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Jimmy Wales to chair World Economic Forum on the Middle East

Alongside the Duke of York

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Jimmy Wales is set to co-chair the annual World Economic Forum on the Middle East, an event billed as "the foremost global gathering of political, business and cultural leaders."

The Wikipedia co-founder will chair the event alongside Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, chairman of Bahrain's Ithmaar Bank; Mohammed Alshaya, executive chairman of the Kuwait conglomerate The Alshaya Group; and His Royal Highness The Duke of York, Britain's special representative for international trade and investment.

According to the World Economic Forum, Wales was tapped for the mid-May conference because of his impeccable leadership skills. "Co-chairs for our meetings are chosen for the contribution they have made and continue to make globally, regionally or within their industry," Mark Adams told us via email from the Forum's Geneva headquarters. "The Forum tries to identify leaders - the majority from business - but also politics and thought leadership - who are recognized for the work they have done and the leadership they have offered in their field."

But his participation in the World Economic Forum on the Middle East does not indicate Jimmy Wales is prepared to discuss Middle East economic issues. "The meeting is taking place in the Middle East - but the idea is to bring the region out to the world and the world into the region," Adams continued. "In other words, his expertise in terms of business, knowledge etc. is the important thing here, not necessarily any knowledge of the region - which he may or may not have."

He also said this: "At present the gossip and allegations directed towards Mr. Wales remain just that - gossip and allegation - and as such, the Forum has no comment to make."

But we didn't ask about gossip or allegations. Presumably, the Forum is referring to the Willypedia Affair. And the questions over the way Wales handled funds belonging to the Wikimedia Foundation, the charitable organization that runs Wikipedia. And the strange case of the big-name venture capitalist who befriended Wales before donating large amounts of money to the Foundation.

Of course, that last bit may be an example of Jimbo's "expertise in terms of business."

Meanwhile, The Reg has decided that a Jimmy Wales April Fools story is no match for the real thing. ®

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