In the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s alleged abduction and murder inside a Saudi consulate in Turkey, numerous companies and individuals have dropped out of Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference, colloquially known as "Davos in the Desert," which is set to begin on October 23.
The latest to walk away are Fox Business Network (FBN) and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.
On Thursday, Mnuchin sent out the following tweet:
Mnuchin’s announcement came amid intensifying pressure against the treasury secretary, who just one week ago said he planned to attend despite reservations about the Khashoggi incident. However, Mnuchin still plans to attend a meeting of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) in Riyadh in late-October, reports The Washington Post, an organization founded in 2017 and co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Fox Business Network (FBN) offered the following statement to The Daily Wire regarding their dropping out of the conference:
FOX Business Network has canceled its sponsorship and participation in the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia. We continue to seek an interview with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Mnuchin and FBN are just the latest to exit "Davos in the Desert." Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, UBER CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, and Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman have dropped out, as have media companies such as Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, Financial Times, and The New York Times.
Despite the drop-outs, there are still a number of companies and representatives attending the event.
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has taken the boycott a step further, penning a blog post that reads in part:
What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government.
While those investigations are ongoing and Mr Khashoggi’s whereabouts are not known, I will suspend my directorships of the two tourism projects. Virgin will also suspend its discussions with the Public Investment Fund over the proposed investment in our space companies Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit.
In the days ahead, it’s possible that more organizations and key individuals will drop out of the Future Investments Initiative (FII) as a result of the Khashoggi incident.