Al Saud Dynasty Still Squandering in an Age of Austerity
Although the Saudi government canceled a quarter of a trillion dollars’ worth of projects back home as part of a fiscal austerity program, workers hustled to finish bright blue landing pads for helicopters at the vacation compound and to erect a tent the size of a circus big-top where the king could feast and entertain his enormous retinue, The New York Times introduced its long article which details the Saudi regime’s financial crimes.
“The people have less money than before, but the royal family have the same,” said Prince Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud, a dissident member of the extended family living in Germany. “There is a lot of state money which is concealed from the budget, which is determined by the king alone.”
“The royal family’s fortune derives from the reserves of petroleum discovered during the reign of Salman’s father, King Abdulaziz ibn Saud, more than 75 years ago. The sale of oil provides billions of dollars in annual allowances, public-sector sinecures and perks for royals, the wealthiest of whom own French chateaus and Saudi palaces, stash money in Swiss bank accounts, wear couture dresses under their abayas and frolic on some of the world’s biggest yachts out of sight of commoners.”
The American newspaper added that while there are serious problems beyond the borders, it is the country’s economic troubles that risk roiling ordinary citizens if their own cradle-to-grave benefits are cut too much.
“Many royals are wary of any disclosures about their wealth that could provoke public criticism.”
The article also revealed that facing huge budget gaps, the government has cut public-sector pay along with subsidies, sending gasoline, electricity and even water bills higher.
“The kingdom has begun borrowing by the billions both at home and abroad. And hiring by the government — a large and sought after employer for Saudis — has been cut, instilling fear for the future in younger people who cannot find work.”