The official visit of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to the Maldives has been postponed indefinitely, Foreign Minister Dr Mohamed Asim announced Friday morning, citing a flu outbreak.
“When the visit is arranged for a later date, that date will be announced,” he told the press at the president’s office, a day before the king was due to arrive for the first visit to the Maldives by a reigning Saudi monarch.
The visit was to be part of a rare, month-long Asian tour.
Rehearsals for the red-carpet welcoming ceremony at the Republic Square in Malé took place over the past two days and the police announced the closure of roads surrounding the official jetty after 12pm on Saturday.
The official jetty has been renovated whilst security was tightened at the capital’s northern waterfront.
According to local media, Saudi military personnel have been involved in the rehearsals to prepare for the king’s arrival and two resorts were booked for the king and his entourage.
A support vessel from the Saudi royal navy with two helicopters and King Salman’s luxury yacht Al Salamah also arrived in the Maldives during the past week.
The royal visit has been mired in controversy with the opposition coalition planning to stage a protest on March 24 against alleged plans to sell Faafu atoll or parts of it to the Saudi royal family.
The government denied selling an atoll and the Saudi embassy asserted that the kingdom has no intention of investing in a mega project or buying land in the Maldives.
But on Thursday night, the opposition-aligned Raajje TV aired a leaked audio clip of Majority Leader Ahmed Nihan saying that the constitution was amended to facilitate the sale of the uninhabited island of Himithi in Faafu atoll to Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman Al Saud.
The constitution previously prohibited foreign ownership of Maldivian land, but controversial amendments were brought in July 2015 to authorise foreign freeholds if an investment exceeds US$1 billion and 70 percent of the project site is reclaimed land.
Described as the man who wields power behind his father’s throne, the 31-year-old deputy crown prince is also defence minister and head of the council of economic and development affairs.
The Maldivian Democratic Party has meanwhile welcomed the postponement of the king’s visit.
The party’s meeting hall in Malé was raided for a third time on Thursday amidst a police crackdown against any attempts to carry out “demeaning” activities during upcoming official visits. The police confiscated banners made for the protest against the Faafu atoll deal.
“With growing public outrage and strong opposition to President [Abdulla] Yameen’s attempts to sell-off Faafu atoll to the Saudi royal family, the MDP feels that the time is not right for the royal visit, especially after an audio recording was leaked on Thursday night in which ruling party parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan MP discusses hitherto secret details of the Faafu project,” the main opposition party said in a statement.
The MDP also reiterated calls for the Saudi royal family “to completely pull out of the Faafu atoll project,” which it said poses “a fundamental threat to Maldivian sovereignty and independence.”
“The MDP further believes the project, which has been shrouded in secrecy, could be another attempt by President Yameen to engage in money laundering and corruption and further reiterates its previous statements that the party considers contracts on Faafu deal void ab initio and such contracts would be reversed,” the party warned.
“The MDP notes that public notice has been amply and indisputably given of the citizens’ objection to such a sale.”
The forthcoming investment “from the Saudi government or leading figures in Saudi” was first announced by President Yameen in late January.
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.
Following the Saudi embassy statement, Fisheries Minister Dr Mohamed Shainee – co-chair of the cabinet’s economic council – told local media that there were no plans to sign agreements about the Faafu atoll project during the Saudi king’s official visit.
But negotiations are ongoing with investors from Saudi Arabia, rather than the Saudi government, he said.
So it was the little H1N1 virus that finally succeeded in putting off the visit of his exalted highness and his vast entourage. He he he. I can’t believe you dumb islanders have fallen for the much publicized hype of turning Faafu into the French Riviera with smart shops and wine bars. Seriously, can you see the Saudis doing that? If this proposal goes ahead, it will be the usual boring Arab township with high walled houses, a big square for public executions and floggings, mosques at ten yard intervals, Turkish barber shops, Egyptian food shops selling dates and attars, Pakistani shops selling fried chicken and kebabs and brothels masquerading as spas and health clubs run by transgendered men from Thailand and the Phillipines. You have been warned.
I imagine Missindia to be a typical Indian lady.
A little sweaty mustasche
A smelly long Indian dress
Body odour to the max
And a cool funky accent
Egon you have described Miss India perfectly. Do you know him (oops!)?
Oh dear, I forgot to mention the other advantages of having a Saudi township on Faafu. The mutawwa religious police for one! Yes, fat poorly educated thugs who will beat the crap out of you for not attending prayers, eating when you should be fasting, mixing with the opposite sex (men hanging around with other men is perfectly ok), wearing tight and revealing clothing, not covering your hair and for just being a non Muslim who cannot speak arabic. You can also say goodbye to cinemas, bars, music shops and dance schools as all of these activities will be deemed sinful and unislamic.
