MBS in Pakistan: Everything you need to know about the crown prince's visit

Multi-billion dollar deals, twin cities on high alert, and high-level engagements to dominate two-day state visit.
Published February 15, 2019

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ─ known as MBS for short ─ is paying his first state visit to Pakistan since becoming the heir to the throne in 2017. The purpose of the prince's two-day visit — which was originally scheduled for February 16 but began on February 17 — is to wrap up a series of multi-billion dollar deals with Pakistan in various sectors.

The visit, however, has garnered interest as much for the entourage and equipment accompanying the heir apparent as for what will transpire during his stay. Here, Dawn.com rounds up all the details known about the trip so far.

Business agreements

  • Total Saudi investment of up to $12 billion expected in near future
  • $8bn agreement for establishment of oil refinery
  • 8 multi-billion dollar MoUs to be signed in fields of water, power, investment, finance, renewable energy, internal security, media, culture and sports
  • Three government-to-government MoUs worth billions to be signed in oil refining, LNG and mineral development fields
  • Pakistan to propose preferential trade agreement with Saudi
  • Easing of procedures for business visas for Pakistanis
  • Joint coordination council headed by PM Khan, MBS to devise a mechanism to implement bilateral agreements
  • PM Khan, MBS to co-chair meetings on various joint working groups on trade, investment, energy, science, information and media
  • A day ahead of the prince's arrival, the Saudi embassy in Islamabad announced a significant reduction in visa fees for Pakistanis

Crown prince's agenda

  • Meetings with President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa
  • Saudi ministers to meet counterparts for talks on bilateral cooperation in respective fields
  • 40 top Saudi businessmen to meet local businessmen, industrialists to discuss collaboration in private sector
  • Reception for MBS at President House
  • After Pakistan, the crown prince will travel to India and China. He was initially supposed to travel to Indonesia and Malaysia as well

The royal treatment

  • Pakistan's highest civil award Nishan-e-Pakistan to be conferred on the crown prince
  • Crown Prince MBS will be first state guest to stay at PM House
  • 40-member delegation, contingent of royal guards to accompany MBS on plane
  • Saudi security team to guard PM House with Pakistani security officials
  • Two C-130 aircraft flew in seven BMW 7 Series luxury sedans and one Land Cruiser
  • Prince's personal belongings, including furniture and gym equipment, flown in and transported to PM House in eight containers
  • 750 rooms booked in eight Islamabad hotels for visiting delegation, advance bookings cancelled
  • Hotels closed for security clearance, officials to take control of their security
  • Prince to be accompanied by delegation of royals, key ministers and leading businessmen
  • Expenses of visit to be borne by Saudi government
  • Vehicles to be used by the crown prince would arrive via a special flight
  • Team of Saudi doctors, media personnel also part of visit

Security measures

  • Twin cities on high alert
  • Section 144 imposed in capital on Feb 17 and 18
  • Local holiday declared for Feb 18 in Islamabad Capital Territory,Rawalpindi; holiday not extended to essential services such as police, IESCO, SNGPL and hospitals
  • Islamabad airspace shut down
  • Search and comb operation launched around Nur Khan Airbase
  • Cellphone services partially suspended over two days, particularly along land routes to be used by visiting officials
  • Police leaves cancelled
  • 1,000 checkpoints to be set up across twin cities, five in limits of each police station
  • Police officials given special assignments
  • 10 sections of Elite Force commandos requested from IGP Punjab
  • Elite Force commandos to be deployed on rooftops of important buildings, sensitive points
  • Land routes to be fully secured by LEAs, guarded by unknown number of armed police units
  • Heavy traffic barred from main routes for two days
  • Old Airport Road closed to all traffic when prince arrives
  • 100 traffic wardens to be deployed to divert traffic to alternate routes
  • Fourth Schedulers placed under strict watch
  • Guest houses, private hostels being checked in twin cities
  • Citizens should keep CNICs, other ID with them when moving across city due to security checks
  • Shoot-on-sight orders for drones, aviation toys
  • Saudi security, intelligence officials to be in capital
  • Islamabad Expressway shut for VVIP movement, Koral Chowk to Faisal Avenue 15 u-turn to be shut at various times
  • Murree Road to be closed from Faizabad Interchange to Serena Chowk
  • Shahrah-i-Dastoor shut down from Radio Pakistan to Serena Hotel
  • Peshawar, Kahuta and Murree traffic to be diverted

The following details have been reported by different publications:

  • Sources say Saudi Arabia is seeking greater Pakistani involvement in the 41-member anti-terrorism coalition
  • Over 1,000 officials and businessmen to accompany MBS
  • 1,150 people comprised Saudi advance media and security team
  • 123 Saudi Arabian Royal Guards to be on duty during visit
  • MBS arriving with four jets
  • 80 containers of luggage and other paraphernalia transported to Pakistan
  • Royal plane to be given JF-17 protocol upon entering Pakistani airspace
  • 300 Land Cruisers reserved for visiting delegation
  • Gym set up in PM House for crown prince
  • 3,500 pigeons procured from various cities' bird markets to be released along with balloons upon crown prince's arrival