Call out the musicians, artists, organizations, and tourism figures who are helping Saudi Arabia, whitewash it crimes of murder and repression
The hands of musicians, artists, and public figures who stand by Saudi Arabia are covered in blood. Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the leader who has murdered journalists, killed innocent Yemeni civilians, and jailed women fighting for their basic rights, is desperately trying to improve his image in the West after the global outrage over the killing of Washington Post journalist Khashoggi. Musicians, artists, and public figures who agree to normalize Mohammed bin Salman as an “open and tolerant” leader are playing right into his strategy. After such a fall from grace when the world condemned him for killing Khashoggi, promoting tourism using Western cultural figures as cover seems his only card left.
No one in their right mind should believe the propaganda that MBS wants tourism in Saudi because he is a "tolerant leader bringing social equality to his country." His crimes are so egregious serious action is being taken to hold him accountable. Anyone who decides to stand on the side of MBS for financial benefits while ignoring Saudi Arabia’s and MBS’s human rights record should be shamed by the international community.
We have created a list of those - who though concerts, art, theatre, and tourism - help to whitewash the agenda of a repressive regime and a war criminal. Each listing includes a brief bio of the individual or company and their specific involvement in whitewashing Saudi crimes. The list will be updated regularly. We welcome new submissions for the list, especially if it is someone who has an upcoming event in Saudi Arabia who we can sway to change course to side with human rights, freedom, and equality. We encourage everyone on this list to see the err of their ways and make a statement that they will no longer support Saudi Arabia. Their announcement will be met with open arms and applause.
The promotion of tourism is sponsored and financed by many body governments in Saudi Arabia. The recent one, which is “Winter in Tantoura” in Ula region was promoted by the Royal Commission of Ula.
WWE has two 2019 events planned in Saudi Arabia - May 3 and November 1 - as part of their 10-year, $40 million partnership contract.
WWE shows in Saudi Arabia have been filled with controversy from the start. During 2018, after the contract was signed, wrestling fans were outraged to learn their favorite female wrestlers were banned from performing due to the Saudi’s sexist laws. Then the murder of Jamal Khashoggi happened and calls came in demanding that the company pull out of the partnership. Many fans even cancelled their subscriptions to the WWE Network in protest.
Send WWE a message here that no amount of money is worth partnering with the repressive and murderous Saudi Arabian regime. You can also tweet messages to the top WWE female wrestlers. Tell them to express solidarity with imprisoned saudi women activists by making statements on Twitter and at events and by pressuring WWE to break up with MbS.
Ronda Rousey @RondaRousey
Sasha Banks @SashaBanksWWE
Shayna Baszler @QoSBaszler
Toni Storm @tonistorm_
Alexa Bliss @AlexaBliss_WWE
Alicia Fox @FoxieFantasies
Becky Lynch @BeckyLynchWWE
Charlotte Flair @MsCharlotteWWE
Charly Caruso @CharlyCarusoWWE
Dana Brooke @DanaBrookeWWE
Dasha Fuentes @DashaFuentesWWE
Billie Kay @BillieKayWWE
Brie Bella @BellaTwins
Laura Alho (Blue Abaya)
Travel writer and photographer Laura Alho - who moved from Finland to Saudi Arabia and started her “Blue Abaya — Explore Arabia” blog in 2010 - has long expressed a passion and curiosity for the beauty of the Saudi Arabian landscape But now she is selling out. She is helping Mohammed bin Salman promote his “Vision 2030” which misrepresents Saudi Arabia as a place of reform, inviting tourists to participate in whitewashing the oppressive government.
Laura is a resident of Saudi Arabia, so she knows better.She can’t continue to ignore the fact of its many human rights violations in exchange for money. Laura is now helping promote Ula as a desert camp vacation destination, praising MBS as a reformer and open leader. This makes her complicit with MBS’s crimes as she is aiding his coverup..
We call on Laura to dissociate herself from the Saudi regime, to speak up for human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, and to stop encouraging tourism to such a repressive country.. Saudi Arabia should be boycotted as a tourist destination until they end their criminal acts against women, journalists, dissidents, and the people of Yemen. Laura must recognize that her promotion of Saudi tourism and praise of MBS - purely for her own financial gain- makes her complicit in human rights violations and war crimes.
