RNA - "In response to queries from the press it is with regret that I confirm that the Board of Directors of the Arabia Foundation decided today to close down the Foundation," the group’s founder, Ali Shihabi, said, Anadolu news agency reported.
"This is due to ongoing differences among our donors that made continued operations difficult," he added.
Shibabi stressed, however, that closing the institute in no way changes any of his opinions, particularly about his "support for the program of change and reform that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is spearheading".
"Critics have made incomplete and imbalanced judgements (sic) about his tenure focusing on the [Jamal] Khashoggi tragedy and arrests of dissidents but have chosen to ignore the seismic changes that he has pushed through in social, religious, cultural and economic affairs," he stated.
Khashoggi, a US-based Saudi journalist, was killed last fall in the Saudi Consulate in Turkish city of Istanbul. Saudi Arabia initially denied any knowledge of his whereabouts after he went missing but later attempted to blame his death on a team of rogue operatives carrying out a botched rendition operation.
That explanation, however, has flown in the face of international and US assessments of the killing, which places the blame for the murder on MbS.
"These changes are in the interest of the Kingdom and also the international community and only cynics will disregard the importance of his program and the need to support its success for the stability of the whole Middle East region,” noted Shihabi.
The Arabia Foundation was founded in 2017, with a goal of covering Middle East politics and socio-economics, with a particular focus on the Arabian Peninsula.