The rich and famous visit Davos

The rich and famous visit Davos
Davos, Switzerland
Justin Solomon | CNBC

Many of the world's most influential business leaders, politicians and celebrities are set to descend on the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos next week, where the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum has been held since 1971.

There will be over 40 heads of state and government, as well as 2,500 business leaders at this year's event, according to the official program.

The forum has also drawn its fair share of celebrities over recent years; in 2014, Oscar-winner Matt Damon and global rockstar Bono both made an appearance.

This year proves to be no different, with famous faces expected from the world of politics, sports, film and technology.

Click ahead for a who's who of the rich and famous expected at 2015's Davos.

By CNBC's Matt Clinch on January 16, 2015

Pharrell Williams
Peter Kramer | NBC/NBC NewsWire | Getty Images

As a singer-songwriter, rapper, producer and fashion designer, Pharrell has struck gold over the last two years with a string of knockout hits.

He's now devoting attention to Bionic Yarn, a company that transforms recycled fibers into durable textiles. Pharrell is creative director and brand ambassador at the firm and says he is "happy" to join the policymakers and business leaders at this year's event.

Bill Gates
Vincenzo Pinto | AFP | Getty Images

Back for another year, Microsoft founder Bill Gates spoke with an optimistic tone at last year's event. Gates predicted that by 2035, there would be almost no poor countries left in the world, even after adjusting for inflation.

In his annual outlook released the day before last year's event, he said: "Poor countries are not doomed to stay poor. Some of the so-called developing nations have already developed."

Gates stepped aside as chairman of the board at Microsoft last February but remains in an advisory role to the company. His full-time gig is with his charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Angela Merkel
John MacDougall | AFP | Getty Images

Gripped by dwindling growth and deflation, the euro zone economy is one of the major economic talking points for 2015. The German Chancellor will be joined at this year's event by Matteo Renzi, the prime minister of Italy. Both will await the European Central Bank's latest policy decision which is due on the Thursday of Davos week.

George Soros
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

Now 84, billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros made the trek to Davos last year, giving his views on Russian President Vladimir Putin before the conflict in eastern Ukraine had even begun.

He told CNBC that Putin was becoming, "more regressive at home and more aggressive abroad."

Last week, he urged European officials to urgently boost their efforts to support the Ukrainian economy to contend with the threat posed by Russia to the European economy.

Larry Summers
former U.S. treasury secretary Lawrence 'Larry' Summers,
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg |Getty Images

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers will be back talking on his "secular stagnation" thesis on the global economy.

Last year at Davos, Summers clashed with U.K. Finance Minister George Osborne at a CNBC-hosted panel. He told Osborne that he missed a trick on stimulating the U.K. economy, although the politician argued that Summers had got it wrong when he warned that U.K. austerity would not work.

Eric Schmidt
Pierre Verdy | AFP | Getty Images

Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, is also making the trip to the alpine resort. Heavy on technology faces this year, Davos will be welcoming Schmidt as well Yahoo's Marissa Mayer and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg.

Last year at the event, Schmidt told CNBC that former NSA analyst Edward Snowden should be credited for starting a debate about privacy versus security.

He also insisted that his company knew nothing about the National Security Agency's surveillance activities.

Li Keqiang
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks during a session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Tianjin, China.
Kim Kyung-Hoon | AFP | Getty Images

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will be one of the major draws at this year's event.

China is struggling to come to terms with the end of double-digit growth and its central bank is trying to facilitate a smooth transition for the world's second-largest economy. Economists and market-watchers are focusing closely on how this will play out and China's growth remains one of the world's biggest global economic stories.

Christine Lagarde
Eric Piermont | AFP | Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) managing director is a regular attendee at Davos and will take the stage at a number of seminars.

The IMF is currently negotiating an international bailout with Ukraine and has warned that world growth is "weak and uneven."

Jack Ma
Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The Alibaba founder will be telling audience members about his vision on how digitization is transforming the way people buy, sell and communicate.

The company's historic initial public offering took place last year, but Ma told CNBC in November that it was contributing to his stress levels. He said that he was tired, and didn't like being rich.

Andrea Bocelli
Allen Berezovsky | WireImage | Getty Images

The tenor singer is the founder of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, which helps people in need due to "illness, disability, poverty and social exclusion."

Bocelli will be hosting a seminar on technological breakthroughs that will enable blind people to live more independently.

Angelique Kidjo
Education Images/UIG | Getty Images

Angelique Kidjo is a Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter from Benin and also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She'll be picking up a Crystal Award at the event, which honors artists whose contributions improve the state of the world.

Marissa Mayer
Yahoo's chief executive, Marissa Mayer, speaks at the 2014 Cannes Lions in June in Cannes, France.
Didier Baverel | Getty Images

Marissa Mayer, chief executive of Yahoo, is back in Davos. Last year she predicted that 2014 would be a "tipping point" for the evolution of the Internet.

"Really fundamental things are happening," she said in a debate in 2014. "When you look at mobile, when you look at the bandwidth, when you look at the Internet of Things, it's going to change everyone's daily routines really fundamentally."

Will.i.am
Will.I.Am
Source: Will.i.am | Facebook

Entertainer and Beats founding-shareholder William Adams, better known as Will.i.am, will take the long trip up the Swiss mountains.

He'll be there on behalf of his I.Am.Angel Foundation, which aims to "transform lives through education, inspiration and opportunity," according to its website.

Jamie Dimon
Eric Piermont | AFP | Getty Images

Another Davos regular, the JPMorgan CEO will arrive at Davos a week after the bank posted its latest earnings report. The company was hit by legal costs, it said, with Dimon saying that banks were "under assault."

"We have five or six regulators coming at us on every issue," Dimon said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, responding to a question about the bank's legal costs.

"Obviously companies make mistakes. We try to resolve it, we try to fix it, we admit it," he said.


Peter Gabriel
BEN STANSALL | AFP | Getty Images

Progressive rock legend Peter Gabriel was the flutist and singer in English band Genesis. He rose to global fame with his 1986 hit "Sledgehammer."

Gabriel is at Davos representing his company Real World, which is devoted to music recording and publishing.