Indian firm to set up $200 mn medical hub in Maldives

July 28th, 2011 - 5:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Male, July 28 (IANS) An Indian company will set up a $200 million global knowledge and medical hub in Maldives, a country that receives a million tourists a year.

Coinciding with the two-day official visit of India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, the Indo-Maldives collaboration project to set up the hub, which would include a medical tourist resort pioneered by an Indian company, was announced Wednesday.

The project is the second largest Indian investment after GMR’s take-over of operations of the Male International Airport.

The completion of a series of agreements between government ministries and the Island Development Company Pvt. Ltd., Maldives (IDC) was made in the presence of President Mohamed Nasheed of Maldives and Krishna, a statement said.

Maldives Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem said: “The project is symbolic of the growing bilateral ties between the countries and the peoples. It was a significant project and welcomed by the government (of Maldives) to fill a major gap in education and healthcare.”

IDC is a joint venture between India’s Universal Empire Infrastructures Ltd. (UEIL), based in the Indian capital New Delhi, and the government owned Works Corporation Ltd., (WCL), in which UEIL will invest and control a significant majority.

The IDC project represents a unique combination of domestic and international public and private partnerships in sectors where Maldives lags.

The project envisages a unique Global Knowledge & Medical Hub comprising Maldives’ first full-fledged and autonomous multi-disciplinary university, including a medical college and teaching hospital, together with a major sports & media center, convention center and holistic wellness center and a medical resort in Maldives.

The project cost is pegged at $200 million and will take at least three years to be completed in phases.

IDC immediately takes over a 150-bed hospital in the South Central Province island of Gan, one of the largest islands in Maldives.

IDC plans to upgrade the hospital services and the facility into a teaching hospital and will begin the medical college next year. Gradually other disciplines will be introduced to include engineering, management, IT, accounting, hospitality, employable skills development (vocational training), education, marine research.

Set on approximately 40 acres, the Knowledge Hub is being called the “International University of Maldives (IUM)” offering international standard education to attract local and foreign students.

IDC has also planned a 300-room Indian Ocean Medical Resort along with a wellness center to give tourism a new dimension in this country.

Maldives is known for its high end, and now growing mid-end, tourist resorts that bring in almost one million tourists a year.

IDC hopes to capture a growing segment of medical tourists from Europe, Americas and the Far East who are familiar with the Maldives.

UEIL & IDC director Munish Gupta said: “UEIL was delighted with the cooperation received from the Maldives government in an unprecedented coming together of several ministries, a government of Maldives company, and an Indian private enterprise. The climate and the opportunity is right for (UEIL) investment in the education, healthcare and the medical tourism sectors.”

Maldives Health Minister of State Abdul Bari added that “the PPP partnership in the hospital operations and medical education would give the people of Maldives a very needed service within the country”.

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