Predicting the overseas travel plans of Chinese President Xi Jinping has become something of a parlour game for journalists and foreign policy observers. Mr Xi has not left China since the Covid-19 pandemic began, and the destination of his first post-pandemic trip - and who he meets - will speak volumes about China's strategic priorities.
In the Middle East, anticipation was high after The Guardian reported on Aug 11 that Mr Xi was going to visit Saudi Arabia during the week of Aug 15. The week came and went, and no trip happened. And while close observers of China's political cycle were sceptical of the Saudi visit claim, the Middle East remains high on Mr Xi's overseas agenda.