15 February 2008

We regret to inform you that Davos these days is not like Davos those days. Somehow, it is not the same feeling. It must be in the newly shuffled snow or just in the winds of change. This year, the theme was on "innovative" proposals, as indicated in the literature; or about poverty as explained by the world's richest man. There were the usual dedicated, very well organized staff with their magnificent electronic machines. Politicians and businessmen/women were also there, just in case an opportunity could be seized. The usual strict separating hotels were applied (unless you managed to accompany a beautiful woman to an older man gathering). The competitive German ski team was also up there early in the morning. Journalists were fed gourmet food and offered to taste irresistible wine.

However, not a single topic seemed to make a hit. Not a single personality, however important, seemed to make an impression. Not a single event could be vividly remembered. It's a long time since Mikhail Gorbachev came to connect with key leaders of a new world; he is now selling Louis Vitton luggage with the Berlin Wall as a backdrop. In an ever-changing world and communications technology, world leaders, movers and shakers may not be keen anymore on spending five days in a ski spot. The sight of a gorgeous model lecturing on the state of the world may be amusing once, twice, but no more. Businessmen, after a while, mean business. Politicians, except those from the Middle East with ample time on their hands, seek to make a pitch to those who matter. Saying "hello" profusely to strangers in varied innovative outfits may be an interesting experience, but where's the "beuf"?

It seems like the world is changing quicker than the place. But it looks like there is a certain Davos Fatigue. Perhaps it is something that a good spring and summer air will help refresh. Perhaps it is starting to make a dent. Perhaps it is time for the Professor to go back to the drawing board.