‘Davos in the Desert,’ a Saudi Prince’s Glittering Showcase, Is Stained by a Grisly Accusation

Goldman Sachs, which lacked the inroads into Saudi Arabia that other banks had, sent its co-president, Harvey M. Schwartz, along with the head of its Middle East and North Africa business.

Endeavor, the Beverly Hills holding company for entertainment agencies, sent its co-chief executive, Ariel Emanuel, to help push along negotiations for a Saudi investment.

Unlike Davos, the conference in Switzerland that draws a roster of the world’s wealthy and prominent, the Saudi event has struggled to attract heads of state. This year, the organizers hoped to lure President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan; neither was available. Last year, Tony Blair, the former prime minister of Britain, and Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president of France, attended.

The Ritz-Carlton, originally built as a palace for guests of the royal family and foreign dignitaries, is a fitting venue. Visitors walk on a red carpet into a vast, cathedral-like lobby, with frescoed ceilings and glittering chandeliers.

Inside the hotel, female guests are encouraged to wear business attire. But outside, they stick to the more typical Saudi dress, known as an abaya, keeping their arms and legs covered. Last year, some women were redirected to side entrances of the hotel’s conference center, rather than the main entrance to the building.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/13/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-conference-crown-prince-mohammed.html

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