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>> For all the glitter and the bright lights, there's a shadow hanging over this investment forum in Riyadh. Global outcry over Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death prompted dozens of high profile CEOs and government ministers to pull out. No one was sure Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, or MBS would even show up.
US President, Donald Trump says he bears ultimate responsibility for the killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.>>
> But he did telling attendees Wednesday, Khashoggi's case was painful and justice would prevail. Reuters' Stephen Kailin says last year's event was standing him only with a palpable buzz.
This year, empty seats.>> Media partners pulled out, and that left the conference without any moderators for the panels. And so they've brought in lesser known figures to moderate the panels, mostly from regional media outlets. There were a lot of attendees on the first day, but now on the second day, the number has dropped, and the auditorium is barely half full.
>> But the Gulf's largest economy remains a magnet for global businesses, from oil majors to leading banks. So for some at least, it's business as usual.>> Despite all this, Saudi Arabia is still doing business. They announced $50 billion in deals yesterday. And people are here networking. There still is western representation.
There are bankers, there are investors looking to do business. They're just not always at the highest level, as they were last year. And it's clear from talking to many of them that some of them are frustrated that their CEOs and their top executives have pulled out. Because they continue to do business here.
It's likely that they're looking for ways to continue their contract, continue their deals with Saudi Arabia. Which has been such a lucrative partner for many of them.>> The conference is at the Ritz Carlton, for a time, a luxury jail for dozens of princes, ministers, and businessmen. They were rounded up for corruption in a crack down that started just days after last year's meeting.