President Barack Obama’s two-day trip to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last month cost taxpayers over $3.1 million in hotel and motorcade costs alone, according to contracts released by the State Department.
In what some described as a 'futile" trip, the president met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries on April 20 and 21.
The president required three hotels, including a $2 million stay at the Ritz-Carlton. Rooms for security and the 'VIP delegation" were also booked at the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Tower totaling $200,000, and the Courtyard Marriott totaling $240,000.
A third contract to Dala International also totaled $240,000.
The State Department issued no-bid contracts for lodging and transportation, citing security needs. The government also said it is difficult to find a reliable car service in Riyadh because women cannot drive in the majority Muslim country.
'Transportation is a very difficult issue in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the State Department said. 'There are restrictions that prevent women from driving here and that means that vehicle rental services with drivers are in high demand.
'Additionally, due to a program to reduce the expatriate workforce and create more jobs for Saudi citizens, the Saudi government deported many workers, the greatest number of which were drivers (however Saudis have not taken those jobs)."
'Since the driver pool is limited, we’ve had experience with other companies bringing in drivers from outside of Riyadh and they don’t actually know the city," the agency continued. 'Dala has been able to provide drivers from Riyadh and they know the city. This is very critical for our operations since we’re supporting victors who also don’t know Riyadh."
Obama held a private two-hour meeting with King Salman during the trip, which did little to smooth over the 'deep rifts" between the two leaders, the New York Times reported.