At war with a prince

In the video above, LBC TV show host Joe Maalouf takes multiple shots a Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, one the world’s richest men, who also owns significant stakes in LBC. Maalouf accuses the prince of laying off some 400 LBC employees without compensation when he bought a majority share in the TV corporation- one of the region’s most popular- in 2012.  Maalouf begins by airing a sarcastic montage of the prince’s charity work and the ubiquitous philanthropy of his Lebanese aunt Leila Solh (who is on Lebanese TV almost every night helping the poor and accepting awards). Maalouf then ends by airing a parody skit of the Prince and quoting a New York Times piece that linked him and other Saudi princes to reported support for Al Qaeda.

“400 Lebanese families have been asking for their compensation for over three years… and the prince is funding terrorism,” Maalouf says.

Maalouf goes on to claim that the families’ compensation claims are known by Lebanese politicians but none have acted, he concludes, because “even dignity is for sale.”

It’s not very often that you see Saudi Princes mocked on Arab TV, much less when the Prince in question owns a significant chunk of said TV channel. LBC had previously raised the issue last year.

Initially the LBC buyout by Prince Alwaleed was hailed as great news for LBC’s expansion plans, but subsequent articles revealed growing tensions over a merger with Bin Talal’s Rotana entertainment group and the reported split of the local LBC channel from its production company and international affiliates.

It’s not clear to what extent Alwaleed has influence over the local broadcaster or how long he will tolerate its attacks, which seem unprecedented in a region where royalty is rarely questioned, particularly its financial assets and dealings. In other words, I would be surprised if this video doesn’t remain online for very long, so you might want to save it or have a look soonish.

UPDATE:

All this comes on the heels of yesterday’s reported “permanent” closure of Alwaleed’s Al Arab news channel. Why is the prince suddenly under attack from all fronts?