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Davos out and Singapore in, as World Economic Forum moves to the tropics

By Ricky Browne

The bad news just doesn’t stop. The pandemic is continuing to rip through the world’s healthy and not so healthy population. Britain and the EU have yet to finalise a a trade deal, with only days left to go before the transition period ends on December 31.

These things influence million even billions of people. But now for some news that affects a particular minority, one that is often overlooked when discussions of the hard-done by are in progress.

A view of Davos. Photo: Prateek Keshari

And that is the world’s uber-wealthy, who often look forward to a winter at Davos in Switzerland to rub shoulders with other movers and shakers, and talk about how the world’s economy can be improved. Not only will they have to postpone their winter outing with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to be held in May, but now it is to be moved to the city state of Singapore.

Welcome to Davos

The annual gathering of the world’s political, economic and business elite traditionally takes place in January against the idyllic snowy backdrop of the Alpine village of Davos — well, more of a town really, with a population of just over 11,000 people, when its not packed to the gills for the forum.

“The Davos Agenda is a pioneering mobilization of global leaders to shape the principles, policies and partnerships needed in this challenging new context. It is essential for leaders from all walks of life to work together virtually for a more inclusive, cohesive and sustainable future as soon as possible in 2021” says the WEF on its site.

It had already been reported that Davos would be postponed due to the virus, and moved to elsewhere in Swizterland (Lucerne). But now, the news is that it is to shifted completely to Singapore in May.

The World Economic Forum is committed to improving the state of the world

These are the people who are so concerned about climate change, that they take time out of their busy schedules to fly in their own jets to Davos, the snowy, picturesque village nestled in the Swiss Alps.

DAngela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany speaks during the session ‘Revitalizing Global Trade’ at the Annual Meeting 2011 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 28, 2011.

Last year’s participants included US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angel Merkel and 51 other heads of state. Others included US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and even Greta Thunberg – the teenage environment activist, who managed to get there without using a private jet.

Bill Gates talks during the session ‘The Global Development Outlook’ at the Annual Meeting 2013 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2013.

The forum is growing from strength to strength, and past attendees have included the likes of Bill Gates, Prince William, George Soros, former Alibaba chairman Jack Ma, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, and Marc Benioff, the billionaire internet entrepreneur and founder of Salesforce.

Outside of business and politics, Davos also attracts people like global pop star Shakira, Prince Charles and his son Prince William and actors like Forest Whitaker and Matt Damon, and even sports stars like Pele.

Pele speaks at Davos

Attendance is by special invitation only. And Davos is locked off to anyone who might want to come in and have a gander.

“The change in location reflects the Forum’s priority of safeguarding the health and safety of participants and the host community,” the WEF said in a statement.

An airplane flies over Singapore. Photo: Jason Goh

“The Special Annual Meeting 2021 in Singapore will be the first global leadership event to address worldwide recovery from the pandemic,” the statement said.

“This in-person meeting will bring together leaders to focus on shaping solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Singapore Photo: Graham Hobster

How the WEF will be able to replicate the look and feel of the rural feeling Alpine village in a tropical metropilis of 4 million people remains to be seen. Or even if it will be able to attract anyone of note at a time when people are still in the middle of the pandemic for that matter.

But, its not like they haven’t done it before, as its not actually the first time that the WEF has changed the venue from Davos. The last time was in 2002 in the aftermath of another world-changing event, after the 9/11 bombings, when the WEF moved the meeting to New York City,

A view of Singapore. Photo: Lily Banse

Meanwhile, announcement or not, no one seems to have told the official Davos web site, which has still says that the 2021 meeting will taking place on January 25, and has a clock counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until it starts. Very Swiss in one way, if only it wasn’t completely wrong.

But not to worry., the uber-wealthy won’t have to sweat it out in Singapore for long. As long as they can wait a bit, everything should be fine, as the WEF says it will return to Davos in 2022.

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