Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Walid joins calls for domestic reforms
Saudi billionaire and successful businessman Prince Al-Walid Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz has expressed support for the reform movement in the Kingdom, calling for political change and a more transparent economy.
Prince Al-Walid said tackling poverty, transparency and unemployment, estimated at 12 percent, were central to reform. He said "armies of poor" were one factor pushing Saudis to violence, reported Reuters. "I hear that much of the money for the poor doesn't get to them. Basically there is no supervision, and that needs a free press and a parliament that monitors state spending," he said.
In an unusual move this year in Saudi Arabia, a group of local reformists demanded the Royal Family implement wider political participation of the population, fair distribution of wealth and changes to the education system. Prince Al-Walid voiced similar demands when he said “the mentality of the state needs to change in one way or another. Many elements of the state are not in the 21st century," to Reuters in an interview.
Prince Al-Walid is ranked fifth on the Forbes billionaires’ list. Last year, he announced the establishment of a new Middle East hotel investment firm. The Kingdom Hotel Investment Group (KHIG) has a paid-up capital of $211 million and an authorized capital of $400 million.
KHIG was formed after merging all of Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Walid’s hotel investments in the Middle East, which include 12 hotel projects, worth a total of one billion dollars. The Saudi Prince and Muhammad Bin Eisa Al-Jaber, another established Saudi businessman, jointly own a 65 percent stake in the holding group.In 2002, KHIG signed an $82 million cooperation agreement with the Omnix Group to establish a business hotel in Dubai.
This past November, the Saudi billionaire signed $300 million livestock deal with the Sudanese government, making Talal the exclusive exporter of Sudanese livestock to the Arab World. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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