Al Waleed Bin Talal (also spelled Waleed bin Talal) Ibn Saud(Arabic: الوليد بن طلال بن عبد العزيز آل سعود) (born 7 March 1955) is a Saudi Arabian business tycoon and investor. He is a member of the Saudi royal family.
He is the founder, CEO, and 95%-owner of Kingdom Holding Company. Arabian Business ranked him as the most influential Arab in the world. In March 2013 Forbes listed Talal as the 26th-richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of US $20 billion. Al waleed disputes this figure and says he is worth 26 billion
Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal is a controversial Royal Saudi at the best of times, and more so lately as speculation in the media and the blogosphere wonders whether recent conservative efforts against media and cultural events are based in a struggle not only between liberals and conservatives, but between half-brothers and different factions of the Al Saud family seeking greater authority within KSA. An admirable progressive, internationalist, and feminist to some, Prince Al-Waleed is a noxious Western influence to others.
Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud
Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud is also one of the Royals with the most mixed heritage.
His mother, Princess Mona El-Solh, is a Lebanese Sunni Muslim, the daughter of Riad El-Solh and Fayza Al-Jabiri, making him half Lebanese. His father, Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud is the son of the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, and an Armenian* mother, Munaiyir, a concubine of the King’s who became a favourite wife, and the mother of both Talal (1932) and his younger brother Nawaf (1933).
Early life and education
Al Waleed bin Talal was born on 7 March 1955. His parents are Prince Talal and Mona Al Solh, daughter of Riad Al Solh, Lebanon’s first Prime Minister after its independence. Al Waleed is Prince Talal’s second son. Therefore, Al Waleed is the grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founder Ibn Saud.
Al Waleed’s father, Prince Talal, was Saudi Arabia’s finance minister in the early 1960s, before he went into exile due to his advocation of political reform and democracy. Al Waleed’s parents separated when he was 7, and he returned to Saudi Arabia with his mother. As a youth Al Waleed would run away from home for a day or two and sleep in the back of unlocked cars. He would later attend military school in Riyadh, where he learnt a strict discipline that he continues to adhere to.
Al Waleed received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Menlo College in California in 1979. He then received a Master’s degree in Social Science with honors from Syracuse University in 1985.
Al Waleed began his business career in 1979 upon graduation from Menlo College. His activities as an investor came to prominence when he bought a substantial tranche of shares in Citicorp in the 1990s when that firm was in crisis. With an initial investment of $550 million ($2.98 a share after adjusting for stock splits, acquisitions, and spin-offs, according to Bloomberg calculations) to bail out Citibank caused by underperforming American real estate loans and Latin American businesses, his holdings in Citigroup now comprise about $1 billion.
In 1997, Time Magazine reported that Al Waleed owned about 5 percent of News Corporation. In 2010, Alwaleed’s stake in News Corp. was about 7% worth $3Bn; and News Corp. had a $70 million (9%) investment in Al Waleed’s Rotana Group, the Arab world’s largest entertainment company. This review of his holdings also referred to the Al Waleed investment AOL as if it was perhaps in the past.
His stake in Citibank once accounted for approximately half of his wealth, prior to the financial crisis of 2007–2010. At the end of 1990, he bought 4.9 percent of Citicorp’s existing common shares for $207 million ($12.46 per share)—the most that he could without being legally obliged to declare his interest. In February 1991, he spent $590m buying new preferred shares, convertible into common shares at $16 each. This amounted to a further 10% of Citicorp and took his stake to 14.9%.
In 1999, The Economist expressed doubts about the source of income of Prince Al Waleed and whether he is a front man for other Saudi investors. Because his income in the 1990s was insufficient to cover his expenditures.
“You could barely clothe a Saudi prince for such sums, let alone furnish him with a multi-billion-dollar empire. Nevertheless, by 1991 Prince Alwaleed had felt able to risk an investment of $797m in Citicorp”, wrote the magazine.
Later, he also made large investments in AOL, Apple Inc., MCI Inc., Motorola, Fox News, and other technology and media companies.
His real estate holdings have included large stakes in the Four Seasons hotel chain and the Plaza Hotel in New York. He sold half of his shares in the latter in August 2004. He has made investments in London’s Savoy Hotel and Monaco’s Monte Carlo Grand Hotel. He currently holds a 10% stake in Euro Disney SCA, the company that owns, manages, and maintains Disneyland Paris in Marne-la-Vallee.
In January 2005, Al Waleed purchased the Savoy Hotel in London for an estimated GBP £250 million, to be managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts; his sister, Sultana Nurul owns an estimated 16% stake. In January 2006, in partnership with the U.S. real estate firm Colony Capital, Kingdom Holding acquired Toronto, CA-based Fairmont Hotels and Resorts for an estimated $3.9 billion.
In 2009, it was reported that Al Waleed owned 35% of Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), reportedly the largest media company in the Middle East.
In August 2011, Al Waleed announced that his company had contracted Saudi Binladen Group to build the next tallest building in the World, the Kingdom Tower at a height of at least 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) for SR 4.6 billion. The original plan announced in 2008 called it برج الميل (Arabic for “the Tower of One Mile”) at 1,609 metres (5,279 ft) and an estimated cost of US$10 billion.
