President Mohamed Nasheed today laid the foundation stone of Addu Convention Centre to be built in Hithadhoo to hold SAARC Summit.

Last year the government announced that the this year’s heads of state and government meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, to be hosted by the Maldives, will be held in Addu.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Addu Convention Centre, President Nasheed said the government’s aim of hosting SAARC Summit in Addu was to put the atoll on the world map. He said SAARC Summit will mark Addu’s position on the map and ensure that everyone who crosses the Indian Ocean recognized the potential in the geography of Addu Atoll.

Noting that SAARC Summit to be held in Addu would be the first Summit to be held in Southern hemisphere, he said the work that began today with the construction of Addu Convention Centre marked the beginning of a defining chapter in the country’s history.

The President said the Maldives was located in a strategic position in the Indian Ocean and there were many avenues to maximise the advantages it obtained from its strategic geographic position.

He said there were many island nations around the Maldives and very close to Addu Atoll, that would want to develop with the Maldives and benefit from the development of the Maldives.

He said building the convention centre in Hithadhoo would not only benefit the people of Hithadhoo or Addu, but the whole country. The President said Addu Convention Centre would be national pride as it would be one of the most state-of-the-art convention centers in South Asia.

The President said the government aims to develop and maintain Addu Convention Centre as a venue to hold conferences and conventions after the SAARC Summit.

After laying the foundation stone of Addu Convention Centre, the President also inaugurated the SAARC Unit established in Hithadhoo to oversee and coordinate the preparations being made for this year’s SAARC Summit.

Earlier in the afternoon, the President visited Hithadhoo Port, and officially handed over the operation of Hithadhoo Port to Hithadhoo Port Limited.