FACTBOX: Are 150 Saudi Royals infected with Coronavirus?

4 mins read

by Zahack Tanvir

It’s not a mere tittle-tattle piece of information based on anonymous claims…

America’s most popular newspaper — The New York Times — came up with a highly speculative report on 8th of April about 150 Saudi royal family members infected by Coronavirus—which was authored by London-based David D. Kirkpatrick and Lebanon-based Ben Habbard.

The report was later published with a back-reference to the NYTimes by Israel’s—Times of Israel, and Qatar’s—Al Jazeera, and gradually it went like Chinese-whispers among the newsagencies of India and Pakistan.

The way it’s written and quoted raises serious concerns about the ethics of journalism—as the rule of thumb is to accurately quote the valid sources while publishing such an intriguing matter that can adversely affect a country’s stability and its people.

It’s not a mere tittle-tattle piece of information based on anonymous claims like—“according to an internal ‘high alert’ sent out by hospital officials”, “a copy was obtained by The New York Times”, “according to a person close to the family”, “according to doctors and people close to the family”, etc.

Well, it isn’t hard to speculate about the objectives and the motives of the authors, but it obviously seems the motives were ulterior which were directed to create panic and chaos among the residents, citizens and the Kingdom’s allies.

Ben Habbard has the history of spreading anti-Saudi rhetoric, and it’s quite obvious that he is currently marketing his latest book against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—for this very reason majority of his articles are directed at attacking Saudi Arabia and the royal family.

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s journalist Maria Maloof has outrightly called NYTimes staff as “liars”, and rejected the report as “wrong information” and “total lies”, and asked why it keeps targeting the royal family of Saudi Arabia.

“The New York Times are liars. They published wrong information that 150 members of the royal family of the House of Saud have been infected with the corona virus. These are total lies. Why do you keep targeting the royal family of Saudi Arabia with these false accusations”.

Mohammad Wasim Ameen, a research scholar from India’s prestigious university based in New Delhi Jamia Milla Islamia posted on his Facebook page in Urdu language, talking about the crass attitude of the Western media in handling the affairs related to Saudi Arabia.

“Rumors are circulating and spreading these days. A few months ago, a news went viral about the luxurious lifestyle of a Saudi Prince who died 13 years ago, and even the news of Mohammed bin Salman’s death was viral,” wrote Wasim. “It seems that world media and democratic countries are disturbed by the prosperity of Saudi Arabia and its people.”

Mohammed Wasim’s post seems to hold truth about the absolute reason behind the media attacks directed against Saudi Arabia and its leaders, perhaps the way Saudi Arabia is currently dealing with the pandemic situation.

At the time when the countries who criticized Saudi Arabia were grappling against the coronavirus lockdowns with heavy economical wounds on their backs, even asking their citizens to go for “charities”. Saudi Arabia was assuring its citizens and expatriates to be worriless.

British travellers who were stranded in New Zealand and Australia were literally weeping about not getting any help from the UK government.

UK embassy in Kuwait tweeted that, “Embassy cannot provide financial assistance to British nationals and as a last resort UK nationals sometimes need to contact charities”.

Canada who boastfully helped a Saudi teenager run away from her family “safely”, couldn’t even repatriate thousands of its citizens stranded abroad.

Spain was reaching out to NATO for humanitarian assistance to fight coronavirus.

In United States, nearly a third of renters did not pay their rent, and thousands of working class people lost their jobs.

However on the other side of this planet, Saudi Arabia gave five-star accommodation and toothsome food and desserts to the quarantined coronavirus patients.

The World Health Organization (WHO) praised the Saudi Government for its approach that comes from the 2012 MERS experience, and its unique expertise in emergency preparedness from managing the Haj pilgrimage every year.

In fact, the expatriates of the above mentioned countries living in Saudi Arabia have hailed Kingdom’s efforts in smoothly handling the crisis.

The US ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid advised the American community in the Kingdom to “shelter in place,” instead of returning to the US amid the present crisis.

Unfortunately, what is more appalling and inhumane on the part of NYTimes authors is that—over 16000 Americans have died due to coronavirus and more than 450,000 residents had tested positive for the virus, but the authors’ curiosity revolves around 150 Saudi royals and the happenings in Saudi Arabia.

Zahack Tanvir is a Computer Engineer based in Saudi Arabia. He holds Diploma in Journalism from London School of Journalism. He regularly writes for MilliChronicle on socio-political issues. He tweets under @ZahackTanvir.

%d bloggers like this: