Global News

Saudi princes arrested for protesting utility bills at ruling palace

Saudi princes arrested for protesting utility bills at ruling palace

According to Saudi media reports, al-Ajrab Sword Brigade arrested 11 Saudi princes last week after they gathered in the capital Riyadh to protest against newly imposed austerity measures.

Eleven Saudi princes face trial after their arrest at a sit-in protesting having to pay their utility bills, authorities said on Sunday, as the monarchy pursues reforms amid hefty debt and high unemployment. "Members of a security services stepped in to restore order and the princes were arrested", the public prosecutor's statement said, without identifying the princes.

Saudi Arabia past year rounded up dozens of royal family members, current and former senior officials in the crackdown on corruption that has also strengthened the power of the heir to the Saudi throne, Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

One online news website affiliated with the authoritarian government, sabq.org, said the princes opposed a royal decree that halted the state payment of royal family members' water and electricity bills.

The cuts continue and the subsidies for members of the royal family were reduced.

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Saudi Arabia doubled fuel prices on Monday and introduced 5% Value-Added Tax on some goods and services. Most of those detained were held at the palatial Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, which has turned into a luxury prison.

Officials said the arrests were part of a determined effort to root out corruption, but the unprecedented sweep also threatened to upend the kingdom's delicate and decades-old balance of power, analysts said.

As compensation for the increase in living expenses, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ordered civil servants to receive an additional 1000 riyals per month (about 220 EUR).

Saudi Arabia's information minister on Sunday said the handouts would cost the government up to 80 billion riyals ($13.3 billion, 11 billion euros) in 2018.


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