“The question is not where KHC is as a company right now, or even what it has achieved to date. The big question is what the future holds, and if we can continue to deliver the same spectacular level of growth and success? The simple answer is ‘yes’, and furthermore we’re well placed to even exceed what has been achieved before.”- Alwaleed Bin Talal (Kingdom, n.d, p. 1)
Alwaleed Bin Talal is the key figure behind the Kingdom Holding Company (KHC). This is an international holding company that is unrivalled in the world. He has been twice named as a smart and creative investor by the Forbes Magazine. His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal has been the one setting the goals and objectives for the KHC and its operations by providing guiding vision. This has seen the company record a phenomenal success and gain international recognition.
Prince Alwaleed Bin Tala bin Abdulaziz Alsaud belong to the Saudi Royal Family; he is the chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company, and a leading global top investor. He is a leading philanthropist who has changed the lives of many people in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and other countries of the world, particularly in the impoverished regions of African and Asia.
He is the grandson of the influential figures in the Arab World: King Abdul Aziz Alsaud, the founder and the pioneer ruler of Saudi Arabi and Her Eminence Riad El Solh from Lebanon. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal has therefore, been driven by the extraordinary achievements of his family generation. The prince was born in March 1955 in Riyadh. Most of his childhood days were spent in Riyadh and Beirut. He undertook studies in Bachelor of Science, in Business Administration in Menlo College in California and graduated with distinction. He undertook Masters of Arts, in social science in Syracuse University. He also has several honorary degrees and awards in recognition of his work in the globe (Mobile references, 2004).
Together with his business interests, he has founded, and runs several reputable charitable foundations with the objective of realizing social change and to provide opportunities and relief to people in need. This has earned him several honors and awards from respectable organizations, monarchs, states and societies globally.
In the year 1979, he formed his company, The Kingdom Establishment for Commerce and Trade. This company later became KHC in 1996. When he made his deal from the business, he opted to invest them in real estate, in Riyadh. This was a bold decision that resulted in the success of KHC. He also ventured into the Banking Sector by acquiring a controlling stake in United Saudi Commercial Bank and with his guidance and management, the banks fortunes were transformed into the most profitable company in Saudi Arabia. He negotiated a merger with the Saudi Cairo bank and together created the United Saudi Bank. This becomes one of the largest banks in the Arab region. He also invested and transformed the city group, into one of the biggest and profitable banks. His investment strategy is always expanding his operations and to venture into new markets. KHC has acquired stakes and investment in Hotels, broadcasting, media, real estate, health, education, information technology, retail and entertainment.
Prince Alwaleed has also ventured into philanthropy and with the same determination as that in business he founded the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation with regional activities involving humanitarian, social assistance and education to the needy. Many people have benefited from his Foundation.The Foundations operate locally, regionally and globally to empower women and youth, combating poverty and in strengthening intercultural and interfaith dialogue. The reputation of Alwaleed goes beyond boundaries of Middle East due to his extraordinary achievements, involvement and profile in KHC (Metcalfe & Mimouni, 2011).
Because of his significant influence and wealth, people have been seeking guidance and advice on such issues as global peace, religion and on how a society can adopt to the dynamics of the 21st century. Through his business experience, Prince Alwaleed has traveled extensively and met various world leaders. These travels have instilled him with experiences that have affected his personal philosophy and outlook. According to him, it is a duty as a committed Muslim that has enabled him to use his influence and connections to promote peace and understanding among people and religions and to promote the lives and the prospects of people in need (Esposito, 1999).
Religion background and philosophies
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal is a firm believer in the teaching of Quran and an ardent promoter of tolerance and peace. These are the philosophies that guide him. According to him, all religions should be treated and respected accordingly. As an individual born to a respectable family, the prince takes his duties seriously that is guided by his philosophies.
The Prince is a devout student of Islam, and he is proud to live his love based on the five pillars of Islam. He spends most of his time reading the Quran and meditating on Quranic teachings in order to enable him understand the wisdom of the people of the world. He considers himself as religiously conservative with a liberal outlook on the cultural and social aspects of modern Islam. This makes him a strong supporter of women rights and as such he is working towards enhancing the female prospects in the Arab world using his Foundations. The prince is a firm believer in the teachings of Quran on tolerance and peace. He is of the opinion that all religions and religious beliefs are valid and similar and hence should be respected. He aims to one day initiate a meaningful talk between Islam and other world cultures to diffuse any existing tensions and to set the path towards peace, tolerance, openness and understanding. The violent actions perpetuated by extreme minority outraged the prince and considered them as intended at obscuring the peaceful, and dignity of Islam, He is, therefore, more determined of using his profile and influence to support peace and religious tolerance (KHC, 2014).
