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Uber CEO to Saudi Arabia: I'm Not Going to Your Conference

Dara Khosrowshahi says he won't attend after disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2018 2:18 PM CDT
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi listens during an interview in New York on Sept. 5, 2018.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

(Newser) – "Davos in the Desert" just found out it will be short at least one more speaker. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says he's canceling plans to go to Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh after the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week, CNN reports. "We are following the situation closely, and unless a substantially different set of facts emerges, I won't be attending the FII conference in Riyadh," Khosrowshahi said, adding that he's "very troubled" by reports about Khashoggi. Khosrowshahi had been set to talk about the future of transportation at the conference, hosted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of his Vision 2030 initiative to make the kingdom less reliant on oil.

CNN notes that Khosrowshahi's departure from FII is especially notable, as Saudi Arabia's state-owned investment fund is a major Uber shareholder and has pumped $3.5 billion into the ride-sharing company. Most media outlets that had planned to sponsor the conference have also nixed their plans, including the New York Times, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, and the Financial Times, per CNN; that leaves just Fox Business Network, Saudi TV network Al Arabiya, and Japanese media firm Nikkei. Business and political figures still planning on attending FII, at least as of early Friday afternoon, per HuffPost: JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, among others. (Turkish officials say they have audio and video evidence that Khashoggi was murdered.)

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