Private jets from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain are an increasingly common sight at LAX and smaller regional airports as younger members of various royal families eschew old destinations like London, Monaco and New York for Southern California. The influx has spawned a cottage industry of “fixers” who are expected to work magic.
“The only rule is we just can’t say no to whatever they request – and they expect to have results immediately,” said one executive who helps arrange travel accommodations at a private section of the LAX airport for foreign diplomats and royalty.
A client wanted 12 courtside seats to an LA Clippers basketball game that had long been sold out. It was three hours before tipoff at Staples Center, but with an unlimited budget and a cellphone, the fixer arranged to have a dozen chairs set up on the floor – in front of the regular court-siders.
Moments into the game, the entire entourage decided a luxury box would suit them better, and the client forked over $100,000 to secure one on the spot – and for the next 14 games.
In another case, an Arab client who flew to California for his bachelor party rented a Shelby Mustang for himself, but brought along his own car fleet for his friends to drive.
With nearly two-thirds of the retail shopping in Beverly Hills done by foreigners, according to Julie Wagner, CEO of the Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau, the boutiques and big-name shops along Rodeo Drive are solicitous when Arab shoppers show up in limousines literally bearing bags of cash.