Monday, December 31, 2007

Draw ceremony in Maldives on Feb 26: Pakistan will take part in SAFF Championship


Pakistan will be aiming for a gold medal in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship to be jointly hosted by Colombo (Sri Lanka) and Male (Maldives). The eight-nation event will be played from last week of May to first week of June 2008. Pakistan have never won a SAFF title and their only medal was a bronze in Kathmandu in 1997. The final will be held at Colombo’s Sugathadasa Stadium, which has always been a lucky ground for Pakistan. Pakistan have won SAF Games soccer titles in 1991 and 2006 there. Male will host the draw ceremony on February 25, 2008.

“SAFF president Ganesh Thapa (Nepal) and secretary generals of eight participating nations – Manzoor Hassain (Bangladesh), AH Abdul Ghafoor (Maldives), Ahmad Yar Khan Lodhi (Pakistan), Albert Colaco (India), Ugyen Wanchuk (Bhuthan), Mukthar Rustami (Afghanistan), Narendra Shrestha (Nepal) and Hafiz Marikar (Sri Lanka) – will attend the draw ceremony,” a spokesman for the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) said on Sunday.

The spokesman said Maldives was a country that had taken great strides in promoting football. “But they are not capable of hosting all matches and Sri Lanka, as a support, decided to jointly conduct this 15-match tourney. The teams will be divided into two groups. Both the nations will host one semi-final. The group matches that involve Maldives will be played in National Stadium Male’ and group matches involving Sri Lanka will be played in Sugathadasa Stadium, Colombo,” he added.

World Sports Group (WSG) of Singapore, the sponsors of the Asian soccer since 1992, are the main sponsors of the championship. The sponsors have agreed to offer prize money to the value of $95,000, winner collecting $50,000, runners-up $25,000 and losing semi-finalists $10,000 each. A total of six tournaments have been played previously. India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are the only three nations who won the tournament.

The SAFF Championship is held biannually to promote the development of football in South Asia. It was launched at Lahore’s Railway Stadium in 1993 as SAARC Gold Cup, but the name was changed in 1997 as the SAFF Championship.

Source: Daily Times

Red Cross to stop tsunami funding

The Singapore Red Cross Society, which established the Tidal Waves Asia Fund to help victims of the 2004 tsunami has decided to end the funding programme for various reconstruction projects.

A total of $88 million was raised and, so far, $83 million has been committed to rebuilding homes, schools and hospitals in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Society chairman Winston Choo said: "We will stop taking in more projects because I feel that we need $5 million to be set aside in the event that there is cost overrun."

He said the society has found that inflation has crept up "by leaps and bounds", as Today had reported two months ago.

New DBSS site launched in Bishan

The Housing and Development Board will launch the fourth site under the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) today. The 15,000-sq-m plot of land at Bishan Street 24 has a maximum allowable gross floor area of about 53,000 sq m, and the building height is restricted to 153m.

The site is a few streets away from Bishan MRT station and next to schools such as Catholic High, Raffles Institution and Raffles College.

The tender closes on Feb 19 and the successful bidder has 48 months from the date of the award to complete the project. Flats sold under the DBSS come with a 99-year lease and will be offered to buyers under similar HDB eligibility conditions as flats developed by HDB.

New contract for SIA CEO

Singapore Airlines CEO Chew Choon Seng (picture) is getting a new service contract, which supersedes his current one due to expire in June 2009.

The SIA board announced yesterday that his new three-year contract would run from next month to December 2010, and thanked the CEO and his management team for SIA's "excellent performance" the past four years and its record profits in the 2006-07 financial year.

The company also announced two new management appointments.

Mr Mak Swee Wah is promoted from senior vice-president (planning) to executive vice-president for operations and services, while Mr Ng Chin Hwee joins as executive vice-president for human resource and planning from listed subsidiary Sats, where he was CEO.

Source: Today Online

Top resorts for 2008 named

The top resorts tipped to be the places to go in 2008 have been named by long-haul travel experts Tropical Sky.

Among the company's top tips are resorts on the Caribbean island of Grenada, the Maldives archipelago and Kenya's sandy coast.

La Source in Grenada, "one of the new breed of health-oriented all-inclusive resorts", is set to reopen after being updated, renovated and extended in February 2008, after being damaged by a hurricane three years ago.

Featuring 110 colonial-style rooms, 40 acres to relax in by the island's Pink Gin beach, lots of spa treatments and a long, long list of active holiday opportunities, Tropical Sky say the resort offers "something for everyone".

Also new for 2008 is the Diva Island Resort & Spa, in the Maldives, planned to open in March.

"Located in Dhidhoofinolhu, Diva Island is 25 minutes from Malé by seaplane and 2.5 hours by boat," Tropical Sky explained.

"The idyllic hideaway is surrounded by a fabulous lagoon, perfect for swimming and snorkelling and it also boasts a prime dive site on its doorstep.

"For those who prefer dry land, there is a wide variety of activities available, including beach volley, table tennis, badminton, floodlit tennis courts, a gym, billiards, table football and an extensive choice of dining options and bars."

Down as Tropical Sky quirky pick for next year, Gazi Retreat in Kenya is located by a forest, mangroves and a beach, and offers luxury tent accommodation for "a back-to-nature experience that's second to none".

