Saudi Ritz-Carlton used as prison re-opens to the public

View shows the Ritz Carlton hotel's entrance gate in the diplomatic quarter of Riyadh

M - A luxury Saudi hotel that served as a detention centre for dozens of princes and top officials held in a corruption drive since November has reopened.

Those seeking five-star accommodations in Riyadh now have one more option available, after the Ritz-Carlton reopened its doors on Sunday, more than three months after being converted into an ad-hoc luxury prison for some of Saudi Arabia's most prominent prisoners.

More than 200 princes, ministers and businessmen had been held there and in other hotels.

"It's an honour (to be back)", said one foreign consultant as he waited for a luxury vehicle to take him to work.

He said there was no sign the 492-room hotel had been used as a makeshift prison.

"You forget about it as soon as you're in your room and you get lost in your own bubble".

Managers declined to be interviewed, but the company confirmed that the hotel had "resumed normal business operations as of today".

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Another high-profile detainee, former National Guard chief Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, was released following a "settlement" with the authorities that reportedly exceeded $1 billion.

Prince Miteb was also released after agreeing to pay an unconfirmed sum believed to be billions of dollars.

"Based on our investigations over the past three years, we estimate that at least $100 billion United States dollars has been misused through systematic corruption and embezzlement over several decades", Saudi Arabia's Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al-Mujib said in a statement at the time.

Prince Mohammed, the 32-year-old son of the king, has spearheaded the crackdown on corruption among members of the government and royal family over the past three months.

Ten days before the purge began, the Ritz hosted an worldwide business conference where Prince Mohammed spoke onstage and snapped selfies with admirers.

The prosecutor general's office said 56 people were still being held at the time, although some reports said the remaining detainees had been moved from the Ritz-Carlton to a prison.

Asked if the purge had affected the hotel's reputation, he said: "Right now it's famous".

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