Tag Archives: Saudi

Ritz-Carlton to re-open after holding royals in Saudi purge

Ritz-Carlton to re-open after holding royals in Saudi purgeThe Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, a holding place of royals and ministers detained in a sweeping Saudi corruption probe, will re-open for business in February, sources at the hotel said Monday. The Ritz-Carlton website now lists rooms as available from February 14. A hotel employee reached by phone also confirmed to AFP that bookings were available as of mid-February.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Saudi Ritz Carlton to reopen after being used as luxury prison in corruption purge

Saudi Ritz Carlton to reopen after being used as luxury prison in corruption purgeThe luxury Riyadh hotel used as a prison during Saudi Arabia's crackdown on corruption will reopen for business next month, suggesting authorities are close to settling the cases of many suspects. Dozens of princes, senior officials and top businessmen were detained and confined in the five-star Ritz-Carlton Riyadh as the government launched the purge in early November. The some 200 detainees occupied half the hotel's 492 rooms. The rest was closed to business. The hotel's website now accepts bookings from Feb. 14, quoting a nightly rate for its cheapest room of 2,439 riyals (£480). Saudi authorities have said they expect the vast majority of suspects to agree to financial settlements of charges against them, and that Riyadh hopes to recover about $ 100 billion of illicit funds. A small number are expected to be prosecuted. Construction giant Saudi Binladin Group said on Saturday that some of its shareholders might transfer part of their holdings to the state in a settlement with authorities. Chairman Bakr Bin Laden and several family members were detained in the crackdown. In late November, senior Saudi Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, once seen as a leading contender to the throne, was freed after reaching a settlement with authorities that involved paying more than $ 1 billion, according to a Saudi official. Another top businessman who has been held at the Ritz-Carlton is billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman and owner of global investment firm Kingdom Holding. A Saudi official said this week that he was negotiating a possible settlement but so far had not agreed on terms. It has been rumoured, Mr Talal, one of the world’s richest men, could be forced to pay as much as $ 7bn. Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a massive political and economic shake-up, marked by the sudden appointment of Prince Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince in June. The 32-year-old son of the king has spearheaded the unprecedented crackdown on corruption among members of the government and royal family, as he consolidates his grip on power in the kingdom.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Saudi Prince Alwaleed in settlement talks with government: sources

Saudi Prince Alwaleed in settlement talks with government: sourcesBy Rania El Gamal and Stephen Kalin DUBAI/JEDDAH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, detained for over two months in an anti-corruption crackdown, is negotiating a possible settlement with authorities but so far has not agreed on terms, a senior Saudi official said. Prince Alwaleed, whose net worth has been estimated by Forbes magazine at $ 17 billion, is chairman and owner of international investment firm Kingdom Holding <4280.SE>, and one of the country’s most prominent businessmen. A second source familiar with Prince Alwaleed’s case told Reuters on Saturday that the price had offered to make a “donation” to the Saudi government, which would avoid any admission of wrongdoing, and to do so from assets of his own choosing.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Saudi Binladin Group denies govt takeover after chief detained

Saudi Binladin Group denies govt takeover after chief detainedSaudi construction giant Binladin Group denied Saturday any state takeover after its chairman was detained, but said some shares may have been transferred to the government. The firm, which has been forced to lay off tens of thousands of workers due to financial problems, said it remained a private shareholding company and was undergoing restructuring. International media this week reported Saudi Arabia’s government had taken over the firm after chairman Bakr bin Laden was detained.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Saudi Arabia to seek extradition of corruption suspects

Saudi Arabia to seek extradition of corruption suspectsSaudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has said he will pursue extradition for corruption suspects living abroad as part of a two-month-old crackdown that has already netted princes and tycoons. Evidence is being collected against “fugitives” in order to issue indictments against them and request that foreign governments return them to the kingdom, Saud al-Muajab told Arrajol magazine in an interview published on Thursday. Saudi security forces have rounded up dozens of members of the political and business elite, holding them in Riyadh’s opulent Ritz Carlton hotel on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Saudi stadiums to open doors to women on Friday

