Ask any Westerner their opinion on Saudi Arabia, and they may respond negatively. Perhaps they may be aware, for example, of the country’s highly criticized stances on human rights and criminal justice. Nevertheless, the West still does a lot of business with Saudi Arabia. And in recent years, the Middle Eastern nation has been working with U.K. public relations companies to try and transform its international image.
These efforts, moreover, may be due to the influence of Mohammed bin Salman – also known as “MBS.” In 2017 MBS became crown prince of Saudi Arabia and officially took his place as next in line to become king. Since then, it’s been said that he is challenging the nation’s ultraconservative establishment, acting as a reformer of sorts.
However, on October 2, 2018, writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul – perhaps due to his forthright criticisms of his native country. According to the Turkish authorities, Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered within the building. The Saudis, however, maintained that the journalist had died during a “fist fight.” But Khashoggi isn’t the only individual to have allegedly been targeted for retribution. International human rights organizations have pointed out, for instance, that several journalists, clerics and activists were arrested in Saudi Arabia in September 2017.