Last updated on February 14th, 2019
The ultraconservative sheikhdom of Saudi Arabia, which in the last year-and-a-half was establishing itself as a promoter of all good things, has been exposed by the media. Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), a central figure to the change in his nation had bought the influence of the Western media to manage his nations’ image all this while.
According to the Journal, MbS and Vice Media Executive Chairman Shane Smith, met in August and devised a comprehensive plan to change the world narrative upside-down. Ironically, the meeting was not the first of its kind and a Saudi government-controlled company had already pocketed a deal with Vice. The media company produced documentaries on the social reforms going on inside the kingdom.
The new deal, however, was stuck to take the nation’s image on the cloud-nine and to attract positive attention from the world. The same proposal was also aimed at improving relations to a joint venture, a lot alike to the other pairings with the western media outlets, according to the sources briefed about the event.
Even earlier, MbS while trying to influence the western world had cunningly derived each part of his strategy, and set his targets. The results of which gave kingdom the much needed boost and helped it in creating a media empire that combated MbS’ rivals.
“In their view, the problem is that they haven’t been telling their own story up to now, and they’d like to start,” said Elana DeLozier, a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Amazon Inc. founder on Thursday pointed out the additional efforts made by Saudi to buff its image in the Western Media. In his blog, Bezos alleged that National Enquirer Publisher American Media Inc. had tried to blackmail him, and even lately collated with Saudi to bash his reputation.
National Enquirer is the same media outlet which, published a front-page cover of MbS and another 100 pages about the reforms taking place in the kingdom, last year.
The Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, in Washington on Friday was questioned if Saudi had a role to play in the dispute with Bezos, to which he replied: “As far as I know: flat no.”
MbS’ habit of taking charge and destroying his rivals using media began when his father, King Salman assumed the throne in 2015. He probably knew that his media rival such as Al Jazeera in Qatar, has been shaping the world’s opinion in a direction he doesn’t want his people to see. Therefore, the only way that remained was to buy media influence and change the world’s perception of his kingdom.
Additionally, some sources also state that Saudi’s business ties with Vice are most likely to be shunned, and that the media house is reviewing its deal with the government-controlled Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG).
However, the reality is far-fetched because SRMG has already spread its wings imprinted with the Saudi vision of reform in all directions, using different languages. This includes an Arabic broadcast joint venture with Bloomberg LP and a news venture with the Independent, the UK’s online newspaper that regulates content around the globe in Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, and Urdu.
Bloomberg, another prominent media outlet in the list said that it is putting the editorial rules and ensuring its partnership with SRMG doesn’t violate the terms. The media house, however, runs a platform known as Bloomberg Asharq in Arabic language and runs a similar partnership in numerous other regions.
A strong influence in the Western media is exactly what the Saudi needs to buy at a point of time where it is piled up with controversies, accusations and has been boycotted by a number of businesses, political figures and allies alike, globally.