Saudi Investment Summit Opens With Russian and U.A.E. Executives

(Bloomberg) -- The heads of Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund and the Russian Direct Investment Fund kicked off an investment summit that’s being held amid international outcry over the death of a government critic.

Public Investment Fund Managing Director Yasir Al-Rumayyan opened the three-day conference in Riyadh, alongside billionaire businesswoman Lubna Olayan, Kirill Dmitriev and Mubadala Investment Co. Chief Executive Officer Khaldoon Al Mubarak. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to address the summit this morning, according to the organizer’s app.

Saudi Investment Summit Opens With Russian and U.A.E. Executives

Hosted by the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Future Investment Initiative was expected to be the stage for showcasing new ventures and unveiling billion-dollar contracts in front of the world’s business elite. That was, until the killing of Jamal Khashoggi prompted dozens of finance and business leaders to withdraw. After two weeks of denials, the kingdom acknowledged on Saturday that Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate in Istanbul.

“We are very grateful that the terrible acts reported in recent weeks are alien to our culture and our DNA,” Olayan, chief executive officer of Olayan Financing Co., said in her address. “I am confident that with the support of the government, concerned authorities and leadership, the truth will emerge.”

Confirmed Speakers

A detailed program of confirmed speakers wasn’t available on the organizer’s website, but the event’s app outlined a final list of panels and speakers. Last week, a program that listed the who’s who of the business and finance world -- including BlackRock Inc. chief Larry Fink and JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon -- was taken down.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih will join Total SA CEO Patrick Pouyanne and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.’s CEO Sultan Al Jaber for an energy panel later in the morning, according to the app.

Last year’s event -- the first of its kind -- offered visions of a $500 billion futuristic city, conferred citizenship to Sophia the robot as global business titans strained to get make themselves heard before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (and get a selfie with him).

The conference is being held at the Ritz Carlton hotel where dozens of billionaires, ministers and businessmen were detained last year as part of a government crackdown on corruption.

Ahead of the FII:

  • President Donald Trump said he’s still not satisfied with Saudi Arabia’s explanation of Khashoggi’s death
  • U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh; he is not attending the summit
  • Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said the White House is still gathering facts on Khashoggi’s murder and wants to preserve the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to reveal what happened to Khashoggi “in all its nakedness” on Tuesday
  • Canada signalled it could freeze Saudi arms deal, joining Germany
  • U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt promised to take "serious" measures against Saudi Arabia, but said he would wait for the results of an investigation before taking action

Related Stories: