Princess Maha of Saudi Arabia may just be the world’s most prolific shopping addict and hoarder. The 50-year-old royal was recently exposed for her expensive exploits – dropping a $20 million shopping spree in 2009, and more recently, skirting payment of a $7 million hotel bill in Paris.
The Saudi princess – whose full name is Maha bint Mohammed bin Ahmad al-Sudairi – is a divorcee once married to Nayef bin Abdulaziz al, who was the crown prince in Saudi Arabia for a year. The family is positively swimming in money, which makes it all the more difficult to understand her shenanigans.
First, that legendary hotel bill. According to an exploration of the Maha’s habits by Vanity Fair, she spent $7 million at the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris during a five-month stay in 2012. However, she didn’t avail herself of the hotel’s extensive services – she brought her own staff along.
“We almost never saw her. She lived in the night. She maybe came out in the daytime a couple of times in six months… She’d be surrounded by 10 people rushing her into one of her cars.”
Then, at 3:30 a.m one night, the Saudi princess and her conspicuous staff of 60 people loaded her “mountains of bags” into limousines without paying her $7 million bill. The episode turned quite dramatic when the hotel staff hurried out to catch her and force payment.
The princess’ five months of lavishness at the Shangri-La apparently occurred around the same time her ex, the crowned prince, died. At the same time, King Abdullah was reportedly fed up with her exploits.
But lucky for the princess, her family and their money didn’t completely abandon her. The princess’ debt was settled mysteriously – possibly by a brother-in-law, and maybe even the Saudi king. The hotel told Vanity Fair that the bill was paid within a couple days, and declined to say any more.
Unlucky for the princess, she is now under lock and key at her palace back in Saudi Arabia, added Marie Claire. This time, she isn’t allowed to leave the country.
That’s because the princess has done this before. In 2009, she went on a $20 million shopping spree, leaving several shops in ritzy Avenue Montaigne and Place Vendôme with hefty bills — $100,000 to a lingerie shop, a $125,000 bill to Key Largo. These bills weren’t settled quietly; evidently, vendors showed up at her hotel (the George V this time) demanding their money. But they were scuttled away, and the bill eventually settled. Again, she was confined to the palace.
Friends say the princess has a bit of a shopping addict — and she may also be one of the world’s most expensive hoarders. A spree in Geneva produced four trucks of stuff — including a Lamborghini and a Ferrari she isn’t allowed to drive — and most of the packages remain unopened.
But there is this bit of back story, which may explain – but certainly not excuse – her expensive behavior. She was married to Nayef (who has been called the Antichrist) at 13 and lives in the most repressive country for women. Shopping overseas also allows the princess to enjoy a bit of freedom – men control even that decidedly female pastime in Saudi Arabia.
Indeed, shopping may be all Princess Maha has in life.
“There is a charm and a sweetness to her. But she’s a lost soul. She’s uneducated; you know, they want to marry these girls off as early as they can. Then they have nothing to do but shop. It makes for stupid women, and it’s a real problem for the country – it means men are making all the decisions.”
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab, Shangri-La Hotels]