A senior administration official said that Saudi Arabia will be the first country visited and that the symbolism is intentional.
The official explained: “the reason why we chose the Saudis first is because they are the custodians of the two Holy Mosques.”
Asked for elaboration, the official added, "We thought that was very important because obviously people have tried to portray the president in a certain way, but I think that what he wants to do is solve the same problem that a lot of the leaders in the Islamic world want to do."
The official explained that the administration expects Saudi Arabia to bring together a number of leaders from majority-Muslim countries in order to discuss common interests as a group.
"We thought that that was a good place to start and look one of the biggest problems that we face in the world today is radical extremism and we have to combat," said the official.
According to the official, the transition team started working with the Saudis on the visit shortly after the election.