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Despite Boycott Of Investment Event, Deals Worth $50b Signed By Saudi Arabia

Despite Boycott Of Investment Event, Deals Worth $50b Signed By Saudi Arabia
The business conclave held at the Saudi Arabia capital that was boycotted by a number of global business leaders over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi saw the kingdom ink down deals $50 billion on Tuesday. This is a sign from the kingdom hat it can still attract investments there despite the Khashoggi controversy.
Following a meeting led by King Salman, the Saudi Cabinet pledged to take strict action against all those who were responsible for the Khashoggi incident and those who did not fulfil their duties. The case has not only attracted international attention to the Middle Eastern country but has also drawn severe criticism from some of the Western alias of Saudi Arabia including the United States.
The fact that the largest exporter of crude oil was going through a "crisis of a sort" was earlier acknowledged at the investment conference by the country’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih. He however said that the country would move strongly ahead with its planned and announced economic reforms.
Khalid al-Falih, who is also the chief executive of the state owned oil Saudi Aramco said the partial floatation of the shares of the company was assured from the government’s side but the timing of the floatation would be determined by the market conditions and some other factors. .
The conclave called the Future Investment Initiative – also dubbed as the ‘Davos of the Desert’, was attended by hundreds of bankers and company executives along with government officials from multiple countries. However, in contrast to the inaugural edition of the conference last year, this year saw about two dozen high-level business tycoons boycotting the event because of the Khashoggi controversy.
Direct Investment Fund head Kirill Dmitriev led a large delegation from Russia to the conference. While claiming the need for proper investigation for Khashoggi's killing and the punishment of the guilty, Dmitriev also said that no one can ignore the drive by Saudi Arabia to ring in social and economic changes.
"Saudi Arabia's reforms are important and they are worth supporting," he told the media. 
25 investment deals in the oil, gas, industries and infrastructure sectors worth $50 billion was signed by Saudi Arabia on the inaugural day of the conference with companies such as Trafigura, Total, Hyundai, Norinco, Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes.
15 memoranda of understanding worth $34 billion were signed by Aramco, the oil major said. 
a retail network in the kingdom with Saudi Aramco would be announced by the French oil and gas producer Total, said its Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne.
Despite many of the top executive of many Western banks and other companies stayed away, they sent their lower ranked executives to the conference fearing that they would loose out on revenues and business like fees from arranging deals for Saudi Arabia's $250 billion wealth fund.
There was presence of top business leaders from Asia - including China and Japan, and that can help Riyadh declare the conference as a success.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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