Only two months ago he was in the Algarve, being feted by President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and foreign affairs minister Augusto Santos Silva.
Newsbites at the time said that President Marcelo was “inviting” Saudi billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal to “increase” his investments in Portugal (click here).
The man dubbed the Saudi Donald Trump is undoubtedly one of the world’s richest men with business interests in multiple Western brands, including 95% ownership of investment company Kingdom Holding – whose interests include financial services, real estate, tourism, hospitality, media, entertainment, petrochemicals, aviation and technology.
But on Saturday night, Alwaleed was arrested by Saudi Arabian authorities along with dozens of “powerful princes, government ministers, military officers and business leaders”.
What has been described as an “aggressive push to root out corruption” is now sending shockwaves throughout the world.
Says ECO online this morning, major banks are already jittery and the news will have a direct effect on the price of oil.
Western sources have stressed that it is “not clear what Prince Alwaleed and the others are being investigated for”, while Saudi-owned media has cited response to killer floods in Jeddah “as well as the government’s handling of a Coronavirus outbreak that killed several hundred people in recent years”.
Saudi leaders have been quoted as saying that the launch of the investigation heralds “a new era of transparency and accountability, reforms that are needed to attract more foreign investment”, though pundits are viewing it as a “very risky powerplay”.
For now, Alwaleed and fellow VIPs are being held at various 5-star hotels in Riyadh.
A statement from the Saudi Attorney General’s office stresses that no assets will be seized during the investigation, adding that “everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and everyone’s legal rights will be preserved”.
Nonetheless, shares in Kingdom Holding have “tumbled 9.9%” on Sunday reports the LA Times (explaining that Saudi stocks have a 10% daily loss limit), while Alwaleed’s personal worth was reported by CNN to have been cut by an estimated 750 million dollars.
As a Middle Eastern expert told reporters, people like Alwaleed will have “business networks that will now anxiously be re-examining whether or not the commercial interests they have will be safe”.