Saudis at home and abroad react to Crown Prince’s whirlwind US tour

Technology research deals signed during Saudi Crown Prince visit to Boston. (Supplied)

For nearly three weeks, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has crisscrossed the United States, on a whirlwind journey through modern American life. As a recap, this video highlights all the major events of the tour.

Here are reactions from two Saudis living miles away from each other to get a feel of local and international perspectives on the landmark visit.

Abdullah AlGhafis, PhD Candidate at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania is sharing his perspective as a Saudi scholarship holder in the US:

Abdullah AlGhafis

“I was excited as well as others when we heard the announcement from the White House regarding His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman official visit to more than six major US cities. We then saw Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Twitter with parts of his meetings covered by CBS. According to Google's data, the search for the "Saudi Arabia" in the United States increased 25 times during the hour-long program. The Interest in the word "Saudi Arabia" continued after the end of the episode at a rate of five times normal searches.

“While I was at Misk event in New York, I spoke with a media representative from Columbia University. This is the first time he has seen a full day of Saudi activity between this and what happened in a Brooklyn college cultural event in Westside for three days.

“Another night as I was walking around midnight in Times Square, I was videoing a Saudi ad and a man from Ecuador stopped me to ask some questions… Have women been allowed to drive? What city is in the ad? When will your cinemas be opened? I explained women have been allowed to drive, Neom is a dream megacity and there are many ongoing deals, including the world’s largest solar power project with SoftBank. Cinemas will be open soon, especially after the spread of Netflix in Saudi Arabia. This is a special visit from the Prince, as previous visits are short-lived and are not business-oriented. Many people ask questions and are willing to know more and learn about our country. My lab-mate who is a fellow in NASA recently said: ‘I guess Saudis now have more opportunities for domestic and non-domestic entrepreneurship compared to the past. New adjustments on visa applications will increase the numbers significantly.’”

Amal Alawdah, PhD a former scholarship holder residing currently in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia shares her observations about the Crown Prince’s US visit on a local level:

Amal Alawdah

“’The sky is the limit of our ambitions’ was not a mere motivational sentence by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, but rather a slogan of the new era of Saudi Arabia. An era that is characterized by becoming proactive and ambitious rather than cautious and reserved in facing regional and global challenges. In HRH’s recent visit to the United States we see intensive and comprehensive efforts toward accelerating the realization of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 through diversifying the economy, attracting foreign investments, and improving the quality of life through social, economic, and political reforms.

“As a Saudi citizen residing in Riyadh, I watch with amazement how locals and citizens are following HRH’s visit agenda enthusiastically. Agreements, partnership, and memos signed are means to push forward the vision’s realization toward a vibrant society and thriving economy through visionary cities and high-tech clusters. The agenda of HRH’s visit is directly linked to citizens and can influence their lives immensely almost immediately.

“The era we live in is truly remarkable. As a Saudi female, driving a car is no longer an ambition for me, and I can use the Hyperloop to make a 10-hour trip between Riyadh and Jeddah in only 76 minutes. Another arena that people were notably excited about regarding HRH’s agenda is entrainment, culture and film-making. HRH’s meetings with Disney and Hollywood officials were promising to bring more of the highly demanded services and products, and opportunities to attract them to the kingdom. Moreover, the Crown Prince’s attempts to create a local Silicon Valley-style hub has acquired a big deal of attention locally. It will contribute to diversifying the economy by lessening its reliance on oil, creating more jobs, and recruiting foreign capital and talents.

“This was an unprecedented visit to US, with Saudi Arabia anticipating much more optimism, openness, and proactivity. The Crown Prince affirmed the Kingdom's most prominent policies, its stance on important issues in the Middle East, and Kingdom's strategic alliance with the US.”

Overall, the collective perspective locally and internationally on the Crown Prince’s visit to the US is a positive one. The visit was a step further into a new Saudi construction process, and the efforts exhibited affirm the kingdom’s stand as an influential player, regionally and globally. It is viewed as a continuation of an already-beginning journey towards a more open Saudi Arabia with a vibrant society, a diverse economy, and moderate Islam.


Abdullah alGhafis is a PhD candidate in biomechanics & Renewable and clean energy engineering, works as Research Assistant in the U.S. He has an interest in traveling, nonprofit organizations, public speaking, civic engagement reporting to/from UNICEF, and Red Cross.

Last Update: Wednesday, 11 April 2018 KSA 07:15 - GMT 04:15

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Saudis at home and abroad react to Crown Prince’s whirlwind US tour
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