What is the Kingdom up to??

The media reported that Saudi state-media had published a short film depicting a war between the Iran and Saudi Arabia showing Saudi forces storming the Iranian capital Tehran. Pro-government newspapers shared the short film as the “operational reality” of Saudi armed forces. The film – which had been viewed more than 700,000 times on YouTube – begins with a chilling warning. “We will not wait until the fight is in Saudi Arabia, we will bring the fight to Iran,” it says. The very first scene shows a Saudi frigate destroying Iranian fast attack boats attempting to swoop on a tanker sailing in the Gulf. Iran has been accused of aiding rebel groups who have attacked the kingdom, and is expanding its influences throughout the Middle East. The film makers had detailed the best Saudi weapons and show them blowing up their Iranian counterparts before the climax with the storming of Tehran. Tanks and soldiers close in on an Iranian command centre and capture their leaders. The character looks suspiciously like Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Revolutionary Guard.

A Prince’s extravagance

In the wake of an anti corruption campaign in the Kingdom that netted prominent Saudi Princes, politicians and business, the media had identified Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the buyer of a French chateau described as the world’s most expensive home. The purchase of the vast property west of Paris for $300m (€275m) would be the latest in a string of extravagant purchases by the powerful prince, who had been waging the sweeping anti-corruption campaign. The newly-built chateau was sold to a mystery buyer in 2015, and though its ownership is concealed through shell companies, advisers to the royal family have confirmed the prince is its ultimate owner, according to a report in the New York Times. Saudi officials declined to comment on the report, which came after French investigative website Mediapart similarly pointed to the prince as the owner in July. Fortune magazine reported at the time of the 2015 sale that the Chateau Louis XIV – which has fountains that can be controlled by iPhone – had smashed records to become the world’s priciest home. Its antique facades hide modern facilities including a cinema, deluxe swimming pool and a moat with a transparent underwater chamber so that visitors can enjoy the sight of koi carp swimming past. The 57-acre plot includes manicured gardens, huge fountains and a maze, while the interiors are lavishly decorated with gilding and fresco ceilings. The Times reported that he bought the chateau through a firm managed through his personal foundation, Eight Investment Company, which also handled his 2015 purchase of a $500m yacht.

Al Masri must have been taken aback

One of Jordan's most prominent businessmen, Sabih al-Masri the cousin of the billionaire Munib al-Masri, the wealthiest person in Palestine, had been detained and subsequently released by the Saudi authorities. The 80-year-old founder of Zara Investment Holding and Chairman of the Arab Bank was held in the Saudi capital for questioning about "information related to corruption", according to the Arab news website Rai al-Youm. Al-Masri told the Reuters news agency on Sunday that he was treated with "respect" by the Saudis and would be returning to the Jordanian capital, Amman, upon the conclusion of business meetings this week. Masiri founded the Palestine Securities Exchange and had managed investment companies and financial economic institutions across the Middle East and beyond. His detention sent shockwaves across Jordan, where al-Masri's multibillion-dollar investments are a cornerstone of the economy.

Catching up with the world

Saudi Arabian officials had said that Saudi Arabian women would be able to drive trucks and motorcycles, three months after the kingdom announced a historic decision to end a ban on women driving. In September, King Salman issued a decree saying women would be able to drive from next June as part of an ambitious reform push in the conservative kingdom. The Saudi General Directorate of Traffic gave details of the new regulations saying “Yes, we will authorise women to drive motorcycles” as well as trucks adding that the royal decree stipulated that the law on driving will be “equal” for both men and women. There would be no special licence plate numbers for female-driven cars. But women involved in road accidents or who commited traffic violations would be dealt with at special centres that would be established and run by women.