Saudi Prince pledges mosques and aid for Islamic, health, and education sector

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz has pledged to build ten “world-class” mosques in Maldives, Saudi news agency Arab News has reported.

Quoting Maldives’ Islamic minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem, the agency stated the prince donated US$1million to the ministry for “various projects” and another US$1.5million for health projects.

Prince Salman pledged to provide aid in the education sector, and Shaheem explained that an invitation was extended to him to visit Saudi Arabia and discuss way to bolster ties in “matters related to religion and education”.

Yesterday Shaheem left for Saudi on an official trip.

Other areas in which Saudi cooperation was sought during the prince’s visit include the ministry’s mosque ‘Waqf‘ fund, Center for Holy Quran, and in Hajj pilgrimage affairs.

The report said that “it was not immediately known” if the the Maldivian proposal seeking US$300 million credit facility was discussed during the meeting. The credit facility – to finance the Maldives budget deficit – was pledged by the prince during former President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s visit to Saudi in July 2013.

At the time DrWaheed told local media that it would be a 5-8 year loan with an interest rate of 1-2 percent.

Saudi Arabia has already agreed to donate seven mosques this year, with MVR28.8 million allocated for six of these mosques in the Islamic Ministry programmes for 2014.

Fifty Scholarships to study in Saudi Arabia were also announced recently, with just fourteen applications being received by the initial deadline. In January, a group of Saudi Islamic Scholars visited the country to conduct religious education ‘dawra’ program for local scholars.

Haveeru reported that female Islamic scholars were excluded from these discussions, while the Saudi scholarships also require female students to be accompanied by a male ‘guardian’ or mahram during their time studying in the country.

Islamic scholars from Saudi also conduct religious education ‘dawra’ programmes annually in the Maldives as a selection process for the Saudi funded Islamic education programs for a selected number of students.

Prince Salman is expected to spend some time in the Maldives on holidays before returning to Saudi Arabia. During his official meeting with President Abdulla Yameen he discussed economic and diplomatic cooperation between the two countries.


President Waheed holds talks with Saudia Arabian Crown Prince

President Dr Mohamed Waheed met with Saudia Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Thursday (July 11) as part of an official visit to the country.

The visit will also  coincide with the president performing an Umra pilgrimage.

During his meeting with the crown prince, which was also attended by Saudi Arabian Minister of Finance Dr Ibrahim Abdul Aziz Al-Assaf, President Waheed discussed strengthening bilateral ties between the two nations.

Dr Waheed also provided an update on the current economic and political situation within the Maldives, according to the President’s Office website.

President Waheed’s visit to Saudi Arabia follows reports that his predecessor, former President Mohamed Nasheed, had this week had his own request to perform Umra rejected by Saudi authorities.

Local media in the Maldives reported that Nasheed was denied a visa by the Saudi Arabian government, however former Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem, who  was with the former president at the time, refuted the claims as inaccurate.

“I’ve been in constant touch with Saudi [Arabian government] Royal Protocol officials and Nasheed’s visa has not been rejected. They have not said anything like that,” the former Foreign Minister told Minivan News Wednesday (July 10).