When I visited Saudi Arabia in 2017, a 30-year-old Saudi social entrepreneur told me about her reforms: “We are privileged to be the generation that has seen the before and after. Her mother, she says, will never know what it’s like to drive a car. Her daughter could never imagine a day when a woman couldn’t drive. “But I will always remember not being able to drive,” she told me.
My friend Dina Amer, an Egyptian-American filmmaker, showed her incredible new film, “You Look Like Me,” about the Islamization and radicalization of a young French-Moroccan woman who died with one of the ringleaders of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris – at the Saudi Arabian Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah in December. It debuted at the Venice Film Festival. But it did have its Middle East premiere in Saudi Arabia, although it’s a very nuanced and sensitive subject. “I have to say, though, that the quality and ambition of the Saudi film festival was on a par with the best in the world,” Dina told me. “Seeing so many Saudi filmmakers begin to tell their stories was impressive and gave me a lot of hope. I was struck when Dina pointed out that her film was banned in Egypt but won the Audience Award in Saudi Arabia.
As Steven Cook, a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, and someone who writes about Saudi Arabia while traveling there, noted in a recent essay, “The crown prince of Saudi Arabia is perhaps obnoxious,” but “there are major changes in Saudi Arabia.” “. Arabia that critics tend to dismiss too easily and nonchalantly.
This brings me back to the LIV Golf series. Mohammed, the one who told you to sponsor a golf tour to break up the PGA Tour, throwing ungodly sums of money at golfers and strangers at the end of his career, should be fired.
It’s not an easy trick to spend a billion dollars improving your image and end up with only bad publicity, but your golf tour is. Instead of the news pages talking about all the religious and social reforms in Saudi Arabia, the sports pages now talk about Khashoggi’s assassination by his regime and the involvement of Saudi jihadis in 9/11.
There’s a reason the tour’s most respected players like Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods won’t join your streak. They know sportwashing when they see it.