Saudi Arabia has money. Lots and lots of money – and they’re very comfortable letting the rest of the world know about it. They’re also happy to use that money to further their own interests, which are many.
Hence why the MDL Beast Soundstorm festival is partly funded by the Saudi Arabian government. The backing by Saudi taxpayers effectively means they can pay six figure salaries for DJs, knowing that many won’t want to turn down a stay in a 5-star luxury hotel plus obscene money for a gig just before Christmas.
And it’s not just in the festival world where Saudi Arabia is keen to make its influence felt – they want to do it in the media as well. A regular reader got in touch with Ears To The House pinpointing us to a New York Times article saying that Vice Media is seriously considering doing a deal with MBC Group, a media conglomerate which is majority owned by the Saudi Arabian government.
This, however, could be controversial. Would investment by a firm like MBC Group affect the editorial lines being taken at Vice? The company insist that editors at the site work independently – this might well be the case now, but different owners take different approaches. Australian media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, for example, is known for being very hands-on with the editorial lines in newspapers which he owns.
In truth, Saudi Arabia’s money could bring all kinds of awkward questions to the fore. If an MBC Group owned Vice were to publish articles about the human rights records of other countries, they’d practically be an open target for accusations of hypocrisy.
But for any media organisation wishing to grow at the moment, options might not exactly be plentiful. It remains to be seen what Vice would do…
Due to current events in the UK, Ears To The House is running slightly differently to normal at the moment – Wednesday Whisper returns next week.