>> Fire.>> Fire.>> The fallout from the disappearance of a Saudi journalist could reach space. Richard Branson saying Friday he's halting talks over Saudi investment in his Virgin Galactic venture. Riyadh had been expected to put up to $1 billion into the space tourism project. But the mysterious case of Jamal Khashoggi may have put paid to that.
The dissident Saudi journalist vanished after visiting the country's consulate in Turkey. The Washington Post says Turkey has told the US it has recordings proving he was killed in the building. Now the case threatens to have economic consequences for Saudi Arabia that go far beyond Branson. Reputational damage for sure.
A string of top names pulling out of a big conference slated for later this month. Among them, Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi and Viacom Boss Bob Bakish. Journalists also quit in the so called Davos in the Desert following Khashoggi's disappearance. Big money and big projects at stake, too.
This will one day be Neom, a mega city that Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman wants to build with foreign backers. On Wednesday, former US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said he was suspending his role on Neom's board. The US firm advising on the project also pulling out. Even more worried, may be the world's big arms makers.
So far Donald Trump says there is no plan to ban sales to Riyadh. But Congress could think otherwise. If arms sales are banned, that would be a huge blow to defense giants like Boeing. The Saudis, last year, confirmed plans to spend $110 billion on US military equipment.