About KSA billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal
Al-Waleed Bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud is a Saudi businessman, investor and philanthropist and a member of the Saudi royal family. He was listed on Time magazine’s Time 100, an annual list of the hundred most influential people in the world, in 2008.Al-Waleed is a grandson of Ibn Saud, the first Saudi king, a half-nephew of all Saudi kings since, and a grandson of Riad Al Solh (Lebanon’s first prime minister).
He is the founder, chief executive officer and 95-percent owner of the Kingdom Holding Company, a Forbes Global 2000 company with investments in companies in the financial services, tourism and hospitality, mass media, entertainment, retail, agriculture, petrochemicals, aviation, technology and real-estate sectors. The company had a market capitalization of over $18 billion in 2013.Al-Waleed is Citigroup’s largest individual shareholder, the second-largest voting shareholder in 21st Century Fox, and owns Paris’ Four Seasons Hotel George V and part of the Plaza Hotel. Time has called him the “Arabian Warren Buffett”. In November 2017 Forbes listed Al-Waleed as the 45th richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $18 billion.
He announced that he would donate his fortune to charity at an unspecified date. Some of the reasons he cited were to foster cultural understanding and empower women.
On 4 November 2017, he was arrested in Saudi Arabia, in an anti-corruption drive. Al-Waleed was born in Jeddah on 7 March 1955 to Prince Talal and Mona Al Solh, daughter of Riad Al Solh (Lebanon’s first prime minister).His father was Saudi Arabia’s finance minister during the early 1960s, before he went into exile due to his advocacy for political reform.Al-Waleed’s grandmother was an Armenian, Munaiyir, whose family escaped the Armenian Genocide. She was presented by the emir of Unayza to Ibn Saud in 1921, when she was 12 years old and Ibn Saud was 45.
l-Waleed began his business career in 1979 after graduating from Menlo College. He returned to Saudi Arabia, which was in the midst of the 1974–85 oil boom. Operating from a small, pre-fabricated office in Riyadh, al-Waleed was successful in construction contracts and real estate. He was first profiled by Forbes in 1988.
After the end of the Saudi oil boom, al-Waleed acquired the underperforming United Saudi Commercial Bank. Through mergers with Saudi Cairo Bank and the Saudi American Bank, it became a leading Middle Eastern bank.
He bought a substantial tranche of shares in Citicorp in 1991, when the company was in crisis. From an initial investment of $550 million ($2.98 per share after adjustments for stock splits, acquisitions and spin-offs, according to Bloomberg calculations) to bail out Citibank’s underperforming American real-estate and Latin American business-loan portfolios, his holdings in Citigroup grew to about $1 billion.
Al-Waleed is also a philanthropist, and much of his charitable activity is in the field of educational initiatives to bridge gaps between Western and Islamic communities. He has funded centers of American studies in universities in the Middle East and centers of Islamic studies in Western universities, which, in 2005, led Campus Watch and the American Jewish Congress to question the centers’ academic autonomy In 2002, al-Waleed donated $500,000 to help fund the George Herbert Walker Bush scholarship at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and donated £18.5 million to Palestinian families during a TV telethon ordered by Saudi King Fahd to help relatives of Palestinians after Israeli operations in the West Bank city of Jenin. In 2004, he contributed $17 million to victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
On July 1, 2015, al-Waleed held a press conference announcing his intention to donate $32 billion to philanthropic causes. He said that the funds would be used for humanitarian projects such as the empowerment of women and youth, disaster relief, disease eradication and building bridges of understanding between cultures.
After the September 11 attacks, al-Waleed gave a check for $10 million to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, despite Saudi opposition. In a written statement after his donation, he said: “At times like this, we must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack. I believe the government of the United States of America should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.” As a result of that statement, Giuliani returned his check