The Board of Investment (BOI) this week signed an agreement with a Saudi Arabian investor who will set up a project to carry out yacht, boat and pleasure craft repairs at the Galle Harbour.
The project will be a state-of-the-art marine venture and will result in benefits for Sri Lanka such as technology transfers, increase in foreign exchange and creating 1,500 direct employment opportunities. The company is confident that the project will further generate 2,000 indirect employment opportunities.
The main attraction for the Saudi investor was the strategic location of Sri Lanka, at the crossroads of many of the world’s shipping lines, which makes the Port of Galle suitable for ship repair and shipbuilding.
The company had evaluated the infrastructure and on 28 June the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka signed an agreement with Seagulf Shipyard Ltd. (Sri Lanka) to set up a project of a total value exceeding US$ 44 million. The agreement was signed by M.M.C. Ferdinando, Chairman/Director General of BOI and Hadi Hamad Al-Hammam, President of the Hadi Hamad Al-Hammam Group of Saudi Arabia.
This agreement is very significant as it is the first investment from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to operate under the BOI regime. Both the BOI Chairman/ General and Hadi Al-Hammam were confident that this project would generate interest for further Saudi Arabian and other Gulf investment in Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lanka is now at peace and offers highly attractive opportunities for investment. I am proud to welcome today Hadi Hamad Al-Hammam, which has signed an agreement with the BOI to invest US$ 44 million to develop a ship building and repair facility in Galle harbour. I am confident that this project will be the first of many projects from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a longstanding friend of Sri Lanka and also from the Gulf region in general,” BOI Chief Ferdinando said.
Hadi Hamad Al-Hammam said he was pleased to invest in Sri Lanka and that the Hadi Hamad Al-Hammam Group responded to an invitation to Saudi investors by the President of Sri Lanka when he headed a delegation visiting several Middle Eastern countries. Many enterprises in Saudi Arabia are now looking at Sri Lanka for investment and trade, he added.
The company evaluated the infrastructure at the harbour and the availability of skilled workers and concluded that these were very suitable for their project. Their work will be geared towards repairing and maintaining vessels such as shipping boats, yachts and tourist related boats.
The facilities at Galle can service vessels from the region and beyond. One possibility is for the Galle facility to service Maldivian vessels, which currently sail as far as Indonesia and Thailand for their maintenance. The project will also create employment for marine engineers and maintenance in ship repair and shipbuilding worldwide.
Since the company has specifically identified the maintenance of yachts as one of its areas of activities, this heralds well for the development of high end tourism in the Galle area. The harbour will be used for berthing, repair of yachts and other pleasure craft. The project plan includes a dedicated area to the east of the new jetty for this purpose.