Crown Prince Holds Talks with Chairmen of Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan

Time: 30 March 2018

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, his lawyer Thierry Herzog, and Gilbert Azibert, then a senior judge in France’s highest court, will face trial over charges of corruption and misuse of influence.

According to prosecutors, Sarkozy’s lawyer tried to get information from Azibert over the status of a campaign financing investigation.

In that inquiry, Sarkozy was suspected of accepting illicit payments from the L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign.

At the beginning of 2012, Sarkozy appeared before court for charges of illegally funding of his electoral campaign.

In a related matter, the British judiciary released Alexander al-Jawhari, a French businessman of Algerian descent, in a bail for health issues. Jawhari was arrested on charges of Libyan funding of Sarkozy campaign in 2007.

Alexander al-Jawhari, who is wanted by French courts, was bailed for 1.14 million euros at a hearing in London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court last Friday, Judge Emma Arbuthnot said Thursday. The judge said that she would re-evaluate Djouhri’s situation “weekly depending on his health”. Jawhari suffers from heart problems and is supposed to undergo surgery on Thursday, a source close to the case said.

Jawhari’s name appeared in a suspicious deal with Libya and in the case of helping a prominent figure of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi regime to flee France.

At that time, and following a three-year investigation, prosecutors in Paris had no sufficient evidence on a Libyan funding but a series of worrying testimonies and elements. Jawhari was released after paying a bail. Yet, in February, he was arrested again but was also released for his health condition.

This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat 

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Crown Prince Meets with Former Secretary of State John Kerry

Time: March 30, 2018

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with former United States Secretary of State, Secretary John Kerry yesterday in New York City. During the meeting, His Royal Highness had a friendly and candid exchange with the former Secretary of State, where the discussion included many topics, ranging from reforms and changes in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to regional developments. The meeting was also attended by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States of America, His Royal Highness Ambassador Prince Khalid bin Salman.

This article was first published in The Embassy of The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince meets with US religious leaders, urges tolerance

Time: 29 March 2018

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with several US religious leaders at his residence in New York on Wednesday.
He was joined by Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Saudi ambassador to the US, Secretary General of the Muslim World League Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa and Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir.
During the meeting, the crown prince stressed the importance of respect between followers of religions and the need to promote the positive values of coexistence and tolerance.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Crown Prince challenges false images of Arabs

Time: 29 March 2018

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman took on the toughest four issues and questions thrown at every Arab World leader by the mainstream American news media and effectively slammed them out of the park like grand slam home run in a World Series baseball game. But Salman’s efforts were less of a game and more of a serious effort to confront the false perceptions many Americans have of Arabs
By Ray Hanania

 

Last week, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), shattered many of the negative stereotypes that persist in America that have defined a contentious relationship with the Arab World.

Before embarking on a tour of six American cities and meeting with White House and Congressional officials, MBS appeared on the CBS TV program “60 Minutes,” notorious as the toughest news program in the America.

The four toughest questions that Arab leaders always face but fail to answer properly undermining Arab World credibility where thrown at MBS by the reporter. But instead of ducking and dodging, MBS hit each one “out of the park” like Grand Slam home runs in an American baseball championship.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

What MBS is doing is not a game, obviously. He’s about bettering the future of the Arab World and building a relationship with the West based on facts not the usual ugly fiction. MBS showed someone in the Arab World finally understands how to speak effectively to Americans to reinforce the best interests of the Arab World using strategic communications, not confrontation or disagreement.

The first question Arabs face involves the September 11, 2001 terrorism, and the fact that 15 of the 19 terrorists were Saudis.

Rather than being indignant at the question, as others often are, MBS took it head on, explaining the 15 hijackers were as much as threat to Saudi Arabia as to America and the West. He said Osama Bin Laden had a “clear objective … to create a schism between the Middle East and the West, between Saudi Arabia and the United States of America … to create an environment conducive to recruitment and spreading his radical message that the west is plotting to destroy you. Indeed, he succeeded in creating this schism in the West.”

