Our Top 50 most influential Arabs
With a business empire that has at one time or another involved banking, finance, real estate, the world's most exclusive hotels, construction, technology, retail, aviation and media, Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz AlSaud is the world's best known and most widely recognized Arab. But there is much more to this complex, royal, billionaire businessman than can be measured purely in terms of the bottom line, writes Pat Lancaster.
The Middle East has witnessed dramatic change over the last decade or so, political and business powerhouses have come and gone. A raft of Arab personalities from all walks of life--people we once considered to be part of the very fabric of the region--are today no more than a distant memory. Yet Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz AlSaud has remained a constant feature--not only at the forefront of international business, but also as a champion of Saudi Arabia: for his ongoing attempts to nurture a broader understanding of Islam and a tolerance between all world religions, and his efforts to support the plight of the underdog, whether it be in trying to further the cause of gender equality at home, or bringing much needed warmth and comfort to dispossessed Syrian refugees.
Alwaleed is not publicity shy but he protects his privacy, preferring to conduct his life out of the direct glare of the media spotlight. However, while we may not always be aware of his latest venture, he is never far from the action, at the hub of what is going on.
In a 2016 poll, readers of The Middle East said they admired HRH for a wide variety of attributes, including: "his ambition and achievements"; "his humanity"; "his vision of a future that could be" and "being an Arab and a Muslim in a way that demonstrates to the rest of the world that there is no intrinsic difference between 'us' and 'them'."
Alwaleed lives a life of huge privilege yet, it is clear that he is an inspired human being who works extremely hard to stay at the top of his game. This man may have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth but, at an early age, he set his sights on turning it into a jewel-encrusted, golden one, and his efforts paid off.
Although he is used to success and to getting things done, he admits to having made blunders but he forges ahead and, as he has observed: "I always learn from my mistakes".
Like most of the world's...