Saudi princes arrested over palace protest

11 Saudi princes arrested for protesting utility bills at ruling palace – media

According to several media reports, eleven princes were imprisoned after protesting at a royal palace against the recently announced austerity measures.

Saudi authorities on January 4 arrested 11 royal family members who protested a decree which ordered the state to stop paying their electric and water bills.

Following the arrest of the Saudi princes, they were sent to a notorious maximum-security prison of Al-Haear located south of Riyadh.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has ordered an inflation allowance for citizens to ease the expected rise in the cost of living after the newly enforced Value Added Tax (VAT).

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 Saudi royal family is thought to number thousands, but the wealth and status between them can vary wildly.

Saudi Arabia a year ago 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.

They have been held at the five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh while government officials negotiate financial settlements, asking them to hand over assets and cash in return for their freedom.

The economic overhaul has been linked to the arrest of more than 200 princes in an anti-corruption purge in November spearheaded by Prince Mohammed. The King also ordered 10% increase in the stipend of Saudi boy and girl students for one year.

About 1.18 million Saudis are employed in the government sector and there are more than 1.23 million pensioners and beneficiaries of pension payments, the central bank says.

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