Over the years, there has been one prominent member of the Saudi royal family who has worked diligently toward building — mostly financial — ties with the West, especially the United States.
And, no, it isn't Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (aka MBS).
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the richest people in the Arab world, has backed some of the biggest U.S. businesses while also encouraging American investors to work in the Middle East.
However, despite his strong and long-standing connections with the U.S., not a lot of people have come out to speak in Alwaleed's defense, after he was arrested amidst MBS' controversial corruption crackdown, which, many believe, was only a ruse to consolidate the crown prince's power.
Talal has an estimated net worth of $18.7 billion. He runs investment firm Kingdom Holding and owns large stakes in tech companies like Apple, Citigroup, and in others such as the Four Seasons, Fairmont, Movenpick hotel chains as well as Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
Alwaleed also has the second-largest stake in Twitter Inc.
The 62-year-old tycoon has also invested in ride-hailing services Lyft and Careem, which Alwaleed felt, were cheaper than Uber. He even bailed out Citigroup and helped rescue the indebted Euro Disney. Throughout his dealings with the West, he had not been accused of corruption or fraud.
Yet, none of his U.S. contacts have come forward to question his ongoing detention. Analysts believe the silence has a lot to do with the fact that they do not want themselves to be known as critics of the Saudi crown prince, who maintains close relations with the Trump administration.
There has been one exception, though.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates released a statement addressing Alwaleed's arrest; however, even his remarks exuded caution.
“I’m only aware of what I’ve read in the press, and I can’t speculate,” Gates said, according to Bloomberg. “Prince Alwaleed has been an important partner in my foundation’s work to ensure that kids around the world receive life-saving vaccinations. We’ve worked together to help stop the spread of polio, measles, and other preventable diseases. His commitment to philanthropy is inspiring.”
Among the many princes arrested in the infamous royal crackdown in Saudi Arabia, Prince Miteb, who is the cousin of Mohammed bin Salman and headed Saudi Arabia's elite National Guard, has been released, following an "acceptable settlement" with authorities of more than $1 billion.
The fate of other royal detainees, including Alwaleed, remains uncertain for now.
Thumbnail Credits: REUTERS/Fayez Nureldine