Saudi Arabia continue with reorientation of economic policy

Patrice Gainsbourg
Janeiro 9, 2018

The rights group, speaking to a family member of al-Awda, says he has not been questioned or charged since arrest four months ago and has been held in solitary confinement, allowed just one 13-minute call in October. "No one is above the law in Saudi Arabia".

On Friday, King Salman ordered the payment of bonuses to government workers and military personnel - a move intended to soften the blow of austerity measures that included a reduction of gasoline subsidies and an increase in electricity prices as well as the introduction of a value-added tax.

Saudi Arabia's Royal Guard reportedly arrested royal family members over a protest at one of the king's palaces in Riyadh.

Following the arrest of the Saudi princes, they were sent to a notorious maximum-security prison of Al-Haear located south of Riyadh. The protest, which is being described as a sit-in at the Qasr al-Hokm royal palace, was in opposition to the cuts in royal benefits, but also related to the murder conviction and execution of a cousin of theirs in 2016, calling for compensation for his death.

The measures have been linked to rising tension within the royal Al-Saud family, which counts thousands of members-only a handful of whom wield direct influence over the kingdom.

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In November, the government arrested dozens of influential Saudis, including princes, cabinet ministers and business tycoons, detaining them at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

Private economists have estimated the government will raise about 40 billion riyals in 2018 through VAT. A 5 percent VAT on a broad range of goods and services came into effect on the same day.

Eleven princes were arrested by a special elite force loyal to the crown prince, Saudi media reported on January 6, 2017.

News of the sit-in was first reported on the Saudi website Sadq.

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