Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 27, 2017

Saudi Arabia - Budget Dilemma Escalates - Salmans Resort To Product Placement?

Once upon a time owning a clock was a status symbol. Only the very wealthy and powerful could afford one. Ordinary people had to rely on the church- or town-clock. Privately owned clocks were only found in the finest places and were displayed in prominent positions for all to admire.

The expensive clock on the mantelshelf is no longer distinguishing. New artifacts have replaced them as status symbols.

The House of Saud under King Salman and his son Clown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have developed a taste for a specific type of these. They can be seen at the center of dozens of official photos of the Salmans meeting foreign and domestic dignitaries. Unlike decent clocks these artifacts are of little use within the staged context.

The various artifacts the Salmans collected are of different designs but are all sourced from the same manufacturer. Their inevitable center place stinks of product placement. We know that the Salmans need money. They nab, incarcerate and torture the richest people of their country to rob their wealth and assets. The Salmans originally expected to make $800 billion from the current raid. They now cut their expectations down to a mere $100 billion. In the end it will less than half of that. It will not be enough to fill the holes in the Saudi budget.

But paid for product placements in official pictures? The few million dollars such product placements bring are like a drop of rain in the Najd. It evaporates before it reaches the ground. Are the Salmans THAT broke?

Spot the artifacts here:


President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi meets King Salman - bigger

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry meets King Salman - bigger

German Chancellor Merkel meets King Salman - bigger

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry meets MbS - bigger

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian meets MbS - bigger

German Chancellor Merkel again meets King Salman - bigger

Saudi Muftis meet MbS - bigger

U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson meets MbS - bigger

Yemeni Islah Party head Mohammad al-Yidumi meets MbS - bigger

A Pakistani General meets MbS - bigger

Pakistani Army chief General Raheel Sharif meets then Saudi Crown Prince Salman (Note: 2 artifacts)- bigger

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri meets King Salman - bigger

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri meets MbS - bigger

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi meets King Salman bigger

Lebanon's Christian Maronite patriarch Beshara Rai meets MbS - bigger

U.S. Secretary of State meets King Salman - bigger

Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif meets King Salman - bigger

Spanish King Felipe VI meets King Salman - bigger

Former Turkish President Abdullah Gul meets King Salman - bigger

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets King Salman - bigger

An alternative explanation is possible. Overpriced CISCO products like these telephones are infested with NSA snooping software. It might well be that some crafty U.S. agent convinced the Salmans to put these always-on microphones wherever they meet with someone of interest.

But even that does not answer the deeper questions. These phones will never be used during the staged photo opportunities for the press. Why then put them there? Why do the Saudi tyrants consider such phones to be something to show off? What do they symbolize to them or to the public?

Posted by b on November 27, 2017 at 19:56 UTC | Permalink


Ah, I'm reminded of many a murder/spy mystery where the flower arrangement on the table conceals a microphone; so, I would not at all be surprised to see double-bugged phones like the ones pictured. Norway just discovered its newly purchased F-35s are programmed to send sensitive data back to Lockeed-Martin and thus the CIA after every flight; no, they were not amused.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 27 2017 20:12 utc | 1

The clay pot goes hastily and often to the water source that it gets shattered to pieces.
The old motto applies exactly to this self appointed almighty MBS.
One further thing is that this teenish anxiety of this desert Rambo is in direct constrast to Iran´s leadership who feature coolness, selfrestraint and calculation.

Posted by: augusto | Nov 27 2017 20:19 utc | 2

What are those yellow rolls in the Merkle photos: Corn waiting to be fully husked? Napkins for the ensuing dinner?

Posted by: Bart in VA | Nov 27 2017 20:30 utc | 3

one of the best accounts of the Hariri fiasco I've read, including what Tillerson was doing behind the scenes, a good review:

Posted by: Sid2 | Nov 27 2017 20:34 utc | 4

Saudi's would have to be fools to believe that their phones are not bugged by their best friends in the USA and Israel.

Posted by: fast freddy | Nov 27 2017 23:14 utc | 5

Re: 3

I think this is a floral arrangement of cream colored roses. I would interpret CISCO phone as an accent of austerity, considering the context. I would also judge the taste of the House of Saud to be superior to Erdogan. Compare with the subdued-imperial style in Russia:

with Kanzlerin Merkel and his favorite Labrador

with Obama

(Actually, two slides later we see a very proper mantelpiece clock, and yet later, golden doors that would be out of place in a mere billionaire residence, i.e. imperial style, not subdued)

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 27 2017 23:24 utc | 6

@"German Chancellor Merkel again meets King Salman" -- Ha, ... and who's wearing the dress?

