Davos 2019 Day 1: Climate change, globalism and Middle East politics

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined WEF19 in Davos - albeit via video-link. (Screenshot/WEF)
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An 'Outlook on the Middle East' panel, which included Saudi Arabia's Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri. (Screenshot/WEF)
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Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro said he was "moved and honored" to be addressing the crowd at Davos. (Screenshot/WEF)
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- Prince William Duke of Cambridge interviewing Sir David Attenborough on the Davos stage, talking about the future of the planet and how to protect the natural world. (Reuters)
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Gebran Bassil, Lebanese foreign minister says democracy in his country has reached a level of "reconciliation." (Screenshot/WEF)
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A talk was given by the magician, illusionist and "endurance artist" David Blaine on how "awe can shift perception and turn sceptics into believers. (Screenshot/WEF)
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More than 3,000 political, business and civil leaders have descended upon Davos in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. (WEF)
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More than 3,000 political, business and civil leaders have descended upon Davos in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. (WEF)
Updated 23 January 2019

Davos 2019 Day 1: Climate change, globalism and Middle East politics

  • More than 3,000 political, business and civil leaders have descended upon Davos in Switzerland
  • The attendees include several senior figures from Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East

DAVOS: More than 3,000 political, business and civil leaders have descended upon Davos in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting on Tuesday. Follow Arab News' live coverage below.


17:55 - That's a wrap on the Middle East Strategic Outlook panel and Tuesday's action, with some interesting points made by the Saudi Arabian, Emirati and Bahraini panelists - you can catch up with the whole session below:

17:45 - Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri on the journeys undertaken by both Dubai, the UAE and also Saudi Arabia in developing their economies...

17:30 - Alain Bejjani of Majid Al-Futtaim says that Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 has "set a vision and plan" for other countries to follow...


17:15 - Strong words from Khalid Al-Rumaihi, CEO of Bahrain Economic Development Board...

While Saudi Arabia's Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri has praised the shift in ideas and investment into renewable energies as "significant," despite the GCC still being reliant on oil.

16:45 - Coming up next is an important one for our region - an outlook on the Middle East. The panel includes Saudi Arabia's Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, Youssef Chahed, Tunisia PM and Rami Hamdallah PM of the Palestinian National Authority. Also there will be Mirek Dusek, senior WEF director, who spoke to Arab News on the eve of the summit to reveal what will be on the agendaThe panel will be chaired by Hadley Gamble, reporter and anchor, CNBC.

16:15 - Remember David Blaine? As a bit of respite, Davos attendees are being treated to a talk by the magician, illusionist and "endurance artist" on how "awe can shift perception and turn skeptics into believers..."

15:45 - Wondering what the latest Saudi Arabian lines from Davos are? Of course you are. According to the chief of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Kingdom will remain the largest global oil exporter for years to come despite the growth of the US oil sector, Fatih Birol told the World Economic Forum.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia to remain oil exporting kingpin says IEA boss


15:20 - Pompeo shares his thoughts on Yemen and the Middle East as a whole, and what role the US is looking to play...

15:10 - Pompeo praises what he calls "beautiful coalitions" with countries in challenging the threat of North Korea and checking China's expansionism as well as countering terrorism and Iran's "foreign adventurism," but reiterates that there is still a lot of work for the US and the world to do - together...

15:00 - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joins WEF19 in Davos - albeit via video-link...

14:45 - Bolsonaro makes some bold claims about what he envisages his government doing to help Brazil and its economy - saying he will “actively support” reform of the WTO, will fight corruption and organised crime and with the help of global partners with technological knowledge tap into Brazil’s “abundant mineral riches” to “develop resources.”

Klaus Schwab says the world looks forward to seeing the progress he makes…

14:30 - Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro says he is "moved and honored" to be addressing the crowd at Davos...

14:15 - As attendees start to file back in after a quick bite for lunch, we are looking ahead to addresses by Brazil's new president Jair Bolsonaro and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the afternoon session here in Davos - how will Bolsnaro's populist approach go down with the globalist attendees at WEF? Stay tuned to find out...

