In an effort to “boost the kingdom’s reputation”, Saudi Arabia has created a new media prize for a journalist forum set to take place in November.
This media awards ceremony, titled “Media Industry: Opportunities and Challenges”, is sponsored by the Saudi Journalists Association and is being conducted in an effort to portray the kingdom as an encouraging environment for new journalists, despite the world still reeling after last October’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.
Khalid Al-Malik, the director of the association, stated:
[The forum] will boost the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s reputation as a leading country in the global political and economic arena…and cement Riyadh’s name as the Arab media capital.”
Since Mohammed Bin Salman’s rule as crown prince of Saudi Arabia in 2017, there has been an apparent increase in the crackdown on dissidents and independent journalists. Saudi Arabia does not permit independent media, and the number of journalists detained since 2017 has tripled in number, according to Reporters Without Borders.
While many point to the fact that this forum and subsequent media prize is simply a feeble attempt to portray themselves as a safe place for journalists in the aftermath of the Khashoggi scandal, some are pointing towards the more dangerous fact that Saudi Arabia continues to flaunt its ability to disregard international human rights law as it continues to detain and even kill those who dare to speak up against the kingdom.
While the CIA has concluded that Mohammed Bin Salman did in fact order the killing of journalist Khashoggi, the crown prince continues to move with impunity as the number of detained journalists within the country only grow in number.