Saudi Arabia: new spoof adverts mock Crown Prince's 'reform' claims

Mock job advert, an arch publicity notice and an ironic video satirise Saudi claims over women’s rights and supposed changes in the Kingdom

Amnesty takes out ‘ad’ in The Economist magazine rebutting Saudi PR drive seen during Crown Prince’s recent visit to UK

‘The best PR machine in the world cannot gloss over Saudi Arabia’s dismal human rights record’ - Samah Hadid

Amnesty International has launched an advertising campaign satirising Saudi Arabia’s attempts to rebrand the country as “reforming” despite an ongoing crackdown against human rights activists in the Kingdom.

The campaign includes a mock job advert for “high flying PR talent with fierce ambition” to provide public relations expertise to “distract the world’s attention from the merciless persecution of human rights activists, the torture in prisons, the corporal punishment, and the killing of civilians in Yemen by Saudi Arabia”.

Meanwhile, a separate publicity notice features a photograph of a blindfolded man about to be executed by beheading next to the text: “If this is how your country delivers justice, you need a really, really good PR agency”.

The publicity notice goes on to talk about how Saudi Arabia has need of a PR agency to “create an impression in the Western media of a country governed by a visionary Crown Prince, pursuing ambitious reforms” to obscure the “grim facts”.

The “really, really good PR agency” mock-publicity notice is set to be published in The Economist tomorrow (Friday 30 March), as well as a number of Dutch media outlets on the same day.

To accompany the print ads, Amnesty has also produced a 40-second online video which satirises Saudi Arabia’s decision to aggressively PR cosmetic “reforms” rather than actually carry out substantive human rights changes. The video, called “Guess which one they chose”, contrasts the grim reality of Saudi executions, corporal punishment, jailing of activists and the carnage in Yemen - with the smiling face of the public relations industry.

Coming shortly after Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s recent controversial visit to the UK and an advertising blitz in London from the Saudi authorities, Amnesty takes issue with Saudi ministers’ claims to have introduced genuine reforms in the country.

During the Crown Prince’s visit, Amnesty repeatedly called on UK ministers to raise human rights with the de facto Saudi ruler, drawing attention to the plight of prisoners of conscience like the jailed blogger Raif Badawi. Amnesty also urged Downing Street to halt arms sales to Riyadh in light of continuing breaches of international humanitarian law - and a mounting civilian death toll - by the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen.

Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said:

“The best PR machine in the world cannot gloss over Saudi Arabia’s dismal human rights record.

“If Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is truly intent on being a ‘reformer’, he must end the systematic repression of women, minorities and human rights defenders, order the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, and end the use of the death penalty.

“Saudi Arabia wants the world to focus on its humanitarian aid donations to Yemen, but in reality the Saudi-led coalition is committing serious violations of international law by bombing schools, hospitals and civilian homes, which is exacerbating one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises.”

To view the ads go here.

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