Friday, 10 November 2017

SAUDI ARABIA: Riyadh Ritz-Carlton Turned Into Luxury Jail For Princes, Ministers, Billionaire Businessmen And Officials

Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on corruption is targeting so many individuals that the government has had to take control of another hotel, but one of lower quality, after it converted the five-star Riyadh Ritz-Carlton into a luxury prison earlier this week for the billionaires, princes, and officials implicated.

Staff at four-star Courtyard by Marriott in the Saudi capital’s diplomatic quarter say that Saudi authorities had forced the hotel take over for their own use forcing guests to leave.

Both November and December were fully booked but authorities forcefully took over the four-star Courtyard by Marriott which they turned into a luxury prison.

The Courtyard by Marriott in Riyadh's Diplomatic Quarter has been ordered fully booked by Saudi authorities amid a growing crackdown on allegedly corrupt officials and businessmen.

All of the hotel’s guests were told to leave the hotel and find other accommodation.

Marriott International, the hotel company that oversees both the Courtyard and the Ritz-Carlton, did not respond to a request for comment. It had earlier declined to comment about events at the Ritz-Carlton, citing privacy concerns.

As a matter of guest privacy, we do not discuss the guests or groups with whom we do business or who may be visitors of the hotel, it said in a statement.

The move comes after guests at the 52-acre Ritz-Carlton hotel were told to leave, before a video surfaced showing individuals sleeping on the floor of the complex’s Ballroom with armed guards present.

The footage fueled speculation about the whereabouts of those detained and heightened interest in the luxury prison that hosted President Donald Trump as recently as May.

Saudi government arrested dozens of people it accused of corruption, including not only members of its own royal family but billionaire members of the ruling elite, such as investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who boasts a net worth of around $18 billion and stakes in Citigroup and 21st Century Fox.

Other figures arrested included former Riyadh Governor Prince Turki bin Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf.

U.S. and Saudi officials walk in the hallway of the Ritz Carlton hotel in the capital Riyadh on May 21, 2017, during a visit of the U.S. president.

The arrests began just hours after King Salman announced the creation of a high-level anti-corruption committee led by his 32-year-old son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The committee was given the power to freeze bank accounts, prevent travel and probe any individual suspected of graft.

Saudi officials have justified the crackdown by citing figures that they say provide evidence of corruption at some of the highest levels of Saudi society.

Saudi Arabia’s attorney general, Sheikh Saud Al Mojeb, said that corrupt officials and practices had lost the Gulf kingdom about $100 billion.

Investigations over the past three years estimate that at least $100 billion has been misused through systematic corruption and embezzlement over several decades.

Evidence for this wrongdoing is very strong, and confirms the original suspicions which led the Saudi Arabian authorities to begin the investigation in the first place.

Tourism Observer

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