Despite widespread worries about travel to the Middle East in the aftermath of an intensifying conflict between Israel and Hamas terrorists, Wall Street’s elite bankers turned out in force for an annual financial conference in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
At the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, a number of prominent bankers and asset managers gave speeches, including Jane Fraser of Citi (C.N), Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan (JPM.N), and David Solomon of Goldman Sachs (GS.N).
Attracted by the prospect of agreements as the kingdom embarks on an ambitious reform plan to wean its economy off oil, delegates usually use the annual event as a chance to network with some of Saudi Arabia’s largest corporations and its $778-billion sovereign wealth fund.
Saudi Arabia has spent billions on businesses in the last year, spanning across sports, gaming, and aviation. This year, Telefonica in Spain saw a nearly 10% investment from Saudi Telecom Corp.
Though it is in its seventh year and has earned the moniker “Davos in the Desert” from guests in reference to the yearly meeting of business executives and world leaders in the Swiss Alps, the event has been overshadowed by the possibility of the battle between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas escalating into a larger conflict.