Four short months ago, the Saudi religious police said “anyone using Twitter has lost this world and his afterlife” and the wonderfully titled grand mufti said that Twitter users were “fools”.
According to the Economic Times, it has come as a surprise to many involved in the Twitter IPO that Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal happens to be a key investor in Twitter and will have a sizeable share in the coming IPO.
The Prince said that he has invested $300 million in Twitter and he will not be selling his stake at all.
He thinks that with 300 million customers and half a billion tweets a day, the growth potential of the social networking site is tremendous.
Of course, the official hatred for the site in Saudi Arabia means nothing to Alwaleed. He is against anybody who tries to control or censor Twitter or any other social media, even if it is governments.
Alwaleed said that Twitter accelerated the process of disseminating news. It has to remain an open forum for everyone.
He admits that it is a losing war. This might be a little strange given that the imam of the Grand Mosque’s public TV appearance warned the Saudi people that “Twitter was a threat to “national unity”.
The prince is a nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and owner of international investment firm Kingdom Holding.
Alwaleed is a closely watched figure in international markets because of successful investments through Kingdom Holding in companies such as Citigroup and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.