Saudi Arabia's growing role in the Maldives

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  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Saudi Arabia's growing role in the Maldives

    Foreign holidaymakers in the Maldives, one of the world's most popular luxury honeymoon destination, were not happy earlier this year when their hotel bookings were cancelled at short notice.

    The reason was that Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, had booked out three whole islands for nearly a month.


    It is just one example of the growing role of Saudi investment in the archipelago, a factor which may make the Maldives' government unwilling to ruffle the feathers of Saudi Arabia's rulers.

    "The well-being of our guests is always our primary concern," a spokeswoman for the Anantara resorts told the British newspaper, the Daily Mail, which reported that some tourists were angry at being moved to make way for the Saudi prince.

    Prince Salman, who is also Saudi Arabia's defence minister, was on an official business visit at the invitation of Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, who was elected in November after two years of political turmoil.

    his reflects growing co-operation between the two countries. Saudi Arabia has already promised the Maldives a five-year soft loan facility of $300m (£181m), pledged last year when the country's previous president visited Riyadh.

    The Maldives currently has a yawning fiscal deficit averaging 14% of GDP over the past five years, according to the Asian Development Bank.

    Air links are opening, with Maldivian carriers set to fly to Saudi Arabia for the first time - and 14 flights a week are envisaged.

    At the same time, the Saudi property company Best Choice says it is building a family holiday resort worth $100m in the Maldives, which it says will have "world-class facilities".

    International criticism

    The country is also seeking Saudi partnerships in energy and transport, but the biggest co-operation sector is Islamic affairs.

    The Saudi prince has pledged to build 10 "world-class" mosques in the archipelago, seven of them this year, while visiting Saudi scholars recently pledged a grant of $100,000 for Islamic education.

    They also announced 50 scholarships for students to study in Saudi Arabia, though the response is said to be sluggish.

    Like Saudi Arabia, the Maldives is dominated by Sunni Islam. And Mr Yameen, the half-brother of the former autocratic president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, has laid stress on religious conservatism.

    Yet the country has also come under criticism internationally for other issues.

    "Nationalisation of large foreign investments, human rights concerns such as continued flogging of under-age rape victims for extramarital sex," says J J Robinson, a British journalist and expert on the country.

    "And widespread abuse of the expatriate workers who make up a third of the country's population."

    No such criticism comes from Riyadh, whose cash is being sought to sustain the large civil service.

    Mr Yameen's government has tightened up laws against permitting other religions and is considering a ban on importing kosher food.

    China's role

    In seeking Saudi investments, however, the Maldives cannot afford to alienate too many tourists as tourism remains by far the archipelago's biggest earner.

    A few years ago the Maldives Monetary Authority estimated the sector was indirectly responsible for 70% of the economy and 90% of foreign exchange receipts. Last year 1.2 million tourists visited the country, which has a population of just 330,000.

    While the top resorts are owned or managed by international brands such as the US-based Hyatt or the French Club Med, it is China that is delivering more and more of the tourists.

    Last year 44% more Chinese tourists came to the Maldives than in 2012. One in four visitors is now Chinese, although they spend far less than European holidaymakers do.

    Despite the numbers, China's diplomatic stake in Maldives is often overplayed.

    "China already has substantial influence in neighbouring Sri Lanka and Maldives is small fry in comparison," says JJ Robinson.

    However, there was widespread dismay in India at one development when, in 2012, the Maldives cancelled the Indian firm GMR's 25-year $500m contract to redevelop the international airport at the capital, Male.

    It reflected a growing mood of nationalism after the former pro-western president, Mohamed Nasheed, was forced from office. He called the decision a blow to foreign investment and tourism, and trade between India and the Maldives fell almost 10% the following year.

    Delhi is now reportedly pressing for a bilateral agreement to protect Indian investments in Maldives. Meanwhile it will be uneasy at the country's growing defence ties with its rival Pakistan - the Maldives' military chief recently visited Islamabad.

    Key sector

    Fisheries is the Maldives' second industry, employing some 20% of the workforce, but there is now a search for new markets after the European Union removed its duty-free status for the country's fish.

    In response the Maldives attacked the EU's policy and said it would certify its fish as halal and find new markets - such as Saudi Arabia.

    But tourism still reigns supreme as investors know they will get a good return in this high-end sector and they are likely to keep coming as more islands are opened up for hotels.

    A visiting official from the International Monetary Fund recently suggested Maldives should raise its tourism tax given its huge deficit.

    The government shows no sign of wanting to deter international investment. But ever-watchful for signs of Islamic radicalism, some of the Maldives' Western backers may be looking nervously at Saudi Arabia's influence.

    BBC News - Saudi Arabia's growing role in the Maldives

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    The lacklustre approach of the UPA towards the neighbours has led to this situation.

    Spearheading the impotence is the one impotency expert, Salman Khurshed. Indeed he is living up to being a SellMan & and India is Cursed having such a incompetent man and a Brainless Wonder, at the helm of affairs in the External Affairs Ministry.

    The entry of the infamous Saudi Arabia, the fountainhead of the AQ and its surrogate Pakistan, so close to the India frontier is more dangerous to India's interest than China.

    It is time the External Affair Ministry is booted to act, before it is too late.
     
    sydsnyper, Vishwarupa and TrueSpirit1 like this.
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  3. Compersion

    Compersion Senior Member Senior Member

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    It is shocking to see the Arabs come and swagger in Maldives.

    The Maldives is having a predominate Muslim population demography but one needs to start thinking and looking at why it is not within the Indian constitution and part of the India Republic. For one i would say that it is required for the present and future times for the stability of the region and also to dispel the reasoning for Pakistan creation and also reinforcing the Kashmir policy. Where does it say Muslims suffer under the Indian constitution. Where does it say Muslim areas cannot be part of the Republic of India. Kashmir <-> Maldives.

    Maldives cannot be equated like Bhutan especially without the agreements in place and also the different political structure and history. Also the variety of interference(s).

    Maldives is "small" in terms of population yet it would be a significant precedent if it integrates into the Republic of India. In fact it would be a near perfect precedent. India has played and will play a important role in Maldives. The question begs why is it separate from the Republic of India. Sure India does not have a aggressive and forceful policy and respects the will of the people and does not interfere in others internal affairs - but Maldives is different.

    The example of Goa is there since it can be considered "non-Hindu" precedent and how India maintained and provided self-determination after its integration. In fact one can say there was more self-determination in Goa after its integration. The people of Maldives want stability and also protection and being able to have self-determination.

    It would not be good to have a (Goa like) military operation [some say annexation] to mature the case for Maldives integration into the Republic (since the circumstance do not require that at this moment). This has to be requested by the people and government of Maldives. I am sure they would not say no since they will get more benefits through the integration and protection of their rights.

    Goa has a unicameral legislature consisting of a forty-member Legislative Assembly, headed by a Chief Minister who wields the executive power. The ruling government consists of the party or coalition garnering the most number of seats in the state elections and enjoying the support of a simple majority of the House. The Governor is appointed by the President of India. The Governor's role is largely ceremonial, but is crucial when it comes to deciding who should form the next government or in suspending the legislature as has happened in the recent past.

    Goa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    There is a lot of big decisions that India can take. But big decisions require ... preparation.
     
    TrueSpirit1 likes this.
  4. angeldude13

    angeldude13 Lestat De Lioncourt Senior Member

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    Maldivians are bunch of ungrateful whores.

    India should invade that island nation or isolate them completely
     

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