Late Saturday night, Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the richest men in the world, was arrested along with ten other Saudi princes, four ministers, and at least twenty former ministers. The arrests were carried out by the anti-corruption force headed by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the son of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, in a stunning power grab in the Middle Eastern kingdom.
Prince Alwaleed’s arrest is certain to send the financial world into turmoil, as he is one of the biggest investors in the world as the owner of Kingdom Holding. He is the largest shareholder in Citigroup, the second-largest shareholder in Fox News’ parent company News Corp, and a major investor in social media giant Twitter, having held more stock in the company two years ago than even the founders.
With a net worth of $17.1 billion, it’s hard to imagine how he could have run afoul of Donald Trump — birds of a feather and all — but back in 2015, he did just that, calling Trump a “disgrace” and telling him to drop out of the presidential race since he had no hope of winning. That, unfortunately, was not the case:
You are a disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America.
Withdraw from the U.S presidential race as you will never win.
— الوليد بن طلال (@Alwaleed_Talal) December 11, 2015
Never one to let a slight pass, Trump shot back at the Saudi Prince only 8 hours later:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2015
Trump has developed a friendly relationship with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. That causes some consternation among Saudis, who are divided over the accumulating power of the 32-year-old son of the King. Prince Alwaleed had been nudging the kingdom in the direction of increased civil rights and even some rights for women in the notoriously male-dominated society of Saudi Arabia.
Trump’s own son-in-law Jared Kushner was in Saudi Arabia just last month, on a visit that was undisclosed until recently. Kushner seems to have some issue remembering what meetings he takes and attends.
Two years ago, Prince Alwaleed pledged to donate his vast fortune to charity after he died. Whether much will be left of it, should the monarchy decide to seize his assets, is unknown. But the loss of such a pivotal, largely progressive (for the region) power player can’t possibly bode well for the people of Saudi Arabia, or indeed, the world outside the kingdom affected by their incredible financial reach.
Clearly, the “corruption” task force did not look kindly on Prince Alwaleed’s controversial stances.
A list of those arrested has been released:
— Rula Jebreal (@rulajebreal) November 5, 2017