The Saudis want to get along with President Trump, but he could scupper their charm offensive

U.S. President Donald Trump
 Donald Trump Credit: Andrew Harrer /© 2017 Bloomberg Finance LP 

Eight years ago Barack Obama arrived in the Middle East to outline a new American approach to the Muslim world. This weekend, his successor will do the same. Yet the contrast could not be more stark. Whereas Obama’s speech to students in Cairo University was eagerly awaited, Donald Trump’s desire to raise religious issues whilst in Saudi Arabia is feared. It will not have escaped the attention of those in the region that cameras and microphones tend to have an intoxicating effect on the new President. Indeed, many in Washington already regard Trump’s plan to make a major speech on Islam - before the guardians of religion’s most holy sites - as a public relations disaster waiting to happen.

At the same time, the public dimensions of Trump’s trip will be window dressing. Saudi officials will monitor the speech politely, but it will be the new President’s actions that interest them, not his...

To continue reading this Premium article

Register for free and access one Premium article per week

Enjoy unlimited access to Premium articles with a subscription

  • Subscriber-only events and experiences
  • Access Premium articles on our mobile app

30-day free trial

then only £2 per week

Unlock all Premium articles for 24 hours. Only £1.

Free £50 gift card when you subscribe
Enjoy a free £50 gift card* for one of your favourite brands when you take out an annual subscription
*Gift cards will be sent out by email within 21 days of the subscription start date. Available in the UK Only.