ATHENS — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, making his first visit to a European Union capital — Athens — since the CIA said he ordered the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, did not spared no luxury.
And he brought many of his own, including his own linen and cutlery and an entourage of 700 people on seven planes – one kept empty and the other a hospital for himself just in case.
At his request, the Greek New Democracy government provided him with 350 limousines – there were not enough of them in the country, so they had to be brought in from Germany and Bulgaria.
Greek newspaper Iefimerida said he had 185 bodyguards, including 70 to control cars and roads, and was so afraid of being poisoned that he didn’t want to eat outside the luxury hotel Four Seasons of Vougliameni where he was staying – with the exception of a dinner of the head of state. at the Acropolis Museum.
A special order arrived for bulletproof glass, which was installed with a giant crane in the suite that Bin Salman took over,” Iefimerida added, the crown prince taking no chances.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – his government warmly embracing the crown prince and making no mention of Khashoggi – was seen smiling during their meeting and as the Greek leader escorted him on a personal tour of the Acropolis museum and the Acropolis, the former home of democracy.
The irony has not been lost, with international media noting that Saudi Arabia carries out mass executions and has one of the worst human rights records in the world, but all of this has been put on hold. side in the race for trade and oil.
The European Union and Greece are frantically trying to find substitutes for Russian oil and gas that were exempted from sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine, and the likelihood of the flow being reduced or cut off this winter.
Some 17 bilateral agreements have been signed in several sectors, including energy, defence, food and culture. One of the deals, worth about $1 billion, was for an undersea data cable system.
The deals were signed at the museum, which the Greek government confirmed had never been done before, singling out the Saudi prince for even more VIP treatment, Middle East Eye noted in a report.
“This has never happened before,” said Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis. “We have never signed a Memorandum of Understanding with any other country in the world in the Acropolis Museum and this is a gesture from our government, from our Prime Minister to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to show how we think you are something very exceptional for us,” reported the British newspaper The Guardian.
“We are deeply honored that His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman has decided to visit Greece for his first trip to an EU country since 2018,” Georgiadis told Arab News ahead of the visit.
“It is very important for Greece and very important for our relationship because we honor and admire his leadership, his vision for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the way the Kingdom is moving towards the new era of humanity in the renewable energies and new technologies. Khashoggi was not mentioned.
“Mohammed bin Salman’s large entourage and lavish spending on vehicles and hotel rooms show that he now travels as King of Saudi Arabia, not just Crown Prince,” said Andreas Krieg, Assistant Professor in the Department of Defense Studies at King’s College London. Middle Eastern eye.