Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has arrived in Jordan amid a thaw in relations following years of frayed relations with Amman.
The arrival of MBS on Tuesday marks the first such visit in more than five years by the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and comes at a time when Jordan’s economy is struggling with the economic knock-on effects of the Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is an opportunity for a new phase in Jordanian-Saudi ties and to continue a programme of economic projects and new investments,” a senior Jordanian official told the Reuters news agency.
Business leaders and officials hope the visit will unblock at least $3bn of investment projects that Saudi Arabia committed to in recent years, but that never materialised.
MBS arrived in Cairo on the first leg of his regional tour on Monday, a visit that comes ahead of United States President Joe Biden’s trip to the region next month.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi received MBS at the airport, a courtesy to the de facto Saudi leader, who is a steady financial backer of the Egyptian government.
The visit to Jordan is the second stop on MBS’s regional tour, with Turkey also part of his tour.
Over the last few decades, Jordan and Saudi Arabia had close ties with the two monarchies cooperating on security issues and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. However, their relationship has grown strained.
For Saudi Arabia, Jordan was never fully committed to its political causes, namely the war on Yemen. Saudi-Jordanian ties then reached a low during former US President Donald Trump’s term in office when Amman, a staunch US ally, felt that Riyadh’s close relations with Trump’s administration undermined Jordan’s pivotal role in Arab-Israel peacemaking.
MBS’s support for Trump’s “Deal of the Century” also sidelined Amman, which had traditionally played a mediator role between Israel, the Palestinians, and the rest of the Arab world.
Tensions have also simmered between the two sides over the Hashemite custodianship of holy sites in Jerusalem.
Jordanians are hoping the visit by MBS will put an end to the strained relations and help to improve the difficult economic situation in the aid-reliant country.
Saudi Arabia and Jordan also share deep concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and what they see as Tehran’s destabilising role in the region, a Jordanian official said.