A Saudi man is trying to sell his son on Facebook at the meager price of 73 million UAE Dirhams, or about $20 million.

(Scott Eells/BLOOMBERG)

Saudi Arabia has always had a conflicted relationship with Facebook. In March 2008, a Saudi woman was killed by her father for chatting on the social network, an incident the government held up as proof of the “strife” the use of Facebook caused.

By November 2010, the country’s communications and information technology commission decided to take action against the Web site and blocked Facebook because of “moral concerns,” but then unblocked it the same day.

A campaign last year for a woman’s right to drive in the country spread via Facebook, increasing the conservative kingdom’s distrust of the network.

And a story such as Al Shahry’s may only add to the “moral concerns” of the government.

The sale of children is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but the U.S. Department of State reports that the Sauidi government does little to discourage it. Saudi Arabia is designated a Tier 3 country for human trafficking, meaing the government doesn’t meet minimum international standards of human trafficking or seek to uphold them.

Russia Today suggests that Al Shahry may have put the advertisement on Facebook as a ploy in the hopes that it would inspire a wealthy Gulf Sheik to assist him with his finances.

While Saudi Arabia’s GFP was $622 billion in 2010, largely due to its oil reserves, an Egyptian who posted Al Shahry’s story on Twitter wrote that the story proved that “not all Saudis ‘bleed oil.’ ”

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