We got our hands on magazine from the publisher of the National Enquirer that reads like Saudi propaganda. Here’s what’s inside.

American Media Inc.’s ‘The New Kingdom.’ American Media Inc.
  • In the spring of 2018, National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. created a 97-page magazine praising Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the kingdom.
  • AMI owner David Pecker is an ally of President Donald Trump. The 97-page issue features five photos of Trump.
  • David Pecker, AMI, and Saudi Arabia are currently at the centre of a possible hacking scandal involving Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
  • Bezos’ affair with Lauren Sanchez – featuring revealing photos and texts – was detailed in the National Enquirer January 2019 issue.
  • It remains unclear how AMI got some of the photos it used in the Enquirer story.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

There’s no telling how or why American Media Inc. decided to print a nearly 100-page glossy magazine praising Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – because the company wouldn’t comment to Insider – but it’s definitely weird.

The issue, which has no photo credits or critical commentary on the Crown Prince or kingdom, was published in March 2018, the same month that MBS invited Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to dinner, according to a timeline created by UN human rights experts.

It was at that dinner, on April 4, that MBS and Bezos exchanged numbers. On May 1, a video file was sent from MBS account to Bezos through WhatsApp. A research firm established with “reasonable certainty” that the video’s downloader infected Bezos’ phone with malware.

Eight months later, the National Enquirer tabloid – a property of AMI – exposed Bezos’ affair with Lauren Sanchez by publishing the Amazon CEO’s intimate texts in a January 2019 issue.

Bezos responded by crafting a February 2019 blog post hinting that he suspected Saudi involvement in the Enquirer’s sourcing of the affair story and photos. The Saudi government had grown to dislike Bezos because The Washington Post, which Bezos owns, published work by Jamal Khashoggi and later investigated his murder.

At this point, there is no clear link between the malware reportedly installed on Bezos’ phone and how the photos and details of the affair ended up being published in the tabloid. Other theories involving Lauren Sanchez’s brother Michael as a possible source have since cropped up, too.

Still, questions still remain on why American Media Inc. would publish such a glowing ode to the kingdom of Saudia Arabia and its crown prince.

Insider obtained a copy of the publication and has excerpted several pages of the strange Saudi Arabian sponsored content below.

‘The New Kingdom’ called Mohammed bin Salman the ‘most influential Arab leader’

American Media Inc.’s ‘The New Kingdom.’ American Media Inc.

American Media Inc.’s “The New Kingdom” hit newsstands in March 2018. The 97-page spread features significant praise of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his policies. Two-hundred thousand copies were printed.

Trump makes his first appearance in the issue on page four. It’s not his last.

A two-page spread from AMI’s ‘The New Kingdom’ American Media Inc.

In “A New Kingdom,” AMI features an interview with Kacy Grine, Ares Holdings chairman and adviser to Prince Al-Waleed.

In it, Grine praises the advancements of Prince Mohammed bin Salman is making to the economy and ant-terrorism operations.

“Since 2015, under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) has been restructured as a diversified sovereign wealth fund and cultural change is afoot,” Grine said, according to the AMI report.

Grine also praised the Prince’s work to launch the Islamic military counter-terrorism coalition, “which united 41 countries against ISIS and others.”

President Donald Trump also makes his first appearance in the magazine on page four. He’ll be featured four more times throughout the issue.

Those who want to read the whole truth about Saudi Arabia’s “special relationship” with the US will be disappointed.

A two-page spread from AMI’s ‘The New Kingdom’ of Saudi Arabia American Media Inc.

The magazine touches on a “special relationship” between the US and Saudia Arabia. It starts with a bit of history about the founding of the country in 1932, touches on the creation of the Arabian American Oil Company and the wealth it’s brought the nation, and goes on to talk about the success of a current college scholarship program that sends students to the United States. It does not mention the suspected role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11 or any controversies between the two nations.

“It was no coincidence that Donald Trump’s first trip outside the US as president was to Saudi Arabia while his four immediate predecessors made their first foreign visits to either Canada or Mexico,” the article said.

By the time that Trump travelled to the kingdom, he had already met the crown prince at the oval office that March and the “two leaders have struck up a strong relationship, a connection likely to grow closer after the crown prince becomes king,” the article said.

It’s unclear where the photos came from or if Saudi Arabia got a preview.

A two-page spread from AMI’s ‘The New Kingdom’ American Media Inc.

It is unclear where the photos for “The New Kingdom” came from, as the magazine doesn’t include photo credits. Nor does it include bylines on any of its articles.

Through a spokesman, American Media Inc. declined to comment on the issue to Insider, referring reporters to comments it had previously made to other publications.

When the Associated Press broke a story in April 2018 that a copy of the issue was quietly shared with officials at the Saudi Embassy in Washington three weeks before its publication, AMI denied that it sought consult from the Saudis before it ran.

AMI also denied that it shared an advance copy with the embassy or that the Saudis paid the company to produce the magazine. A source with knowledge of the situation told AP that AMI did reach out to Saudi officials in the US before publication to seek help with the content, but the Saudis didn’t respond.

Before publishing the magazine, AMI reached out to the Department of Justice to see if it needed to register as a Foreign Agents Registration Act.

