Beverly Hills businesses are rolling out the red carpet for visiting Arab royals, despite concern over two recent incidents involving Saudi and Qatari royalty.
Within the last weeks, twentyish Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al Thani of Qatar’s ruling family raced a Ferrari through residential neighborhoods in the city, ignoring stop signs and endangering pedestrians. He first claimed diplomatic immunity when police questioned him, according to the Los Angeles Times, and later fled the country.
On Wednesday, Saudi prince Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud was arrested for allegedly attempting to force a house worker to perform oral sex on him.
Although Jimmy Delshad, former mayor of Beverly Hills, an Iranian émigré, said his friends are outraged at the bad behavior, he told the Los Angeles Times such incidents are rare, adding that Beverly hills’ economy depends on Arab wealth.
Jeff Hyland, a real estate agent who works with wealthy clientele, protested, “Many Middle Easterners are low profile. The ones we’re hearing about are the royals who splash the flash and have the Lamborghinis.” He added, “These are aberrations. The people we deal with are quiet, and they really want to fit in to the social fabric of the city.”
Some businesses go to great lengths to make their Arab guests feel at home. The Peninsula Beverly Hills, for instance, offers prayer rugs, arrows pointing toward Mecca and pillowcases monogrammed in Arabic.
The Times writes, “The visitors’ shopping is not limited to souvenir baubles, either. They buy Bentleys at O’Gara Coach Co., a luxury car dealer, and $30-million estates in the hills.”