Saudi Arabia has pulled a planned deal with US-based Virgin Hyperloop One after its chairman Richard Branson said he would freeze ties with the kingdom until more details are known about the disappearance of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Financial Times (FT) report said.
MEED understands that both sides were planning to sign a feasibility study contract during the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference scheduled next week in Riyadh.
According to the FT report, the cancellation was the first concrete retaliation by Riyadh to the wave of western executives deciding not to attend FII, which has previously been referred to as “Davos in the desert.”
Rob Lloyd, Hyperloop’s CEO, and Josh Giegel, its chief technology officer, were planning to attend the conference before Branson issued a statement that he has suspended talks about a $1bn investment in Virgin’s space businesses and over two tourism projects in Saudi Arabia.
Lloyd joined a growing list of Western executives who had cancelled plans to attend FII.
MEED understands there had been no economic loss for Virgin Hyperloop One - which is also backed by Dubai-based DP World - as a result of Saudi Arabia’s decision to pull out from the planned Hyperloop project in the kingdom.
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