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Is MbS Tactfully using Sports to Rebrand Saudi’s Stained Image?

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MbS dominated region Saudi Arabia can get boycotted by Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic

Vowing to make the world believe in their decision making power, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are still evaluating whether or not to play in MbS dominated Saudi Arabia. Besides, another bombshell to this series of shocks is the January event in which, Juventus and AC Milan will contest in Italy’s Supercup, Riyadh. A move condemned by the Amnesty international.

While sports must always do-away from all the political matters, it is vital to understand that it cannot overlook the suffering of humanity, because even it conceptualizes to promote equality at all the levels.

The recent development comes amidst Nadal’s and Djokovic’s decision to play in Saudi Arabia, post the brutal murder of Saudi critic and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, inside the Saudi Consulate, Istanbul. Both athletes are witnessing outrage over ignoring humanity and choosing the nation, which has often protected its image by holding such events.

As a result, as Nadal and Djokovic landed to play at the Paris Masters, last week, they were asked to explain about their respective stands on playing in Jeddah. Nadal explained, “When this type of thing happens, it’s catastrophic, it’s terrible. A journalist lost his life. And I know that horrible things have happened inside this consulate. So, we are evaluating the situation and we hope that things will clear up as quickly as possible. “

Novak’s took a diplomatic approach and said, “Unfortunately, we were both drawn to this situation, adding that the commitment was made over a year ago to prepare the season. It was a tennis decision, professional at the time. Now, I am aware of what is happening with Saudi Arabia. When you see something like that, of course, you have a feeling. But I cannot tell you more.”

Further, remaining professional and respecting the people to whom committed, Djokovic also known as the Joker, asked for “more information about what is happening, in order to make a rational decision to know whether to go or not. “

Rational or Irrational
Not looking too far, Roger Federer recently turned down the offer to play in Saudi and said, he didn’t want to go out and play there (Saudi) at that time, adding that it was a quick-decision. Arguing, if a 20-time Grand Slam champion can do that with utter ease, why can’t Rafa and Joker?

Besides, American sports columnist Bill Simmons wrote an open letter to Novak Djokovic and explained, he fears Joker would face a deeply damaging backlash if he plays in Saudi Arabia. He also highlighted that Saudi Arabia – conspirator behind killing Jamal Khashoggi – is now waging a fierce war of starvation in Yemen, has carried out 18,000 airstrikes, which has pushed 5.2 million children at the brink of starvation.

Tennis has a rich history, and people who take the right decision at the right time, can really define greatness. This long list includes, John McEnroe’s recent refusal of $1 million to play an exhibition match in apartheid-ridden South Africa. Besides, Venus Williams, Andy Roddick and Billie Jean King are a few others who have used their success to counter such situations and have always put humanity above everything else.

Ironically, with Nadal who runs Rafa Nadal Foundation, solely to help socially-disadvantaged youngsters from being excluded out by society, him thinking twice, draws a parallel.

Correspondingly, athletes from other arenas include WWE’s 16-time World Champion, John Cena and the leader of Yes Movement, Daniel Bryan, turned down from participating in Crown Jewel, a pay-per-view event hosted in Saudi Arabia.

Switching Sports
Football isn’t looking much different right now with Juventus and AC Milan contesting in Riyadh considered highly debatable. Playing in different countries might be a usual practice in European Leagues, but for FIFA and all the other bodies, who say no to racism and have an eye for personal growth and development, choosing the Kingdom gives out a pretty bad impression.

According to the Italian media, the agreement between Saudi Arabia and National League Professional Series A, will bring back several million euros to be distributed amongst both clubs and the league. A comprehensive strategy used by Crown prince, MbS to lure big leagues and personalities to his kingdom.

Amnesty International has also urged the clubs to uphold their decision from playing in Saudi Arabia.

‘Sugar-coated’ Plans of Modernization
MbS, has often called on his modernization plans as the new face of Saudi Arabia, an ode conveying the progressive side to the nation. While he has certainly allowed women to drive from June, Saudi Arabia continues to detain at least 12 women rights activists from May. This includes “right to drive” campaigner, Loujain al-Hathloul. All facing detention without any charges. Yet, another sugar-coated move involves letting the women enter sports stadiums for the first time.