Posted by: x | Nov 27 2017 23:25 utc | 7

get the chimp / clown prince could an hour glass with the arabian sand pouring thru.. i give him 2 years max.. that's what he needs to be watching....

Posted by: james | Nov 27 2017 23:28 utc | 8

Re: 7

I am not sure if I had ever seen Madam Kanzlerin in a dress. Is it even possible, given her unique body shape?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 28 2017 0:12 utc | 9

Does bin Talal get to keep much of his billions stashed away around the world? I suppose he only gives up his stock in Citi, Apple and Twitter.

Posted by: ab initio | Nov 28 2017 1:07 utc | 10

Shit, that's exactly the same crap we have at the office. Does it mean we can now invite Merkel, Tillerson and Hariri - or even Salman himself?

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Nov 28 2017 1:22 utc | 11

While I was just out brewing a coffee and pondering some of this, I wondered how messy all this could become if the spoiled brat doesn't off all his abductees.

The bulk of the assets the brat is attempting to torture out of his victims are held in amerika, where courts have been known to get antsy about contracts extracted under duress. Should Alwaleed bin Talal, or one of his cobbers survive this ordeal and make his way to amerika, there could be some great fun and games as the identities of 'former' agency torturers are made public, the seamier details of exactly how these billionaire 'investment vehicles' become known along with the facts about the israeli arm of amerikan intelligence.

The brat cannot kill them all, so I guess he plans on long house arrests followed by random poisonings, but since the chances of the torturers uncovering every stash & cache are nil, once the poor little billionaires are moved from the Marriott, at least a few of them will escape then make it to amerika. Popcorn sales will rise & we can all settle in to watch the type of fun and games that should be a daily occurrence on Court TV, but never is.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Nov 28 2017 1:52 utc | 12

Isn't the phone on the table so that MbS gets his own personalised call to prayer on the hour that he plays for his guests to impress them?

Other princes probably also have their own phones with personalised calls to prayer.

Posted by: Jen | Nov 28 2017 1:57 utc | 13

Say what you will about Saudi gauche-ness, that pastel(with...can it be.. a Persian pomegranate motif?) boudoir carpet in the Tillerson pic is FABULOUS. They must trust the oil man more than the rest, to let them into their inner feminine sanctum like that. Quelle luxueux! The other shots are clearly in less-used, utilitarian enclaves... Oh that Rex! A real inside-her.

Posted by: sejomoje | Nov 28 2017 3:20 utc | 14

I read on a site when this all began that the new Prince plans on keeping a sizeable portion of the loot for himself. I think this fellow has bitten off far more than he can chew.

Posted by: frances | Nov 28 2017 3:21 utc | 15

Yes Bin Talal surely has his stashes. That's what they're torturing him for, lmao! If he can hold out for the next US puppet-in-chief to rescue him he can go back to the Yacht life with whichever Ruby-the-heart-stealers he's been supporting and everything. Maybe not so many Charlie Rose appearances as before would be wise. Oh yeah. Charlie Rose got caught up in the pussy Inquisition. So no worries!

Posted by: sejomoje | Nov 28 2017 3:26 utc | 16

Sid2 @4...

Very good Kushner and M. BS are having a turgid bromance of their own...?

That would explain moustache-twat's orgasmic gushing in the NYT the other's all for the glory of Zion...

The fact that Dump's own spawn could marry this POS Kushner...and that Dump let's him play clown prince in the white enough to forever strike Dump out in my eyes...

Probably had a lot to do with him even getting to the white house...

Dump fooled everybody's time to wake up and smell the coffee...better the junta than Dump, Kushner and M. BS...

This story is a must read for those who see Tillerson as a man of substance...if all this played out the way these 'sources' say...and it does sound very credible...then Rexxon Man is the only bright spot in this mug lineup...

'...The unlikely hero in all of this might well be Rex Tillerson, who quietly engineered a U.S. policy at odds with the views of Donald Trump—and his son-in-law....'

