Saudi director of Royal Commission for Al-Ula arrested for corruption

The arrest of Amr bin Saleh Abdelrahmane Al-Madani, the director general of the Royal Commission for AlUlA (RCU), was announced on Sunday January 28 by the Supervisory and Anti-Corruption Authority in Saudi Arabia (Nazaha) . He is officially accused of money laundering, and more specifically of having illegally obtained contracts on behalf of a company he owns, before he became the director of the government agency.

Before taking the helm of the RCU in 2017, Al-Madani was the co-founder of the National Talents Company, a company for which he allegedly obtained contracts from a public agency worth 206 million Saudi riyals, the equivalent of 51 million euros. Then as director of the RCU – and still holding shares in the company, he would have recommended the latter to the ministries in charge of the RCU. This would have enabled the National Talents Company to obtain contracts worth €320,000, very small amounts. Nazaha said legal proceedings were open against al-Madani and his partners in the business.

The cultural, artistic and tourist development of the Al-Ula region is part of the gigantic “Vision 2030” program, launched by the government to make Saudi Arabia an attractive tourist hub. Located in the northwest of the country, this immense oasis benefits from an exceptional natural and cultural heritage: it is home to the archaeological site of Hegra, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and famous for its hundreds of Nabataean tombs, as well as those of Dadan and Jabal Ikmah. The site is now equipped with several luxury ecotourism infrastructures. The RCU plans around forty cultural and artistic projects there by 2035.

Since 2018, France has been involved in this project through Afalula (French Agency for the Development of Al-Ula), which supports the development of the site by mobilizing numerous French experts.

The accusations against Al-Madani raise questions because of the modest sums involved. Is this a settling of scores hidden under this anti-corruption operation?

Similar Posts