President Donald Trumpinfo-icon basked in Saudi Arabiainfo-icon's lavish royal welcome Saturday as he left behind, at least temporarily, the snowballing controversies dogging him in Washington.

Saudi king presented President Trumpinfo-icon with the kingdom's highest civilian honor in the capital city of Riyadh during the first part of his five-stop journey through the Middle Eastinfo-icon, Italyinfo-icon and Belgium.

Earlier the president was greeted at the airport by King Salman, which was notable given that the monarch did not show up last year to welcome President Barack Obama on his final visit to Saudi Arabia.

Trump descended the steps alongside first lady Melania Trump, who wore a black pantsuit and gold belt, but did not cover her hair in the ultra-conservative kingdom, in keeping with the traditions of Western delegations.

As Trump and the 81-year-old king, who was aided by a cane, walked along the red carpet, military jets swept the sky, leaving a red, white and blue trail.

Some pundits questioned whether Salman would shake Trump's hand or even brave the sweltering heat to walk out onto the runway, citing his older age.

Trump, Salman and their entourage then moved to the Royal Courtinfo-icon where he decorated the President with the gold King Abdulaziz medal, Saudi Arabia's highest civilian award. Saudi's have been bestowing this honour to worldinfo-icon leaders visiting the desert kingdom. In past Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Indian Prime Minister Modi and many more can be counted among the recipients.

The Saudis are reportedly hopeful as to what Trump can do to boost their standing in the region. For one, they've praised Trump's rhetoric about Iraninfo-icon posing a threat to the nation.

Trump 'rewarded' his hosts with a $110 billion arms package aimed at bolstering Saudi security and a slew of businessinfo-icon agreements.

"That was a tremendous day, tremendous investments in the United Statesinfo-icon," Trump said during a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef later.

Trump is the only American president to make Saudi Arabia - or any Musliminfo-icon-majority nation - his first overseas trip.


Trump made no substantial remarks on his first day abroad and spent most of his time shuttling between opulent palace ballrooms with the king. The two were overheard discussing natural resources and arms.

Trump's warm welcome reflected the degree to which Saudi Arabia had become disillusioned with Obama. 

For the former President, Saudis felt that Obama had pulled the U.S. out of the region and reduced the bilateral relationship. Much of the Saudi distaste emanated from a deal struck with Iran over nuclear arms, and U.S. hesitancy to become directly involved in the Syrian civil warinfo-icon, NBC News wrote.

As Trump arrived, Iranians had just re-elected Hassan Rouhani - one of Obama's partners in the landmark accord aimed at curbing Tehraninfo-icon's nuclear ambitions - for a second four-year-term as president, validating his push for greater freedoms and outreach to the wider world. 


The most tangible agreement between the two leaders was the $110 billion sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia that is effective immediately and could expand up to $350 billion over 10 years. The deal includes tanks, combat ships, missileinfo-icon defense systems, radar and communications, and cybersecurity technologyinfo-icon. The State Department said the agreement could support "tens of thousands of new jobs in the United States."

Trump was joined on the trip by the CEOs of several major USinfo-icon companies, which announced their own agreements with the Saudis. Among them was a $15 billion arrangement with GE focused on power, oilinfo-icon and gas, and healthinfo-icon care.

The president was trailed on the trip by a large number of advisers, including Tillerson, chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon. Trump's son-in law, Jared Kushner, and daughter Ivanka, both senior advisers, were also part of the official delegation.

Ivanka's presence dominated Arabic Twitter traffic, with the phrase "bint Trump" - Arabic for daughter of Trump - trending.


The Saudis' welcome appeared to lift the spirits of Trump's beleaguered staff, ensnared in a seemingly endless cycle of negative stories involving Comey's firing and the intensifying Russiainfo-icon investigations. After a lavish lunch with the Saudi delegation, Kushner high-fived national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

Later Saturday, Trump was greeted by a traditional troupe of Saudi drummers and sword-waving dancers. Trump smirked and bopped to the beat as he made his way through the crowd.

On Sunday, Trump and the king were to join more than 50 regional leaders for meetings focused on combating extremism among Muslims. The president was to give the signature speech of his trip, an address that aides view as counter to Obama's 2009 speech in Egyptinfo-icon to the Muslim world. Trump has criticized Obama's remarks as too apologetic for US actions in the region.


Trump planned to urge unity in the fight against radicalism in the Muslim world, casting the challenge as a "battle between good and evil" and appealing to Arab leaders to "drive out the terrorists from your places of worship," according to a draft of the speech obtained by The Associated Press.

The draft also notably did not contain the words "radical Islamic terror," a phrase Trump repeatedly criticized his 2016 president rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, for not using during last year's campaign.

After two days of meetings in Saudi Arabia, Trump was scheduled to travelinfo-icon to Israelinfo-icon.