Adonis Diaries

Al-Walid Bin Talal: Biography of a multi-billionaire

Posted on: October 24, 2008

April 4, 2007

Al-Walid Bin Talal

The multi-billionaire (over 25 billion dollars) and one of the richest men in Forbes Al-Walid bin Talal was about seven when his parents separated before divorcing in 1969; his grandfathers were Abdel Aziz Seoud, the founder of the Saudi Kingdom, and the first Prime Minister of Lebanon Riad Al-Solh.

Al- Walid stayed with him mother Mona Al-Solh in Beirut while his younger brother and sister remained in Ryad with their father Talal. He moved between Ryad and Beirut and was constantly running away from school; he was not a studious student but bright and barely managed to graduate from high school.

At the age of 13 his father enrolled him at the Royal Military Academy and Al-Walid wrote to the King Faisal: “The Royal family has 5,000 princes and princesses and I think you Highness wouldn’t mind ignoring me and reducing the number to 4999”. Consequently, Al-Walid was allowed to return to Beirut and continue his study in Lebanon.

Al-Walid intended to join the International College in Beirut but the civil war in Lebanon in 1975 drove him to California; he studied business administration in Menlo College at Atherton and finished his BA within two and half-year, got married there and had a son before returning to Saudi Arabia in 1979.

His dad gave him $30,000 to start a company and a house that he mortgaged with City Bank for $300,000.  Within 10 years he saved one $billion from Real Estates, contracting, and taking shares in companies that invested in Saudi Arabia during the oil boom. Al-Walid is divorced and has a son and a daughter and owns first class hotels all around the world and shares in Euro-Disney and Citigroup and many other banks and construction companies.

When Saddam Hussein of Iraq invaded Kuwait many Saudis got scared and sold their prime Real Estates in the capital Ryad for the third of their values and Al-Walid was taker because he knew that Saddam could not win and the war would be over within two months.

Al-Walid wrote to Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the world and the most famous investor of Berkshire Hathaway with headquarter in Omaha, Nebraska saying: “I am thrilled that The New York Times is labeling me the Arabic Warren Buffet”, and Warren replied: “Instead of calling me the Oracle of Omaha, the citizen are labeling me The American Al-Walid”.

Al-Walid invested in the food business and acquired “Al 3azizieh Bendeh” and “Safoula” and owned 80% of the kitchen oil, 90% of the sugar, and 40% of the chain food in the Saudi market.  Then he merged the Saudi-Egyptian bank with his own bank and then acquired the Saudi-American bank before salvaging Citigroup bank which is truly international in the banking business with branches in over 100 countries.  The US Federal Reserve lingered for 14 months to permit Al-Walid to own more than 10% of Citigroup; by this time Al-Walid sold 5% of his shares to be within the 10% mark.

The next step was to invest in hotel management and acquired controlling shares in the San Francisco based Fremont and Four Seasons, then the Plaza in New York, then George V in Paris, the Euro Disney and built his 303 meters high Kingdom Tower in Riyad.  Al-Walid diversified his portfolio to include high-tech industries, communication, publishing, and radio and television enterprises such as News Corporation, Apple Computers, America On Line, and Motorola among others.  When the Asian market crashed in 1997 Al-Walid directed his investment there, especially in South Korea, Malasia, and Singapore and bought substantial shares in Hyundai and Daewoo.

These are two examples of Al-Walid’s heavy schedules for keeping with the appointments. At 9 am, Al-Walid head for Le Bourge airport where his private plane Boeing 767, painted beige and green, is waiting to fly him to Amsterdam; he made sure for double security to hire another small plane at the expense of $30,000 a day to follow his entourage of 30 professional of body guards, private physician the Lebanese Jihad Sa3d 3awkal, head appointment scheduler the Lebanese Robert Hajj, telecommunication specialist the Algerian Ra2ouf 3aboud, private barber and so on.

Within an hour, the Saudi Ambassador was waiting to welcome the Emir and the file of limousines headed straight to the Palace of Sedgwick for a meeting with the Dutch Prince Bernard. Then Al-Walid rode to Nieuwegein to meet with the managers of Ballast Nedam. The file of limousines then drove to La Hayes where the Minister of Habitation was to present him with a medal in the name of the Queen then Al-Walid was at the Rotterdam airport and off at 4 pm to Dublin where he was to meet with the Prime Minister and at 6 he was flying to Exeter in Western Great Britain where he was to attend a conference organized by the department of Arab-Islamic studies.

