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Global powerbrokers told to lose ties
( 2004-01-22 10:42) (Agencies)

How to solve the knotty problem of making the World Economic Forum less stuffy? Easy tell the world's movers and shakers in attendance to lose their neckties.

A delegate to the World Economic Forum in Davos takes off his tie at the entrance of the congress center in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2004. Each visitor entering the annual meeting 2004 with a tie will have to give five Swiss francs, US$4 to the U.N. Children's Fund, UNICEF. [AP]
"We think it should be more relaxed, more informal," said forum spokesman Michel Ogrizek. "Why don't we just be normal human beings and just discuss together?"

For those who missed the announcement in documents sent ahead of time, a large poster at the entrance to the Congress Center on Wednesday's opening day showed a necktie surrounded by a circle with a slash through it.

The threat of a fine of US$4 to be donated to the U.N. Children's Fund prompted many sheepish men to remove the fashion accessory right away.

"It's fine with me. I appreciate it," said Janis Karklins, Latvia's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, who stuffed his tie in a jacket pocket.

Others were already prepared, dressing in stylish turtlenecks.

Many, however, wouldn't alter their standard attire, especially politicians such as British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Ogrizek said even forum founder Klaus Schwab needed a tie, for "protocol reasons," to introduce Wednesday's keynote speaker, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. The Iranian president wore his standard collarless shirt with a clerical robe and of course, no tie.

ChevronTexaco Chairman David O'Reilly insisted he hadn't seen the sign as he chatted with Carlton Augustus Masters, an aide to Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. Both wore yellow ties.

"This is the way I dress normally," Masters said, denying he was making a fashion statement. "I can be informal and formal in this."

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