The Trinidad Guardian, Gail Alexander,Published:
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
A Saudi Arabian team which leaves T&T today after exploring local business potential has visited Tobago and will be dealing further with Tobago House of Assembly (THA) chief secretary Orville London on matters of interest to them there.
London said the group had indicated projects of interest to them in Tobago and both sides will have further contact on this. Group spokesman Shazaad Mohammed, President of the T&T Saudi Arabia Chamber of Commerce (TSCC) which brought the team to T&T, said yesterday the group is particularly interested in beach front hotel investment in both Trinidad and Tobago. Mohammed said it was incorrectly stated in last Sunday’s Guardian that the group visited the Chaguaramas Convention Centre since they did not go there.
He said they went to the Chaguaramas Golf Course and other places in T&T, “but not the Convention Centre,” Mohammed said. He said the group wasn’t interested in the Convention Centre, but in beach front hotel development and other matters.
The team, which spotted T&T on the Trade Ministry’s “InvesTT” Internet link, said they partnered with the ministry on the visit. He said they selected T&T out of countries in the region due to its stability and since it was an oil producing state like Saudi Arabia. They are interested in forging ties on higher education, the petrochemical sector and government sectors. They were brought to T&T by the newly-formed group TSCC, headed by T&T national Umar Khan and Mohammed, who is based in Canada and Saudi Arabia, but has T&T roots, he said.
He said he also carries the title Ambassador for Peace. Mohammed said the group was on a “friendly cultural and tourism exploration visit” to get a feel of things here and the business potential. Head of the team was General Kheder Alzahrani, who is special adviser with the ministry of interior affairs, as well as special adviser with the ministry of Foreign Affairs for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a member of the Caribbean Dawah Association.
He said they met the Housing Minister (Dr. Roodal Moonilal), Legal Affairs (Prakash Ramadhar), Science and Technology (Fazal Karim) and met acting Foreign Affairs Ministers (Dr. Bhoe Tewarie), the Public Utilities (Nizam Baksh) and Works Minster (Dr. Suruj Rambachan) yesterday. They also met the head of UWI Prof Dr Clement Sankat and held discussions on possible collaboration there and at the UTT.
Mohammed said the most important issues in any future venture was the establishment of direct air links between T&T and Saudi Arabia since there are none and strengthening diplomatic links since they said the T&T mission which handles Saudi Arabia is in Uganda. Mohammed said there has been no commitment from Government on any ventures at this time, but another delegation will visit T&T next month.
From what the group had seen, and on what it might be particularly interested in, Khan said the group is indeed interested in various aspects but a brief will have to be done on their visit and translated from English to Arabic and examined in Saudi Arabia before they can say exactly what they’re eyeing. The team went to Tobago last Saturday to examine the island’s tourism potential and visited various sites including the reefs with glass bottomed boats.
Mohammed said they felt the island needed more tourism infrastructure including airport development and air links to Saudi Arabia. But they agreed Tobago is a good tourism destination. They will be contacting London again after obtaining an initial phone call with him. London said yesterday: “I’ve spoken to their T&T officer Mr Khan who contacted me and we’ve exchanged information. They’ve shown interest in particular projects for Tobago. I was trying to get to Trinidad for a meeting with them Monday (yesterday) but couldn’t.”
London said the group had given details of and identified what they were interested in Tobago and he had also given them additional information but nothing had been decided yet.