US-based Greek composer, keyboardist, pianist, and music producer Yanni performed a concert in Saudi Arabia in December 2018 to promote tourism in the Ula region of the country. Yanni also had a series of concerts in Saudi Arabia in 2018.
On February 22, 2019 Yanni tweeted “In solidarity with the Venezuelan people” as they were (and still are) facing a US orchestrated coup, US sanctions, and a resulting economic crisis . We applaud Yanni’s solidarity with the Venezuelan people, but where is Yanni’s expression off that kind of concern for the people of Yemen who are suffering so much that every ten minutes a Yemeni child dies of malnutrition, for Saudi women human rights activists languishing in prison, for justice for Jamal Khashoggi, or for an end to government attacks against the Shia population in Saudi?
After his December 2018 performance in Saudi Arabia, which streamed live with a message to the world that he supports Saudi Arabia, Yanni stated that he is planning to come back to the county within the next two years to perform an even bigger concert.
We call on Yanni to recognize the suffering and death he is helping whitewash by performing in Saudi Arabia. Certainly the money he is being paid to perform in Saudi Arabia is not worth the harm he is causing by providing cover for one of the world’s most repressive regimes.. In the name of human rights, we ask Yanni to speak out and acknowledge that he should not have performed in Saudi in the past and refuse all future concerts in the country.
Arabia Foundation/Ali Shihabi
The Arabia Foundation, a registered non-profit organization, was founded in 2017 as a think tank in Washington DC. It describes its primary role as providing “insight information.” \
Despite its innocent image, the real work of the Arabia Foundation is whitewashing the repressive regime in Saudi Arabia by legitimizing the spread of misleading information about the kingdom. Founder Ali Shihabi works day and night to feature MBS as a reformer and encourage the U.S. to ignore the Jamal Khashoggi crisis without demanding that the crown prince, who ordered his death, be held accountable. To this end, Shihabi argues that we should forget the Khasshoggi crisis and instead focus on how the United States and Saudi Arabia can work together.. If we want Saudi Arabia to enact rapid and far-reaching reform, he argues, it is necessary to have a leader willing to take risks such as MBS. Human’s rights violations, according to his logic, are an acceptable by-product of rapid reform..
Ali Shihabi, who has been featured on CNN, misleads the American public by justifying the arrest and torture of activists and dissidents in Saudi Arabia by claiming that Saudi activists and dissidents are backward people who are objecting to necessary changes in Saudi Arabian society..
Several U.S. citizens sit on the Foundation’s board as “advisors,” including academics and former politicians hired to lobby.
Arabia Foundation advisors include:
- Ambassador Adam Ereli
- Ambassador Chas W. Freeman Jr.
- Professor F. Gregory Gause
- Professor Bernard Haykel
- Dr. Edward L. Morse
- Norman T. Roule
It is shameful that these Americans are sitting on the board of this corrupt organization- people who are fully aware that they are supporting an organization that represents the Saudi regime. We call on them to resign from the Arabian Foundation immediately.
We also call on people working with Arabia Foundation to stop their engagement with the organization. They are fully aware that the Arabia Foundation is part of the regime’s propaganda machine used to mislead politicians in Washington and whitewash the crimes of Mohammed bin Salman.
- Firas Maksad
- Evan Langenhahn
- Geneive Abdo
- John Sfakianakis
- Kamran Bokhari
- Phillip Cornell
- Fatima Abo Alasrar
- Najah Al-Otaibi
- Sarah Lord
- Noura Altamimi
- Abdallah Hendawy
- Rebecca Rosen
- Kayla Elias
- Josh Morales
Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC)
The Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), founded by Salman Alansari, is a Saudi PR organization based in Washington DC that focuses on four approaches: 1) content, 2) events, 3) media, and 4) initiatives. .
Recently, it’s been focussing on restoring the tarnished reputation of MBS after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Ironically, they have promoted the appointment of Princess Reema bint Bandar as a progressive move to empower women in Saudi Arabia, papering over the reality that many Saudi women activists are currently in jail for demanding basic women’s rights.
SAPRAC also cites westerners including “Laura the blogger,” who praise the regime and its “reform efforts.” in order to legitimize the Saudi regime in the eyes of United States’ politicians.
Given their blatant disregard for human rights, SAPRAC must be isolated from the Washington DC community.