Saudi Arabia‘s Crown Prince has posed for selfies at a lavish racing event as the kingdom’s de facto ruler continues to deny involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Mohammed bin Salman put his arm around a young car enthusiast for one photo and clasped an official’s hand in another during a Formula E Championship race in Ad Diriyah, a suburb of Riyadh.
The electric car extravaganza featured performances from world famous pop stars including Enrique Iglesias, David Guetta and Black Eyed Peas.
Prince Mohammed appeared to be all smiles at the event despite a torrid few months in which he has faced claims he ordered the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince (left) has posed for selfies at a lavish racing event as the kingdom’s de facto ruler continues to deny involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Prince Mohammed (left) appeared to be all smiles at the event despite a torrid few months in which he has faced claims he ordered the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October
A grinning Mohammed bin Salman clasped an official’s hand in one photo another during a Formula E Championship race in Ad Diriyah, a suburb of Riyadh
The electric car extravaganza included musical performances from the likes of Enrique Iglesias (pictured) and David Guetta
The Black Eyed Peas were among international acts who performed at the lavish racing event on the outskirts of Riyadh
According to Bloomberg, the crown prince toured the government-sponsored racing event over the weekend and paused to take pictures with his followers.
Thousands of cheering fans watched a series of concerts that accompanied the racing, which was portrayed in Saudi media as being a gift from Prince Mohammed.
Saudi officials have rejected accusations that the 33-year-old ordered writer Khashoggi’s death.
But the slaying has sparked global outrage and damaged the international reputation of the young royal who is pushing economic and social changes in the world’s top oil exporter.
Weeks after Khashoggi’s death, the crown prince attended a huge Future Investment Initiative in the country, dubbed ‘Davos in the desert’ only for dozens of high profile companies and government officials pulling out amid disgust over Khashoggi’s murder.
The forum was the prince’s brainchild and aimed at drawing more foreign investment into the kingdom, providing desperately needed jobs for its youthful population.
In further embarrassment to the regime, the summit’s website was infiltrated by hackers accusing the regime of financing terrorism.
Hackers edited the event’s poster to show the kingdom’s powerful crown prince as an ISIS executioner wielding a bloody sword with Khashoggi kneeling before him.
Saudi officials have rejected accusations that the 33-year-old crown prince ordered writer Jamal Khashoggi’s (pictured) death
The crown prince (pictured) toured the government-sponsored racing event over the weekend and paused to take pictures with his followers
Khashoggi’s murder has sparked global outrage and damaged the international reputation of the young royal (pictured at the Formula E event over the weekend) who is pushing economic and social changes in the world’s top oil exporter
The cyber attack made reference to the increasing pressure Saudi Arabia has faced over civilian deaths and a humanitarian crisis in neighbouring Yemen, where the kingdom supports the internationally-recognised government against Iranian-aligned Houthis.
The hackers wrote underneath the image: ‘For the sake of security of children worldwide, we urge all countries to put sanction [sic] on the Saudi regime.’
‘The regime, aligned with the United States, must be kept responsible for its barbaric and inhuman action, such as killing its own citizen Jamal Khashoggi and thousands of innocent people in Yemen.
‘The medieval Saudi regime is one of the sources for #Terrorism_Financing in the world.’
The hackers also published what they purport is a list of ‘a thousand terrorists and spies of the Saudi Arabia regime who perform malicious activities around the world’ – complete with their phone numbers and email addresses.
The no-shows at this year’s conference contrasted with last year’s inaugural FII – a star-studded event at which Prince Mohammed was lionised as a visionary by speakers.
French DJ David Guetta was among performers at the event over the weekend, which drew thousands of fans
The crown princes of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi watched on as the kingdom hosted its first Formula E race over the weekend
Saudi Arabia has faced increasing pressure over civilian deaths and a humanitarian crisis in neighbouring Yemen, where the kingdom supports the internationally-recognised government against Iranian-aligned Houthis. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pictured at a Formula E race over the weekend
He wowed the 2017 crowd of global business titans with pledges to lead the ultraconservative kingdom toward ‘moderate Islam.’ He also announced plans to build a $500 billion futuristic city in the desert.
But just days after last year’s forum, the emboldened prince launched a sweeping shakedown of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest businessmen and top princes for alleged corruption, transforming the same Ritz-Carlton hotel that had earlier hosted the investment forum into a prison for the country’s elite.
The crackdown – a surprise move by the prince, who’s upended the kingdom’s reputation for slow, cautions reforms – rattled investors.
Alongside moves like allowing cinemas to open and lifting a ban on women driving, the crown prince has led a stifling crackdown on dissent.
Dozens of critics and activists have been detained, including several women and their supporters who had long pushed for the right to drive.