The Real Deal New York

Prince Alwaleed on his 83-day detention in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton

The Saudi billionaire with high-profile stakes in NYC real estate was detained as part of a so-called corruption crackdown
March 24, 2018 10:00AM

From left: The Plaza Hotel, Riyadh, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. (Credit: Pixabay, Getty)

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal finally broke his silence on the terms under which he was freed from detention in the luxury hotel in Saudi Arabia’s capital city — and what he had to say seems surprising.

“I’m supportive of Saudi Arabia, supportive of my government, supportive of King Salman and Prince Mohammed bin Salman all the way. Before, during, and after detention,” Prince Alwaleed told Bloomberg, noting that, after all, he was also member of Saudi’s royal family—though that didn’t save him from an 83-day detention, which initially cost him a loss of $2.2 billion after the news of his arrest became public last November.

Prince Alwaleed is a minority owner of the Plaza Hotel and his company, Kingdom Holding, has investments in a host of different companies including Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Twitter, and Citigroup. He is known worldwide for cutting deals with the likes of Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch and had a personal fortune of an estimated $17.1 billion, before the corruption crackdown ordered by Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began. (The crown prince is currently touring the U.S.)

After Prince Alwaleed’s detention, the future of his assets and Kingdom Holding seemed to be hanging in the balance and, even when he was released in late January, the conditions were not revealed, though the Wall Street Journal reported he paid a $6 billion settlement.

Prince Alwaleed would not disclose whether a settlement was paid , but he did reveal that he had a “confidential” understanding with the government and denied all reports of torture and poor treatment during his detention.

How the understanding with the crown prince will effect Kingdom Holding’s business interests, Prince Alwaleed would not elaborate. “But rest assured that this does not really handcuff me,” he told Bloomberg. In fact, he’s working on raising $2 billion to power his next business venture, despite spooked banks and business partners, and he’s still positive about the country’s future.

“I understand it sounds weird to people,” Prince Alwaleed told Bloomberg. “They’ll say, ‘You’ve been detained by the king and by the crown prince and you’re still supporting them?’ You bet.” [Bloomberg]Erin Hudson