Being an engineer by profession Tillerson's way of quietly 'fixing' this rejection of the M. BS Hariri regime change attempt...looks pretty good to me...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Nov 28 2017 4:01 utc | 17

"Saudi's would have to be fools to believe that their phones are not bugged by their best friends in the USA and Israel. Posted by: fast freddy"

Ha, well that's the price they pay for having Israeli and American tech outfits keep a 24/7 mass surveillance program targeting every Saudi citizen and all the imported labor too - and in the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait - because the truth is, the House of Saud knows it has more to fear from the oppressed Saudi population than from Iran or Yemen or anyone else. The carrot and the stick, that's what they use to keep control - but they're running out of carrots.

Posted by: nonsense factory | Nov 28 2017 4:02 utc | 18

@ sidz / flankerbandit.. thanks for drawing my attention to the article.. it is a bit of a fluff piece on tillerson, but there is still a lot of merit in showing what a bimbo kushner is.. unfortunately as the author notes at the article ( “Rex Tillerson will be secretary of state until he decides not to be—or gets fired. But Jared Kushner will probably be the president’s son-in-law forever.”).. the usa is stuck with this set up until trump is gone... kushner seems like real baggage to me at this point.. he was also at the riyadh ritz carlton for that economic summit where everyone was arrested.. the optics don't look good for him on that either.. the guy comes across as a bimbo..

Posted by: james | Nov 28 2017 4:28 utc | 19

With the rise in gas prices here in the U$A, the KSA's economic problem will lessen, and as long as they do as instructed, MBS will rule..

Posted by: ben | Nov 28 2017 4:59 utc | 20

It would be interesting to know more about Kushner. Something solid. Where he is at, good or bad, and so forth. At the moment, much gossip and little else.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 28 2017 5:42 utc | 21

For about a decade I worked in the IT sector and our company was a “partner” of Cisco’s. I use inverted commas as it was more of a doormat relationship: Cisco said do, we said yes sir, can we take on more of your ####?

My experience with Cisco leads me to conclude there is something diseased about the company.
* Chairman John Chambers (watch some videos of him on YouTube) is not someone I would leave a child with or want to be alone with. One colleague reported overly physical interaction from him on meeting him. Another reported persistent but hushed rumors.
* In my opinion, the company is dysfunctional with far too many employees for the actual productive output - completely bloated.
* The products are hyped beyond all reality as some kind of “voodoo magical enablers of a new world”.
* The company did/does little or no R&D themselves and instead bought/buys small entrepreneurial firms to acquire their technology innovations or simply to put a potential competitor out of business.

I would not be surprised if there were intelligence players “guiding” Cisco.

If their phones are sitting on tables in Saudi diplomatic photo shoots, I have little trouble imagining nefarious purposes beyond product placement.

Posted by: 9308305K | Nov 28 2017 6:37 utc | 22

@ 9 - "I am not sure if I had ever seen Madam Kanzlerin in a dress. Is it even possible, given her unique body shape?"

Acutually, yes she is wearing a dress when she goes to Bayreuth. Merkel in a dress :-) However she uses the same system as with her jackets and pants, always the same shape in a different color.

Posted by: Fran | Nov 28 2017 7:43 utc | 23

Can someone tell them that the guy who wrote the song would be beheaded for drug use?

Posted by: Mina | Nov 28 2017 8:30 utc | 24

IT guy here. Actually, the only Cisco phone there is on Merkel picture. I can't recognize the white one on Pakistani's Shariff picture, and the gray one on al-Sisi picture. All of the rest displayed are Avaya model IP1616 phones. Funny thing is those Avaya's IP1616 aren't even top of the line models when these were new, which is something one would expect to find out sitting on a gold plated furniture. Funny thing number 2 is that phones seem to be connected and working, as the LCD on last picture is displaying extension number (unreadable) in top right corner.

Also note that the whole Avaya IP 1600 series is in "End of Sales" status since 08.Dec.2014. Therefore it's unlikely that old phones are used in a marketing campaign.

Posted by: Misa | Nov 28 2017 9:43 utc | 25

KSA boasts of having Nigeria in its coalition against terror
here is a quick example of how they plan to fight extremism
"Boko Haram founder's home 'to be museum'"

Posted by: Mina | Nov 28 2017 12:35 utc | 26

If he has the people he can eventually get the money, it's called a ransom.

