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A number of prominent Saudi Arabian princes, government ministers, and business people were arrested in Saudi Arabia in November 2017 following the creation of an anti-corruption committee led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (also known as MBS).

2017 Saudi Arabian purge
Mohammed Bin Salman al-Saud2.jpg
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, head of the Saudi Anti-Corruption Committee which ordered the arrests
Date 2017
Location Saudi Arabia
Type Governmental purge
Motive Genuine corruption crackdown, a project to gain money, or preparing to take over the crown
Arrest(s) 500

There are three alternate theories regarding the motives behind the purge: a genuine corruption crackdown, a project to gain money, or preparing to take over the crown.[1]

The detainees were confined at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh (which hosted the announcement for the planned city of Neom on 24 October 2017),[2][3] which subsequently stopped accepting new bookings and told guests to leave.[4] Private jets were also grounded to prevent suspects from fleeing the country.[4]

The arrests resulted in the final sidelining of the faction of the late King Abdullah and MBS's complete consolidation of control of all three branches of the security forces,[4] making him the most powerful man in Saudi Arabia since his grandfather, the first King, Ibn Saud.[3]

As many as 500 people had been rounded up in the ongoing sweep.[5] Saudi Arabian banks have frozen more than 1,700 domestic accounts as part of the crackdown.[6] According to the Wall Street Journal, the Saudi government is targeting cash and assets worth up to $800 billion.[7]

Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al Motjeb said in a statement that the arrests were “merely the start of a vital process to root out corruption wherever it exists.” He added that those detained will have access to legal counsel and pledges to hold trials “in a timely and open manner.”[8] Meanwhile, King Salman appointed 26 new judges.[9]



The allegations include money laundering, bribery, extorting officials, and taking advantage of public office for personal gain.[10]


King Salman stated that the anti-corruption committee need to "identify offences, crimes and persons and entities involved in cases of public corruption". He also referred to the "exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to illicitly accrue money".[11][10]


On 24 October 2017 Crown Prince Mohammed who ordered the arrests, told investors in Riyadh that "We are returning to what we were before, a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world". He also pledged to counter "extremism very soon".[12]

List of involved peopleEdit

Those arrested, detained, or removed from their posts include, but are not limited to:



Uncertain statusEdit

  • The fate of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, youngest son of King Fahd, is uncertain. There were rumors that Abdul Aziz, age 44, was killed while resisting arrest, but the Saudi information ministry released a statement saying that the prince was "alive and well."[18]


  • According to a source in Saudi Arabia who spoke to Middle East Eye, Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, former deputy governor of the 'Asir Region and a businessman, son of former Crown Prince, was killed while allegedly attempting to flee the country with his private helicopter when it went down and disappeared from radar on November 5, 2017.[19]

Politicians and businessmenEdit



According to Sam Blatteis, a former Google head of public policy in the Persian Gulf, "This is the closest thing in the Middle East to glasnost"; other businessmen have compared the purge to Russian president Vladimir Putin's politically-motivated attacks on Russian oligarchs.[7] The Economist has likened the purge to the anti-corruption campaign under Xi Jinping.[3]

In Saudi Arabia the purge has been supported by the Council of Senior Scholars and citizens in general, especially the young.[26]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Danielle Pletka (8 November 2017), "WHAT JUST HAPPENED IN SAUDI ARABIA? THE WEEKEND PURGE EXPLAINED", American Enterprise Institute, Newsweek, retrieved 10 November 2017 
  2. ^ David Kirkpatrick (4 November 2017). "Saudi Arabia Arrests 11 Princes, Including Billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c "The world should push the crown prince to reform Saudi Arabia, not wreck it". The Economist. 9 November 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Saudi Arabia's unprecedented shake-up". The Economist. 5 November 2017. Retrieved 6 November 2017. 
  5. ^ Kulish, Nicholas (6 November 2017). "Ritz-Carlton Has Become a Gilded Cage for Saudi Royals". New York Times. 
  6. ^ Saudi graft inquiry spreads beyond borders as UAE examines bank accounts Reuters
  7. ^ a b "The Saudi purge will spook global investors and unsettle oil markets". The Economist. 9 November 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017. 
  8. ^ "Saudi Arrests, Missiles and Proxy Conflict, All in Just Five Days". 8 November 2017 – via 
  9. ^ "Saudi anti-corruption purge: All the latest updates". Retrieved 2017-11-09. 
  10. ^ a b "Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman widens purge". Al Jazeera. 2017-11-06. Retrieved 2017-11-08. 
  11. ^ "Saudi Arabia princes detained, ministers dismissed". Al Jazeera. 2017-11-05. Retrieved 2017-11-08. 
  12. ^ Dorell, Oren (2017-11-05). "Saudi prince behind sweep of arrests is known as young and brash, but has Trump's ear". USA Today. Retrieved 2017-11-08. 
  13. ^ Michelle Mark and the Associated Press (4 November 2017). "Saudi Arabia arrests 11 princes, including billionaire investor Prince al-Waleed bin Talal". Business Insider. Retrieved 5 November 2017. Eleven princes and dozens of former ministers were detained ... The government said the anti-corruption committee has the right to issue arrest warrants, impose travel restrictions and freeze bank accounts. 
  14. ^ a b Donna Abu-Nasr and Glen Carey — With assistance by Alaa Shahine, Zaid Sabah, Nadeem Hamid, Vivian Nereim, and Riad Hamade (4 November 2017). "Saudi Purge Sees Senior Princes, Top Billionaire Detained". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  15. ^ a b Patrick Wintour (5 November 2017). "Saudi arrests show crown prince is a risk-taker with a zeal for reform". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  16. ^ a b Becky Anderson and Sarah El Sirgany (4 November 2017). "Saudi anti-corruption sweep leads to high-profile arrests". cnn. Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  17. ^ "Saudis arrest 11 princes, dozens of ex-ministers in shake-up". ynetnews. 4 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  18. ^ Akkad, Dania (2017-11-08). "Mystery surrounds fate of late King Fahd's son amid Saudi crackdown". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 2017-11-10. 
  19. ^ "Saudi prince Mansour killed in helicopter crash near Yemen border". Middle East Eye. 2017-11-06. Retrieved 2017-11-10. 
  20. ^ a b c d Igor Bosilkovski (4 November 2017). "Saudi Billionaire Prince Alwaleed Reportedly One Of At Least A Dozen Arrested For Corruption". Forbes. Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  21. ^ Daily Sabah with Agencies, Istanbul (November 5, 2017). "Alwaleed bin Talal, two other billionaires tycoons among Saudi arrests". Daily Sabah. Retrieved November 5, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Saudi princes among dozens detained in 'corruption' purge". BBC. November 5, 2017. Retrieved November 5, 2017. 
  23. ^ a b "Factbox: Saudi Arabia detains princes, ministers in anti-corruption probe". reuters. 4 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  24. ^ "Al Tayyar says operating normally after founder's arrest". Argaam. 4 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  25. ^ Factbox: Saudi Arabia detains princes, ministers in anti-corruption probe, November 5, 2017, Reuters
  26. ^ "Muhammad bin Salman has swept aside those who challenge his power". The Economist. 9 November 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017.