Inside the tropical paradise that's like something out of a James Bond movie, where a Trump associate had a secret meeting with a Russian and the Emirati crown prince

A top secret meeting. A far-flung tropical archipelago. International political intrigue involving President Donald Trump.

While it might sound like the tagline for an upcoming spy movie, these are the details of a newly disclosed meeting that took place in the Seychelles Islands between a Trump-linked private security entrepreneur, a Russian CEO, and a representative of the United Arab Emirates, according to The New York Times.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has looked into the meeting in the Russia investigation, and is reportedly working with one of its attendees to learn more about Trump’s foreign contacts.

But the Seychelles Islands where the meeting took place are themselves a fascinating yet little-known location.

Here’s a look at why these beautiful islands off the coast of Africa were chosen to host the clandestine meeting:

Lying east of Kenya and Tanzania and north of Madagascar, the Seychelles are an isolated island group in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The isles are renowned for their natural beauty.

The islands are chock-full of stunning white sand beaches that are surrounded by beautifully eroded rocks and picturesque palm trees.

The Seychelles, which are actually some of the last remnants of a lost continent that sunk into the Indian Ocean millions of years ago, belong to the African Union, and were once colonies of both France and Great Britain.

Sources: The Telegraph, CIA World Factbook,

88% of the islands are covered in jungles and forests, and are host to some incredible wildlife.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Giant tortoises are native to the islands …

… and massive whale sharks visit their shores every year.

The islands were affected by the huge Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, and some wildlife areas are still recovering.

bobcat rock/Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0A sign on a beach affected by the 2004 tsunami.

Fishing and plantation agriculture have long been some of the main industries, and tuna fishing alone has made up a huge portion of the GDP for decades.

Source: CIA World Factbook

More recently though, the islands have invested heavily in tourism. Although the Seychelles remain a place that is decidedly off-the-beaten-path, 300,000 tourists visit every year and 55% of the country’s annual GDP comes from tourism.


Sources: The Telegraph, CIA World Factbook

This tourism boom has led to the development of numerous seaside luxury resorts, which take advantage of the island’s relatively undisturbed character and unique flora and fauna.

So Seychelles/Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0A luxury resort on the main island of the Seychelles

The Seychelles’ growing tourism sector has made it one of a select few African countries that boast a high human development index. But the islands also have one of the highest rates of income inequality on earth, and poverty remains widespread.

So Seychelles/Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0A public housing project in the Seychelles

Source: Knoema World Data Atlas

The Seychelles have increasingly become a popular tax haven and hub for offshore “shell companies” — and have attracted lots of dirty money as a result.

Remi Jouan/Wikimedia CommonsVictoria, the capital of the Seychelles

Source: International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

A Kazakh banker, an Australian bank, and businessmen from Israel have come under fire in recent years for their under-the-radar operations in the islands.


Source: International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Perhaps it was for this reason that the secret January 2017 meeting was held in the Seychelles, where a no-questions-asked attitude would have avoided unwanted scrutiny.

Source: The New York Times

The meeting, which took place at a seaside hotel, included businessman Erik Prince, who is the head of the infamous private security firm Academi, better known as Blackwater USA. The meeting’s participants reportedly believed Prince was representing the Trump administration.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty ImagesErik Prince, former Navy Seal and founder of private military contractor Blackwater USA

Source: The New York Times

The second person at the meeting was Kirill Dmitriev, a former Goldman Sachs banker who runs a state-run foreign investment fund on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was reportedly representing Putin at the Seychelles meeting.

GettyKirill Dmitriev

Source: The New York Times

The final participant, Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, is perhaps the most important one for Trump. Nader was at the meeting as a representative of the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, and has ties to both Erik Prince and some of Trump’s associates.

Francois Nel/Getty ImagesSheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai

Source: The New York Times

Prince was meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed and Emirati officials in Seychelles.

Four Seasons Resort SeychellesThe Four Seasons Resort in Seychelles.

Source: The New York Times

They suggested Prince meet Dmitriev at a bar at the Four Seasons resort.

Four Seasons Resort SeychellesA view from the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles.

Source: The New York Times

The Four Seasons has three restaurants and two lounges, all of which offer spectacular views overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Four Seasons Resort SeychellesThe Kannel bar and restaurant at the Four Seasons Resort in Seychelles.

Source: Four Seasons

Guests can book villas, residences, and suites, most of which go for thousands of dollars per night. The three-bedroom beach suite is going for almost $US12,000 a night in January 2018. It’s 9,246 square feet and sleeps six adults and four children.

Four Seasons Resort SeychellesThe three-bedroom beach suite at the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles.

Source: Four Seasons

Nader is reportedly cooperating with Mueller’s investigation, which has been homing in on Trump’s foreign investments. Mueller had also previously interviewed Prince, who denied representing Trump at the meeting and said it was merely a meeting between friends.

Alex Wong/ Getty Images.Robert Mueller

Source: The New York Times

The nature of the meeting has not yet been determined, as far as we know. But as the political implications of the secret meeting play out thousands of miles away, the tropical paradise is largely unaffected.

David Stanley/Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0Charter fishing boats up in the Inner Harbour of Victoria, Seychelles.

With stunning views, warm sand, and profits from tourism and offshore finance to keep them busy, the people of the Seychelles can stay out of the fray.

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