There will be some unexpected vacant seats at this year’s Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative.

Following the disappearance of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Western boycott of this major business conference in Riyad suggests rising political risks in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reports. 

More than two dozen top officials and executives from the United States and Europe, including US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the chief executives of JP Morgan Chase and HSBC, have cancelled plans to attend the event, nicknamed the Davos of the Desert.

But it probably won't be shunned for too long. Many Western firms have too much at stake to abandon the Middle East's biggest economy.

Companies in China and Japan have shown little or no sign of withdrawing from the event, so US and European firms may lose out on business if they stay cool towards Riyadh for too long.

Saudi Arabia may just be too rich to ignore.

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