Saudi crackdown on high-profile figures widens
Saudi authorities have detained the founder of one of the kingdom’s biggest travel companies as part of an ongoing anti-corruption probe that is reportedly aimed at strengthening the crown prince’s grip on power.
Al Tayyar Travel company quoted media reports as saying that Nasser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar, who is still a board member, was arrested on Monday, without elaborating.
Shares in the company plunged 10 percent in the opening minutes of trade on the news.
Online economic news service SABQ, which is close to the government, said Tayyar had been detained in an investigation by a new anti-corruption body headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Meanwhile, pan-Arab newspaper Al-Asharq Al-Awsat reported that a no-fly list had been drawn up and the security forces in some Saudi airports were preventing owners of private jets from departing the country without a permit.
Dozens of princes, ministers and former ministers were detained on the order of Saudi Arabia’s Anti-Corruption Committee headed by the crown prince on Saturday in a crackdown which has reportedly consolidated his power.
According to Saudi media, billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, Saudi Arabia’s best-known international investor, was also among those detained.
National Guard Chief Prince Meteb bin Abdullah was also detained and replaced by Khaled bin Ayyaf, recalling a palace coup in June which ousted his elder cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, as heir to the throne and interior minister.
A royal decree on Saturday said the crackdown was in response to “exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly, accrue money.”
Over the past year, the crown prince has become the ultimate decision-maker for the Persian Gulf kingdom’s military, foreign, economic and social policies, angering some royals frustrated by his unorthodox and swift rise.