Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman‘s visit to Pakistan and India (and China) couldn’t have been more timely, against the backdrop of the suicide bomber attack in Kashmir, which killed over 40 Indian paramilitary force personnel on Valentine’s Day.
And, indeed, against the even more grisly, blood-curdling backdrop of the MBS administration’s role in the hacking to death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Turkey (Time magazine’s person of the year, 2018).
Yet, looking at all the televised pappi-jhappi in Islamabad and Delhi, and the bear hugs, hand shakes and photo-ops—and the rivers of blood-stained riyals promised to Imran Khan and Narendra Modi—you would be surprised if we are talking of the same man.
Arab News is the Saudi kingdom’s “newspaper of record“. Published by the Saudi Research and Marketing Group, its tombstone reads, as it must, “established by Prince Ahmad bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz“.
In other words, the well-designed paper is a mouthpiece of the palace of Saud.
This is how the paper covered MBS’s trip to Pakistan on Monday.
Lead story on page one; front page comment by editor-in-chief Faisal J. Abbas; three pages of “spotlight” on the historical ties between the two countries including Saudi Arabia’s support to Pakistan after the nuclear tests; a soft feature on a Pakistan flood hero; and a comment piece.
And this is how Arab News covered his visit to India on Wednesday.
Lead story on page one; three pages of “spotlight” on Saudi-Indian ties; two op-eds including one by former Indian ambassador Talmiz Ahmad; a soft feature on theatre doyen Ebrahim Al-Kazi, whose father was born in the kingdom; and a review of the translated travelogue “Camels in the Sky: Travels in Arabia” by Malayalam journalist V. Muzafer Ahamed.
The prince is in China today, and you could expect a near photocopy.