Saudi stadiums to open doors to women on FridaySports stadiums in Saudi Arabia will open their doors to women to attend football matches for the first time ever on Friday, the government has announced. “The first match that women will be allowed to watch will be Al-Ahli versus Al-Batin on Friday January 12,” the ministry of information said in a statement on Monday. It said women would also be able to attend a second match on the following day and a third one on January 18.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Saudi Arabia detains 11 princes after protesting utility bills

Saudi Arabia detains 11 princes after protesting utility billsEleven princes in Saudi Arabia have been arrested for staging a sit-in protest at having to pay their own utility bills, after the kingdom announced subsidies would be cut as part of a major economic overhaul. The princes had gathered at Qasr al-Hokm palace in the capital Riyadh to demand the cancellation of a recent decree that halted state payment of water and electricity bills for royal family members. The government is currently trying to reduce its dependence on oil revenues. Public spending has been targeted, including the lifting of some government subsidies. The economic reforms have been linked to the arrest of more than 200 princes in an anti-corruption purge in November spearheaded by Prince Mohammed bin Salman. They have led to tension within the royal Al-Saud family which counts thousands of members – only a handful of whom wield direct influence over the kingdom. Saudi families arrive outside a stadium to attend an event in the capital Riyadh  Credit: AFP All those detained over the weekend, arrested for disturbing the peace, were thought to be sons of the deposed King Saud bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. Prince Mohammed has sidelined his cousins to become heir to the throne and has since consolidated his grip on the kingdom's economy. Saudi officials estimate that corruption and embezzlement has cost the kingdom at least $ 100 billion over decades. Reports suggest the Saudi authorities have demanded money in return for releasing the Saudi princes held at the Ritz Carlton hotel for nearly two months. They want at least $ 6 billion (£4.4bn) from Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men. The 11 princes were being detained at Al-Hayer prison south of Riyadh, the capital, pending trial. "No one is above the law in Saudi Arabia. Everyone is equal and is treated the same as others," the statement said.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Saudi Arabia offers monthly handout to soften public over tax hike

Saudi Arabia offers monthly handout to soften public over tax hikeSaudi Arabia has ordered new monthly payments to civil servants and soldiers in an effort to soften the impact of price hikes and new taxes introduced under the kingdom’s economic reform plans.  The Saudi monarchy – driven by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – this week doubled petrol prices and introduced a VAT tax to try to take on a 195 billion riyal (£38 billion) budget deficit caused by years of low oil prices. But wary of public anger over the price rises, the government announced Saturday that it was taking steps to address “the increase in the cost of living on some segments of our population as a result of the necessary measures taken by the State to restructure the economy”. The populist measure was framed as an initiative by Crown Prince Mohammed, often known by his initials MBS, who is expected to take over from his 82-year-old father King Salman in the near future.  The new deal means that soldiers and civil servants will receive monthly payments 1,000 riyals (£197), while troops serving on the Yemeni border would receive a one-off bonus of 5,000 riyals.  Saudi officials sitting in a high-speed train, ahead of their trip, at a station in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca.  Credit: BANDAR ALDANDANI/AFP/Getty Images Other measures were introduced to help students, pensioners and some people seeking specialist medical care.  It was not clear how much the package would cost but the Saudi government insisted that “economic reforms are proceeding as planned”.  A calculation by Reuters estimated that it would cost the treasury around 23 billion riyals, compared to a projected budget deficit for 2018 of 195 billion riyal.  The announcement came in the same week as thousands of protesters in neighbouring Iran took to the streets in anger over rising prices and unemployment among other grievances. Saudi police reportedly arrested 11 princes this week after they gathered at a royal palace in Riyadh to protest against the government’s austerity measures – which included no longer paying royal utility bills. Women are expected to begin legally driving in Saudi Arabia in 2018 Credit:  REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo The online news website Sabq said the princes had gathered at the Qasr a-Hokm, a historic royal palace, demanding the cancellation of a royal decree that stopped state payment of water and electricity bills for royal family members. They were also demanding compensation for a death sentence issued against a relative, the site said. Crown Prince Mohammed ordered the arrest of dozens of senior princes and businessmen in November in what the government said was an anti-corruption drive. Critics said the arrests were a manoeuvre by the 32-year-old to crush potential rivals and consolidate his own power.  Crown Prince Mohammed has presented himself as a moderniser and a scourge of the corruption which has plagued Saudi Arabia’s economy for decades.  However, it has emerged that he shares a taste for luxury with many of his fellow Saudi princes. In 2015 he reportedly bought a £452m yacht on an impulse purchase. He reportedly also owns a £221 chateau outside Paris – the world’s most expensive home. 