13:35 - Prince William asks Sir David about how technology is being used to further explore the natural world. Attenborough emphasized humans’ responsibility toward the natural world. “We are only too well aware that the whole of the natural world is at our disposal … We can do things accidentally that exterminate a whole area of the natural world and the species that live within in,” he said.

13:25 - Prince William, Duke of Cambridge is interviewing broadcaster and natural historian Sir David Attenborough on the Davos stage now, watch a live stream above...


If you want to follow World Economic Forum panels specifically about the Middle East, check out our handy guide here


13:10 - The "Belt and Road - China's Trillion-Dollar Vision" panel is currently going on - and it comes after a top financial regulator in China said on Tuesday it’s “certain” that the Chinese economy will slow further this year — but that’s largely due to a “much-needed” cooling of the real estate market. Speaking at Davos, Fang Xinghai, vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said the slowdown from last year’s 28-year low rate of 6.6 percent to around 6 percent is not a “collapse.” That remains to be seen...

And the panel has been discussing the pros and cons of free trade - a topic the British are clearly sending a tongue-in-cheek message to Davos about this week, as discovered by our roving reporter Frank Kane...

13:00 - Coming up shortly, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge will be interviewing conservationist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough - and the latter has already come out with one of the "quotes of Davos"...


Arab News is covering WEF19 in depth, and you can read all of our coverage from the World Economic Forum by visiting our Davos 2019 spotlight


12:50 - David Miliband speaks about the growing global problem of refugees and displaced peoples, he briefly mentions Yemen and his hope that peace talks between the two parties operating in the country will offer a solution to the humanitarian needs of the country.

12:30 - Our next panel is The Humanitarian Crises That Will Shape 2019 - the panel includes: David Miliband, president of International Rescue Committee and Heba Aly who is director of IRIN - who starts the discussion about climate change affecting millions of lives and the "fragile states" being some of the biggest humanitarian crises the world needs to be working to solve...


12:20 - Up later: Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro is set to address Davos as the first main headline act of the day. It will be interesting to hear Bolsonaro’s pitch to the “global elite” gathered at the World Economic Forum. Bolsonaro surfed a populist wave to ride to power (sound familiar?) — and seems to be everything the so-called “Davos Man” is not. Still, as with Donald Trump’s appearance at the World Economic Forum a year ago, Bolsonaro’s attendance emphasizes the big global shift toward populism, whether the Davos Man likes it or not. 

READ MORE: Brazil’s nationalist leader to address Davos globalist crowd


12:10 - The terrifying threat of climate change is one of the most important items on the agenda at Davos this year. And many of the panelists would have doubtlessly perfected their speeches on, er, their private jets on the way over. According to the Air Charter Service, a record number of private jet flights — nearly 1,500 — are forecast to travel to airports near Davos in the Swiss Alps over the week of the World Economic Forum (WEF). That would be up from the more than 1,300 aircraft movements seen at last year’s forum. So for the “Davos elite,” the environment is clearly very important — especially when it comes to putting your feet up on the plane …

READ MORE: Never mind climate change, Davos prefers private jets


12:00 - Arab News reporter Anna Pukas will be speaking with Young Photographer of the Year 2018 Skye Meaker at the World Economic Forum, who is taking part in a panel with Jane Goodall this afternoon - take a look at some of his beautiful wildlife images here. And to brighten your Tuesday afternoon amid all the serious stuff, here is his stunning winning photo below...

Skye Meaker, Young Photographer of the Year 2018 - winning image

11:50 - Gebran Bassil says that the Lebanese model of coexistence is "still holding," despite examples of it not working elsewhere around the world, and that while a stable Syria is the target of Lebanon, spreading the Lebanese model to the rest of the region "is not easy."

11:20 - Gebran Bassil, Lebanese foreign minister says democracy in his country has reached a level of "reconciliation" despite decades of conflict converging on Lebanon, which has often acted as a "bumper" during these regional clashes, and wider conflicts.

