Singapore is hosting top executives of big global companies this week at a host of conferences, marking its gradual return to normalcy.

The Milken Institute’s annual Asia Summit, run by billionaire Michael Milken’s think tank, the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, and an event by sovereign wealth fund GIC attracted hundreds of executives vaccinated against COVID-19.

Participants were allowed entry only after clearing swab tests and were required to wear masks and comply with strict safe distancing measures, though enjoyed relatively more freedom than the country’s general population in terms of eating together.

The resumption of on-site events in the Southeast Asian hub comes as Singapore is allowing quarantine free travel to at least a dozen countries including Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States.

On Wednesday, UBS inaugurated the Swiss bank’s largest office in Asia, an event attended by its chairman chief executive officer and others in the city-state.

“Things develop, things evolve but evolve fast here in Singapore. And even with the kind of semi lockdown situation that we are currently in, if you come here, you still feel the vibe,” UBS CEO Ralf Hammers said.

Top officials from Goldman Sachs, HSBC, NYSE Group, Standard Chartered, Paypal and BNP Paribas spoke at the business events in Singapore, with many likely to be making their first trip to Singapore since authorities imposed restrictions early last year.

The two-day Milken event and an evening event by GIC was attended by about 550 people, including 150 overseas executives. The Bloomberg event had over 300 attendees, with 80% flying in.

Rooms at the plush 112-room Capella hotel in Sentosa island where a one-night stay costs at least $1,600 and which hosted the Bloomberg forum were sold out.

Later this month, Singapore singer JJ Lin performs at a two-day concert that organisers expect to be at near full capacity of about 2,000 people per night, the Straits Times daily said.

Over 100 exhibitors from 12 countries are participating in a food and beverages and supply chain event currently underway, with an international jewellery show and a martial arts event taking place in coming weeks.

Despite all this, compared to Europe, Britain and the United States, Singapore still has tight COVID-19 restrictions, with dining out largely limited to two people and mandatory mask-wearing in public.


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