In case you missed it, a massive purge is taking place in Saudi Arabian politics. On Saturday, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman consolidated power by having 11 princes and numerous government ministers seized and held. However, the captives aren’t being detained in a prison. Rather, they are being confined to the luxurious five-star Ritz-Carlton Riyadh in the nation’s capital.
Business Insider reports that the hotel has 493 guest rooms — including 49 two-bedroom royal suites and 50 one-bedroom executive suites. Guests can help themselves to a male-only spa, 62,000 square feet of event space, and a bowling alley. Patrons can also dine at an Italian restaurant, a Chinese establishment, or a buffet-style joint.
According to The Guardian, the isn’t the first time the Crown Prince has dealt with the venue. Just two weeks ago, he hosted a “high-profile investment summit.”
Last Saturday night, however, guests were surprised to be asked to leave the establishment. At around 11pm, business people and consultants who were staying at the opulent hotel, and diners and visitors eating at the restaurants, were told to assemble in the lobby with their bags. Then, they were booted out.
Shortly after midnight, buses arrived with princes, business leaders, other royals, the royals’ guards and their captors. By dawn, more than 30 of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent figures were locked inside the hotel. All have been accused of corruption.
What this means for Saudi Arabia is not yet clear. Historically, insulting a family patriarch or a senior figure has major consequences. As a result, King Salman and his family need to tread carefully. The Guardian reports, “The modern kingdom has been ruled by a consensual alliance between various – sometimes competing – branches of the royal family. Demeaning one, by putting him in a prison cell, is a slur that would be felt far wider, and would have implications tribally. Any insult, perceived or otherwise, could break ties that bind society in Saudi Arabia, and in tribal societies more generally.”
According to Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a retired professor of political science from Emirates university, societal norms are breaking down in Saudi Arabia. This was becoming evident with progress in women’s rights. But now, ties that have traditionally bound tribes and clans also appear to be weakening.
“There is a cultural readiness in Saudi Arabia to treat everyone equally,” said Abdulla. “If these princes are found guilty then their place will be in jail and rightly so. The Saudis will be more than happy to see them imprisoned.”
“There are over 300 million Arabs, I don’t think we’re so tribal anymore. There is a large middle class in Saudi Arabia who is behaving like middle class people anywhere else in the world. They are the ones looking into this more than anyone; they’re yearning for the 21st-century Saudi Arabia,” he concluded.
We suggest you watch Trevor Noah’s recap on the subject, below:
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