Often cited as being one of the most luxurious and prestigious hotel brands in the world, a certain Middle Eastern property that is part of Ritz Carlton Hotels’ portfolio has been making headlines for slightly more scandalous reasons in recent days. Saudi Arabia’s Ritz Carlton Riyadh, a 5-star hotel in the capital city, is reportedly being used as a makeshift detention centre for some Saudi royals who were recently arrested after a corruption investigation was launched which saw at least 17 princes and leading government officials detained after an order was issued by King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to take those under suspicion into custody. It is reported that there are now more than 30 high profile officials being kept in the Ritz Carlton Riyadh, many of them relatives of Saudi Arabia’s ruling class. The arrests were carried out by Abdul Aziz’s son and heir, Mohammed bin Salman, who has made a name for himself in recent months by shaking up the deeply traditional status quo in the UAE state, and arresting blood relatives of royals and rulers could potentially spell trouble for him in the future.
The unprecedented move must have come as a shock to guests staying in the luxury resort, which in the past has provided accommodation to high profile guests, including Donald Trump on his visit to the Middle East earlier this year. Reports from the hotel say that guests were awoken in the middle of the night and told to gather their belongings and make their way to the lobby. No explanation was given to clients as to why they were being summoned and where they were supposed to go, but transport arrived to take them away from the Ritz and to other hotels around the Saudi capital. What can only be called a blackout occurred after this, when all communications to the hotel were cut off, and the hotel’s webpage was updated on Monday with a statement that read “Due to unforeseen circumstances, the hotel’s internet and telephone lines are currently disconnected until further notice.” Other suspicious activity was reported on their booking platform, which revealed that bookings were unable to be taken until the beginning of December.
The choice of the hotel for the detention of these high profile officials could well have been a tactical one, with roots in the tribal nature of Saudi Arabian society and aristocracy. To hold these figures, who have strong historical and family ties to the country, in a prison, might well be seen as a great insult, so to hold them instead in one of the city’s most opulent buildings could possibly be an attempt at not causing extreme offence. Marriott, who operates the Ritz Carlton, has said they are evaluating the situation.
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was among the at least 17 Saudi princes and top officials detained on Saturday. Alwaleed owns 95% of Kingdom Holding, which holds stakes in global companies, including Citigroup, (C) Twitter, (TWTR, Tech30) Apple (AAPL, Tech30) and New York’s Plaza Hotel.
The Kingdom Holding has investments in the following hotel projects:
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has announced the signing of a management agreement for a new luxury hotel and 4,000m² convention centre in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh [MORE INFO…]
At over 1,000 meters and a total construction area of 530,000 square meters (5.7 million square feet), Kingdom Tower will be the centerpiece and first construction phase of the Kingdom City development [MORE INFO…]
The beachfront property will offer extensive sport and fitness facilities to take advantage of the region’s many outdoor activities [MORE INFO…]
More information on hotel projects can be found on TOPHOTELPROJECTS, the specialized service provider in the exchange of cutting-edge information of hotel construction in the international hospitality industry.