Saudi Prince Gives Millions to Harvard and Georgetown for Islamic Studies
Harvard University and Georgetown University each announced yesterday that they had received $20 million donations from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, a Saudi businessman and member of the Saudi royal family, to finance Islamic studies.
Harvard said it would create a universitywide program on Islamic studies, recruit new faculty members in the field, provide more support for graduate students and convert rare Islamic textual sources into digital formats to make them widely available.
Georgetown said it would use the gift - the second-largest it has ever received - to expand its Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, which is part of its Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. It said it would rename the center the H.R.H. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.
The prince, who is said to be in his late 40's or early 50's, and was fifth on the Forbes 400 list of wealthy people this year, with a fortune of $23.7 billion, has made a variety of other sizable gifts, including $20 million to the Louvre and to other universities.
One gift that backfired, however, was a $10 million check he gave Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in October 2001 for the Twin Towers Fund, a charity to help survivors of uniformed workers who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The prince had expressed his condolences for the lives lost and condemned "all forms of terrorism," in a letter accompanying the gift.
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