Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be landing in Saudi Arabia on Monday (6 November) in an unexpected visit. The president's arrival comes at a time when the Middle East region is buzzing with shrill political activities including the regime shake-up in Riyadh and the announcement of Lebanese prime minister's resignation from the Saudi capital.
Abbas will meet Saudi King Salman and the powerful Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman during his surprise visit. The Palestinian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bassam al-Agha, said Abbas' trip is aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between the two states.
"The visit was not planned but after being in touch yesterday, it was decided that Abbas would make a quick visit to Saudi Arabia," a source, who is familiar with the matter, told Israeli daily Haaretz.
The Palestinian leader was wrapping up a two-day visit to Egypt to meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi when his trip was scheduled at the last minute. It is still unclear who initiated the meeting whether Abbas or the Saudi rulers as Israeli local reports suggest the Palestinian President was "summoned".
Both regional and international matters are expected to be discussed during Abbas' meeting with top Saudi monarchs. Reports suggest the recent visits made by Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor, and Jason Greenblatt, Washington's special representative for international negotiations to Saudi Arabia will be on top of the agenda.
The development is bound to raise eyebrows in the volatile Middle East region as Riyadh has been at the centre of fervent activities in the past few days.
Over the weekend, nearly a dozen princes and dozens of sitting and former ministers in the Saudi regime were arrested under an anti-corruption probe, which was led by the young crown prince.
In addition to the shake-up, Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri also announced his sudden resignation from Saudi Arabia as concerns raised that Lebanon could plunge into political uncertainty. Though Saudi Arabia officially denied any role in al-Hariri stepping down, fingers of suspicion are being pointed at the regime.