The American-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared in early October after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He was a longtime critic of the Saudi regime whose work had angered many in the country’s leadership. On October 2, Khashoggi went to the Saudi consulate with his fiancée to get documents proving his divorce. He entered the consulate alone and never came out.
Turkish officials now believe Khashoggi was most likely tortured and killed inside the consulate and then dismembered and his remains smuggled out of the building. His disappearance has led to strong international condemnation of Saudi Arabia, and that condemnation is now starting to trickle over into the business world.
Last year, Saudi Arabia launched the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference, an event attended by businesses and government leaders around the world to discuss trends in the global economy. It’s also colloquially known as “Davos in the desert.” But since the disappearance of Khashoggi, many of the event’s high-profile media sponsors and journalists are pulling out in a show of solidarity, reports CNN.
The Financial Times will not be partnering with the FII conference in Riyadh while the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi remains unexplained.
— Finola McDonnell (@FinolaMcD) October 12, 2018
I’m terribly distressed by the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and reports of his murder. I will no longer be participating in the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.
— Andrew Ross Sorkin (@andrewrsorkin) October 11, 2018
Among the major media sponsors that have pulled out so far:
- Financial Times
- New York Times
CNBC will no longer participate in the FII in Riyadh due to the continuing questions surrounding the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
— CNBC (@CNBC) October 12, 2018
And business leaders are abandoning the conference, too. Most recently Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced he will no longer be attending the event, saying, “I’m very troubled by the reports to date about Jamal Khashoggi. We are following the situation closely, and unless a substantially different set of facts emerges, I won’t be attending the FII conference in Riyadh.”