A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Prince Sultan Funeral Given Unusual Coverage?

Al-Arabiya TV
I don't want to overemphasize this since it may just be a reflex of 24-hour news channels and the need to fill coverage, but today's funeral of the late Saudi Crown Prince Sultan strikes me as getting more press and television coverage than has usually been the case in the Kingdom. Under the Wahhabi tradition, which strongly opposes the cult of saints and the veneration of tombs, even the Kings are buried in unmarked graves. While the coverage shows the usual austere funeral prayers, there seems to be more reportage than usual in the Kingdom.

Part of the coverage may just be due to the unusual circumstances in this case. Since Sultan died in New York, such photo ops as senior officials meeting the body at the plane, etc., provide visuals not usually available in such cases.

But I also wonder — and again, I don't want to overstate this — if the Kingdom feels that with the death coming in the year of Arab revolutions and days after the killing of Qadhafi, that the funeral and the coming designation of a new Crown Prince could provide an opportunity to reassert the ruling House of Saud's claim to legitimacy and to display continuity and stability. Again, it could also just be that in the six years since King Fahd died, news channels have proliferated and thus coverage has increased,but I thought I'd note the first impression.


Anonymous said...

MBC had special programming last night about Prince Sultan. Hours and hours of it. Lots of praise heaped on the late Prince for his declared many accomplishments.

Some interesting footage of Mecca in the 1930's, before the oil, when the House of Saud had a bit more claim to legitimacy and adherence to Islam.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Do you know if the MBC special is online anywhere? I'd be imterested in seeing it.