Global business leaders may have stayed away, but Saudi Arabia’s flagship investment conference started Tuesday with a crowd. And even as attendees squeezed in to watch speeches, they checked their phones for news about Jamal Khashoggi’s death.
As the Future Investment Initiative began at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, an hour-long traffic jam snarled vehicles in the last few blocks before the venue. Men in suits hopped out of their air-conditioned cars to walk the final stretch in the sun, watched over by black-uniformed royal guards with machine guns. The first session was so overcrowded that doormen left some frustrated attendees standing outside.