The second question Arab leaders face is the perception that Arab women are more oppressed in the Arab World than they are in the West.

Americans conveniently forget American woman are oppressed, too. It took America 64 years to force all 50 American states to grant American women the right to vote under the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was adopted in 1920. The last of 50 states, Mississippi, ratified it only in 1984.

Native American women did not receive rights as Americans until 1924, and those rights were not fully implemented until 1948. African Americans have lived in a state of limbo in America as slaves following America’s founding through the late 1960s when laws were passed recognizing them as equals. Despite those Civil Rights laws, many Black Americans still are not treated equally.

But MBS didn’t throw that truth into American faces. Instead, MBS explained what he is doing to reverse years of restrictions imposed in 1979 after the Iranian inspired Muslim Brotherhood assault on the Grand Mosque (Masjid al Haram) in Mecca killing 255 Muslims and injuring 560 more.

MBS said in response to the 1979 attack, Saudi Arabia cracked down on many rights to confront violent extremism, including closing movie theaters, banning music and dance, and restricting the rights of Saudi women — not just banning them from driving but also expelling them from business and getting educations.

“The laws are very clear and stipulated in the laws of Sharia: that women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men,” MBS said. “This, however, does not particularly specify a black Abaya or a black head cover. The decision is entirely left for women to decide what type of decent and respectful attire she chooses to wear.”

The Saudi Arabia of the “past 40 years” is not the Saudi Arabia of today, MBS said, adding he ordered changes to allow all Saudis to live a “normal life” including allowing women to drive, re-opening movie theaters, and encouraging the Arts, music and entertainment.

O’Donnell forcefully re-asked the question, “Are women equal to men?” And MBS answered directly and without hesitation, declaring, “Absolutely. We are all human beings and there is no difference.”

The third question is always about “oppression,” human rights noted by a recent roundup MBS called measures to address “corruption.” The West has a questionable record on human rights, and civil rights, too, yet Saudi Arabia and the Arab World is held to a higher standard.

MBS explained “Saudi Arabia believes in many of the principles of human rights. In fact, we believe in the notion of human rights, but ultimately Saudi standards are not the same as American standards. I don’t want to say that we don’t have shortcomings. We certainly do. But naturally, we are working to mend these shortcomings.”

The fourth question involves the wealth of the Arab World that ignores the greater wealth of the West. “Arab wealth” is always exaggerated as obscene while “Western wealth” is associated with success and power.

It’s an amazing hypocrisy considering that on numerous lists of the world’s 50 wealthiest people, no Arabs are listed. The lists are dominated by Americans, Asians and Europeans.

Instead of engaging in argument, MBS answered with sensibility, explaining he spends 51 percent of his wealth on others, and adding, “My personal life is something I’d like to keep to myself and I don’t try to draw attention to it. If some newspapers want to point something out about it, that’s up to them. As far as my private expenses, I’m a rich person and not a poor person. I’m not Gandhi or Mandela. I’m a member of the ruling family that existed for hundreds of years before the founding of Saudi Arabia.”

Years of Western misconceptions about the Arab World won’t be immediately erased, and his appearance doesn’t minimize the serious threats the Arab World faces from Iran, or the need Saudi Arabia has for nuclear technology to replace depleting oil sources.

MBS showed he understands the one thing many Arab leaders and nations fail to understand, that strategic communications, or, how you present yourself, is significantly important to the West. “Perception is reality,” and how you say something is often more significant than what you say.

This first formal introduction of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to the American people was a World Series championship.

