Moral Outrage
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Saudi Arabia greed and corruption “beyond the bounds of reason”

When Saudi King Abdullah arrived home in Saudi Arabia last week, he came bearing gifts: handouts worth $37 billion, apparently intended to placate Saudis of modest means and insulate the world’s biggest oil exporter from the wave of protest sweeping the Arab world. But some of the biggest handouts over the past two decades have gone to his own extended family, as documented by WikiLeaks cables reviewed by Reuters.

The November 1996 cable provides an extraordinarily detailed picture of how the royal patronage system works. Royal stipends in the mid-1990s ran up to $200,000-$270,000 a month for one prince, with grandchildren receiving around $27,000 a month, great-grandchildren $13,000 and great-great- grandchildren $8,000 a month.

But the stipend system was clearly not enough for many royals. The cable states: “By far the largest is likely royal skimming from the approximately $10 billion in annual off-budget spending controlled by a few key princes.”

Then there was the apparently common practice for royals to borrow money from commercial banks and simply not repay their loans. As a result, the 12 commercial banks in the country were “generally leary of lending to royals.”

Another popular money-making scheme saw some “greedy princes” expropriate land from commoners. Another senior royal was famous for “throwing fences up around vast stretches of government land.”

Finally, royals kept the money flowing by sponsoring the residence permits of foreign workers and then requiring them to pay a monthly “fee” of between $30 and $150. “It is common for a prince to sponsor a hundred or more foreigners,” the 1996 cable says.

The authors of the cable also warned that all that money and excess was undermining the legitimacy of the ruling family. As of 1996, there was “broad sentiment that royal greed has gone beyond the bounds of reason”.

[Source: Reuters]

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One Response to “Saudi Arabia greed and corruption “beyond the bounds of reason””

  1. […] popular dissent in Saudi Arabia proves beyond a shadow of doubt that Saudi Arabia is indeed the most tyrannical authoritarian regime in the Arab world. Yet, U.S. Administration officials have been strangely silent about supporting the people’s […]


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