ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested 11 princes following a gathering at a royal palace in Riyadh where they protested against austerity measures, Saudi media reported on Saturday.
The princes had gathered at the historical royal palace of Qasr al-Hokm where they demanded the cancellation of a royal decree which halted state payment of water and electricity bills for royal family members.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading exporter of oil, recently announced reforms that included the cutting of subsidies, the introduction of value-added tax (VAT), and the end of most perks for royal family members.
The new reforms are meant to help the Kingdom deal with a drop in crude prices which has led to an estimated budget deficit of USD 52 billion in 2018.
“They were informed of the error of their demands, but they refused to leave Qasr al-Hokm,” Saudi news website sabq.org said, quoting unidentified sources.
“A royal order was issued to the royal guards to intervene, and they were detained and put into al-Hayer prison in preparation to put them on trial,” the sources informed.
The website gave no further details about the incident or the identities of the princes. Kurdistan 24 was unable to reach Saudi authorities for immediate comment.
“Everybody is equal before the law, and anyone who does not implement regulations and instructions will be held accountable, no matter who he is,” the website added.
Last year, Saudi Arabia arrested dozens of royal family members—current and former senior officials—in a crackdown on corruption which has strengthened the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
According to the Crown Prince in an interview with state news agency SPA, the reform measures are aimed at “improving living standards for Saudi citizens,” adding that was “a government policy.”