This article was first published in The Arab Daily News

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Saudi Crown Prince to Meet With Oprah, Mike Pompeo on U.S. Tour

Time: 28 March 2018

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will meet with figures in American “politics, business, oil, entertainment, and tech” during his U.S. tour, according to a leaked itinerary obtained by The Independent. Prince Mohammed is believed to have met with Henry Kissinger, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday in New York, the newspaper said. He’ll also meet with media leaders, current government figures like CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Jared Kushner, tech giants Bill Gates and Peter Thiel, and media mogul Oprah Winfrey. Prince Mohammed arrived in Washington, D.C., on March 19 to meet with President Donald Trump and has since stopped by Boston and New York. He will soon travel to Houston, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles on his three-week trip. This comes after the crown prince sat down with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell in a 60 Minutes interview.

This article was first published in The Daily Beast

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Saudi Crown Prince Looks To Build The Largest Oil Cartel In History

Time:  March 27, 2018

OPEC and Russia are looking to solidify their cooperation on crude oil production for another decade or two, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Reuters in an interview while on a visit to the United States.

“We are working to shift from a year-to-year agreement to a 10-20 year agreement,” the Crown Prince of OPEC’s biggest producer and de facto leader said in New York.

“We have agreement on the big picture, but not yet on the detail,” the Crown Prince said.

The idea to extend the current oil supply cooperation between OPEC and the Russia-led non-OPEC producers into a kind of permanent framework of cooperation emerged last month, after UAE’s Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei said that OPEC and Russia aimed to have a plan for long-term cooperation drafted by the end of 2018 to create a ‘supergroup’ of oil producers.

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said that the production cut deal, currently expiring at the end of 2018, might need to extend into 2019, as the cartel and allies still have work to do to bring global oil inventories down to their five-year average.

OPEC is also said to be considering moving the goalposts on the deal.

Most proposals to change the current metric used to measure the success of the pact – the five-year average of commercial oil stocks in developed nations – would shift the inventory goal further out in time.Related: China Prepares Death Blow To The Dollar

Speaking to Reuters today, the Saudi Crown Prince also commented on the much-hyped initial public offering of Saudi oil giant Aramco, saying that the listing of 5 percent of the firm could take place at end-2018 or early in 2019, depending on the prevailing market conditions.

This is yet another hint from Saudi Arabia that the ‘second half of 2018’ deadline for the IPO is slipping, after al-Falih hinted at the beginning of March that the H2 2018 target date could slip into next year, calling the targeted period for the listing an “artificial deadline”.

This article was first published OILPRICE.COM

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Crown Prince visits IBM Watson Health Center, biomechatronics lab in Boston

Time:  March 26, 2018

Boston — Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, visited IBM Watson Health Center and biomechatronics lab at MIT in Boston on Saturday on the second leg of his US tour.

Biomechatronics is an applied interdisciplinary science that aims to integrate biology, mechanics, and electronics.

During the several hours Boston visit the Crown Prince will meet presidents of universities and Saudi researchers in the city.

He will oversee signing of several agreements between Saudi and US universities. The Crown Prince will tour the institutes creatively using artificial intelligence and technology.

Later he will leave for New York.

Earlier in Washington, Crown Prince Muhammad discussed the Kingdom’s economic diversification plan and Vision 2030 in separate meetings with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Friday.

Crown Prince Muhammad and Jim Yong Kim talked about the Kingdom’s plans to diversify and develop its economy and to create an avenue for grater technological development and advancement.

With Lagarde, the Crown Prince discussed the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 initiatives to diversify the Saudi economy and develop trade and investment, particularly in technology and human resources.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Lagarde said, “Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and I discussed recent economic developments in Saudi Arabia and the ongoing economic reforms.

“The authorities are continuing to make good progress in implementing their ambitious reform agenda including through the recent introduction of VAT and measures to increase women’s participation in the economy. The decision to slow the pace of fiscal adjustment as was set out in the 2018 budget is appropriate. The IMF expects real GDP growth to pick-up this year.”

The Crown Prince stressed that the main purpose of his ongoing official visit to the United States was to gain US investor confidence in the Kingdom.

