Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne is seeking investment from Saudi Arabia to help following this year’s hurricane season. In an interview with Arab News, Gaston Browne stated that the island is considering making changes on the island, such as introducing Halal standards to help attract more Arab visitors.
Since the Hurricane and the subsequent changes to the Citizenship by Investment programme, the country has seen an increase in interest from the Middle East and the Antigua and Barbuda PM is embracing this influx:
We are looking for high net worth individuals. We already have a lot of interest from Saudi Arabia… I want to encourage Saudis to invest in our safe, vibrant country. We are open arms to all cultures and want to please. We are open to suggestions and would look to build halal restaurants or hotels if that’s what Muslims want or need.
Browne spoke specifically about the claims that the “Caribbean islands are being propped up by “passports for sale” initiatives.”
I don’t see it as passports for sale. It’s an incentive for investment – it’s not a new concept. Europe has used it before. This is a competitive market. If one country offers citizenship as part of the investment deal – such as the US or Canada – and another country doesn’t, they (investors) won’t invest. It’s just a unique selling point.
This hurricane season was particularly hard on the island of Barbuda. After Hurricane Irma, the island was reduced to “literally rubble” and many of the island’s residents have been left homeless. This devastation causes a significant economic setback for the island of Antigua, because Barbuda is heavily subsidized by Antigua:
Most of the impact was on Barbuda, so the economic impact on Antigua is minor. However, it’s an economic setback because the country is heavily subsided by Antigua. We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and the actual climate itself is about 28 degrees all year round, and it hardly rains. It’s a great country for tourism and vacationing, it’s very peaceful and we enjoy a very stable political climate.
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