Industry: Banking & Finance
Company: Kingdom Holding Company
Country: Saudi Arabia/Saudi Arabia
Seven years of the Power List, and seven years at the very top for Prince Alwaleed. There is simply no rival in the Arab world to his business achievements over the past 30 years.
Today, Kingdom Holding Company, of which he owns 95 percent, covers 39 investments in seven sectors. It is the largest foreign investor in the US, with stakes in the likes of NewsCorp, Apple and Citi. Regionally, major players from Samba to Savola all have the KHC stamp on their shareholdings.
But our judges felt that this year more than any, Prince Alwaleed deserves the number one slot for his philanthropic work as much as anything else. The Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation is now a standalone operation working across four fields: poverty alleviation; disaster relief; women empowerment and building relations between the East and West. From cash donations to victims of the Pakistan floods, to building thousands of houses for the homeless in Saudi Arabia and Islamic centres in the US and UK, the foundation is now one of the world’s most prolific philanthropic organisations.
It is also clear that the foundation, more than his business achievements, is what is driving him most today. During an extensive interview with Arabian Business in the Saudi desert last October, he said: “I’d like to be remembered as a man who made a difference, who improved the lives of as many people as possible. You can build high rise buildings and schools and hospitals and that’s all fine, but at the end of the day, how much did you change the quality of people’s lives?”
But how long will Prince Alwaleed remain top of our list? For many years to come, it would appear. Asked whether he had considered slowing down, he replied: “There is no top. The moment you reach the top you go downhill. If you reach the top of the hill what happens next? You have to go down. I’m not planning to go down. As far as I am concerned, you can never reach the top of the hill.”