Uber
Jamal Khashoggi has not been seen since October 2 (image courtesy AFP)

Bahrain’s foreign minister called for a boycott of the ride-hailing company Uber Technologies after its chief executive officer said he will not attend a business conference in the kingdom’s ally Saudi Arabia.

Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement last week he is pulling out of the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia because of growing outrage over the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist in Turkey.

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Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, which hosts the conference, invested $3.5 billion in Uber in 2016, making it one of the company’s largest investors.

Other companies and high-profile businessmen have pulled out of the three-day conference known as “Davos in the desert,” which is scheduled to begin on Oct. 23 in Riyadh.

 

Foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa tweeted two hashtags calling for a boycott of Uber in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, as well as a broader hashtag urging followers to “boycott anyone who boycotts Saudi Arabia.”

It was unclear if the boycott call was aimed at users of Uber’s service or investors in the company, or both, and whether Bahrain is planning other measures against the company.

Similar campaigns have been trending on social media in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, although there has been no official backing so far.

Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist, disappeared after entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Turkish officials have said Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate, where he went to get documents for his planned marriage. Riyadh has said the claims are baseless.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are Riyadh’s closest Gulf Arab allies and the three countries are working alongside each other in a series of conflicts in Yemen, Qatar and Lebanon to try to counter the influence of arch-rival Iran.