Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund completed a buyout of Premier League club Newcastle on Thursday, giving hope to fans dreaming of a first title in almost a century but concerning human rights activists that the kingdom had gained a foothold in the world’s richest soccer league. Supporters descended on the club’s St. James’ Park stadium, some chanting “we are Saudis, we do what we want” amid the promise of long-desired investment.
In Saudi Arabia’s latest sporting venture, the country will stage the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Red Sea port city of Jeddah in December — set to be the fastest street track in F1 history, according to the event’s website. The maiden Saudi Arabian GP is one of a handful of F1 races located in the Persian Gulf, alongside Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
Former Saudi officials will be questioned about their alleged links to the 9/11 attacks in court depositions this month by lawyers acting for families of the victims, who view it as a breakthrough in efforts to prove a link between Riyadh and the hijackers. The families are seeking to prove that Saudi nationals helped support two of the 9/11 hijackers and that support was coordinated by a diplomat in the Saudi embassy in Washington.
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and other high-ranking Saudi officials have been accused of committing crimes against humanity in a criminal complaint filed in Germany by Reporters without Borders (RSF), the press freedom group. The 500-page complaint, filed with the German public prosecutor in general in the federal court of justice in Karlsruhe, centers on the “widespread and systematic” persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia.
The White House has defended its decision not to directly sanction Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman over the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as criticism grew before Washington’s unveiling of a new policy towards Riyadh on Monday. Joe Biden was vague in describing what would be announced on Monday, saying only that the general approach to Saudi Arabia it would be “significant” and make clear that “the rules are changing”.
The US government is expected to release a declassified intelligence report that finds the Saudi crown prince responsible for approving the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The release of the report, expected later on Thursday, is expected to mark a significant shift in US-Saudi relations, which under Donald Trump’s administration saw the major oil producer given a relaxed ride on human rights issues, its role in the Yemen war, and more.
Leading Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has been released from prison after some 1,000 days in detention and amid persistent international pressure for her to be set free, her family tweeted Wednesday. Al-Hathloul was arrested in May 2018 along with several other female activists, after making a name for herself as one of the few women to openly call for women’s right to drive in the deeply conservative kingdom.
A Saudi court on Monday sentenced prominent women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul to nearly six years in prison, her family said, after her conviction in a trial that has drawn international condemnation. The verdict and sentence pose a challenge to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s relationship with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who has criticized Riyadh’s human rights record.
Saudi Arabia agreed on Monday to let Israeli airliners cross its airspace en route to the United Arab Emirates after talks between Saudi officials and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, a senior Trump administration official said. The agreement was hammered out just hours before Israel’s first commercial flight to the UAE was planned on Tuesday morning. The Israir flight was at risk of being canceled with no overflight agreement.
Mystery surrounds a secret night-time flight and alleged meeting between the Saudi crown prince and the Israeli prime minister. According to Israeli media reports, a private jet known to be used by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was tracked flying from Tel Aviv to the Saudi city of Neom on Sunday night. The plane was on the ground for two hours before returning to Tel Aviv just after midnight.