"Resort facilities include a beauty salon offering rejuvenating treatments and a small water-sports centre including boogie boarding, kayaking, windsurfing and snorkelling. Bush walks, heritage visits, diving, deep sea fishing and sunset cruises are also available," Tropical Sky explained.

"Food is simple but fresh with breakfast served on the private terrace, lunch chosen from the snack grill and dinner on offer at the a la carte restaurant. The team behind the new development whole-heartedly supports responsible tourism and works closely with local communities to replenish resources used and contributes to local development projects."

Source: Travel Bite UK

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Maldivian President here on 16th of January 2008


His Excellency Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the President of the Republic of Maldives and Madam Nasreena M.A. Gayoom and the delegation are scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka on a state visit from 16 to 19 January 2008, stated M.M. Jaffeer, Chief Protocol for Foreign Affairs Ministry this afternoon.

While in the island President Gayoom and his delegation will follow a tight programme in Colombo and the outstations. The main highlight of the programme would be the meeting of President Gayoom and the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The two Heads of State will sign an agreement on ‘Transfer of Prisoners’ at a special meeting. President Gayoom and his delegation are expected to visit Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Sigiriya during their brief stay here, the sources added.

Being members of the SAARC nations Sri Lanka and Maldives have been maintaining cordial relations over a number of years.

Source: Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bridal pair's holiday refund


A HOLIDAY company has offered a full refund to a Fylde couple after their honeymoon was cancelled.

Yesterday’s Gazette revealed how Richard Taylor and Lindsay Reidy of Acres Lane, Preesall, had booked to stay at the Herathera resort in the Maldives.

The couple (pictured) claimed that two weeks before they were due to fly out on their dream trip they were told, despite booking the holiday in April, the resort was not finished and they wouldn’t be able to go.

They then booked another holiday through another agent.

Now First Choice has apologised and offered the couple their money back.

A company spokeswoman said: “First Choice is sorry to learn that Mr Taylor and Ms Reidy have cancelled their honeymoon to the Herathera resort in the Maldives.

“Due to reasons beyond our control, including heavy rainfall on the island, there were delays to the completion of Herathera resort despite our management team working around the clock to get facilities completed.

“As valued customers, our team in the First Choice Travel Shop in Blackpool spent many hours trying to find an alternative holiday for Mr Taylor and Ms Reidy but were unsuccessful given the limited availability.

“Therefore, while we regret their decision to cancel their holiday with First Choice, we would like to offer our deepest apologies for any inconvenience caused.

“We have offered the couple a full refund and would like to wish them a lovely honeymoon and, as valued customers, we hope they will consider using First Choice again for any future holidays.”

Source: The Gazette UK

A violent neighbourhood

An idle mind, it has been wisely said, is a devil's workshop. The point can be illustrated in several ways but altogether the best example is to be found in what is happening in South Asia. The region comprises India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan. Almost 1.6 billion people live there. Amazingly, except for Bhutan and the Maldives, every other country has some sort of internal strife, accompanied by enormous violence.

In some places this strife is because of identity issues (Sinhala vs Tamil, Hindu vs Muslim). In others it is because of bad governance, the best example being Nepal but also perhaps Bangladesh and Pakistan. In yet others, it is because of deep-running political divisions (jihadists vs moderates in Pakistan).

These specific reasons aside, the main feature that stands out is the sheer scale of violence and mayhem that goes on, without let. The scale of killings in Jammu and Kashmir, for instance, or on the Pakistan-Afghan border, and of course in the civil war in Sri Lanka, perhaps dwarfs every other country except for Iraq and Sudan.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto last Thursday is only the latest episode in this bloody opera. The only reason it is different is that it was not some poor citizen who was killed 20 of them did die along with her but no one has bothered to name them but a sort of modern-day princess.

The same thing happens elsewhere in the region. It is only when a VIP gets killed that there is a heads-up. Otherwise, violence has become such an everyday part of life the people just shrug and get on with their lives.

Should governments of the region also carry on as though all this is normal? Shouldn't they be doing a great deal more to improve matters in what is arguably the world's most dangerous region? When the question is posed, the answers come from the law and order and/or security side. That is, every government in the region sees the problem mainly as a policing problem.

While that is no doubt true in an obvious sort of way, such a limited approach does not help to get to the root of the problem, namely, the role played by low economic growth, an average of 6 per cent' and limited employment and business opportunities for ordinary people.

There are simply too many people wandering around with a sense of real or imagined grievance. The ground is so fertile that it has become possible for any half-credible ideological explanation and oriented towards a violent solution to have sufficient appeal. Ask the Naxalites in 160 of India's poorer districts, and you will get the echo.

The economic problems are well known but worth repeating. The manufacturing sector contributes only barely 15 per cent of GDP, whereas it could well be at least twice that. Indeed, in India employment in industry actually declined between 1996 and 2002, which was a period of low growth. In Sri Lanka, far too many firms hire fewer than 15 workers so that they can avoid paying an average of 175 weeks of severance pay.

Even outside of manufacturing, far too many South Asians live in rural areas in abject poverty with no hope of a better life. China has shown how people will accept even the absence of civil liberties if the rulers ensure for them a better physical quality of life, and upward economic mobility.

