It comes as no doubt, to people in the region at least, that Saudi Prince HRH Al Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is one of the richest beings on the planet with an estimated net worth of $21.4 billion. His name is synonymous with News Corporation, AOL, Fox News, Motorola, MCI Inc., Apple Inc., TWA, Kodak, Four Seasons hotel chain, New York-based Plaza Hotel, Monte Carlo Grand Hotel in Monaco, Savoy Hotel in London, Euro Disney SCA, Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG) and probably many more.
However, it is somewhat surprising that he has not bought a high-profile European club to add to his portfolio, considering his passion for the game. He is recognized as one of the top people to contribute to the development of Saudi football with generous donations year-on-year.
Few days ago, the Chairman of Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), Prince Al Waleed had announced a reward of SAR 20,000 ($5,332) for each player of Al Hilal if they manage to beat Al Ain (UAE) in the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League. The Saudi side, known as Al-Za’eem among the locals, ended up winning the game by three goals taking that advantage into the second leg. Ecstatic on the team’s performance, Prince Al Waleed increased the award from SAR 20,000 to SAR 40,000 ($10,664) for each member of the team.
This, of course, is not the first time that he had demonstrated this act of munificent giving.
A few weeks ago the Prince awarded 41 cars to the Saudi football team with Special Needs for winning the World Cup for a third time in a row. Though the brand of the automaker is not yet known.
He had financially supported Al-Hilal in several occasions in the past, including a SAR 10 million ($2,666,098) donation for four seasons (which is quite significant in terms of Middle Eastern football). Apart from that, he had also awarded each player of Al Hilal and Al-Ittihad (KSA based club) a sum of SAR 20,000 after they reached the quarter finals of the Asian Champions league.
Furthermore, the Prince also granted the club a sum of SAR 1 million ($266,098) for their performances in the Abdul Lateef Jameel League last season, though they ended up as runners up behind Al Nassr. Two Bentley Continental GT’s were given at separate occasions last season, to ex-Manager of Al Hilal – the legendary Sami Al-Jaber for his contributions to the club and Saudi football in general. The latter thanked him and donated one of the cars to charity, as word has it.
نيابة عن جماهير الهلال أهدي أخي سامي الجابر بنتلي ثاني.وتقديراً لنادي #الهلال سأدعمه ب١٠ مليون على ٤ مواسم "انتهى" pic.twitter.com/GYaAXAPCsq
— الوليد بن طلال (@Alwaleed_Talal) May 27, 2014
Prince Al Waleed, in recent years, had been quite vocal about the importance of encouraging the youth to excel in their talents and the need to invest in their future through various sports activities. Now, there is a reason for the youth to excel.
Hence, each and every creditable performance impacting the country will certainly have the support and financial backing of Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal.
FYI there is a misconception in the West that Saudi citizens are normally well off. That would only apply to ~ 20 – 30% of the population with the rest living below the poverty line.