Remarks by Minister of Foreign Affairs For the Inauguration Ceremony of the Honorary Consuls Scholarship Programme

Remarks by Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Abdulla Shahid For the Inauguration Ceremony of the ‘Honorary Consuls Scholarship Programme’ 19 April 2022

President of the Republic of Maldives, His Excellency Ibrahim Mohamed Solih,

Minister of Higher Education, His Excellency Dr Ibrahim Hassan,

Esteemed Honorary Consuls,

Heads of Maldives Missions abroad,

ladies and gentleman. Assalam Alaikum and a very good afternoon to you all.

Let me begin by thanking President Solih, for taking time out of his busy schedule and joining us today to launch the Honorary Consuls Scholarship Programme. My gratitude to Minister of Higher Education Dr Ibrahim Hassan, for being here with us today and for the good collaboration we have.

Human resource development is a priority of President Solih’s administration. The inauguration of the National Skill Development Master Plan is a clear indication of the President’s commitment to the efforts undertaken to empower our youth through raising their academic capacity, training and skills development.

The youth population of Maldives stands at 45 percent and the demand for higher education is increasing. With the President’s strong policy on higher education, over 12,000 students have enrolled in the Free First-Degree Programme, and over 2,000 students have already completed their degrees. Over 1000 student loans have also been disbursed. By the end of 2023, more than 5,000 students are expected to complete their free degree and contribute to nation-building. This is an impressive accomplishment for us.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

For the Maldives, as a small nation, maintaining diplomatic presence in all countries is not possible. This vacuum is filled by our Honorary Consuls. It would not be wrong to say that they are our eyes and ears in their respective stations, their work is done behind the scenes, where they make a difference for the Maldivian people, and we are truly grateful for that. Our Honorary Consuls are prominent personalities of their respective countries who have demonstrated their commitment love and respect for the people of Maldives and are keen to assist us in our development initiatives.

The Honorary Consuls Scholarship Programme was an initiative, which I personally took on in 2019 to contribute to the realisation of the presidential pledge of His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to ensure increased opportunities for quality high education for our youth. I believe, no one should have their education limited due to a lack of opportunities and financial resources.

By their participation in this Scholarship Programme, our Honorary Consuls are demonstrating their commitment and goodwill to assist in the empowerment of Maldivian youth.

The Honorary Consuls Scholarship Programme being inaugurated by President Solih today, will have 44 new scholarships available to interested students to pursue degrees either in Undergraduate, Post Graduate or Doctorate Studies. These Scholarships are being Offered by:

Mr. Sanan Angubolkul Honorary Consul General of Maldives in Bangkok, Thailand,

Dr Joseph Vayalil George, Honorary Consul General of Maldives in Bengaluru, India,

Mr. Mohamed Hussain Fakih, Honorary Consul General of Maldives in Beirut, Lebanon, Mr. Zafar Tapal, Honorary Consul General of Maldives in Karachi, Pakistan,

Mr. Halil Ibrahim Bacaci, Honorary Consul General of Maldives in Istanbul, Turkey,

Mr. Andreas Peter Witte, Honorary Consul of Maldives in Munich, Germany,

Mr. Muhammad Yawar Irfan Khan, Honorary Consul of Maldives in Lahore, Pakistan.

I would like to take this opportunity to make a special mention of Dr Joseph Vayalil George, Honorary Consul General of Maldives in Bengaluru, India who has graciously provided 30 scholarships opportunities for Maldivian youth.

While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may have taken the initiative in organising this Programme, today I take pride in handing over these scholarships to the Ministry of Higher Education to administer the process. We are confident that these opportunities will soon be announced for applicants by the Ministry of Higher Education, as the coordinator of the Programme.

These opportunities will open up new avenues for Maldivian youth and students to advance their education and gain experience through training opportunities along with peers from all over the world.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Maldives Missions Abroad will continue to double our efforts to gain more capacity building opportunities for our youth. I once again thank all the Honorary Consuls who contributed to this Programme and hope to see the expansion of this Programme through more Scholarship opportunities made available. It is my hope that more of our Honorary Consuls will join this Programme in future.

This Programme would not have been possible if not for the progressive foreign policy of President Solih to strengthen diplomatic relations with all countries based on mutual respect. I thank President Solih for his guidance and advice as we steer to put in place this ambitious Programme to offer scholarships to our youth through the generosity of our Honorary Consuls.

With these few words now, I would like to request His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to kindly inaugurate the Honorary Consuls Scholarship Programme.

I thank you.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fathulla Jameel Building, Malé, 20077, Republic of Maldives, | Tel Number: 00960 332-3400  |  Emergency Contact: 00960 798-3400