With $10T worth of assets, it's hard to see the KSA actually going bankrupt but one can hope. The only possible explanation can be that they cannot increase oil production without also decreasing the value of their production like a dog chasing its tail and the current price of oil cannot finance their welfare/terror state. They can't suppress anyone else's oil production without a reciprocal response against them. Perhaps this is why they are trying to goad us into a war against Iran, they figure Iran will be totally destroyed but that they can recover more quickly since western investment will bail them out more quickly but shun Iran.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Nov 28 2017 12:40 utc | 27

I immediately thought of the book, "The Amber Room" by Steve Berry. Great idea to do a new outtake on that idea with a despot Saudi King and son on a killing rampage.

I wonder how many artifacts it will take to fund their new world city by the mountains.

Posted by: NewWorldSauder | Nov 28 2017 13:31 utc | 28

Saudi's New World City, Neom will cost a mere $500 Billion; just a few artifacts away...

Posted by: NewWorldSauder | Nov 28 2017 13:34 utc | 29

Maybe the status symbol is not the phone, but the land line. I haven't seen one of those in almost a decade. The rich truly are different.

Posted by: edmondo | Nov 28 2017 15:37 utc | 30

Looks like the Salman's are trying to project a new image rather than market telephones. Laptops are another very common prop in their pics.
Their anti terrorist stuff is bullshit, but they may well be under a lot of pressure from both the Trump admin and Russia to cut their ties to ISIS and AQ. From the 80's in Afghanistan, the US has been using Saudi as a go between to use Sunni terrorist groups against targeted countries, but this may be coming to an end.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 28 2017 15:39 utc | 31

@7 x

G.K. Chesterton
“It is quite certain that the skirt means female dignity, not female submission; it can be proved by the simplest of all tests. No ruler would deliberately dress up in the recognized fetters of a slave; no judge would would appear covered with broad arrows. But when men wish to be safely impressive, as judges, priests or kings, they do wear skirts, the long, trailing robes of female dignity. The whole world is under petticoat government; for even men wear petticoats when they wish to govern.”

Posted by: Pb | Nov 28 2017 16:10 utc | 32

@7 x

G.K. Chesterton
“It is quite certain that the skirt means female dignity, not female submission; it can be proved by the simplest of all tests. No ruler would deliberately dress up in the recognized fetters of a slave; no judge would would appear covered with broad arrows. But when men wish to be safely impressive, as judges, priests or kings, they do wear skirts, the long, trailing robes of female dignity. The whole world is under petticoat government; for even men wear petticoats when they wish to govern.”

Posted by: Pb | Nov 28 2017 16:10 utc | 33

IT person Misa (comment 26) lets some steam out of the post by pointing out that most of these pics feature Avaya phones, and dated ones at that. So Cisco product placement isn't likely (even in jest). As for b's question, "What do [the phones] symbolize to them or to the public?" likely it's just clumsy stage management, to show the Saudi leaders are busy men, always wheeling and dealing with a phone nearby. The post is amusing nonetheless!

Posted by: kees_popinga | Nov 28 2017 16:44 utc | 34

The decorator might have thought it symbolizes alertness. For example, another missile flies right to their location and the mobile network is overcrowded by phoning panicking Saoudi's. I think picture "U.S. Secretary of State Kerry meets King Salman" wins the contest. It's like that advisor or whatever he is is on an invisible leash :-) But those facial expressions are all part of the foto-op of course.

Posted by: xor | Nov 28 2017 17:08 utc | 35

It appears that when meeting Tillerson, MbS was guarded. This is the only photo where MbS has his hands at his sides. In all other photos above has his hand between his legs or he is gesticulating.

This observation supports the depiction of Tillerson as an outsider.

Kushner Kept Tillerson in the Dark on Saudi Lebanon Move

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Nov 28 2017 18:08 utc | 36

The real message of these pictures is simple:
These are the psychopathic Aholes that ruin the lives of the people they oppress. Birds of a Fascist feather flock together. It would certainly be helpful to have some meteor showers raining down on these psychopaths.

Much sadder though than the fact that these criminals are allowed do do what they are doing, is the blind support they still receive from not a small number of people.

Well, Merkel should be done for now and hopefully brought before a court for treason on the German people. Although, guess what? Refugees are now given the right to vote. Makes sense, doesn't it? To offset/replace the disenfranchised German non-voters that want the German regime to be dissolved.

An old German proverb states:

"Show me your friends and I can tell you who you are."

