Every day this week has brought a new, fleeting reminder to executives and politicians at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting of the two wars that threaten global security and cloud the economy. The president of Ukraine spoke on Tuesday. Israel spoke on Thursday.

Neither could capture the collective attention of a meeting that this year has focused overwhelmingly on artificial intelligence and populist politics.

Gaza and Ukraine have appeared daily on the public agenda in Davos, along with climate change and economic inequality. But in the hot hallways and muddy streets of the city, conversations almost inevitably turn to the two accelerating trends that are destabilizing business models and democracies.

Everyone wants to talk about how AI and this year’s elections, especially in the United States, could shake up the world. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Hamas-led October 7 attacks on Israel, or the subsequent Israeli bombing of Gaza? Drowned in comparison.

“No one is talking about Israel,” said Rachel Goldberg, who came to Davos to urge action to free the more than 100 hostages who were taken on Oct. 7 and continue to be held by Hamas, including her 23-year-old son. years. , Hersh.

In an interview Wednesday, Goldberg said he wasn’t surprised the war had taken a backseat here. “I think it’s complicated,” she said. “And I think it’s very polarizing.”

Davos is many overlapping things. It is a source of rich idealism, where the phrase “committed to improving the state of the world” frequently adorns the walls of the main meetinghouse.

The forum is a networking event where CEOs, world leaders, celebrities, philanthropists and journalists speed date over half-hour coffee meetings. It’s a trade show for big ideas, with overlapping panel discussions on topics including gender equality, media misinformation and the transition to green energy.

It is also a place for senior government officials to speak about serious issues, including war. That’s where much of the debate over Gaza and Ukraine took place this week.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine called for international help, but not more weapons, in a packed speech Tuesday before hundreds of people. Later he also answered questions from journalists.

Without more help from the United States and others, Zelensky said, “a huge crisis will occur.” And he added: “Now we have a war and we will have a huge crisis, a crisis for all of Europe.”

Several leaders spoke about Gaza and the broader conflict it has spawned in the Middle East, although generally to smaller crowds. On Wednesday, in a room with about 60 attendees, Mohammad Mustafa, president of the Palestine Investment Fund and former deputy prime minister of Palestine, called for additional international aid for the people of Gaza and an end to the war.

“Military action has to stop very quickly,” Mustafa said. “There is no need for anyone to build their political career at the expense of more Palestinians.”

Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Iran’s foreign minister, blamed Israel for increasing tensions in the Middle East in recent months. “If the genocide in Gaza stops, it will lead to the end of other crises and attacks in the region,” he said.

In his speech Thursday, President Isaac Herzog of Israel called Iran the center of an “evil empire” destabilizing the Middle East and showed a photograph of Kfir Bibas, a one-year-old boy held in Gaza. “We have a very cruel and sadistic enemy who has made the decision to try to torture the Israeli national psyche, as well as the hostages themselves,” Herzog said.

But those speeches rarely dominated conversations on the sidelines of the event, at late-night private dinners after the day’s agenda concluded, or in most of the storefronts that major corporations paid to transform into branded event spaces throughout the year. main promenade of the city.

One possible explanation: Aides and leaders here don’t see any of the wars as a significant threat right now to the global economy. Neither Gaza nor Ukraine were among the top 10 short-term concerns in the Global Risk Report – a survey of 1,500 world leaders – that the forum published on the eve of the meeting. A world economic forum chief economists report Data released this week suggested growth forecasts for the Middle East had “weakened slightly” amid uncertainties over the war between Israel and Hamas. He did not mention Ukraine.

In private talks in Davos this week, corporate leaders acknowledged the wars in Gaza and Ukraine as one of many concerns. But they became much more animated about other issues that they said they expected would affect their businesses in the short term, potentially greatly, for better or worse.

AI topped that list. In interviews, executives discussed, generally with great enthusiasm, the benefits and drawbacks of the technology. They also talked politics, exhaustively. Over dinner, they and other attendees debated whether former President Donald J. Trump would retake the White House in November and how his populist, protectionist policies could disrupt markets and disrupt his business models.

Some executives explicitly ranked Gaza and Ukraine lower than the U.S. elections on their list of geopolitical concerns.

Many attendees lamented that there was not more energy behind discussions about the war, or recognition of the risks that wars pose to the economy and global security. Last year, concerns about Ukraine shared the spotlight at the meeting, along with a surge of interest in AI.

This year, “everyone is focused on other issues,” Pascal Cagni, France’s ambassador for international exports, said in an interview. Economically and politically, he added, Ukraine is “a critical issue.”

There were some exceptions. Ukraine supporters opened their own space on the main promenade and organized several events each day to draw attention to the conflict. The technology company Palantir and its CEO, Alex Karp, hosted Ms. Goldberg and other hostage parents for events and interviews.

Several governments sent leaders to Davos in an attempt to quietly advance secondary diplomacy in Ukraine or Gaza. This was true of the Biden administration, which sent Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, to Davos for a series of meetings focused on Gaza.

In an interview Wednesday, Goldberg said she was grateful for all the efforts to bring her son and the other hostages home. She had the number “103” taped to her sweater, which represented the number of days since her son was taken.

In Davos, Ms. Goldberg shared a house with other parents of hostages. “I came out this morning and here, you know, you have these beautiful views and beautiful mountains,” she said. She said she had turned to another mother and said, “It’s so beautiful. “It’s perverse.”

But she added a moment later: “I’m so grateful to be here. Because I have access to people I would never have access to. And the goal is to save Hersh’s life and the lives of everyone there. I can only do this if we have access to people who have power. And those are the people who are here.”

The report was contributed by Jordyn Holman, Michael J. de la Merced, Marc Lacey and Matthew Mpoke Bigg.