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Saudi Prince To Donate His Entire £20 Billion Fortune To Charity In Ramadan Pledge

02/07/2015 12:00 BST | Updated 02/07/2015 12:59 BST

One of the world's richest men, Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has become the most charitable ever, after announcing plans to donate his entire £20 billion fortune to charity.

The donation, to be made over the coming years, puts the prince ahead of other billionaire philanthropists like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Buffet broke his own donation records last year by giving away £1.7 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and several other charities as part of his annual giving pledge. The donations topped his previous years pledge of £1.6 billion, which was marginally less than what Gates donated that year, which earned him the spot on Forbes' 50 top givers in America list. As of May 2013, Gates is said to have donated more than around £17 billion to his foundation.

prince alwaleed bin talal

Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has announced plans to donate his entire £20 billion fortune to charity

Before Buffet's donation was publicised, a list of the 10 largest single donations to charity in 2014, reported by the Los Angeles Times, totalled £2.1 billion.

The biggest single donation was £640 million from the late Ralph Wilson Jr, a Detroit businessman who owned the Buffalo Bills American football team, followed by businessman Ted Stanley, who gave £4.1 million.

The prince's money will go to his organisation, Alwaleed Philanthropies, to help in the fields of "intercultural understanding" and supporting communities in need, he said.

Programmes will include promoting health, eradicating disease, bringing electricity to remote villages, building orphanages and schools, as well as "empowering women".

The prince, chairman of investment firm Kingdom Holding Company, said he has already donated £2.2 billion to the charitable organisation.

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Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's giant donation

Alwaleed credited the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their wide range of charitable projects and said his organisation has partnered with them on health initiatives.

"Philanthropy is a personal responsibility, which I embarked upon more than three decades ago and is an intrinsic part of my Islamic faith," he said in a statement, which came during the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims are encouraged to give to charity and help the needy.

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The prince, who does not hold an official government position, built his wealth through seed money from his father and smart investments. Kingdom Holding owns stakes in hotels like The Four Seasons, Fairmont and Raffles, as well as companies such as News Corp, Citigroup, Twitter and Apple.

The prince's two children were present at his boardroom when he made the announcement in Riyadh.

Though he did not give an exact timeframe, Alwaleed said his billions would be allocated through a "well-devised plan" throughout the coming years. He said the donations would be based on a strategy supervised by a board of trustees, which he will head.