Uber CEO receives backlash over Saudi Arabia Comments and #BoycottUber trends on Twitter
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Uber CEO receives backlash over Saudi Arabia Comments and #BoycottUber trends on Twitter

In an interview with Axios, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that the murder of the journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia was a “serious mistake.” He then compared the incident to the death caused by Uber’s self-driving car. He further added that “people make mistakes, it doesn’t mean that they can never be forgiven.”

The statement was said in response to being questioned over his company’s continuing relationship with the government of Saudi Arabia, which the CIA concluded last year ordered the killing of Khashoggi, who fled the country in 2017. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is the fifth-largest shareholder in Uber, and the head of the wealth fund, Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, is a member of Uber’s board. In the interview Khosrowshahi also praised Al-Rumayyan as a “very constructive board member” and said he valued his input “greatly.”

Khosrowshahi’s statement was met with a lot of backlash from people and #BoycottUber was also trending on Twitter. After the backlash, the CEO backtracked his statement, telling Axios after the interview had ended that he had misspoken. The CEO said in a statement, “I said something in the moment that I do not believe. When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused.”

He later said in a tweet, “There’s no forgiving or forgetting what happened to Jamal Khashoggi & I was wrong to call it a “mistake.” As I told @danprimack after our interview, I said something in the moment I don’t believe. Our investors have long known my views here & I’m sorry I wasn’t as clear on Axios”