In South Asia, which has mostly democratic regimes (however imperfect), the opposite is the case and for the poor is at least as unsatisfactory as the Chinese option.

Source: Business Standard

US Department of Defense announcement include maldives jail

The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of ten detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Saudi Arabia. These detainees were determined to be eligible for transfer following a comprehensive series of review processes.

The transfer is a demonstration of the United States’ desire not to hold detainees any longer than necessary. It also underscores the processes put in place to assess each individual and make a determination about their detention while hostilities are ongoing – an unprecedented step in the history of warfare.

The Department of Defense has determined – through its comprehensive review processes - that more than 60 detainees at Guantanamo are eligible for transfer or release. Departure of these detainees is subject to ongoing discussions between the United States and other nations.

Since 2002, approximately 500 detainees have departed Guantanamo for other countries including Albania, Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, France, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom and Yemen.
Source:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Marines teach martial arts to Maldivians

Six Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructors and one instructor trainer from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) recently trained soldiers from the 20th Special Task Force, Maldives National Defence Force, here.

The MNDF soldiers from the island nation got a rare opportunity to build their martial arts skills and warrior ethos by learning from Marine martial arts instructors Dec. 15-22.
Sgt. Gustavo Terrazas, a MCMAP instructor trainer and Santa Ana, Calif. native, was tasked with tailoring an intensive martial arts course for 60 MNDF soldiers.

“I had to design a training schedule that would give them the most tools in the least amount of time,” he said.

Terrazas said he started with a tan belt base and added selected gray and green belt techniques throughout. To train their mental discipline, Terrazas taught MNDF instructors how to build a soldier’s warrior ethos.

“One thing that makes MCMAP successful is the three disciplines it contains,” Terrazas said. “They are mental, character and physical discipline, also called the MCMAP synergy. The only way to build a complete warrior is to practice all three disciplines.”
In addition to basic throws, punches and kicks, the students were introduced to boxing, pugil sticks and a cohesion room, an intense circuit training course that focuses on team work and unit cohesion.

“It was a new experience fighting the way (Marines) do,” said Sgt. Yoosuf Rasheed, a 20th STF instructor who attended the course. “The intensity of the fighting adds a different dimension to the training. The students said they found the fights realistic and gained confidence in themselves.”

The Marine instructors also threw some drills at the soldiers to challenge their abilities and push their mental and physical limits. One such drill was the cohesion room.

“The purpose of the cohesion room was to build unity within a squad and for the soldiers to be able to fight in a combat engagement when completely fatigued,” Terrazas said.
Working as a team, each individual squad had to complete a certain amount of time in the room before they could leave. If one member did not complete a specific exercise, more time was added.

“The cohesion room was a great experience and really built our mental strength,” Rasheed said. “The room worked and we really came together to do our best.”
Terrazas said he received positive feedback from the instructors at the conclusion of the training and that he is confident that they gained valuable knowledge for future MNDF soldiers.

“I know this training is going to help them,” Terrazas said. “All the NCO’s I’ve talked to already have plans to implement things we have taught them into their training.”

**For more information about the 11th MEU (SOC) visit their website at http://www.usmc.mil/11thmeu.

Source: http://www.marines.mil

Alcatel India MD Sharma resigns

Alcatel India MD & South Asia region head Ravi Sharma is believed to have put in his papers. The sudden move comes close on the heels of the recent restructuring in the company, which has raised many an eyebrow.

In the changed dispensation, South Asia regional unit — which consists of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal and Bhutan — has been reorganised by merging Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives with another regional unit.

India along with Nepal and Bhutan is now known as the India regional unit. “I am head of South Asia regional unit (including India) till the year end,” is all that Mr Sharma had to say when contacted. He, however, added that Vivek Mohan, who was heading services business in Alcatel, is being appointed as head of India RU.

Sources say, in the new organisation announced last week, Mr Sharma was promoted as advisor to president on Asian regional operators. So it comes as a surprise that a head honcho, who is credited with the transformation of South Asia for the telecom major, should quit at a time when he is being awarded with a higher responsibility.

Sources, however, point that the reduced size of the India unit in the new dispensation might have crystallised Sharma’s decision to move on. And even though the new position looks like an elevation for Mr Sharma, it will take him away from the hub of action that is, South Asia including India.

Mr Sharma, who had an excellent rapport with Alcatel global chairman Serge Tchuruk and got his whole-hearted support in expanding India operations, is credited with putting Alcatel on a fast track in South Asia.

He established India as a manufacturing hub for Alcatel by getting in to “transfer of technology” agreement with ITI and established two GSM manufacturing facilities with ITI at Mankapur and Rai Bareli.

Source: The Economist

Alcatel India MD Sharma resigns

Alcatel India MD & South Asia region head Ravi Sharma is believed to have put in his papers. The sudden move comes close on the heels of the recent restructuring in the company, which has raised many an eyebrow.

In the changed dispensation, South Asia regional unit — which consists of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal and Bhutan — has been reorganised by merging Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives with another regional unit.

India along with Nepal and Bhutan is now known as the India regional unit. “I am head of South Asia regional unit (including India) till the year end,” is all that Mr Sharma had to say when contacted. He, however, added that Vivek Mohan, who was heading services business in Alcatel, is being appointed as head of India RU.

