A Billionaire disagrees, magazine strikes back

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Who is more powerful – Forbes or Prince Alwaleed bin Talal?

Billionaires business owners and a number of ultra-successful entrepreneurs would be flattered to be included in Forbes magazine’s World’s Billionaires list. The thousand and four hundred something lucky ones are most probably happy to see their names on this year’s list by now, but Prince Alwaleed bin Talal dares to disagree with the ranking, and moreover, he is deeply unhappy. The Saudi Arabian royal was ranked by the business magazine as the 26th wealthiest person on the globe. However, that did not seem to appeal to the prince since shortly after the list was published online, he issued an official press release addressing the ranking and his disagreements with it.

But why would anyone oppose such a ranking? Well, according to the prince, Forbes made a huge mistake valuing his net worth at the modest $20 billion. The prince claims that he is $9.6 billion richer than what was announced by the magazine. His royal highness was so infuriated about his “low” position on the Billionaires list that he even stated that he will no longer assist Forbes’ reporters. Moreover, the prince said that the magazine is having an evil plot aiming at tarnishing the international image of Saudi Arabia.

Forbes did not respond to the allegations immediately and that made many people take the side of the prince…. However, the magazine has just hit back at the accusations with a four-page article written by the editor of the ranking, Kerry Dolan. In it, Dolan presents a detailed and a merciless writing which gives information on Alwaleed’s wealth, as well as some of his ambitions and comment on his personal life.

However, the article is criticized by many and labeled as “yellow press” piece, because it lacks substantial precise data and is full of personal bias and revalations. It may be taken also as insulting, because it reveals private experiences that are most probably published without prior permission and driven by revenge urge.

Dolan writes that one of the priorities of the prince was to be included in Forbes Billionaires top 10 ranking. The editor states that Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was willing to achieve that at any cost and through any means. To illustrate the point, from Forbes people said that the prince has sent four different letters to the magazine in which he tries to convince them to give him a small push that will place him among the 10 wealthiest people on the world.

In his press announcement, Prince Alwaleed claimed that Forbes is manipulating the list. Dolan answered to these allegations by pointing out one curious trend about the prince’s shares. According to her, the value of the royal’s company shares have the tendency to mysteriously and out of nowhere to spike by 136% for the last three years just weeks before the announcement of the Forbes ranking. But stock markets are somewhat unpredictable and prone to manipulations. Do you remember the inflated Facebook‘s IPO or the collapse of Lehman brothers, that all happened in the US? If you were around at the time, are you surprised by suggestions of market manipulations elsewhere?

In addition, the editor of Forbes’ Billionaires list mocked the Saudi prince’s strive for opulence by mentioning that he has put a throne in his private jet. This is not really related to the wealth data and shouldn’t be a subject of discussion, as everyone is free to choose a lifestyle according his personal preferences. Also, Dolan claims that about five years ago, the prince again attempted to convince Forbes of his wealth and power. He reportedly sent the magazine fake covers of Times 100, Vanity Fair and even of Forbes which were showing his face.

Forbes went even further by generalizing the case. According to a source of the magazine, the market manipulation in Saudi Arabia was a common practice. But so is market manipulation across the globe, or so media reports suggest from time to time during the past many decades. Moreover, the magazine’s insider was cited saying that this was seen as the country’s “national sport.” Yes, and there is nothing wrong with that, as there is nothing wrong with rugby, horse racing, golf, Ballroom dancing and so on. As long as you can afford it and you don’t harm anyone, sports are actually entertaining.

Apparently, both sides in the argument were heated to the maximum and got carried away, more or less. Prince Alwaleed said that he will no longer maintain any contact with Forbes. Instead, the prince shared that he preferred to work with Bloomberg. You may wonder why Bloomberg is dragged into this. The media corporation also has a Billionaires list since 2011. On Bloomberg’s last ranking of the wealthiest, however, Alwaleed was placed in the top 20 and his net worth was estimated at $28 billion. As a matter of fact, Bloomberg provides much more reliable and detailed information on financial matters than Forbes.

We just can’t help but think what would happen if Bloomberg puts Prince Alwaleed bin Talal out of the 20th richest people or cuts down his wealth.

As of now, the battle of the titans seem to be unfolding greatly, with media commentators from around the world expressing opinions and judging one or the other. Both, Forbes and Prince Alwaleed receive enormous amount of public attention and this is how marketing works. Well done Forbes, great promotional campaign!

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