Celebrities including Elton John and George Clooney have called on companies to boycott the hotels after Brunei brought in laws earlier this month that make gay sex and adultery punishable by stoning.
Dealing with Riyadh
Gay sex is a crime in 72 countries, according to Amnesty International, and punishable by death in eight of them including Iran and Saudi Arabia. Many of those laws have been on the books for decades.
The head of JPMorgan’s investment bank, Daniel Pinto, appeared on stage at a finance conference in Riyadh last week. The government of Saudi Arabia is trying to reassure foreign investors following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October. It needs investment and expertise for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to diversify the economy away from oil over the next decade.
Brunei also depends on oil revenue for its wealth. But the country of 450,000 people is much smaller than Saudi Arabia and offers far fewer opportunities for global banks and businesses.
The Dorchester Collection, which operates the hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei, said earlier this month that “we do not tolerate any form of discrimination, we never have and we never will.”
“We understand people’s anger and frustration but this is a political and religious issue that we don’t believe should be played out in our hotels and amongst our 3,630 employees,” it said in a statement.
Chris Liakos and Zahraa Alkhalisi contributed reporting.