Saudi authorities have arrested 11 princes for protesting against the suspension of state subsidies to pay the electricity and water bills of members of the royal family, a rare example of open dissent over recent austerity measures.
The attorney-general said in a statement that the group of princes had staged a sit-in at a palace in the capital last week, refusing to leave the area after being told that their demands were not lawful.
The princely dissent reflects broader antipathy towards the government’s attempts to raise revenue this year, including introducing a 5 per cent sales tax, doubling petrol prices and imposing increases to utility tariffs. After the measures were implemented over the new year, Saudis took to social media to complain about the rising cost of living at a time of economic stagnation.
The disgruntlement underlines the delicate balance Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman faces as he seeks to press ahead with reforms while at the same time limiting the risk of unrest in a conservative country where cradle-to-grave state welfare has been the norm. The arrest of the princes also illustrates the 32-year-old’s hardline stance towards dissent as he consolidates power since his promotion to heir apparent in June.
这些不满突显出王储穆罕默德•本•萨勒曼(Mohammed bin Salman)面临的微妙平衡，他在试图推进改革的同时，也要在这个从摇篮到坟墓的国家福利已成为常态的保守国家限制动乱风险。这些王子被捕也表明32岁的王储对待异见的强硬立场；自去年6月被任命为继承人后，他一直在巩固权力。