Saudi crown prince's visit to Britain marked by protests over Yemen crisis

10 March 2018, 01:21 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Amid protests, UK rolls out red carpet for Saudi Crown Prince

Welby raises human-rights concerns during private meeting with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince

During the meeting, May "welcomed recent reforms" in Saudi Arabia, but reportedly also noted "particular concerns" over the case of Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website focused on social and political debate.

Her statements were interrupted briefly as opposition lawmakers cried "Shame!"

"Hopefully by next year there are going to be way more rights given to Saudi women, the ones that we deserve", she said.

The British government's special envoy to the Saudi 2030 initiative is Ken Costa, a former churchwarden of Holy Trinity, Brompton, in London, and a former chairman of Alpha International.

However, Royal Air Force (RAF) officers are based with the Saudi-led coalition in Riyadh and the British Army has provided training to Saudi ground forces.

The UK government made over £1.1bn ($1.5bn) from arm sales to Saudi Arabia in 2017 alone, according to government figures.

The UK has, so far, sold more than six billion pounds of arms to Saudi Arabia.

'Wahhabism, a strict interpretation of Islam, dominates life in Saudi Arabia, and all Saudis are considered Muslims, ' Open Doors said on its website.

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Britain seeks to expand its market for service sector exports in Saudi Arabia and attract Saudi cash to finance domestic projects. The big deal will, however, not be announced - namely, the potential listing on the London Stock Exchange of the state oil company Saudi Aramco, which may or may not happen. The visit follows a sojourn in the United Kingdom and possibly France on the same missions, wooing western investors to inject capital into Saudi Arabia and bringing nuclear technology to the kingdom.

The Crown Prince is credited with kick-starting domestic reforms in the ultra-conservative desert kingdom such as the upcoming lifting of the ban on women driving and the re-opening of commercial cinemas after 35 years as well as tackling corruption within the government and the ruling Al Saud family.

This would not be the first time that the crown prince met with Israelis.

"I think the [UK] government is engaged in conventional hypocrisy - they say they are concerned about human rights and claim they are raising such concerns, but they won't let it interrupt the next course in the dinner, as in what the next arms contract is", Stephen Bell told Sputnik". More similar programs are underway before the main planned rally on Wednesday.

The Saudi prince is now in the second-leg of his first official foreign tour as crown prince. (Photo by Reuters) "The UK should not welcome war criminal Mohammed bin Salman", the banners read.

May's Conservative government said Mohammed's visit would strengthen co-operation in "tackling worldwide challenges such as terrorism, extremism, the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen and other regional issues".

"Arms sales may have been promoted by successive governments, but poll after poll has shown they are opposed by the vast majority of people in the United Kingdom".

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