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Saudi Arabia gifts 50 tons of (late) dates to Maldives

Saudi dates have become an unlikely source of intrigue in the Maldives.



Saudi Arabia donated over 50 tons of dates to the Maldives’ Ministry of Islamic Affairs, local media reported Monday.

The dates are usually distributed through local councils every year ahead of the first day of Ramadan. It is unclear why the date donation was late this year.

The dates will be distributed from Tuesday, with one packet for every household.

First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim’s charity distributed dates in May ahead of Ramadan, but the Sadaqat Foundation declined to reveal the source of the dates.

Saudi dates have become an unlikely source of intrigue in the Maldives.

Last January the anti-graft watchdog ruled out corruption in the distribution of dates, gifted by Saudi Arabia, under the name of the first lady’s charity. It was accused of misappropriating 500 boxes, an allegation it denied.

There has been a recent uptick in public displays of admiration between the Maldives and the wealthy, oil-rich Gulf state.

There was a memorandum of understanding signed on July 9 to finance a local housing scheme and to help develop the fishing industry, while a day earlier Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the Maldives Bader Ali Al-Kohail endorsed President Abdulla Yameen’s running mate for the upcoming September election.

The Maldives has remained loyal to its ally, joining the Saudi-led military alliance fighting rebels in Yemen that has been blacklisted by the UN.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has called to withdraw support for the coalition and also accused the government of allowing China to dictate foreign policy after the Maldives’ absence from a UN vote on the prevention of mass atrocities.

The MDP last year also said that alleged plans to sell Faafu atoll to the Saudi royal family would “amount to creeping colonialism” by Riyadh.