The Ritz-Carlton that ”serves as a prison” for the princes of Saudi Arabia

The Ritz-Carlton that ”serves as a prison” for the princes of Saudi Arabia


It is a brand that boasts of having “luxury hotels and resorts that create unforgettable travel experiences in the main destinations of the world”.

Presidents, prime ministers and royals have stayed at the exclusive Ritz-Carlton hotel chain, a home away from home for the wealthy.

But, according to media reports, that of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, has become a golden cage.

Less than six months after US President Donald Trump visited the Ritz-Carlton on his first official trip to Saudi Arabia, those who inhabit its luxurious facilities are now prominent Saudi figures who are there under arrest .

That is why the hotel is being designated as “the most luxurious prison in the world”.

In what the country describes as an anti-corruption purge in the conservative kingdom, 11 princes, four ministers and dozens of ex-ministers were arrested .

The anti-corruption committee led by Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the arrests of 11 princes, four ministers and dozens of ex-ministers.Copyright of theAFPimage
Image captionThe anti-corruption committee led by Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the arrests of 11 princes, four ministers and dozens of ex-ministers.

Among the detainees is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire with investments in Apple and Twitter.

Saudi officials have not confirmed whether they are at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, but a Saudi official quoted by the British newspaper The Guardian said that Prince Mohammed bin Salman “could not have put them in jail.”

“And he knows that, so this was the most dignified solution he could find .”

The hotel complex, with six years of existence, has 492 rooms and occupies a plot of more than 200,000 square meters.

Mattresses in an opulent lounge

A video published on Tuesday by the American newspaper The New York Timesshowed what it describes as one of the opulent halls of the Ritz-Carlton occupied by mats lying on the floor.

In the recording, you can also see uniformed men, blankets of different colors and patterns and a rifle leaning against a wall.

The B lounge of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh.  Photo: Web Ritz-Carlton Riad
Image captionRoom B of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. (Photo: web Ritz-Carlton Riad)

The B lounge of the hotel, which several media point out as the one that appears in the video, is often used as a banquet hall with capacity to accommodate some 2,000 people.

The hostess of Al Jazeera television channel in Qatar Khadija Benguenna shared on her Twitter account a photograph that seems to show the same space of the hotel with mattresses on the floor.

Since Sunday, police cars surround the hotel complex and the imposing gates of the facade remain closed, according to the correspondent of the AFP agency in Riyadh, Anuj Chopra.

In turn, the website of the hotel has a notice from Monday that states: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, the hotel’s internet and telephone lines are disconnected until further notice.”

Photo: Riad Ritz-Carlton website
Image captionThe hotel website shows a warning that your internet and telephone lines are disconnected until further notice.

Guests who were there on Saturday were ordered to pack their bags and meet in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton before being transferred to other hotels in the Saudi capital, the Guardian reported .

Can I make a reservation?

The BBC tried to make a reservation on Tuesday, but the experiment proved futile.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.Copyright of theREUTERSimage
Image captionThe Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, opened its doors six years ago and since then receives the powerful.

The Ritz-Carlton website noted that there are no rooms available in November, although at some point it did suggest that a double room could be reserved for a few days in mid-December for the sum of 1,300 riyals (about US $ 350) per night.

However, this window soon disappeared and this luxury hotel empire installation seems to be closed to new businesses in the near future.

The Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh and an adjoining building were the venues of an international conference that promoted the kingdom as an investment destination only 10 days ago.

At that international event attended at least one of the powerful men who are arrested today.

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