Google, Apple on Saudi crown prince’s US to-do list

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has embarked on a multi-city tour of the U.S., including a stop at that technology mecca Silicon Valley, as the kingdom seeks to open up its economy.

In addition to visiting President Donald Trump in the White House on Tuesday, the 32-year-old crown prince and heir to the throne is expected not only to meet with prominent business leaders but also to visit both the Google and Apple headquarters in northern California, according to The Associated Press.Another stop on the tour is Los Angeles, where he is reportedly set to meet with entertainment executives as the young leader seeks to establish a movie initiative in cinema-starved Saudi Arabia.

The crown prince will also head to Boston and Houston.

In order to diversify its economy and reduce its reliance on oil revenue, Saudi Arabia will transfer 5% of state-owned Saudi Aramco to its Public Investment Fund (PIF) through an initial public offering, expected to be the largest in history. The country has been pressed by flat oil prices, which plummeted in 2014 and have recently hovered in the range of $50 to $65 per barrel. Leaders are hoping the Aramco IPO, which has been delayed multiple times, will attract $2 trillion. The kingdom is expecting to raise $100 billion to invest in companies around the world.

In October, Saudi Arabia held a summit aimed at arousing the interest of foreign investors in its Public Investment Fund. Among the business leaders who attended the summit were venture capitalist Peter Thiel, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son.

The Aramco IPO is part of a comprehensive plan, known as Vision 2030, laid out in April 2017 by the country’s leaders. Also a part of Vision 2030 are a host of social reforms, including lifting a ban on female drivers, curtailing the authority of its religious police and bringing entertainment into the kingdom, including movies. The kingdom also has plans to build a $500 billion high-tech super city called NEOM, which will be developed by Klaus Kleinfeld, the former chairman and CEO of Alcoa and Arconic.