Antigua and Barbuda PM seeks Saudi investment after hurricane

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne and Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres visit Codrington on the island of Barbuda just a month after Hurricane Irma struck the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, in this October 7, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 October 2017
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Antigua and Barbuda PM seeks Saudi investment after hurricane

SVETI STEFAN: Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne wants Saudis to visit and invest in his hurricane-battered country.
He is considering bringing halal standards to the islands for the first time in a bid to attract more Arabs visitors.
In an interview with Arab News, he said he had seen increased Middle East interest in real estate and tourism projects in his country which is emerging from the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma.
“We are looking for high net worth individuals. We already have a lot of interest from Saudi Arabia.”
He added: “I want to encourage Saudis to invest in our safe, vibrant country. We are open arms to all cultures and want to please.
“We are open to suggestions and would look to build halal restaurants or hotels if that’s what Muslims want or need.”
Browne rejected claims that the Caribbean islands are being propped up by “passports for sale” initiatives.
He said: “I don’t see it as passports for sale. It’s an incentive for investment – it’s not a new concept. Europe has used it before. This is a competitive market.
“If one country offers citizenship as part of the investment deal – such as the US or Canada – and another country doesn’t, they (investors) won’t invest. It’s just a unique selling point.”
With many countries in the Middle East undergoing political turmoil, citizens of some countries have few visa-free travel options. As former British colonies and members of the Commonwealth, Caribbean island passports grant visa-free access to the UK and the Schengen Area, as well as numerous other countries.
The country’s citizenship by investment program (CIP) has pumped around $500 million into Antigua and Barbuda’s economy since 2014 and has helped pay for social security, cancer treatment and a new hospital, according to Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the US.
On Sept. 6, 2017, when Hurricane Irma swept through Barbuda, Browne saw most of his country’s buildings reduced to — in his own words — “literally a rubble.” At least 60 percent of the island’s residents were left homeless because of the disaster.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Global Citizen Forum, Browne said: “Most of the impact was on Barbuda, so the economic impact on Antigua is minor. However, it’s an economic setback because the country is heavily subsided by Antigua.”
The PM said tourism and real estate are areas that he really wants to push to investors.
“We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and the actual climate itself is about 28 degrees all year round, and it hardly rains. It’s a great country for tourism and vacationing, it’s very peaceful and we enjoy a very stable political climate.”


Disappointed fans hail improved performance by Saudi Green Falcons but defeat ends World Cup dream

Updated 21 June 2018
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Disappointed fans hail improved performance by Saudi Green Falcons but defeat ends World Cup dream

  • A fan named Yousif, who watched the match at the General Sports Authority viewing tent, was happy that the game at least was close this time.
  • Saudi Arabia will face off against Egypt, who also lost their opening two group A games against Uruguay and Russia, on June 25.

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s World Cup dreams were shattered after Uruguay beat the Green Falcons 1-0 in the second of the three group-stage matches. Most Saudi fans in Jeddah were much happier with the team’s performance in game two, following the resounding 5-0 defeat by host nation Russia in the opening match on June 14, but still bitterly disappointed by the loss, which means they cannot qualify for the knockout stages.

Yousif, who watched the match at the General Sports Authority viewing tent, was happy that the game at least was close this time. “Although we lost, the performance was much better than the first game with Russia. I hope we win our next match,” he said.

Nasrah, who watched the game with her two sons, said: “I was really disappointed because we played good today and nothing less than a win should have been acceptable. I am also disappointed to see the looks on my boys faces when the game ended as they were hoping for a win.”

Khalid Al-Raghbi said at least it had been a good match to watch. “We played a bit better today,” he added. “I wish we would have won but at least we performed better than our last match against Russia.”

Before the game, Ibrahim Al-Turki had been optimistic about Saudi Arabia’s chances. “We didn’t expect today’s result. I was thinking that Saudi would win by two goals, and Uruguay would score one,” he said.

The result was especially disappointing given the close result and the number of chances the Saudis had to score, said Badr, who added: “I don’t know what to tell you because we are deeply disappointed. At least if we lost with a big defeat I would say we deserved it. We had the potential but we could not score.”

Shadi Al-Ghamdi said he wished the national team’s much improved performance in their second game had been more evident in their first. “I am very proud of the players, I thought they played very well. I just wish they had played like this against Russia," he said.

Safah was less complimentary and said that the Saudi players had let their fans down, adding: “They seemed scared whenever they attempted to score any goals.”

Saudi Arabia will face off against Egypt, who also lost their opening two group A games against Uruguay and Russia, on June 25. It will be the final game in the competition for both sides, with only pride to play for, as they battle it out to see who will finish third in the group and who will be left in bottom spot.