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Host Saudi warns of economic fallout from Gaza war at global summit

Hosting international events such as the WEF meeting allows the kingdom to showcase social changes including the reintroduction of cinemas and the lifting of a ban on women driving.

Gaza 1RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Sunday called for regional “stability”, warning of the effects of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war on global economic sentiment at the start of a summit attended by a host of Gaza mediators.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Palestinian leaders and high-ranking officials from other countries trying to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are on the guest list for the summit in Riyadh, capital of the world’s biggest crude oil exporter.

The Gaza war along with conflicts in Ukraine and elsewhere put “a lot of pressure” on the economic “mood”, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said at one of the first panel discussions of the two-day World Economic Forum (WEF) special meeting.

“I think cool-headed countries and leaders and people need to prevail, and you need to make sure that you actually de-escalate,” Jadaan said.

“The region needs stability.”

The war in Gaza, which has sent regional tensions soaring, began with an unprecedented attack on southern Israel by Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7.

The attack resulted in the deaths of about 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel estimates that 129 hostages seized by militants on October 7 are still being held in Gaza, including 34 the military says are dead.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,388 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry.

“The world is today walking a tightrope right now, trying to balance security and prosperity,” Saudi planning minister Faisal al-Ibrahim told a press conference on Saturday previewing the summit.

“We meet at a moment when one misjudgement or one miscalculation or one miscommunication will further exacerbate our challenges.”

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