When Obama stepped off the plane in Riyadh's airport, he had a chilly welcome. Saudi King Salman was not present at the airport to greet Obama personally, instead sending a lower-ranking royal to greet the president. Interestingly, when top officials from other Gulf nations arrived at Riyadh earlier, the Saudi king was shown on local TV personally greeting them at the airport.
"Today it became clear just how strongly Obama angered the Saudis. He obviously had a cold welcome," German newspaper Der Spiegel said.
According to security analyst Mustafa Alani from the Gulf Research Center, the Saudi king's decision not to personally greet the US president was very unusual and a clear message that Riyadh doesn't trust Obama.
"He will find a leadership that's not ready to believe him," Alani said, as cited by AP. "The Saudis had disagreements with previous presidents. Here you have deep distrust that the president won't deliver anything."
Saudi officials are upset by Obama's recent words that instead of constantly sparring against each other, Saudi Arabia and Iran should "share the neighborhood," AP reported.
Furthermore, ahead of Obama's visit, a group of US politicians urged the president to put pressure on Riyadh and make the Saudis improve their poor human rights record. By April 1, the Saudi government had already executed 82 people and, according to the Independent, Riyadh is aiming to double the number of executions (158) it carried out last year.
After Saudi Arabia, Obama is scheduled to visit Britain and Germany.