Standing on the verge of hosting the World Cup is an undeniable win for oil power Saudi Arabia as it pushes to reshape its economy and shake off its questionable image, analysts say.

It wasn't long ago that the desert monarchy was shunned by Western leaders after the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents.

Now, while human rights controversies have not gone away, the kingdom is gaining a reputation for extravagant forays into sport, backed by its seemingly bottomless oil wealth.