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Faceswap with a warlord with MBS Snapchat filter Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Faceswap with a warlord with MBS Snapchat filter

Saudi authorities have spent close to £1 million ($1.4 million) on the ads [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 March, 2018

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Snapchat users in London are now able to faceswap and snap alongside Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after Saudi PR purchased a personalised filter amid a controversial UK visit.

A new Snapchat filter allowing users on the social media app to post images and videos alongside the Saudi Crown Prince has surfaced around the capital city, as Mohammed bin Salman continues his controversial state visit to the UK.

As per app protocols, users are able to create their own location-based filter for those within a specified radius to use freely. 

But for Londoners already ambushed with millions of pounds worth of Saudi PR this week, the Snapchat filter came as no shock.

Promotional posters of Mohammed bin Salman have popped up across London in prime locations this week ahead of the much-hyped visit while major newspapers have published half-page advertisements for the charm offensive.

UK-based Campaign said that Saudi authorities have spent close to £1 million ($1.4 million) on the ads.

Industry sources told the business magazine on Monday that the advertisements, with slogans such as "United Kingdoms" and "He is bringing change to Saudi Arabia", could appear on as many as 50 digital outdoor billboards.

Local dailies The Guardian and The Evening Standard have also carried the promotions, which hail Saudi Arabia's "Vision 2030" plan to diversify its oil-reliant economy and encourage social media users to post using the hashtag #ANewSaudiArabia.

But a rival hashtag - #SaudiPrinceNotWelcome - has been used by Twitter users to condemn Prince Mohammed's visit.

"No matter how much he pays for the campaign using the money of the Saudi people, who are suffering from poverty, he will not overshadow issues such as the war in Yemen and lack of free speech," Saudi political exile Omar al-Shahrani told The New Arab.

Britain is rolling out the red carpet for the three-day visit, which Downing Street hopes "will usher in a new era in bilateral relations”.

The UK has licensed £4.6 billion ($6.3 billion) worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since it began the intervention in neighbouring Yemen.

Meanwhile, hundreds of demonstrators mobilised in the capital on Thursday to denounce the controversial visit, noting MbS’ pivotal role in the deadly war on Yemen.

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