DealBook Briefing: Business Heads Back to Saudi Arabia


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Six months ago, the murder and dismemberment of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi by agents of Saudi Arabia cast a heavy cloud over the kingdom. But now the international business community is revving up its work with the Saudis again, Michael de la Merced, Stanley Reed and Dai Wakabayashi of the NYT report.

Business leaders had withdrawn from a government-led conference in Riyadh last fall, but that didn’t mean that their Saudi projects stopped:

Google continued to work on a data center there, meant to support cloud-computing services in the Middle East.

Blackstone still plans to invest from a $40 billion infrastructure fund that is counting on $20 billion in capital from the Saudis.

Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil giant, sold $12 billion worth of bonds to international investors last week — on the same day that the U.S. barred 16 Saudis suspected of participating in Mr. Khashoggi’s death from entering the country.

Executives say they’re trying to support the Saudi people. “It’s the right thing to do for the people of Saudi Arabia,” Adam Aron, the C.E.O. of AMC Theaters, told the NYT this month when discussing plans to open movie theaters in the country. “They have been deprived of going to the movies for decades.”

But there’s also plenty of money to be made. Saudi Arabia has 33 million residents, most of them under 30, and it’s eager to attract foreign investment to help it revamp its economy.

Whether Saudi Arabia can sustain this momentum remains to be seen. “For people to invest in Saudi Arabia, they need a belief that this country is moving in the right direction,” Roger Diwan, a vice president at IHS Markit, told the NYT. “The last 12 months have not been stellar.”

Both Pinterest, the digital pin board company, and Zoom, which does videoconferencing, priced their initial public offerings above their initial price ranges yesterday.

• “In other words, the capitalists killed inflation.”

• There is no single obvious way to revive inflation, though aggressive fiscal policy might help. But even in countries where that’s possible, Mr. Coy writes, there’s no apparent political will for that, so the situation could persist for at least a decade.

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