C O N F I D E N T I A L
SECTION 01 OF 02 RIYADH 000031SIPDISNEA/ARP JHARRIS AND JBERNDTE.O. 12958: DECL: 01/05/2020
TAGS: PGOV, SA
SUBJECT: SAUDI LEADERSHIP PROFILES: PRINCE SULTAN BIN SALMANREF: 09 RIYADH 1434RIYADH 00000031 001.2 OF 002Classified By: Ambassador James B. Smith for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).SUMMARY AND COMMENT
--------------------- 1. (C) During a warm introductory meeting with AmbassadorSmith on January 2, Secretary General of the SupremeCommission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) Prince Sultanbin Salman discussed his desire to foster a better understanding of Saudi Arabia, its people, and its culturethrough increased tourism and by highlighting its uniqueheritage. Sultan spoke of the importance of U.S. — Saudi partnership, especially in science and technology, andreadily accepted the Ambassador’s invitation to co-host theEmbassy’s 2010 National Day celebration in March. Sultan followed the Ambassador’s National Day request with one ofhis own - U.S. support for the SCTA’s push to designateal-Diriyyah, an historical site in Riyadh, as a UNESCO WorldHeritage Site. Well-known for his famous voyage into outerspace and a rising star among King Abdulaziz’s grandsons,Sultan is a progressive royal who believes in a strong U.S. -Saudi bilateral relationship. (Note: Sultan is one of only ahandful of King Abdulaziz’s grandsons to hold ministerialrank - ref A. End Note.) With a powerful father who is theGovernor of Riyadh and a strong candidate to be the nextcrown-prince, Sultan is well positioned to move up the Saudigovernment ranks.
End Summary and Comment.
FOSTERING UNDERSTANDING: SAUDI CIVILIZATION
------------------------------------------- 2. (SBU) Secretary General of the Supreme Commission forTourism and Antiquities (SCTA) Prince Sultan bin Salmanwarmly received Ambassador Smith on January 2. In a relaxedand friendly manner, Sultan discussed the importance of Saudiheritage and his push as Secretary General of the SCTA toincrease tourism within Saudi Arabia. Sultan opined thatSaudi Arabia is often known only for its oil and as the "Landof Islam," rather than for its rich and unique heritage.
- (SBU) In an effort to foster a better understanding ofSaudi heritage, the SCTA is launching a massive campaign thisyear, which will showcase Saudi heritage around the worldand, "receive an enormous amount of international coverage"according to Sultan. The campaign will kickoff with aspecial Saudi "civilization" exhibition at the Louvre inParis during Summer 2010 - the peak tourist period for theLouvre noted Sultan. (Note: An invitation to thegrand-opening was extended to the Ambassador. End Note.)The exhibition, which will include lectures and Sauditreasures and antiques, will travel to many famous museumsaround the world over a period of 3-5 years, includingmultiple destinations in the U.S.
- (SBU) Sultan expressed his hope that by putting Saudi heritage on the international scene, Saudi Arabia wouldbecome a greater tourist destination.
(Comment: Sultanseemed to be aware of the balance he is forced to strikebetween increasing tourism and Saudi’s conservative religiousestablishment. References were made to "tour groups" asopposed to individual non-Muslims being allowed to visit theKingdom on their own. He clarified that Muslims traveling toSaudi Arabia for the Hajj or Umrah fall under the Ministry ofHajj, not the SCTA. End Comment.)
- (SBU) Sultan mentioned that he and his wife, PrincessHaifa bint Saud al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz, founded the Turath(Heritage) Organization, a non-profit created to preserve andpromote Saudi heritage. Currently, the organization isworking on a documentary entitled, "Heroes of Heritage,"highlighting people from around the world who have gone togreat lengths to preserve their own country’s heritage.During this discussion, Sultan was passionate and appearedgenuine in his belief that through improved culturalunderstanding of Saudi Arabia’s heritage and unique customsand traditions, misconceptions of the country could beovercome and stronger partnerships forged, especially betweenthe U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
NATIONAL DAY 2010
----------------- 6. (SBU) Sultan quickly and enthusiastically accepted theAmbassador’s offer to co-host the Embassy’s 2010 National Daycelebration on March 24. With the 25th anniversary of hisRIYADH 00000031 002.2 OF 002space expedition approaching later this Spring, Sultan waseager to highlight U.S. - Saudi partnerships in science andtechnology, the theme of our 2010 National Day. Sultan alsocapitalized on the theme of partnerships, requesting U.S.support for the SCTA’s push to designate an historical sitein Riyadh -- al-Diriyyah -- as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The Ambassador stated that this was a possibility and, afterlooking into the situation, would get back to Sultan with anofficial U.S. position.
A PROGRESSIVE WHO SHARES THE KING’S VISION
------------------------------------------ 7. (C) A progressive who is technologically savvy andpopularly-known in Saudi society as the "Astronaut Prince,"Sultan was intelligent, charismatic and affable during his meeting with the Ambassador, and extended several invitations to the Ambassador to visit his farm. Referring to KingAbdullah as a "breath of fresh air" and a "doer," Sultan applauded the King’s reform agenda, particularly education reform, stating that "the best chance for the future ofhumanity is with the next generation." He agreed with theAmbassador’s assessment, however, that the biggest problemfacing King Abdullah was creating new jobs. Referring to his own son who is almost 20 and attends St. Andrew’s Universityin Scotland, Sultan recognized the importance ofunderstanding and talking to the next generation -- a reasonwhy President Obama was so successful in the elections according to Sultan’s son whom he proudly quoted and agreedwith.
UNDERSTANDING THE U.S.: A PILOT’S PERSPECTIVE
--------------------------------------------- 8. (C) Since learning to fly in the mid 1970s whileattending undergraduate and graduate school in the U.S.,Sultan has visited almost every state. He joked with theAmbassador that "perhaps the only states he has not yetvisited are the Dakotas." Sultan expressed respect andadmiration for the American people and culture, stating that"some of the best days of my life were in the U.S." and thathe hopes to "live and fly in the U.S. again someday."(Comment: Sultan shared a few personal stories with theAmbassador that demonstrated that his years living, studying,and flying in the U.S. positively impacted his view of theU.S. and U.S. - Saudi relations. End Comment.)9. (SBU) Sultan’s love of flying does not appear to havelessened over the years. Both the Ambassador and Sultanexchanged stories of flying and talked about mutual friendsin the field of aviation. Sultan mentioned that every yearhe returns to the Oshkosh Air Show in Wisconsin. Although heused to train with Gulf Stream in Georgia, Sultan now trainswith Emirate Airlines. Sultan told the Ambassador that"being a bush pilot is a hidden passion," and that he oftenflies within Saudi Arabia and in the Alps. Along withflying, Sultan is an avid skier and mentioned that he wouldbe taking a business/pleasure vacation in the French Alpsthis winter.