He told the Washington Post in remarks published on Friday that he also seeks technological and education assistance in his efforts to reform Saudi Arabia in line with its Vision 2030 plan.

He also spoke about Saudi Arabia’s ambition to develop nuclear power plants, saying that the Kingdom has more than five percent of the world’s uranium reserves.

“If we don›t use it, it›s like telling us don›t use oil,” he told the Post.

Crown Prince Muhammad spoke at length about the prospects for economic growth in the Middle East, saying it could be “the next Europe” if a series of problems can be resolved.

One of those is the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

The official Saudi position is that any peace agreement must recognize a Palestinian state within specified borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Crown Prince called as “painful” Trump’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

On the Yemen war, Crown Prince Muhammad said that Saudi Arabia had not passed up “any opportunity” to improve the humanitarian situation.

“There are not good options and bad options. The options are between bad and worse,” he said of the Yemen conflict with Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The Crown Prince discussed his reform efforts at home, including granting women many rights such as driving and more, stressing that he worked hard to convince the conservatives that such restrictions are not part of the Islamic faith.

Crown Prince Muhammad also said that Islam was a moderate religion.

“I believe Islam is sensible, Islam is simple, and people are trying to hijack it,” he said.

The centerpiece of his nearly three-week tour of the United States will come in subsequent stops in Boston, New York, Seattle, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Houston.

This article was first published Saudi Gazette

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Political, Economic Meetings on Saudi Crown Prince’s Agenda in New York

Time:  March 26, 2018

Upon his arrival in New York after a busy day in Boston, Massachusetts, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, launched a series of intensive activities to open new horizons of cooperation and investment between the major financial and economic institutions in Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The Crown Prince will hold meetings with CEOs, senior US businessmen and representatives of major Wall Street banks, as well as a Tuesday afternoon meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Crown Prince’s long program includes meetings with prominent political, financial and economic figures starting on Monday, including high-level meetings with international corporate executives of the hospitality and hotel industry partners of the Red Sea Beach Tourism Project.

Reports stated that Prince Mohammed is set to meet Monday former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg during a dinner banquet. Bloomberg is considered one of the world’s prominent businessmen and business leaders.

Tuesday will be the highlight of the Crown Prince’s activities, as major financial institutions in New York are looking forward to his sponsorship and participation in the Saudi-US CEO Forum. The forum will be attended by influential economic figures, like CEO of JPMorgan Jamie Dimon, CEO of KKR and Co. Henry Kravis, and CEO and president of NASDAQ Adena Friedman.

Reuters quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying that BlackRock senior executives Philipp Hildebrand and Mark Wiseman will attend the event. DowDuPont Executive Chairman Andrew Liveris, who is listed as co-chair of the Saudi-US forum, will also be in attendance.

Furthermore, the Saudi Crown Prince is set to meet Tuesday afternoon with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and senior UN officials.

Asharq Al-Awsat learned from a UN source that the talks will focus on “the tense situation in several Arab countries and the role of Saudi Arabia in establishing stability in the region.”
On Thursday, Blackstone Group LP CEO Stephen Schwarzman will host an event for the Crown Prince.

During his last day in New York, the Crown Prince will hold several meetings in the morning and later he will meet with technology companies like SoftTech.

Crown Prince Mohammed has lined up stops in Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle to cultivate investments.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khaled al-Falih said his country would go ahead with Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO) on a global stock market such as London or New York during the second half of 2018, in spite of previous reports about possible shelving till next year.

On the sidelines of Crown Prince’s visit to New York, Misk Institute of Arts will hold its second exhibition at the Philips Expo Center.

The four-day exhibition will showcase art and cultural works reflecting Saudi heritage under the title “Saudi Contemporary Art”. It will also screen a documentary entitled “Reframe Saudi”, which talks about the current Saudi life through the eyes of Saudi young men and women.