Contrarily, the kingdom has a problem with freedom of expression, especially when used by those who speak against it. In a span of past several months, people have been detained over expressing what they do not like. The big names include reformist cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awda and women’s right activist Israa al-Ghomgham.

From torture inside prisons, to raging a continuous war against humanity, and supporting bids to suppress people – what MbS and his plans for modernization really offer to Saudi Arabia?

Using Sports as an Outright Agenda

MbS and Saudi Arabia know how using sports can subtly get their job done, and are therefore, using it to rebrand their country’s image. The main aim however, is to internationally pass on a message of Saudi influence and the greatness of their Crown Prince, MbS.

Putting light on big sporting personalities and their time of visit shows how each event hides the reality behind closed doors. The recent and the ongoing controversy around Jamal Khashoggi’s killing on October 2, saw leaders across the world condemning such an act, yet during this phase it hosted an international friendly between Brazil and Argentina, last month. A plausible move made with an aim to protect its degrading image.

For Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as the deadline draws closer, theory of even them getting lured for a million dollars, would start to spread like a wild fire. Also, even if the contract was signed by both the players last year, the situation wasn’t any different, with constant violation of human rights happening in and across the Saudi borders, anyway.

Will sports’ named and famed contest in Saudi Arabia or not, time will unveil next. Howbeit, if they do so, ironically, humanity would drop a notch down to MbS’ strategy of getting the job done on the bases of his ancestral wealth and repressive streak.

Football

What’s Magnetizing Saudi to Bid for Manchester United Time and Again?

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Saudi Arabia bids to buy Manchester United, premier league

Rumours about Saudi’s bid of taking over the Premier League Club, Manchester United, keep coming out in the media. Recently, it was reported that Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) offered £3.8bn takeover bid of the club.

However, in a statement on Monday the nation dismissed its plans of taking over the club. The news is “completely untrue,” Saudi information minister Turki Alshabanah wrote on Twitter.

According to the sources, “The club held a meeting with the Public Investment Fund to discuss an advertising sponsorship project, and the Fund listened to the proposals as any investment and did not produce any results,” Turki Alshabanah said.

Despite that it cannot be said for how long can Saudi stick by its guns. Even back in October last year, the Kingdom made an offer to acquire the club, but could not capitalize on the opportunity following the claims of murdering Saudi Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

The Need of the Hour

Managing image in the West has been the Kingdom’s topmost priority for a very long time. Even as recently as last week the Journal reported that the nation’s collaboration with the Western media was exposed hoaxing MbS’ reform.

The Crown Prince had reportedly signed a deal with Vice Media, under which the media house was directed to produce documentaries and influence the Western nations.

Manchester United has bagged the coveted Premier League Trophy 13 times, more than any other club in the history, and maybe this is what brings the Saudis to the table. The club is currently owned by Glazer family, who purchased it in 2005 for £790million.

Besides, Saudi’s close aide and long-time ally, UAE, has successfully been spreading their message of positivity all over the world using football as a tool.

This is especially the case because the City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, belongs to the royal family of Abu Dhabi. Together with Khaldoon al-Mubark, his youthful executive and advisor to royal family, he holds the key to delegate how the management works.

In fact, UAE doesn’t stop here, the Emirate has found its own City Football Group (CFG) and it owns or co-owns six clubs across four continents. The group, as reported by the Guardian, has contracted more than 240 male professionals, and two dozen women.

The UAE’s bridge to the West is exactly what the Kingdom aims at replicating by trying to reach Manchester United. Therefore, the probability of owning the club to promote the national image is still on the cards for them.

Conversely, Saudi-UAE have raged a war against humanity in Yemen, killing more than 10,000 people. Both nations have also continuously faced the heat over the detention of human right activists, and for barring people to express what’s right. However, big strides in the West aimed at fixing and building reputation is what the two gulf nations have continuously worked on.

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UK Outraged by Trump’s Threat of Releasing 800 ISIS Fighters

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The US forces fighting in Syria captured some 800 ISIS fighters that it wants the EU to take into custody, not doing which will result in their release. The threat came from US President Donald Trump who has been exceptionally vocal about his views, even though bizarre, especially on Twitter. The threat has left most of the European officials angered while others, a bit confused in disappointment. The said reaction was witnessed recently at the Munich Security Conference, held in Germany. The event saw European officials and security experts outraging over Trump’s statement on releasing 800 ISIS fighters on EU’s failure in taking them back.

