WEF rejects 'Davos in the Desert' Saudi event label

WEF rejects 'Davos in the Desert' label for Saudi conference amid Khashoggi affair
2 min read
15 October, 2018
The organisers of the annual Davos conference in Switzerland are not happy about the tag as fallout over the presumed murder of Jamal Khashoggi spreads.
World Economic Forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab in Davos last year [Getty]

The host of the annual meeting of global political and business elites at Davos, Switzerland slammed the "misuse" of Saudi Arabia's upcoming investment conference billed as "Davos in Desert".

"The Saudi Public Investment Fund's meeting in Riyadh, which has been dubbed as 'Davos in the Desert', has generated a great deal of misunderstandings," the World Economic Forum said in a statement amid the Saudi event being hit by a string of prominent cancellations as part of an international outcry over the disappearance and presumed murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"While we understand that 'Davos' can be a synonym for summits, the misuse of the 'Davos' name is a great concern as it generates confusion around our mission and our work," it said.

"The Riyadh event is not connected, linked or in any way associated with the World Economic Forum," said WEF, which hosts its plush gathering of the world's rich, famous and influential at the luxury Swiss ski resort each January. 

Since Khashoggi's disappearance, a number of business barons, including British billionaire Richard Branson and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowhahi have said they no longer intend to participate.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and US resident who became increasingly critical of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has not been seen since he walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to sort out marriage paperwork on 2 October.

Khashoggi was reportedly killed within two hours of arriving at the Saudi consulate by a 15-person team of Saudi agents, according to Turkish officials.

They then reportedly dismembered Khashoggi's body with a "bone saw" that was brought over from Saudi Arabia for that purpose.

Leading editors and owners of CNNThe Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, The New York Times, as well as The Economist's editor-in-chief have also spurned Saudi Arabia's business summit

The conference is being held at the Ritz-Carlton, which previously served as a makeshift jail during a purported anti-corruption probe that critics say was used to consolidate the Crown Prince and de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman's rule. 

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