Skip to main content

Billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal released from detention in Saudi Arabia

Still, guards surround Saudi prince's palace and he is kept under house arrest, informed sources tell MEE
Saudi Arabian royal Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud arrives homes after months of imprisonment (AFP)

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has arrived home after being released from his detention in the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, Middle East Eye has learned.

The Saudi billionaire had been held in the hotel in the Saudi capital since 4 November after being arrested as part of an anti-corruption crackdown.

Family sources also said the prince was released on Saturday. "He has he arrived home," one told Reuters.

Still, guards were surrounding his palace and he was being kept under house arrest, according to informed sources who spoke to MEE on condition of anonymity.

A government source told AFP that he was released following a financial "settlement" with authorities

"The attorney general this morning approved the settlement with Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal," the source said without disclosing any figures.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), 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.

Alwaleed, one of the world's richest men and owner of Kingdom Holding Company, was among some 350 suspects rounded in the crackdown, most of whom have been released after agreeing financial settlements with the kingdom.

According to informed sources, MbS was demanding that Alwaleed sign over ownership of the entire Kingdom Holding Company and Alwaleed had been refusing to do this. If a settlement was not reached, Alwaleed was set to demand a trial.

In an interview with Reuters on Saturday, the prince had said he expected to soon be released.

"There are no charges. There are just some discussions between me and the government," he said in the interview, conducted shortly after midnight. "I believe we are on the verge of finishing everything within days.

"I told the government I'd stay as much as they want because I want the truth to come out on all my dealings and on all things that are around me."

Photo showing Al-Waleed Bin Talal in detention (Reuters)

"Only a couple of days till cases of corruption-related settlements are closed in preparation for referring remaining defendants to the public prosecution," state news agency Al Arabiya reported earlier this week, citing what it called an infographic created by the public prosecutor.

"Ninety-five people are still detained."

The government on Friday also released a number of other detainees including Waleed al-Ibhrahim, head of the MBC media giant, Khaled Tuwaijri, former chief of the Saudi royal court, and Turki bin Nasser, former head of the country's meteorology agency.

The government has released other high-profile detainees in recent weeks such as former National Guard chief Prince Miteb bin Abdullah following his "settlement" with authorities reportedly exceeding $1bn.

Authorities have said most of those detained struck monetary settlements in exchange for their freedom, which could earn state coffers about $100bn.

The windfall settlements will help the government finance a multi-million dollar package announced by King Salman this month to help citizens cope with the rising cost of living, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan told Al Arabiya television in Davos on Wednesday.

Some critics have labelled the campaign a shakedown, but authorities insist the purge was aimed to target endemic corruption as Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

The Ritz-Carlton is set to re-open for business next month as the campaign draws to an end, sources at the hotel have said. Its website lists rooms as available from 14 February.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.