Prince Mohammed books out hotel to dine with Murdoch
By Michael Idato
4 April 2018 — 5:30am
With an entourage costing almost a quarter of a million dollars a night to accommodate, you could never accuse Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of travelling light.
The 32-year-old son of King Salman has booked all 285 rooms at Los Angeles' luxurious Four Seasons Hotel - and another 40 at the nearby L'Ermitage to handle the overflow - for the duration of his stay in LA this week.
Both hotels sell rooms upwards at around the $US550-$600 ($715-$780) mark, meaning the bedrooms alone are costing around US$190,000 a night, excluding the cost of top-tier suites, such as the Four Seasons' US$10,000 a night presidential suites, and other expenses.
The week's hottest ticket was dinner at Rupert Murdoch's Bel Air mansion on Monday night, an invitation-only chance for Hollywood's most powerful players to press the flesh with one of the world's deepest pairs of pockets.
Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is on a visit to the US.
Also in attendance were filmmakers James Cameron, 63, and Ridley Scott, 80, and actors Michael Douglas, 73, and Morgan Freeman, 80.
At just 45 years old, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson might have been relegated to the kid's table were it not for the fact that the night's guest of honour was 13 years younger still.
Rupert Murdoch and his wife Jerry Hall hosted the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince and a host of Hollywood power players.
Photo: Christopher Pearce
The trip itself has been interpreted by US media as an informal trade mission, intended to identify potential investment opportunities; Prince Mohammed's personal wealth is estimated at around US$3 billion, while his father's wealth is closer to US$17 billion.
According to a report in The Hollywood Reporter, the Murdoch-hosted dinner was described as "social and not political"; the report said the prince spoke briefly about reform in Saudia Arabia and "the dangers of radicalism in the Middle East".
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson might have been relegated to the kids table at Murdoch's dinner were it not for the guest of honour.
Earlier in the day, the prince had a meeting at the Beverly Hills office of William Morris Endeavor, one of the city's largest and most powerful agencies.
According to one report, the prince and WME's high profile chief, Ari Emanuel, are finalising a deal in which the prince would take a minority share in WME’s parent company Endeavor.
That meeting drew protesters, who gathered outside WME's office in Beverly Hills, highlighting the disparity between Hollywood's #MeToo movement and Saudi Arabia's well-documented repression of women.
During his stay in Los Angeles, the prince also has a meeting with actress/producer Oprah Winfrey in his diary.
The prince and his entourage will be in Los Angeles for three nights, which means their total hotel bill will likely come close to US$1 million, including expenses.
The Prince's US trip - billed by some media as "a charm offensive" - has included stops in Washington D.C., New York, Boston, Houston, Seattle and San Francisco.
And his appointment calendar reads like a who's who of power and influence in media, technology and money: Microsoft founder Bill Gates and CEO Satya Nadella, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple's Tim Cook, senior executives from Google and others.
Prince Mohammed was elevated to the position of Crown Prince in June last year by his father, King Salman, displacing the kingdom's former crown prince Muhammad bin Nayef.
The younger prince has been credited with pushing for social reform in Saudi Arabia, including restrictions on the powers of the kingdom's religious police, the removal of a ban on women driving, an increase in women entering the workforce, and the lifting of a 35-year-old ban on cinemas.
The last of those reforms is the pivot on which the Los Angeles stop in the prince's US diary swings; according to some reports the Saudi cinema business would be worth as much as US$1 billion in annual box-office receipts.
Michael Idato is a Senior Writer based in Los Angeles for The Sydney Morning Herald.
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