Grand welcome and protests for Saudi Crown Prince UK trip

Vastavam web: Britain’s grand welcome for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will begin on Wednesday with a lunch with Queen Elizabeth, as the two countries seek to widen longstanding defence ties into a far-reaching partnership.Both sense an opportunity to broaden their existing relationship: Britain is looking for trading partners as it exits the European Union, and Saudi Arabia needs to convince sceptical investors about its domestic reforms.

Inside May’s Downing Street offices the two leaders will launch a “UK-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council” – an initiative to encourage Saudi Arabia’s economic reforms and foster more cooperation on issues such as education and culture, as well as defence and security.Britain is vying to land the stock market listing of state oil firm Saudi Aramco, but no decision is expected this week.

Later this month Prince Mohammed visits the United States, which also wants the lucrative listing, although sources said both countries may miss out.The British government is keen to transform its historic defence relationship into two-way trade and investment, eyeing both an expanded market in Saudi Arabia for service sector exports, and attracting Saudi cash to finance domestic projects.