Wednesday 15 Aug 2018 | 00:11 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 15 Aug 2018 | 00:11 | SYDNEY

Gulf funds in the Pacific: Less than meets the eye


Rodger Shanahan


18 November 2008 10:30

After the revelation last week about Iran's diplomatic intervention in the Pacific, I was interested to find out a little more Middle Eastern financial links to the South Pacific and environs. East Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao’s recent visit to Kuwait, for example, has highlighted a very low-key but sporadically active approach by Gulf nations to aid and investment  in our region. Prior to Gusmao’s visit, Ramos Horta made two visits to the country, ostensibly to seek development funds.

Through Kuwait’s overseas aid vehicle, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, other regional countries have sought development funds at concessional rates. Not that we are talking big sums. Since the early 1980s, for example, the Solomon Islands has received a little over $11 million. Western Samoa was another even smaller aid recipient over 20 years ago.

The PNG Government has sought investment from the Gulf, with an Abu Dhabi investment body to fund a stake in a Liquid Natural Gas project. However, it’s unlikely that PNG will become a tourist destination for Gulf Arabs any time soon, after Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal’s 15-minute tour of Port Moresby last year.