Fox News correspondent Bret Baier has promised to question Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about a series of controversies in the first royal interview to be broadcast on American television since 2019, scheduled to air Wednesday. The “Special Report” anchor’s interview with the controversial head of state comes after a week of preliminary interviews with various government and business leaders in Saudi Arabia.
Earlier this week, Mr. Bayer met with Saudi Minister of Economic Planning Faisal Arablihim, Sports Minister Abdulaziz bin Turki, Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, and Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb.
Baier’s interview sheds more light on the current state of Saudi Arabia, which has sparked considerable controversy in recent years, particularly over the crown prince’s alleged involvement in the 2018 murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.
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Mr Baier said there were “many things I wanted to ask him” and that ministers had said there was “no time” for the debate, but acknowledged there was a very real and significant backlash. added.
Discussions with ministers touched on various aspects of Saudi Arabia’s culture and the government’s vision for the future of the country, which is undergoing major changes as it strives to modernize.
Norman Ruhl, a former intelligence official who worked for both the CIA and ODNI, told Baier that women’s rights have expanded significantly in this country in recent years, including the U.S. women’s space flight earlier this year. increase participation in business ownership by sending professionals to launches and in business ownership.
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“A few years ago, women in Saudi Arabia couldn’t drive,” Ruhl pointed out. “The Ambassador to the United States is a formidable diplomat, Her Royal Highness Princess Reema bin Bandar, the daughter of a famous Saudi diplomat.”
“We are looking at a country that has experienced tectonic shifts on a scale, pace and degree unlike any other country in modern times,” he added. “These changes have been positive.”
Lina al-Mena, a business owner in Jeddah, said the changes she witnessed were “shock therapy” for Saudi society. While any change usually takes place over “decades,” Al Mena insists the country “has outgrown many of our people.” target. ”
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Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Arablihim said the country aims to invest in and develop all sectors and levels of society as part of Vision 2030, “a blueprint for where we want to be and how to get there.” He explained.
“This plan seeks to address long-term economic challenges and risks through three things: diversifying the economy, empowering the Kingdom’s youth, and building institutions that can continue to do so beyond 2030. “We aim to do so,” Arabrihim said.
The most globally-watched and recently discussed aspect of the plan is sports, particularly as Saudi Arabia spends billions to recruit talent from all over Europe, including the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. focused.
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The Public Investment Fund, run by the Saudi royal family, has also acquired sports teams such as England’s Newcastle United, which finished 11th out of 20 teams in 2022, but is expected to be in the top four in 2023. They took off and won the right to play in the Champions League after the war. Change of ownership.
Baier addressed the issue with Sports Minister Bin Turki, with many accusing Saudi Arabia of using sports to boost its reputation, a process known as “sports washing.” He pointed out that there was.
Mr Bin Turki said the investment was already bearing fruit, with increased participation in sports across the country, and that the government wanted the country’s children to “grow up loving these sports”. He said he was.
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“Even for our national team in 2017, there were 32 federations. Today, there are 97 federations in different sports and different activities,” he said, pointing to the improved performance of the Saudi Arabian team in recent years. emphasized.
Bret Baier’s interview with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will be broadcast on Fox News Channel on Wednesday at 6pm ET.