Saudi tycoon Prince Alwalid bin Talal and two other heads of three Saudi owned prominent television networks were among the high profile figures who were arrested on early Sunday.
Bin Talal, Waleed Al Ibrahim, chairman of Middle East Broadcasting Center, and Sales Kamal, owner of television channel ART and founder of the Dallah al Baraka Group (DBHC), one of the Middle East’s largest conglomerates, were arrested along with Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, head of the National Guard and dozens of princes and former ministers in a new anti-corruption probe. Prince Miteb was once considered a contender for the throne.
Talal, the Arab world’s richest list with an estimated net worth of $18.7 billion, is also the second biggest shareholder of Twitter Inc.
Already viewed as the de facto ruler controlling all the major levers of government, from defence to the economy, Saudi Crown Prince Prince Mohammed is widely seen to be stamping out traces of internal dissent before a formal transfer of power from his 81-year-old father King Salman.
In September the authorities arrested about two dozen people, including influential clerics, in what activists denounced as a coordinated crackdown.
Analysts said many of those detained were resistant to Prince Mohammed’s aggressive foreign policy that includes the boycott of Gulf neighbor Qatar as well as some of his bold policy reforms, including privatizing state assets and cutting subsidies.