Daily Management Review

Saudi Arabia Sees Return Of Global Executives, After Its Boycott Following Journo Murder


The efforts of Saudi Arabia to continue to attract global business tycoons into its fold is taking effect after the country and its events were boycotted by many of the business honchos following the global furore over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Top executives from the global finance world returned to Riyadh this week to attend an event.
Amid global condemnation over Khashoggi’s killing by Saudi agents inside the consulate of the kingdom in Istanbul, Saudi Arabia’s showcase summit in October was boycotted by dozens of Western politicians and business executives.
A secretive trial in Saudi Arabian court saw the charging of 11 suspects in the murder. Western countries had also imposed sanctions on several individuals. However Riyadh is still under the scanner of the West because they still allege that the murder of the journalist was ordered by the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi authorities have denied any connection to the country’s de facto ruler.
A two-day financial forum that began on Wednesday in Riyadh was joined by HSBC CEO John Flint and Blackrock CEO Larry Fink, who had not attended the last year’s event. This latest event was also attended by co-president of JPMorgan Chase & Co, Daniel Pinto.
“This is an economy that we have a lot of confidence in, I think the future is bright,” Flint told the gathering. “We are excited about the role that we can continue to play here.” Fink told another panel: “The changes here in the kingdom in the last two years are pretty amazing.”
Also scheduled to speak at the financial conference is the CEO of the London Stock Exchange, who had denied attendance at last year’s event. The chairman of Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc is also slated to attend the event. The company’s CEO had chosen not to attend the October summit.
37 people connected to terrorism crimes were executed by Saudi Arabia, the country announced on Tuesday. The majority of those executed were Shi’ite Muslims. The executions have been criticised by Amnesty International as a “gruesome indication of how the death penalty is being used as a political tool to crush dissent” in the kingdom.
The country’s Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan told the audience the Gulf region is “one of the safest worldwide” when asked how Saudi Arabia was addressing national security issues.
“These incidents will happen,” he said of the Riyadh province attack. “We are working with the world to make sure that we combat the financing of terrorism… and we work very closely with the West and the regional forces to make sure that we intercept and fight terrorism.”
There is also growing market confidence in the country. Over $100 billion in orders for its first international bond issue was received by the country’s state oil giant Saudi Aramco earlier this month.
Aramco would continue to operate in the debt market and the $12 billion it raised in its debut bond issue was “only the beginning”, said the kingdom’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih at the forum.