I once had a column in one of our weekly give away,s called ‘Eavesdropper’ where I created imaginary discussions between people here in Palmerston North or NZ. I must admit that at times it was difficult because I was trying to keep it realistic while attempting to make a serious point. At times I don’t think I made a very good job of it…but at times it sounded so realistic that people like the CEO of the PNCC [Paul W] sent me lawyers letters…the then CEO of MCH complained to the local paper and alas ‘Eavesdropper was removed.
|Andrea Vance a new Eavesdropper|
While lunching today a friend suggested that Keys visit to Saudi Arabia deserved a ‘Eavesdropper’ style report. I thought seriously about it and later switched on my computer and if you’ll excuse the pun…Keyed in KEY and Saudi Arabia… various bits of information appeared on my screen.
One by Andrea Vance of the Dominion appeared…on reading it I realised that there was no need for an Eavesdropper…Andrea had done it for me…so I present it without alteration or additions, you decide if I was correct:
My view is Andrea’s reporting is in fact a actual feat of legal eavesdropping. Andrea is one of the few investigative journalists left and like Nicky Hager she fully understands what it feels like to have the GCSB on her back…when they handed over to government her phone calls during the Peter Dunne affair [saga]. Here is her report:
Prime Minister John Key meets Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
ANDREA VANCE IN RIYADH
Last updated 20:00, April 29 2015
Photo: Chris Skelton/Fairfax NZ
NZ Prime Minister John Key meets Saudi Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz in Riyadh.
If Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's 99-storey skyscraper doesn't make you dizzy, his rapid-fire conversation will. Taking tea is the Arab way to do business. As Prime Minister John Key is on a trade mission, sitting down with one of the country's richest men was a must.
With a net worth of some NZ$60 billion, Prince Alwaleed is an investor in Citibank, the Four Seasons Hotel chain, Fox Entertainment and Twitter. Which is where their colourful conversation started.
"I follow your tweets, more than a year," the prince told Key.
Business delegates, journalists and aides peered at them over tiny cups.
HRH pulled out a photo of Jim Bolger.
"I have been to New Zealand one time in 1997. I met the former prime minister. it seems I only meet prime ministers from the National Party, no Labour."
They moved on to cricket, the conversation stilted as they sipped their tea.
Key stumbled on to safe ground: "What do you think of the global economy?"
"This Greece thing doesn't make sense at all," the prince said.
"[Former prime minister] Antonis Samaras - a very good friend of mine but this new guy comes right now and flips it all over. Europe is the weak link...the big game is China."
When the royal stopped for breath, Key made his pitch but it strangled the conversation again.
"You own Fox News, wow," Key wrongly asserted. Prince Alwaleed ran through his considerable investments (13 industries in 40 countries).
Again, Key saw his opportunity: "They had a Four Seasons in New Zealand?"
"No, there was a discussion at one time..."
Key interrupted: "In Queenstown, I think. No? But we want one."
The prince seemed to hint New Zealand needed a higher GDP per capita before it could have one of his five star hotels. Awkward.
"Your trip to Turkey was interesting. Prince Charles, Prince Harry," the prince changed the subject. Key: "He's coming to New Zealand in a couple of weeks."
Prince Alwaleed: "I read about it."
A discussion of the Gallipoli commemorations followed.
Tim Groser wandered in. "That’s the trade minister, actually. Tim Tim. Come and say hello."
Off they went on a long discussion about currency fluctuations and New Zealand's economy. Then China, again. Oil prices and what the prince called "this fracking thing."
Plates and plates of food were circulated. More tea arrived: "We have mint tea and ginger."
"I'll try ginger...so has Saudi Arabia changed a lot over the last 10-15 years?" A brief history of the kingdom followed.
Key did his best to get back to New Zealand's economic interests.
"Gosh, the Four Seasons is an amazing chain, fantastic hotels...at our Maui house the Four Seasons is in front of us, it's a great place for dinner."
On India: "Modi's doing a great job."
"We both lost a by-election recently," Key lamented.
Then it was next week's British elections: "I had Mr Blair here," the prince said.
Key had just fired off a text off to Tony Blair's successor, Prime Minister David Cameron.
"Oh! You text David, I'll take the number off you. I use texting a lot."
They pulled out their smartphones.
"You can take my number," Key was uncomfortable about handing over the contact.
The prince wanted to talk about Russia's Vladimir Putin. "Where is he heading this guy? Too much, huh?"
On the table in front of them was a model of the prince's latest project: a 1100m tower which will be the world's tallest.
Key wanted to know the cost.
"$1.3 billion. Very cheap."
* The 60 year old is the world's 26th richest man and has been called the most influential Arab
* He bought London's Savoy Hotel in 2005, owns several aircraft and his yacht appeared in the James Bond film Never Say Never Again
* Home is a 317 room palace, with a cinema, but he's got two others to choose from
* This week he offered Bentley cars to 100 fighter pilots who took part in bombing raids on Yemen
* He donated $100,000 to help victims of the Canterbury earthquakes in 2011
And before you ask...no John Key has never [to my knowledge] pulled her hair...but you would need to ask Andrea to be sure...