• Denmark's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Danish royals go ahead with controversial Saudi visit
Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary attend a 2014 Justin Timberlake concert with their son Prince Christian. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Scanpix

Danish royals go ahead with controversial Saudi visit

The Local · 4 Feb 2016, 13:01

Published: 04 Feb 2016 13:01 GMT+01:00

The Danish Crown Prince Couple will take part in what has been labelled an “export promotion” trip that will take to both Saudi Arabia and neighbouring oil state Qatar from February 28 through March 3, public broadcaster DR reported.

The royal couple will be accompanied on the tour by a number of prominent politicians, such as Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen, Minister for Health Sophie Løhde and Minister for Food and the Environment Eva Kjer Hansen. A number of Danish business concerns will also be represented, including the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri), the Danish Agriculture and Food Council (Landbrug og Fødevarer) and Health Care Denmark.

The primary aim of the visit is to strengthen ties within environmental sustainability, health, food, education and design, reports DR.

Frederik and Mary will visit members of the Saudi royal family as well as Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani during the tour.

Human rights groups and opposition politicians have criticised the royal couple for agreeing to visit a country that is regularly condemned for its human rights abuses.

See also: Royal pair's 'scandalous’ Saudi Arabia plans slammed

“Saudi Arabia is one of the most fundamental regimes in the world, where women are not allowed to drive and where death sentences are given for being homosexual,” Mette Gjerskov of the opposition Social Democrats told DR.

Gjerskov argued that a critical dialogue with Saudi Arabia was more important than trade relations, and that such a dialogue could not be taken up by Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary, whose roles are apolitical.

Last month, human rights organisation Amnesty International also criticised the then-rumoured visit.

“The timing could not be worse. Saudi Arabia celebrated the New Year by beheading 47 people, after a year that saw a huge increase in the number of capital punishments and also reduced freedom of speech. Sending a delegation of the reported calibre at this time sends a very symbolic signal that what is going on is acceptable,” Trine Christensen, Amnesty International Denmark’s acting general secretary, told news agency Ritzau in January.

Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen defended the decision to include the royals on the Saudi visit, pointing out that they are not expected to take a political role.

Story continues below…

“I am participating as foreign minister in order to have a critical dialogue with the Saudi government,” Jensen said to DR.

“We often visit countries that we disagree with politically, where we criticise their human rights situation, but where we want to continue a business-related dialogue,” Jensen continued. “This is an export promotion with the Crown Prince couple at the forefront, but not an official state visit.”

Jensen dismissed suggestions that Denmark and Saudi Arabia can be considered ‘allies’, saying that this was a “big word.”

For more news from Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Denmark’s asylum numbers at five-year low
Refugees and immigrants at a 'welcome party' earlier this month. Photo: Uffe Weng/Scanpix

Fewer than 300 people sought asylum in August, according to new figures released by the Immigration Ministry.

Police cameras in Pusher Street promptly torn down
Two police video cameras were installed in Christiania on Friday and more will come, police said. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Scanpix

UPDATED: Copenhagen Police on Friday installed surveillance cameras in the infamous stretch of Christiania, but they lasted only a few hours.

Denmark leads effort to stop money flow to Isis
File photo of children next to a burnt vehicle during clashes between Iraqi security forces and Isis in Mosul, Iraq . Photo: Stringer/Reuters/Scanpix

A former head of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) has been tapped to dry up the terror group's finances.

Meet Denmark's new anti-immigration party
Nye Borgerlige's Pernille Vermund and Peter Seier Christensen held a press conference on Thursday after qualifying for the next election. Photo: Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix 2016)

A new political party that promises a stricter immigration policy than the Danish People’s Party combined with a libertarian economic outlook will be on the ballot the next time Denmark holds an election.

A.P. Moller Maersk to split into transport and energy divisions
Photo: Michal Kooren/Scanpix

The Danish oil and shipping conglomerate will split into separate businesses for transport and energy as it faces headwinds in both sectors.

Iraqi may face expulsion from Denmark over Facebook post
The man was sentenced Wednesday at Copenhagen City Court. Photo: Colourbox

The man will be kicked out of the country if he commits any additional crimes.

Danish museum forced to pay Elvis Presley heirs
Elvis and Priscilla Presley with newborn daughter Lisa Marie in February 1968. Photo: Public Domain

A Randers museum will have to fork over 500,000 kroner ($75,000, €67,000) to the estate of American icon Elvis Presley.

Falsely-accused Dane accepts settlement from New York
Malthe Thomsen, shown at a previous court appearance in New York. Photo: BRENDAN MCDERMID/Scanpix

The Danish man who was cleared of sexual abuse charges reached a compensation agreement on Tuesday that was far below the $7 million he had sought from the State of New York.

Denmark eyes looming skills shortage as economy picks up
Denmark is seeing fewer and fewer people interested in, and qualified for, manufacturing and transport jobs. Photo: Iris

After a lacklustre recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, Denmark's central bank has warned that the labour market faces a squeeze as unemployment falls, the population ages and young people shun vocational jobs.

Can Danish technology save us from airport security hell?
The Danish company has developed a system that would allow hand luggage to be scanned in one go. Photo: Exruptive

A Danish company thinks it can essentially eliminate airport security queues with its scannable ‘intelligent trolley’.

Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Danish F-16s part of attack that allegedly hit Syrian forces
International
Danish F-16s part of attack that allegedly hit Syrian forces
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
Travel
Copenhagen declared world's most livable city - again!
Record number of Danes leave the church
Society
Record number of Danes leave the church
3,000-year-old stinky cheese found in Denmark
National
3,000-year-old stinky cheese found in Denmark
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Why Denmark could be the next 'right to die' battleground
Society
Why Denmark could be the next 'right to die' battleground
Christiania residents shut down Pusher Street
National
Christiania residents shut down Pusher Street
Denmark is locking every door to immigrants
Analysis & Opinion
Denmark is locking every door to immigrants
Denmark wants it to be even harder to get residency
National
Denmark wants it to be even harder to get residency
Denmark's asylum numbers hit new low
National
Denmark's asylum numbers hit new low
Denmark 'worst place in the world' for making friends
Society
Expats: Denmark 'worst place in the world' for making friends
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
Top Danish tax official fired after scandals cost billions
Business & Money
Top Danish tax official fired after scandals cost billions
Per capita, Denmark is Europe’s Olympic champ
Sport
Denmark is Europe’s Olympic (per capita) champion
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
National
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
National
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Business & Money
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Society
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Sport
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
National
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Technology
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
National
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
2,246
jobs available