Media Companies Skip Saudi Arabia's "Davos in the Desert" (Again)

Prince Mohammed bin Salman - Getty - H 2018
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Jared Kushner and Steven Mnuchin are attending, but major media firms are still a no-go at the Saudi conference following the murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

Last year, major American media companies dropped out of Saudi Arabia's Future of Investment Initiative conference — dubbed "Davos in the Desert" — to protest the murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to attend this year's conference, to be held Oct. 29-31 at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. But once again, Fox Business Network, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg Media, The New York Times and The Financial Times have all decided against serving as media partners for this year's conference, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. (The companies all pulled sponsorships last year.)

"Fox Business Network is not attending/participating in FII this year," a network spokesperson told THR.

"The Times will not sponsor the conference or send anyone as a speaker," a spokesperson said. "No decisions have been made on how or if we will cover the event from a reporting standpoint, as we did last year." (CNBC could also cover this year's conference journalistically.)

"We are not a sponsor, nor are we sending speakers," a Financial Times spokesperson said.

Bloomberg Media will be reporting on the conference, according to a person close to the company.

Just a week away, the conference still has not yet announced this year's "strategic partners" and "knowledge partners," but a knowledgeable source said that media partnerships will be scarce. (An email sent to the conference's press contact has not yet been returned.)

Citing an attendees list, The Washington Post on Sept. 30 reported that "senior executives from blue-chip firms including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and BlackRock will be returning to the kingdom for the conference" this year, "including more than 40 executives representing U.S. companies."