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Saudi arrests 11 princes over anti-austerity protest: media

Saudi arrests 11 princes over anti-austerity protest: mediaSaudi authorities have arrested 11 princes who protested against the kingdom’s austerity measures and who could face trial, a news website close to the government reported on Saturday. Sabq said the princes, who were not named, were protesting at a historical Riyadh royal palace, Qasr al-Hokm, against a government’s decision to stop paying the water and electricity bills of royals. The princes were transferred to the high-security Ha’ir prison in the capital “ahead of their trial”, Sabq said, citing unnamed sources.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Iran and Saudi Arabia race to pass gender reforms as Tehran relaxes headscarf arrests 

Iran and Saudi Arabia race to pass gender reforms as Tehran relaxes headscarf arrests Women in the Iranian capital will no longer be arrested for failing to wear a headscarf, Tehran police have said, in a move which follows an unexpected raft of gender reforms in Saudi Arabia. Morality police will no longer automatically detain women seen without the proper hijab head-covering in public, a strict Islamic dress code in place since the 1979 revolution. For nearly 40 years, women in Iran have been forced to cover their hair and wear long, loose garments. Younger and more liberal-minded women have long pushed the boundaries of the official dress code, wearing loose headscarves that do not fully cover their hair and painting their nails, drawing the ire of conservatives. The announcement signalled an easing of punishments for violating the country's conservative dress code, as called for by the reform-minded Iranians who helped re-elect President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, earlier this year. But hard-liners opposed to easing such rules still dominate Iran's security forces and judiciary, so it was unclear whether the change would be fully implemented. Younger and more liberal-minded women have long pushed the boundaries of the official dress code, wearing loose headscarves that do not fully cover their hair Credit: Getty "Those who do not observe the Islamic dress code will no longer be taken to detention centers, nor will judicial cases be filed against them," General Hossein Rahimi, Tehran police chief, was quoted as saying by the reformist daily newspaper Al Sharq. The semi-official Tasnim news agency said violators will instead be made to attend classes given by police. It said repeat offenders could still be subject to legal action, and the dress code remains in place outside the capital. Iran's morality police – similar to Saudi Arabia's religious police – typically detain violators and escort them to a police van. Their families are then called to bring the detainee a change of clothes. The violator is then required to sign a form that they will not commit the offence again. Iran's arch foe Saudi Arabia, under similar internal pressure to liberalise, announced in September that it would finally allow women to drive. Saudis watch composer Yanni perform at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Credit: Reuters Activists had been arrested for driving since 1990, when the first driving campaign was launched by women who drove cars in the capital, Riyadh. Shocking the kingdom, one of the most repressive countries for women in the world, the young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced a tranche of liberalising changes. In 2018, women will also be allowed to attend sporting matches in national stadiums, where they were previously banned. Designated "family sections" will ensure women are separate from male-only quarters of the stadiums. The crown prince tested public reaction to the move when he allowed women and families into the capital's main stadium for National Day celebrations this year. And Saudi authorities this week allowed female contestants at an international chess tournament to play without the abaya, a long robe-like dress The ambitious 32-year-old heir to the throne upended decades of royal family protocol, social norms and traditional ways of doing business. He bet instead on a young generation of Saudis hungry for change and a Saudi public fed up with corruption and government bureaucracy.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines