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Saudi paid $138,000 for anti-Qatar adverts in US

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (L) is welcomed by Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (R) in Doha, Qatar on 5 December 2016 [Bandar Algaloud/Anadolu Agency]
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (L) is welcomed by Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (R) in Doha, Qatar on 5 December 2016 [Bandar Algaloud/Anadolu Agency]

A Saudi lobbying agency is paying $138,000 for 30-second TV spots for ads in the US accusing Qatar of funding terrorism.

Contracts reviewed by Al Jazeera show that the Saudi monarchs are using a public relations company, Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), to fund advert campaigns against their GCC neighbour.

One of the reasons cited by Riyadh in leading the bloc of countries imposing a blockade on Qatar since 5 June is Doha’s alleged support for terrorism. However, they have found it extremely difficult to win the support of officials in Washington for their punitive action, which forced Riyadh to row-back from the 13 demands it made before sanctions could be lifted.

The ads were aired over the weekend and will be repeated during a current affairs and news programme.

The Saudi lobby group paid for four spots, totalling $1,000 per second for 120 seconds. SAPRAC also paid for three other ads which were aired during the British Open golf tournament on 23 July which cost $6,000 each.

Read: The Gulf media’s hostile anti-Qatar campaign

Media experts approached by Al Jazeera concerning the purchase of ad slots say that there is little chance that these ads will be effective.

“Having a few ads is not much repetition. There’s not much to gain from it,” Kip Cassino, executive vice president a market research firm, told Al Jazeera.

Since the Saudi-led blockade backfired after Riyadh failed to garner the support of key US officials including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, it has adopted new strategies to influence US policy.     Richard Lau, a professor of political science at Rutgers University, said: “What strikes me as interesting is that Saudi Arabia is starting a new strategy for influencing opinion in America.”

#QatarGate

Since its founding in 2016, SAPRAC is thought to have worked closely with the pro-Israel lobby group, AIPAC. Al Jazeera reported that the Israeli lobby group offered advice to the Saudi lobby agency particularly since King Salman and Prince Mohammed Bin Salman came into power.

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Asia & AmericasMiddle EastNewsQatarSaudi ArabiaUS
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