News, Culture & Society

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al-Waleed ‘puts two hotels on sale’

Al-Waleed (pictured) – one of the richest men in the world – was among dozens of princes and former ministers to be arrested in Saudi Arabia hours after an anti-corruption commission was created last week 

Saudi Arabian prince and billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal has reportedly put two luxury hotels in Lebanon up for sale after being detained in his country during a corruption sweep.

Al-Waleed – one of the richest men in the world – was among dozens of princes and former ministers to be arrested in Saudi Arabia hours after an anti-corruption commission was created last week. 

Now it is being reported that he is trying to sell the Four Seasons and Movenpick hotels in Beirut.

The Lebanese Daily Star newspaper wrote that a bank in the country was performing due diligence on the assets in a bid to find buyers. 

A source told the paper: ‘The bank is supposed to complete due diligence in one month or less. Once due diligence is completed, the results will be announced to the public’.  

Last week it was also revealed that Al-Waleed had sold his five per cent stake in the Rupert Murdoch-dominated media company 21st Century Fox.

The assets are part of the Kingdom Holding Co, which is owned by the prince. 

It also owns the Savoy Hotel in London.            

Now it is being reported that he is trying to sell the Four Seasons and Movenpick hotels in Beirut. The Savoy hotel in London, which is also owned by Al-Waleed 

Now it is being reported that he is trying to sell the Four Seasons and Movenpick hotels in Beirut. The Savoy hotel in London, which is also owned by Al-Waleed 

Prince Charles (left), flanked  by Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal (second left),  his wife Amira delivers a speech during a tour at the official re-opening of the Savoy Hotel in London, on November 2, 2010

Prince Charles (left), flanked by Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal (second left), his wife Amira delivers a speech during a tour at the official re-opening of the Savoy Hotel in London, on November 2, 2010

Officials in the kingdom have frozen the bank accounts of 11 princes and 38 former government ministers, deputies and businessmen in an anti-corruption sweep. 

The Saudi information ministry previously stated the government would seize any asset or property related to the alleged corruption, meaning the Savoy hotel could well become the state property of the kingdom.

‘The accounts and balances of those detained will be revealed and frozen,’ a spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s information ministry said.

‘Any asset or property related to these cases of corruption will be registered as state property.’  

Those detained were being held in five-star hotels across the capital, Riyadh, in the anti-corruption sweep.

Reports suggested some of the detainees are being held at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh.  

The powerful heads of the Saudi National Guard, an elite internal security force, and the navy were also replaced in a series of high-profile sackings that sent shock waves in the kingdom.   

Prince Al-Waleed is one of the Middle East’s richest people, with investments in Twitter, Apple, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, Citigroup, the Four Seasons hotel chains and most recently in ride-sharing service Lyft.

He’s also known for being among the most outspoken Saudi royals, long advocating for greater women’s rights. 

He is also majority owner of the popular Rotana Group of Arabic channels. 

In June this year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was appointed to the role after his father, King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, decided to depose former Crown Prince Muhammad bin Naye.

Earlier this evening, ahead of the arrests, Prince Mohammed established the anti-corruption commission by royal decree

Earlier this evening, ahead of the arrests, Prince Mohammed established the anti-corruption commission by royal decree

The king also ousted Prince Miteb bin Abdullah from his post as head of the National Guard overnight. 

The prince is reportedly among those detained in the sweep, as is his brother, Prince Turki bin Abdullah, who was once governor of Riyadh. 

Both are sons of the late King Abdullah, who ruled before his half brother King Salman.

Saudi Twitter accounts released several other names of those arrested, such as Alwalid al-Ibrahim, a powerful Saudi businessman with ties to the royal family who runs the Arabic satellite group MBC; Amr al-Dabbagh, the former head of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority; Ibrahim Assaf, the former finance minister; and Bakr Binladin, head of the Saudi Binladin Group, a major business conglomerate.

Ahead of the arrests, Prince Mohammed established the anti-corruption commission by royal decree.

An aviation source has said that security forces had grounded private jets in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, potentially to prevent any high-profile figures from leaving.

‘The breadth and scale of the arrests appears to be unprecedented in modern Saudi history,’ said Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University,’ they said. 

