Pulse.com.gh logo
Go


Politics Individuals and businesses are distancing themselves from Saudi Arabia following the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

  • Published:

Global business leaders, policymakers, media moguls and tech executives are backing away from the Kingdom.

null play

null

(Gareth Cattermole/Getty)

Several individuals and entities have begun distancing themselves from Saudi Arabia following the disappearance of journalist and prominent Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi was last seen on October 2, when he entered into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to secure official documents for his upcoming wedding to his Turkish fiance Hatice Cengiz.

The 59-year-old, who formerly served as an adviser to senior officials in the Saudi government and who had been living in self-imposed exile in the US, has not been seen since.

Some have speculated that he could have been kidnapped or killed inside the consulate, reportedly at the order of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman using a team of hit men flown in specially to undertake the task.

Official response to Khashoggi's disappearance have been mixed.

Saudi officials claim that The Washington Post contributor left the consulate, but haven't provided any definitive proof. Turkish officials previously alleged that Khashoggi was killed and claim there's no evidence he ever left the consulate, while Canada, the UN, and President Trump have expressed "concern" over the journalist's whereabouts.

In a story published Thursday, The Washington Post said the Turkish government told US officials it has audio and video showing that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.

Global business leaders, policymakers, media moguls and tech executives have also taken notice and are beginning to move away from dealings with Saudi Arabia and its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Group

Sir Richard Branson with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Virgin Galactic's hanger in the Mojave desert, April 2, 2018. play

Sir Richard Branson with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Virgin Galactic's hanger in the Mojave desert, April 2, 2018.

(Embassy of Saudi Arabia)

Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Group are severing ties with Saudi Arabia because of the Khashoggi case.

In a blog post on Virgin Group’s website, Branson announced that Virgin Galatic and Virgin Orbit will suspend its discussions with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

“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,” Branson wrote. “We have asked for more information from the authorities in Saudi and to clarify their position in relation to Mr. Khashoggi.”



US lawmakers

US lawmakers play

US lawmakers

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Nearly two dozen senators, led by the Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee and the Democratic ranking member Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, have sent a letter to US President Donald Trump, recommending an investigation and possible sanctions against those found to be involved in Khashoggi's disappearance.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers are also pushing to block Saudi arms sales.



Former US secretary of energy Ernest Moniz

Former US secretary of energy Ernest Moniz play

Former US secretary of energy Ernest Moniz

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Former US energy secretary Ernest Moniz suspended his membership on an advisory board for a $500 billion Saudi megacity project called Neom.

"Given current events, I am suspending my participation on the Neom board. Going forward, my engagement with the advisory board will depend on learning all the facts about Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance over the coming days and weeks," Moniz said in a statement provided to Business Insider.



Google-linked executive Dan Doctoroff

Google-linked executive Dan Doctoroff play

Google-linked executive Dan Doctoroff

(Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Dan Doctoroff, the founder of Sidewalk Labs, an urban planning unit of the Google parent company, Alphabet, also retreated from the Neom project.

In a statement, spokesperson Dan Levitan indicated that Doctoroff's inclusion on the list of executives said to be on the advisory board — first reported by Saudi news outlet Argaam — was "incorrect."

"He is not a member of the Neom advisory board," Levitan said. The spokesman did not respond to follow-up questions from Business Insider news editor Rob Price about whether Doctoroff had ever been associated with the NEOM advisory board.



Neelie Kroes, a former vice president of the European Commission

Neelie Kroes, a former vice president of the European Commission play

Neelie Kroes, a former vice president of the European Commission

(Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

Kroes told The Wall Street Journal she was also suspending her role in the Neom project "until more is known" on Khashoggi's disappearance.



Sam Altman, partner at Y Combinator

Sam Altman, partner at Y Combinator play

Sam Altman, partner at Y Combinator

(Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Altman was also on the advisory board for the Saudi mega-project.

"I am suspending my involvement with the Neom advisory board until the facts regarding Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance are known," Altman said, according to The Wall Street Journal.



The New York Times

The New York Times play

The New York Times

(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The New York Times pulled its sponsorship of the Future Investment Initiative (FII), a major conference which was set to be hosted by the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund in Riyadh.

