Western Influencers Are Getting Paid to Promote Saudi Propaganda on Social Media

Published November 7th, 2019 - 10:31 GMT

By Salam Bustanji

Influencers from various Western countries have been promoting Saudi Arabia on social media platforms. This trend raises the question, are they getting paid to spread Saudi propaganda? Or is the conservative Kingdom finally welcoming different cultures?

One social media activist expressed her concerns regarding the issue in a Tweet thread.

On her Twitter account, Nora argues that these influencers show Saudi Arabia in a totally different perspective that it is in reality. She complains that their representation of her home is distinctly unfamiliar to her.  

In recent months, YouTube has witnessed a large number of Western YouTubers vlogging about their trips to Saudi Arabia. Here are a few examples of the trend: 

Some defended the campaign, pointing out that paying influencers to promote tourism is not uncommon. 

In addition to the strikingly large number of Western influencers who are promoting the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia has been putting a massive effort into increasing tourism by creating an international festival called Riyadh season.

The events included in the festival included concerts, color runs, comedy shows and more. However, almost each one of these events have resulted in controversy due to persecution for “misbehavior.” 

At the end of Septemeber Saudi opened its doors to tourists, allowing foreigners from dozens of countries to apply for an e-visa or visa on arrival. Visiting the country had historically been very difficult if not impossible before this decision came into effect.

But it's not easy to know whether Saudi's new open-door, seemingly relaxed approach is a sign that the Kingdom is finally implementing reform, or if it's all part of a massive propaganda campaign to serve more sinister purposes.

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