Davos kick starts as IMF warns of global economic slowdown

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The world’s most powerful leaders, thinkers, academics, and businessmen are gathering at the Swiss ski resort Davos this week to attend the yearly World Economic Forum (WEF), which began on Tuesday morning.

Titled “Globalization 4.0”, this year features about 350 sessions centered around various issues including climate change, digitalization and technology that affects the world’s economies.

Meanwhile the IMF said on Monday that the global economy is weakening faster than expected, and the investment climate is being undermined by trade wars and market volatility.

Many of the world’s elite are in attendance, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Duke of Cambridge Prince William as well as Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al-Maktoum and newly elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Of the most notable absences is US President Donald Trump amid a government shutdown, French President Emmanuel Macron who is facing popular protests, and the UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May who is grappling with Brexit talks. Nissan’s ex-chairman Carlos Ghosn was also a regular at the annual event but is absent this year after being held in Tokyo over financial misconduct. Other businessmen who were absent are Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi and British businessman and WPP founder Sir Martin Sorrell.

A total of 3000 people are participating this year, 210 of which are form the Middle East, 50 from Saudi Arabia, 75 from the UAE, nine from Egypt and nine from Bahrain.

Prime ministers of Egypt, Libya, Palestinian Authority and Tunisia are also in attendance, as well as the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia and the finance minister.

According to The Financial Times, the WEF asked its members to rank their worries ahead of this year’s event, and this year’s “worry” list was dominated by climate change concerns.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Hassan Mohamud, who has been a refugee in Kenya for two decades, gave an impassioned plea to the political and business elites gathered in the Swiss ski resort of Davos to do more than pay lip-service to the plight of millions of displaced people.

Mohamud, who is one of the seven co-chairs at this year's World Economic Forum, explained how 185,000 people from ten different nationalities are confined in Kenya's Kakuma camp with very little chance of getting out and making a life for themselves.

Refugee camps, he said, "are not ethical" and "not conducive to human growth."

German Chancellor Angela and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are set to address the gathering on Wednesday.

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