According to Saudi experts, the royal net worth is around $1.4 trillion. More than 10,000 princes use this wealth to wield their political influence and to keep the common folk at bay.
Advent of the internet and the social media has resulted in enhanced awareness. Dissention is brewing between the members of the royal family and the common man.
This may result in the common people attacking the royalty. This has been prevented by the members of the royal family paying people to favor the state. According to some political experts, this is only a temporary solution. They warn of growing distrust against the state.
The sharing of family wealth has been a critical component in maintaining the semblance of a united front within the royal family. An essential part of family wealth is the Kingdom in its physical entirety, which the Al Saud views as a totally owned family asset.
During the reign of Fahd, the financial impact may have exceeded 40% of the Kingdom’s annual budget, through co-mingling of personal and state funds from lucrative government positions, huge land allocations, direct allotments of crude oil to sell in the open market, segmental controls in the economy, preferences for award of major contracts, cash handouts, and astronomical monthly allowances, all billed to the national exchequer.
The family earned immense wealth during the periods of high oil prices; in the late seventies, early eighties and immediately after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. During these years, income of the state was more than its developmental needs and social obligations.
The current King Abdullah is intending to take steps to win the trust of his people. He is keen on reducing the Al Saud’s share of the budget. Even though this may lead to dissatisfaction in the royal family, it is the right move according to some experts.