It is a question that even experts are not able to answer with certainty. Knowing exactly how many princes are members of the Saudi ruling family is a challenge.
“There are many discrepancies in the numbers, but it is estimated that there are at least 7,000 princes, in addition to the princesses, but with respect to them, there is even less information,” says Ahmed Zaki, an expert on the operation of the Saudi Arabian State.
“There is no other country in the world where so many people have that noble title,” he adds.
Why the anti-corruption purge of recent days demonstrates the “hardness” of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. All belong to the royal house of Saud and are descendants of Abdulaziz bin Saud, who unified the Arabian Peninsula backin 1932 giving rise to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as it is known today.
Zaki, author of several studies about the country, indicates that the direct descendants of Bin Saud receive the title of princes at birth and have the right to occupy the throne, in theory at least. Determine how many belong to that group is also complicated, but according to Zaki, there are thousands.
Polygamy is a fundamental aspect to understanding why the lineage of the Saud is so prolific.
Bin Saud married women from dozens of tribes that lived in the Arabian Peninsula. It is difficult to establish how many wives he had, but the consensus is that a conservative estimate suggests that they were more than 20.
All of them had several children – at least 50 total, according to Zaki – who also married and contributed to the increase of the descendants of the Saud dynasty.
Distortion and corruption
The noble title comes with privileges that have repercussions on the economic, political and social dynamics of the country.
“One of the main effects of this reality is the distribution of power, which is materialized in the state funds allocated to the stipends received by members of the royal household and in positions assigned to them,” he tells Conspiracy Talk News, Jonathan Pembroke.
The paper analyzes a series of leaked documents from the US diplomatic corps, dating back to the 1990s, which reveal data about the compensation received by the descendants of Bin Saud, from bank loans and of other mechanisms to which they resort to increasing their patrimony.
“A cable dated in 1996 estimated that the stipend system cost the country, which then had an annual budget of US $ 40 million, US $ 2,000 million,” reads the Reuters article.
And he continues: “A distant relative of Bin Saud and low rank received US $ 800 per month, the amount received by his children ranged between US $ 200,000 and US $ 270,000, grandchildren were getting approximately US $ 27,000, and great-grandchildren US. $ 8,000. “
According to Ahmed Zaki, the current stipend of a prince, who is neither a son nor a grandchild, but a nephew of the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, is US $ 10,000.
“If it is one of the members with the highest hierarchy in the family, the monthly payment is granted through barrels of oil, they are sold and they keep the money,” says Zaki.
The management of Saudi politics is another aspect marked by the existence of thousands of princes. The expectation of many is to occupy positions in the different organisms of the State.
Throughout the last decades, the descendants of Bin Saud have been in charge of the Ministries of Interior, Defense and Economy, as well as the different components of the army, the National Guard and the main institutions of the country.
So what happens in the gulf nation, depends on the decisions made by the royal family.