The island nation of Maldives in the Indian Ocean has gained a—well-deserved—reputation as a luxury hotspot all around the world. Resorts have their own islands, replete with their own restaurants, clubs and even power stations. Coral reefs serve as natural aquariums for scuba divers. The tourism industry in the island chain is so widespread and revered it constitutes roughly a third of the nation’s economy.
Vacationing Like a Royal
Imagine just one person for all intents and purposes renting three entire islands—resorts and all—in the Maldives for their personal getaway, in the process rendering the reservations of hundreds of would be vacationers null and void. That sounds like a stunt Bruce Wayne would pull to act as cover while Batman was carrying out an extra-judiciary operation somewhere in Southeast Asia, but in fact the man able to spend 30 million dollars to book these resorts, according to CairoScene, has even more money in his coffers—and, unlike Wayne, actually exists. He is Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 78, and he’s a member of one of the richest families in the world.
When Prince Salman crashed a bunch of people’s parties at the Maldives resorts of Anantara Veli, Nladhu and Anantara Dhigu this month, he didn’t just arrive with the contingent of bodyguards that would usually accompany a person of his stature. According to The Daily Mail, the prince arrived with “a floating hospital, and luxury yacht and more than 100 bodyguards” in tow.
(Though the small army of bodyguards and the luxury yacht, which we’ll get to in a second, might seem overly extravagant to some, the floating hospital is no laughing matter, with bin Abdulaziz being in his golden years and having suffered a stroke and undergone spinal surgery.)
The Prince’s “Superyacht”
The prince’s boat, the “Superyacht” Tueq, was built in 2002, according to the website Superyachtfan, and was originally 72 metres in length; it was lengthened by six more metres in 2006, which makes it almost as long as an American football field. Designed by English firm Michael Leach Design, the Tueq can accommodate 30 guests and 21 crew members, says yacht news site Superyacht Times, and features a kitchen as well as dining, laundry and living rooms that rival those in the average home in both scope and luxury.
The Money Behind the Name
So who is this prince, and how much power and money does he have to be able to book not one but three resorts for himself for almost a month? It can’t be understated how much wealth and influence his family has to their name. While Bruce Wayne, fictional as he is, is estimated to be worth $6.5 billion, the Saudi Arabian Royal Family, of which bin Abdulaziz is Crown Prince and heir apparent to the throne, is estimated to be worth over $1.4 trillion. His individual net worth is unobtainable, as are those of many members of the House of Saud, due to security reasons, though his elder half-brother and current King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is reportedly worth $18 billion.
Prince Salman may very well succeed Abdullah as King of Saudi Arabia in just a few years’ time, given the king’s even more advanced age (89), but even that is not certain. Salman’s two predecessors as Crown Prince, Sultan bin Abdulaziz and Nayef bin Abdulaziz, both died before they had any chance at succession at ages 82 and 77, respectively. Advanced age is both a trait and a potential problem for the House of Saud’s ruling elite, with the periodical Foreign Policy theorizing that Saudi Arabia will “undergo a series of leadership changes in the coming years,” noting that this will only exacerbate the already unstable Middle East region.
One of the Most Powerful People in the Middle East
If Salman does ascend to the throne, however, he will have a decent amount of political experience. Prior to being named Crown Prince in June of 2012, he replaced his late brother Sultan as Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence, according to BBC News, and several sources including PBS and Beirut-based news site Al-Akhbar describe Salman is a mediator for issues both political and familial—with thousands of members, only 2,000 of whom have considerable wealth, according to The Independent, the House of Saud has much need of a mediator. And make no mistake, this role isn’t in an unofficial capacity: Salman actually heads the House of Saud’s “Descendants’ Council,” which helps quarreling members of the royal family to come to agreements and puts spin on whatever incidents certain individuals might find themselves in.
The prince has also been working in governmental positions since 1954 when, at the age of 19, his father King Abdulaziz appointed him emir of Riyadh, according to the website of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington, D.C. PBS says that later, as governor of the Riyadh province, he helped the former town grow into a proper metropolis by attracting tourism and foreign investment.
In short, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud isn’t just some playboy throwing his money around but one of the most powerful people in the Middle East—and in a few years he very like could be the most powerful person in that region. Furthermore, as Minister of Defence for his country and a renowned mediator he wields significant diplomatic influence. Only time and age will tell how the prince will shape his kingdom. That being said, it’s doubtful any of this will cheer up the people whose vacation’s he inadvertently ruined.
Anantara Veli Resort & Spa, Maldives
This family friendly resort offers the perfect opportunity for guests to relax while taking in some of the world’s most beautiful views. The above image is an overview of the resort.
A view from the bar and infinity pool.
Guests can enjoy:
- Deep sea and hand line fishing
- Cooking classes
- Morning meditation & Yoga classes
One of the many luxurious private suites available.
Above image features the overwater
Guests can enjoy:
- Kitesurfing and surfing
Accomodations available are:
- Ocean Pool Villa
- Ocean House with Pool
- Two Bedroom Pool Residence
- Beach House with Pool
Hotel suite with private pool.
Anantara Dhigu Maldives – Anantara Dhigu Resort & Spa
Key features are:
- Kite surfing
- Deep sea fishing and hand line fishing
- Morning meditation & yoga
- Symbolic Weddings
Accomodations available are:
- Sunrise Beach Villa
- Sunset Beach Villa
- Sunset Pool Villa
- Anantara Pool Villa
- Sunset Family Villa
- Sunrise Over Water Suite
- Sunset Over Water Suite
- Anantara Over Water Pool Suite
- Two Bedroom Anantara Pool Villa