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Saudi prince vows to give away entire fortune of US$32 billion

In this Tuesday, Sept 4, 2007 file photo, Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, foreground, delivers a speech as his wife, Princess Amira, looks on, after he received the medal of Great Patron of the French Culture Ministry during a ceremony at the Louvre museum in Paris, France. Photo: AP

In this Tuesday, Sept 4, 2007 file photo, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, foreground, delivers a speech as his wife, Princess Amira, looks on, after he received the medal of Great Patron of the French Culture Ministry during a ceremony at the Louvre museum in Paris, France. Photo: AP

BEIRUT (Lebanon) — A Saudi prince pledged yesterday (July 1) to give away his entire US$32 billion (S$43.3 billion) fortune to charitable causes in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the world.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, said the funds would go to his charity, Alwaleed Philanthropies, for causes like disease eradication, intercultural understanding, women’s empowerment, disaster relief and the electrification of isolated areas.

The new pledge by one of the world’s richest men follows moves by other hugely wealthy individuals to shift their fortunes into philanthropy. In a statement released online, Prince Alwaleed said his group had worked with the foundation established by Bill and Melinda Gates that had channelled billions of dollars into similar causes.

Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of King Salman, holds no official position in the Saudi government and is often seen asan outsider. He is known for giving relatively frank interviews on financial and political issues that sometimes rankle officials in the normally tight-lipped kingdom.

And in the only country in the world where women are barred from driving, Prince Alwaleed employs many women, who dress as they wish.

Prince Alwaleed’s pledge came during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and he described the move as guided by his Islamic faith.

“With this pledge, I am honouring my lifelong commitment to what matters most – helping to build a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world for generations to come,” he said.

The prince gave no time frame during which the funds would be disbursed, but he said he had formed a board of trustees to choose projects and oversee them.

Most of Prince Alwaleed’s wealth is in the investment firm Kingdom Holding, of which he owns 95 per cent of shares. His investments include stakes in Twitter, Apple, Citigroup, Euro Disney and the News.

In the past 35 years, his charity has invested in US$3.5 billion worth of projects in more than 92 countries and has supported study centres at a number of top universities, the statement said.

Source: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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