The dramatic shake-up comes at a time of social and economic transformation in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman steps up his reform drive for a post-oil era.
Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia, May 30, 2017.
A Saudi prince was killed on Sunday when a helicopter with several officials on board crashed near the kingdom´s southern border with war-torn Yemen, state television said. It also sends a message that the crown prince has the full backing of his father, King Salman, to carry out sweeping anti-corruption reforms targeting senior royals and their business associates, who have always been seen as operating above the law.
The detention of Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, known for his big bets on Citigroup and other top Western companies, could have an impact on billions of dollars of investments around the world. However, he says a suspect's position or status will "not influence the fair application of justice".
The king had decreed the creation of a powerful new anti-corruption committee, headed by the crown prince, only hours before the committee ordered the arrests.
The statement did not specify further what alleged crimes had been committed.
Those detained included a number of government officials including Prince Turki bin Abdullah, former governor of Riyadh province, Khalid Al Tuwaijri, former chief of the Royal Court and Ibrahim Al Assaf, former finance minister, according list published by Reuters.
Ritz Carlton spokeswoman Sarah Walker-Kerr declined to discuss Sunday what was happening at the hotel.
Bloomberg quoted a senior Saudi official as saying that 11 princes and 38 current or former senior officials were arrested.
Shares in Kingdom Holding plunged 9.9 per cent on Sunday morning.
A Saudi official told The Associated Press that other five-star hotels across the capital were also being used to hold some of those arrested. Earlier this year, the king removed Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as head of the interior ministry, placing him under house arrest and extending the crown prince's influence over the interior ministry's troops, which act as a second armed force.