Saudi royal family sold Dell computers to Assad

Saudi billionaire owner of Kingdom Holding Company Prince Alwaleed bin Talal gestures during a press conference, on Sep. 13, 2011, in Riyadh.

A Saudi company has sold large amounts of Dell computer equipment to the Syrian government, Ron Nixon of The New York Times reports. The sale was made by BDL Gulf, an authorized dealer for Dell and other major computer brands in the Middle East and Africa.

The sales included hundreds of laptops, tablets, and desktop computers as well as equipment used to censor Internet activity and track activists.

The move appears to violate strict trade sanctions intended to ban the selling of technology to the regime of Syrian president Bashar al Assad.

The transactions, detailed in documents obtained by The Times, are odd primarily because Saudi Arabia has been arming rebels seeking to topple Assad.

In 2011 the Saudis bought $33.4 billion worth of weapons from the US and sent a portion to Syrian rebels. Also, late last year the Kingdom financed a large purchase of infantry weapons from Croatia for the opposition.

*UPDATE: In our first version of this story we repeated an erroneous statement by The New York Times that Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia was the owner of BDL Gulf, and we have subsequently corrected the story. Here is the Times correction from May 3:

An earlier version of this article and an accompanying picture erroneously identified Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia as the owner of BDL Gulf. Representatives of Prince Alwaleed said that neither he nor his senior advisers are aware of any connection between the prince and BDL Gulf.

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