DAVOS: As the last of the private jets left Davos on Friday, many were asking: What exactly was achieved at the annual meeting of the global elite?
One WEF official said wearily: “They ask that every year, but it’s not really the point. It is always good to talk to different people, and as somebody said, if you’re talking it means you’re not fighting.”
But it is an increasingly touchy subject for the WEF. The forum pointedly issued a press release on the final day listing “33 ways Davos 19 made an impact on the world.” From resolutions and understanding on climate change, to statements of intent on economic policy and international relations, they were all worthy developments.
Global themes were the biggest newsmakers. The US-China “trade war” was probably the most often-heard phrase, followed by growing concern over the global economy; Brexit was never far from the top of the agenda; Venezuela dominated proceedings toward the end of the week.
Climate change and environmental concerns were also dominant, partly because of the eloquent advocacy of Sir David Attenborough.
The Middle East was a constant theme too, not least because of the big presence of leaders from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Arab states. Most sessions on Middle East subjects — from security to economic transformation to energy— were packed.
In any case, most business leaders attend not to learn about the latest trends in robotics or the arts, but to do business. One global corporate chief told Arab News he had fitted 50 “bilaterals” — deal-doing business meetings — into three days.