Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Saudi Prince and a Murderer

A Mysterious Saudi Prince — and a Murderer


Saudi Arabia is an inward-looking, highly conservative desert kingdom. Its customs remain unknown and mysterious to most of the rest of the world. In a similar way, Al Saud's life leading up to Abdulaziz' death is shrouded in mystery. The Saudi embassy, Al Saud's high-profile defense attorney, and London police declined to provide further details about Al Saud's life beyond those was revealed during the murder trial.

Map of Middle East with Saudi Arabia locator
Map of the Middle East with Saudi Arabia locator

What is known is that Al Saud, 34, is a prince in the Saudi kingdom. Al Saud's mother is one of dozens of children that King Abdullah fathered. Al Saud's father is also a prince and is a nephew of the king. However, being a prince in Saudi Arabia is not as exclusive as one might think: Thousands of Saudis bear the title of prince. "It's a clan and many people have this title of prince," Gregory Gause, professor of political science at the University of Vermont and an expert on Saudi Arabia, said. "It is not like being Prince William in England. There are thousands of them."

The size of Al Saud's wealth is also a mystery. Al Saud's royal grandfather is a billionaire and it is easy to imagine that Al Saud lived a life of privilege and luxury of which most people can only dream. However, as one of thousands of Saudi princes, Al Saud is not necessarily fabulously wealthy in his own right, although he is at the very least affluent. It is possible, for example, that Al Saud is one of about 5,000 Saudi princes to receive a yearly allowance of about $200,000 a year from the Saudi kingdom, Gause said.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
While having $200,000 per year is enough for most people, such an allowance does not make one inexhaustibly rich, especially when traveling first class in Western countries. However, Al Saud could potentially have much more in assets that have yet to be disclosed. It is possible that Al Saud has access to some of the wealth that his billionaire grandfather, either through his princess mother or prince father, and is far richer than the princes living off of a mere $200,000 a year. After all, he did have enough money to stay at the posh, five-star Landmark Hotel in central London for weeks where luxury suites can easily run over $5,000 a night.

"Living off of $200,000 a year makes you comfortable, but it isn't enough to let you stay at five-star hotels in London for a long time," Gause said.

Even less is known about Abdulaziz beyond his tragic death. Court records show that Abdulaziz, 32, was the adopted son of Saudi Arabian parents and that he was Al Saud's traveling companion. While Al Saud described Abdulaziz as a friend, British prosecutors said Al Saud treated him more like a servant than as his equal. During air travel, Abdulaziz sat in economy class while Al Saud sat comfortably in first-class. Court testimony also revealed that Abdulaziz walked behind Al Saud in public and he was forced to sleep on the floor while Al Saud slept comfortably in the bed.

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