Saudi Arabia has warned its citizens not to read or share the confidential and top secret government documents released by WikiLeaks.
The controversial website has already posted around 60,000 Saudi diplomatic cables, and claims to have even more – up to a half million.
"The Saudi Cables provide key insights into the Kingdom's operations and how it has managed its alliances and consolidated its position as a regional Middle East superpower, including through bribing and co-opting key individuals and institutions," the WikiLeaks statement said.
Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman Osama Nugali responded to the leaks saying citizens should not "allow enemies of the state to achieve their intentions in regards to exchanging or publishing any documents," adding some of the documents had been "fabricated in a very obvious manner," according to the Guardian.
While the investigation of the cables is underway, here are some of the secrets concerning the Saudi royal family that the embattled monarchy doesn’t want its people to read on WikiLeaks:
Unpaid limousine bills
The shopping exploits of Princess Maha Al Sudairi – the ex-wife of Saudi Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz – are well-documented.
But according to the recently released cables, Princess Maha al Ibrahim – the wife of former deputy minister of defense and aviation Abdul-Rahman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – is equally controversial.
The princess, whose age is not known, reportedly refused to pay an installment of 1.5 million Swiss francs ($1.4 million at the time) she owed to a Geneva-based limousine company and the hotel in which she was staying.
"We don't work with this family anymore, for the obvious reasons," Louis Roulet, an administrator for Geneva-based Golden Limousine Services told the Associated Press.
King is the king
Saudi Arabia is not a democracy – everyone pretty much knows that.
However, according to the claims in the Saudi Cables, even within the royal family, there is no concept of consultation or dialogue. It
According to Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a political science professor in the United Arab Emirates, who had read about 100 cables, former Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal “sought permission from the king on the smallest of matters.”
“It seems that the king is the king in Saudi Arabia, no matter how princely you are,” Dr. Abdulla told The New York Times.
A previous trove of U.S. cables posted on WikiLeaks exposes the hypocrisy of the Saudi monarchy’s holier-than-thou policies.
Although consuming alcohol in the country is prohibited – the punishment for drinking alcohol is a public lashing – rules can be broken when it comes to Saudi royalty.
An insider account by a Jeddah consulate official described an underground Halloween party hosted by a member of the royal family, which violated almost all Islamic taboos. From hard liquor to prostitutes, everything was available behind the heavily guarded villa gates.
“Alcohol, though strictly prohibited by Saudi law and custom, was plentiful at the party's well-stocked bar. The hired Filipino bartenders served a cocktail punch using sadiqi, a locally made moonshine," the cable stated. "It was also learned through word-of-mouth that a number of the guests were in fact 'working girls,' not uncommon for such parties."
Moral police’s hypocrisy
The Gulf Kingdom’s religious police force, called the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, also known as Hayaa, or Mutawiyin (meaning the pious), has often been accused of abusing its powers.
Along with other law enforcement agencies, the Hayaa officers in Saudi Arabia make sure the sexes are separated in public and they do not do anything too Western. They arrest people for petty stuff that ranges from giving hugs to celebrating Valentine’s Day.
However, their rules for the royal family are different. In fact, when it comes to prince or princesses breaking law – the Hayaa have no rules at all.
This hypocrisy of the so-called morality police was exposed in the same cable that talked about the Halloween party.
“The full range of worldly temptations and vices are available – alcohol, drugs, sex – but strictly behind closed doors. This freedom to indulge carnal pursuits is possible merely because the religious police keep their distance when parties include the presence or patronage of a Saudi royal and his circle of loyal attendants,” the cable said.
Where the royal wealth comes from
A cable released in 2011 examined the legal and illegal mechanisms – apart from their businesses – through which Saudi royals obtain their money.
“Other ways some princes obtain money include borrowing from the banks, and not paying them back. With the possible exception of national commercial bank, which has always been viewed here as the royal family's bank, Saudi banks generally turn royals away unless they have a proven repayment track record. Princes also use their clout to confiscate land from commoners, especially if it is known to be the site for an upcoming project and can be quickly resold to the government for a profit.”