SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK: The kingdom has sent one of its strongest delegations ever to the Swiss mountain resort and packed its top executives’ agendas with meetings with international peers.
It has even managed to secure top Western businessmen for a panel debate on ‘Next Steps for Saudi Arabia’, where French oil major Total’s chief executive Patrick Pouyanne and Morgan Stanley’s boss James Gorman will be sitting next to the Saudi finance and economy ministers.
The Davos gathering in the Swiss Alps is a chance for the Saudis to try to put behind them months of intense criticism over the murder of Khashoggi, a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
His killing by a team of Saudi operatives provoked widespread revulsion and tarnished the image of the crown prince, previously admired in the West for pushing deep changes including tax reform, infrastructure projects and allowing women to drive.
At Davos, the signs are that the damage control is working.
Swiss President Ueli Maurer said on Wednesday his country has moved on, and wanted to build strong relations with Riyadh, a rich, oil-producing kingdom that is itself a major global investor.