Saudi Arabia prepares royal welcome for Donald Trump

Saudi Arabia prepares royal welcome for Donald Trump
2 min read
19 May, 2017
The US president will begin his first foreign tour amid mounting controversy and calls for his impeachment back home.
Saudi Arabia is gearing up for the arrival of US President Donald Trump on Saturday, for a visit that is expected to underscore bilateral ties that had been strained under Barack Obama's presidency.

Trump will make his first foreign tour amid growing discontent in the US, where calls for his impeachment are growing stronger.

According to Washington, the president will tell Muslim leaders about his "hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam" as he seeks backing for his fight against radical Islamism.

Saudi officials also expect that Trump will sign one of the biggest weapons deals in history and that he will unveil plans for an 'Arab Nato'.

Despite the president's record of inflammatory rhetoric about Islam and Muslims, analysts say that Riyadh will use Trump's visit as an opportunity to present itself as leader of the Muslim world, particularly in the face of regional rival Iran.

The Trump administration's choice of Jerusalem and Rome – epicentres of two of the world's major faiths – as stops after Riyadh will play into this, presenting Saudi Arabia as the focal point of the Muslim world. 

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have welcomed the Trump administration's firmer stance on Iran, following the detente of sorts that took place under the Obama administration with the 2015 nuclear deal.

The deal, which Trump previously blasted as the "worst deal ever," saw the US lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran promising to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Saturday's bilateral summit will be followed by a meeting between Trump and representatives of 55 countries invited by King Salman, including Brunei, Niger and Turkey.

Trump will also meet with leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] during his time in Saudi Arabia.