While other countries of the likes of France, have come forward with the solution of taking back their ex-Jihadists, UK, on the other hand has shown resistance. The UK government has especially expressed the confusion, keeping in mind the wives and children of the fighters who pose challenge in the decision making. Therefore, the government is now uncertain about releasing a final verdict on the fighters, whether or not to prosecute them.

Another option considered is to ensure stopping the fighters from carrying out any sort of terrorist activity in their home country. Meanwhile, another condition put forth by the UK government for taking back fighters is for them to get consular help in Turkey.

The tweet in question that is said to have started the entire issue read, “The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 Isis fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them.”

Foreign Secretary of UK, Jeremy Hunt as said in one of his previous interviews to an Arab media that his government is not planning to send across anymore military forces to fight in Syria. However, Hunt also emphasized on the fact that he will entertain all of US’ request.

ISIS militants have been preventing 1000’s of civilians from leaving the region, according to a Syrian Defence Force spokesperson. Shamima Begum, 19, is the latest and amongst the three Briton schoolgirls who fled the UK in 2015, joining the ISIS. Shamima then reportedly fled the enclave and was found recently in the al-Hawl refugee camp. The remarks made by President Trump about releasing ISIS fighters came at the time of an enormous transatlantic squabble going on between the military and politicians about the withdrawal of 2,000 troops from the north-west Syrian region.

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UAE Police Detains UK War Veteran Andy Neal by Falsely Extracting Confession

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andrew-neal, UAE,

The police force in the United Arab Emirates do not care for human rights. They are arbitrary, overbearing and carry the State-licence to arrest and punish individuals without any evidence of wrongdoing.

A British war veteran has been languishing in Dubai Central Prison since October 4 on cooked-up charges of ‘drug dealing’. Andy Neal was picked up from the parking lot of his apartment complex by seven Criminal Investigation Department officers. He had just returned from work. He was then taken up to his apartment where, according to rights group Detained in Dubai, he was punched in the stomach. Neal was staying with his wife and two young children and the beating reportedly took place in front of the family.

The 44-year-old Briton pleaded innocence, but no one was listening. His fate had been sealed. The officers had come to arrest, not enquire and investigate.

At the police station, he was forced to sign a document prepared in Arabic. Later, it was discovered that the forced confession said Neal bought drugs from a man called Ray and sold them to a man called Ahmed. Ahmed, the alleged accuser, is said to have retracted his statement in January. Also, no drugs were found in Neal’s possession and his blood report came negative. But it didn’t matter.

His family is severely traumatized. Neal has lost his business that he built over a period of four years. Most people know about life in a Dubai jail. It’s torturous and inmates have been known to be pushed to the brink, contemplating suicide.
Like it always does, the UAE Government continues to be a silent spectator.

Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is back in the picture. His office is in touch with the UAE authorities. Hunt was recently seen negotiating with UAE for the release of British academic, Matthew Hedges. He was convicted of spying and given a life prison sentence.

David Haigh, a British Lawyer and campaigner for human rights, was convicted of fraud charges in Dubai and spent 22-months in prison, where he claims he was tortured and raped. According to Haigh, a prison guard told him, “Be careful, British prisoners die here.”

In 2011, British tourist, Lee Bradley Brown, was arrested by the Dubai police and died in prison after six days of custody in a controversial manner. Jamie Harron, Billy Barclay and Ellie Holman are other high-profile cases. There are reports of forced disappearances in the UAE, with many foreign nationals and Emirati citizens abducted by the UAE government and illegally detained and tortured in undisclosed locations. There is an unending list.

Yet, London says it is ‘good friends’ with the UAE. What it means is trade with Abu Dhabi takes precedence over the life and security of its own people.

It is not as if the UAE has any beef with Britain. It could be any other country. In fact, UAE is as brutal and cold-blooded with its own people. Sheikha Latifa II, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, is a classic case in point. She had tried to flee from the clutches of her domineering family, but was caught just as she was about to make final escape.

If a royal member can be subjected to horrors, what chance do others have?

Anyone who goes to the UAE as a visitor must remember that there are no internationally accepted norms of justice in the country. Those who visit the Emirates must do so at their own peril.

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