is enthusiastic about the wide-ranging impact that Vision 2030, his ambitious program to restructure the country’s economy, will have on his country’s future direction, the newspaper said.

In the interview, the Crown Prince said he hoped British businesses would be able to benefit from the profound changes taking place in his country after the Brexit negotiations have been completed.

“We believe that Saudi Arabia needs to be part of the global economy,” he explained. “People need to be able to move freely, and we need to apply the same standards as the rest of the world."

“After Brexit, there will be huge opportunities for Britain as a result of Vision 2030.”

“The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Britain is historic and goes back to the foundation of the Kingdom,” he said. “We have a common interest that goes back to the earliest days of the relationship. Our relationship with Britain today is super.”

During the Crown Prince’s three-day visit to Britain, he will meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May and other senior ministers, as well as members of the Royal Family.

In Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed has already implemented a number of reforms.

Apart from being allowed to drive from June, women will now be allowed to run their own businesses and attend football matches, while young couples will be allowed to enjoy simple pleasures such as going to the cinema together.

“People in Saudi Arabia have changed a lot because they travel to countries like Britain and see a different way of life,” he explained.

As one diplomat explained, the social transformation taking place in Saudi goes hand in hand with the economic Vision 2030 program for the country. “They are inextricably linked,” the diplomat said.

One of the key linchpins of the Vision 2030 agenda, whereby the Saudis plan to diversify their economy away from its traditional dependence of oil, is to raise funds on the international markets by selling a stake in the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco, which financial experts believe could raise around $100 billion for the kingdom, said the newspaper.

The London Stock Exchange is making a strong bid to handle the float, although it is facing strong competition from other bidders, in particular New York, which is being championed by US President Donald Trump, it added.

Saudi officials say no decision will be announced during Crown Prince Mohammed’s visit to the UK this week. But there are growing hopes that, if the visit goes well, it will enhance London’s prospects, as well as strengthening UK-Saudi trade ties.

“The British and Saudi people, along with the rest of the world, will be much safer if you have a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia,” the Crown Prince told his interviewer.

“The extremists and the terrorists are linked through spreading their agenda,” he said. “We need to work together to promote moderate Islam.”

“We want to fight terrorism, and we want to fight extremism because we need to build stability in the Middle East,” he said. “We want economic growth that will help the region to develop."

“Because of our dominant position, Saudi Arabia is the key to the economic success of the region,” the Crown Prince added.

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