Saudi Hollywood deal in possible jeopardy over Khashoggi affair

Saudi Hollywood deal in possible jeopardy over Khashoggi affair
2 min read
16 October, 2018
A number of Western businesses and media outlets are backing out of Saudi projects until Riyadh explains the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
MbS in the Oval Office in Washington, DC [Getty]
The head of Hollywood's most powerful talent agency, which Saudi Arabia penned a $400 million deal with earlier this year, was "really concerned" and "upset" about the disappearance and presumed murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In March, the Saudi Public Investment Fund negotiated a minority stake in Endeavor as Crown Prince and de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman pushed for a foothold in Hollywood. 

But Ari Emanuel, the head of Endeavor, stopped short of saying whether the $400 million deal was dead. 

"I personally am really concerned about it. But all I can say is that we are monitoring the situation. That's legally all I can say right now," he told delegates at MIPCOM, the world's top entertainment market in the French Riviera resort. 

Saudi Arabia is apparently considering an admission that Khashoggi died during an interrogation that went wrong, US media reported on Monday.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and US resident who became increasingly critical of Prince Mohammed in columns for the Washington Post, has not been seen since he walked into the kingdom's Istanbul consulate to sort out marriage paperwork on 2 October.

Turkish officials have said they believe he was killed and dismembered by a Saudi 15-person assassination squad who arrived in Istanbul and left the Turkish capital that day.

Since Khashoggi's disappearance a wave of Western business leaders have pulled out of the "Davos in the Desert" investment conference next week in Riyadh organised by MbS, who has sought to position himself as a moderniser.

The conference is being held at the Ritz-Carlton, which previously served as a makeshift jail during a purported anti-corruption probe that critics say was used to consolidate MbS' rule.

Last week, US President Donald Trump vowed to uncover the truth about what happened to Khashoggi and promised "severe punishment" for those responsible.

But Washington is a close ally of Riyadh, and Trump's first foreign visit as president was to the kingdom.

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