Executive Director of Misk Institute of Arts Ahmed Mater indicated that the institute works on helping Saudi youth show their talent, represent their country in international exhibitions and present their country’s culture and arts, It also encourages cultural exchange and interaction with others within the Kingdom and abroad, he explained.

Speaking on “Reframe Saudi”, Mater stated that the documentary is based on virtual reality technology, adding: “it talks about a society that has a rich diversity. It presents the picture through the perspective of the new generation of contemporary artists on the new stage the Kingdom is witnessing socially and economically.”

Misk Institute of Arts, part of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation “Misk Foundation”, aims to promote cultural production at the local level, and promote cultural diplomacy and knowledge exchange.

This article was first published ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

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Saudi Crown Prince visit to Boston focuses on science, innovation

Time:  March 25, 2018

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman paid a visit to Boston that lasted several hours on Saturday before heading to New York, as part of his tour of the United States, Arabiya News reported Sunday.

In Boston, Prince Mohammed met with the heads of universities and Saudi researchers and visited institutions developing artificial intelligence and technology, notably the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Four agreements were signed between MIT, Aramco, SABIC, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.

The signing of these scientific and technological cooperation agreements took place on the sidelines of the Innovation to Impact Forum held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The most prominent of these agreements was a partnership between MIT and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology to collaborate on a new Saudi project named “Future Destination.” The partnership includes joint agreements on research, student exchanges and entrepreneurship.

The Saudi Crown Prince also visited the Mechatronics Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in addition to the IBM Watson Health center.

 

Prince Mohammed bin Salman began a three-week visit to the United States last Tuesday and met on the first day with US President Donald Trump.

The visit aims to strengthen cooperation with the United States and seek new investment opportunities.

This article was first published The Baghdad Post

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Saudi Crown Prince Oversees ‘Destination of the Future’ NEOM Agreements in Boston

Time: March 25, 2018

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed a series of partnership agreements bringing together the US and Saudi economies, educational and research institutions in fields of technology, energy, healthcare and others.

After five days of talks with US officials in Washington, the Saudi crown prince visited research institutions developing artificial intelligence and technology, notably the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the world’s top universities.

Crown Prince Mohammed sponsored the signing of scientific and technological cooperation agreements on the sidelines of MIT’s 2018 Innovation to Impact Forum, most notably a partnership collaborating on Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion mega-city NEOM.

NEOM is dubbed ‘Destination of the Future’.

The partnership includes joint researches, student exchange and entrepreneurship programs.

Before leaving Washington for Boston, Crown Prince Mohammed reviewed Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and its economic, social and developmental initiatives and reforms to diversify the Saudi economy in two separate Saturday meetings with International Monetary Fund Director Christine Lagarde, and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

More so, the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 aims at boosting investment in technology and human resources.

At the meeting, Crown Prince Mohammad also met a number of former US officials.

“Thanks to Vision 2030, the Kingdom is moving towards a promising future. A key element of this strategy involves building collaborative relationships around the world, including with leading universities, hospitals and corporations in Greater Boston, and MIT is pleased to bring this impressive group together for this year’s Innovation to Impact Forum,” said MIT President L. Rafael Reif.

“Today, as we hear from our Saudi guests about their aspirations and their progress, and as we showcase the strength of our region’s innovation ecosystem, we are delighted to commit to further opportunities for creative and mutually beneficial collaborations on important technology and societal issues,” he added.

On the other hand, Aramco Services Company (ASC), the North American arm of Saudi Aramco, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) entered into a new five-year $25 million collaboration, targeting new research and development (R&D) in fields including sustainable and renewable energy; advanced materials; carbon capture, and utilization and storage.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with MIT which is a distinguished, world-class institution recognized for its groundbreaking research excellence,” said Saudi Aramco President and CEO, Amin Nasser.

“Our engagement with the MIT Energy Initiative is working well and the long-term potential for continuing to make significant energy technology breakthroughs is showing considerable promise,” he added.

This article was first published ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

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