Despite his ordinary appearance, Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed is anything but ordinary. He is the son of the famously wealthy Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud who has been affectionately called the Bill Gates of Saudi Arabia. He lived a lavish life until something changed him forever. He was on an exotic hunting trip and was so disgusted by the “cowardly” practice, he went vegan. His move to a plant-based diet also prompted him to question other aspects of his lavish life and became fixated his country’s role in climate change.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest producer of crude oil and over 90 percent of the nation’s revenue comes from the oil business but Khaled bin Alwaleed hopes to changes this. He has invested millions of dollars in an industrial solar panel factory and hopes that this clean energy will be able to replace fossil fuels in the future. In his most recent effort to promote clean energy, he has installed 100,000 LED lights across Amad Jordan along with solar panels to power them. The project is estimated to cut the local government power bills by as much as 60 percent.
Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed told The National Observer, “Climate change and the unjustified consumption of energy are two of the most serious issues we face today at the macro-level.” He has been speaking at various business forums about his vision fo Saudi Arabia’s clean energy economy – and Saudi Arabia is listening. His father recently announced $50 million investment Breakthrough Energy Ventures as part of a larger plan to put over one billion dollars into clean energy technologies. Saudi Arabia also signed on to the 2016 Paris Agreement and the oil-rich nation has announced that they will be completely rid of their oil dependency by 2035.
While Khaled bin Alwaleed’s effort to bring clean energy to the Middle East is inspiring, he’s not stopping at LED lights. He sees his fight for clean energy as directly linked to his vegan lifestyle. He told the National Observer, “Animal welfare, factory farming, the environment — usually they’re solvable if we look at things in an economic way, a humane way and a practical way rather than a greedy way.” And he is right.
The animal agriculture industry is responsible for 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world which is more than the entire transportation industry. But by taking meat out of your diet, you can cut your carbon footprint in half. We should use Pince Khaled bin Alwaleed’s inspiring story as motivation in our lives. Whether it we are building solar panels or eating responsible, we can all work to address climate change on a personal level.