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Saudi Prince Alwaleed Criticizes Minister Over TV Host Ban

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal chided the kingdom’s information and culture minister for removing a TV host from the air after a guest on his show criticized the government.

In an unusually public reprimand, a member of King Abdullah’s advisory Shoura Council, Abdulaziz al-Otaishan, spoke out on the Ya Hala show against the government’s decision last month to send Lebanon $3 billion in military aid. He also accused the president of King Abdullah’s Royal Court, Khalid al-Tuwaijri, of ignoring his requests to discuss developments in the country.

The show’s host, Ali al-Alyani, was dismissed after the Jan. 7 broadcast, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

“My brother, minister of information, is this how the ministry wants to represent our kingdom to the world?” the prince wrote on Twitter. Alwaleed, who owns the television channel that broadcasts the show, said al-Alyani will return to the show in spite of the ban.

The ministry’s head of audio-visual media, Riad Najm, told the London-based al-Hayat newspaper yesterday that the ministry never asked to take al-Alyani off the show.

Alwaleed, the world’s 20th-richest person, has built a fortune of $30.2 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His Kingdom Holding Co. owns stakes in companies including Apple Inc., News Corp., and Twitter Inc.

To contact the reporter on this story: Deema Almashabi in Riyadh at dalmashabi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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