Is the Future of "Davos in the Desert" Hanging by a Thread?DavosintheDesert,Future,HangingbyaThread
Is the Future of "Davos in the Desert" Hanging by a Thread?

Is the Future of “Davos in the Desert” Hanging by a Thread?

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Business Leaders Confront a Dilemma Over ‘Davos in the Desert’

As the Future Investment Initiative, also known as “Davos in the Desert,” approaches, top business leaders are facing a difficult decision—whether or not to attend the high-profile conference in Saudi Arabia. The event, scheduled to start on October 24, aims to promote Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic agenda and showcase his influence on global business titans. However, attending the conference comes with its own set of challenges and concerns.

A Kissing of Prince Mohammed’s Ring

For CEOs and other executives, attending the conference is not just about networking—it’s also seen as effectively “kissing the ring” of Prince Mohammed, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. The country is a major client for the world’s largest banks and industrial conglomerates and has made significant investments in various sectors. However, some executives are worried about the optics due to recent tensions in the region and Saudi Arabia’s stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. These concerns have led to questions about who will attend and who will drop out of the conference.

Optics and Public Opinion

In the past, attending the conference carried a certain stigma, particularly after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. However, that stigma has somewhat lessened as Prince Mohammed has publicly called for modernizing Saudi Arabia’s economy and talked about normalizing relations with Israel. The kingdom’s billion-dollar economic diplomacy initiatives have also proven enticing to many executives. As a result, several top executives are still planning to attend the conference, with only a few dropping out so far.

The Current Situation and Potential Consequences

Although attending the conference may currently be seen as less fraught than in previous years, the situation remains fluid. The ongoing conflict in Gaza and potential rise in casualties could put pressure on Arab leaders to take a stronger stance against Israel, which may have implications for corporate leaders attending the conference. It’s worth noting that Prince Mohammed has shown a disregard for public opinion and is unlikely to be swayed solely by executive attendance.

Keeping Quiet and Watching Closely

For now, most executives are staying quiet about their decision, with some hoping that the crown prince will cancel the event. The Saudi government is likely to pay close attention to which executives decide not to attend, potentially taking it personally if prominent figures drop out. As the situation continues to unfold, executives and business leaders will need to carefully consider their actions and weigh the potential consequences of attending or abstaining from the conference.

Overall, the decision whether or not to attend the Future Investment Initiative in Saudi Arabia is a complicated one for business leaders. It involves balancing economic opportunities, geopolitical considerations, optics, and public opinion. As the event approaches, the choices made by top executives will have far-reaching implications, not only for their own companies but also for the greater geopolitical landscape.


Is the Future of "Davos in the Desert" Hanging by a Thread?
<< photo by Wendy van Zyl >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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Sarah Davis

Hi, I'm Sarah Davis, a seasoned journalist with over 15 years of experience covering everything from local politics to international events. I'm dedicated to delivering accurate and engaging news stories to my readers.

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