Saudi Investment Summit To Start Despite Boycott Over Dead Journalist
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia brushed off a boycott over journalist Jamal Khashoggi as prepares to launch an investment conference. However, the summit has been overshadowed by the withdrawal of various top business and government leaders.
Additionally, hundreds of bankers and company executives are still expected to visit officials at the Palatial Riyadh hotel for the Future Investment Initiative (FII) – which is an annual event that is designed to help rope in billions of dollars of foreign capital as part of reforms to end Saudi dependence on oil exports.
Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, went missing on October 2 after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, to get documents for his upcoming marriage.
On Saturday, roughly after two weeks of his disappearance, Riyadh revealed that Khashoggi had died during a fight in the consulate. Later, a Saudi official added that the death was caused by strangling the journalist to death.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and senior ministers from Britain and France took their names out of the event with the chief executives or chairmen of about a dozen big financial firms such as JP Morgan Chase and HSBC, and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde.
On Monday, the Total Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanné said that he would attend. Russia is sending a big delegation led by Direct Investment Fund head Kirill Dmitriev.
Top executives of Asian companies, however, are hesitant to pull out.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is also staying in Saudi Arabia and said that he felt compelled to carry on with the visit despite concern about Khashoggi “because, in a country of 210 million people right now, we have the worst debt crisis in our history,” said Khan.
Countless Western banks and other companies are scared of losing business such as payment made for arranging deals for Saudi Arabia’s $250-billion sovereign wealth fund, and are now sending lower-level executives as they have now told their top employees to stay away.
The event is scheduled to be held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, where princes, businessmen, and officials are set to attend in a crackdown on corruption just days after last year’s conference ended.