At a news conference in Riyadh on Wednesday, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal announced his plan to give away his entire fortune in the coming years. "With this pledge, I am honoring my life-long commitment to what matters most — helping to build a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world for generations to come," Alwaleed told reporters.
We're not talking about a small amount of change here. Alwaleed is thought to be the 20th-richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg, with a fortune of $30.5 billion. In fact, the Saudi prince has pledged to give away more than that — $32 billion (what accounts for the discrepancy is unclear) — though no time frame was set.
Alwaleed, a member of the Saudi royal family and nephew to late King Abdullah, has gained an international reputation for his business ventures and unusually open public comments. He founded Kingdom Holding, a Riyadh-based investment holding company, in 1980. It became well known in the United States for investments in technology companies such as Twitter and Apple. He has also made personal investments in Islamic study centers around the world, including one at Georgetown University.
Educated in California, Alwaleed is U.S.-influenced in his business thinking — he was involved in a feud with Forbes magazine because he felt it underestimated his wealth. His decision to give away his fortune is inspired by a similar pledge by American billionaire Bill Gates. His charity group, Alwaleed Philanthropies, has worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carter Center, founded by former president Jimmy Carter.