'Digital Diplomacy': G20 in a 'Virtual' Riyadh Global Summit

Published November 21st, 2020 - 08:49 GMT

The Saudi G20 Presidency ends on 30 November 2020 while its Leaders’ Summit is held on 21-22 November 2020 in Riyadh. The Presidency hosted more than 100 meetings and conferences, including ministerial meetings, as well as meetings of officials and representatives from civil society.​​​ 

Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and a crippling economic crisis.

World leaders are huddling virtually as international efforts intensify for a large-scale roll out of coronavirus vaccines after a breakthrough in trials, and as calls grow for G20 nations to plug funding shortfalls.

Amid a raging pandemic, the summit, which is usually an opportunity for one-on-one engagements between world leaders, is reduced to brief online sessions of what some observers call "digital diplomacy".

G20 nations have contributed more than $21 billion to combat the pandemic, which has infected 56 million people globally and left 1.3 million dead, and injected $11 trillion to "safeguard" the virus-battered world economy, organizers said.

The summit "will seek to strengthen international cooperation to support the global economic recovery," said Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan.
 

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A picture of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

A picture of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

A family photo of G20 Leaders is projected at the historic site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, ahead of G20 virtual summit on November 20, 2020. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

A family photo of G20 Leaders is projected at the historic site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, ahead of G20 virtual summit on November 20, 2020. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

The G20 logo is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

The G20 logo is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

A picture of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

A picture of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

The Saudi national flag flutters at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

The Saudi national flag flutters at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

This picture taken and released by the Vietnam News Agency on November 20, 2020 shows Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (C) in Hanoi, taking part in the virtual meeting between world leaders during the online Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit being held in Kuala Lumpur. STR / Vietnam News Agency / AFP

This picture taken and released by the Vietnam News Agency on November 20, 2020 shows Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (C) in Hanoi, taking part in the virtual meeting between world leaders during the online Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit being held in Kuala Lumpur. STR / Vietnam News Agency / AFP

A Saudi man adjusts his head cover ahead of a meeting of Finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 nations in the Saudi capital Riyadh on November 18, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit Saturday in a first for an Arab nation, but the scaled-down virtual format could limit debate on a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

A Saudi man adjusts his head cover ahead of a meeting of Finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 nations in the Saudi capital Riyadh on November 18, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit Saturday in a first for an Arab nation, but the scaled-down virtual format could limit debate on a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

A screen shows the virtual meeting between world leaders, including US President Donald Trump (bottom R), Russian President Vladimir Putin (bottom L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (L, second row from top), during the online Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in Kuala Lumpur on November 20, 2020. MOHD RASFAN / AFP

A screen shows the virtual meeting between world leaders, including US President Donald Trump (bottom R), Russian President Vladimir Putin (bottom L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (L, second row from top), during the online Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in Kuala Lumpur on November 20, 2020. MOHD RASFAN / AFP

A picture of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
A family photo of G20 Leaders is projected at the historic site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, ahead of G20 virtual summit on November 20, 2020. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
The G20 logo is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
A picture of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
The Saudi national flag flutters at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
This picture taken and released by the Vietnam News Agency on November 20, 2020 shows Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (C) in Hanoi, taking part in the virtual meeting between world leaders during the online Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit being held in Kuala Lumpur. STR / Vietnam News Agency / AFP
A Saudi man adjusts his head cover ahead of a meeting of Finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 nations in the Saudi capital Riyadh on November 18, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit Saturday in a first for an Arab nation, but the scaled-down virtual format could limit debate on a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
A screen shows the virtual meeting between world leaders, including US President Donald Trump (bottom R), Russian President Vladimir Putin (bottom L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (L, second row from top), during the online Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in Kuala Lumpur on November 20, 2020. MOHD RASFAN / AFP
A picture of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
A picture of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
A family photo of G20 Leaders is projected at the historic site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, ahead of G20 virtual summit on November 20, 2020. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
A family photo of G20 Leaders is projected at the historic site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, ahead of G20 virtual summit on November 20, 2020. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
The G20 logo is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
The G20 logo is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
A picture of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
A picture of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
An animation is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
The Saudi national flag flutters at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
The Saudi national flag flutters at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 20, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit on November 21 in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
This picture taken and released by the Vietnam News Agency on November 20, 2020 shows Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (C) in Hanoi, taking part in the virtual meeting between world leaders during the online Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit being held in Kuala Lumpur. STR / Vietnam News Agency / AFP
This picture taken and released by the Vietnam News Agency on November 20, 2020 shows Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (C) in Hanoi, taking part in the virtual meeting between world leaders during the online Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit being held in Kuala Lumpur. STR / Vietnam News Agency / AFP
A Saudi man adjusts his head cover ahead of a meeting of Finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 nations in the Saudi capital Riyadh on November 18, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit Saturday in a first for an Arab nation, but the scaled-down virtual format could limit debate on a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
A Saudi man adjusts his head cover ahead of a meeting of Finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 nations in the Saudi capital Riyadh on November 18, 2020. Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit Saturday in a first for an Arab nation, but the scaled-down virtual format could limit debate on a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and crippling economic crisis. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
A screen shows the virtual meeting between world leaders, including US President Donald Trump (bottom R), Russian President Vladimir Putin (bottom L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (L, second row from top), during the online Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in Kuala Lumpur on November 20, 2020. MOHD RASFAN / AFP
A screen shows the virtual meeting between world leaders, including US President Donald Trump (bottom R), Russian President Vladimir Putin (bottom L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (L, second row from top), during the online Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in Kuala Lumpur on November 20, 2020. MOHD RASFAN / AFP