Prince Gives Video Tour of Ritz-Carlton "Prison" Before Release
Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was released from detention at the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh on Saturday, after having been held there along with roughly 200 other Saudi princes and high-level politicians since November in what government authorities termed a crackdown on corruption but critics deemed a consolidation of power by ruling Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Prince Alwaleed, who has strong ties to the US as an investor in companies such as Twitter, Apple, Lyft, Citigroup, Four Seasons and Fairmont, took reporters on a tour of his suite at the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh just hours before he was released.
In the video tour, which is intercut with interview clips, Prince Alwaleed is shown walking freely through several rooms of his suite, smiling as he draws the camera's attention to an elegant set dining room and even at one point drinking a can of Pepsi he retrieves from the fully stocked kitchen area.
According to Reuters, the Prince was released after reaching a "financial settlement" for his alleged crimes. “The attorney general has approved this morning the settlement that was reached with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and the prince returned home at 11am,” a senior Saudi official told Reuters. Alwaleed told the news organization that he maintained his innocence and he had been able to stay in contact with his family members as well as his businesses while held in the Ritz-Carlton.
Other detainees have also been released in recent days and the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh is now scheduled to reopen to the public on February 14. A search for the hotel using Ritz-Carlton's website shows rooms now available for booking starting on that date at a price of 2,439 SAR (~US$650) per night.
Approximately 95 people currently remain in detention at the five-star hotel, and authorities say that any that remain after February 14 will be moved to a regular Saudi prison to await trial.