Saudi Arabia kicked off an investment summit on Tuesday despite international pressure for a boycott of it over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which triggered a wave of cancellations from global CEOs and policymakers who were set to participate in the event.
The Future Investment Initiative (FII) was due to feature 150 high profile speakers from 140 firms. However, around 40 attendees are understood to have pulled out amid allegations that the country was behind Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing inside its consulate in Turkey.
A tough critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Khashoggi, 59, disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to collect a document for his upcoming wedding.
The three-day conference began amid tight security at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, with Russian Direct Investment Fund chief Kirill Dmitriyev and French Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne among the confirmed speakers listed by organisers for the opening day.
Turkish authorities alleged Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate building by Saudi agents. On Monday, Saudi Arabia blamed Khashoggi’s death on a “rogue operation”.
(With agency inputs)