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
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there