Hundreds of guests at one of the world's most luxurious resorts have been booted from their hotel rooms to make way for what is arguably the most pampered collection of prisoners in modern history.

The Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh has been commandeered to house almost 50 Saudi royals and dignitaries arrested by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's anti corruption committee.

The group reportedly includes military officials and government ministers as well as 11 princes - among them Prince Alwaleed bin Talal whose US$10 billion fortune makes him the 10th richest man on the planet.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Photo / Supplied
The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Photo / Supplied

Construction tycoon Bakr Bin Laden, billionaire Saleh Kamal and Waleed al-Ibrahim, owner of the influential Arab satellite network MBC, are also believed to be in detention at the hotel.

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According to ZZ, The Ritz's paying guests were told to leave their rooms, walk away from their dinners and leave their mocktails at the bar at around 11pm on Saturday.
They were herded into the lobby with their baggage and whisked off to other hotels in the hotel in the Saudi Arabian capital.

King Salman. Photo / AP
King Salman. Photo / AP

The scenes were described in a somewhat gleeful account by former News Corp journalist Martin Chulov: "From midnight, buses arrived in the sprawling complex disgorging princes, business leaders, other royals, their guards and their captors," he wrote.

"The arrivals marked the start of an extraordinary episode that exposed the kingdom's elite to rare public scrutiny and showed that, even when accused of high crime, the powerful maintain privileges.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Photo / Supplied
The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Photo / Supplied

"By dawn on Sunday, more than 30 of Saudi Arabia's most senior figures, among them blood relatives of senior rulers, were locked inside the hotel, accused of corruption.

"Their ignominious arrests were the talk of the country, and so too was the fact that they were far from a prison cell, where most citizens facing similar charges could expect to find themselves."

The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Photo / Supplied
The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Photo / Supplied

The number of arrests by the anti-corruption committee is believed to have blown out to as many as 500, while the tally of royals, government officials and political movers and shakers holed up at the The Ritz has reportedly risen from 30 to almost 50.

The arrests have sent a ripple of anxiety through the kingdom - especially as other members of the royal family, even those not detained, have now been denied the right to leave Saudi Arabia.

There's no indication how long the group will remain under house arrest at The Ritz-Carlton but it's fair to say there are worse places to be trapped.

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The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Photo / Supplied
The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Photo / Supplied

The resort describes itself as "among the most majestic five-star hotels in Saudi Arabia" and boasts 52 acres of "lavishly landscaped gardens, fine dining and 62,000 square feet (almost 6000 square metres) of elegant event space".

"Lush with 600-year-old olive trees, landscaped gardens and swaying palms, The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh is one of those Saudi Arabia luxury hotels that completely envelopes its discerning guests in majestic surroundings and discreet, attentive service," the site says.

"Discover an elegant oasis where spacious suites, a world-class spa, a stunning indoor pool, lavish wedding and event spaces and exceptional dining options provide the most unforgettable memories."

Since Monday, however, a new message has been added. It says: "Due to unforeseen circumstances, the hotel's internet and telephone lines are currently disconnected until further notice."

With his sweeping royal purge, Saudi Arabia's 32-year-old future king has up-ended a decades-old system of governance adopted by previous rulers in what analysts describe as a bold but risky power play.

The dramatic clampdown on business figures could deal a blow to investor confidence, potentially derailing sweeping Vision 2030 reforms - the brainchild of the Crown Prince.

The purge underscores an unprecedented restructuring of the kingdom as Prince Mohammed dismantles a governance model involving consensus within the royal family, while he amasses extraordinary power.

"The structure of dynastic rule established over the past few decades is being reshaped into a more centralised monarchical system," Jane Kinninmont, of London-based think tank Chatham House, said.

"MBS is disrupting the model of Saudi government," she told AFP, using an acronym widely used for the crown prince.

Saudi authorities hailed the dramatic crackdown as a bold initiative to root out corruption.
But analysts question whether the issue serves as a guise for Prince Mohammed to consolidate power by eliminating rivals opposed to his reform drive and eventual succession as king.

"The dismissals and detentions suggest that Prince Mohammed rather than forging alliances is extending his iron grip to ... counter opposition," James Dorsey from Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies said.

"It raises questions about the reform process that increasingly is based on a unilateral rather than a consensual rewriting of the kingdom's social contract."