Smiles, handshakes, backslaps and the Acropolis all to himself. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has landed in Europe – his first commute west for the reason that brutal killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi – and on a continent jittering with power worries, the Saudi royal has gained red-carpet remedy.
Human rights considerations apart, the de facto chief of the sector’s largest oil manufacturer has luxuriated in a welcome that handiest lately can have gave the impression unattainable.
Three years after Khashoggi’s homicide, Greece made transparent this week that politicians would reasonably speak about power than the megastar journalist dismembered by means of Saudi brokers in Istanbul.
“We are deeply honoured that his Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman decided to visit Greece as his first trip to an EU country since 2018,” Athens’ building minister, Adonis Georgiadis, informed Arab News sooner than the crown prince flew in on Tuesday. “This is very important to Greece and very important to our relationship because we honour and admire his leadership, his vision for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the way the kingdom is progressing to the new era of humanity in renewable energy, and new technology.”
Bilateral ties had been so superb, the Greek flesh presser stated, that during an unparalleled step a cultural accord could be signed on the Acropolis Museum inside of view of the Fifth-century BC masterpiece.
“This has never happened before,” he enthused. “We have never signed an MOU with any other country in the world in the Acropolis Museum and this is a gesture from our government, from our prime minister to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to show how we feel that you are something very exceptional to us.”
In the gap of 48 hours, 17 bilateral agreements were signed within the birthplace of democracy, together with one who foresees the set up of an electrical energy cable between the 2 international locations that may, the prince pledged, supply Europe “with much cheaper energy”.
The Athens commute, a part of a two-leg excursion on which the crown prince will even consult with Paris, highlights the level to which the west now desires to interact with Riyadh after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine helped ship oil costs rocketing.
It comes lower than two weeks after the US president, Joe Biden, visited the dominion he had prior to now described as a pariah – no longer least as a result of its position in Khashoggi’s assassination – with the Democrat surprising human rights defenders by means of greeting Bin Salman with a fist bump. US intelligence services and products had concluded unequivocally that the Saudi royal had “approved” the operation that ended in Khashoggi’s loss of life, in spite of Riyadh’s claims that rogue operatives had been at the back of it.
For the 36-year-old prince, the Greek sojourn has marked the start of a rehabilitation procedure that Riyadh hopes will finish years of self-imposed exile.
In a observation launched in Jeddah, the Saudi royal court docket stated the crown prince would meet the leaders of Greece and France “to discuss bilateral relations and ways to enhance them in various fields as well as a number of issues of common interest”.
No element has apparently been too small for Bin Salman, who arrived in Athens with a 700-strong delegation on seven planes – one reportedly decked out as a sanatorium in ready. In a record describing the crown prince’s penchants and excesses, the Greek information portal iefimerida stated 350 limousines have been asked by means of the challenge – a requirement that so outstripped provide that automobiles needed to be introduced in from Bulgaria and Germany.
For his keep on the Four Seasons at the Athenian riviera, 180 suitcases full of garments, sneakers and different non-public pieces have been despatched to the resort. “A few days ago a special order arrived for bulletproof glass panes, which were installed with a giant crane in the suite Bin Salman has taken over,” iefimerida reported on Wednesday.
So anxious was once the prince about being poisoned, the media outlet added, that he had refused all invites to consume out of doors the resort, bar the rite on the Acropolis Museum following an evening excursion of the website in my opinion given by means of the tradition minister.
For those that observe the House of Saud, the prince’s keep in Europe is replete with significance. Kristian Ulrichsen, a analysis fellow on the Baker Institute at Rice University, Houston, described it as “a highly symbolic move past his post-Khashoggi isolation”.