For 22 years, Bandar bin Sultan was Saudi Arabia’s influential, irrepressible ambassador in Washington. After years in eclipse, he has just been named as head of the kingdom’s intelligence service. What does it all mean?
Prince Bandar lived large: Not only did he have the official ambassador’s residence, but also his own 32-room mansion in Aspen
In 1992, I had meetings down the street from Bandar's Aspen place at my boss's 17,000 square foot house, which was the size of Bandar's guest house. The Saudi's main house was 55,000 square feet. I talked to a whitewater rafting guide who had once had a construction job installing the deadman security system in the Ambassador's driveway. If suicide terrorists driving a truck bomb shot their way past the guardhouse, so nobody could hold their hand on the safety switch, giant steel spikes would automatically shoot up from the pavement to stop the terrorists' vehicle.
and a 2,000 acre estate in England. He was a very visible figure from 1983 to 2005 as the Saudi envoy in Washington. This was partly due to the parties he gave, and the very wide network of connections he built, but also because he was an effective diplomat. Spanning the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and second Bush presidencies, he made sure Saudi views were known, dealt directly with officials at the top of the U.S. government (including presidents), and could get things done. ... Now they may return, with an energetic and experienced player who can match anyone in the Arab world for charm, a network of contacts, and the financial resources of a rich government. Bandar is a spinner of webs, a dealmaker, a man who—assuming he is healthy—can bring Saudi views and interests back to the center of Arab decision making as well as the inner circles in many other world capitals.