Two weeks ago the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh was the site of an international conference promoting Saudi Arabia as an investment destination. Now it is serving as a luxury prison. Kate King looks at the impact of the corruption probe on Saudi Arabia's economy.
It was just two weeks ago that the grounds of the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh was used to reveal the country's ambitious new development plans to create a $500 billion mega-city that stretches into Jordan and Egypt. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SAUDI CROWN PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN, SAYING: "This project is not a place for any conventional investor. This is a place for dreamers who want to do something in the world." Now that same hotel is reportedly being used as a holding cell for some of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest people, arrested as part of a crackdown on corruption. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT, 7IM, JUSTIN URQUHART STEWART, SAYING: "Welcome to the Saudi soap opera. It's quite fantastic when you actually look at this sort of Game of Thrones in the dunes way of seeing all these princes being locked up in what must be one of the cosiest bits of chokey you've ever seen in your life in the Ritz Carlton where I thought actually the best thing you could probably get there is some very good room service. This is gilt edge porridge really isn't it." The Kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is the man ordering the arrests. He's made sweeping changes since he became first-in-line to the crown in June, including plans to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy in an attempt to move it beyond oil. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT, 7IM, JUSTIN URQUHART STEWART, SAYING: "So can they clean the act up? And can the Crown Prince really stamp his authority on it? If he can then that will encourage confidence and more inward investment coming through. If he can't then of course that will lead to further problems and that will shake around the world." Saudi's economy has stagnated since the oil price crash - and it needs foreign investors to help balance the books. But, the who and why of these arrests - hasn't yet been answered, the best way to reassure investors may be bringing down that veil of secrecy.