Saudi Arabia postpones 'Davos in desert' until January

By: AFP      Published: 10:44 PM, 1 Sep, 2020
Saudi Arabia postpones 'Davos in desert' until January

Saudi Arabia has postponed an annual Davos-style investment forum until January as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt global travel, organisers said Tuesday.

Initially scheduled for October, the Future Investment Initiative (FII), which seeks to showcase the insular kingdom as a dynamic investment destination, will now take place from January 26-28.

"After careful consideration and assessment of the global travel and airline outlook, as well as the regulations imposed by a significant number of countries... we have decided to postpone the 4th edition of the FII," the organisers said.

The summit, dubbed "Davos in the desert", was launched by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2017 to woo foreign investors and promote his Vision 2030 diversification plan to wean the economy off its dependence on petro-dollars.

But the following year, the fallout over journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder by Saudi agents in Istanbul prompted a wave of business and political leaders to pull out of the glitzy conference at the last minute.

The murder at Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul triggered one of the top crude exporter's worst ever diplomatic crises.

The conference saw a reboot last year as global outrage over the murder subsided. 

Thousands of delegates, including world leaders, Wall Street titans and policy-makers from dozens of countries, packed into Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, whose countries are key emerging markets, were among the key speakers at last year's event.