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/TME: We were hopeful that your long-planned Bahrain-based television channel Al Arab would become an important and objective player in the regional media. Yet, after only one day, the channel went off air in February. There has been much speculation as to what was behind this move, can you please explain what happened?/
HRH Prince Alwaleed: The real story of what took place will be told but not yet. This is not the right time. However, I can assure you that we will be making an announcement about the new location of the Al Arab station very soon. The project will bring the voice of truth, freedom, honesty and integrity to the region's media.
/Then your experience with Al Arab has not jaundiced your ambitions for further investment in the media or--considering that last year you sold shares in the News Corporation--made you think twice about media investment in the present climate?/
No, not at all, if anything that experience is a vindication of what we are now planning and gives us even more momentum to proceed with our plan.
The sale of shares in News Corp was part of a wider financial adjustment of our international portfolio. But as you know we still retain our interest in /Fox/--where we are the second largest shareholder--and all our other media holdings. The sale of News Corp shares was simply part of an economic adjustment of our business portfolio. By the way Kingdom Holding still retains a minority stake in News Corp.
King Salman's (R) ascension to the throne of Saudi Arabia has rejuvenated, reinvigorated and rehabilitated the Saudi system
The ascension of King Salman (R) to the throne of Saudi Arabia has "rejuvenated, reinvigorated and rehabilitated the Saudi system"
/Can you tell me what you personally feel the role of an effective media should be and do?/
The media in Europe, the United States, Japan and all the civilized countries is an integral part of society. Media acts as a balance, an anchor. It is often referred to as "the fourth estate", after those of the judicial, legislative and executive bodies. Media is, therefore, a very important component of any functioning nation. However, despite the huge number of media outlets in the Arab region, I do not believe there is a single one that is truly independent and free or is able to report on what takes place in the Arab world without political bias. All the channels we have right now, without exception, are government financed. We all know their names, each government finances its own media entity. This will not be the way Al Arab operates, not at all.
/So Al Arab, when it is launched, will be the first politically independent television channel in the region?/
The first one and the only one.
/In addition to your success in business you are well known for your philanthropic work. Recent years have seen an explosion in refugee populations and those desperately needing help to survive. How have your organisations been able to rise to the monumental challenges faced by the dispossessed?/
The Alwaleed Philanthropies are at the vanguard of refugee efforts in various parts of the world, most recently in Syria, Nepal and Vanuatu, and helping those also in desperate need like in Somalia and Kenya. Helping refugees--wherever they are--is high on our philanthropic agenda. We have no...