As for me being a sweaty and hairy Indian lady, well, you will be disappointed! Being an idol worshipper and non believer, I do not have to go around in a drab kaftan dress with a mismatched scarf covering my hair or a voluminous black abaya blotting out the sunlight. My husband doesn’t fish for tuna all day and I’m not a fishwife. I don’t live in an overcrowded capital city with chronic shortages of power and water. My english language skills should give you a clue to my education and social class.
Dear Non typical Missindia,
You stating social class, sums up the yindian in you.
The well loved cast system.
Well I’m not a supporter of the current regime or Saudi funded Wahhabism. But the complete arrogant Indian in you, being racists towards our beautiful country, I had no choice but to comment.
And yes, if I have to generalise,
Tell your husbands and brothers to stop raping locals and foreigners alike.
Yes still poverty Indians in Millions of all castes are cleaning toilets in Saudi Arabia ….and ready to do any job even Somali national refused…yes Indians are very proud people.
Finally Indian babies are popular in Saudi Arabia and Middle East.
He He He all Indians are living in luxury apartments …and no one fish there all doing IT jobs
Yes there is a lot of poverty in India but with our booming economy a lot of wealth too. There are more dollar millionaires in India than there are people in the Maldives. Please feel free to check out the facts. We are a free, democratic and secular country, a concept which backward “100% Muslim” people would never comprehend.
As for Muslims droning on endlessly about the caste system in India, I think sectarianism in Muslim countries is much worse, evident by the violence we see on our TV screens everyday with muslims killing muslims in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Somalia. Why do Sunnis and Wahabbis think they are superior to Shias, Ahmadis, Barelvis and Sufis who are also Muslims? Is this discrimination any different to the abhorrent hindu caste system? While the caste system is in decline in India, sectarianism is on the rise in Muslim countries. Why do Muslims believe this world has been created only for them? Why must all those who subscribe to another faith be put to death?
I am pleased that the Saudis are not going to build their seventh century Disneyland on Faafu. Let them build it in their own country.
Yes I am proud to be a ‘non typical’ Indian woman. I am also well educated, intelligent, well travelled, tall, slim, beautiful and rich. Makes you sick doesn’t it?
Hahahah we got our self a narcissist here.
So fun to read this slim beautiful, and ofcourse rich persons comment.
Once again tell ur fathers, uncles, brothers and husband to stop raping. It seems when people in swim wear goes to beaches in your Yindia, your countrymen will come to them and say “selfie selfie selfie. Desperados. Thank you India.
Thank you and may Allah bless you.
He He He ..beautiful ..educated ..beautiful and rich …do you think this is a dating site ???
Poverty India is No:1 illiterate population ,unhealthy ,HIV in the world …and has got the biggest open air toilet…while Delhi is the Worlds No:1 raping capital in the world how a person like you escaped…probably your husband is working in Maldives to burn fire at home ..don`t make big noise ok ?No a single European woman can`t walk along the streets in poverty India …men with saliva flowing in the mouth looking at them ..what wrong withe these poverty Indians who marry when they are child …there was no India before the arrival of British…poverty India isa patch work of illiterate ..poverty ..dirt ..tribes thats all
You really are an ungrateful people. Almost everything you consume is imported from India, from motor vehicles and foodstuffs to stationery and pharmaceuticals. The drugs that you are so fond of, if you get my drift, come from your mates in Afghanistan and Pakistan . The Indian government allows Maldivian citizens to use the excellent medical and educational facilities in India, pay attention now, FOR REASONS OF GOODWILL ONLY. With our booming economy we don’t need the money. For the purpose of trade the Maldives market is, pay attention now, INSIGNIFICANT as the population is equivalent to a suburb of a large Indian city. IGMH, you best hospital, is a gift from the people of India, paid for by my taxes.
Indians like me, well educated, well spoken, well travelled, sophisticated, tall, slim, beautiful and rich, please note, do not travel to third rate countries to do fourth rate jobs.
Isn’t it time for your prayers?
He He He quality of Indian products and education is a laughing stock….even African countries don’t accept so called degrees of poverty India ..booming Indian economy is making more and more dirty Indians sleep at road sides…Indians can’t even dress well except in cinema ..and your INGLISH has become a joke with immigration officers in the west ..tell about your glory to uneducated …smelling cattle chasers in poverty India …law and order and politeness is almost zero in dirty India and among smelling Indians..why the hell poverty Indians flock to Saudi Arabia and Maldives to feed people at home?Maldives has got world class tourist resorts ..poverty India has got rat infested airports shame
Judging from the poor mallu English of your comments, it is evident that the quality of your schools is as bad as your hospitals. If India is such a backward country why on earth are Maldivians flocking to our hospitals and universities? We idol worshippers have nothing in common with you and suggest you go to Pakistan instead. You have so much in common…….same intolerant religious beliefs, same unstable government, same drug addicted youth, same scary looking women, same crime infested communities, same dumb belief that you have Arab ancestry. You are like twins separated at birth.
Goodbye. Time for you to hear the hate preacher in the mosque again. Don’t be late.