The Government of Qatar and its businessmen will invest in hotels, apartments and the stock exchange among others, but have been told that no land is available in the Galle Face area for a hotel project.
The Emir (President) of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani will arrive in the country today on a two-day official visit accompanied by an entourage of 80 including 30 who are top businessmen, with seven agreements to be signed between the two countries.
Economic Development Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told the Sunday Times that Qatar was interested in investing in a hotel project in Galle Face, but was told that the available lands were already allocated for projects.
“We have promised to look for alternative land in Colombo for a hotel project for them,” he said.
He said that a delegation from Qatar which arrived last month has already visited three islands in Kalpitiya which the Government was willing to lease on a long term basis for a hotel project.
He said the delegation also visited areas in Negombo and Hambantota and identified certain lands and the Government was willing to lease any of the lands available.
The Emir who is listed as one of the richest men in the world will arrive here in his private jet plane scheduled to land at the Katunayake International Airport at 4 p.m, an External Affairs Ministry official said.
He will be met on arrival by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Sri Lanka Navy will provide a guard of honour while the Sri Lanka Army will accord a 21-gun salute.
The Forbes list of richest monarchs has put Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in eighth place with a fortune of $2.4 billion.
During his brief stay, the Emir will meet President Rajapaksa and sign seven agreements covering improvement of bilateral relations between the two countries in the economic, trade, investment, cultural and industrial sectors.
The projects the Qatar Government has expressed an interest in include the development of the Kalpitiya Tourism Zone, the Colombo Stock Exchange and the Colombo Commercial Company property.
Board of Investment Chairman H.M.C. Ferdinando told the Sunday Times that the proposed agreements will cover areas of tourism, investment and economic affairs and would cover the hotel sector and apartments among others.
“The specific areas will be identified according to the investment available and the areas they are interested in,” he said.
The Sunday Times learns that the Qatar delegation was interested in the Mohottuwarama island which has about 1,500 acres of State land and is inhabited by only 400 families. The other island is Uchchimunai with some 1,100 acres of State land inhabited by 273 families.
Two other islands in Kalpitiya have already been allocated to Indian investors for hotel projects.
A State banquet will be hosted by President Rajapaksa to the Emir of Qatar and his delegation.