Al-Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud is a prominent Saudi investor and businessman. He is the owner and CEO of the Kingdom Holding Company. According to Forbes he is one of the richest people in the world with an estimated wealth of 20 billion dollars.
Talal was born on 7th March 1955 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Prince Talal and Mona Al Solh, the daughter of Lebanon’s first Prime Minister. His parents got separated when he was 7 and he came to live in Saudi Arabia with his mother. Talal attended military school when he was a teenager. There he learned how live with a strict discipline and rules which he abides by even today. Talal enrolled in Menlo College, California where he got his Bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1979. He did his masters in social science from Syracuse University in 1985.
Talal’s business career started after his graduation from Menlo. His skills as an investor started shining when he purchased an important tranche of shares in Citicorp which was in crisis at the time. His shares in the Citigroup are now worth more than 1 billion dollars. According to Times magazine Alwaleed bin Talal owns almost 5% of News Corporation. In 2010 his shares in News Corp. were 7% and worth 3 billion dollars. News Corp. had invested 70 million in his Rotana Group which is one of the biggest entertainment companies in the Arab world. Talal also invested in other large companies such as Apple Inc., AOL, Motorola, MCI Inc., Fox News and many more media and tech companies.
His real estate investments include large shares in the hotel chain Four Seasons, the Plaza Hotel in New York, Savoy Hotel and Monte Carlo Grand Hotel. He also has stakes in Euro Disney SCA. Alwaleed bin Talal also owns a large share of the biggest media company of Middle East the Saudi Research and Marketing Group. In 2011 he made an announcement that he had made a deal with the Saudi Bin Laden group to make the second tallest building of the world the Kingdom Tower which cost 10 billion dollars. In 2011 Talal invested in Twitter by buying shares from insiders.
Alwaleed is a supporter of the Palestinian cause; he donated £18.5 million to the affected families during a television telethon after Israeli operation in Jenin. He donated £16 million to Edinburgh University in order to improve its Islamic Studies. He also gave 17 million dollars to the earthquake victims of the Indian Ocean in 2004 and tsunami.
Talal ranks 26th among the world’s richest people and was on top of the Saudi Rich List in 2009. He owns 3 palaces namely the Kingdom Resort, Promotion Palace and the Kingdom Oasis which is currently under construction. Talal received the First Order of the ‘Order of Abdul-Aziz Al Saud’ in 2002. He got the National Order of Cedar from Lebanon. He was also awarded the ‘Star of Palestine’ in 2009 and the ‘Dwight D. Eisenhower Award’ for Innovation in 2010. He received the ‘Bahrain Medal of the First Order’, the ‘Nepalese Honorary Medal of the Third Order and the ‘Guinea Bissau’s Colina De Boe Medal in 2012.