President Trump upon arriving in Saudi Arabia on Saturday did not bow to the Gulf leader as former President Barack Obama appeared to do — a move interpreted as American weakness.
In 2009, Obama appeared to bow to then-Saudi leader King Abdullah at a G-20 summit in London.
Videos show Obama bending at the waist toward the king. The White House at the time purportedly denied that the president had bowed, with a source saying Obama was taller than the king, so he had to lean.
Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia marks the start to his nine-day, overseas tour that will also take him to Israel and Europe. The international trip is Trump’s first since taking office in January.
Trump was greeted at the Saudi airport with an elaborate ceremony, punctuated by a military flyover and a handshake from Saudi King Salman.
First lady Melania Trump wore a black pantsuit with a golden belt and did not cover her head for the arrival, consistent with custom for foreign dignitaries visiting Saudi Arabia.
The 81-year-old King Salman greeted Trump at the airport. The two leaders exchanged pleasantries and Trump said it was “a great honor” to be there.
“Two things need to happen,” Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, told Fox News on Saturday about Trump’s trip. “President Trump needs to shore up our alliance with the Sunnis who feel abandon, and that starts with Saudi Arabia. And in the short-term, he needs to create a coalition that will decimate and defeat ISIS.”
Obama critics said the former president suggested several times in 2009, just after getting elected, that the United States owed the Arab world an apology.
“There have been times when America has shown arrogance … even dismissiveness,” Obama said that year in France.
Upon Trump’s arrival Saturday, Several jets then flew overhead leaving a red, white and blue trail.
Saudi Arabia offered Trump the elaborate welcome ahead of his two-day stay. Billboards featuring images of Trump and the king dotted the highways of Riyadh, emblazoned with the motto “Together we prevail.”
Trump’s luxury hotel was bathed in red, white and blue lights and, at times, an image of the president’s face.
Trump and the king met briefly in the airport terminal for a coffee ceremony before the president headed to his hotel before the day’s other meetings.