Westerners boycott Saudi investment conference but long-term economic outlook unchanged

Westerners boycott Saudi investment conference but long-term economic outlook unchanged

Saudi Arabia’s “Future Investment Initiative” conference will go forward as planned today, despite numerous Western officials’ boycott of the event

riyadh conference boycott

Photo: B.alotaby

Saudi Arabia’s “Future Investment Initiative” conference will go forward as planned today, despite numerous Western officials’ boycott of the event over the suspicious death of journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

Among those boycotting will be US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, whose absence represents one of the only tangible US admonishments of Riyadh thus far. Due to strategic interests in the region, such as fears over Iran’s growing regional influence, Washington has often looked the other way.

The absence of Western executives from the private sector today demonstrates increased business concerns over Riyadh’s poor human rights record. Indeed, several companies have put deals involving Saudi Arabia on hold, including contracts and direct investments, until the dust in the Khashoggi case can settle.

Given the large amounts of money already invested in the region, expect this freeze to not last long. Especially as Japan and China have largely continued business as usual, Western countries likely fear losing out on business if removed for too long. Thus, expect investment in Saudi Arabia’s economy to take a blow in the short-run, but return to strength in the long-run—barring any other significant setbacks.

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