>> The heir to the Saudi Arabian throne is in the UK on Wednesday, on a mission to convince his Western allies that the Gulf Kingdom is a safe place to invest. He'll take the same message to the US later this month, but it could could be a tough sell.
As some of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's actions over the last year have unnerved investors. The powerful young prince, often referred to as MBS, won Western plaudits for transforming the deeply conservative kingdom. But as Reuters' Stephen Kalin in Riyadh explains, that transformation now requires foreign money.>> The crown prince is trying to rebuild the Saudi economy, diversify it away from oil.
And in order to do that, he needs lots of foreign investments to help build the private sector and create jobs for millions of young Saudis.>> Securing investment could be a challenge, that's after MBS ousted his older cousin in a palace coup last summer. Then in November, dozens of top businessmen and princes were detained in a crackdown the prince said was necessary to combat the, quote, cancer of corruption.
>> The secrecy and lack of transparency around both of those moves rattled foreign investors. They're still trying to figure out what exactly the plan is here, and how likely these reforms are to succeed.>> But MBS is not visiting his western allies empty-handed. Both London and New York are rivals to host the partial public listing of Saudi Aramco.
Prince Mohammed has said the state oil company is worth $2 trillion. Meaning the listing of about 5% of the company could raise $100 billion. But even enthusiasm for that gem of a contract has been sapped among some Western business leaders. Amid international criticism over a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and Saudi-led air strikes that have killed civilians.
The British government has also been criticised by rights groups and opposition politicians over the licensing of $6.4 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia since start of that conflict. And that means while the Prince and British government figures discuss deals behind closed doors, some protests are expected on the streets outside.