Sources say, in the new organisation announced last week, Mr Sharma was promoted as advisor to president on Asian regional operators. So it comes as a surprise that a head honcho, who is credited with the transformation of South Asia for the telecom major, should quit at a time when he is being awarded with a higher responsibility.

Sources, however, point that the reduced size of the India unit in the new dispensation might have crystallised Sharma’s decision to move on. And even though the new position looks like an elevation for Mr Sharma, it will take him away from the hub of action that is, South Asia including India.

Mr Sharma, who had an excellent rapport with Alcatel global chairman Serge Tchuruk and got his whole-hearted support in expanding India operations, is credited with putting Alcatel on a fast track in South Asia.

He established India as a manufacturing hub for Alcatel by getting in to “transfer of technology” agreement with ITI and established two GSM manufacturing facilities with ITI at Mankapur and Rai Bareli.

Source: The Economist

'Honeymoon dream ruined' say couple

A COUPLE say their dreams of a honeymoon in the Maldives were left in ruins by a high street holiday company.
Richard Taylor and Lindsay Reidy, of Acres Lane, Preesall, booked to stay at the fancy Herathera resort on the tropical island hoping for the holiday of a lifetime to celebrate their marriage.

But the couple claim that just two weeks before they were due to fly out on their dream trip, First Choice told them there was a problem – the place was still unfinished.

Problems

The couple, both 29, were told that building work around the hotel, which they booked from the company's brochure in April, was still going on.

Having shelled out a small fortune for the holiday – rooms can cost up to $575 (£289) per night according to the resort's own website – they were furious and did their own internet research to look into the area's problems.

Richard, who runs a business training company, said: "To be told two weeks before we were due to fly out was a disgrace.

"We went on the internet and there were testimonials and YouTube clips showing problems at the resort.

"They were scathing, saying the resort wasn't built and the clips showed the place looking unfinished.

"To offer us a holiday in April to a resort that wasn't properly finished seems terrible, especially since it looked fantastic in the pictures."

With other places fully booked, Richard and Lindsay were offered alternative accommodation at a lower grade hotel and, they claim, just £30 compensation.

Not happy with a downgraded honeymoon, the couple contacted another agent, Gill Walker from Prestige Vacations, and within 24 hours the couple were booked on a flight going to a resort they were happy with.

Relieved Lindsay, who works in a nursery, said: "It is sad that this whole scenario could have been avoided if First Choice had kept their customers better informed and showed a little effort when picking up the pieces."

Richard added: "We're glad it's been sorted now but obviously we feel very let down and it's hard to believe that First Choice would offer such poor customer service."

Nobody from First Choice was available to comment.

Source: UK Gazette

'Honeymoon dream ruined' say couple

A COUPLE say their dreams of a honeymoon in the Maldives were left in ruins by a high street holiday company.
Richard Taylor and Lindsay Reidy, of Acres Lane, Preesall, booked to stay at the fancy Herathera resort on the tropical island hoping for the holiday of a lifetime to celebrate their marriage.

But the couple claim that just two weeks before they were due to fly out on their dream trip, First Choice told them there was a problem – the place was still unfinished.

Problems

The couple, both 29, were told that building work around the hotel, which they booked from the company's brochure in April, was still going on.

Having shelled out a small fortune for the holiday – rooms can cost up to $575 (£289) per night according to the resort's own website – they were furious and did their own internet research to look into the area's problems.

Richard, who runs a business training company, said: "To be told two weeks before we were due to fly out was a disgrace.

"We went on the internet and there were testimonials and YouTube clips showing problems at the resort.

"They were scathing, saying the resort wasn't built and the clips showed the place looking unfinished.

"To offer us a holiday in April to a resort that wasn't properly finished seems terrible, especially since it looked fantastic in the pictures."

With other places fully booked, Richard and Lindsay were offered alternative accommodation at a lower grade hotel and, they claim, just £30 compensation.

Not happy with a downgraded honeymoon, the couple contacted another agent, Gill Walker from Prestige Vacations, and within 24 hours the couple were booked on a flight going to a resort they were happy with.

Relieved Lindsay, who works in a nursery, said: "It is sad that this whole scenario could have been avoided if First Choice had kept their customers better informed and showed a little effort when picking up the pieces."

Richard added: "We're glad it's been sorted now but obviously we feel very let down and it's hard to believe that First Choice would offer such poor customer service."

Nobody from First Choice was available to comment.

Source:

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bus Advertising Campaign of the Maldives in South Africa


The Maldives has launched a bus advertising campaign of Maldives in South Africa. Two double Decker buses will feature Maldives from 1st December 2007 to 31st May 2008. These buses will cover main bus routes in Johannesburg.

The objective of this outdoor campaign is to further promote Maldives in South Africa. China Eastern Airline operates four flights per week between Male’ and Johannesburg route using Airbus A340-300 aircraft.

Maldives also held road shows in three big cities in South Africa including Johannesburg during August 2007. South Africa is an important emerging market for Maldives. Maldives welcomed 2487 visitors from South Africa from January to October of 2007.

Source: MTPB

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Singapore Red Cross to cease Tidal Waves Asia Fund programme

The Singapore Red Cross Society which established the Tidal Waves Asia Fund to help victims of the 2004 tsunami has reported good progress on various reconstruction projects.

