Davos WEF
Davos WEF

Here are 7 things you might not know about Davos

This is the famous town Davos in Switzerland in winter.
assalve | E+ | Getty Images

Thousands of political, business and cultural leaders are attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss Alpine town of Davos this week.

The January get-together is seen as an opportunity for international heads of state to come together to try to put the world to rights.

But, what is it exactly, why does it matter and how does the event keep its elite guestlist coming back year-after-year?


Everyone calls it Davos, but the Swiss mountain village has become shorthand for the World Economic Forum.

The name of the luxury ski resort carries a global weight of significance too, with several other rival conferences seeking to capitalize on its prestige.

Established almost half-a-century ago, WEF says its overarching goal is to engage "the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas."

A security guard show the way to a man outside of the Davos Congress Centre under snow ahead of the opening of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting, in Davos, eastern Switzerland.

Electric golf carts

Why would you walk more than 50 meters when you can hitch a free ride in an electric golf cart instead?

Well, snow-covered and icy walkways might be enough to tempt some to make the most of the free transport. And a handful of golf carts are available to ferry participants from the Congress Center to the Media Village throughout the day.

Participants of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting travel on a golf buggy next to the Congress Center in Davos on January 20, 2015.

Bobble hats

Moving around the luxury ski resort means braving freezing temperatures and snowy weather, so a bobble hat can be particularly useful.

Zurich Insurance provides a seemingly endless amount of knitted blue hats in a hole in the wall and they are incredibly popular. That's despite a large portion of attendees earning hundreds of thousands or even millions every year.

Participants at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland grab a Zurich Insurance knitted bobble hat from a hole in the wall on Monday, 21st of January, 2019.

Strict security

Security is conspicuous in Davos.

Soldiers and snipers can be seen patrolling the streets and security checks take place throughout the town — on its transport routes, outside its hotels and at the Forum's venues, most prominently, within the main Congress Center itself.

Armed security personnel stand guard on the rooftop of a hotel in Davos, Switzerland.
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

Sound-sensitive shirts

In addition to numerous discussions on the latest global issues, Davos hosts several innovative workshops.

One such workshop translates the experience of listening to a symphony orchestra into a physical and sensory sensation.

The so-called "SoundShirt" has 16 sensors corresponding to each section of the orchestra embedded into a specially designed shirt. When activated, it becomes a tactile sensation.

The project, designed and supported by CuteCircuit, is designed to share the experience of listening to music for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Karina Canellakis leading the Juilliard Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall on Thursday night, May 22, 2014.
Hiroyuki Ito | Getty Images

Colour-coded passes

The access all areas badge for the Forum's most high-profile guests is white with a hologram on it. That's what will get you into exclusive backroom meetings with the likes of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

But, not everyone is so lucky.

There are different colored badges for journalists, hotel staff and participants' spouses, all offering various levels of access.

Kasper Rorsted, chief executive officer of Adidas AG, speaks on his mobile phone inside the Congress Center ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg via Getty Images

How to live like a tree

If the reality of Davos is proving too much to bear, those at the event can sign up to experience a virtual reality (VR) workshop designed to show you what it would be like to live life as a tree.

With a virtual reality headset, users will see their arms transformed into branches and their body become the trunk of the tree.

The multi-sensory experience aims to show people's relationship with the natural world. The 15-minute VR experience was created by film directors Milica Zec and Winslow Porter.

A participant at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland takes part in the 'How to live like a tree' workshop on Monday 21st January, 2019. The virtual reality multi-sensory experience is designed to show people's relationship with the natural world.