Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Will Visit Washington Next Month

Nearly a year to the day since his first visit to the White House during the Trump era, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is planning a three-day visit to the US next month, according to the National, which broke the story.

His visit will follow a trip to the UK, where he will meet with Prime Minister Theresa May. That visit is scheduled for March 7.

As we've highlighted many times before, it's widely believed that Prince Mohammad - who is universally referred to by his initials, MbS - will soon succeed his aging and ailing father, King Salman, who has struggled with poor health since ascending to the throne in 2015. MbS, 31, was named heir in June after his father passed over MbS's older brother, Prince Mohammad bin Nayef, 57.

MbS

Mohammad bin Salman

Trump famously visited Saudi Arabia last spring in what was his first trip abroad as president, helping burnish the US's longtime friendship with the Kingdom, which had grown strained over its tacit support for terrorism and its energy industry's battle for market share with US shale producers.

Trump's sharp anti-Iran rhetoric has helped him curry favor with the Saudis, viewed Trump's predecessor president Barack Obama as too accommodating towards Iran - the Kingdom's longtime regional foe - after the US signed onto a multilateral nuclear deal that Trump has promised to dismantle.

Last month, MbS announced that Saudi security forces had completed a corruption crackdown where the prince briefly imprisoned dozens of Saudi royals, including billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, holding them at the Riyadh Ritz Carlton until they agreed to fork over a chunk of their ample assets to the Saudi treasury as restitution for their alleged crimes. At the time, media reports said many of the princes were being transferred to a Saudi prison, where they will serve out their prison terms. The crackdown ultimately netted the Kingdom $100 billion, helping plug a massive budget hole left by persistently low oil prices.

After Washington, MbS will head to major US cities to discuss economic co-operation, investments and his Vision 2030 program - a long-term plan to diversify the Saudi economy away from its over-reliance on energy - with potential American stakeholders. MbS will visit New York, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle. He previously visited Silicon Valley in 2016, where he pitched his economic plan to investors and social media moguls.

The visit comes as the US is working on convening a summit of Gulf State leaders at Camp David later this spring - an attempt by Trump to help Saudi Arabia reconcile with Qatar after triggering an acute diplomatic crisis last summer.

While it's unclear exactly what the two will discuss - though economic development and countering extremism will likely be high on the agenda - most Americans are probably curious to learn one thing:

Will he bring "the orb?"

Orb