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Davos summit: As leaders arrive, all eyes on Trump’s message

Sheetal Sukhija - Tuesday 23rd January, 2018

DAVOS, Switzerland - At the World Economic Forum, which is set to begin on Tuesday in Davos, Switzerland, over 3,000 of the world’s elites from business, finance, politics and public affairs are expected to attend.

This year, global leaders, including the French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Zimbabwe President Mauricio Macri Emmerson Mnangagwa and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to be in attendance.

And while traditionally, American presidents don’t attend the annual gathering, this year, U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to jet in to Davos.

In contrast to the kind of corrosive “globalism” that Davos allegedly represents, analysts are expecting Trump to outline his customary “America First” theme.

Further, many of the heads of the world’s largest companies are also expected to be in attendance, including Marc Benioff of Salesforce, Carlos Ghosn of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP among others. 

Even Senior leaders of bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, and bosses of national central banks, will be in attendance.

Further, the event each year also witnesses a large prominent celebrity guest list, with Cate Blanchett and Elton John set to be attending this year.

While this year, the official theme for the meeting is “Creating a shared future in a fractured world,” each year discussions revolve around recurrent themes such as inequality, poverty, innovation, technological change, the environment, and corporate social responsibility. 

On Tuesday, the ceremony opened with a special message from Pope Francis that was read out at the opening ceremony. 

The forum was however started with disruptions as the heaviest snowfall in the annual meeting’s 48-year history delayed the arrival of executives at the Swiss resort.

Touting it as the snowiest WEF meeting, WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab declared the summit open. 

Schwab welcomed members from business, politics, academia and media as well as the first timers and said all are here despite such weather as "we are all part of a community.”

The U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to deliver a conference-closing speech on Friday.

Security too has been heightened and Swiss authorities remain braced for large-scale demonstrations in Zurich.

According to authorities, some 4,000 police and troops have been dispatched to the snowy mountains to keep the world’s elite safe.

On Monday, Stephan Bader, a climatologist at the Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology said in a statement, snow depths in Davos reached 5.7 feet, the most for the January 15 to January 25 period since 1951 and the second-highest since records began in 1931. 

Meanwhile, the town was put on the second-highest avalanche warning level on Tuesday by the Davos-based Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research. 

According to the institute, large and easily triggered avalanches were likely in Davos and swathes of surrounding cantons have been put on the highest risk level.

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