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Saudi billionaire distributes wealth to the needy

posted 17 May 2011, 08:05 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 17 May 2011, 08:07 ]

The head of one of the richest families in Saudi Arabia, ranked amongst the 100 richest in the world holds an unusual public meeting to divide 25 billion Saudi Riyals of his fortune (over six billion U.S dollars) amongst family members and various projects.

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (MAY 14, 2011) REUTERS - Addressing an audience of businessmen and young entrepreneurs, one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest individuals spoke of his humble beginnings and said he will distribute his multi-billion dollar fortune among his family members and those in need of his wealth.

Fielding questions in Riyadh, billionaire Sheikh Suleiman Al Rajhi said he will be carving his fortune using Islamic inheritance law and tradition, with the aid of the country's Waqf -- an official religious endowment body where some funds are distributed to charities.

"The Waqf is dealing with many of my properties in a measured way, financially between us and our children, these include the National Poultry Company, The National Agricultural Company, the National Industry Company, the National Shrimp Industry Company, the National Transport Company and many others," said the philanthropist.

The elderly billionaire amassed his wealth through banking and he features on the Forbes rich list. Al Rajhi said he will be distributing around 25 billion Saudi riyals, the equivalent of more than 6 billion U.S dollars.

"If you're full, how can you be comfortable and eat delicious food or fruit while your neighbour or your neighbour's son is spending the night hungry with no meal. This can't be," said the billionaire.

During the talk where many of those present were from the Saudi Business Youth Committee, his charitable commitments were praised by fellow businessmen.

"The truth of what we heard today should be a lesson to us all in our society and among our children," said well-known Saudi businessman Abdul Muhsen Al Hokair, who owns a tourism and development company in the kingdom.

Al Rajhi explained to his audience how he came from humble beginnings and worked his way to the top. He said he was proud of his achievements and said it was a happy day for him to be able to distribute his fortune to his family and those in need of his funds.

"I feel like I am the happiest person in the world, because I've distributed my wealth with conviction, and with faith. I divided it using the prophetic tradition in the way that I distributed it to my sons, and have approved everything for them. I also treated the young and old, male and female in the true Islamic way," he said.

Al Rajhi has more than 20 children, and is chairman of the Al Rajhi Bank, one of the country's largest lending institutions, which operates under Islamic banking.

In January, the bank posted a 13.5 percent rise in fourth quarter net profits, broadly in line with analysts' forecasts.

Al Rajhi said net profit for the three months ended Dec. 31 rose to 1.66 billion riyals from 1.47 billion riyals in the fourth quarter of 2009, following a string of upbeat earnings releases from banks in the world's top oil exporting nation.