Alwaleed’s $32 Billion: Philanthropy, Saudi-Style – Forbes

Forbes July 2, 2015 0

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world’s most powerful individual investors, has said he will donate his personal fortune – which he pegs at $32 billion – to charity. The world knows Prince Alwaleed as the owner and controller of Kingdom Holdings , a highly significant and influential global investor, but this decision has been announced at the individual level. You can see his announcement in English here .

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world’s most powerful individual investors, has said he will donate his personal fortune – which he pegs at $32 billion – to charity.

The world knows Prince Alwaleed as the owner and controller of Kingdom Holdings, a highly significant and influential global investor, but this decision has been announced at the individual level. You can see his announcement in English here. The $32 billion number is the figure stated in the Prince’s press release. Forbes values Prince Alwaleed’s fortune at $28 billion.

A sum of money like this can generate a considerable amount of good. Some in the west are likely to look at the headline and think: it could also do a lot of bad. So what do we know about the Prince’s past behaviour and enthusiasms that will tell us whether Saudi Arabia’s Warren Buffett is going to become Saudi Arabia’s Bill Gates or something else?

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Well, Gates is a good place to start, because the two are far from being strangers: the Alwaleed Philanthropies, the vehicle through which the Prince’s charitable commitments operate today, has worked for some time alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as the Carter Center. Gates himself is quoted in the press release, calling the donation “an inspiration to all of us working in philanthropy around the world.” The two are believed to have worked together in areas of health care and epidemic reduction, and a recent concrete example of this was a $30 million Memorandum of Collaboration on the eradication of polio.

Disaster relief has long been an Alwaleed priority: he put in a million US dollars to the Nepal Earthquake appeal, and has pitched in everywhere from Hurricane Pam in Vanuatu to the SOMA mine explosion in Turkey and the support of Syrian refugees hit by a snowstorm.

The other three stated priorities of the Alwaleed Philanthropies are more nebulous and a little trickier to pin down: developing communities, empowering women and youth, and bringing cultures together. In practice these have involved a scattershot range of initiatives. Developing communities, for example, has included a child abuse awareness campaign, the support of nursery schools in Saudi, the payment of debts of Egyptian prisoners and an attempt to eliminate river blindness in Ethiopia or help a Downs Syndrome centre in the Gaza Strip. Empowering women has been more about the support of female law graduates and the provision of training programmes, and bringing cultures together can be anything from supporting the Louvre Museum’s Islamic Arts Hall to a virtual platform connecting universities.

So far, these efforts have accounted for about $3.5 billion over 35 years; $32 billion on top of that would represent one of the largest one-off injections of wealth in the history of philanthropy. At this stage, it appears it will be committed in similar areas to those that are already underway, but on a much larger scale; the announcement says the donation “will be allocated according to a well-devised plan throughout the coming years,” so one can expect the world’s fund managers to converge upon him hoping to set up an endowment. The strategy will be supervised and managed by a board of trustees, Alwaleed says, headed by him.


Article originally posted in Forbes website.

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