Mayor Scott Smith is trekking to Saudi Arabia next month to meet government leaders in the hopes of bringing foreign investment to Mesa.
Smith will spend a week in the kingdom and said he hopes to make contacts that could lead to economic development, primarily in aerospace.
Smith will travel with about seven other mayors who are on the advisory board of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The Saudi Embassy will pay for the trip.
Mesa officials have had contacts with other Middle Eastern nations - including a trip to Bahrain - but never with the Saudis.
Smith said he's done business internationally, including with Indonesia, Singapore and India. He doesn't expect to come home with a big deal, saying he's there to establish ties and gain knowledge that could lead to future deals.
"I'm very familiar with how long it takes to establish relationships and how important personal relationships are when you need to develop international contracts," Smith said Tuesday.
Smith will be gone for seven days, but only five will be spent in the Islamic nation. Travel time is about 26 hours each way.
Despite the Middle East's violence, Smith said he feels fairly comfortable because he knows people who have done business in Saudi Arabia. Plus, he expects a safe environment given that he's a guest of the Saudis.
"I think they do a pretty good job of keeping people safe," Smith said.