Saudi prince al-Waleed bin Talal has been described by Forbes as the worlds fifth richest man. He is known for his financial ties to the Bush family and the Carlyle Group and for owning a fair-sized stake in Disney and in Citigroup.
These connections were not enough to keep al-Waleed out of trouble, however, when he suggested immediately after September 11 that US policies might have contributed to the attack. Then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani refused to accept a $10 million disaster relief contribution from the prince — and Fox News applauded Giuliani for his stance.
Since then, al-Waleed has formed multiple connections with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., the owner of Fox News. In September 2005, he acquired 5.46% of voting shares in News Corp., and just a few months later, when Fox ran coverage of riots in Paris under the banner “Muslim riots,” he allegedly phoned Murdoch and had him change the heading to “civil riots.”
Now the partnership is growing even closer, with News Corp. acquiring a 10% stake in al-Waleed’s media conglomerate, Rotana, along with an option for another 10%. Rotana, which already broadcasts Fox programming in the Middle East, is involved in producing films, television, recordings, and magazines, and it is thought that Murdoch is hoping to get a toehold in the growing Arab market through the deal.
Glenn Beck on the air in Saudi Arabia? Probably not anytime soon. But it remains to be seen what really will come of the partnership.