Gulf Business just released its annual list of the Top 100 Most Powerful Arabs in 2017 – and Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud topped the list.
Despite the kingdom’s not-so-impressive economic performance the past year – which saw a dramatic decrease in oil prices – Saudis have managed to stay on top.
Of the entire list, 16 are from Saudi Arabia.
Prince Alwaleed has worked his way up to become one of the most prominent businessmen in the Middle East, and one of the most powerful in Saudi Arabia. He has often been called the richest Arab.
Aside from being the grandson of the founder of Saudi Arabia, Alwaleed’s power is more than just his title.
Prince Alwaleed has outdone himself time and again when it comes to business deals
As the chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, Alwaleed has managed to maintain his place as the most known face in the Middle Eastern business sector.
He is the owner of the lucrative Rotana corporation and has a share in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
And that’s not all, the prince has invested in several massive international companies including Twitter, Apple and Ebay.
In 2016, he was involved in a number of deals including the exchange of Kingdom Holding’s stake in the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel brands.
He also led with the $170 sale of the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto.
— الوليد بن طلال (@Alwaleed_Talal) 28 января 2016 г.
In 2015, U.S. President Donald Trump, who was running for office at the time, tweeted an obviously photoshopped image stating that the Saudi prince co-owns FOX News, following a dispute the US president had with the right wing news channel.
Prince Alwaleed then followed suit – tweeting that he in fact bailed Trump out … not once, but twice.
In 1991, Prince Alwaleed bought Trumps yacht, which had been turned over to creditors while the billionaire was $900 million in debt.
In 1995: Prince Alwaleed was part of the group that bought the Plaza Hotel in New York City, also paying off Trump’s debt on the hotel.
Nearly a year later, after Trump’s election, he backtracked on his remarks, wishing the new president congratulations and best wishes “whatever the past differences.”
The billionaire even spoke up about women’s right to drive in Saudi Arabia
In an open letter titled “It is High Time that Saudi Women Started Driving their Cars” released earlier in 2016, Prince Alwaleed emphasized the importance of progress in today’s world.
Talal compared a woman’s right to drive with her right to an education and a career.
“Preventing a woman from driving a car today is an issue of rights similar to the one that forbade her from receiving an education or having an independent identity,” he wrote.
Talal said that a social stigma was previously associated with these two things. With time, these aspects of Saudi life have changed for women in the kingdom.
The country “sought to adopt a patient strategy, allowing Saudi to evolve according to its own pace and wishes.”
Now, it is “high time that Saudi women started driving their cars, and it is high time that we turn the page on this issue the way we did on tens of other major ones,” Talal wrote.
Who else made it to the Top 10?
1. Prince AlWaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Saudi Arabia)
Chairman, Kingdom Holding Company
2. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum (United Arab Emirates)
Chairman, Emirates/Emirates NBD
3. Khalid Al Falih (Saudi Arabia)
4. Joseph Safra (Syria)
Chairman, Safra Group
5. Yousef Abdullah Al Benyan (Saudi Arabia)
Vice Chairman and CEO, SABIC
6. Carlos Slim Helu (Lebanon)
Honorary Chairman, America Movil
7. Carlos Ghosn (Lebanon)
8. Mohamed Alabbar (United Arab Emirates)
9. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak (United Arab Emirates)
CEO, Mubadala Investment
10. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair (United Arab Emirates)