Distinguished delegates from Saudi Arabia, Fellow Corporate Leaders from Maldives, Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Sábaah'ul Khair, Asallamu Alaikum Warah’mathullah Wabarakaathu.
It is indeed a pleasure for me to welcome our fellow brothers from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I hope that the delegation will be able to take time out of the busy schedule to experience a bit of Maldivian hospitality and Maldivian flavour.
Please be assured that, our doors will always be open for our Muslim brothers in pursuing mutually beneficial endeavours and I wish you all a very pleasant stay here in the Maldives.
Distinguished delegates and participants,
I am indeed, delighted to be at this gathering to share our priorities for transforming the Maldivian economy. My government is committed to diversifying the economy, while simultaneously developing the tourism product, which fuels our economic growth.
We are vigorously pursuing development initiatives on several fronts. Such includes, creating new growth centres outside Male’ region, developing new export oriented industries, and delivering strategic infrastructure, that is crucial for economic growth.
In the first year of my Administration, we have given the highest priority and urgency to deliver the economic reform pledges we have made.
With confidence, I can say that, we have now restored investor confidence and interest in the Maldives as an attractive investment destination in South Asia.
On this note, I would also like to highlight the efforts being made by the Government in modernizing the legal framework governing investments. Of particular significance is the enactment of the Special Economic Zones Act.
This law has provided the enabling legal framework for the Government to engage with investors to deliver strategic investment projects. The law further provides for attractive investment packages and ensures investment guarantees and protection that are in-line with international best practices.
Since the launch of the five mega projects in April this year, the government has made substantial progress in attracting investors for Male’ International Airport development, Male’ Port relocation and development and Hulhumale’ Youth City development projects. In fact, the reclamation work will be started early next month.
While crucial development decisions will be made in the coming few months, opportunities are open for investors to engage and invest under these strategic projects.
We welcome investments in tourism sector projects, transport sector, in energy sector, including renewable energy, real estate development and social housing.
We are also keen to develop the financial sector including development of an Islamic Financial Centre that could serve the investment and financing needs of Maldives as well as catering to the large Muslim population in South Asia.
Distinguished delegates and participants,
With a positive outlook for economic growth, coupled with the assured political stability and a liberal investment regime, there is no better time to invest here in the Maldives than now.
This year, our GDP growth rate is forecasted to grow at 8.8%, while the coming year, we expect the economy to grow at 10%.
The economic outlook for the country is projected to be healthy over the next few years. Tourist arrivals will exceed our target of 1.2 million. The Foreign Exchange Crisis in the country had experienced in the last few years has been stabilized, and the overall macro-economic conditions have significantly improved.
Long term investors who have invested here can attest that Maldives is one of the safest destinations for investing in South Asia, with guaranteed lucrative investment returns. Substantial investments have been made by Middle Eastern companies in the telecom, transport and tourism sector.
The Maldivian business community will be keen to engage with the Saudi business community. I would welcome closer and broader engagements between the two business communities, which I believe, would be mutually beneficial to the two communities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me conclude once again welcoming our brothers from Saudi Arabia and thanking the Government of Saudi Arabia for taking the initiative to send the first ever business delegation to the Maldives. This is testament to the strong bilateral ties that exist between our two nations and the keen interest in moving forward together.
I thank the Maldivian private sector representatives present here today and I am confident that this platform will open up new avenues for future private sector networking between the two countries.
Recently, I have met several Saudi business people. Saudi business people have no knowledge of business opportunities in the Maldives. Maldives to them is known as an idyllic, a warm hospitable people, which remains an enchantment. We have in fact got named one of our resort islands as “Paradise”. As Muslim brothers, we all strive to go to Jannathul Firdous. While we have a paradise in the heavenly Maldives, I urge all the Saudi business people, if you are seeking to go to a Jannathul Paradise in your afterlife; why don’t you get warmed up for that. Paradise is here in the Maldives. Welcome, our doors are open for business.
Wassalaam A’laikum, Wa Shukuran