Prince Al-Waleed has made several appearances on CNBC to give investment advice. 

Last month he was on the network predicting bitcoin was a ‘speculative bubble that would soon implode’.  

The 32-year-old crown prince, often known as MBS, has projected himself as a liberal reformer in the ultra-conservative kingdom

The 32-year-old crown prince, often known as MBS, has projected himself as a liberal reformer in the ultra-conservative kingdom

The arrests come weeks after Prince Mohammed welcomed thousands of global business titans to Riyadh for an investment summit, showcasing his economic reform drive for a post-oil era.

The 32-year-old crown prince, often known as MBS, has projected himself as a liberal reformer in the ultra-conservative kingdom, with a series of bold moves including the decision allowing women to drive from next June.

Already viewed as the de facto ruler controlling all the major levers of government, from defence to the economy, the prince is widely seen to be stamping out traces of internal dissent before a formal transfer of power from his 81-year-old father.

It also came after Saudi Arabia hit and destroyed a ‘ballistic missile’ northeast from its capital Riyadh after it was launched from Yemen last week.

The missile was destroyed near Riyadh’s King Khaled international airport and was said to be of ‘limited size’.

Al-Waleed bin Talal: The Saudi billionaire prince who owns London’s Savoy hotel and slammed Trump 

Saudi Arabia's Al-Waleed bin Talal

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Waleed bin Talal

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Waleed bin Talal – the billionaire tycoon arrested in an anti-graft crackdown by his cousin Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – is no stranger to controversy and making headlines.

Ranked among the richest men in the world, the 62-year-old investor is the grandson of two of the Arab world’s most high-profile historic figures: King Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, and Riad al-Solh, Lebanon’s first prime minister.

Prince Al-Waleed first burst into the business-meets-politics scene in the late 1980s, when he began building what was to become a global empire of banks, luxury hotels and media holdings.

Over the next decade, the prince cultivated an image as a canny investor, proponent of Saudi modernisation and, eventually, staunch critic of Donald Trump.

In 2015, he slammed Trump on Twitter for his rhetoric during the US presidential campaign, calling him a ‘disgrace to America’ and urging him to drop out.

In his response, Trump ridiculed him on Twitter as a ‘dopey prince’.

Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia’s future king, is meanwhile a close ally of Trump.

On the surface, the cousins appear to share the same views, both supporting the right of women in the kingdom to drive. But reports of intense rivalry between the two have also long featured in royal circles.

Prince Al-Waleed’s arrest is likely to send shock waves across a host of companies that count him as a major investor.

The Kingdom Holding Company – in which the prince has a 95 percent stake – owns The Savoy in London, the Fairmont Plaza and the famed George V hotel in Paris.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (left) shakes hands with Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz during an inauguration ceremony for Damascus' first Four Seasons hotel, March 22, 2006

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (left) shakes hands with Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz during an inauguration ceremony for Damascus’ first Four Seasons hotel, March 22, 2006

The prince, known for having a taste for luxury, also has stakes in Lyft, Twitter, News Corp, Euro Disney and 21st Century Fox.

Kingdom Holding’s share price dropped 7.6 percent at the close of the Saudi stock exchange on Sunday, in the wake of news of its owner’s arrest.

Forbes estimates his worth at $18.7 billion, landing him in position number 45 on its list of billionaires this year.

He is also an active philanthropist who donates, by his own account, millions of dollars each year to charities.

An arch defender of women’s rights in a country where women face a raft of restrictions, and an outspoken proponent of political reform, the prince has never made a secret of his views.

A vocal supporter of the five pillars or tenets of Islam, he has nonetheless blamed Saudi tradition for holding women back from advancing in society. He has said he once financed the flight training of an aspiring Saudi woman pilot.

The businessman spent his college years in upstate New York and northern California, earning a bachelor’s degree in business from Menlo College in Silicon Valley and a master’s degree in social science from Syracuse.

Al-Waleed first appeared on Forbes’ list of billionaires in 1988, one year after the annual list was first published.

In line with his reputation as a lover of the press, Forbes said it was the prince himself who had first contacted the magazine.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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