Saudi Aramco CEO on Khashoggi's death

Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser speaks with CNN's John Defterios at the Future Investment Initiative. Dozens of business leaders from around the world pulled out of the conference following the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Posted: Oct 24, 2018 8:22 AM
Updated: Oct 24, 2018 8:53 AM

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia is trying to salvage plans for a dramatic overhaul of his country's economy as top corporate leaders and investors distance themselves following the killing of a critical journalist.

Mohammed bin Salman is expected to make his case Wednesday at an investor conference in Saudi Arabia that was supposed to bring together many of the biggest names in global business.

The crown prince is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion expected at 5.30 pm local time (10.30 am ET) on how "visionary leadership" will "transform the Arab world into a global economic powerhouse." But he will be speaking to a crowd with much less financial power than originally planned.

Investors and corporate executives have distanced themselves from the crown prince after members of his inner circle were blamed for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia says the journalist was killed by rogue operatives during an interrogation gone wrong. Several US officials told CNN that any such operation could not have happened without bin Salman's direct knowledge.

SoftBank (SFTBF) founder Masayoshi Son, who has been give $45 billion of Saudi money to invest through his Vision Fund, has pulled out of the event. Other top executives, including the CEOs of JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Uber and Siemens (SIEGY), also canceled plans to attend.

The Future Investment Initiative conference, widely known as "Davos in the desert," was a way for the young prince to showcase his country as being "open for business" as it undergoes massive transformation to diversify the economy away from oil.

But the mood has been subdued this week in Riyadh despite Saudi Arabia announcing $50 billion worth of deals, mainly to develop its oil and chemicals industry.

Some companies have sent less senior executives. JPMorgan and HSBC (HSBC) are sending representatives, despite their CEOs pulling out, for example.

"We can't ignore Saudi Arabia," a senior executive for an international bank told CNN Business at the event.

Regional governments, including the United Arab Emirates, dispatched delegations to the event, and bin Salman is expected to share the stage on Wednesday with the crown prince of Bahrain and the prime minister of Lebanon.

"There is loyalty, but the loyalty is is well deserved," said Mahmood Alkooheji, CEO of Mumtalakat, Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund. "Our presence here in the forum is really to look at the investment opportunities."

As for international investors, he said they "need time."

Saudi Arabia urgently needs to reverse a decline in foreign investment to diversify its economy and end its dependence on oil. Under his Vision 2030 plan, bin Salman wants to grow the private sector, boost tourism and reduce unemployment over the next decade.

The plan caught the imagination of many international players, including billionaire Richard Branson, who jumped on opportunities for two tourism projects and was in talks for a $1 billion investment in his space company.

But Branson was one of the first to suspend his links with Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi's disappearance.

"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 said earlier this month.

Last year, bin Salman used the conference to introduce a $500 billion futuristic mega-city sitting alongside some of the world's top executives, including Son. The young prince told the audience that the city, NEOM, would be a place for "dreamers."

The announcement received loud cheers and applause from the energized crowd.

But at least six of 18 NEOM's international advisers — including Silicon Valley stars such as Sam Altman — have backed out temporarily or permanently.

Now the prince will need to make an equally forceful argument for why investors should buy into his vision. And if it turns out he really did know about the operation against Khashoggi, the kingdom may be back to square one.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 676505

Reported Deaths: 8049
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1396591852
Ramsey58216942
Dakota51771493
Anoka47702478
Washington30460309
Stearns24688240
St. Louis20106335
Scott19489144
Wright18332163
Olmsted15650110
Sherburne13375100
Carver1198951
Clay905895
Rice9047119
Blue Earth857947
Crow Wing7723101
Kandiyohi740988
Chisago706157
Otter Tail660990
Benton638799
Mower551838
Winona549552
Goodhue546180
Douglas530084
Itasca512870
Beltrami496972
Steele496321
McLeod495262
Isanti487170
Morrison463862
Nobles445450
Polk428275
Becker427459
Freeborn426438
Lyon390654
Carlton387259
Nicollet371947
Pine371526
Mille Lacs351760
Brown343543
Cass340335
Le Sueur337929
Todd318334
Meeker301749
Waseca286025
Martin259033
Wabasha23984
Dodge23833
Roseau229723
Hubbard226841
Houston201616
Renville198247
Redwood195641
Fillmore190710
Pennington188421
Wadena182723
Faribault177625
Cottonwood175824
Sibley173910
Chippewa169839
Kanabec163529
Watonwan153911
Aitkin153838
Rock137919
Jackson134112
Pope12858
Pipestone124126
Yellow Medicine123820
Swift116419
Murray114810
Koochiching113019
Stevens104611
Marshall100918
Clearwater100218
Lake90721
Wilkin89014
Lac qui Parle84624
Big Stone6724
Grant6628
Mahnomen6629
Lincoln6424
Norman6319
Kittson53122
Unassigned53093
Red Lake4667
Traverse4205
Lake of the Woods3814
Cook2060

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 426400

Reported Deaths: 6339
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk67341672
Linn25698353
Scott22828261
Black Hawk19121334
Woodbury16940233
Johnson1659690
Dubuque14547218
Pottawattamie13058183
Dallas12746102
Story1187148
Warren685993
Webster6304102
Cerro Gordo6212102
Clinton620097
Des Moines594482
Muscatine5781108
Marshall564280
Sioux542775
Jasper516575
Lee511078
Wapello4993128
Buena Vista472942
Marion449083
Plymouth434083
Henry339940
Jones331158
Bremer325365
Crawford321644
Carroll317053
Washington315754
Benton312656
Boone308736
Mahaska275453
Dickinson270846
Kossuth251471
Jackson246044
Clay245729
Tama238273
Delaware234643
Buchanan233938
Hardin230847
Page221624
Cedar220525
Fayette220345
Wright217641
Winneshiek215937
Hamilton211752
Harrison198875
Clayton194458
Madison193820
Butler188836
Floyd187742
Mills185224
Poweshiek181036
Cherokee179440
Iowa176425
Allamakee176252
Lyon174441
Jefferson169138
Calhoun168313
Hancock167335
Winnebago164231
Grundy158835
Cass155556
Louisa154949
Shelby151739
Appanoose151249
Emmet149541
Franklin148524
Humboldt147226
Sac144722
Union144237
Mitchell141643
Guthrie138132
Chickasaw137518
Palo Alto131124
Clarke125024
Montgomery122239
Keokuk116232
Howard115622
Monroe114033
Ida107538
Davis103125
Pocahontas99023
Greene98012
Adair95334
Monona94733
Lucas94523
Worth9268
Osceola83717
Decatur74510
Fremont74111
Taylor72412
Van Buren70919
Wayne65123
Ringgold62226
Audubon58414
Adams3914
Unassigned190
Rochester
Partly Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 69°
Mason City
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 70°
Albert Lea
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 70°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 70°
A windy Thursday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sean's Weather 9/16

Image

Kid vaccine update

Image

Redistricting changes in Minnesota

Image

Rochester riverfront

Image

"Legends" building recommended for landmark status despite advice of experts, staff

Image

Southeastern Minnesota town experiences business boom

Image

Aaron's Wednesday Night Weather (9/15/21)

Image

Landmark status recommended for former Legends site

Image

20 new businesses open in Lanesboro

Image

Riverland Community College celebrates Welcoming America Week

Community Events