A total of S$88 million were raised and so far S$83 million have been committed to rebuilding homes, schools and hospitals in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

But the Singapore Red Cross has decided to end the funding programme.

Chairman of the Singapore Red Cross Society Winston Choo said, "We will stop taking in more projects because I feel that we need that five million to be set aside in the event that there'll be cost over-run. We have, over the life of this activity, found that inflation has been creeping in (by) leaps and bounds, so it's necessary for us to set aside some money for possible cost over-run."

"What we have done so far is to give them a lift. In the end, it's important that… local government can go on to do the work themselves," he added.

The Singapore Red Cross is confident that the funds have been well spent, and it has also put in place measures to ensure that the money is properly managed.

From desalination plants in Maldives to schools and a pier in Meulaboh, Indonesia, to houses in Sri Lanka, about half of the projects have been completed.

And the Singapore Red Cross expects most of the projects to be ready by December next year, with some hospital construction and government projects to be concluded in June 2009.
Although funding stops, the work continues.

Mr Choo said, "We've helped to build kindergartens, build schools. What we would like to be able to do is to send Singaporeans across to share skills with the people there and to bring across some of the teachers from there."

The Singapore Red Cross also hopes that non-government organisations and welfare organisations will continue to play their part to help those in need.

Source: Channel News

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Maldives Include in Telegraph Top 10 endangered sites


Antarctica: the Müller ice shelf and the Larsen ice shelf are shrinking dramatically.

Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania: global warming is blamed for melting of the year-round snows at the summit of Africa's highest mountain. They could be gone in 15 years.

The Arctic ice cap: the melting of icebergs and ice caps in the Arctic is blamed on global warming and threatens the habitats of species such as polar bears.

The Maldives: rising sea levels (3½in per year) could make these 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean uninhabitable within 100 years.

Venice: the Italian city is sinking into the Adriatic and rising sea levels could make things worse.

Alaska: American travel agents report thousands heading for the shrinking glaciers and melting permafrost.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia: it's been predicted that rising water temperatures, which are bleaching the famously vivid reefs, will kill 95 per cent of the living coral by 2050.

Kitzbuhel, Austria: the home of the world's most fearsome ski run is among low-lying Alpine ski resorts whose long-term futures are threatened by rising temperatures - on average the warmest they have been for 1,250 years.

Galapagos Islands: rising water temperatures are bleaching coral and causing the deaths of marine species.

Patagonia: South American glaciers are also retreating.

Source: Telegraph

11th MEU medical personnel treat patients, train with doctors in Maldives


Medical personnel from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), concluded medical and dental treatment for hundreds of residents of the Foammulah Atoll, Maldives here today.

Doctors and corpsmen from Combat Logistics Battalion 11, 11th MEU (SOC), provided dental and eye surgery, medical awareness and advanced life support classes to the Maldivians from Dec. 12-20.

The MEU medical personnel treated 180 dental patients, pulled a total of 253 teeth and the optometrists saw 265 patients and performed 12 eye surgeries, according to Lt. Elizabeth Skorey, the CLB-11 medical planner. In addition to the patient treatment, the medical team trained 108 Maldivian medical personnel in advanced trauma and advance cardiac life support and 15 Maldives National Defence Force medics in the combat lifesavers course.

Skorey said the time spent on the atoll, though demanding, was very rewarding for the medical personnel involved.

“Everyone that we encountered was very nice and excited that we were there,” said Skorey, a San Jose, Calif. native. “The patients our medical team treated said they were happy with our care which makes it worthwhile.”

The medical team also visited a local high school and taught the students basic dental hygiene to prevent dental problems in the future. Skorey said the students welcomed them and were eager to learn.

Because of the general hospitality of the people and their enthusiasm to learn, Skorey said she hopes that Marines and sailors continue to visit the Maldives in the future.

“I think they really want us to come back,” she said. “And that’s good because it is definitely a place that other medical teams should visit if they have the chance.”

*For more information about the 11th MEU (SOC) visit their website at http://www.usmc.mil/11thmeu.

Source: Marine Corps News

Thursday, December 20, 2007

World Travel Awards highlights top hotels


International hotel chains were recognised at the 14th Annual World Travel Awards Gala Ceremony, held this month in the Caribbean.

Marriott Hotels Resorts & Suites were crowned the World’s Leading Hotel Brand, while and Burj Al Arab picked up the World’s Leading Hotel category.

Jumeirah was awarded World’s Leading Luxury Hotel Brand and the Maldives Tourism Promotion Board was named the World’s Most Romantic Destination. www.worldtravelawards.com

Source: Luxury Travel

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The first batch of tourists have arrived to Herethere


The first batch of tourists have arrived in Addu atoll\'s Herathere resort which has had an informal opening.

Maldives Tourism Development Cooperation\'s Chairman Hussain Afeef said that 16 tourists had arrived on Saturday and had expressed satisfaction with the resort.

The first international flight is scheduled to arrive at Gan airport next Sunday and many more tourists are expected to arrive thereafter, Afeef told a press conference.

The Condor flight is scheduled to arrive directly from European with 80 Italian tourists.

Maldives Tourism Promotion Board\'s Marketing Executive Mohamed Maleeh said that a special ceremony will be held to mark their arrival.

