New York museums to stop using Saudi money for programs

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) – The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum said Thursday they will no longer use Saudi money to run programs that were initially supported by entities tied to the Saudi government, according to The New York Times.

The two programs were a three-month-long exhibit on Syrian refugees at the Brooklyn Museum along with a seminar on Middle East art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, both part of a yearlong Arab Art & Education Initiative.

“While this conversation and a subsequent public colloquium were to be supported by external funds, in light of recent developments, we have decided that the Museum will itself fund this event,” Daniel H. Weiss, the Met’s president and chief executive officer, said in a note to participants that was obtained by the Times.

The programs were being organized by Stephen Stapleton, a London-based artist who runs an arts initiative called Edge of Arabia, which is supported by the Saudi government and funded through their state-run oil company Aramco.

“We are fully understanding and supportive of our partner organizations in the Arab Art & Education Initiative when it comes to decisions around funding," Stapleton said in a statement.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and columnist for The Washington Post, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Evidence is mounting that the journalist was killed and dismembered by Saudi nationals who flew into Istanbul the same day.

On Wednesday, crime scene investigation units arrived at the official residence of Saudi Consul General Mohammad al-Otaibi around 4.40 p.m. local time (1340GMT). Al-Otaibi had left Turkey for Riyadh on Tuesday.

Officials from a joint Turkish-Saudi team completed an investigation into the case early Thursday after searching the residence as well as the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi authorities have yet to give a clear explanation of Khashoggi’s fate, while several countries — particularly Turkey, the U.S. and the UK — have expressed their desire that the matter should be elucidated as soon as possible.

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