RIYADH: GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN
Published — Sunday 2 March 2014
Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, has pledged to build 10 world-class mosques in Maldives, an island nation in Asia that is closely working with Saudi Arabia in the field of Islamic affairs.
“Crown Prince Salman also donated $1 million to the Maldivian Ministry of Islamic Affairs for various projects,” said Sheikh Mohammed Shaheen Ali Saeed, Maldivian minister of Islamic Affairs, via phone from Male on Saturday.
Minister Saeed said “the crown prince also donated $1.5 million for financing health projects in this Asian Islamic nation.”
This is in addition to the aid announced by the crown prince for the education sector, said the Maldivian minister, who left Male for Makkah on Saturday to attend a conference on Islamic solidarity.
The three-day conference, to be inaugurated Sunday, is being organized by the Makkah-based Muslim World League.
Spelling out the details of the projects in Maldives being funded by Saudi Arabia, Saeed, who held talks with Crown Prince Salman, pointed out that the crown prince assured all-out support to the Islamic Affairs Ministry in particular and to the Maldives in general.
The crown prince also extended an invitation to the Maldivian minister to visit Saudi Arabia and to discuss ways and means to bolster ties “in matters related to religion and education.”
He said that his ministry would be announcing the locations of the proposed mosques to be funded by Crown Prince Salman in the near future. “We also sought cooperation from the Kingdom’s leadership in areas such as Haj affairs, the establishment of ‘awqaf’ and a center for Qur’anic studies,” said Saeed, while referring to the policies and programs of the Maldives Islamic ministry for the current year.
The Maldives, which is spread over 1,200 islands, officially declared itself an Islamic state in 1997.
The country requires mosques to be built on every inhabited island. The capital, Male, currently has over 30 mosques. The most recognizable is the Islamic Center in Male, whose golden dome dominates the low-slung skyline. Equally stunning is the ornate Hukuru Miskiiy, or “Friday Mosque,” which was built in 1675.
According to reports published in section of press, Crown Prince Salman will return to the Kingdom after holidaying for a few days in Maldives.
It was not immediately known whether the two sides discussed the Maldivian proposal that seeks $300 million in soft credit line facility from the Kingdom. The idea to generate funds from Saudi Arabia to meet the budgetary shortfall of that Asian nation was first discussed during the visit of former Maldivian President Mamoun Abdul Gayoom to Riyadh last year.