Saudi Arabia releases billionaire Sabih al-Masri

Elias Hubbard
December 17, 2017

80-year-old Palestinian billionaire businessman Sabih al-Masri has been detained in Saudi Arabia where he has been reportedly questioned over information relating to corruption.

He is the founder of Saudi Astra Group, which has wide interests in diversified industries ranging from agro-industry to telecommunications, construction and mining across the region.

Masri has major investments in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Palestine.

Saudi authorities on Sunday released Palestinian billionaire Sabih al-Masri, the chairman of Jordan's largest lender Arab Bank, according to two family sources. Political sources told Reuters that Riyadh could have detained him to pressure Jordan's King Abdullah to skip Wednesday's emergency summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Turkey.

It remains unclear whether he had left for Amman or was still in Riyadh. King Abdullah, who holds the title of custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, has previously slammed Trump for his decision on Jerusalem.

His detention came amid an anti-corruption purge initiated by Saudi Arabia at the beginning of November, an unprecedented crackdown targeting some of the country's top officials, businessmen and members of the royal family. The push is seen by some critics as a power grab by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Masri, who originally comes from a prominent merchant family from Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, amassed a fortune from partnering with influential Saudis in a major catering business to supply troops during the US-led military operation to retake Kuwait from Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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