This resort was originally scheduled to be opened in early November but the opening had to be delayed because some construction works were yet to be finished.

The 600-bed resort will first operate with 273 beds until all works are completed by January 15.

Source: Haveeru News Service

Ahmadinejad confers with Maldives president, Bangladesh premier.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad conferred on Tuesday with the Maldives president and Bangladesh prime minister in Arafat Desert on expansion of mutual ties with those countries.

In the meetings, they prayed for success, dignity and development of Islamic nations and their governments.

Source: IRNA

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

UNICEF releases Tsunami 2007 report

Three years after the Indian Ocean Tsunami claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people and devastated towns and communities, UNICEF has released its 2007 Tsunami report (http://www.unicef.org/emerg/disasterinasia/) highlighting progress made for children since the 2004 catastrophe.

Including a detailed financial analysis of funds collected and expenditures to date, the report shows significant gains in education, particularly in the area of school construction in the eight affected countries. Since 2004, more than 150 million US dollars have been spent on education – more than a third of which were put into use in the past year. UNICEF has completed construction on more than 100 schools, and the building process is underway for another 254.

The report also highlights progress in UNICEF’s other programme areas, including health and nutrition, water and sanitation, HIV/AIDS and child protection in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Some of the achievements in these areas include:

• Construction on 59 health facilities has been completed, while construction is underway on an additional 115;
• More than 20,000 water points have been restored, serving over 730,000 people, and over 42,000 latrines constructed;
• Insecticide-treated mosquito nets have been distributed, benefiting nearly 3.5 million people;
• Over 1.2 million children have benefited from UNICEF’s psycho-social activities;
• HIV/AIDS awareness and education campaigns have reached over 330,000 people.

In addition to UNICEF’s achievements to date, the 2007 Tsunami Monitoring Report also highlights the challenges that often hinder recovery programmes. For example, work in Sri Lanka and Somalia has in some cases been halted due to a resurgence of violence in the past year. Also, construction in Indonesia has been hampered by the lack of new roads and unresolved land titles, monitoring and evaluation in the Maldives by the dispersed geography, and access in Myanmar by geography and security.

Realizing that lasting recovery will take years, UNICEF tries not only to move quickly, but also to be accountable and ensure its work has lasting impact. The aim is not to find quick solutions that cannot be sustained, but to build back better, involving communities and local governments in the recovery and rebuilding process. With these long-term goals in mind, UNICEF’s tsunami programmes and corresponding funding are planned through the end of 2009.

Source: UNICEF

Gulf Craft delivers super yacht Majesty 130


Gulf Craft, the Middle East’s largest boat and yacht manufacturer, is delivering its top-of-the-range super yacht the Majesty 130.

Following successful completion of sea trials, the largest super yacht built in the Middle East is currently on its way to Australia.

The proud owner of the 130 foot Majesty Yacht is an Australian businessman who selected Gulf Craft to build the Majesty Yacht which sleeps eight and features four cabins as well as quarters for six crew members plus a separate cabin for the captain.

The Majesty 130 is the largest vessel in the Majesty Yachts class which begins at the entry level Majesty 44.

Featuring a twin set of 2000hp MTU engines; the super yacht has a fuel capacity of 33,500 liters with the capacity for extended ocean voyages with a maximum range of 3,000 nautical miles.

Exuding elegance, the yacht was designed by Australian interior design specialists Sam Sorgiovanni Design, winners of the prestigious Superyacht Society Design Awards. The team of talented international designers has included premium fittings and finishes throughout to create an ultra luxurious yacht.

“The Majesty 130 demonstrates Gulf Craft’s ability to successfully compete at the highest levels of the international super yacht market by meeting and exceeding the expectations of a discerning clientele,” said executive manager, Gulf Craft, Erwin Bamps.

The yacht will sail to her destination port in Queensland, Australia, via Oman, India, Maldives and Singapore.

The arrival of the Majesty 130 in the Maldives has been carefully planned by Gulf Craft and the yacht’s owner to coincide with the festive season so that celebrations can take place on board the new vessel before continuing onto the final destination via South East Asia.

The completion of the Majesty 130 co-insides with Gulf Craft’s 25th anniversary, during which it has grown from being a relatively small producer of fishing boats and leisure craft to become a global player in the luxury yacht industry.

Source: TradeArabia

Human Rights Commission Releases Salah Report


Maldives police have told an independent inquiry, “procedure” meant a suicidal detainee suffering from heroin withdrawal symptons was released on to the streets of Male' late at night, two days journey from his family and home.

The body of that detainee, Hussein Salah, was found floating in Malé’s harbour, less than thirty six hours later. A seven month investigation by the Human Rights Commission has rejected claims by Salah’s family that police beat their relative to death. But “there is not enough evidence to say for certain Solah was [ever] released from custody,” the report has found.

The one hundred and eighteen page document shows police consistently flouted regulations during Salah’s detention, while senior officers' statements to the commission directly contradict each other. [Read More on Minivan News]

Relative:

Maldives man Hussain Solah 'was not tortured'


Maldives conducts first-ever autopsy to examine suspicious death of dissident


Maldives seeks Sri Lanka's help to conduct independent autopsy on man's death



Special council to look into global warming

Malaysia will set up a special council to discuss and adopt the measures decided at the climate conference in Bali on Saturday.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid said the council would comprise Cabinet ministers as well as Mentris Besar, as most matters were under state jurisdiction.

