Opinion Politics

Report: Why are they trying to prevent the mega project in Faafu Atoll from happening?

[Image: President Nasheed presents the Nishan Izzudheen to Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia. Picture from avas.mv]

The original Dhivehi article was published on the avas.mv website on 16 February, 2017.

Note that no author is mentioned.

The following is a loose translation:

I recall that in 2009, the then President Mohamed Nasheed met with Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed and honoured him with Nishan Izzudheen, the second most prestigious medal given in the Maldives. The Prince was honoured at the President’s Office in recognition of the Prince’s contribution to the development of Maldives, since the time of President Maumoon, by investing in the resort business, and as an acknowledgement of his services.

During the subsequent talks between them, President Nasheed expressed his desire to attract Saudi investment to the Maldives. However, no such investment happened during Nasheed’s presidency. Don’t know why. Perhaps it may be because, in the recent history of the Maldives, the biggest threat to Islam happened during his term.

Placing statues in Addu City and trying to permit sale of liquor in inhabited islands, and his blatant challenges to the religious scholars when they protested such moves, may have deterred an Islamic country like Saudi Arabia from proceeding.

Leaders from developed nations also visit Saudi Arabia to attract their investments and offer them attractive incentives. They know how rich and dependable a nation Saudi Arabia is. However ,as soon as the Saudi turned to focus towards the Maldives we can feel that the fires of jealousy in some people’s hearts are ablaze.

How did Maldives become Saudi’s target?

This is an interesting story. The current [deputy crown] Prince and Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohamed, was not so favoured amongst the Royal family members at that time. Those days, Maldives was one place Prince Mohamed spent most of his time. While staying in an island in Faafu atoll and on a snorkelling, trip he went near Faafu Atoll Himithee and became enthralled by the natural beauty of the island.

Mohamed became attracted to Himithee from then onwards. He requested the government and contacted the person who had leased the island and got to develop the island as his holiday retreat. At the same time, Mohamed’s star started shining in the Saudi horizon. Saudi King Abdullah died and Mohamed’s father Salman became the King, and he made Mohamed the heir to the throne and gave him the powerful post of Defence Minister. Mohamed happens to be the architect who charted the new plans for the development and economy of Saudi Arabia.

With all these responsibilities, he does not get the opportunity to swim in the Maldivian lagoons like he used to. However, he has not forgotten Himithee. Mohamad’s love for the Maldives is also no secret to King Salman himself. The King has spoken about it to President Abdulla Yameen. Like his son, the King himself loves the Maldives and at the advent of Yameen’s term the King visited the Maldives on an official trip.

What are Saudis going to do to Faafu Atoll?

It is now known that the original concept the Prince made to develop his holiday retreat has been completely overhauled. The close relationship between the King, Prince and President Yameen played a major role in bringing about this change. President Yameen, in his last visit to Faafu atoll, revealed that the new concept was done by world renowned architects and that they have shared this new concept with him. During that trip, the President said that the concept proposed by the Saudis are of such a class that similar concepts can only be found in two or three places throughout the world.

This indicates that this would be a development of a city of Dubai’s calibre. And it is estimated that billions of dollars will be spend on the project. When considering the wealth of Saudi Arabia, this will not be any burden to them. The city will be built by reclaiming sufficient land.

Fire of  jealousy

The first person to say anything against this forthcoming mega project to the Maldives is former President Nasheed. When President Yameen revealed about this project and when the Saudi King’s forthcoming trip was announced, Nasheed suspected in his  tweet on February 12th that Saudis are assisting Yameens government financially in an inappropriate manner. Along with this the people revolving around Nasheed started making calls and  threats to prevent this investment from coming to the Maldives. What is the reason? We can look at it in two ways.

They do not want Maldives to be developed, modernised and the people to become more affluent. He cannot bear to see another person achieving what he could not achieve in his term. Otherwise, he will not forget that the main airport was sold to GMR at an unreasonably low price, had a policy to ensure that the state owned enterprises goes bankrupt, turn the economy upside down and into a booby trap and, in the name of building flats, gave several plots of land to Tata for free.

It is obvious from social media that MDP leaders have a huge animosity towards Saudi Arabia. As Saudi’s generous assistance is the main obstacle for their calls for sanctions and other pressures to ensure the people starve and pave way for the collapse of the government, while they stay in London and other major European cities . However, Maldives is not the only country to enjoy the generous Saudi assistance.

Why are we talking of selling the atoll? Mohamed Nasheed is fully aware that, in the Maldives, an individual has taken 4 islands for 99 years and is running resorts. Most of the islands in Kaafu Atoll and Ari Atoll are already leased for 99 years and resorts have been developed. The majority are foreign investors. However, that is not considered as selling the island. Saying that the Atoll or the islands are being sold to Saudi is just for the purpose of confusing  the public.

Original Dhivehi Source: Avas

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