"Zeige mir Deine Freunde und ich kann Dir sagen wer Du bist."

The single most favorite quote my Grandma would recite for me, to make sure that I do not socialize with criminals like the ones in these pictures.

Quite the revelation then, isn't it?

Merkel das Ferkel is the saddest excuse for what goes for a Stateswoman. Her arrogance is repulsive. Can't wait to see the first pictures of her after she was removed from the chair the CIA helped her to occupy for way too long.

Posted by: notheonly1 | Nov 28 2017 19:31 utc | 37

I dunno. I kind of thought the various foreign leaders were the "products" being placed?

Posted by: Helena Cobban | Nov 28 2017 20:09 utc | 38

Mike Whitney has a follow-up about Friedman's NYT item, "Tom Friedman’s Paean to a Saudi Tyrant Ignites NYT Comments-Storm,"

Excerpt: "Fortunately, there’s a group of people who strongly disagree with Friedman; Friedman’s own readers! That’s right, I picked through nearly all of the 664 comments on Friedman’s article at the Times website and, to my surprise, the vast majority of people think the jowly pundit is full of baloney. Here’s what some of them had to say:" (I was going to use one, but I couldn't make a choice as they were all great.)

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 28 2017 21:26 utc | 39

Truly incredible:

This guy who has pals all throughout the monied climbs of the west, even praised for his charity by that celebrated philanthropy robot Bill Gates, and is most likely being tortured in Saudi Arabia. But nobody has anything to say about it. It is, you know, because, "there is a recognition that attempting to interfere in the process in Saudi Arabia is unlikely to yield a lot of results, given that this has been driven by Mohammed bin Salman himself." Oh, OK. That makes sense. Because that's what always happens, nobody is outraged when a murderous despot loots their business partners, because it won't help.

This story of the "reforming, liberalizing" torture king who has declared war on anything that won't submit to being his bitch stinks to such a high heaven I am confused as to why the msm even bothers reporting on it at all. I mean, come on. I couldn't trick my three year old with such bizarre and nonsensical bs as all this. Everyone can see the rustling behind the curtains on the main stage, why bother with all the murderously weird kabuki? It just doesn't make sense.

Posted by: sam I am | Nov 29 2017 5:25 utc | 40

Mina @42:

Not a smart move by MbS.

Posted by: Ian | Nov 29 2017 13:08 utc | 42

Ha, that is wonderfully hilarious,… I can’t speak to the types of phones etc. pictured but from my experience these ‘outdated’ comm. devices provide a kind of screen / protection / in many Gvmt. posts and outposts. The PTB, the top bosses, the organisors, etc. can’t be answering cell phone calls from the plebs or even from their worthy contacts, nor e-mail at all ever btw. These supposed ‘antiquated’ devices are thus ‘official channels’, monitored in some way.

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 29 2017 17:47 utc | 43

One thing I have wondered about.

Are the KSA potentates ‘imprisoned’ and now making deals to be let out of lux detainment by paying yuge forfeits actually adversaries of MBS, in clan / family / traditional terms?

I tried to glom it by looking at clan names as compared to the arrested ones, a lame half-stab as of course idk squat about KSA internal top relations and couldn’t ever make a judgment.

The question still nags: everyone just assumes that the detained were adversaries / enemies / rivals of MBS, but where is the justification, the explanation, where is that laid out, what were the real reasons, who, where, why? Could not some other criteria have been the spur? If so, what?

Moreover, in a sort of traditional tribal top-brass enmity scenario, the opposing camp is aware of coming attacks and defends itself, usually quite well. It is hard to believe that long standing oppo’ to the old King and his new loony Premier Prince MBS could be so successful. It was obviously a total surprise, so maybe not based on long-standing power relations, but something other.

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 29 2017 17:52 utc | 44

Check Angry Arab.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 29 2017 20:20 utc | 45

Outdated phones are merely indicators of the outdated thinking in KSA. Mind you, outdated phones still function well enough. There will be intense payback against this clown prince or clown king and I would not be surprised to see him as colateral damage to a well placed impact from an outdated Boeing After all it is the Saudi weapon of choice for this millennium. Mighty accurate too and clearly no shortage of eager flight crew.

There could be some satire even if the delivery was a French or Englander model.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Dec 4 2017 2:17 utc | 46

My God--who does their flowers?

Posted by: Typingperson | Dec 5 2017 1:58 utc | 47

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