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Saudi’s Lebanese links 20, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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It is no secret that there are numerous links between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. In the last few days I’ve come across a couple of interesting examples.

First, is the ever Angry Arab, who, despite being Angry and implacably anti-Israeli, comes up with a few interesting nuggets. He recently mentioned, for example, that

When a new president assumes office in Lebanon, he received a cash payment of $5 million from the King of Saudi Arabia (and another $5 from the UAE ruler). A new prime minister receives $15million.

Quite interesting. Is it true? Who’s to say, but it really wouldn’t surprise me.

Secondly, an interesting hat tip informed me of the symbiotic relationship between Rafiq Harir’s company – Oger – and countless Saudi prestige projects. Today Saad Al Hariri is the General Manager of Oger who were one of three companies awarded the KAUST contract for construction and maintenance worth around $1 billion.

This nexus between politics and business is fascinating and, I’d suggest, not that well understood. Or rather, it’s such a complex intermingling of tribal, familial and wasta related politics that it is, at times, difficult to fathom.

In Qatar, for example, various actors related to the Darfur peace negotiations have been staying in 5 star hotels in Doha for months on end (at least 9 by now, I believe). Given that these hotels are established with a significant percentage owned by eminent Qataris, these negotiations represent a constant government-sponsored cash-cow.

Obviously, I don’t imagine that such a profit-laden motive is the primary (or secondary or tertiary or quaternary…) motive for such a large venture, yet it’s interesting to note. Why, for example, did the actors stay at the Movenpick, the Four Seasons and the Sheraton; what links are there explaining why those particular hotels were chosen? Whilst this is not – perhaps – that important (the Sheraton is the grand-dame of Doha’s hotels and the Four Seasons is huge), it’s certainly interesting.

Hat tip: Abstract JK