Turki Alalshikh posts photo with alleged Jamal Khashoggi murder mastermind Saud al-Qahtani

Turki Alalshikh posts photo with alleged Jamal Khashoggi murder mastermind Saud al-Qahtani
Turki Alalshikh, the face of the Saudi assault on global entertainment, has posted a pic of himself with a leading suspect in the murder of Khashoggi.
2 min read
02 July, 2024
Turki Alalshik is the head of Saudi Arabia's powerful GEA, which runs the entertainment industry in the kingdom [Getty]

Saudi Arabia’s entertainment kingpin Turki Alalshikh shared an image of himself on Monday on social media with Saud al-Qahtani, a former senior aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and prime suspect in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Alalshikh is a Saudi adviser at the Royal Court and Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which regulates the entertainment industry in the kingdom.

In recent years, Alalshikh has become well known in the UK and globally among fans of numerous sports, particularly boxing, as the face of Saudi Arabia’s bold attempts to turn the kingdom into a global sporting entertainment hub.

By openly posting a photo of himself with Qahtani, Alalsikh will only embolden critics who accuse him of pioneering Saudi Arabia’s sportwashing, especially in light of the kingdom’s dismal human rights record.

When Mohammed bin Salman was named crown prince in 2017, Qahtani became one of the most powerful figures in Saudi Arabia.

He was reported to have had a leading role in the so-called Ritz Carlton purge of that year and is alleged to have overseen the torture of imprisoned women's rights activists, including Loujain al-Hathloul.

Qahtani is also believed to have been a leading figure in the brief detention of then-Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri in 2017.

In 2017, Qahtani was identified by the US intelligence community as the ringleader in the brutal assassination of regime critic Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Qahtani was suspended from Twitter a year after being removed over his suspected role in Khashoggi's murder, accusing him of using his role as head of the Saudi media to manipulate the platform.

In an effort to save face for MbS, Qahtani was long considered persona non grata in the kingdom.

However, with a figure as powerful as Turki Alalshikh posting photos of him, it could point to Riyadh no longer worrying about any pushback on the murder of Khashoggi or any of its vast human rights abuses.

Critics argue that Saudi Arabia is using sport to normalise many of its human rights abuses, including its imprisonment and execution of human rights advocates and political prisoners, as well as the persecution of its sizeable Shia minority.