Saudi Arabian investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has sold his stake in the Four Seasons Hotel Damascus to Samer Foz, a businessman linked to President Bashar al-Assad. The Damascus Four Seasons sale is fund's in the group's hotel divestment strategy.
The hotel stake sale was completed while Prince Alwaleed was detained during an anti-corruption crackdown held from November 2017 to February 2018. Prince Alwaleed was released in January 2018 from the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton hotel in Saudi Arabia. He—along with hundreds of princes, ministers and businessmen—were investigated at the hotel on suspicion of corruption.
Most of those investigated agreed to financial settlements to avoid jail time while others were released due to lack of evidence. Close to 50 are set to face trial. Prince Alwaleed, who claimed his detention was a "misunderstanding," said he that he did not settle with authorities. However, people aware of the matter stated the prince agreed to a deal for his release along with several other suspects.
The Saudi Arabian government has granted Prince Alwaleed's investment fund Kingdom Holding approval to continue operating since the prince's detention. Kingdom Holding also sold the Four Seasons Beirut for close to $115 million during Prince Alwaleed's investigation. Prince Alwaleed has reportedly received a larger sum during the Four Seasons Damascus sale.
The most recent hotel sale in Damascus has the potential to stir controversy as a deal with the Syrian regime. However, owning the hotel during the current civil war still posed issues for Prince Alwaleed’s investment vehicle. The hotel is just a short distance from the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, which has been been under attack for five years and is currently the target of the government’s bombardment.