UAE arranges MVR 1.2B funding needed to complete VIA project

President-elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu gives interview to Bloomberg. (Photo/Bloomberg)

The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has arranged the MVR 1.2 billion in funding required to complete the project to expand Velana International Airport (VIA), which was initiated by former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom’s administration.

President-Elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has pledged to prioritize the completion of VIA’s expansion and make the new developments operational by the commencement of next year’s peak tourism season.

Speaking at the press conference by the Office of the President-Elect on Wednesday, Spokesperson Firuzul Abdulla Khaleel said Muizzu, on the sidelines of his recent trip to UAE, appealed to the government of the nation to arrange the funds required for required to complete VIA’s expansion.

In response to the request, Firuzul said the UAE’s government has agreed to arrange MVR 1.2 billion required to complete the project.

“Had requested to arrange the funds from UAE government’s Abu Dhabi Fund (ADF). In response to the request, have been provided assurance of the arrangement of USD 80 million, in other words, MVR 1.2 billion, from the ADF,” he said.

Mohamed Firuzul, the spokesperson of the president-elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu's office holds a press conference on October 9, 2023.

“Once this is arranged, it will complete all the funds necessary to complete the airport project,” he added.

Firuzul said the arrangements of funds have increased the guarantee of the airport project being expedited. He also noted that UAE, in addition to the funding for the airport project, had also provided assurance to support the Maldives’ budget.

Following his election, Muizzu cited the completion of VIA expansion project as one of the projects he will allocate high priority to. He has previously announced his intention to form a committee, directly chaired by him, in order to expedite work on the project.

The expansion project of VIA, which commenced in 2016, was initially targeted to be completed last year. However, the work has been stalled subsequent to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors.

The new terminal, which is among the most expensive projects initiated at VIA, was contracted to Saudi’s Binladin Group for approximately MVR 5.3 billion.