A sense of optimism takes hold in Riyadh

Trump’s visit to the region will usher in a new era of cooperation between the US and Gulf

President Donald Trump watches Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan depart the White House in Washington. Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
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Donald Trump is going to be busy when Air Force One touches down in Saudi Arabia this weekend. On his first foreign trip as president of the United States, Mr Trump will visit the Middle East, aiming to restore America’s traditional alliances in this part of the world. Saudi Arabia, one of America’s longest and strongest allies, will welcome Mr Trump as the guest of honour to a special Together We Prevail summit.

The summit will address three critical areas of concern: US-Saudi relations, US-GCC relations and Islamic-American relations. While Saudi Arabia will continue its efforts to shore up support from the Trump administration for a tougher position on Iran, including the recognition of Tehran’s meddling actions across the region from Yemen to Syria, 55 leaders and representatives from across the Islamic world will be in attendance to discuss American- Islamic relations.

Given Mr Trump’s contradictory statements about Muslims leading up to his election last November, this summit will be an important chance for the new president to hear about the perspectives from the Muslim world about the challenges facing the international community.

As we have long argued, the view on events from this region is different than the view from Washington or Berlin. The GCC summit will also be a chance for regional partners to meet with America’s leadership and voice their perspectives on security, stability and how best to counter extremism.

We have the opportunity to recalibrate our alliance with Washington in a manner that places our perspectives and needs at the forefront of the discussion. As US secretary of state Rex Tillerson told Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, in Washington this week: “I think the important aspect of this visit that the president is making is to bring a message of unity among the followers of these religions in the face of the threats posed by ISIL and Al Qaeda.”

We look forward to a fruitful and productive discussion with the American president and welcome the shift in temperament in Washington.