Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia is a 'huge success' for its 31-year-old deputy crown prince

What to expect from Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia
What to expect from Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia

President Donald Trump's decision to stop in Saudi Arabia is a "huge success" for Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, an expert on the Middle East told CNBC on Friday.

The comment came as Trump begins a five-stop marathon trip across the Middle East and Europe on Friday.

Saudi Arabia is the first stop on the president's overseas tour. The country is making several efforts, including scheduling a range of events, to impress Trump on his trip and to further cement its spot as a major player on the world stage. The effort marks a stark change from the strained U.S.-Saudi relationship under the Obama administration.

The deputy crown prince "orchestrated, arranged and agreed to all of this," Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University, said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Saudi Defence Minister and Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman
Fayez Nureldine | AFP | Getty Images

"A majority of Arab states are going to be there, as well as at least 50 Islamic states," he said. "They're going to make a huge declaration. President Donald Trump is going to make a speech ... and they're going to open a big center for fighting extremism and (supporting) Islamic moderation."

Salman, 31 years old, has taken a central role in Saudi Arabia's efforts to build its economy beyond the oil industry. He holds primary responsibility for the kingdom's military and energy sector.

In March, Salman met Trump in the White House, and agreed that Iran represents a regional security threat.

Also in contrast to the Obama White House, the Trump administration appears to be moving toward a more traditional U.S. approach of favoring Saudi Arabia over its regional and religious nemesis, Iran.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.