Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has donated MVR18.4 million (US$ 1.2 million) to a mosque project with plans to build 10 mosques in the islands.
Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed confirmed that the money was transferred to ministry’s bank account yesterday (October 15) and that work on the mosques is scheduled to start in the next couple of months.
“This is just the first donation of a US$4 million full amount from the Saudi Prince. We are told that we would receive the rest of the amount as construction of the mosques goes forward,” said Dr Shaheem.
The Saudi Prince – who pledged to build 10 world class mosques in the Maldives in his visit to the Maldives earlier this year – told Shaheem he is willing to help the Maldivian government to preserve the Islamic identity of the nation and that Saudi Arabia sees the Maldives as a country of ‘special importance.’
For his visit in March, the prince – who also serves as the defense minister of Saudi Arabia – booked out three resort islands for nearly a month, reportedly leaving tourists unhappy as bookings were cancelled.
Dr Shaheem also shared with Minivan News concerns brought forward by agents from Mecca who say that they have large amounts of money owed to them by Maldivian private Hajj companies.
“An agent from Mecca came to the Maldives and shared information about two Hajj groups who owes money in excess of US$300,000 to the agent not paid in over a year now,” said Dr Shaheem.
Recently, the government covered the expenses of the 121 defrauded customers of Al-Fathuh Hajj Umra group with an amount in excess of US$ 500,000.
“We have given the company one month to reimburse the government for the expenses and the company has informed the government via police that they are currently in the process of paying back the government,” explained Shaheem.
While speaking to local media after coming back from the Hajj pilgrimage, Shaheem said that the ministry had decided implement a policy which would require private Hajj companies to keep a deposit at the Islamic Ministry in order to acquire the permit from the government in order to prevent a repeat of this type of fraud.
Haveeru also reported the story of ten Maldivian students who were on their way to the pilgrimage from Medina when they were stopped at a checkpoint near Mecca and denied access being told that the permit was invalid.