In 2010, in a statement made to CNN, Warren Buffet announced that he would donate 99 percent of his $67 billion fortune to charity. Almost five years later to the day, on July 2, 2015, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has pledged his entire personal estate to charitable causes – a total of US$32 billion.
Bin Talal is the current Saudi King’s, King Salman, nephew, and he attended college in the United States. Much like his American billionaire-philanthropist counterpart, the prince made his fortune in investments. His most notable, and most profitable, came in 1991 when he invested in Citibank – an investment that would turn out to generate billions. He currently ranks 34th on Forbes’ list of richest individuals.
The landmark pledge comes during the holy month of Ramadan, a time where Muslims are encouraged to be charitable. The prince noted that “philanthropy is my personal responsibility. . .” He continued by saying “[it] is an intrinsic part of my Islamic faith.”
While significant, the $32 billion is not the first major donation bin Talal has made. The prince established Alwaleed Philanthropies nearly 35 years ago and has already invested $3.5 billion in the fund. The prince says his recent and major donation was inspired by other billionaire philanthropists, Bill and Melinda Gates.
Saudi Arabia is certainly not synonymous with women’s rights, but bin Talal has long been seen as a progressive and even outspoken figure on the issue. His hope is that the gift will “help build bridges to foster cultural understanding, develop communities, empower women, enable youth, provide vital disaster relief, and create a more tolerant and accepting world.”
– Joe Kitaj