There may be empty seats but the Saudi investment summit kicked off in style on Tuesday. And the Kingdom is expected to sign deals worth more than $50 billion during the conference, in oil, gas and transport. That despite an informal boycott over the death of dissident Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.
>> Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Let me first express my appreciation and gratitude for the many friends and partners who are with us today. As we all know, these are difficult days for us in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are going through a crisis of sort, resulting from the very regrettable and abhorrent incident that took place in Turkey.
>> More than two dozen high level speakers pulling out. JP Morgan Chase and HSBC deciding not to go. Christine LeGuard of the IMF also taking a stand. But, many big firms were seeming fearful of losing business with the world's largest oil exporter. And have sent low level executives to keep the deals moving.
France's Total and South Korea's Hyundai, they're on force. The annual event is designed to help attract billions of dollars of foreign capital. That's to help fund reforms intended to end Saudi dependence on oil exports. Pakistan's Prime Minister, Imran Khan, one leader who did show up. He is hoping for deals to help shore up his country's economy.
>> So we are talking to both IMF, and also we are talking to friendly governments that we could have go to this difficult period to get loans.>> Business looks set to be brisk over the next three days, busy enough for Riyadh to declare the summit a success.
And with Western firms reluctant to cut ties all together, the boycott looks unlikely to have any long-term impact.