Why Davos of all places? | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 20.01.2014
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Why Davos of all places?

Once a year, Davos in Switzerland turns into a pilgrimage site for business journalists, who put up in ski huts and mountain lodges. Here is what DW's Manuela Kasper-Claridge makes of Davos, despite the cold.

All sorts of bread and cheese specialties – the Schneider café has something for every tourist's taste. But the many journalists trying to secure a seat at one of the wooden tables in here are really looking for a place to work at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, because these are pretty rare this time of year.

The press center is huge, but there's not enough room to swing a cat. Some media people are sitting on the cold floor, working their laptops at lightning speed.

Davos inundated with snow

Beautiful, but cold: Davos in January

It's a long way to go to the congress center where most events take place. It's freezing cold outside.

If you're lucky, you get a seat in one of the golf cart shuttles. Behind the wheel of those cars are young Swiss, American or French drivers.

Inside the conference center you see ministers or central bank chiefs looking for a suitable place for a two-way. TV crews can also be found catching a glimpse of the beauty so much in evidence in this winter sports mecca. Some crews get the footage they want from the rooftop of the conference center.

Freezing presidents

Last year, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, was seen freezing for 20 minutes, while waiting for an interview. The link had not yet been established, and Schulz cracked some jokes trying to keep warm, while anchormen nearby were reporting about the WEF for their audiences in the US and Mexico.

Meeting at the security check

The mammoth event in the mountain venue is nothing short of a logistical nightmare. No one has counted the number of cables needed, or the number of satellite dishes and Internet connections to be established. But it all seems to work out fine in the end, just as the security checks do.

DW's biz department leader Manuela Kasper-Claridge

DW's Manuela Kasper-Claridge knows her way around the forum

Checkpoints have been set up a long way from the congress center. Only accredited people stand a chance of getting anywhere near the conference venue.

And then it's warm clothes off have the security people check you. It's a deeply democratic procedure. Waiting in line for the checks are investment bankers, the chief of Amnesty International or some Russian oligarchs, and no one can jump the line. And no one's got a bodyguard either as they are not accredited.

1960s feel and luxury prices

The Swiss military has cordoned off Davos anyway. The locals don't make a big fuss about it. And there's something in it for them, too, as they're able to make a killing even by renting out the most modest single-room apartment. And those getting the rooms in question are lucky just because hotel vacancies are few and far between.

Many participants in the forum have to go to neighboring villages for a place to sleep, and then they have to put up with a long trip and even more checkpoints to make it back to the conference center. Cab rides are not exactly cheap, either, and drivers can ask for anything, given the demand.

Drinking tea with Bill Clinton

Log of the 2103 WEF meeting in Davos

Davos locals stand to profit from the influx of WEF participants

So why does everyone come back here at all? Well, it's the remoteness of this place that makes it so fascinating, to start off with. And nowhere else would one be able to meet so many prominent business leaders, policy makers, bankers and NGO representatives.

That's why we all flock to the Schneider café each year and meet, say, Bill Clinton who sips his tea there, or say 'hello' to Tony Blair, or the president of Colombia.

Conversations are usually brief, but intensive. Work goes on around the clock, as there always is a "prime time" somewhere on the globe.

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