A two-page spread from AMI’s ‘The New Kingdom.’ American Media Inc.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires that companies disclose if they’re doing work to influence the American public on behalf of a foreign government.

The Justice Department ultimately told AMI that registration was not necessary, according to a February 2019 Wall Street Journal report.

A letter sent to AMI from the department’s National Security Division regarding their query over registering with FARA noted that “we find that there is no agency relationship between [US corporation] and any foreign principal.”

Saudi government officials flatly denied that they were at all involved with the creation of the publication.

The magazine fawned over the crown prince.

A two-page spread from AMI’s ‘The New Kingdom.’ American Media Inc.

The magazine featured 11 flattering photos of MBS and credited him for bringing the kingdom into the 21st century.

“As you will learn in these pages, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vision for a modern Saudi Arabia is opening up a new future for the desert kingdom,” it read.

One of the ways MBS opened up Saudi Arabia was by hosting the controversial Jeddah World Fest, a one-day music festival that included performances from Chris Brown, 50 Cent, and Janet Jackson. Several artists, including planned headliner Nicki Minaj, cancelled their performances after pressure from human rights groups.

A letter sent to Liam Payne from Human Rights Watch prior to his performance said: “If you move forward with this performance for a festival sponsored by the crown prince, you will be in league with the people who respond to freedom of expression and thought with murder.”

There’s an entire story on how the “new kingdom” will have increased rights for women.

AMI’s ‘The New Kingdom’ issue. American Media Inc.

“His social reforms -focusing on the greater role being played by women and the younger generation- will change the way the country is seen by others and the way it sees itself,” the magazine said, touting the kingdom’s repeal of a female driving ban and move to allow women to attend some cultural events.

“Come June 2018, Women in Saudia Arabia will claim a right they haven’t had in nearly four decades in the conservative country – the freedom to drive,” the magazine said. “Behind it, of course: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman”

The magazine glossed over Saudi Arabia’s oppressive guardianship laws, which were still in full effect at the time it ran.

“MBS has promised that the kingdom will return to the more moderate form of Islam that was observed up until the Iranian Revolution in 1979,” the magazine wrote. “This will continue to open doors for women’s rights. ”

While the country recently loosened its restrictive male guardianship laws which dictate that a woman’s life is controlled by a man, women in the country still face high rates of domestic violence, discrimination, and repression.

The issue is apparently ad-free, but doesn’t read that way.

AMI’s ‘The New Kingdom’ of Saudi Arabia. American Media Inc.

While the issue itself doesn’t feature any advertising, the content itself reads like a 97-page ad for Saudi Arabia and its cultural attractions.

It includes seven pages of praise for the kingdom’s “inspiring beauty,” with photos of sites from around Saudi Arabia, including several Unesco World Heritage sites.

There are pages of photos of Saudi Arabians enjoying themselves.

AMI’s ‘The New Kingdom.’ American Media Inc.

The magazine talks about the expanded tourism opportunities under MBS.

Cultural opportunities include camel races, surfing, sports, and monster truck shows, the magazine showed.

Not mentioned were the kingdom’s history of human rights violations, and the ongoing Yemen conflict.

Within the first 10 days of opening its borders to tourists,more than 24,000 visas to enter Saudi Arabia were issued.

There’s a three-page spread glamorizing Saudi Arabian cities.

AMI’s ‘The New Kingdom’ issue. American Media Inc.

The magazine features photos and information touting life and architecture in the cities of Jeddah, Abha, Riyadh, Buraida, Tabuk City, and Najra.

There are also five pages dedicated to wildlife conservation efforts.

There are plenty of photos of MBS shaking hands.

AMI’s ‘The New Kingdom’ issue. American Media Inc.

MBS can be seen smiling and shaking hands with Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. In later photos, he’s shown with other world leaders, including Bill Gates, Defence Secretary James Mattis, and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Since the issue was published, United Nations special rapporteurs investigated the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The report linked MBS to the killing, but the Crown Prince has denied that he knew of the plan.

Khashoggi, who had been living in the US, criticised the Saudi royal family in his writings.

Trump declined to penalise Saudi Arabia over the killing.

There are more questions than answers.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

It’s been nearly two years since AMI published the “The New Kingdom,” but its existence continues to baffle.

In the latest chapter of its saga, AMI has been implicated in a scandal involving Saudi Arabia and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. In January 2019, The National Enquirer ran a spread outing an affair between Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, both of whom were married at the time.

Questions remain around how AMI accessed the intimate texts and images sent between Bezos and Sanchez.

Bezos’ head of security, Gavin de Becker, later wrote that an internal investigation concluded Bezos had been hacked by the Saudis. Saudi Arabia and AMI previously denied that Saudi officials were involved.

Another theory suggests that Lauren Sanchez’s brother, Michael, had sold the texts and photos to AMI. Micheal Sanchez denied every having nude photos of Bezos and has filed a defamation lawsuit against Bezos and de Becker alleging they told journalists otherwise.

At the time the tabloid feature on the affair was published, AMI was already operating under a non-prosecution agreement with the Manhattan US attorney’s office, after admitting its role in hush-money payments made to women who allegedly had affairs with President Donald Trump.