DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The Saudi prince who owns a double-decker "flying palace" and recently raised his bet on Citigroup lost $4 billion in the past year, according to a published report yesterday, showing that even the ultra-rich are getting pinched by the global financial crisis.

The pain is relative, of course. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal remains the world's richest Arab with a net worth of about $17 billion as of Dec. 2, Dubai-based magazine Arabian Business reported in its annual ranking. That is nearly twice as much as the second-richest on the list, but a considerable drop from the $21 billion the magazine said the prince was worth a year ago.

Arabian Business said it based its figure on a direct review of the prince's holdings and a face-to-face meeting with the man who's been dubbed "the Arabian Warren Buffett."

An official at Kingdom Holding Co., Alwaleed's investment company, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alwaleed last month announced he would raise his stake in ailing banking giant Citi to 5 percent from less than 4 percent. The move has failed to significantly boost the bank's share price.

The Saudi royal's controlling stake in Kingdom Holding, which invests in well-known companies such as computer maker Apple Inc. and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., accounts for nearly $8 billion of his wealth, the magazine said.

Alwaleed also owns Middle East media company Rotana Holding, and controls more than $3 billion worth of real estate, including a 124 acre personal resort complete with a private zoo. *