The gilded detention center for those caught up in Saudi purge

Amid international confusion, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, where President Trump stayed on his visit six months ago, was cleared of guests. It was rumoured that this was where the royal detainees would be held.

An aviation source said that security forces had grounded private jets in Jeddah, possibly to prevent prominent figures from leaving. To add to the uncertainty, the announcement coincided with the shooting down of a missile fired by anti-Saudi rebels in Iran at Riyadh airport on Saturday night. “The leadership of the coalition forces. . . considers this a blatant military aggression by the Iranian regime which may amount to an act of war,” the official Saudi news agency SPA said in a statement this morning.

The move against some of the most prominent businessmen and “middlemen” in Saudi public life sent shock waves through the international business community. Their assets were frozen and put under public guardianship.
At least 38 people were arrested on Saturday, including 11 princes, four sitting ministers and dozens of former ministers. An anti-corruption committee was announced, with Prince Muhammad as its chairman.

Those detained included the former finance minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, a board member of the national oil giant Saudi Aramco. On the business side, Bakr bin Laden, chairman of Saudi Binladen Group and brother of Osama bin Laden, was detained. The company is Saudi Arabia’s biggest construction company, but has clashed with the government recently.

Other princes on the list included Prince Turki bin Abdullah, a former governor of Riyadh, and Prince Fahad bin Abdullah bin Muhammad, former deputy defence minister.

Prince Alwaleed, who is worth an estimated £14 billion, owns the Four Seasons hotel chain with Bill Gates. He is a key investor in 21st Century Fox, the holding company for the entertainment businesses of Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp, which owns The Times. In return, 21st Century Fox is an investor in the prince’s Rotana Television. Alwaleed al-Ibrahim, owner of the Middle East’s other large private network, MBC, was also arrested.

Some young Saudi Arabians rejoiced that figures they saw as long having damaged the country’s reputation abroad were now under lock and key. But across the Middle East, others feared a new bout of political instability, especially because for the second time in a year Lebanon had no government.
There is much more.

This appears to be part of a larger picture in Saudi Arabia that could see some of the radical clerics deposed.  Detaining those who could afford to pay for a rebellion against the new rules could also be a factor.  At least they are not in a dank dudgeon at this point and there are not threats of public lashing.


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