Report: Saudi's Prince Alwaleed lost $4 billion this year

Despite his losses Prince Alwaleed bin Talal remains the world's richest Arab with a net worth of $17.08b.

The Saudi prince who owns a double-decker "flying palace" and recently raised his bet on Citigroup lost $4 billion in the past year, according to a published report Sunday, showing that even the ultra-rich are getting pinched by the global financial crisis. The pain is relative, of course. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal remains the world's richest Arab with a net worth of $17.08b. as of December 2, Dubai-based magazine Arabian Business reported in its annual ranking. That is nearly twice as much as the second-richest on the list, but a considerable drop from the $21b. the magazine said the prince was worth a year ago. Arabian Business said it based its figure on a direct review of the prince's holdings and a face-to-face meeting with the man who's been dubbed "the Arabian Warren Buffett." An official at Kingdom Holding Co., Alwaleed's investment company, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Alwaleed last month announced he would raise his stake in ailing banking giant Citi to 5 percent from less than 4%. The move has failed to significantly boost the bank's share price. The Saudi royal's controlling stake in Kingdom Holding, which invests in well-known companies such as computer maker Apple Inc. and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., accounts for nearly $8b. of his wealth, the magazine said. Alwaleed also owns Middle East media company Rotana Holding, and controls more than $3b. worth of real estate, including a 500,000 square meter personal resort complete with a private zoo. And then there's the Airbus A380 "superjumbo" jet Alwaleed bought and had outfitted for his personal use. It's valued at $330 million - a little less than the price tag for his other two jetliners combined. No. 2 on the list with $9.6b. is Nasser al-Kharafi, a Kuwaiti businessman who holds the Middle East franchise for chains such as KFC, Hardee's and Pizza Hut. He's also the largest shareholder of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. Another prominent name on the list: the Bin Laden family, which makes its money in the construction business. Arabian Business puts the net worth of the clan, which has tried to distance itself from its most notorious member, at $7.2b. - good for seventh place. Altogether, the magazine said the world's 50 richest Arabs lost a combined $25b. amid the global meltdown, much of it since the end of summer. "The surprise is how much money everyone has lost," Anil Bhoyrul, editorial director of Arabian Business publisher ITP Executive Publishing Ltd., said in an interview. "The list we published is a lot different than the list we originally put together only a few months ago."