Andrew Ross Sorkin, a New York Times columnist, said he was "terribly distressed by the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and reports of his murder," and said he would not attend the conference.



Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor-in-chief at The Economist

Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor-in-chief at The Economist play

Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor-in-chief at The Economist

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Zanny Minton Beddoes, who serves as editor-in-chief at The Economist, is also pulling away from the FII conference.

Spokeswoman Lauren Hackett told Reuters Beddoes would no longer be participating.



Media mogul Arianna Huffington

Media mogul Arianna Huffington play

Media mogul Arianna Huffington

(Brian Ach/Getty Images for POPSUGAR Play/Ground)

Huffington, who founded HuffPost and had a seat on the advisory board for FII, said she no longer plans to attend, The Wall Street Journal reported.



Billionaire AOL cofounder and venture capitalist Steve Case

Billionaire AOL cofounder and venture capitalist Steve Case play

Billionaire AOL cofounder and venture capitalist Steve Case

(Mike Windle/Getty Images)

Case was scheduled to speak at the conference, but he said on Thursday: "I was looking forward to returning to Riyadh this month to speak at the Future Investment Initiative conference, and participate in a Red Sea Project meeting."

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



Patrick Soon-Shiong, billionaire philanthropist and owner of the Los Angeles Times

Patrick Soon-Shiong, billionaire philanthropist and owner of the Los Angeles Times play

Patrick Soon-Shiong, billionaire philanthropist and owner of the Los Angeles Times

(Darren McCollester/Getty Images for NantHealth, Inc.)

"Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong will not be attending the upcoming Future Investment Initiative event in Riyadh," a spokesman told CNBC.



Viacom CEO Robert Bakish

Viacom CEO Robert Bakish play

Viacom CEO Robert Bakish

(Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for MTV)

A spokesman for Bakish said he has decided not to attend FII, per Reuters. Bakish was slated to speak at the event.



Harbour Group, a US lobbying firm that represented the Saudi government

Harbour Group, a US lobbying firm that represented the Saudi government play

Harbour Group, a US lobbying firm that represented the Saudi government

(Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock)

Harbour Group is one of several lobbying firms that represent the Saudi government. The firm earned $80,000 per month to represent the Saudi Embassy in Washington, but ended its contract on Thursday, The New York Times reported, citing the firm's managing director, Richard Mintz.



Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi play

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

(Greg Sandoval/Business Insider)

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi withdrew from the conference on Thursday evening, where he was due to speak.

"I'm very troubled by the reports to date about Jamal Khashoggi," he said in a statement. "We are following the situation closely, and unless a substantially different set of facts emerges, I won't be attending the FII conference in Riyadh."
The Silicon Valley-based ride-sharing app is partly funded by Saudi Arabia — S audi state's Public Investment Fund injected $3.5 billion into the company in June.



JP Morgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon

JP Morgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon play

JP Morgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon

(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

JP Morgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon pulled away from the conference on Sunday.

The company did not elaborate on why Dimon pulled out or if it specifically had to do with Khashoggi's disappearance.



Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford

Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford play

Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford

(William Thomas Cain/Getty)

Ford Motor Co. said Chairman Bill Ford called off his upcoming trip to the Middle East, which included a stop at the conference in Riyadh. The company did not comment on whether Khashoggi's case played a role in his cancelation.



BlackRock CEO Larry Fink

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink play

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink

(Reuters)

Fink pressed Saudi officials to postpone the event but later decided to drop out of the event, The New York Times reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.



Steve Schwarzman, CEO of The Blackstone Group

Steve Schwarzman, CEO of The Blackstone Group play

Steve Schwarzman, CEO of The Blackstone Group

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Schwarzman also sought to get the event postponed before deciding to drop out, the Times reported.



US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin play

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Mnuchin pulled out of an appearance at FII on Thursday after initially saying outrage over Khashoggi's disappearance.

"Just met with @realDonaldTrump and @SecPompeo and we have decided, I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia," Mnuchin tweeted.



Fox Business

Fox Business play

Fox Business

(Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Fox Business pulled out of FII late Thursday.

The network was the last remaining American sponsor of the event. Its host Maria Bartiromo was scheduled to speak at the conference, but said she would not attend unless she was provided an "unrestricted interview" with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Axios said.



X
Advertisement