In December 2011, Al Waleed invested $300 Million in Twitter through the purchase of secondary shares from insiders. The purchase gave Kingdom Holding a “more than 3% share” of the company, which was valued at $8Bn in late summer 2011.
Much of the charitable activities of Al Waleed are in the field of educational initiatives to bridge gaps between Western and Islamic communities. Over the years, he has funded a number of centers of American studies in universities in the Middle East and centers of Islamic studies in Western universities, which has given rise to concerns about their academic autonomy from Campus Watch and Jewish American interest groups.
Controversial donation after the September 11 attacks
Immediately after the September 11 attacks, Al Waleed gave a check of $10 million to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He publicized a written statement upon his donation, stating “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 his statement, Giuliani returned the check.
Al Waleed spoke to a Saudi weekly magazine, regarding the rejection of his check by the mayor: “The whole issue is that I spoke about their position [on the Middle East conflict] and they didn’t like it because there are Jewish pressures and they are afraid of them.”
In 2002, Al Waleed donated £18.5 million to the families of Palestinians during a TV telethon following Israeli operations in the West Bank city of Jenin. The telethon was ordered by Saudi King Fahd to help relatives of Palestinian martyrs. The Saudi government maintained the term “martyrs” referred not to suicide bombers but to “Palestinians [who are] victimized by Israeli terror and violence.”
In 2002, Al Waleed donated $500,000 to help fund the George Herbert Walker Bush Scholarship at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
In 2004, Al Waleed contributed $17 million to victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
In March 2008, Al Waleed Bin Talal had donated £8m to build an Islamic studies centre (to bear his name) at Cambridge University. A few months later, on 8 May 2008,
he gave £16m to Edinburgh University to fund the “centre for the study of Islam in the contemporary world.”
In April 2009, Al Waleed donated $20 million to Harvard University, one of its 25 largest donations. He also donated the same amount to Georgetown University. His donation and others coming from Islamic sources have not been always welcomed due to their effects on academic objectivity and security concerns.
Al-Waleed owns the 85.9-meter (282 ft) yacht Kingdom 5KR,, originally built as the “Nabila” for Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. The yacht posed as the Flying Saucer, the yacht of James Bond villain Largo in the film Never Say Never Again. It was later sold to Donald Trump, who renamed her Trump Princess. Al-Waleed bought back the yacht after Trump’s second bankruptcy.
He has ordered a new yacht currently known as the New Kingdom 5KR which will be about 173 meters (557 ft) long and carries an estimated cost of over $500 million. The yacht is rendered by Lindsey Design and was delivered in late 2010.
Al Waleed owns several aircraft, all converted for private use: a Boeing 747, an Airbus 321 and a Hawker Siddeley 125. Also on order is an Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft, which is scheduled for delivery in 2012. This has been noted in the 2009 Guinness World Records as the largest private jet in the world.
Al Waleed also owns more than 200 cars, including Rolls Royces, Lamborghinis, Ferraris etc.
Among his many assets are: a 95 percent stake in Kingdom Holding Company; 91 percent ownership of Rotana Video & Audio Visual Company; 90 percent ownership of LBC SAT; 7 percent ownership of News Corporation; about 6 percent ownership of Citigroup; and 17 percent ownership of Al Nahar and 25 percent ownership of Al Diyar, two daily newspapers published in Lebanon.
In addition to his 63rd place ranking on the Forbes Billionaire List in 2011, Prince Al-Waleed topped the first Saudi Rich List issued in 2009, with a fortune of $16.3bn.
Kingdom Resort Hay al Huda
500,000 sq. Meters It contains three lakes integrated with splendid gardens. This is where he entertains his guests.
Promotion Palace Hay al Huda
250,000 sq. Meters This palace is frequently shown in videos for the promotion of public relations which is why locals have dubbed it as “Promotion Palace”. It has three swimming pools and large splendid palace. The mosque on the left and the palace next to it are also his. According to Time Magazine, “Al-Waleed and his two wives live in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in a $300 million sand-colored palace whose 317 rooms are adorned with 1,500 tons of Italian marble, silk oriental carpets, gold-plated faucets and 250 TV sets. It has four kitchens, for Arabic, Continental and Asian cuisines, and a fifth just for dishing up desserts, run by chefs who can feed 2,000 people on an hour’s notice. There is also a lagoon-shaped pool and a 45-seat basement cinema”.
Kingdom Oasis Janadriyah
4,000,000 sq Meter Still under construction this 4 million square meter luxury resort will include a 70,000 square meter lake and a private zoo.
The first wife of Al Waleed was Dalal bint Saud, a daughter of King Saud. They have two children: Reem and Khalid. They later divorced. His daughter Reem is married to Abdulaziz bin Musaid whose half-brother Faisal bin Musaidwas the assassin of King Faisal in 1975.
Prince Talal is currently married to Princess Ameera and has two daughters
In 2010, Al Waleed was given the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Innovation. He received the Bahrain Medal of the First Order, the country’s highest honorary medal in late May 2012. He received a Nepalese Honorary Medal of the Third Order “Mahaujjval Rastradip Manpadvi”, which is the highest medal for any foreigner, in August 2012. He was also awarded the Guinea Bissau’s Colina De Boe Medal in August 2012.