Luxury Ritz Hotel reopens after stint as gilded prison of princes
Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 12 February 2018| 25 Jumadul Ula 1439
Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel reopened on Sunday, more than three months after it was converted into a gilded prison for members of Saudi Arabia’s business and political elite detained in an anti-corruption purge.
The gates of the luxury hotel, where US President Donald Trump stayed during his state visit last year, had been shuttered and patrolled by black-uniformed royal guard units while dozens of princes, former ministers and business tycoons were interrogated inside.
The detainees were removed from the hotel two weeks ago, most released after cutting a deal with the authorities or being exonerated, an apparent sign that the corruption investigation, which sent shockwaves through the business community, was winding down.
A handful of smart-suited businessmen, forced to decamp to other hotels since November, returned to the Ritz on Sunday.
“It’s an honour (to be back),” said one foreign consultant as he waited for a luxury car to take him to work.
He said the purge had not left any trace on the 492-room hotel where the lowest rate is 2,439 riyals ($650) a night.
“You forget about it as soon as you’re in your room and you get lost in your own bubble.”
The hotel’s opulent lobby appeared normal. Uniformed waiters milled below crystal chandeliers as acoustic Arabic music filtered through speakers and incense wafted from a gilt burner.
Managers declined an interview request, but the company confirmed in a statement that the hotel had “resumed normal business operations as of today”.
Among the most high-profile occupants during the anti-corruption campaign were global investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, once seen as a leading contender for the throne.
Source – MEMO