Saudi mega project in Maldives still a go, says pres

President Yameen speaks at PPM ceremony to present membership forms of ruling party's new members. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU

President Yameen speaks at PPM ceremony to present membership forms of ruling party’s new members. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Wednesday confirmed that the mega project to be conducted by Saudi Arabia in Faafu atoll will proceed as planned, again rebuffing allegations of deceit and deception involved in the venture.

Speaking at the ceremony held in Dharubaaruge convention centre to present membership forms of the new members of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), the president stated that the USD 10 billion mega development project of Faafu atoll will be undertaken by the royal family of Saudi Arabia. He also disclosed that this project was initiated by his predecessor Mohamed Waheed.

“And while this was commenced during President Waheed’s government, I was informed directly by President Waheed that he discussed this project with all the political leaders of that time, including former presidents,” he said.

As the Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has been highly critical of selling Maldivian lands lately, it would seem that President Yameen was referring to him.

“We’re trying to continue a project that was initiated back then. Then if we’re to bring huge investments, laws should be made accordingly and security offered to the investors.”

President Yameen proclaimed that the government’s agenda is not to allow ownership of Maldivian lands to anyone. Noting that the Constitution currently allows leasing resorts up to a period of 99 years, he said that his administration’s venture is nothing new.

The president repeatedly refuted allegations of deceit and hidden agendas of the government involved in the Faafu atoll project, assuring that the venture does not endanger the nation’s sovereignty in any way.

He also noted that several parties on social media and media outlets had expressed great objections against King Salman bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia prior to his now delayed visit to the Maldives last Saturday. However, the president asserted that the king had postponed the visit due to the viral flu epidemic currently spreading across the archipelago.

“God willing, we will receive the chance to meet the Saudi king and accomplish our targets before long again,” he said.

The president disclosed that a number of Cabinet ministers will soon visit Saudi Arabia to finalise agreements regarding the various aid Saudi Arabia has decided to provide the Maldives. He also announced that he has been invited to call on King Salman and other top diplomats of the kingdom during his Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia this year.

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