Saudi Prince Calls Arab Americans Role Models for Arab World
Says Arab achievements in United States can be repeated in Arab World

H. Delano Roosevelt and Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud hug during ADC's annual convention in Washington.


H. Delano Roosevelt and Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud hug during ADC's annual convention in Washington. (Photo courtesy ADC)

By Ralph Dannheisser

Washington File Special Correspondent

Washington -- A member of the Saudi royal family, billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud, has told Arab Americans they are role models for the Arab world.

"You have proven that Arabs can be successful, and not only that, to be ahead of other ethnic groups," the businessman-philanthropist said, ticking off statistics from the latest U.S. census that showed Arab Americans exceeding the U.S. average in such areas as percentage of college degrees and of professional and managerial positions, median family income and home ownership.

"We can look at you here in the United States and see our role model," Alwaleed declared. "If you can do it in the United States, we should be able to do it in the Arab world."

Alwaleed served as keynote speaker at the 25th anniversary gala held during the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) annual convention here May 27-29.

He called for a transfer of "power and knowledge from here to there" that would bring the Arab countries reforms in government, law, finance and education. Above all, he said, "We have to mention the notion of civil society . civil society in the Arab region is very primitive."

Alwaleed detailed some of the serious problems he sees in Arab society.

"Many of the so-called institutions of higher learning are in reality no more than adult day care centers," high unemployment rates pose a threat to stability and women are "marginalized," he said.

Despite all these problems, he said, "there is, of course, nothing in Islam or Arab culture that predisposes us to permanent failure. My purpose is to affirm that we have the capability to escape from our current malaise."

But, Alwaleed stressed, making the needed changes will require the help and support of the West, including the United States -- and especially of Arab Americans who can be instrumental in building bridges between the two societies.

"Our relations with the American people cannot be allowed to fluctuate in tandem with the rise and fall of the price of oil," he said.

Much of Alwaleed's talk focused