Turkey’s Erdogan Meets Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Eid Eve

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday to meet Saudi leaders for bilateral talks, marking his first visit to the kingdom’s rulers since 2017, the state-run Saudi press agency (SPA) reported in Friday.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Received Erdoğan at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on the night of April 28. After an official reception and banquet ceremony cozy Turkish President to Jeddah, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sustained one date with Erdogan.

“During the meeting, they reviewed Saudi-Turkish relations and opportunities to develop them in various fields. They also discussed the latest regional and international developments and efforts exerted in relation to them,” SPA reported on April 29.

Erdoğan chaired a press conference at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport on April 28, moments before boarding for Jeddah on the same day for what the pro-Erdoğan Turkish newspaper daily sabah described as a “two-day working visit” to Saudi Arabia from 28-30 April.

“My visit (to Saudi Arabia) is the manifestation of our common will to usher in a new era of cooperation as two sister countries,” Erdoğan told reporters at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.

“It is in our common interest to increase our cooperation with Saudi Arabia in areas such as health, energy, food security, agricultural technologies, defense industry and finance,” he said.

“We express on all occasions that we attach as much importance to the stability and security of our brothers in the Gulf region as we do to our own,” said the Turkish leader.

“Saudi Arabia holds a special place for Turkey in terms of trade and investment, as well as the large-scale projects implemented by our contractors,” said Erdoğan. “The total value of the projects that our contractors have carried out in Saudi Arabia amounts to US$ 24 billion. The complementary nature of our economies is the main factor that attracts Saudi investors to the dynamic environment in Turkey.”

“Saudi Arabia and Turkey ties have been strained after the assassination of [Saudi] journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018,” noted Al Arabiya on April 28.

Amazon’s property Washington Post employed Khashoggi as a columnist from 2017 until his death in autumn 2018. The Mecca-born journalist was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, 2018.

Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman told the Atlantic in an interview published on March 3, he believed that his human right to remain “innocent until proven guilty” was violated by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) when the organization accused him of ordering Khashoggi’s assassination in 2018. The CIA made the claim in a declassified intelligence report published in February 2021.

Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia are Sunni Muslim-majority nations. Erdoğan’s visit to Saudi Arabia from April 28 to 30 coincides with the hours leading up to Eid-al-Fitr. The three-day holiday means “festival of breaking the fast” in Arabic and signals the end of Ramadan, which is an Islamic holy month characterized by fasting from dawn to dusk.

Muslim worshipers perform Eid al-Fitr morning prayer at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, May 13, 2021. (ABDULGHANI ESSA/AFP via Getty Images )

Turkey is officially a secular country, although 99% of its estimated population of 82 million is Muslim. Approximately 77.5 percent of Turkey’s Muslim population follows Sunni Hanafi Islam. The total population of Saudi Arabia is estimated at 34.2 million. “Between 85 and 90 percent of the roughly 21 million Saudi citizens are Sunni Muslims,” the US State Department reported in 2020, noting that about 38.3 percent of Saudi residents are foreign nationals.

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