Sunday, July 16, 2023

Saudi Arabia Sports Acquisitions Looks Good On Paper

Saudi Arabia continues to make its push into the sports and entertainment world by using its vast economic windfall from higher oil prices and intentionally diminished supply to acquire prestigious leagues, powerful teams, and top-notch talent who seem powerless to turn down petrol dollars. From golfer Phil Milkenson to Ronaldo in soccer, Saudi Arabia is showing the world it means business in the world of sports business. They are also seeking to invest or acquire entities and talent in boxing, Formula One, and the NBA. It’s a shock to the system not seen since Japan’s mega real estate purchasing in the 1980s.

The journey from post-911 pariah to today is quite a miracle, comparable to TS Lawrence’s trek through the hellish Devil’s Anvil. In 2001, American Conservatives banned mosques and retracted an agreement with the Sauds to manage the docks of the eastern seaboard. Republicans then accused Obama of being a secret Muslim and bringing Sharia Law to the US, only to later embrace the religion's tenets (anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-capital punishment, and limiting women's rights) under former President Trump. The Sauds even invested $2B in funds into Jared Kushner’s vulture capital firm which some say was a quid-pro-quo for the deal he brokered which moved major weapons, such as missiles, air defense systems, and airplanes to the Royal Family.

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Now Saudi Arabia and their public investment fund (PIL), have made another great aeronautical acquisition, The National Paper Airplane Association. On paper, it would seem like an ineffectual investment but since the February 2023 takeover and an influx of cash prizes that have spurred competition, the profile of the league has taken off. National Paper Airplane Day, May 26th, saw some of the highest participation in the United States.

Recently, however, the league has had to deal with considerable controversy. During the Red Bull paper plane world championships in NY, aerogami-ists from all over the world competed for glory. The typical contests of distance and time-in-the-air were supplemented with a team precision contest. Contestants were asked to fly two paper airplanes 300 feet and land them inside the upper region of twin upright rectangular prisms. When a team of 9 Saudi Nationals won, there were cries of favoritism and cheating. Ibraham Alaboud, president of the association, decided to award the trophy to the Iraqi team instead.