Saudi Arabia woos the Caribbean with $80m gift

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and the government of Antigua and Barbuda have agreed to finance the expansion project at the University of West Indies at Five Islands (UWI) in the Caribbean nation with an $80 million financing agreement. This is a significant move by the Saudi Arabia kingdom in the Caribbean region, where it has been making a concerted effort to expand its geopolitical presence in recent years through increased diplomatic visits, opening new embassies and making sizable investments in several countries.

The deal aims to encourage scientific innovation and bring new educational facilities to the university, which will assist the Caribbean region in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). As a part of the investment, seven energy-efficient buildings will be built, aimed at making the campus more sustainable. The newly improved university would cater to 5000 students, a sharp increase from the previous 600 strength.

The development initiatives made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through SFD will greatly strengthen the educational sector in Antigua and Barbuda. These efforts were recognized and appreciated by Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. The project’s development will also serve the nearby Caribbean nations as UWI has campuses in Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica and Barbados.

This is a noteworthy investment by Saudi Arabia in the Caribbean after the Saudi Caribbean Investment Forum last year, where more than 230 delegates attended and 15 nations showcased their investment-ready projects to the largest delegation of Saudi investors to ever visit the Caribbean.

This $80 million investment by Saudi Arabia is a part of its Vision 2030, which aims to decrease the country’s reliance on oil, diversify its economy and expand public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism.

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