In early 2018, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took a sweeping tour of the U.S. as part of a strategy to rebrand Saudi Arabia’s ruling monarchy as a modernizing force and pull off his “Vision 2030” plan—hobnobbing with a list of corporate execs and politicians that reads like a who’s who list of the U.S. elite.
Bezos was one of the individuals that bin Salman met with during his trip to the U.S., and at the time, Amazon was considering investments in Saudi Arabia. Those plans went south after the Khashoggi murder, but a quick scan of the crown prince’s 2018 itinerary reveals others corporate leaders and politicians eager to get into his good graces.
These people may want to have their phones examined.
According to the New York Times, the crown prince started off with a meeting in D.C. with Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner (the latter of whom may have real reason to worry due to his WhatsApp conversations with bin Salman). Politicians who met with him include Vice President Mike Pence, then-International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, the Guardian reported. He also met with former Senator John Kerry and former President Bill Clinton, as well as the two former President Bushes.
While touting the importance of investment in Saudi Arabian projects including Neom, bin Salman’s plans for some kind of wonder city, the crown prince met with 40 U.S. business leaders. He also met with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, a 2020 presidential candidate, in New York.
One-on-one meetings included hanging out with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella during the Seattle wing of the crown prince’s trip, as well as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
Rupert Murdoch, as well as bevy of prominent Hollywood personalities including Disney CEO Bob Iger, Universal film chairman Jeff Shell, Fox executive Peter Rice and film studio chief Stacey Snider, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Also present were Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, Nat Geo CEO Courtney Monroe, filmmakers James Cameron and Ridley Scott, and actors Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
During another leg of his trip in San Francisco, bin Salman met with Apple CEO Tim Cook as well as chief operating officer Jeff Williams, head of environment, policy, and social initiatives Lisa Jackson, and former retail chief Angela Ahrendts.
But to be fair, he also met Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin as well as current CEO Sundar Pichai.
ominous data analytics firm Palantir and met with its founder, venture capitalist Peter Thiel.
venture capitalists, including Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Marc Andreessen, Y Combinator chairman Sam Altman, and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, according to Business Insider. Photos and the New York Times show that LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman was also present.
Finally, bin Salman also met with Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz.
During an earlier visit to the states in June 2016, bin Salman met with President Barack Obama before he traveled to San Francisco. At that time the crown prince visited Facebook and met CEO Mark Zuckerberg
At that time, the crown prince also met with Khan Academy CEO Salman Khan and then-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick,
then-SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby