The Chairman of one of Saudi Arabia’s largest conglomerates has been appointed as a diplomat in London representing the Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia (pictured above).
The appointment of billionaire businessman, Walid Juffali, as St Lucia’s “Permanent Representative” to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) comes as some surprise. The Daily Telegraph reports that there is no public record of him attending any meetings of the IMO – the United Nations agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and prevention of marine pollution by ships – nor of him possessing qualifications in maritime law.
Nevertheless, for just over a year Mr. Juffali’s name has been accepted on the London Diplomatic List as part of the High Commission for Saint Lucia’s team. A source from the country said Mr Juffali “performs all the duties expected and requested of him at the IMO” although he also added:
“It is also important to note that His Excellency Dr Juffali is supported in his role by staff with decades of particularly relevant experience in international relations, maritime law and diplomacy.”
The same source said Mr Juffali was invited to represent Saint Lucia because of his “well-established success as a businessman and previously undertaken diplomatic duties”. While it is long-established that countries are allowed to appoint foreign nationals as their diplomats, the practice remains unusual.
Mr. Juffali can add the diplomatic title to the two Knighthoods he already enjoys – one from the Vatican, where he is a member of the Papal Order of St Sylvester (the papal order that may be awarded to non-Catholics), and the other from Queen Margarethe of Denmark.
A little over a year after Mr. Juffali credentials in London were accepted, Saint Lucia announced plans to open an Honorary Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in addition to their existing embassy in Riyadh. The official statement, which named the new Honorary Consul as Halla Walid Juffali, said there would be “no cost to the Government of Saint Lucia”.
It is not known whether the two Juffalis are related, nor how Saint Lucia’s new diplomatic mission in Jeddah has been funded.