Alwaleed: Businessman, Billionaire, Prince Hardcover – Oct 6 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Though Prince Alwaleed bin Talal came to public attention in the U.S. when Rudy Giuliani rejected his $10 million donation to the Twin Towers fund, Alwaleed's real significance is as a global financial powerbroker. The Saudi royal is the biggest single foreign investor in the U.S. economy and the world's fourth-richest man, with assets totaling more than $21 billion. His significant holdings in U.S. companies include Citigroup (which he bailed out with $590 million in the early '90s), Apple and News Corp., the corporate entity responsible for this "authorized biography." Khan, who has interviewed high-profile figures for CNN International, tags along with Alwaleed and his entourage as they conduct business in Riyadh and Paris, holiday in Cannes and trek into the Saudi desert for a weekend getaway. The resulting reportage has the breezy flavor of a magazine profile awkwardly stretched to book length. There's plenty of praise for Alwaleed's "financial intelligence" and outsized personality, but Khan doesn't probe beyond the admirable surface (though he notes others have tried to dig up dirt with little success). The glowing descriptions seem carefully crafted—and timed—to raise Alwaleed's profile in the West. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Khan, independent broadcaster and journalist, offers a unique window into the life and times of His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (known as Alwaleed), who is described by the Wall Street Journal as the "Arab Warren Buffet." Age 50 and U.S.-educated, Alwaleed is currently the fifth wealthiest man in the world. His prominent family ties in Saudi Arabia as well as in Lebanon lead him, a Muslim who identifies with Western ways and champions reform, to serve as a bridge between the Middle East and the West. The most successful investor outside the U.S., he owns vast investment portfolios that include such brand names as Citibank, EuroDisney, and Apple. This is a fascinating tale of a financial giant who gave the author unprecedented access to himself and those who surround him, resulting in a treasure trove of information. However, like all biographies written with the support of the subject, many could question its objectivity. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book is an authorized biography of Prince Alwaleed. In America, he is not as famous as Warren Buffet, but he is quite well known in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia. Since this is an authorized version, the author, Riz Khan, is very careful not to say anything that is too negative or controversial about Alwaleed. We won't fault him for that since he wants to please the Prince.
What I enjoyed about this book is the numerous interviews made by Alwaleed. You get a good sense of how this man thinks and learn his philosophy about life and business. I also like reading about how the Prince lives and makes his business and investment decisions.
He is driven, precise, highly ambitious, demanding, fast-paced and extremely detailed-oriented man with a photographic memory. He will stop at nothing to reach his goals. How else can you account for his rise from a mere royal Prince starting with $30,000 in seed capital to being worth over $24 billion dollars in less than 25 years. He is respected by CEOs and heads of state from around the globe.
Alwaleed got his start in Saudi real estate and earning commissions from foreign contractors during Saudi Arabia's building boom in the 1980s. He then got into the banking business by buying and merging together Saudi banks. Alwaleed tells the story of how he saved Citibank from near collapse in the early 1990s by putting up a good chunk of his net worth (close to $600 million) during the bank's crisis.
He is extremely punctual and has such a demanding travel schedule that his entourage can't keep up. He gets by with very little sleep (4 to 6 hours). Where ever he goes, he must have access to a telephone and a television. His phone bill is close to $100,000 a month. He is in the process of building the largest personal yacht in the world. He has a private 747 jumbo jet. I believe he is likely to order a double-deck Airbus A380 too.
If you want a fascinating insider account of Prince Alwaleed, this is probably as good as it gets.
However, I was gravely disappointed. First it is the worst written book I have ever read in my life. Apart from Khan's writing style which resembles that of a 16-year old submitting an essay he wrote the night before the deadline and apart from being dull, weak in vocabulary and downright boring, it is also full of grammatical mistakes.
The story itself is incredibly one-sided with absolutely no opposing perspectives to those of Waleed. It presents an unacceptably incorrect view of liberal Islam and presents what is essentially an egotistical, arrogant man's view of how incredible his achievements are. The idea of a billionaire who claims he is religious and prays to God 5 times a day contrasts starkly with how he put Koranic verses in the lobby of his Georges V hotel in Paris. The very lobby under which rich Parisians sip martinis and discuss Arab terrorists and immigrants in France.
The first chapter - indeed the rest of book seems incidental - is dedicated to providing a response to Rudolph's Guliani's rejection of Walid's $10m donation for 9/11. The rest of it is repetitious, self-congratulatory and eeks of both Walid's personal editing and Riz Khan's incompetence as a writer.
Anyway, point being, dont buy it.. read something useful (and spell-checked) instead.
The desire to read this book came after seeing this man on 60 minutes.
I am not sure what to think. It is not like he started with nothing and created a multi billion dollar empire from scratch (like Gates or Buffett).
The fact that I can remember so little of this book years later shows how little useful information was contained in it.
Save your money.
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