Home / Top News / Media companies and top executives drop out of Saudi event over missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Media companies and top executives drop out of Saudi event over missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi


Robert Bakish, chief executive officer of Viacom International Media Networks, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. The event, which generates several hundred million euros in revenue for the city of Barcelona each year, also means the world for a week turns its attention back to Europe for the latest in technology, despite a lagging ecosystem. 

Pau Barrena | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Robert Bakish, chief executive officer of Viacom International Media Networks, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. The event, which generates several hundred million euros in revenue for the city of Barcelona each year, also means the world for a week turns its attention back to Europe for the latest in technology, despite a lagging ecosystem. 

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, who was slated to speak at the conference, has decided to not attend the event, company spokesman Justin Dini said.

Other media companies slated to appear at the conference include CNN and Bloomberg, according to the event’s website.

The disappearance of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote columns for the Washington Post, has cast a shadow over the three-day conference known as “Davos in the desert,” which is scheduled to begin on Oct. 23. The Post is owned by Amazon.com founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos.

The event attracted some of the world’s business elite including Wall Street’s top bosses and executives from multinational media, tech and financial services companies.

Turkish officials have said Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate where he went to get documents for his planned marriage. Riyadh has said the claims are baseless.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is scheduled to speak, as is Mastercard Inc CEO Ajay Banga. Representatives for both companies did not respond to requests for comment.

Another billionaire, Steve Case, one of the founders of AOL, also decided to distance himself from Saudi Arabia, saying he would no longer attend the event.

“In light of recent events, I have decided to put my plans on hold, pending further information regarding Jamal Khashoggi.” Case tweeted.

Khashoggi’s disappearance has led officials and business leaders to drop out of another one of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s large projects.

On Wednesday, former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said that he had suspended his role on the board of Saudi Arabia’s planned mega business zone NEOM until more is known about what happened.

Moniz was named on Tuesday as one of 18 people advising the $500 billion NEOM project. The Crown Prince said last week that the NEOM business zone would build two to three towns each year starting in 2020 and be completed by 2025.

The Harbour Group, a Washington firm that has been advising Saudi Arabia since April 2017, ended its $80,000 a month on Thursday. “We have terminated the relationship,” managing director Richard Mintz said.

British billionaire Richard Branson said on Thursday that his Virgin Group would suspend its discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund over a planned $1 billion investment in the group’s space ventures, in light of events involving Khashoggi.




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