The Future Investment Initiative forum kicked off in Riyadh on Tuesday, despite many high-level speakers cancelling their participation in the event due to tensions caused by the demise of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority Governor Ahmed al-Kholifey has announced that foreign banks which opted to boycott the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh would not be penalized by Saudi authorities and may apply for licenses to operate in the country.
“We, at the central bank, deal in a completely professional manner whether with local or international banks,” he told Al Arabiya TV.
According to Reuters, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is expected to deliver an address at the forum later on Wednesday, described the event as “great — more people, more money.”
The three-day Future Investment Initiative forum, which kicked off in the Saudi capital on Tuesday and is unofficially known as “Davos in the desert,” ended up being boycotted by a number of high-ranking foreign government officials and company executives over the disappearance and death of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
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Khashoggi, who has been working for The Washington Post as a columnist and is known for his criticism of Saudi authorities, went missing in Istanbul on October 2 after he entered the Saudi consulate and never came out. The incident caused an outcry in Turkey as well as in many Western countries.
After denying any knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts for two weeks, Saudi Arabia admitted on Friday that the journalist had died in a fight inside its consulate. Riyadh also said that 18 people had been arrested over their involvement in the incident. Turkey is conducting a separate investigation into the journalist’s death.