Sabih al-Masri, Jordan's most influential businessman and the chairman of its largest lender Arab Bank, was detained in Saudi Arabia for questioning after a business trip to Riyadh, family sources and friends said on Saturday.
Masri's arrest, which follows the biggest purge of the Saudi kingdom's affluent elite in its modern history, has sent shockwaves through business circles in Jordan and the Palestinian territories, where the billionaire has major investments.
A Saudi citizen of Palestinian origin, Masri was detained last Tuesday hours before he was planning to leave after he chaired meetings of companies he owns, according to the sources.
He is the founder of Saudi Astra Group, which has wide interests in diversified industries ranging from agro-industry to telecommunications, construction and mining across the region.
"Masri was heading to the airport and they told him to stay where you are and they picked him up," said a source familiar with the matter who asked not to be named.
He cancelled a dinner in Amman on Wednesday that he had invited board members of Arab Bank and business associates to attend on his return.
Masri could not be reached for comment. The Saudi authorities did not respond to requests for comment.
Confidants said Masri had been warned not to travel to the Saudi capital after mass arrests of Saudi royals, ministers and businessmen in early November.
"He has been answering questions about his business and partners," said a source familiar with the matter who did not elaborate nor confirm he was held.