The government has inked two financing agreements with the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), totalling US$150 million. The funds will be utilised for two pivotal projects: the expansion of the Velana International Airport (VIA), which received an additional boost of US$100 million, and the healthcare sector development project, which was allocated US$50 million.

The agreements were signed at a ceremony on Thursday by Finance Minister Mohamed Shafeeq and Sultan Abdulrahman Al-Marshad, Chief Executive Officer of the SFD.

The VIA expansion project, hailed as a “visionary” initiative by the finance ministry, is set to usher in a new era of economic prosperity for the country. The loan will ensure the timely completion of the airport expansion project, paving the way for increased tourist arrivals by expanding the airport’s capacity to accommodate more airlines, the ministry said in a statement. This expansion is expected to invigorate related sectors such as hospitality, retail, and transportation, thereby catalysing growth in the tourism sector, a cornerstone of the Maldivian economy.

The healthcare sector development project is a testament to the government’s commitment to enhancing healthcare services in the country, said the finance ministry. The project aims to develop state-of-the-art facilities and provide efficient, safe services using cutting-edge resources and technologies. It also seeks to raise social awareness through guidance and counselling for patients and their families. As part of this transformative project, the ministry revealed that three hospitals will be established on three islands.

In a meeting with Al-Marshad, Minister Shafeeq expressed his gratitude for the SFD’s unwavering support, including approving the additional US$100 million for the VIA expansion project and US$50 million for the healthcare sector development project. At the meeting, discussions were also held on the ongoing SFD-financed projects in the Maldives and the potential for deepening collaboration between the Maldives and the fund.

The SFD is financing a wide range of developmental projects in the Maldives. According to Al-Marshad, the SFD has provided a staggering $470 million in funding for 16 projects to date.