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Saudi King Shells Out Billions For Loyalty

It’s business as usual for one of America’s biggest Middle East allies. After only one month on the throne, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman is dishing out bonuses to the tune of an estimated $32 billion. That’s right, BILLION.

It’s about the same amount per year the United Nations estimates would end world hunger.

The money may be used in a variety of ways, including marrying more wives, according to an article in The New York Times:

Some have treated themselves to new cellphones, handbags and trips abroad. They have paid off debts, given to charity and bought gold necklaces for their mothers. Some men have set aside money to marry a first, second or third wife.

Although a strong U.S. ally for decades, Saudi Arabia is no closer to implementing modern democratic institutions.

“The idea of reform in Saudi Arabia is to bring it into the fourteen century,” said Michael Rubin, resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute.

Indeed, the king is imitating “old-style royal behavior, which is to reward, to be generous to your subjects when you become king,” said Simon Henderson, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

One reason King Salman resorts to bribery is because he’s the least liked of all Saudi kings, says Ali H. Alyami, director of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.

“He’s very unpopular in the society as a whole, because he’s a very harsh man,” said Alyami.

The people of Saudi Arabia are drugged by money and fear of God, according to Alyami. But with an estimated 60-70 percent of the population under the age of thirty, the impact of social media may have a stronger pull on younger generations than that of financial gain.

“They’re comparing themselves with everybody in the world, and they want some of the same,” said Alyami.“They don’t like what they are getting in Saudi Arabia, but they are being oppressed.”

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