BEIRUT • A Saudi prince has pledged to give away his entire US$32 billion (S$43 billion) fortune to charitable causes in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere globally.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said that the funds would go to his charity - Alwaleed Philanthropies - for causes such as the eradication of disease, the empowerment of women and disaster relief.
Other magnates have also shifted their fortunes into philanthropy. In a statement released online, Prince Alwaleed, 60, said his group had worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which had channelled billions of dollars into similar causes.
Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of King Salman, holds no official position in the Saudi government and is often seen as an outsider.
He is known for giving fairly frank interviews on issues that sometimes irk officials in the normally tight-lipped kingdom.
Melinda and Bill Gates
They pledged to give away 95 per cent of their fortune. Forbes magazine estimates the Gates' fortune at US$72.9 billion (S$98 billion). Mr Gates founded IT group Microsoft.
The legendary investor pledged in 2006 to give away 99 per cent of his fortune, which Forbes estimates at US$72.7 billion.
In 2010, Mr Gates and Mr Buffett launched the Giving Pledge, a campaign to get the richest people in the US to give half their fortune to charities. Their effort went global in early 2013.
The South African billionaire has joined the Giving Pledge. His fortune, derived from the mining sector, is estimated by Forbes at US$1.64 billion.
The Russian entrepreneur, with a fortune of US$14.5 billion at the time, signed up in 2013.
The Ukrainian industrialist, with a net worth of US$3.7 billion, has also signed on.
The French head of L'Oreal cosmetics and her husband created the Bettencourt Scheuller Foundation in 1987. Forbes puts her current worth at US$40.9 billion.
And in the only country in the world where women are barred from driving, he employs many women, who dress as they wish.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, he is the world's 20th-richest person, with a fortune of US$30.5 billion.
His pledge came during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and he described the move as being guided by his Islamic faith.
"I am honouring my lifelong commitment to what matters most - helping to build a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world," he said.
He gave no time frame for when the funds would be disbursed, but said he had formed a board of trustees to pick and oversee projects.
Most of his wealth is in investment firm Kingdom Holding, of which he owns 95 per cent. His investments include stakes in Twitter, Apple and Citigroup.
In the past 35 years, his charity has invested in US$3.5 billion worth of projects in more than 92 countries, the statement said.
Kingdom Holding shares fell 1.1 per cent to 21.72 Saudi riyals on Wednesday.
NEW YORK TIMES