Billionaires and business leaders shun Saudi conference after journalist disappears


High profile business leaders have pulled out from the Saudi Arabia Future Investment Initiative forum later this month following  the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and chief executive of private equity firm Blackstone Group and Larry Fink, chairman and chief executive of fund management giant BlackRock will not attend the so-called “Davos in the desert”.

The news comes after JP Morgan chief Jamie Dimon, Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, Viacom boss Bob Bakish and AOL founder Steve Case  said they would not be going to the gathering on 23-25 October.

Billionaire businessman Richard Branson has also ditched talks with the Saudi government over investment in his Virgin Galactic space tourism venture.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will call an urgent meeting with the Saudi King after the Kingdom denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance.