About Time: You Considered Malta for Work or PlayBy Angelica Malin
Malta. Gozo. Comino. Three little islands in the Mediterranean Sea that remain almost a secret to tourists around the world. Combined, they make up the republic of Malta, a place whose star is still on the rise. The perfect suntrap and a great place to conduct business, Malta has seen tourism boom in recent years, attracting 2.6m visitors in 2018, an increase of 13% over the previous year and double the number of tourists that visited the archipelago at the turn of the decade.
An Emerging Financial Hub
The tiny republic is home to just under half a million people and has both the smallest and most southerly capital in the European Union – Valletta – in its midst. Historically, Malta serves as a microcosm of the nations that surround it, having been influenced by conquest from the Moors and the British Empire, and taken on the architectural styles of neoclassical and neo-gothic Europe. Then, there are the megalithic Ġgantija temples, which stand as markers to Malta’s prehistoric inhabitants.
Economically, Malta has placed itself as a financial services hub by supporting the growth of businesses from other nations. Foreign assets in the country are twice Malta’s annual GDP. It also serves as something of a fortress against recession, boasting low unemployment, the third-best GDP growth rate in the EU, and limited influence from banks outside its borders. Inevitably, then, Malta has become something of a honeypot for investors from around the world.
Swedish game developer NetEnt is one of the more notable businesses on the island, located in St. Julians and currently have around 250 employees based in Malta. NetEnt, the creator of the popular Jack Hammer and Starburst slot games, recently acquired another casino company located on the island, Gzira’s Red Tiger Gaming. The latter, which has 170 staff members in Malta, was acquired in all-cash terms by NetEnt, for a price of £200m.
NetEnt’s recent business activity may suggest that the developer intends to expand further into Maltese and European markets. Red Tiger is known for driving engagement among players, something which NetEnt has professed to have an interest in with its Engage tool. The games creator’s CEO, Therese Hillman, hosted a webcast earlier this year to discuss NetEnt’s quarterly results, where she promised improvements to NetEnt for live casino and traditional online games alike, including some new features.
Museums and Beaches
Malta’s business environment is, therefore, vibrant and bolstered by its local beaches, diners, and museums. Dinner in the Sky, an open-air eatery suspended in the air, is about as unique a restaurant as it’s possible to get, while Surf n’ Turf in Qawra tops every list in the area for quality. Mosta’s Lord Nelson offers more of a traditional restaurant experience and has claimed TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence every year since 2015.
Possessing such a long and storied history, Malta is also home to some of the finest museums in the Mediterranean, including modern examples like the Aviation Museum, the Lascaris War Rooms, and Valletta’s National War Museum, as well as open-air sites like Haġar Qim – one of the prehistoric Ġgantija structures – and Fort Rinella in Kalkara. The beach destinations of Ta’ Fra Ben and Ġnejna Bay are also worthy of an outing during any weekend trip to Malta.
Locally, many Maltese people speak English too, meaning less hassle for those making a flying stop to the archipelago.