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Arabian nights in Crete

09 August 2014 / 15:08:52  GRReporter
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The plane of the Saudi Prince, Al-Waleed bin Talal, landed at Nikos Kazantzakis airport in Heraklion today, after which he will go to Elounda for a week's vacation where his yacht has been moered for two days in the area between Elounda and Plaka. Last year, Al-Waleed also visited Crete during his holiday, staying on his yacht for security reasons, even though he had booked 17 suites plus the presidential apartment in Elounda Beach Hotel.

The Minister of Tourism, Olga Kefaloyani, will meet with the Saudi prince who expressed an interest in investing in Greece, as well as in the Asteras hotel complex in Vouliagmeni. Apart from Asteras, Al-Waleed has shown interest in Grand Resort Lagonissi. In parallel, he is exploring investment opportunities in the hotel sector and the real estate and tourism market.

Last May Al-Waleed had met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Olga Kefaloyani and Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis.

Who is the Saudi prince?

The definition of "as rich as Croesus" is not an exaggeration for Al-Waleed bin Talal, because apart from his very strong portfolio, the Saudi Prince owns an Airbus Α380 plane which he uses for his personal trips.

The 59-year-old tycoon is President and Executive Officer of the giant Kingdom Holdings that has a diversified portfolio of real estate, hotels and shares. According to Forbes magazine, his personal fortune amounts to more than 20 billion dollars and he is the most influential Arab in the world. It should be noted that in 2013, the Saudi Arabian sued the magazine by arguing that his fortune is much larger than that what Forbes says. Βloomberg calculates his fortune at 30.9 billion dollars.

In 2012, his company bought shares in twitter worth 300 million dollars the current value of which is more than 1 billion.

His personal property consists of three palaces with a lake and a zoo, and gold fountains, at least 2,000 people being employed for the maintenance of all this. He also owns private aircraft (a Boeing 747, Airbus 321 and Hawker Siddeley), as well as two super yachts. One of them is 85.9 meters long and has passed through many owners until it finally became his property: initially it belonged to Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, it appears in the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again, after which it was owned by the Sultan of Brunei, and then by Donald Tram and when he went bankrupt Prince Al-Waleed bought it. The second yacht with a length of 173 meters was bought in 2910 for 500 million dollars and is called New Kingdom 5KR.

Apart from the American hotels Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Talal controls 25% of the Canadian company Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and 100% of the French Hotel George V in Paris. The Saudi has also invested in media, controlling the Lebanese satellite channel LBC, the publishing house Saudi Research & Marketing Group and Rotana Group, which is the largest entertainment company in the Arab world.

In addition, his business includes participation in the Egyptian Company for Agricultural Investment, KADCO Egypt, in the Iranian company for petroleum products, the National Industrialization Company, and in the Saudi Arabia company, Savola Group, which is the main food supplier in the Middle East and North Africa.

A friend of Greece

During the Economist forum, the Saudi Prince spoke of the historical relations with the Greeks that remnain unto the present. The tycoon put an emphasis on the opinion of Greece regarding the rights of Palestinians, based on the knowledge of the history of the Mediterranean.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras last summer, bin Talal discussed investments in the Greek banking system, privatization and the actual Greek economy.

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