President Trump touches down in Saudi Arabia
- Author: Zachary Reyes May 20, 2017,
May 20, 2017, 20:00
Saturday's capstone was the signing of a $110 billion arms deal between the two countries, an agreement brokered primarily by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The administration cast the deal as a renewal of United States commitment to the region, though numerous sales included in the agreement were approved by the Obama administration.
The two countries also announced a defense cooperation agreement and private sector agreements Saturday that are meant to create tens of thousands of new jobs in the USA defense industry.
John Rice, the vice chairman of GE and president and CEO of GE Global Growth Organization, said: "The steps we have taken to grow our business globally, to embed a culture of innovation and collaboration both within GE and with our customers, would simply not be possible without these types of partnerships".
It is also meant to bolster the kingdom's ability to contribute to counterterrorism operations across the region, "reducing the burden on the USA military to conduct those operations".
According to Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir the first lady will not have to tone down her usual fashion choices.
The visit is already awash in controversy, from a row over Trump's planned visit to Jerusalem's Western Wall, the holiest prayer site for Jews, to his alleged disclosure of Israeli intelligence to Russian officials.
Trump was joined by first lady Melania Trump and several senior White House aides who were interspersed with Saudi officials throughout a grand ballroom.
The Saudis have planned an elaborate series of events to honor Trump, including a ceremonial medal presentation and luncheon at the Saudi Royal Court.
His slow walk down the stairs was accompanied by trumpets and the boom of cannons, as seven jets performed a military flyover leaving a trail of red, white and blue smoke in their wake.
"I'm very happy to see you", Salman told Trump.
Trump, who landed from Washington hours earlier, was slated to attend a welcoming ceremony and a lunch with Saudi King Salman.
The two men are at odds on everything from climate change to refugee policy, although the pontiff says he will give America's bullish leader an open-minded hearing.
Ahead of Trump's trip, the White House said the president expected tangible results from Saudi Arabia in countering Islamic extremism.
National Security Advisor HR McMaster said in a press briefing that Trump "will deliver an inspiring yet direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology" and that he would share his hopes for a "peaceful vision of Islam".
Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from Riyadh, said that the arms deal would be seen by both signatories as a "win-win", especially as the deal involved arms that Obama was not prepared to sell to Saudi Arabia.
Trump's nine-day trip will be daunting.
Melania Trump's decision not to wear a headscarf in the Middle East is drawing attention and a mixed reaction on social media.
Women here, including visitors and foreign dignitaries, are expected to be fully covered in public, including their head and hair, as per the religious and legal code.
The New York Times reported Trump had called Comey a "nut job" in a private meeting last week in the Oval Office with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania arrive for a welcome ceremony at the Royal Terminal of King Khalid International Airport, Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh. Most women in Saudi Arabia also cover their hair and face with a veil known as the niqab.
Seated among the U.S. advisers were the most powerful members of the Saudi government, including Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful son of the King who is advocating for major reforms in the kingdom.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One for his first worldwide trip as president, including stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, Brussels and at the G7 summit in Sicily, from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. May 19, 2017.
A red carpet was rolled out as the Air Force One touched down in Riyadh shortly before 9:50 am local time. He was greeted by Saudi Arabia's King Salman and children bearing flowers.
The arms sale agreement was just one of a series of deals to be announced during the visit, with USA conglomerate General Electric saying it had also signed agreements and memorandums of understanding worth $15bn.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told reporters on the plane that Mr Trump spent the flight meeting with staff, working on his upcoming speech to the Muslim world and getting a little sleep.
Trump has two days of meetings scheduled in Riyadh with Arab and Muslim leaders at the Arab Islamic American Summit.
During the campaign, Trump said "Islam hates us", proposed "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States", floated the idea of monitoring USA mosques and officially re-introduced the term "Islamic terrorism" in the American political parlance.
He will also travel to Israel, have an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican and attend the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels and the G7 meeting in Sicily.