Last week, Business Insider published a sensational portrait of Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, an international businessman who donated $20 million to the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in 2005. The gift was one of the largest in school history.
The business news website spoke to several of his former employees, all of whom demanded anonymity. One explained, “I fear for my life and the safety of my family.” The entire article is well worth reading, but the most lurid part concerns Alwaleed’s paid “jesters”:
Almost every source we spoke to, including Alwaleed’s official spokesperson, confirmed that, like a medieval monarch, Alwaleed keeps in his entourage a group of dancing, laughing, joking dwarfs.
In a particularly gross display of his wealth, at one of his desert parties the prince threw $100 bills onto a bonfire, encouraging the dwarfs to run into the fire and pull the money out. One source explained why the prince might want to employ dwarfs: “The reason Saudis have these people [dwarfs] is that they believe they are lucky. It’s just a very traditional thing.”
One of the most despicable parts of the story is the brief description of a “midget-tossing” contest the prince held:
One source, who left Alwaleed’s employ with a letter of recommendation from the Prince, says that at least once, Alwaleed set up a “midget-tossing” contest, promising money to whomever could throw the little people the farthest. There were pillows.
The article also describes a hunting trip to South Africa in November 2010. An avid yet allegedly poor hunter, Alwaleed maimed an unnamed animal and refused to put it out of its misery when a park official requested he do so. Instead, “Alwaleed asked the dwarfs in his entourage to hang from the dying animal’s horns so a photograph could be taken.”
One source defended Alwaleed, based on his philanthropy and employment of women: ”He is flawed. He does make mistakes. But I think the good things he does often get missed because it doesn’t draw such a good story.” According to the article, a spokesperson for Alwaleed dismissed the anonymous sources’ claims as “outrageous” and “false allegations.”