Google latest to withdraw from Saudi conference

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google on Monday became the latest company to drop out of a business conference in Saudi Arabia.

A Google sign is seen during the WAIC (World Artificial Intelligence Conference) in Shanghai, China, September 17, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

Pressure has mounted on Saudi Arabia since prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi policies, went missing. He was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Google said in a statement that Google Cloud Chief Executive Diane Greene would not attend the Future Investment Initiative Summit scheduled to be held in Riyadh starting Oct. 23.

Google’s Greene did not offer a reason for her action, and a spokesman declined to elaborate.

Other business leaders who have said they would not attend the conference, including Uber [UBER.UL] Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, said they were concerned about Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Earlier this year Google announced that it would work with a Saudi agency to open five innovation hubs in the country to train aspiring technologists.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru Additional reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco

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