Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia
President Trump embarked Friday on his first trip abroad since taking the oath of office, a lengthy week-plus trip that began in Saudi Arabia. Trump’s weekend in the kingdom included an anticipated speech on Islam, an arms deal and a strange glowing orb. Here are the highlights from Trump’s weekend in Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps the most anticipated moment of the visit was a speech delivered on Islam Sunday afternoon in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia and epicenter of some of the most holy Muslim sites.
During the campaign, Trump had called for a ban of all Muslims entering the United States. And he once told CNN, “I think Islam hates us. There’s something there that — there’s a tremendous hatred there. There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There’s an unbelievable hatred of us.”
But the Sunday speech took a different tone, with Trump saying, “This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.” The president also did not use the phrase “radical Islamic terror,” a series of words he continually criticized former President Barack Obama for not saying in describing the war against ISIS. In a departure from his predecessor’s policy, Trump called for other Arab countries to isolate Iran.
Trump deviated from his prepared remarks, adding in a jab at “Islamic terror of all kinds.” And he said “Islamic extremism” instead of “Islamist extremism,” the latter treating the terrorism as a political and not religious movement. A White House official told reporters that fatigue was responsible for the switch and Trump was “just an exhausted guy.”
The most celebrated meme of Trump’s trip was his participation in a ceremony opening Saudi Arabia’s new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology. Trump, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman all gathered around a glowing white orb to “activate” the center, making for an interesting photo opportunity:
Trump During the Campaign: “I will NEVER touch The Orb, even though its mysterious glow seduces and beguiles.”
Trump Today: pic.twitter.com/eWoaDeXj8n
— Nick Greene (@NickGreene) May 21, 2017
On his first day abroad Trump and Salman officially signed an arms deal for the United States to immediately sell $110 billion in military equipment to Saudi Arabia. The deal could potentially be worth over $300 billion over the next ten years and was negotiated by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
On the second day of trip, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledged to donate $100 million to Ivanka Trump’s proposed Women’s Entrepreneurs Fund, which would be run by World Bank. The move could be seen as hypocritical by the First Daughter as women in Saudi Arabia have severely limited rights – it is illegal for them to drive, for example – and President Trump criticized Hillary Clinton taking money from the Saudis as a candidate.
“Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays,” Trump wrote on Facebook. “Hillary must return all money from such countries!”
Trump and members of his cabinet took part in a traditional “Aradh” sword dance. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross carried blades on their shoulders, while Trump joined in as well: