Friday, March 22, 2013
aybe because stories about dwarf-tossing at his desert encampments became public, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the 58-year-old Saudi Arabian financial, media, and real-estate mogul, no longer invites journalists to visit his $130 million, 460,000-square-foot Riyadh complex with 371 rooms, an 80-foot-high entrance hall, 500 televisions, and a staff of 100. The prince has traditionally been proud to show off his immense wealth, but he has also worked hard to become the Western face of Saudi finance, and slinging dwarves around like so much hash would not go down too well with a First World audience. One of the largest shareholders in Citigroup, the second-largest voting shareholder in News Corporation after the Murdoch family, and with major stakes in dozens of other Western companies, he travels the globe often wearing bespoke suits instead of the traditional Saudi thawb. Based in a country where women can’t drive or vote, he champions women’s rights and discourages his female employees, who make up 65 percent of his workforce, from wearing the veil in his offices.