About Datarabia
Datarabia's Royal family, Business, and Islamic directories provide free searches for basic information, plus news and commentary.  Access to advanced search tools and more detailed information, such as biographic reports, and downloadable mailing lists are available by subscription.

  • The Saudi Royal Family Directory includes biographic and geneological information on over 5,000 members of the Saudi Arabian Royal family.
  • The Saudi Business Directory includes over 150,000 records of Saudi businesses with 79,000+ phone numbers, 50,000+ addresses,  40,000+ fax numbers, and 35,000+ company officers.  You can search the directory by commercial sector, city, or company name.  Advanced tools allow you to search for company officers, and download listings for bulk mailing and faxing. 
  • The Islamic Directory focuses on the important institutions and individuals that comprise Saudi Arabia's Muslim community. The directory includes biographic information on about 1,500 scholars and shaykhs.
Feature Article

The Premier League Prince: Status Symbol or Image Laundering?

The acquisition of a long-suffering Premier League football club by Saudi's sovereign wealth fund has renewed charges of "sports-washing" its negative international image. But is the yearning for a high profile sports team more than a simple distraction from trouble at home?

by Senior Analyst Talal Kapoor

Fans of Newcastle United in Northern England have been overjoyed since the acquisition of their beleaguered, cash-starved club by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), their delight manifested in scenes of ecstatic supporters waving Saudi flags and decked out in traditional attire (officials later felt obliged to put out a statement urging fans to refrain from wearing mock Arab clothing or head covering, while recognizing the intent was to show appreciation). The deal comes fourteen months after PIF had withdrawn a $415 million bid to buy the north-east club from its owner, and had been further prolonged by legal disputes regarding the fitness of the consortium (PIF has a majority stake; RB Sports & Media and PCP Capital Partners have a smaller share between them). Yasir al-Rumayyan, governor of PIF, will become non-executive chairman. However, the involvement of the crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman (MbS), has caused a major uproar.

In order for the deal to go forward, the Premier League had insisted on legally-binding assurances that the "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club", and was apparently satisfied in that regard. Yet, PIF, the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund, sets out on its own website that it falls "under the chairmanship and guidance" of MbS, and that "the Board is responsible for overseeing PIF's long-term strategy, investment policy, and performance." The nature of the assurances the League was given that MbS, the de facto head of state in place of his ageing father the king, would not be involved in PIF's control of the club is unclear. Furthermore, al-Rumayyan, the new non-executive chairman of Newcastle United, has close ties to the crown prince. Before he was personally tapped to head PIF (at short notice, and given no choice), al-Rumayyan was involved in the controversial "anti-corruption" campaign of November 2017, when he was ordered to seize and transfer 20 companies to the sovereign wealth fund's ownership as part of the purge which ensnared hundreds of princes and businessmen. One of these companies turned out to be Sky Prime Aviation Services, a charter jet company operating two of the planes used by Saudi agents implicated in the plot to kill Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

In a clear reference to the concept of "sports-washing" - which denotes a means for repressive governments to promote their country and garner positive media representation - Amnesty International stated that "Saudi ownership of St James' Park (Newcastle's stadium) was always as much about image management for [the crown prince] and his government, as it was about football". The charge typically refers to countries or states using sports clubs or events to "airbrush" away past human rights abuses and improve their global image, a contention which has particular resonance in the case of Saudi, following Khashoggi's murder and the widespread crackdown at home on activism and dissent. Just this month, the Kingdom has faced criticism for the death of Mustafa al-Darwish, executed for crimes he allegedly committed as a juvenile, and Musa al-Qarni, a prominent dissident academic and cleric, who died while serving a 15-year prison sentence (the result of severe beatings and torture, rights groups allege). Seen from this perspective, Saudi is guilty of sports-washing a bleak human rights record with the glamour of top-flight football.

Indeed, the country has spent $1.5bn on high-profile international sporting events in a bid to bolster its reputation, including a $650mn ten-year deal with Formula One, as well as other prestige events including a Heavyweight World Boxing Title fight, the Saudi Invitational Golf Tournament, and the Dakar Rally desert race. But the Newcastle deal represents the first major acquisition of an overseas sports team, and the first jump into the world of high-profile associations with top-rank football.

Related articles: Spectacles in the Desert: Sports-washing or Catalyst for Change?
For access to the rest of this article, as well as the Datarabia archive, subscribe to the Royal Family Directory. Subscribe
Page 2: ulterior motives?
Saudi Business News
King Salman's Jordan Visit in Pictures
In this album, Jordanian honor guards parade in a ceremony honoring King Salman bin Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. During the ceremony, Jordan's King Abdal

Universities under probe for financial discrepancies
Saudi Gazette report JEDDAH mdash; The Ministry of Education has uncovered financial discrepancies at some universities reaching millions of riyals and has formed a specialized committee to investigate the possible violations, Al-Watan daily reported. A source at the ministry reported that undocumented and unauth

Water supplied to Najran villages polluted, residents claim
nbsp; Saudi Gazette report nbsp; NAJRAN mdash; Residents of villages and small towns in Najran Province claim their water supplies are polluted and requested the Najran General Directorate of Water to fulfill its promise of providing potable water to the region, Al-Watan daily reported.

Saudi Business Directory
Gain unlimited access to the data that can take your business to the next level:

  • 150,000 Saudi Businesses!
  • 5,000 Email Addresses!
  • Generate Custom Mail Lists!
  • News and Commentary Archives!

Spectacles in the Desert: Sports-washing or Catalyst for Change?

All eyes are on Saudi Arabia as the country prepares to host its inaugural Formula One race in Jiddah, the latest in a series of high-profile sporting events that have shattered the commonly-held image of an austere and reclusive kingdom which shuns the corrupting influence of the West. At the same time, these spectacles have become embroiled in controversy, with concern that they are being used to divert attention from human rights abuses at home, in a phenomenon that has been termed "sports-washing". Is the use of sports and entertainment merely a cynical public relations ploy, or is there more than meets the eye?

The Taliban and Royal Support: a Change in Outlook?

Saudi Arabia's nearly complete silence in the wake of the rapid and astonishing collapse of the Afghanistan government is remarkable, given that the Kingdom was one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban's control of the country before the 2001 US invasion. Further, the royal family has had controversial dealings with the Taliban and the al-Qa'ida leaders they sheltered in the past, and their involvement with the group is still a matter of ongoing contention. Yet, in light of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman's efforts to moderate religious hardliners at home, would the Saudis now prefer to keep a Taliban-controlled government in Afghanistan at arm's length?

Changing Dynamics: Family Enterprise or One-Man Rule?

While Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman dominates the headlines, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that two of his brothers, Abd al-Aziz and Khalid, are both highly accomplished in their own right. But to what extent do their policies and views reflect the influence of the powerful heir to the throne, or indeed, the king?

From Washington to Paris: Changing Times or Business as Usual?

As the Kingdom's deputy defense minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, is entertained in Washington, another royal is under fire in France for allegedly enslaving his maids, bringing to mind the notorious affair of Princess Hussa bint Salman, the sister of Khalid, who was accused of threatening to murder a contractor working at her Paris apartment. With talk of a "fundamental" transformation of Saudi society, it is an open question whether real change is afoot, or whether it is a case of "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

An Imprisoned Princess: Red Lines Crossed or Factional Dispute?

Princess Basmah bint Saud continues to languish in prison, one of a number of high-profile royals imprisoned without charge or "disappeared" on the orders of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. Is her case, like that of many others, the consequence of a falling-out with the heir to the throne, or is the real motive an internal family dispute?