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Saudi Arabia embraces high-tech lobbying

Saudi Arabia is tapping politically connected digital image-makers amid escalating tensions with Iran.
A Saudi man explores a website on his laptop in Riyadh February 11, 2014. Syria's civil war has led to a new, greater threat of Islamist radicalism in Saudi Arabia that requires a more aggressive "war of ideology" on the Internet, says the man responsible for online monitoring in the kingdom. Remarks by the head of the Saudi Ideological Security Directorate (ISD) suggest that the unit, known for keeping tabs on liberal activists and women drivers as well as Islamist extremists, is turning its focus increasi

Saudi Arabia’s lobbying efforts are getting a high-tech boost from some of America’s most politically well-connected consulting firms amid growing tensions with Iran.

The kingdom’s main public relations firm, Qorvis, hired Republican digital outreach firm Targeted Victory for $40,000 per month in mid-March to help “provide strategic advice and digital consulting services for the promotion of and education on Saudi Arabia.” Targeted Victory will be paid another $15,000 per month for analysis of social media tracking data provided by San Francisco startup Zignal Labs.

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