Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia, has rented out all 285 rooms, including 100 suites, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills and began the Southern California portion of his three-week U.S. visit by meeting some of the biggest names in entertainment, it was reported Tuesday.
The 32-year-old prince’s visit began Monday and included an intimate dinner at Rupert Murdoch’s Bel Air estate, according to the Hollywood Reporter. In attendance, sources told the Reporter, were Disney CEO Bob Iger and wife Willow Bay, Universal film chairman Jeff Shell, Fox TV exec Peter Rice and film studio chief Stacey Snider, as well as actors Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Filmmakers James Cameron and Ridley Scott were there as well.
Experts cited by the Reporter are interpreting the trip as an effort to shore up ties with American politicians and business leaders and to flesh out potential investment opportunities, including those in the media and entertainment industries. Showbiz executives, eager to court the billions of dollars of wealth controlled by the Saudi ruling family, mobilized in force to meet the prince, known by the initials MBS.
Over the weekend, staffers at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills were scrambling to finish last-minute preparations for bin Salman’s arrival, the newspaper reported, adding that he and his entourage are staying there for the duration of his L.A. visit, and he has bought out all 285 rooms, including 100 suites. Other cities on his itinerary include Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Houston, San Francisco and Seattle.
On Monday night, approximately 20 people gathered at the Bel Air event, which marked a return to public life for the 87-year-old Murdoch, who has been recovering from a back injury suffered in January.
Sources told the Reporter the event was social and not political. There was a long cocktail hour during which wines from Murdoch’s vineyard were served. Before dinner, the crown prince briefly spoke about reforms in his kingdom, as well as the dangers of radicalism in the Middle East. He also stressed the importance of the Saudi-U.S. relationship. After the short speech, a source told the Reporter that Murdoch initiated a brief question-and-answer session with the prince, and Murdoch reportedly asked a question about the Muslim Brotherhood.
At the end of the dinner, several members of the crown prince’s entourage took selfies with the actors, according to the Reporter.