By Joanne Bladd
Saudi billionaire met with Google chairman Eric Schmidt, mulls technology collaboration
Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has held talks
with Google chairman Eric Schmidt over “potential business cooperation” between
Kingdom Holding and the US internet giant.
Any collaboration would focus on the technology sector, Kingdom
said in an emailed statement Monday, following a Paris meeting between the
Prince Alwaleed holds significant investments in the US
market, through his stakes in Citigroup, News Corp and Time Warner.
Google, the world’s largest search engine, has said it is
aggressively expanding in the Middle East through staff recruitment and
investment in its English and Arabic-language products.
Mohamad Mourad, Google’s regional managing for the Gulf
region, said the company is “really serious” about its regional business. “We
are investing in many ways to match this commitment. We’re definitely hiring
aggressively,” he told Arabian Business.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt said Thursday that Arab
leaders were wrong to block internet access during the recent Arab Spring
revolts and had only hurt their own economies.
“It is a terrible mistake for them to do so," he told a
briefing on the sidelines of a G8 summit. “Among other things it completely
screws up the economy, communications, the exchange of goods, the electronic
commerce, the flow of information into these countries... It's not a good idea
to shut down the Internet in your country.”
Rupert Murdock-owned News Corp last month said it would
raise its stake in Saudi’s Rotana Group, the media group controlled by Prince
Alwaleed, in an investment worth $35m.
Rotana owns the Arab world's largest record label and about
40 percent of the region's movies, and operates a number of free-to-air