At 9:30 his private jet took off and landed at Stan sand airport and Al-Walid was in London Four Seasons at 11:15 for another two appointments. At 1:30 Al-Walid ordered to rent the whole movie theater so that his entourage could watch a movie of their choice.

Al-Walid does not go to bed before the Morning Prayer and thus he spends his time reading the financial newspapers and magazines printed from the internet and take a fast stroll in the neighborhood before the prayer. The Prince barely needs five hours of sleep to be up and ready the next day.

The other example, the next morning Al-Walid drove to Windsor to attend the polo game where Prince Charles was playing in a team and the Queen and Al-Walid presented the trophy and the check. At 8:05 he was at the Four Seasons for another round of appointments.  The next morning they flew to Geneva where he visited the “Hotel Des Bergues” on his list of purchase and renovation, walked to the hospital Ginoli to visit with his uncle Mesh3al then flew at 9:30 p.m. to Pisa in Italy and was at Florence by midnight to celebrate the 21st birthday of his daughter Reem.  At 1:30 Al-Walid was back to Pisa to board his plane back to Paris when he decided to visit the leaning tower with his entourage of twenty individuals.

Most of the chairmen of the International investment ventures of the Al-Walid are Jews such as Michael Eisner of Disney, Isadore Sharp of the Four Seasons, Sandy Will of Citigroup, Paul Richman of “Canary Warf”, Bill Fat of the “Fremont”, and Robert Murdoch of the “News Corporation”. 

All these powerful men acknowledge having relationship with the State of Israel though they are not Zionists. It is interesting to ask them how much they actually contribute to the State of Israel and through which channels; As far as I am concerned, when you financially contribute to the State that is oppressing the Palestinians and preventing them to have their own sustainable State and refusing to abide by the UN resolution 193 for the returns of the Palestinian refugees to their original villages and towns, then you are a de-facto Zionists.

I understand that Jews feel the moral obligation to support the State of Israel but if they are truly moral then they should support the rights of the Palestinians to a descent life and a State of their own and the end of the archaic British laws to detain Palestinians without due trials. I also understand that there is no way out to deal with Jews when doing business on an International scale but we have to agree that the balance is heavily skewed toward Zionism, because if Al-Walid is participating for 5% in the shares of a few of these multinational companies, the influential Jews have over 50% of the shares and managing and directing these multinationals.

Al-Walid is active in providing charity to individuals and establishments.  When he is resting in the desert he receives over 3,000 bedouins line up for monetary aids by presenting him with their request on pieces of papers.  The former headquarter of his business Empire was relegated to his charity section where thousands crowd the street, waiting their turn for the checks.  On Ramadan, Al-Walid visit on Sundays around 11 p.m. the poor sections of the capital Ryad and distribute envelopes containing $1350 for each house.  He had been aiding Africa with health care clinics and centers of immunology against the most common diseases.

In Lebanon, he appointed his aunt Layla Al-Solh to methodically open, renovate and aid the hospitals in the remote regions; actually, the Al-Walid Charity organization in Lebanon is so active that rarely you watch the evening news without pictures of Layla cutting ribbons and receiving honorary plaques.

Dina Abdul Azziz Jokhadar is the executive of his palace which is constituted of 317 rooms, have 500 TV sets, 400 telephones, two Olympic indoor swimming pools, a state of the art gymnasium, a theater for 45 spectators, a kitchen that can serve one thousand guests, and 12 lifts.

Al-Walid uses his yacht for 3 weeks, which is moored in front of the Carlton in Cannes; he is purchasing a jumbo Boeing 747 which might cost him over $80 millions just for the redesign of the interior.

Note 1:  The aunt of Al-Walid from his mother side, the Lebanese Layla Solh, is running his philanthropic activities in Lebanon.  Almost every day, Layla is celebrating the opening of a facility everywhere in Lebanon related to medical facilities, modern medical equipment, educational institutions, health institutions, old people retirement communities…

If every billionaire in Lebanon appoints an energetic and well-intentioned executor for the benefit of all Lebanese then, we don’t need governments or Parliaments to siphon our wealth to their own pockets

Note 2: This December 2013, al Walid fucked it up big time: He refuses any nuclear deal with Iran (the same strategy as Israel) and want the sectarian war (funded by Saudi Arabia) between Sunnis and Shias to go on for ever… Live in an ignorant environment and become one. Al Walid must vacate Saudi Arabia for an entire decade, if he is to be respected…

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