Saudi authorities have released Prince Mutaib Al Saud, who was detained early November as part of an ongoing purge against leading princes and businessmen in the kingdom led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Mutaib is son of the late king Abdullah and former minister of the National Guard. Holding sway over the powerful agency, he had been touted in the past as possible future king of Saudi Arabia, before his ambitions were derailed after his father’s death and the rise of King Salman, father of MBS.
He was reportedly held at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh along with a number of leading princes and businessmen on allegations of ‘corruption’ on November 4.
MBS’s critics say the campaign amounts to a power grab by the ambitious crown prince targeting his rivals in the royal family and the establishment.
The prince’s sister, Princess Basma bint Abdullah, confirmed the news on Tuesday, saying Mutaib had been let go at noon.
Later, Princess Nouf bint Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Saud, sister of Mutaib’s wife, tweeted: “Praise be to Allah… you have returned to us safe, Abu Abdullah,” in reference to the former minister.
— نوف بنت عبدالله بن محمد بن سعود (@Ksanouf) November 28, 2017
MBS’s purge began early in November hours after an anti-graft commission headed by bin Salman himself was set up.
More than 30 figures have been taken into custody at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh including Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men, and two of late king Abdullah’s sons, including Mutaib.
Analysts say Prince Mutaib’s detention was meant to sideline his influence over the security apparatus that could hinder MBS’s ascension to the throne, as well as confiscate billions of dollars from his personal wealth.
His release may be a sign a deal has been reached to secure his political retirement and handover of part of his assets.