Saudi billionaire hits out at torture claims, says 'all is forgiven' after 83-day detention in Riyadh hotel
Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has revealed his typical day in the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh during his 83 days of detention as part of an anti-corruption crackdown in Saudi Arabia.
Alwaleed, who was the most prominent among hundreds of Saudi businessmen, government officials and princes who were swept up in November, also described the moment when he was caught up in the purge.
In a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg Television, he denied he was mistreated during his detention, saying: “Doctors used to come twice a day. We had the best food service - best food, best everything."
He added that all is forgiven after his three-month detention. "I am not a person who is going to say I forgive but I don't forget. I say I forgive and I forget at the same time," he said.
Asked what was a typical day was like in the hotel, Alwaleed said: "I used to sleep at 6 o’clock in the morning, after praying the fajr... and then wake up around noon, I used exercise for maybe an hour, an hour and a half, and then I divide my meals, usually I have two meals only a day, but over there I divide them six - six meals, very small meals.
"So really I cut the time. So I divide in six small meals and then they - you know, we pray five times, obviously, and do those exercises and watch all the news, obviously."
He said he had access to everything, adding that all the security guards there were his friends.
"So really when I hear about this torture, I just - it was blatant lie not only on me, on others also. Not only on me, on others," he added.
Saudi Arabia freed Prince Alwaleed and several of the country’s prominent businessmen from detention in late January, clearing out the Ritz-Carlton hotel that served as a jail during the crackdown. Some of those who were held continue to be detained due to criminal cases.
Asked about the night of November 4 when Alwaleed was first summoned, he said he was at his desert camp.
"I received a call just around 3am or 4am in the morning by high ranking government official who was my friend and said that the king and the crown prince would like - would like you to be - to come to the royal palace for a message from the higher authority, who’s the king and the crown prince.
"So I said for sure. You know, I am a member royal family and I obey the rules and obey the instructions of my king and my crown prince."
Asked about his feelings at the time, Alwaleed said: "Look, I’m very nationalist. I’m very patriotic. And really, I took it very easy, frankly speaking. When I was there, I really felt at home. And that’s very strange to say, frankly speaking. You know, I’m in Saudi Arabia, all right? So - and I was at the Ritz-Carlton. And clearly, I knew that this was going to take some time. It wasn’t going to finish quickly."
He added: "...I felt comforted because I - I just review myself, I said. And there was nothing in my life that directs me into any financial dealings or corruption that could be against me. So I was very much at ease.
"Now clearly, I’m very much anti-corruption person. Because if you can look at my tweets in the last three, four years, they were very much oriented against - against - against corruption... I was comfortable that eventually I’d be vindicated and things would be clarified."
* Based on transcript of interview supplied by BloombergFor all the latest banking and finance news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.