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Saudi hotel to reopen after being used as prison in corruption purge

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This photo taken on May 21, 2017, shows the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (Photo by AFP)

Saudi authorities have reportedly given the green light for re-opening of the opulent Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, a luxury hotel that was used as a prison for dozens of princes, senior officials and top businessmen accused of involvement in corruption.

An employee of the company running the hotel said Monday that the Ritz-Carlton would reopen for business next month.

The official said bookings by the public would be accepted from February 14.

The facility was closed to normal business in November when the Saudi government launched a purge of senior royals and others suspected of corruption. They have been effectively imprisoned in the hotel and questioned, according to reports.  

Official sources said earlier that a major part of the crackdown had winded up and that the Ritz-Carlton could return to normal operations.

On the currents status of the hotel, Marriott hotel group, which owns the Ritz-Carlton brand, said that the facility was being used for purposes other than accommodation.

“The hotel is operating under the directive of local authorities and not as a traditional hotel for the time being,” a spokesman for the Marriott hotel group said in a statement.

The purges in November are believed to be part of larger efforts by the Saudi king’s son and Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to silence voices in the royal family against his expanding powers.

Bin Salman ascended to the position, the second in line to the throne, after a powerful cousin of his was sidelined last year. That prompted criticism from inside the royal family who fearful that the young, relatively inexperienced Crown Prince is seeking to swiftly replace his ailing father.

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