Palestinian billionaire Sabih al-Masri detained in Saudi Arabia


Contacts close to Masri said he had been warned not to travel to Saudi Arabia, where a sweeping government crackdown on corruption was launched in November.

Palestinian billionaire Sabih Al Masri, the chairman of Jordan's largest lender Arab Bank, was reportedly detained after heading to the Saudi capital last week to chair meetings of companies he owns.

"He has been answering questions about his business and partners", said a source familiar with the matter who did not elaborate nor confirm he was held.

His case carried echoes of that of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation from Riyadh, drawing accusations from Lebanese officials that he had been coerced by the Saudis.

He said the committee was formed based on calls made by Jordan, as the Chairman of both the Arab Summit and the Arab peace initiative committee.

Masri's detention sent shockwaves through business circles in Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

"All is well and am happy (to be released) and I was given all respect by everyone here", a Saudi citizen of Palestinian origin, told Reuters from his home in Riyadh. He amassed a fortune from a catering business set up with Saudi partners to supply troops during the US-led military operation to retake Kuwait from Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War. The entrepreneur also founded the Saudi Astra Group, which is active in various sectors of economy in the region, including in agriculture, telecoms, construction and mining.

King Abdullah stayed for a few hours in Riyadh and then left for Istanbul, where he attended the summit.

Defying strong opposition and warnings from the Palestinians and Muslim countries, U.S. President Donald Trump announced on December 6 to recognize the disputed holy city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and ordered to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The delegation comprises the foreign ministers of Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the UAE and the Arab League secretary general.