March 16, 2005


Saudi Prince Waleed Bin Talal, the world's fifth richest person who have a personal fortune of $23 billion, came to Dhaka for a five hours visit by his personal jet. As his intention was to invest in Bangladesh, the government did all it could to greet him. In this brief period visits to the president, a couple of ministers, other dignitaries and a banquet were arranged. He insisted on bringing along his eight entourages (including his physician) in every places ignoring state protocol; after all he is a prince. He was advised to invest in blue chip companies to boost the share market but instead he asked what Bangladesh have in hospitality sector. Hearing that Bangladesh have only two world class five star hotels in Dhaka (where the government owns share), he said that he would like to buy them. The government said no thats all we have and recently we have invested further in the Sheraton. Then he said "why don't you give the Sonargaon? I will make it even better than that one." He didn't want to invest to build a new one instead.

From Dhaka, he went to Delhi, India for a similar mission. I am glad he did not ask for the Taj Mahal.

I wonder, why couldn't we just say to the prince "Thank you for the interest, but we will only welcome new investments in the country". When the government is apprehensive about foreign interference in the domestic affairs, this fellow should not be shown that much importance as his interests do not benefit Bangladesh. But after all he is a wealthy prince!


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