11:00 - Our next panel - Peace and Reconciliation in a Multipolar World - has started, and the panel includes: Gebran Bassil, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lebanon, Abdullah Abdullah of the Afghanistan government and Abdelkader Messahel, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Algeria. Follow it live here:

10:50 - Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft, is adding his thoughts on how young people can shape the future of society - he acknowledges the problems the young panellists raised, and acknowledges the challenges require new approaches to solve them. He says: "Young people have shown us in constrained environments what can be achieved, your ingenuity and that you did not accept the status quo."

10:40 - We are now hearing an emotional appeal and inspiring life story being shared by refugee Mohammed Hassan Mohamud, who lives in - and is Zonal Chairman of - Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Powerful stuff.

10:25 - The first panel - Shaping Globalization 4.0 - has begun featuring young voices from a range of sectors, with Basima Abdulrahman, founder and Chief Executive Officer of KESK Green Building Consulting, Iraq's first green building company kicking us off...

10:15 - In his opening remarks, Professor Schwab hints at the "Globalization 4.0" theme of the forum by saying: “Globalization has to be human-centered, it has to be more inclusive, it has to be much more sustainable.”

10:00 - The "Welcoming Remarks" and a special address are just getting started, with the founder and executive chairman of WEF Klaus Schwab and Ueli Maurer, president of the Swiss Confederation and Federal Councillor of Finance kicking us off...

The welcoming remarks were opened with a lovely tune played by some alpine horn players - WEF19 is well and truly up and running...

09:55 - Monday saw Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour awarded at the 25th Crystal Awards, along with conductor Marin Alsop and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.

09:45 - We have quite a packed agenda for Tuesday, with panels on globalization, the environment and strategic outlooks for the Middle East all coming up today. Stay tuned for more details.


Family of detained UK consulate worker rejects ‘made-up’ report

Updated 1 min 13 sec ago

Family of detained UK consulate worker rejects ‘made-up’ report

  • Simon Cheng disappeared after visiting Shenzhen on August 8
  • Beijing confirmed they detained an employee of a British consulate

BEIJING: The family of a staffer at the UK consulate in Hong Kong have rejected a “made-up” report by Chinese state media that he was detained in the mainland for visiting prostitutes.
Simon Cheng disappeared after visiting the city of Shenzhen from the semi-autonomous city on August 8, and the Foreign Office in London said both British officials and relatives have been unable to speak to him since.
The Global Times, a tabloid state-run newspaper, said he had been detained for “soliciting prostitutes,” citing police in Shenzhen, which lies on the China-Hong Kong border.
But a Facebook page run by Cheng’s family dismissed the report.
“This is a made-up crime of soliciting prostitution, everyone should see it’s a joke,” the comment said.
Beijing confirmed Wednesday an employee of the British consulate had been “placed in administrative detention for 15 days as punishment” by police in Shenzhen for breaking a public security law.
“Let me clarify, this employee is a Hong Kong citizen, he’s not a UK citizen, which is also saying he’s a Chinese person,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
According to the Global Times, Cheng could be detained for up to 15 days and fined up to 5,000 yuan ($700) for the alleged crime.
In an editorial on Friday, the tabloid said it was at Cheng’s request that police did not contact his family and that “thanks to the British foreign ministry and media, which have been hyping it, the case is now fully exposed.”
Cheng was in the process of returning via high-speed train on August 8 and sent messages to his girlfriend as he was about to go through customs.
He has not been seen or heard from since.
The family said it had hired a lawyer in Shenzhen who had been unable to find or speak to the detained consulate employee.
Police in Shenzhen did not reply to AFP’s request for comment.
A spokesperson for the British Foreign Office said in a statement Thursday that it was continuing “to urgently seek further information about Simon’s case.”
The incident comes as relations between Britain and China have become strained over what Beijing calls London’s “interference” in pro-democracy protests that have wracked Hong Kong for three months.
China promised to respect the freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory after its handover from Britain in 1997 — including freedom of speech, unfettered access to the Internet and an independent judiciary — but protesters say these rights are being eroded.
Chinese authorities have increased their inspections at the border since the protests, including checking the phones and devices of some passengers for photos of the demonstrations.
Beijing has faced criticism in the past for detaining foreign nationals amid ongoing diplomatic spats, and for accusing dissidents or activists of sex crimes.