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Saudi Global Economic Conference Hit by Journalist Disappearance


The fallout over the disappearance of a Washington Post journalist and Saudi Arabia native continues, now affecting the kingdom’s upcoming global economic conference.

Last week, Turkish government officials alleged that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered under the direction of the Saudi kingdom when he was visiting the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Officials with the Saudi government continue to deny the allegation. No body has been produced and Turkish officials claim that they have video evidence proving the murder.

In Sunday’s trading hours overseas, stocks in the Saudi Riyadh index plummeted as more and more prominent names in US and global business and finance announced that they were going to cancel plans to attend the upcoming “Davos in the desert” economic conference. Organized by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the conference aims to educate and engage global business leaders in an effort to expand the region’s oil-dependent economy.

The three-day investment summit is set to convene on October 3 in Riyadh and has attracted a number of well-respected and influential financial and investment leaders. One of the most significant names to boycott the conference is JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Other financial executives are joining forces to stay away in order to make a statement, including Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman and Blackrock CEO Larry Fink. Notable business leaders canceling plans include Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, and Thrive CEO Ariana Huffington. There are a number of high-profile journalists who are also choosing to stay home, including New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, and Economist Editor-in-Chief Zanny Minton Beddoes. A heavy journalistic contingent had been invited to attend the event with the purpose of moderating and covering the sessions.

Despite the high number of people and companies choosing to pull out of the event until the disappearance of Khashoggi is resolved, there are many who have confirmed that they will attend as planned. The White House confirmed that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin still plans to attend the event. Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser and HSBC CEO John Flint have also confirmed that they are going forward with plans to participate.