Speaking to reporters in Lenga, he said there was an urgent need for Malaysia to be committed in resolving problems caused by global warming, which had already started affecting the nation.

"Within one year - in January and December - we have had two big floods; and I have been informed we may face another round of floods following the high tidal season this week," he said after visiting flood victims at SK Lenga relief centre on Monday.

Azmi, who was accompanied by his wife Normala Shamsuddin, said scientists from 180 countries who met in Bali predicted the world would be a lot warmer in the next 10 or 20 years.

He said it was initially predicted the world would be warmer in 2050 but latest information on climate change shared in Bali shortened the time frame to 2030.

He said many low-lying areas along the deltas in Bangladesh had been flooded and hundreds of islands in the Maldives had been badly affected by rising sea levels.

Source: the Star

Monday, December 17, 2007

Not enough money to keep small islands afloat

The new Adaptation Fund for vulnerable countries to cope with global warming, announced at the climate change summit on the Indonesian island of Bali, will not be adequate, said an official of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). "We are already feeling the impact of global warming: beach erosion, coral reef bleaching, high tides, frequent flooding and more intense cyclones and storms," said Angus Friday, AOSIS spokesman and ambassador to the UN for the Caribbean island of Grenada.

Global warming could alter the size and coastlines of some members of the 44-country coalition of small islands and low-lying coastal countries, including Mauritius, Comoros, Sao Tome, Guinea Bissau and Seychelles, all in the Indian Ocean. "Countries like Tuvalu [in the Pacific Ocean] are particularly vulnerable," he added. The AOSIS were participating in the UN climate change conference in Bali, which will launch the process of negotiating a post-2012 deal for industrialised countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions, after the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end. The protocol is a commitment made by rich countries to cut emissions by at least five percent against a 1990 baseline.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said small islands, whether in the tropics or at higher latitudes, have characteristics that make them especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. "Sea-level rise will exacerbate inundation, erosion and other coastal hazards, threaten vital infrastructure, settlements and facilities, and thus compromise the socio-economic well-being of island communities and states," warned the IPCC’s fourth assessment report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.

Island sizes could shrink and water resources would be seriously compromised, the report noted. While Mauritius and most Caribbean islands have good access to water resources at present, in countries like Comoros it has been estimated that only 50 percent of the population have access to safe water.

Costs of survival

The cost of adapting by lifting islands or building sea walls could run to billions, Friday said. "Maldives, which has 1,900 islands, out of which 210 are inhabited, found that the cost of lifting 50 islands would cost about US$1.5 billion." The Adaptation Fund is expected to raise money from a levy of about two percent on credits generated by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), set up under the Kyoto Protocol. The mechanism allows industrialised countries to earn and trade emissions credits by implementing projects in other developed countries or in developing countries, and put the credits towards meeting their reduction targets.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) estimates that the fund will raise up to $300 million a year by 2030, depending on the level of demand in the carbon market, which is still too little to make a real difference. Antonio Hill of the UK-based development agency, Oxfam, said the countries would have to look for additional resources internationally and nationally in the form of taxes on aviation or carbon tariffs at home.

Impact on livelihoods

Livelihoods are at stake: global warming will have an impact on the migratory patterns of fish, said Friday; Tuvalu’s foreign minister, Enele Sopoaga, said subsistence agriculture would be hard hit. According to the IPCC, "surface temperature and rising sea level, increased turbidity, nutrient loading and chemical pollution, damage from tropical cyclones, and decreases in growth rates due to the effects of higher carbon dioxide concentrations on ocean chemistry, are very likely to affect the health of coral reefs and other marine ecosystems which sustain island fisheries."

Tourism, a major income earner for many islands, could be hard hit, the IPCC noted. Not only would beach erosion, degradation of coral reefs and sea-level rise keep visitors away, but a "loss of cultural heritage from inundation and flooding reduces the amenity value for coastal users ... water shortages and increased incidence of vectorborne diseases may also deter tourists." The projected impacts of climate change include extended periods of drought and, on the other hand, loss of soil fertility and degradation as a result of increased precipitation, both of which would negatively impact on agriculture and food security.

Source: Africa Files

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Are you using Dhiraagu ADSL Package wisely? Be carefull !!!!!

It is very likely Maldivian will face this type of billing using dhiraagu ADSL Package. They are increasing the bandwidth but not increase the download and upload allowance for the bandwidth. Please user your ADSL package wisely. Read below article and get the lesson from it before it happen to you.

Canadian hit with whopping 85,000-dollar cellphone bill

An oil field worker in western Canada was shocked this month to be charged 85,000 dollars for surfing the Internet on his new mobile phone, local media said Thursday.

Calgary resident Piotr Staniaszek, 22, had signed up for Bell Canada's cellular phone service at about 150 dollars per month, with unlimited mobile Web browsing.

He believed the plan allowed him to use the phone to connect with his computer, using it as a modem to download a lot of data, high-definition movies and other bandwidth-hungry applications.

But when his first bill arrived in the mail, Staniaszek realized to his horror that the company was charging him on a per-kilobyte basis for Internet downloads.

