Freuds advises Saudi royals on modernisation programmes

Saudi Arabia's ruling family has recently begun using British PR agency Freuds to communicate its new programme of economic and cultural modernisation, it has emerged.

Freuds client: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Credit: Hasan Jamali/AP/Press Association Images)
Freuds client: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Credit: Hasan Jamali/AP/Press Association Images)

Freuds is working with Saudi’s Council for Economic and Development Affairs, which is chaired by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who aims to reduce the nation’s reliance on oil revenues.

A spokesman for Freuds told PRWeek: "We are providing communications support to Saudi Arabia’s Council for Economic and Development Affairs, as it undertakes a programme of economic, educational and cultural modernisation to help diversify the economy and create a sustainable and prosperous future for Saudi's young people."

In late April, Prince Mohammed promised to build a national defence conglomerate, launch "the biggest IPO in history" and end the country’s reliance on oil revenues by 2020, as he announced new details of the long-awaited economic reform programme approved by King Salman and the Saudi cabinet.

Freuds declined to comment further on the campaign, which is understood to have been pitched out to a few corporate PR firms in London.

The comms programme is not thought to extend to improving the reputation of the nation as a whole, which has been heavily criticised in the West for its human rights record. Global PR firm MSLGroup, which has worked with the country's government for nearly two decades, has a role in combating these criticisms.

The website of the NGO Human Rights Watch states: "Saudi Arabia continued in 2014 to try, convict, and imprison political dissidents and human rights activists solely on account of their peaceful activities. New anti-terrorism regulations that took effect in 2014 can be used to criminalise almost any form of peaceful criticism of the authorities as terrorism."

In January this year, Saudi's approach to human rights was again called into question after it emerged that 47 people were executed in one day.

In April Prince Mohammed, who is now in charge of economic policy as well as many other aspects of Saudi’s government, unveiled a batch of new details of Saudi Vision 2030. The policies are intended to shore up the Gulf’s largest economy, which has been damaged by declining world oil prices. Prince Mohammed plans to float a small stake in the nation’s state-owned oil behemoth Saudi Aramco, worth more than $2tr.

Ownership of the remaining stake will be transferred to the Public Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund founded in 1971, whose assets will grow from the current $5bn to more than $2tr under the prince’s plan.

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