HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, Chairman of Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) and Kingdom Foundation (KF)* received the Business Leader of the Year Award from the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) during their Annual Dinner event. The event took place on Monday, May 12th, 2008 at the Pierre Hotel in New York.
During the occasion HRH was formally introduced to the audience and a documentary about Prince Alwaleed's achievements was also aired. Moreover, HRH presented a keynote address under the title of "Bridging the Gap: Islam and the West" to a large audience.
One of the main areas of the Prince's speech dealt with the need to bridge the gap between East and West to encourage more understanding and tolerance between them. "... to build bridges one has to have towers of strength on both sides of the divide. Programs of Middle East Studies at U.S. universities were few, and mostly financially impoverished, while those of Islamic Studies were rare, weak, and sparse," said Prince Alwaleed.
"It is for this reason that over the past several years the Kingdom Foundation has been committed to supporting institutions on both sides of the divide to help reduce the tensions that remain between the world of Islam and the West."
The Prince also said that he was optimistic that such misconception and misunderstanding between the Islamic world and the West would eventually dissipate through more awareness, training education and gaining of knowledge: In conclusion to his speech, HRH said: "...I am, by nature, an optimist at heart.
Through collective and individual efforts, and with the activities of organizations such as the Foreign Policy Association, I have no doubt that the dictates of our common humanity will in the end win out." The dignitaries who attended the FPA Annual Dinner included, Mr. Gonzalo De Las Heras, Chairman of the FPA, Directors and Fellows of the Foreign Policy Association and their guests.KF has funded many cultural, educational and philanthropic projects globally including, a £16million endowment to create two new research centres for Islamic studies at the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh.
In 2005 HRH made a $20 million donation to Harvard University to create the University-wide Islamic Studies Program, a $20 million donation to Georgetown University to create the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, a $20 million donation to the Louvre in support of its collection of Islamic art.
In 2004 Prince Alwaleed also made a $5 million donation to establish the Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR) at the American University in Beirut (AUB) and donated $10 million to finance both the construction of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HUSS) building in the new campus of the American University in Cairo (AUC), and the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, UK, received a 1 million endowment from the Prince in 2003 and His Highness gave a $5 million gift to support Harvard Medical School's research center in Dubai.
He has also made donations to President George H.W. Bush Sr. Scholarship fund established by Phillips Academy, the Carter Center for Peace and the James Baker III Institute, Rice University. Moreover, HRH supported the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington D.C (IFC).