OMG! Saudi Prince Alwaleed buys $300m stake in Twitter

 

The Saudi billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has bought a $300m (£193m) stake in Twitter, the social-media site that was instrumental in spreading the pro-democracy message of the Arab Spring.

The deal is likely to raise eyebrows given Saudi Arabia's own frantic efforts to insulate itself from the Arab uprisings that have toppled autocratic leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya in the past year.

Prince Alwaleed, one of the world's richest men, bought the stake jointly with his Kingdom Holding Co investment firm.

The Prince said in a statement that it was part of a strategy "to invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact".

The deal will give him just under 4 per cent in Twitter – based on an $8bn valuation of the loss-making company earlier this year – and was hailed by analysts as a shrewd investment in a company that many believe will be transformative in social media.

But on Twitter, the reaction was mixed, with many people concerned about the billionaire's motives for investing, suggesting he might use his influence to curb its reach if mass protests roil the oil-rich kingdom.

Others saw it as ironic. Roger Cohen, a columnist with The New York Times, tweeted: "Saudi prince buys into Twitter, engine of Arab anti-autocratic upheaval. Umm, is he missing something?"

Twitter, a platform for members to post 140-character messages, has been widely credited as the driving force behind the Arab Spring, helping campaigners disseminate information and organise protests. In Syria, where international media has been largely barred from reporting, pro-democracy activists have used it to broadcast details of their struggle against the regime to the outside world.

"Twitter is a technology that has for the first time introduced a level of accountability. It has given people the ability to publicly question... those they feel are not treating them fairly," said Bernhard Warner, co-founder of Social Media Influence, which tracks social-media trends. "I'm sure there are members of the Saudi royal family who are shaking their head, [thinking]: 'We're capitalising this thing that could create further unrest in our country.'"

Saudi Arabia only witnessed small-scale protests this year, driven by calls for economic and political reform, but these soon fizzled out after a massive security presence and a $130bn (£83bn) social spending package.

Royal and reformer

The slick California-educated Prince, worth $19.6bn (£12.6bn), has been dubbed the Arabian Warren Buffett. His Kingdom Holding Company has stakes in companies from Apple to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and owns numerous hotel chains. His media interests include Rotana Group, which broadcasts Fox channels in Saudi Arabia. He has announced the launch of a new pan-Arab 24-hour news channel that should be on air by the end of 2012. The head of the channel has said the Prince – one of the most reformist voices in the Saudi royal family – intends to use it to push his liberal agenda. loveday morris

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher, full time supply role, Medway Academy

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Our client school in Chatham, a ...

Geography Teacher, Dover School, full time role

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is urgently s...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel your sales role is l...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?