Leaders at G20 meeting face dose of virtual reality

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Issued on: 21/11/2020 – 16:50Modified: 21/11/2020 – 16:49

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Riyadh (AFP)
“The whole world is watching” a voice off-screen told Saudi Arabia’s King Salman as he opened the annual G20 summit, in what might be 2020’s highest-stakes video call.The virtual “gathering” of the Group of 20 rich nations seeks to tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic and the faltering global economy — but in a scaled-down format and without the behind-the-scenes interactions that are the lifeblood of global diplomacy.Here are the five things to know:- Face time -The virtual summit — Plan B when coronavirus made a physical meeting impossible — deprived Saudi Arabia of the chance to invite the world to the grand coming-out party it had hoped for after a whirlwind period of change.De facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who became heir to the throne in 2017, has up-ended the ultra-conservative kingdom — revamping the economy, allowing mixed-gender events, and extending greater freedoms for women, including the right to drive.But instead, the lead-up to the summit has brought negative headlines, including the detention of opponents in an ongoing crackdown. “The G20 this year will be a disappointing one overall for Saudi Arabia, as a virtual …

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