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'Saudi is led by kids': Adviser to crown prince destroys TV during charity event

Turki al-Sheikh let his anger get the better of him while losing a Fifa video game match, with many on social media condemning the tantrum
Turki al-Sheikh smashed his TV after conceding a goal on the Fifa 20 video game (Screenshot)

A key adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has raised eyebrows after posting a video of himself destroying a TV during a charity video game contest. 

Turki al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Entertainment, organised a match on the Fifa 20 football game to raise funds to help those in need of housing in the kingdom. 

Just minutes into the match, Sheikh conceded a second goal and responded by throwing his controller directly at the television, appearing to break it completely.

"After small riots … we will find us a new TV and come back to finish the match … it's still not over," the 38-year-old tweeted.

Many users on social media were not impressed and compared the outburst to the way the kingdom is run under MBS. 

“Saudi is led by kids,” wrote Middle East researcher Andreas Krieg. “The tantrum of MBS aide and confidante Turki al-Sheikh after losing a video game is indicative of the ‘new guard’ in Riyadh: impulsive, irrational, removed from reality, vain & self-obsessed.” 

Translation: If it was an ordinary person who got angry and broke the TV because he lost an online game, this would have happened, but this is the consultant to the crown prince, and the next king to the biggest oil exporter to the world - so that’s why it’s not surprising to see MBS’s foolish actions.

Translation: Saudi Arabia: It may seem like a regular video, but it all depends on the actor. It is Turki al-Sheikh, a close adviser to MBS who breaks his TV after losing a video game. Saudi Arabia is ruled by impulsive children who squander their wealth.

One user compared the reaction to how Sheikh runs UD Almeria, the Spanish second division football team he owns, and Pyramids FC, a club in Egypt he pulled out of in acrimonious circumstances.

Translation: The worst part is that Turki al-Sheikh manages his football clubs in the same way, at the time in Pyramids and now in Almeria …

The online charity match was played against Saud al-Suwailem, the former owner of Saudi football team Al-Nassr. In anticipation of the game, several footballers wished both Sheikh and Suwailem good luck in video messages. 

Translation: International stars, led by Pogba, Giroud and Pirlo, join Messi and Dybala in Turki al-Sheikh's challenge with Saud al-Suwailem.

They included Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Paul Pogba and Ronaldinho, among a host of others. It even attracted the attention of wider celebrities, including actor Charlie Sheen, rapper Snoop Dogg and former basketball star Dennis Rodman.  

The raft of high-profile videos had social media users speculating about whether and how much the stars were paid to promote the competition.

It wouldn’t be the first time paid influencers were used to publicise a Saudi event: celebrities were criticised for “influencer-washing” Saudi human rights abuses by promoting an electronic dance music festival in Riyadh last year. 

As head of entertainment, Sheikh is overseeing billions of dollars' worth of investment into concerts and sporting events as part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategy to move away from an oil-reliant economy. 

In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is chaired by MBS, launched a $368m takeover bid for English Premier League football club Newcastle United. 

The buyout has been heavily criticised by human rights organisations and advocates, including Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who accused Saudi Arabia of attempting to use the takeover to “hide their shocking deeds”.