22:31 GMT04 April 2020
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    RIYADH (Sputnik) - Saudi Arabia will open the three-day Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum, unofficially known as "Davos in the desert," on Tuesday in Riyadh despite numerous high-level speakers canceling their participation due to political tensions over circumstances of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death.

    Khashoggi, who has been working for The Washington Post newspaper as a columnist and 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 many Western countries.

    After denying any knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts for two weeks, Saudi Arabia admitted on Friday that the journalist 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.

    Over the past weeks, several prominent officials have dropped out of the conference, including US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde, Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra, UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, and French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, among others.

    The World Bank, The New York Times, Bloomberg, CNBC, Google and Uber have also announced their decision to pull out of the FII conference amid the scandal around Khashoggi’s disappearance.

    The string of cancellations caused the FII organizers to hide the speakers list section on the forum’s website. As of Monday afternoon, the conference had no detailed program.

    READ MORE: Germany Rethinks Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia Over Jamal Khashoggi's Death

    Nevertheless, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud is expected to open the event on Tuesday, which is set to gather over 150 speakers and 140 organizations, including 17 global companies, to discuss investments’ role in economy growth, innovation and fight against global challenges. Over the course of 40 sessions, global finance industry leaders will discuss a number of topics, including market drivers, digital currency, and new technologies.

    Russia, which stated that it was better to wait for the results of the probe into the Khashoggi case before altering relations with Riyadh, will be represented at the FII forum. Moscow's delegation includes over 30 representatives of leading Russian companies, as well as the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is in a partnership agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) on joint investments in projects in Russia.

    READ MORE: RDIF Hails Saudi Khashoggi Probe Results, Says to Continue Cooperation


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