Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Saudi state visit

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is paying a state visit to the United Kingdom. He is the first Saudi monarch to come to the UK in 20 years or so. Abdullah ascended the throne following the death of his half brother, King Fahd in 2005. He is aged 84.

The King was welcomed to London with a guard of honour by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. King Abdullah arrived with an entourage numbering several hundred, requiring 5 jets to transport them all to London.

The visit has attracted strident criticism from some quarters. Saudi-Arabia imposes and executes the death penalty on a regular basis. Its record on human rights is seen as poor by some critics. The position of women in society is still held to be well below that of men. Some people have declared that the King should never have been invited on account of these issues.

King Abdullah ruffled a feather here and there just before his arrival, by stating that if the British security services had acted on intelligence, forwarded to them by the Saudis in 2005, the bombings on London's transport system in July that year would have been prevented. The security service have replied that the intelligence was not specific enough for that purpose.

I have to say that it was influence from Arab rulers (including the Saudis) that prevented the US from removing Saddam Hussein from power when they had him by the short and curlies in March 1991.

Although aspects of life in the Saudi kingdom do not sit well with some of our perspective, there are a couple of pragmatic considerations to bear in mind.

Saudi-Arabia holds the largest reserves of oil in the world. Oil is the lifeblood of our economy; it doesn't just provide fuel for our cars, but is also the base material for the very thing you're looking at and working with as you read my post. And for zillions of other gadgets around the house and at work.

You can very well be principled and say the UK shouldn't have anything to do with a regime like that, but I don't think that the vast majority of people in this country are prepared to give up their cars, to name but a thing.


  1. Your final point is well taken and accurate.  I am amazed at his entourage and the fact it took 5 jets to get them there.

  2. I also believe that one can't start having positive influence on someone else, until a dialogue has begun.   Hopefully, some of that is occurring (sp).

  3. That's ok...I think it was more crazy to do what the US did by letting the President of Iran come to New York City of all places....unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!........June