By Arab News
What is with the West’s obsession with Saudi Arabia? One need not see an extension and part of the growing Islamophobia in everything the Western media write or report about Muslim countries or individuals or communities. But there is no denying that the tendency to paint all Arabs and Muslims as terrorists or corrupt, women-bashing male chauvinists has assumed ridiculous proportions in post-9/11 times. Many prominent Saudi personalities and charities became victims of smear campaigns in the wake of 9/11 attacks but the courts vindicated them by throwing out all frivolous charges. Even before 9/11, the Western media were known for misrepresentation of Arabs and Muslims. In fact, Arabs and Muslims have been the single most maligned and attacked group in the history of Hollywood films. This bias manifests itself from time to time in increasingly absurd ways.
Look at this wild accusation, for instance, against Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi businessman who owns the Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding Company with worldwide businesses and financial interests. A New York Times report Wednesday quoting a Spanish lawyer talked of a court in Ibiza “reopening” a case of alleged “encounter” between Prince Alwaleed and a woman in August 2008.
A spokeswoman for the Kingdom Holding has dismissed the allegation as totally baseless and preposterous. She points out that Prince Alwaleed had not just been to Ibiza in over a decade, that summer he had spent with his family and dozens of staff in France and Egypt, which is established by his travel and itinerary records.
Moreover, neither the prince nor his lawyers were informed or aware of any complaint filed in Ibiza in 2008 or that the same complaint was dismissed in 2010.
Be that as it may, anyone familiar with Prince Alwaleed would be outraged by such reports. Here is someone who is not just renowned for his philanthropy and extensive charity activities around the world, he is known for his utter simplicity and rare integrity of character.
So who is trying to drag the Saudi businessman through the mud and why? It could be a case of mistaken identity as many a so-called prince in the past has claimed to be the charismatic Saudi who is described by the Forbes as the richest Arab. And it’s also possible that the woman behind this claim could be a real fortune-hunter hoping to make a fast buck by throwing such serious allegations. There is another likely explanation. By going after the high-profile businessman, it’s possible that someone is looking to play a bigger game of far larger stakes.
Prince Alwaleed, who already has a media company of his own, Rotana Holding, and holds the second largest stake in Rupert Murdoch’s global conglomerate News Corp, recently unveiled his ambitious Alarab news channel in partnership with Bloomberg.
Whatever be the truth, which will eventually come out before the world and let’s hope soon, what is unacceptable is the manner in which a newspaper of the standing of the New York Times went to town with the story without checking facts and primary sources. We don’t consider it responsible journalism. The highbrow newspaper failed to stick to the basics of journalism in reporting this so-called case.