Dubai will pay for SVG’s delegation to Special Olympics World Games
The Dubai government will cover airfare and accommmodation expenses for the delegation of 37 people travelling to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in March for the Special Olympics World Games.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, at a press conference on Tuesday, said that the offer was made to him while in Dubai earlier this month, where he met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.
“They were so surprised that we were sending 37 – in fact I told them 40 – but 37 is the actual number. They said what? And naturally I discussed it in a manner. I didn’t ask for anything, but I discussed it in a manner. And they said, would you like us to pay for their passages?,” he said.
The prime minister said that he had a meeting with Sir Errol Allen and other members of Special Olympics SVG before he left St Vincent and they were concerned about the trip.
Gonsalves added that the tickets alone for the trip cost approximately $175,000.
He also said that the athletes were the carriers of this country’s foreign policy and diplomacy and that it was important for them to attend the World Games in Abu Dhabi.
The prime minister arrived in Dubai on February 10 to attend the 7th Edition of the World Government Summit.
While this was the main purpose for the trip, Gonsalves said that he also took the opportunity to network and continue to build the relationship between St Vincent and the Grenadines and the UAE.
“I met Sheikh Mohammed, had a formal meeting with Sheikh Mohamed, I didn’t request the meeting with Sheikh Mohammed. I went to build the relationship, but I’m there. I’m told that Sheikh Mohammed would like to have a meeting with you. You have to know how you build your relationships,” Gonsalves said. “We talked about the nature of our relationship and St Vincent and the Grenadines as a strategic hub, a strategic hub in the Caribbean for relations with the UAE.”
This country received a soft loan of US$15 million from the Abu Dhabi Development Fund in 2017. The prime minister said the money is to be utilised in the drilling phase of the geothermal project here. And drilling will officially begin in April.
He also said that a US$6 million grant was given for the solar facility project in Union Island and US$500,000 was also given through organization, Dubai Cares for the last two years to fund the school feeding programme.
Through relations with the middle eastern nation, Gonsalves said that St Vincent and the Grenadines worked with Dubai on their candidacy for the World Expo 2020 to be held there. He added that this country has also worked along with them in matters related to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).