RIYADH: Maldives Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohamed Khaleel expressed the pride of his country’s government and people in the distinguished ties with the Kingdom, praising its support to development projects in his country.
Khaleel told Arab News: “Over the years, Maldives has been recipient to multiple loan facilities from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Fund for Development has provided loan facilities for various developmental projects, including for airport development and expansion, reconstruction and development of the Gaafu Alifu region and the Hulhumale region development project.”
The $50 million agreement signed by Maldives with the SFD is for two loan facilities of $25 million each. One will cover the affordable housing scheme project; the other will work on the development of a fisheries sector project.
“Affordable housing is the most pressing basic necessity for the Maldivian population at the moment. This loan facility will help us meet a part of the current housing needs. The fisheries industry is the second-largest economic industry in the Maldives after Tourism. However, there are limitations to the production of fisheries value-added products due to the constraints of the production infrastructure.
“The development brought to the fisheries sector by this loan is an investment for the long-term economic growth of the Maldives,” the envoy added.
Khaleel said that both of these projects reflect the strengthening of the Maldivian people and their communities.
He also referred to the construction of the King Salman Mosque, which is being built with a donation from Saudi Arabia.
“It will be the largest mosque in the country and will stand as a true symbol of the brotherly relations between Maldives and Saudi Arabia. The mosque will also stand as a historical monument to commemorate the golden jubilee of Maldives’ independence. We are looking forward to the completion of the mosque and the visit of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to officially inaugurate the mosque,” the envoy said.
The King Salman Mosque will be the largest in the country and is set to open early next year before the holy month of Ramadan.
The mosque was funded by King Salman, who has donated approximately $25 million to its construction. The mosque consists of six floors and can accommodate more than 10,000 worshippers. It includes multi-purpose halls, an international library, a center for teaching the Holy Qur’an, classrooms, and a conference hall. The mosque consists of 5 minarets representing the five pillars of Islam.
Its development was announced in 2016 and construction began in early 2018 in the capital. The government had previously planned to open the mosque in early 2020, and its rescheduled opening during Ramadan this year was postponed due to the pandemic.