K. Male' | Shan Anees | 10-March-2017 | Friday 14:03 | twitter | Local |
The Boraida 902, a naval support ship operated by the Saudi Royal Navy has anchored in Maldivian waters.
Maldivian Coast Guard units have been offering security to the auxiliary ship, anchored between Malé and Dhoonidhoo in Kaafu atoll.
The 135-meter multi-purpose vessel has two aircraft landing decks, with one holding the Saudi Naval Force’s 6191 light helicopter. The French-built ship has been in service since 1984.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz is to visit the Maldives in a highly publicized and extravagant tour of Asia. The Islamic kingdom’s sovereign has reportedly reserved three island resorts, an escort of at least 1,500 strong, 25 of his royal relatives, ten cabinet ministers, and at least a hundred security personnel.
A speech President Abdulla Yameen gave in January at Magoodhoo island of Faafu atoll, where he said plans for a ‘massive project’ in the atoll was underway, adding that the Saudi government had ‘expressed interest’ in it, had sparked speculations that the entire atoll would be sold off to the kingdom.
This statement was supported by Deputy Chair of the Faafu atoll council, Umar Zahir, who said then Vice President Ahmed Adheeb had relayed Saudi interests to him in 2014. Adheeb has since been imprisoned on highly controversial terrorism charges.
Housing Minister Mohamed Muizzu had also mentioned the project.
However, the Saudi Embassy in Maldives had released a statement refuting the speculations, which assured that the kingdom was neither purchasing land nor funding a project in the country.
Faafu atoll is one of the least populous atolls in the nation. Out of the 20 islands in the administrative division, just six are inhabited and one has been developed as an island resort. The rest are uninhabited.
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