Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with a star-studded group of global tech and media CEOs at Silicon Valley on Saturday, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin and CEO Sundar Pichai; Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz; and Virgin Group CEO Sir Richard Branson, CNBC reported.
"MBS" as he is widely known as, the Crown Prince and the top execs reportedly discussed the establishment of an R&D and training centre for Saudi youth and “enhancing cooperation in cybersecurity.”
According to Saudi Arabia’s embassy, the Saudi delegation visited several Silicon Valley corporate campuses, including Facebook Inc and iPhone maker Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. “But two industry players stood out on the schedule: Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist who advises President Donald Trump,” Bloomberg disclosed.
While the US visit was successful, the public in general weren’t happy with the Crown Prince’s visit, arguing that Silicon Valley should cease contact with the brutal Saudi regime known for its hollow stance on terrorism. Saudi Arabia's absolute monarchy restricts almost all political rights and civil liberties, they said.
Similarly, human rights activists have also pointed out that, “Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism across the globe,” and “the world’s biggest funders of terrorism”. They argued the country has to end its repressive laws in the country that even prevents women from travelling without male permission but most importantly must stop funding terror groups like Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Shabab and ISIS which are inspired by its ultraconservative Wahhabi ideology.