The second annual Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh is turning out to be a somber affair as the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues to dominate headlines. The Turkish government continues to say that Khashoggi’s disappearance and death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was the result of a high-level Saudi plot.
Summarizing a report from CNN Turk, Reuters noted that “Crime scene investigators have found two suitcases and possessions believed to belong to slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a search of a Saudi consulate car in Istanbul.” In a disputed report which hasn’t been verified by other sources, Sky News claimed that Khashoggi’s body parts were found in the garden of the Saudi’s counsul’s house.
This made for a gloomy mood of the Future Investment Initiative. “Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, received a standing ovation as he made an unannounced appearance at a global investment conference here on Tuesday, further clouding an event that has been thrown into disarray after the killing of a dissident Saudi journalist,” The New York Times reports. The newspaper added that, “While the biggest American banks did not send their top leaders, institutions such as Citigroup and Morgan Stanley sent midlevel regional executives. Many bankers kept their name tags obscured behind their ties or decided that this was not the year to speak to the news media.”
Those who did attend the conference offered a pragmatic rationale for participation. Henry Biner, an executive at the Boston-based P/E Investments, felt that the “horrendous” killing was only a drop in the bucket to wider Middle Eastern violence. “One year from now, somebody is going to ask where the revenue is,” Biner told The New York Times. “We’re not going to put our relationships on the line for this.”
Michael Slater, who runs an investment business in Riyadh, agreed. “It’s just noise to me,” he said. “The people I need to see are here, and that’s what I care about.”
Separate from the conference, Mohammed bin Salman met with members of Khashoggi’s family, including Saleh Khashoggi, a son of the slain writer. Saleh Khashoggi is reportedly forbidden from leaving Saudi Arabia: