AL-WALID, Emir

Born in 1955, Prince (Amir) al Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul-Aziz, is a son of Amir Talal bin Abdul-Aziz, and of a Lebanese mother, daughter of the first Prime Minister of Lebanon, Riad Solh. He is one of the numerous gransons of the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud, and a nephew of King Fahd.

He has no claim to the throne since his father, Prince Talal, fell out of favour in the 1960’s when he was one one of the so-called « Liberal Princes » who called for elections in the Kingdom. He nevertheless is one of the most dynamic young Saudi princes in the business world. His wealth is estimated to be worth 14 billion US $. He controls a worldwide investment, banking, construction and leisure empire through a number of compagnies registered in tax havens. More than 120 of these are registered in the Cayman islands under the name « Kingdom 5-KR ».

In 1991, he became the biggest shareholder in Citicorp (worth 590 million US $) and went on to play a major role in the rescue and financial restructuring of Eurodisney. In 1995, he sought to acquire part of the Italian Silvio Berlusconi’s media empire. In the spring of 1996, he was busy establishing a new investment vehicle intended to promote investment in Saudi Arabia and to boost the activities of the Ryadh stock market.

More recently, he showed interest in the Palestinian territories. In July 1997, he announced plans to invest in a new Palestinian construction firm for Jerusalem (Al Quds Construction and Investment Company) to bolster the Arab presence in the city. He also invested in PADICO, the Palestine Development and Investment Company, which aims to set up projects worth 1 billion US $ in the West Bank and Gaza by 2000. He is the first high profile non-Palestinian Arab investor in the area since the signing of the peace agreements between Israel and the PLO.

Concerning his other interests in the Arab countries, it is worth mentionning that the Saudi « Kingdom Agricultural Development Company  » (KADCO), headed by Prince Al-Waleed, purchased a substantial amount of land in Egypt, in the « New Valley development zone » which is to be irrigated by Nile diverted water from Lake Nasser via Sheikh Zayed Canal.

In 2000, Forbes magazine ranked him as the sixth richest businessman in the world.

Kingdom Holdings share in various companies (main holdings, Feb. 2000):

  • Four Seasons London 100 %
  • George V Hotel, Paris 100 %
  • Nile Plaza Complex, Cairo 50 %
  • Plaza Hotels 42 %
  • ART (Arab Radio & Television) 30 %
  • National Industrialisation Company 30 %
  • Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts 30 %
  • Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts 27 %
  • Rotana Video & Audiovisual Company 25 %
  • Silki La Silki National Communication Ltd 25 %
  • Planet Hollywood 20 %
  • Daewoo Corporation 18 %
  • The Savola Group 18 %
  • Teledesic 16 %
  • Cal Merchant Bank 14 %
  • Nigeria United Bank 13.7 %
  • Disneyland 13 %
  • Senegalese Telecommunication Company 10 %
  • News Corporation 7.5 %
  • Saudi American Bank 7.2 %
  • Donna Karan International 7 %
  • Hyunday 7 %
  • Canary Wharf 6 %
  • Saks Fifth Avenue 6 %
  • Saatchi & Saatchi 6 %
  • Jerusalem Development & Investment Company 5 %
  • Palestine Development & Investment Company 5 %
  • TWA 5 %

In April/May 2000, the holding of Prince Al-Waleed increased its share in the so-called « new economy » with new investments totalling more than 1 billion US$. Acquisitions of 50 million US$ each were made in the six biggest « .com » internet companies (Amazon.com, eBay.com, DoubleClick.com, etc). Most of these purchases were made when stock prices of these companies were near collapse.

Sources:

Business Monitor International, Jordan Times, MEED and The Economist