Last February, as the Arab uprisings spread to more and more countries, there was a rumour doing the rounds that King Abdullah, the Saudi monarch had offered $150 billion in cash to buy out Facebook and presumably shut it down to counter the revolution. While this story turned out to be fake, it’s true that Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal, the Saudi prince has acquired a $300million stake in Twitter. While this on face value might be a cause for alarm, the Prince however has little in common with his relatives. Known for his progressive and liberal views, he also is friendly with Rupert Murdoch and is News Corp’s biggest shareholder outside the Murdoch family.
As of March 2012, his personal wealth is estimated to be $18 billion making him the richest man in the Middle East. He owns a couple of aeroplanes, including a custom-made Airbus A380. He also owns a 282 foot yacht, named Kingdom 5KR along with more than 200 cars including Rolls Royces, Lamborghinis and Ferraris. Among his many other assets are 95% stake in Kingdom Holding Company, 91% stake in Rotana Audio and Visual Company, 6% ownership of Citigroup and further stakes in 2 of the leading newspapers in Lebanon. He is ranked 63rd on the Forbes Billionaire List in 2011. He is also widely known as a charitable and philanthropic man. He has made huge donations after the 9/11 attacks ($10 million), to Palestinians ($27 million), after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake ($17 million) and to many Western Universities.