President Emmanuel Macron of France hosted a private dinner for Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Louvre in his latest use of his country’s cultural “crown jewels” to wow foreign leaders. The surprise tête-a-tête at the world’s most famous museum on Sunday night was not on the official presidential agenda. It was held shortly after the prince arrived in Paris on the latest leg of an international charm offensive taking the Saudi royal to the US, UK, Egypt and now France. In this latest use of French cultural firepower, Elysée officials noted that the meal in the Louvre coincided with the launch of the major exhibition of the 19th-century French painter Eugène Delacroix, best known for his work Liberty Leading the People. Delacroix’s painting of Parisians being led over the barricades by a bare-breasted Liberty during the July Revolution of 1830 is one of the world’s most iconic artworks. It was unclear whether the message was double-edged given Saudi Arabia’s reputation for curbing political, religious and social freedoms. The 32-year old Prince Mohammed, also known by his initials MBS, has been spearheading reform as he seeks to “modernise” his country and wean it off its dependency on… Read full this story
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