Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia recently said in an interview that he does not care when he is accused of ‘sportswashing‘
“If sportswashing is going to increase my GDP by one per cent, then we’ll continue sportswashing. I don’t care. I have 1% growth in GDP from sport and I am aiming for another 1.5%. Call it whatever you want – we are going to get that 1.5 per cent,” he said in an interview with Fox Sports.
The middle eastern nation has being routinely accused of heavily investing in sports and using their events to clean its global reputation.
Prince Mohammed has given very few interviews to Western media outlets, particularly since the 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist, in an operation by Saudi agents that U.S. intelligence says was likely approved by the prince. The prince denied any involvement.
🧵 “Hvis det øker BNP med 1,5% … så vil jeg fortsette med sportsvasking”.
Usmakelig og arrogant kommentar fra #SaudiArabia sin kronprins!
— Frank Conde Tangberg (@frankctangberg) September 21, 2023
He said on Fox News Channel of Khashoggi’s killing that “we tried to reform the security system to be sure that these kinds of mistakes doesn’t happen again.”
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“It was a mistake. It was painful,” the crown prince said, while insisting that “everyone involved” served jail time.
The prince’s far-reaching social reforms have transformed the kingdom from an ultraconservative state governed by a strict form of Islamic law to an aspiring entertainment powerhouse, investing billions of dollars in everything from top football stars and golf tournaments to video games.
But the prince has proven to be even less tolerant of dissent than his predecessors. Saudis who speak out against his policies can face long prison sentences or even the death penalty, and that has even extended to Saudis living on U.S. soil.
(With AP inputs)