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
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.
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.