Billionaire Philanthropist Alwaleed Among Saudis Arrested

Billionaire Philanthropist Alwaleed Among Saudis Arrested

Billionaire philanthropist Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, whose Alwaleed Philanthropies recently announced a strategic pivot, is among the prominent Saudis, including ten other princes and more than a dozen ministers and former ministers, arrested over the weekend by the government of Saudi Arabia, the New York Times reports.

One of the world's wealthiest men, Alwaleed, who signed the Giving Pledge in 2016, controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding; owns or has a major stake in such well-known American companies as 21st Century Fox, Citigroup, Apple, and Twitter; and controls satellite television networks watched across the Arab world.

According to the Times, the arrest of the princes and other prominent Saudis appears to be the latest move by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the favorite son and top advisor of King Salman, to consolidate his power. The crown prince already has a dominant voice in Saudi military, foreign, and economic affairs, and — only hours before the arrests — was appointed to head a powerful new anti-corruption committee, which, according to Al Arabiya, has the right to investigate, arrest, ban from travel, or freeze the assets of any Saudi it suspects of corruption.

According to the Times, Alwaleed is seen as something of an outsider within the Saudi royal family — not a dissident, but an unusually outspoken figure on a variety of issues. He also has done business with Donald Trump — and publicly criticized Trump after the billionaire real estate developer was elected president.

The state of Alwaleed's fortune — an estimated $32 billion, which he has pledged to charity — remains uncertain.

(Photo credit: Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed)

David D. Kirkpatrick. "Saudi Arabia Arrests 11 Princes, Including Billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal." New York Times 11/04/2017.