7 planes, 700 staff, 350 limousines and 180 suitcases: How Saudi Arabia’s Ruler Travels

In 2010 New Delhi TV claimed President Obama’s trip to India would cost $200 million per day. That was ludicrous, and the incident was made fun of during episode 4 of Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series The Newsroom. The 10 day trip very much did not cost $2 billion.

A U.S. Presidential trip abroad is an expensive proposition, for security and to bring along the equipment and people that allow that individual to continue to fully conduct business and handle contingencies that may arise. The President remains, of course, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military and unexpected situations arise.

However U.S. Presidential trips aren’t quite like how Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohamed bin Salman travels.

No detail has reputedly been too small for Bin Salman, who arrived in Athens with a 700-strong delegation on seven planes – one reportedly decked out as a hospital in waiting. In a report describing the crown prince’s penchants and excesses, the Greek news portal iefimerida said 350 limousines had been requested by the mission – a demand that so outstripped supply that vehicles had to be brought in from Bulgaria and Germany.

For his stay at the Four Seasons on the Athenian riviera, 180 suitcases filled with clothes, shoes and other personal items had been sent to the hotel. “A few days ago a special order arrived for bulletproof glass panes, which were installed with a giant crane in the suite Bin Salman has taken over,” iefimerida reported on Wednesday.

I’d surmise that this reporting was along the lines of NDTV’s story about President Obama, except that Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed uses an escalator as air stairs when traveling abroad.

And when Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s father traveled to Moscow in 2017, his golden escalator sadly broke.

Since MBS owns the planes, at least he doesn’t have to pay extra for checked bags. Nonetheless I’m still inclined to wonder if there’s exaggeration over the 350 limousines.

(HT: @crucker)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I’ve heard similar stories about wealthy Qataris who stayed at the Churchill Hyatt in London. The level of excess is grotesque.

  2. Sheik Mohammed of Dubai does not use use an escalator as air stairs when traveling abroad – he was arriving in Saudia Arabia and they (the Saudis) are the ones that have the escalator to the planes for arriving VIP’s.

  3. Wonder if someone was punished (in very nice way) for the breakdown of that golden escalator for King Salman

  4. We despise everything about you and your horrible country. But please sell us all your oil, and keep being an enemy of Iran. A creepy marriage of convenience.

  5. @ Alan

    “Maybe these CLOWNS should just stay home. Nobody needs them or wants them”

    Donald Duckling does for his golf bash…

  6. @ Donald

    Mandatory giving is one of the five pillars of Islam – look up it up!

    (“Muslims eligible to pay it must donate at least 2.5% of their accumulated wealth for the benefit of the poor, destitute and others – classified as mustahik. It is one of the largest forms of wealth transfer to the poor in existence”(The Guardian 22 June 2017).

    [To note that in the USA peoples of certain religious faiths are more want to charity, including the Jews and Mormons].

  7. A gentle reminder of the excesses of Pope B16 – he travelled on an especially kitted out Alitalia 777 – you gotta love the hypocrisy of religion…;)

  8. @ David Moore says:

    “We despise everything about you and your horrible country. But please sell us all your oil, and keep being an enemy of Iran. A creepy marriage of convenience.”

    Then reduce your reliance oil.

  9. A friend who works at the Ritz Carlton in Miami has one of the (many) mercedes that one of the Saudi Royal family purchased for their trip to the US. They just left them in the parking area with keys in them. The hotel raffled them off.

  10. I have stayed at the Hyatt Churchill a lot. The wealthiest Qataris don’t stay there much when they are in London.

    Donald Trump really loves the Saudis. He even loved them at one of his golf courses very recently.

    The Saudis are all about buttering up America’s Republicans at the top. The Gulf royals and their local fans most commonly strongly dislike Democrats.

  11. “A friend who works at the Ritz Carlton in Miami has one of the (many) mercedes that one of the Saudi Royal family purchased for their trip to the US. They just left them in the parking area with keys in them. The hotel raffled them off.”

    This is very true; I was the key and can confirm ….

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