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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 27) - Papua New Guinea’s attraction as a tourism destination has caught the eye of the world’s 13th richest person.

Billionaire entrepreneur and a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, told Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare during a brief 90-minute meeting in Port Moresby on Saturday evening that PNG was a top tourist destination.

Prince Al-Waleed, whom Forbes magazine has ranked as the world’s 13th richest person, flew into Port Moresby at 6:35 p.m. and was received by Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Paul Tiensten when he and wife Princess Ameerah disembarked from their private Boeing 747-400 executive jet at Jacksons International Airport.

They were taken up to the airport’s VIP lounge where they met Sir Michael for a brief chat and were given a number of gifts from PNG. At the royal couple’s request, Mr. Tiensten took them on a 15-minute drive of Port Moresby.

Speaking to reporters after the couple flew out of Port Moresby; Sir Michael said PNG’s appeal as a tourist destination struck the prince.

"They (Prince Al-Waleed and his wife Princess Ameerah) arrived here on a stopover and they decided they want to have a quick look around Port Moresby. They wanted to know what the country was like, he’s heard about it, read about it a lot and he’s very impressed with our place. I think the important thing he highlighted was ‘you (PNG) are a good tourist destination but you have to do something about it’. And I think he says if Saudi (Arabia) can help you in any way, let us know," the Grand Chief said.

Sir Michael said PNG did not have diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia but his government was seriously looking at establishing ties and opening an embassy in the oil-producing state as well as in South Africa.

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