With human rights groups and journalists getting ready to mark the anniversary of the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is expected to attend the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, one year after dozens of government officials and business leaders boycotted the high-profile event in protest over the killing of the Saudi Journalist.
Known as “Davos in the Desert”, Kushner is expected to confirm his attendance in the glitzy event, which will be held in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, where Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman imprisoned many of the kingdom’s most wealthy business leaders in 2017, during a crackdown billed as an anti-corruption campaign.
Kushner is expected to attend as part of a broader US delegation, according to the Washington Post which announced the news citing a source familiar with his plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The decision is likely to be seen as further sign of the Trump administration’s stalwart support of the crown prince, who the UN believes is responsible for the murder of Khashoggi. A similar conclusion was made by the CIA. Officials in the agency said they had “high confidence” that Bin Salman ordered the killing.
Despite the views of his own intelligence community and the UN, President Trump and his son-in-law Kushner, have led the efforts to rehabilitate the crown prince, known also as MBS.
Last year, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin withdrew from the forum which was held within weeks of Khashoggi’s murder. He was joined by dozens of business heads in the boycott of the Future Investment Initiative, one of Riyadh’s major PR events designed to attract global investors to the kingdom.
With the Saudis denying any knowledge of the initial disappearance and killing of Khashoggi during the weeks leading up to the forum, the moral radar of business leaders was tested to the limit. Senior ministers from Britain and France pulled out of the event along with chief executives or chairmen of about a dozen big financial firms such as JP Morgan Chase and HSBC, and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde.