Saudi Arabia arrests 11 princes who protested suspension of government payments

Saudi Arabia's Royal Guard reportedly arrested royal family members over a protest at one of the king's palaces in Riyadh.

The protest by royals embarked after a decree by King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud to stop state funding of water and electricity bills for members of the royal family. The princes apparently demanded utility payments be canceled, and compensation for a relative's execution.

The princes were arrested after refusing to leave the royal palace in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia previous year rounded up dozens of royal family members, current and former senior officials in a crackdown on corruption that has also strengthened the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The arrests were carried out by an elite force of the Royal guards known as Al Ajrab Sword Brigade, which is directly linked to King Salman's son, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, reported in a separate article, without mentioning sources. The country plans to slash its generous welfare program and open energy giant Saudi Aramco to partial privatization.

On Jan. 1, Saudi Arabia also hiked gasoline and fuel prices and imposed a five percent value-added tax on most goods and services, ending its decades-long tax-free policy.

The Saudi royal family is thought to number thousands, but the wealth and status between them can vary wildly.

Dozens of other high-profile royal figures who were detained in 2017 during an anti-corruption drive have been detained inside a luxury hotel. Most working Saudis are employed by the state.

The Saudi Royals were detained as King Salman announced SR1000 per month allowance for civilian and military staff for one year.

Saudi Arabia's information minister on Sunday said the handouts would cost the government up to 80 billion riyals ($13.3 billion, 11 billion euros) in 2018.