Saudi Arabia Commandeered the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh for Use as a Prison

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia has made a bold move to consolidate power, arresting senior princes, the wealthy, and former government leaders under the banner of a new anti-corruption campaign.

The group that was arrested included Prince al-Waleed bin Talal who is the largest individual shareholder in Citigroup, the second largest shareholder in 21st Century Fox, and owner of the Four Seasons George V in Paris. He owns a stake in Twitter as well.

Entrenched interests almost always have an element of corruption. And those seeking to consolidate power (and clearly in this case also wealth) almost always claim their opponents are corrupt.

As part of a simultaneous reshuffle of the Saudi cabinet, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah and Adel Fakeih were removed as, respectively, head of the national guard (the kingdom’s tribally based fighting force) and economy minister. The removal of Prince Miteb shores up Prince Mohammed’s control over the three-pronged security apparatus. He has been defence minister since his father assumed the throne in 2015. In June he removed his elder cousin’s control of domestic security when he replaced him as crown prince.

Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, Credit: Ritz-Carlton

The high profile prisoners are being held inside a maximum security faciltiy the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh — where just two weeks ago the Crown Prince declared “his country needed to move to a more just, open and moderate Islamic society.” Yet the moves were made without regard to notions of due process.

All guests on property were unilaterally kicked out, reservations dishonored.

The hotel is not taking reservations until December 1. There’s no word on whether anyone received compensation, although the letter to guests on property doesn’t suggest that they would.

Any elite member on property should be a hotel night at another property and compensation up to 140,000 (for Platinums) although presumably having the hotel commandeered by the government for use as a prison constitutes a force majeure event which obviates the ‘ultimate reservation guarantee’.

(HT: JT Genter)

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