08/03/2019, 00.46
SAUDI ARABIA
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Amid censorship, repression, murders, Riyadh wants to become 'the capital' of Arab media

Saudi Arabia is ranked 172nd on the RSF list, is involved in the murder of dissident journalist Khashoggi and arrests reporters.  But it intends to launch a "media forum" and media awards.  The goal is to become a place for "discussions and debate" at regional and international level.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Ranked 172nd in the 2019 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranking;  in the crosshairs of international agencies for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi;  accused of keeping at least thirty reporters in jail, including foreigners.  Despite a current situation going in the opposite direction, Saudi Arabia is launching a series of editorial initiatives, including an award, with the aim of becoming "the Arab media capital".

In recent days the Saudi journalists association announced the launch of a new "media forum", to turn Riyadh into the heart of information [tv, internet and press] of the entire Arab world.  The forum, adds the official Spa agency, will be accompanied by the "Saudi Media Award", a prize that will be awarded at the end of November to the best local information body.

For the president of the board of directors of the Saudi press association Khaled al-Malik, this new exchange platform will become an "annual event that will make Riyadh the capital of the Arab media".  It should improve "the reputation of Saudi Arabia as a leading nation in the field of politics and the international economy", preparing the ground "for discussions and debates of greater scope".

The November event will focus on the theme "opportunities and challenges" in the media.  The objective is to "offer the opportunity to professionals in the sector" and to the "media figures" of the Arab and foreign world to "meet and discuss development and challenges".  An ambitious program, for a nation at 172rd place for press freedom, with thirty journalists in prison and targeted by the UN for the implications in the Khashoggi assassination at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

Moreover, in the Wahhabi kingdom independent press organs are forbidden and all news is filtered by the State, which does not disdain the use of censorship combined with the mallet of prison and repression.  For RSF, journalists are victims of "arbitrary detentions" and the use of torture has reached "systematic" levels.  Those who criticise or talk about malfunctions at the political level risk being imprisoned.  Crimes such as blasphemy, the insult to religion, those who foment chaos and endanger national unity or threaten the image of the king or nation are punished.

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