Stories of Mohammed bin Salman's state visit to the U.K. took a bipolar approach in the British press this week.
Some accounted for the Saudi crown prince's reformist agenda sweeping through the historically conservative nation. Others spoke of protests coupled with the visit, highlighting human rights abuses in Yemen. Some were simply left perplexed by the PR drive from the Middle Eastern nation, which saw Bin Salman's face plastered on billboards and black cabs in London.
The crown prince's reforms have ushered in sweeping changes across Saudi Arabia; notably allowing females to drive, and the lifting of a 35-year-old ban on cinemas. But the 32-year-old Bin Salman has also stunned onlookers, especially with the 2017 purge that saw the arrests of over 30 princes, businessmen, and government ministers.
In the U.K., there are some who have used the visit to forge better ties between Britain and Saudi Arabia. For example, Chris Innes-Hopkins, the executive director at the Saudi British Joint Business Council (SBJBC), an independent and private sector-led body, hosted a number of high level executives from Saudi Arabia off the back of the trip. He saw the moment as a means to build a mutually-beneficial partnership of long term investment and trade.