Ritz-Carlton Has Become a Gilded Cage for Saudi Royals

Ritz-Carlton Has Become a Gilded Cage for Saudi Royals


The country’s attorney general, Sheikh Saud al-Mujeb, said on Monday that detainees had been subjected to detailed interrogations. He said the investigations were being conducted in secret to protect the integrity of the legal procedures and to ensure that the detainees’ high social status would not exempt them from justice.

Members of the royal family have been prohibited from leaving the country, sparking fear and concern. It was a striking turnabout for elites accustomed to lives of extreme privilege and the freedom to jet off to Paris, London or New York at the drop of a hat.

While the stated goal of the arrests was fighting corruption, some observers see the crackdown as part of the consolidation of power by the country’s young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Photo

The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh on Saturday, as the arrests of prominent Saudis were about to begin.

Credit
Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters

Less than two weeks earlier, powerhouses of global capital including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Blackstone Group co-founder Stephen A. Schwarzman, were among the 3,500 invitees, estimated to control $22 trillion in assets, who streamed down the red carpet and into the hotel for the Future Investment Initiative, a conference that was nicknamed “Davos in the Desert.”

Back in May, the Riyadh Ritz was festooned with American flags as the palatial hotel played host to President Trump on his first trip abroad as commander in chief. His predecessor, President Barack Obama, stayed at the hotel in 2014.

Ballroom B, where the video footage appears to have been taken, is just shy of 20,000 square feet, and can be used as a banquet room seating 1,400 people or a reception accommodating 2,000 people.

As with most public spaces in the kingdom, the hotel does not permit shorts, skirts or tank tops. It asks that guests dress modestly, either in local attire, smart casual or formal wear.

The hotel’s website said on Monday: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, the hotel’s internet and telephone lines are currently disconnected until further notice.” A spokesman for the hotel did not immediately respond to a request on Monday night for a comment about the detained guests.

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