Dutch businessmen in Saudi Arabia

Davos in the desert 2018, AFP photo

This AFP photo shows the 2018 Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia, nicknamed ‘Davos in the desert’.

On the central front row seat sits Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. Highly suspect of ordering the cruel murder of critical Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Guilty of killing ten thousands of civilians in his war on Yemen, and endangering the lives of millions more by his famine warfare. Guilty of mass beheadings. Guilty of jailing women activists for campaigning for the right of women to drive cars, and threatening them with beheading. Guilty of having bloggers flogged for blogging. But nevertheless, a favourite, at least until very recently, of NATO countries’ corporate media, big businessmen and politicians.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today; quoting Dutch businessman Cyril Widdershoven, present at the crown prince’s ‘Davos in the desert’:

A murder is not enough reason not to travel to a country. “If someone having been murdered means that you can not go to that country, then you can not show your face in the whole Arab world any more.”

Dear Mr Widdershoven: you are right that in all Arab countries, murders happen. You might have added that in all non-Arab countries, including the Netherlands, murders happen as well.

But I still have not heard about any Arab or non-Arab country, except Saudi Arabia, where a journalist is murdered cruelly in a consulate for criticism of the bloody war in Yemen. Where a death squad, including close associates of the crown prince, is flown in by plane with a bone saw and diplomatic passports. Where the death squad botch their cover up by dressing up one of the murderers in Khashoggi’s clothes, but forgetting (?) about Khashoggi’s shoes. No, Mr Widdershoven, I have never heard about any Arab or non-Arab country where the de facto autocrat very probably ordered this kind of murder plot, except the one where you are now, hoping to make profits.

According to Widdershoven:

Deals have been announced [at the conference] worth 65 billion dollars, including with Japanese car companies. “In 2017, the USA was much more at the forefront of the conference, the rest were hangers-on. Now many directors of big American companies have canceled and more attention is paid to the Europeans and Asians who are present.”


The subject Khashoggi is hardly discussed on stage at the congress …

According to Widdershoven, it is being talked about more in the corridors. “Every Saudi speaks about it you, and every Saudi thinks it is bad, it’s a subject that everyone talks about.”

Business, not politics

Not many Dutch people are present at the conference, although Widdershoven has already spoken to some that are currently working in the country. Eg, Philips, FrieslandCampina, Shell and Strukton [construction] are active [in Saudi Arabia].

A round-up shows that Dutch companies do not take any measures after the scandal about the killing of Khashoggi. … Eg, a spokesperson for FrieslandCampina: “We follow developments, but we are there for business, not for politics.”

Paint manufacturer AkzoNobel has a location in the country where 150 people work.

5 thoughts on “Dutch businessmen in Saudi Arabia

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