Different ways, yet a road that takes to a single destination of progress, is what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been following in its quest for modernization. Sapping resources from all around the globe, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) has often decried using the nation’s wealth fund to diversify from oil as it eventually vanquishes.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF), which reportedly has more than $300bn in assets under management, has now hired a New York communications firm, Karv Communications. The motto of which, has got nothing to do with diversification plans. In fact, the firm has been hired to enhance the nation’s image and create a “clear distinction” with the Kingdom’s political leaders, scuffling to repair the irreversibly stained image after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
According the filings with the US Justice Department, the deal has come at a hefty price of $120,000-a-month. Karv Communications under which, is set to “enhance the reputation and image” of the PIF and its senior executives, while “underscoring the business-only purpose and focus” of the PIF. Rebuilding trust and improving ties with “key international stakeholders” is the main deal besides affirming that the PIF is “well prepared for any potential negative developments and future external scrutiny”.
The state-owned PIF is the main beneficiary that overlooks all investments of the nation, and has obtained stakes in big companies like Tesla and Lucid Motors, besides committing $20bn to an infrastructure fund operated by Blackstone.
Attempt to Repair the Kingdom’s Image
Saudi Arabia, however, has come under intense criticism after it was concluded by the CIA that Saudi Crown Prince ordered the murder of Khashoggi in Istanbul on October 2, a claim denied by Prince Mohammed bin Salman. On the other hand, the US lawmakers have also shunned MbS’ role and called on Trump administration to review its relationship with the Saudi Arabia.
Though the events carried out by MbS to hoax modernization only came to light in the aftermath of Khashoggi’s murder, the path taken by him to lure the investors began way before October 2018.
In March 2018, during his visit to the US, MbS hired an entire army of PR firms, which lauded Saudi reforms, insisted promoting humanity, and distanced the nation’s name from terrorism. One such effort was made while hiring the National Enquirer of the American Media Inc., which printed 100 pages of content promoting modernization agendas in the UK. Likewise, in 2015, even before he became the Crown Prince, a German consultancy firm, WMP, was hired by him to bar the negative views that the royal family was subjected to in Germany.
Targeting Western nations in order to attract the inward FDI, MbS’ quest to lure the foreign investors using PR firms is hugely under question now. Though promotion on a broader level is acceptable, but hoaxing agendas to hide the heinous involvement in the killing of a journalist is not sailing the nation’s boat. Moreover, western nations have now been pushing for greater transparency over the investigation, to tackle with Prince Mohammed’s aggressive attempts of drawing investment to his Kingdom.
However, MbS is still not understanding the need of the hour, i.e., to utilize money for causes, which can reap positive return on investments. The impulsive misfit of decision thus, concludes how the Saudi’s will survive post oil. Especially, if the country continues to commit crimes like detaining, torturing, and assassinating dissidents, and later brushing everything under the carpet by paying PR firms such as Karv Communications.