Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud Net Worth $20 Billion
Source of Wealth: investments, self-made
Country of Citizenship: Saudi Arabia
Education: Bachelor of Arts / Science, Menlo College; Master of Science, Syracuse University
Marital Status: Married
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bills himself as the “world’s foremost value investor.” His Kingdom Holding Company, of which he owns 95% and which trades on the Saudi stock exchange, owns stakes in hotel management companies Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts and Fairmont Raffles Holding, as well as hotel real estate such as the swanky Hotel George V in Paris and a stake in the Savoy Hotel in London. Kingdom Holding also owns billions of dollars of U.S. and international equities, including shares of Citigroup and News Corp.
In 2012 the Prince and Kingdom Holding bought an estimated 3% stake in Twitter via the secondary market for $300 million. In February Kingdom Holding invested $125 million in Chinese e-commerce company 360Buy Jingdong for an undisclosed stake. The Prince also owns extensive real estate and other assets outside of Kingdom Holding. He was the first individual to purchase an Airbus A380 double decker plane and was supposed to take delivery of it this spring, but Kingdom Holding’s Chief Financial Officer informed Forbes that the plane has been sold.
Al-Waleed bin Talal was born to Talal ibn Abd al-Aziz, son of the founding King of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz Al Saud, and Princess Mona Al-Solh, Daughter of Lebanon‘s first PM. He is Prince Talal’s second son.
Al-Waleed completed a bachelor of science degree in business administration at Menlo College in 1979 and masters in social science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University, in 1985. He was also awarded an honorary PhD from the University of Exeter.
Prince Waleed’s children are: Prince Khaled and Princess Reem who are from his first wife, Princess Dalal bint Saud bin Abdul Aziz. And Prince Najem and Princess Mona who are from Princess Deborah of Saudi Arabia, whom is one of Waleed bin Talal’s current wives.
Despite being the nephew of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, he has stayed outside of the core of political power in Saudi Arabia, and instead built a large international corporation called the Kingdom Holding Company, through which he makes his investments.
Al-Waleed Spends $176 Million to Outfit His A380
After dropping close to $320 million on his new Airbus A380 jet, Prince Al-Waleed of Saudi Arabia is spending another $176 million on ultra-lavish modifications, including a $60 million gold leaf paintjob. An unnamed German company is customizing the interior of the plane to include:
A lounge to seat a traveling entourage of 25 trusted aides;
A marble-paneled dining room with seating for 14;
A bar with curtains to mimic tents of the Arabian Desert;
A fiber-optic mosaic that will depict a shifting desert scene;
A movie theatre with plush leather seats the color of sand dunes;
A series of bedrooms linked to stewardesses by intercom;
A gym with Nautilus equipment and running machines; and
A large silk bed designed to resemble a Bedouin tent that will be the centerpiece of the plane’s interior.
Reports speak of the decor as being “Lawrence of Arabia meets Star Wars.” Al-Waleed’s A380 will be completed in two years, and in the meantime he will cruise in his Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet
Prince Alwaleed stays up nightly until roughly 4:30 a.m., before catching 4 or 5 hours of sleep and repeating the drill. “Whoever worked with the prince had no life,” recalls an early former employee. “The working hours were extremely odd: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.” Even his twentysomething wife, Ameerah Al-Taweel, must fit into this schedule (she’s his fourth bride, though he’s only been married to one at a time).
The daily surroundings are absurdly opulent. His main palace in Riyadh has 420 rooms, filled with marble, swimming pools and portraits of himself. If he needs to go on a business trip, he has his own 747, a la Air Force One, except unlike the President, his plane has a throne. If Alwaleed wants a change of pace, he can go to his 120-acre “farm and resort” at the edge of Riyadh, complete with five artificial lakes, a small zoo, a mini-Grand Canyon, 5 homes and several outdoor spots designed for his entourage to take dinner together.
That meal is very important to Alwaleed. To keep trim he eats one main meal a day, at about 8 p.m., though given his body schedule he calls it “lunch.” He’s flanked on one side by his entourage of “palace ladies,” who run whichever house he’s in, and on the other side by male attendants. All eyes in the semicircle are usually centered on a television. And lest anyone forget the prince’s focus, that television is usually tuned to CNBC.
This ambition, albeit in gilded form, was in many ways a birthright. If ever someone carried a burden to succeed, it’s Prince Alwaleed, the grandson of the founding fathers of two separate countries. His maternal grandfather was the first prime minister of Lebanon. His paternal grandfather, King Abdulaziz, created Saudi Arabia. “That puts him in a place where he has to prove himself to be first at something,” says Saleh Al Fadl, an executive at Saudi Hollandi Bank who worked under Alwaleed for several years beginning in 1989 at the prince’s United Saudi Commercial Bank. While his cousins in the House of Saud responded to similar pressure by filling Saudi Arabia’s political class–one serves as interior minister, while others serve as governors–Alwaleed, Al Fadl says, “wanted to prove himself in the business area.”
Alwaleed’s father, Prince Talal, had a mind for business, serving as Saudi Arabia’s reform-minded finance minister in the early 1960s, before he was driven into exile due to his progressive views. During that same period, when Alwaleed was 7, he separated from his wife, the daughter of the original Lebanese prime minister, who returned to her country with the young prince. There he had a habit, according to his authorized biography, of running away for a day or two and sleeping in the back of unlocked cars. Alwaleed wound up attending military school in Riyadh, picking up a strict discipline he adheres to even now.
The prince acquired a Western outlook in college, attending Menlo College in Atherton, Calif. When he returned to Saudi Arabia, he became known as the guy foreign companies could do business with if they needed a local partner. His standard explanation about how he got started is that he got a $30,000 gift from his father and a $300,000 loan and a house. While it’s unclear, even in his biography, how much else he got from his family, it was presumably a lot, since by the time he was 36, in 1991, he was positioned to make the high-stakes business decision that would define him. As regulators pressured Citicorp to increase its capital base in the face of bad loans across developing countries, Alwaleed, then unknown outside Saudi Arabia, amassed an $800 million position. That enormous bet ballooned across two Wall Street boom cycles–by 2005 it was worth $10 billion, making Alwaleed, at the time, one of the ten richest people in the world, and earning him a nickname, which he encouraged, of “the Buffett of Arabia.”