Saunas and art therapy for convicted Saudi extremists

The inmates are housed in a complex of low-rise buildings with resort-like appearance, belied by concrete walls, barbed wire and armed guards surrounding it.

For most of his 20s, Badr al-Enezi wanted to become a jihad fighter. After getting in touch with former Guantanamo Bay prisoners who had returned to militancy, he began plotting how to take up arms.

But then, he was caught by Saudi authorities and spent six months in prison which proved to be far different. He dabbled with art therapy, played soccer and enjoyed perks like an Olympic-size pool and a sauna at a rehabilitation centre for convicted extremists.

Gourmet-style meals were prepared for him at the palm tree lined complex on the outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, his laundry was taken care of, was treated ‘like a brother’, and was challenged to think differently about Islam, he said.