Doors to manual, taps off in the Turkish spa... the Saudi prince whose flying palace has it all

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Saudi investor’s £300m super-jumbo also has room for a concert hall, a garage for his Rolls and four luxury suites

He’s the billionaire who has everything – private jumbo jet, hundreds of cars, a yacht that featured in the Bond film Never Say Never Again and a sizeable stake in News Corporation. Now Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud is about to take delivery of his new toy: an Airbus A380.

Click HERE to view 'inside the jet' gallery

The super-jumbos flown by Emirates airlines have room for more than 600 passengers. But the prince will clear out most of the seats and install a luxury Turkish spa, a concert hall and space to park his Rolls-Royce. Finishing touches in the hamam will include marble walls, while the prayer area will feature computer-generated mats which always point in the direction of Mecca. What will become the world’s largest private jet (dubbed the “flying palace”) will also be its most luxurious.

The richest man in the region will take delivery of the jet in the new year, according to Airbus’s Middle East president Habib Fekih. Prince Alwaleed is so far the only buyer for one of the personalised luxury airliners, which are estimated to cost £300m. 

Known as the Warren Buffett of the Middle East due to his success as an investor, the Western-educated prince, worth £16bn, is not one to shy away from flaunting his wealth. The plane will be an upgrade from his Boeing 747 and an Airbus 321, both converted for private use. His yacht, 5KR, originally built for a Saudi weapons dealer, was also the world’s biggest at the time.

As he is the largest stakeholder in News Corp outside the Murdoch family, with a seven per cent share, the spotlight turned on him during the phone-hacking scandal. An interview with the BBC’s Newsnight from the deck of one of his yachts in Cannes during which the prince – reclining in shorts and sunglasses – declared Rebekah Brooks “has to go” was credited as heralding the end to the News International executive’s newspaper career.

In a recent interview the prince claimed he paid himself a salary of just 1 riyal (16p) a year from Kingdom Holding Company, his Saudi conglomerate with a slew of real estate and media interests, leading to jokes on social networking sites as to how he would be able to afford to run the plane.

The Airbus will be delivered to the prince “green” – a basic shell ready to be furnished in any way the client desires – but a company working on the customisation designs has disclosed extravagant plans for the 10,000 sq ft interior.

Worcestershire-based Design Q says the A380 is “not only the most luxurious aircraft in existence, but also reflects the cultural values and status of its owner”. It does not name the prince directly but says its Middle Eastern client’s plans include a conference room, four luxury suites, a parking area in the plane’s underbelly and a lift that ferries passengers between the three decks. The concert hall will have space for a grand piano and 10 spectators, while a sweeping white spiral staircase will greet passengers in the entrance hall.

An Airbus spokeswoman confirmed the delivery but said “the client has asked us not to say anything else”. 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'