Hundreds of CEOs and finance moguls are expected in Riyadh from Tuesday for a Davos-style investment conference that analysts say will highlight Saudi Arabia’s geopolitical muscle despite strained ties with the US. The Future Investment Initiative (FII) was launched in 2017 as an economic coming-out party for the world’s largest crude exporter, which is trying to diversify away from oil under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The following year’s edition, however, was largely overshadowed by the killing several weeks prior of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and many would-be delegates from outside the region stayed away. Attendance picked up in 2019, even if some executives sought to fly under the radar, flipping their name cards behind their coats or hiding them behind their ties, underscoring fears of a reputational cost for doing business in the kingdom. This year’s FII, often referred to as “Davos in the Desert”, comes after a months-long process of re-engagement with the West by Prince Mohammed, who US intelligence agents determined approved the operation against Khashoggi — a charge Riyadh denies. The kingdom’s de facto ruler has received visits this year from then-UK prime minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and even US President Joe Biden, who had previously vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah”. The meetings underline the kingdom’s growing clout amid an energy crisis resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.