Speech by His Excellency Abdulla Jihad, Vice President of the Republic of Maldives,at the Maldives Investment Forum 2017 – Vice President’s Speeches

The President's Office

بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم

اَلحَمْـدُ لِلّـهِ رَبّ العَـالَمِـين، وَالصّـلاة وَالسّلام علـى محـمَّدٍ وَعلـى آلـه وَصَحْبِـهِ أجمـعـين

H.E. Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy of UAE,

Hon H.E. Mohamed Saeed, Minster of Economic Development of the Maldives,

H.E. Ambassador Dr. Hussain Niyaz, the Maldives Ambassador to UAE,

H.E. Mr. Majid Al Shamsi, Vice Chairman, Dubai Chamber of Commerce,

Leaders of the corporate sector of UAE and the Maldives,

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen.

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ

A very good morning to you all.

We are gathered in this vibrant, cosmopolitan city of Dubai, to convene the 4th Maldives Investment Forum. The Investment Forum definitely has had its mark, carrying forward the development story of the Maldives and the investment opportunities to the business and investor community in various regions of the globe.

It is an honour and a great pleasure for me to be here at this eminent gathering and address this Forum by saying a few words at the opening ceremony.

At the very outset, I would like to extend the well wishes and felicitations from my President, His Excellency Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, to the leaders and business community of UAE and all those present here today.

I would also like to thank the Government of UAE for the warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation, and the support provided to the Government of Maldives to make this year’s event a success. Thank you.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Maldives is undergoing major transformations. The economic vision aspired by His Excellency President Abdulla Yameen to transform and diversify the Maldivian economy is indeed gaining momentum. As a country, we have started experiencing a new era of growth and witnessing increased engagement of corporate sector in our development drive.

The rapid infrastructure development initiatives and efforts to strengthen the business and investment climate in the country, have led to increased interest from the global business community to invest in the Maldives. Large scale private investments are underway in integrated tourism development, real estate, construction, hospital services etc., and Government-steered infrastructure projects include bridge connectivity projects, airport upgrade and expansion projects, development of the 2nd phase of Hulhumale’ Youth City, development of health care infrastructure and related support infrastructure development outside of the capital city Male’.

According to the latest data available from the investment registration section of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Maldives, we have seen an increase of foreign direct investments. In the last 4 years of President Yameen’s Administration, we have received and approved investment proposals close to USD 14 billion.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The economic growth projection for the Maldives is expected to remain healthy in the coming years. Overall, we expect the economy to grow at 6%. GDP per capita has been consistently increasing and stands at USD 8933 at the end of 2016. Country ratings done in the last two years by independent rating agencies confirm that the outlook remains positive for the country. Lending to the private sector has seen substantial growth. Furthermore, most recent economic outlook reports from international financial organizations such as the IMF indicate that the Maldivian economy has been improving and the medium term outlook is positive with low and stable inflation.

Helped by this positive economic outlook, as a country, we have just started witnessing the fruits and impact of President Yameen’s transformative economic policies. We are seeing consistent growth in non-traditional sectors such as construction, real estate, transport, finance etc. Companies who have ventured recently into the Maldivian market, and many local and foreign companies that have sponsored this year’s Forum, who are present here today can vouch for the pace of the development and the socio-economic progress the country is witnessing under the able and visionary leadership of President Abdulla Yameen.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Maldives has been consistent in its stance and policies on maintaining an open and liberal economy that is conducive to foreign investment. It will continue to do so in the future.

The current Administration has taken additional steps to improve the overall business environment in the country. To this effect, bold steps have been taken by the Administration to give more comfort and surety to the investors.

These steps include, enactment of laws such as the Special Economic Zones Act, amendments to the legal framework to enable ownership of land by foreign parties, and recently signed important trade and investment agreements with bi-lateral trade partners such as UAE and China. These new laws and agreements have paved the way for a new era to strengthen mercantilism with our trading partners. I commend President Abdulla Yameen for making these important decisions and for achieving these crucial milestones to facilitate trade and investment.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The United Arab Emirates is a key bilateral trade partner of the Maldives. In fact, in terms of trade volume, UAE is our top trading partner. This has been the case for the last decade.

Last year, total trade volume of both counties reached USD 333 million with Maldives importing USD 332 million worth of goods from UAE. Latest Customs import export figures indicate that the trade volume is on the rise. Non-oil related trade has also witnessed positive growth in the past few years.

The Government of Maldives believe that, as trade partners, we could do more to deepen our existing commercial ties, particularly in the area of the services trade. We see the UAE and the GCC market as potential untapped markets for our tourism and service sector development. We definitely can find leverage on the strong airline connectivity between the Maldives and UAE and other Middle Eastern countries to broaden and deepen bi-lateral trade with UAE and the Middle Eastern markets.

The recent official visit of President Abdulla Yameen to the UAE in October of this year and the important agreements signed between the two countries during his visit, signify the importance of UAE as a trade partner to the Maldives. Agreement on Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments and Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement signed in October was the first such agreement that the Maldives signed with a bilateral trade partner.

I am confident that these agreements will instil greater confidence among the private sector of both countries to work together on mutually beneficial commercial undertakings.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Less than two months from the signing of these important and historic agreements, we are here today, in this grand hall of the Dubai International Convention Centre, knocking on your doors, to share the business and investment opportunities in the Maldives. Our country’s need to develop a more broad based, diversified economy requires investments in many sectors, including delivery of key infrastructure projects.

These include development of ports, airports, real estate, transport, finance, logistics, renewable energy and special economic zones in the country. The Government is spearheading massive housing infrastructure development programs in the growing and vibrant youth city of Hulhumale’. I am confident that the Investment opportunities showcased in the Exhibition area will provide more information on these opportunities.

The business to business networking sessions facilitated in this event between the private sectors of the two countries will assist further, to clarify the overall investment climate in the Maldives.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our land area and population may be small. But our potential for growth and expansion, I believe is enormous. With our vast ocean, natural beauty and the strategic location we are blessed with, the Maldives has much to offer to the 21st century business leaders and investors.

I would like to take the opportunity to invite the UAE business community present here today, to take advantage of the presence of the corporate sector of the Maldives in gaining more in-depth information about the opportunities in the Maldives.

We have in this room, very experienced Maldivian business leaders, operating in a number of sectors including tourism, construction, real estate, banking and finance, general trading etc.

This is an opportunity to frankly discuss business prospects in the Maldives with Maldivian business leaders who have insights into the Maldivian market. I hope that corporate leaders representing foreign entities here will be enriched with investment opportunities in the Maldives.

Before I conclude, let me once again assure all potential investors and the business community at large, that the Maldives is open for business. Your investments will be secure and the return on investment is great and relatively high. The of Maldives is committed to make Maldives a vibrant investment destination in the heart of South Asia. I can assure you that there definitely is no better time than now to invest in the Maldives.

Finally, I would like to thank the organizers for the tireless effort to make the 4th edition of Maldives Investment Forum a success. In particular, the Government of Maldives is thankful for the support received from the Government of UAE to make this year’s event a success. My heartfelt thanks go to the sponsors of this forum, who enabled us to make this year’s event possible. I also wish to applaud Minister Mohamed Saeed and his able team for their hard work.
Thank You.


.والسّلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته


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