Thick blue line
The most striking thing about arriving at Davos on the Hudson, as a radio programme in my car from JFK called it, is the extraordinary security. New York’s finest are piling up overtime for the next decade on the basis of the Forum.
Even though I was in an official Forum car (thanks to one of my travelling companions, I hasten to add), our car was searched by a sniffer dog, the undercarriage was scanned and the hood was opened to have a look to see if the engine had been tampered with.
When we successfully negotiated that hurdle, more sniffer dogs and metal detectors awaited at the Waldorf-Astoria, the home for the meeting.
But these were as nothing compared with the police presence for pedestrians. I went to the Burda Media reception tonight, and on the walk back to the hotel, I counted 70 police on one streetcorner, augmented by a further 42 on the next corner.
What’s nice — and is not the case with the Polizei in Davos (and I don’t think it’s just a language issue) — is that the security is friendly and talkative. So, too, in the Waldorf, where the staff seem genuinely delighted to be overwhelmed by the crowds for the Forum.
I wonder, however, how this large, visible security presence will play on television and for the Forum’s opponents. Together with counting the police (and I have heard that there are several thousand mobilised for the event), I chalked up 37 television and radio broadcast vans along Park Avenue.
One of the talking points tonight has been a rather strange communication we received on check-in. It seems that on Saturday — likely to be the peak day of the Forum — the main lobby area of the Waldorf is off limits because of a wedding that is expected to run from the afternoon until 4am. I’m sure this was booked long before the Forum decided to show up, but it’s a bizarre intrusion into what is seeming a rather hermetic experience.