Protestors react to visit by Saudi Crown Prince

Yemeni nationals demonstrate in London in support of Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (L) greets Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) for a private meeting at Lambeth Palace in London, on March 8, 2018. Following his lunch with the queen, the crown prince dined with Prince Charles and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, in the evening.

However, his arrival drew protests on the streets of London over the brutal Yemen conflict.

The Downing Street spokesperson insisted May had raised the issue of Yemen with the crown prince.

The Crown Prince has been the driving force behind a modernisation programme, Vision 2030, in Saudi Arabia but the reforms have been dismissed as a "mirage" by human rights campaigners.

"Hopefully by next year there are going to be way more rights given to Saudi women, the ones that we deserve", she said. A Saudi-led coalition intervened militarily in Yemen in 2015 and critics say Riyadh has been using British-supplied weapons in devastating strikes.

British lives have also been saved by Saudi intelligence, as is quickly forgotten by those who question Saudi Arabia's value to the UK.

Yemeni nationals demonstrate in London in support of Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin
Sputnik Evgenia Filimianova Yemeni nationals demonstrate in London in support of Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin

"The World Bank ease of doing business index, that brings together various variables of that in different countries, really underlines that necessity for reform in Saudi Arabia", said Thomsen. They cited Saudi Arabia's continual ill treatment of women, as well as its brutal repression and lack of a free press along with the botched war in Yemen as reasons to oppose MBS's visit. May responded that her relationship with Prince Mohammed had already helped alleviate the humanitarian crisis by convincing him to ease Saudi blockades of ports in Yemen during a meeting in December.

The British government is keen to develop a two-way trade and investment relationship, eyeing both an expanded market in Saudi Arabia for service sector exports, and attracting Saudi cash to finance domestic projects. The crown prince noted there were now "huge opportunities" to boost trade ties post-Brexit. "In a Saudi context, these changes have vast significance".

Later this month, Prince Mohammad Bin Salman will also visit the United States. They follow a tumultuous period that saw a major military shake-up and a royal purge, part of a sweeping power play by the prince.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt all severed relations with Qatar last June over allegations that it supports terrorism.

The Saudi delegation then met May at her offices to launch a UK-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council. Iran responded by calling the Saudi crown prince "immature" and "weak-minded".

At the same time, Britain is trying to attract Saudi Arabia for the listing of state oil giant Saudi Aramco on the London Stock Exchange.

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