Saudi Arabia: New Deal in the Desert

The gay days of free-spending princes and corrupt politicians may be on the way out in Saudi Arabia. The oil-rich royal family, which has always loved its air-conditioned Cadillacs and lavish trips to Paris, got word last week of an austerity drive that will slash its private income by 20%—from $56 million to $45 million—with promises of more cuts to come. "The government's getting honest," said a surprised Saudi businessman. "We used to add 50% to all bids to cover the payoff. Now it's dropped to 10%—or maybe a little more, just to beat the other fellow."

The hero, or...