LOCAL DRESS: Prince Charles talks on a mobile phone at the Janadiriyah festival wearing the traditional dress of the region. (SPA)
By Rashid Hassan
Riyadh, (Arab News): Prince Charles, the heir apparent to the British throne, called on Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, second deputy premier and special envoy of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Prince Saud Al-Faisal, minister of foreign affairs, on Tuesday.
Prince Charles arrived on a three-day tour of the Kingdom on Monday, his 10th trip to the Kingdom since his first official tour in 1986.
The current tour is part of his four-day trip to Saudi Arabia and Qatar and comes just under a year since he last visited the two countries.
The Prince of Wales, who is also expected to meet King Abdullah during this trip, will visit the historic sites here as well. He was received by Prince Muqrin at the King’s ranch in Janadriyah on the outskirts of Riyadh, where the national festival for heritage and culture, Janadriyah 29, is currently being held.
The two leaders applauded the bilateral relations between the two friendly countries and discussed various issues of mutual interest.
The UK and the Kingdom share a common position on regional issues including the ongoing crisis in Syria and Palestine.
Commenting on the trip, Sir John Jenkins, British ambassador in Riyadh said, “The Prince of Wales’ return to the region only a year after his last visit demonstrates the importance the British government places on its association with key partners in the area. It is testament to the importance attached by the British government’s strong existing relations with key partners like Saudi Arabia; a long-term relationship based on mutual respect between the two countries.”
Linking the friendship rooted in a long period to establish the modern Saudi state, Jenkins said, “Ensuring continuity of personal relationships is essential for us, especially if we are to understand each other better. The visit is the embodiment of our desire to establish communication between officials of the two countries at the highest levels and our determination to preserve the personal nature of the relationships.”
“In a time of turmoil in the Middle East which is dotted with most types of suffering humanity, particularly those taking place in Syria today, the visit of the Prince of Wales highlights his support to the principle of inter-faith understanding and dialogue between communities as a necessity more than ever. The king has a deep concern himself. I am sure that His Royal Highness will discuss a lot of topics related to the need for reconciliation and aspirations for the future of the region,” the ambassador stated. He, however added that most of the engagements on his tour are private. Prince Charles also had a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal where they discussed bilateral issues.