The prince has channeled most of his philanthropic aid and energy to bridging the gap between the Islamic World and the West and to promote intercultural and interfaith understanding and dialogue in the characterized by mistrust and clash of civilization. He is a firm believer in the promotion of global co-existence among people and nations. To him the culture of giving is as critical as prayer. This earned him the name the prince of the people. When he established his first business in 1979, he started responding to needs and perception of people from the far end desert parts of Saudi Arabia. He is also credited for taking the initiative of dispelling the notion and perception that the Kingdom didn’t experience poverty; he reached to the poor urban population on a remote desert and in the neighborhood. He also still meets several people weekly in the desert camps to respond to their needs and requests.
As a philanthropist and investor, Prince Alwaleed has built a strong and lasting relationship around the world. As a staunch Islam, he attributes his fortune to the blessings by God. He holds liberal political and religious perspectives hence he is a firm advocate of global mutual respect and tolerance respect among communities and faiths (Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, 2014).
The Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal is an internationally recognized business man and an investor. He is considered as the number one foreign investor in the economy of the United States of America. His net financial worth is approximately $20billion; this also makes him one of the wealthiest men in the world. After graduating from Menlo College, he returned to Saudi Arabia with the intention of benefiting from the oil boom but, he instead made his fortune in construction and real estate and later in the banking industry. He is known to be a risk taker. This was demonstrated when he took the risk to bail out CitiCorp by pumping in massive investment, this was considered to be a ruinous decision and earned him the name Arabian Warren Buffet. The tremendous success of the company ensured that it became one of his cornerstone investments. The Prince leaves a lavish and indulgent life, and he has built himself a massive palace and luxury airbus known as flying palace with a lavish private yacht and fleet of luxury cars. He is engaged in generous philanthropy having donated to various universities and towards the Twin Towers. He has also made donations towards food and HIV/AIDS in Africa. His latest investment was demonstrated when he pumped $300 million towards Twitter that he considered as a promising business and with a prospect of a high growth and with global influence. Regarding his donation to the Twin Tower bombing, the prince 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” (Effarah, 2013, p. 51). This prompted the mayor of New York to return the check.
“I believe in working hard and being successful, because success breeds success and that drives me. But it’s also about helping your immediate community, the society, the nation, and the whole world in general.” (Alwaleed, 2014, p.1). The Prince is well known for his investment and shareholding in the KHC, an influential investment companies. In the Arab world, He is known for Rotana, the largest entertainment company in the Arab world. With his philanthropic activities, he is dedicated towards supporting courses as cultural understanding, disaster recovery, and community development projects and women empowerment.
Despite being the nephew of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, he has distanced himself from the throne and instead directed his energies towards his investments. To bridge the divide between the Muslim world and the West, he has spent much money on educational initiatives like the funding of academic centers like the Center for American studies, and also funding research in universities, in Middle East. He has sponsored the centers for Islamic studies in American universities. He has also made donations to Georgetown and Harvard Universities to finance Islamic studies. Although he is not part of the ruling elites the house of Saudi, he has kept out of politics. He, however, makes political statements in most of his interviews and press releases. He has criticized Saudi traditionalism and proposed electoral reforms and also advocated for women rights and other economic reforms. He has openly criticized the operations of Saudi Aramco, the state owned oil company. As a vocal defender of women rights, he demonstrated it by hiring a woman as a pilot in Saudi Arabia. As a liberal Muslim, he supports pro-American stance on the matters of Middle East (Mobile references, 2007). The investment of Prince Alwaleed is global, but he is firmly committed to developing the private sector in his home country, and this has been demonstrated through his financial decisions. His main interests are only business and politics. His investment strategy has been considered to be the of the long term based on the principle of mutual fund has opposed to hedging fund, He does not employ speculative element to the operations of his business. He is driven by long term business interests (Fandy, 2007).
With business and investments in virtually every sector of the economy, it can be argued that Alwaleed Bin Talal is an influential individual. The controls the banking, social media, real estate, entertainment and construction among others. This implies that he holds a stake in the economic life of the people in the regions that he has investments.
Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation. (2014). HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. Retrieved on April 4, 2014, 2014 from: http://www.alwaleedfoundations.org/about/board-of-directors/management-team/hrh-prince-alwaleed-bin-talal
Born Rich, (2013). Al-Waleed bin Tala. Retrieved on April 4, 2014 from: http://www.bornrich.com/al-waleed-bin-talal.html
Esposito, J. L. (1999). The Oxford history of Islam. New York, N.Y: Oxford University Press.
Effarah, J. (2012). Think Palestine to unlock US-Israelis & Arabs Conflicts. New York, NY: AuthorHouse.
Fandy, M. (2007). (Un)civil war of words: Media and politics in the Arab world. Westport (Conn.: Praeger security international.
KHC. (2014). HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal.. Retrieved on April 3, 2014 from: http://www.kingdom.com.sa/hrh-prince-alwaleed-bin-talal
Kingdom. (n.d). HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. Retrieved on 8th April, 2014 from: http://www.kingdom.com.sa/hrh-prince-alwaleed-bin-talal
Metcalfe, B., & Mimouni, F. (2011). Leadership Development in the Middle East. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Pub.
MobileReference, . (2007). 100 Richest People in the World: Illustrated History of Their Life and Wealth. Boston: MobileReference.com.