Clean sweep in Saudi! 11 Princes held

Saudi Arabia Arrests 11 Princes, Including Billionaire Waleed bin Talal

The heir to the Saudi Arabian throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has tightened his grip on power by detaining dozens of ministers and 11 princes.

The arrest of senior princes upends a longstanding tradition among the ruling Al Saud family to keep their disagreements private in an effort to show strength and unity in the face of Saudi Arabia's many tribes and factions.

Analysts said many of those detained were resistant to Prince Mohammed's aggressive foreign policy that includes the boycott of Gulf neighbour Qatar as well as some of his bold policy reforms, including privatising state assets and cutting subsidies.

The unexpected arrests came on the same day that King Salman fired Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's minister of the National Guard.

In addition to Prince Alwaleed, who is one of Saudi Arabia's best-known worldwide businessmen as an investor in firms such as Citigroup and Twitter, those detained included Bakr bin Laden, chairman of the big Saudi Binladin construction group, and Alwaleed al-Ibrahim, owner of the MBC television network.

The purge against the kingdom's political and business elite also targeted the head of the National Guard Prince Miteb bin Abdullah who was detained and replaced as minister of the powerful National Guard by Prince Khaled bin Ayyaf.

Prince Alwaleed, one of the country's highest profile businessmen, was one of several princes, ministers, and former ministers detained as part of an anti-corruption crackdown, two senior Saudi officials told Reuters on Sunday.

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Prince Alwaleed increased his stake in Citigroup at the height of the global financial crisis a decade ago and he has held on to the stake, saying as recently as last month that he was very happy with the investment.

Prince Alwaleed's arrest is likely to reverberate across dozens of companies around the world that count the investment company that he founded, Kingdom Holding Company, as a major investor or shareholder.

Shares in Kingdom Holding plunged 9.9 per cent on Sunday morning.

Kingdom Holding did not respond to requests for comment from The National.

Prince Alwaleed's father was the kingdom's finance minister during the 1960s.

Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that it established a "supreme committee" to investigate public corruption. The royal decree said the committee was needed "due to the propensity of some people for abuse, putting their personal interest above public interest, and stealing public funds" and will "trace and combat corruption at all levels", the statement said.

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