Saudi Prince Dies in Helicopter Crash Near Yemen Border

Saudi Arabia Arrests Billionaire Alwaleed Al Eqtisadiah Reports

Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia, May 30, 2017.

Saudi authorities arrested at least 11 princes, several current ministers and dozens of former ministers in a sweeping move reportedly created to consolidate power for the son of King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud.

Admiral Abdullah Al-Sultan: The former commander of Saudi Naval Forces was sacked and replaced with Admiral Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghifaili. One of the world's richest men, Alwaleed has significant equity holdings in several US technology companies, as well as stakes in Saudi companies across the real estate, retail and petrochemical industries. Eleven princes, four current ministers and tens of former ministers were detained as part of a crackdown on corruption.

The arrests came a few hours after the king replaced the minister in charge of the Saudi national guard, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, who controlled the last of the three Saudi armed forces not yet considered to be under control of the crown prince.

Saudi Twitter accounts released several other names of those arrested, including Alwalid al-Ibrahim, a Saudi businessman with ties to the royal family who runs the Arabic satellite group MBC, Amr al-Dabbagh, the former head of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, Ibrahim Assaf, the former finance minister, and Bakr Binladin, head of the Saudi Binladin Group, a major business conglomerate.

The arrests have cemented the hold on power for King Salman and his 32-year-old son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Phone lines to the hotel have been cut off since Sunday morning.

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An economist at a big Gulf bank, who declined to be named because of political sensitivities, told Reuters nobody in Saudi Arabia believed corruption was at the root of the purge.

Kingdom Holding did not respond to requests for comment from The National.

The AFP news agency also confirmed the crash.

Saudi officials described Saturday's arrests as the result of an investigation by a newly created anti-corruption committee.

"The homeland will not exist unless corruption is uprooted and the corrupt are held accountable", the royal decree said.

Meanwhile, the kingdom's top council of clerics issued a statement saying it is an Islamic duty to fight corruption - essentially giving religious backing to the high-level arrests being reported.

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