Conspiracists link Titan sub victim to World Economic Forum job

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on June 23, 2023 at 22:57
  • 2 min read
  • By Natalie WADE, AFP USA
Social media posts claim Shahzada Dawood, a passenger who died when a submersible craft imploded near the wreck of the Titanic in June 2023, was vice chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF). This is false; although he had some ties to the Geneva-based group, Dawood never held a leadership position.

"He is part of the World Economic Forum -- also the Vice Chairman of the World Economic Forum," says a man in a June 21, 2023 TikTok video, pointing to Dawood's profile on the WEF website. "What is the coincidence of him being stranded at sea, to see the Titanic?"

Screenshot of a TikTok post taken June 23, 2023

Similar posts circulated across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

The British-Pakistani billionaire and his son, Suleman, were both on the OceanGate Titan submersible that went missing June 18 during an expedition to the Titanic wreck. All passengers are presumed dead following a "catastrophic implosion" of the vessel, the US Coast Guard said June 22.

Intrigue about the submersible's disappearance and its wealthy occupants has inspired misinformation, including conspiracy theories about the Titanic disaster itself. The latest claims misrepresent Dawood's involvement with the WEF, an international organization that lobbies politicians, businesses and cultural groups, and is a frequent target of misinformation.

AFP found no mention of Dawood on the WEF's leadership page (archived here), which lists its chairman, board and executive committee members.

Although he has a profile on the WEF website (archived here), he did not work for the organization in an official capacity. The bio says he was vice chairman of Engro Corporation, a Pakistani holding company and business conglomerate that works in several agriculture and energy-related industries.

Screenshot of the WEF website taken June 23, 2023, with details highlighted by AFP

However, the Engro Corporation is a partner of the WEF. And in 2012, the organization selected Dawood as a Young Global Leader, according to The New York Times.

The businessman also served as a trustee on the boards of the Engro Foundation, the Dawood Foundation and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute.

AFP has previously debunked other false and misleading claims about the WEF here, here and here.

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