Where is Basmah bint Saud? Is Saudi Princess Being Denied Medical Access Despite Deteriorating Health?

Princess Basmah went incommunicado in May 2020 after she implored King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to release her from a notorious prison in a series of tweets.

  • Updated

Concerns are growing over the health and well being of Saudi Princess Basmah bint Saud, with sources claiming that she is in "serious need of medical attention" due to deteriorating health. Basmah bint Saud is reported to have been held incommunicado since early last year. She has been in prison for more than two years now.

She was earlier denied access to medical treatment, a source close to the family told Middle East Eye. The 57-year-old princess has been held captive in a notorious prison for almost two years despite her pleas to King Salman and the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to release her from captivity.

Princess Unwell?

Basmah bint Saud
Saudi Princess Basmah bint Saud YouTube Grab

According to a family source quoted by Middle East Eye, not much is known about the well-being of Princess Basmah and in all probability she isn't in the best of her health and needs serious medical attention. "We're not able to reach out to her - we're not able to speak with her... [but we know] she needs serious medical attention," the source said.

It's not known what exact ailment the Princess has but the source told the Middle East Eye that she had a surgery just prior to her detention last year. Communication between family members and Princess Basmah, a businesswoman and a granddaughter of the country's founding king, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, was cut off in May 2020 after she implored King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to release her from a notorious prison in a series of tweets.

The princess was earlier denied medical access. That was just after she was first detained in April 2019. "She had been treated in Switzerland for, I believe five years or more, for a heart condition. She's not been given the medical treatment that she requires in prison," Henri Estramant, a friend and legal adviser of the family, told the outlet.

Maintaining Secrecy

Princes Basmah bint Saud
Princes Basmah bint Saud YouTube Grab

The Saudi government has kept everything secret about Princess Basmah ever since her detention. And things have only murkier ever since. Basmah was taken into custody from her home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in March 2019 and imprisoned along with her daughter, Souhoud al-Sharif.

The exact reason behind her detention isn't known but it has been reported that no charges levied against either the mother or daughter. Basmah is known to be an outspoken person of the Saudi royal family and even called for the country to adopt a constitutional monarchy.

Probably, he outspoken nature was viewed by the Saudi regime as a rebellion, which made them arrest and detain her. Basmah had in the past also criticized the Islamic nation religious police and spoken out on women's and human rights issues.

News of Basmah's detention emerged just weeks after a number of Saudi princes were arrested as part of a mass purge by MBS. Those arrests included the family's highest-ranking dissident Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz and former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

However, Basmah was only detained but went incommunicado in May last year after she pleaded with MBS to release her during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In doing so, she explained in a series of tweets that she was being held arbitrarily at al-Hair prison in Riyadh and that her health was deteriorating.

That said, two years down the line, the princess' family is now calling on the Joe Biden administration to advocate and pressure Riyadh into releasing her.