An investment conference that was to be attended by high-profile companies from across the globe is almost becoming a huge mess following Saudi Arabia’s supposed connection in the disappearance and possible murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Several companies have withdrawn from participation including The Financial Times, Bloomberg, CNN and CNBC, which were the greatest sponsors of the event.
Google is the latest to withdraw from the summit. In a statement the company released on Monday following its withdrawal, Google said that its Cloud CEO Diane Greene will not be attending the Future Initiative Summit that is to be held in Riyadh starting 23rd October. Before the incidence, Google had announced that it was ready to work with Saudi agency in the opening of five innovation centers in the country that would be used to train technologists.
Several other business leaders have mentioned of a possibility of not attending the conference, including Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Dara said that they too were aggrieved by the disappearance of the journalist and would like the matter settled before they can participate in a conference like that.
The World Bank had also informed the Saudi authorities that its president, Jim Yong Kim, will not be attending the conference. Many more companies are expected to withdraw their participation pending the outcome of the investigations into the disappearance of the journalist.
The conference organizers have since removed all the names of those attending the conference from its website, as the number of cancellations grows. They are however still optimistic that the conference will go on, even though some of the most important speakers and partners have withdrawn.
It is now evident that the disappearance of the journalist created a major diplomatic rift between Saudi and many countries in the West. France, Germany and UK have demanded for credible investigation into the matter while the U.S president threatens of serious consequences if Saudis are found guilty.
The Saudis are now preparing a report that will acknowledge the death of Khashoggi, two weeks after he went missing right after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.