Wall Street leaders appear at Saudi conference amid conflict By Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Saudi man’s reflection is seen in mirror glass at the Future Investment Initiative conference, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 25, 2022. REUTERS/ Ahmed Yosri/File Photo
By Hadeel Al Sayegh
RIYADH/LONDON (Reuters) – Wall Street’s top financiers showed up in force at an annual financial conference in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday despite broad concerns over travel in the Middle East in the wake of an escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas militants.
Goldman Sachs’ David Solomon, JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon and Citi’s Jane Fraser were among a group of high-profile bankers and asset managers speaking at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.
The annual event is typically used by attendees as an opportunity to build relationships with some of Saudi Arabia’s biggest companies and its $778-billion sovereign wealth fund, drawn by the promise of deals as the kingdom embarks on an ambitious reform plan to wean its economy off oil.
But the risk of escalation of the war between Islamist group Hamas and Israel into a broader conflict has overshadowed the event now running in its seventh year and nicknamed by attendees as “Davos in the Desert”, a nod to the annual gathering of world leaders and corporate bosses in the Swiss Alps.
The last year has seen Saudi Arabia spend billions on companies, from sports to gaming to aviation. This year, Saudi Telecom Corp took a near 10% stake in Spain’s Telefonica (NYSE:).
(This story has been refiled to drop an extraneous word from the headline and to fix a typo in paragraph 2)