Politics

No intention of buying land in Maldives, asserts Saudi embassy

March 11 13:30 2017

The Saudi Arabian government has no intention of investing in a mega project or buying an island or atoll in the Maldives, the Saudi embassy has declared.

Following the opposition’s announcement of a mass protest on March 24 to coincide with the official visit of King Salman, the Saudi embassy in Malé put out a press statement Thursday night dismissing the “widely circulated baseless and unfounded allegations”.

“[T]he Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia neither invest in such project nor has an intention doing so or buying a land/island or an atoll, in the Republic of Maldives,” it asserted.

A forthcoming investment “from the Saudi government, or rather leading figures in Saudi” was first announced by President Abdulla Yameen in January.

“A huge massive project is planned for Faafu atoll. All charts and drawings have been completed,” he said, describing it as “a township or integrated development project”.

On March 1, Yameen said the Saudi-funded US$10 billion project will be similar to “mixed development projects in the French Riviera” with “residential high-class development, many tourist resorts, many airports”.

Details will be revealed when the negotiations are over, he said, dismissing concerns over corruption, scarcity of land, threats to sovereignty, and lack of public consultation and transparency.

Fisheries Minister Dr Mohamed Shainee told Miadhu on Friday that negotiations are ongoing with investors from Saudi Arabia, stressing that discussions have not taken place between the Maldivian and Saudi Arabian governments about the Faafu atoll mega project.

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Shainee said there have never been any plans to sign agreements about the Faafu atoll project during the Saudi king’s official visit.

Last week, the government also released a statement denying that Faafu atoll has been sold. The government is working with “a range of international investors” and the development plans for Faafu will focus on “delivering positive outcomes” for the Maldives, the president’s office said.

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