On Monday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman embarked on a state visit to India following his participation in the G20 Summit over the weekend. The purpose of his visit is to assess and enhance bilateral ties and cooperation across various sectors, ranging from energy to security.
Mohammed bin Salman, who holds the position of prime minister and serves as the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, is scheduled to have discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his day-long visit.
Prior to the visit, Saud Al-Sati, the Saudi deputy minister for political and economic affairs, journeyed to New Delhi last month to oversee preparations. Popularly known as MBS, Mohammed bin Salman meticulously planned and reviewed his visit.. Al-Sati, who had previously served as the ambassador to India, held meetings with Ausaf Sayeed, secretary of overseas Indian affairs in the external affairs ministry. They comprehensively assessed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations.
Additionally, the current Saudi ambassador, Saleh Eid Alhusseini, met with S Jaishankar, India’s external affairs minister, just last Tuesday. Following the meeting, Jaishankar expressed anticipation for the further development and progress of the India-Saudi Arabia relationship across all domains in a tweet.
Modi and MBS
It’s worth noting that Modi and MBS had a phone conversation back in June, during which they evaluated bilateral cooperation and explored avenues to strengthen ties in connectivity, energy, defense, trade, and investment. This conversation marked the first contact between the leadership of the two nations since China facilitated a reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has emerged as one of India’s crucial partners in West Asia, particularly in the fields of defense, security, and energy. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia hosts a significant expatriate population of 2.6 million Indians, representing one of the largest expatriate concentrations in the region.
Saudi crown prince MBS visited India in February 2019, and Modi reciprocated with a visit to Saudi Arabia in October of the same year. During that visit, the two countries established the Strategic Partnership Council, which encompasses two committees: one focused on political, security, social, and cultural aspects, led by the foreign ministers, and the other centered on the economy and investments, co-headed by the Indian commerce minister and the Saudi energy minister.