Saudi royal offers pilots Bentleys for bombing Yemen
A member of Saudi Arabia's royal family has apparently offered luxury cars to fighter pilots taking part in the country's bombing campaign in Yemen.
"In appreciation of their role in this operation, I'm honoured to offer 100 Bentley cars to the 100 Saudi [fighter] pilots," Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal announced to his three million Twitter followers yesterday. The prince, once described by 'Time' magazine as the 'Arabian Warren Buffett', later deleted the tweet, but not before it had been re-posted more than 5,000 times.
A Saudi-led campaign of coalition air strikes has pounded rebel positions across Yemen since March 25.
Although the kingdom announced an end to the bombing campaign on Tuesday, air strikes were continuing yesterday.
Saudi Arabia characterised it as a new phase of the operation aimed at forcing the resumption of political talks between the rival parties.
But their Shia rebel adversaries - known as the Houthis - have called for a complete halt to the air raids before warring parties return to the negotiating table.
The military operation in Yemen has stoked Saudi nationalism and apparently united a royal family plagued by hidden rivalries.
The kingdom's social media users hailed the "generosity" of the prince's lavish Bentley promise on Wednesday, in some cases suggesting that luxury cars were the least their troops deserved.
But further afield, the prince has been lambasted as out of touch with the horror of a war that has claimed almost 1,000 lives to date. "100 Bentley cars to 100 pilots who bombed Yemen. Not [a] single ambulance to its hospitals they devastated," tweeted one Yemeni.
In late March, Saudi-led air strikes hit a refugee camp and a civilian food factory, killing more than 60 people.
The war has also seriously damaged parts of Yemen's already-crumbling infrastructure.
Although Saudi media outlets later reported that the prince's Twitter account had been hacked, he has posted no claim to this effect since the offending tweet was deleted.
Prince Waleed (60), is the wealthiest member of the Saudi monarchy and among the richest men in the world.
He has amassed a fortune valued at nearly $23bn, with investments in companies such as Citigroup, Apple and Time Warner.
It is not the first time that the prince has offered Bentleys to reward national service.
In April 2014, he reportedly gave a fleet of the luxury cars to the players and staff of the Nasr football club, after it won the Saudi football league. (© Daily Telegraph, London)