"I didn't know what to think. I thought there was probably a mistake," he told public broadcaster CBC. "I told them I wasn't aware that I would be charged for hooking up my phone to the computer."

A spokesman for Bell said the company will adjust Staniaszek's bill to 3,243 dollars, as "a measure of goodwill."

But Staniaszek said he still plans to try and fight it, "because I didn't know about the extra charges. Nobody explained any of this to me."

"The thing is, they've cut my phone off for being like 100 dollars over," he told CBC News. "Here, I'm 85,000 dollars over and nobody bothered to give me a call and tell me what was going on."

Source: AFP

Ogilvy Action authors landmark campaign in the Maldives



“Dear Ogilvy Team – on the way to the launch ceremony now and everything looks great. The posters especially look incredible. So large! Thanks for all your hard work, over the past few days. Cheers, Sherine.”

That was the moment of truth the Ogilvy Action Team in Sri Lanka was waiting for. Almost two years ago, Ogilvy was requested by the UNICEF team in the Maldives to conceptualize a proactive campaign, in order to create mass awareness on the issue of drug abuse in the Republic of the Maldives. ‘Kill Brown’ was born as a result of this request.

While both teams were excited about this initial concept, we soon realized that the sensitivities on the issue required a much more lifestyle oriented, in-your-face approach, if the campaign was to make an impact in the Maldives.

As the first step to the strategy, Ogilvy captured and produced a compelling documentary, post the ‘Revival Concert’, which gave a platform for the recovering addicts to express themselves on an open forum. This experience gave the Ogilvy team the opportunity to interact and be involved with both addicts and recovering addicts in order to understand the deep emotions they were grappling with in the face of the scourge the Maldivian society was trying to rid itself from.

UNICEF, in keeping with the UN regulations opened the campaign bid to interested local and international advertising agencies in order to pick the right campaign partner to plan, strategise, produce and implement this very important Social Marketing campaign, which was incidentally the first of its kind.

Ken Maskall, UNICEF Representative in the Maldives, gave leadership to the project while his able communications team passionately supported the cause. Key partners for the campaign were many, who played an equally active part, in order to make sure that no stone was left unturned. The National Narcotics Control Bureau (NNCB) and Journey – a self help group of recovering addicts were the most involved in the development of the campaign. Other partners included were Dhiraagu – the premier telecom provider to the Maldives (incidentally another client of Ogilvy Action) and TV Maldives (TVM).

After winning the bid, Ogilvy spent a couple of days in the Maldives moderating a workshop of many different input groups such as recovering addicts, Journey members, students, affected

family members, NNCB representatives, the Police force, TV Maldives, government officials, representatives from Dhiraagu and of course the team from UNICEF amongst others. This was one of the most memorable workshops the Ogilvy Team has ever been a part of. Emotions were high as the group listened to candid and truthful moments shared by recovering addicts and affected family members.

The passion and the energy that flowed in the room was electric. It is no wonder then, that at the end of a four-day strenuous workshop, the strong and emotive call to action campaign line was born. The beauty of this concept was that it was suggested by the participants themselves, after they went through the rigorous idea generating process initiated by the Ogilvy team.

Thinking, discussing and conceptualizing extended late into the nights. The Ogilvy Team spent many a night and evenings mingling and hanging out with diversely effected groups in order to understand the psyche of the victims just to make sure the authored campaign was going to create the best impact for the Maldives.

The ‘Wake Up’ campaign had to touch and speak to many different audiences in many differing tones. That was the most difficult task as most campaigns would generally have one core target group to be addressed. The different audiences spanned from addicts to recovering addicts to vulnerable kids, to youth to affected families.

The initial concepts were tested for acceptance and validity amongst the target groups prior to finalizing the campaign.

The campaign had many legs too. TV, print, radio, testimonials, brochures, posters, stickers, coasters, bill boards and most importantly, a website that was inaugurated by none other than the President of the Maldives himself. Each of these collaterals had to be created for each of the differing audiences. This was a task by itself. Of course all material was created in Dhivehi!

The TV commercials numbering six and documentaries numbering eight were all shot on location in the Maldives, covering Male and other neighbouring islands with maximum support and corporation by UNICEF and the Journey partners.

A comprehensive situation analysis in the form of a publication completed the campaign materials for this extremely crucial project. The input and involvement from the UNICEF communication team was immeasurable.

The effect of all the hard work, commitment and anxiety of developing a campaign of this nature can be measured only after the campaign truly runs its course in the planned manner. We can’t wait to see the impact!

Source: The Sunday Times By Sandya Salgado

Tsunami survivors capture images of their own recovery

As the third anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami approaches, the British Red Cross has opened an innovative photographic exhibition that displays images taken by tsunami survivors in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Three years on from the tsunami, which devastated vast swathes of Asia, people whose lives were torn apart have taken part in a photography project to show how they are putting their lives back together.

Officially opening the exhibition London, Shahid Malik MP, a minister for international development said: "There are some really remarkable and powerful images - you can't help but be moved. These are people who are continuing with life despite tragedy.

"These photo's give us a real sense of the courage, determination and resilience of the people caught up in the tsunami. I pay tribute to the Red Cross for the enormous response they delivered."

The project involved photographer Ruth Robinson working with around 90 tsunami survivors, who took their own photographs and then explained them in their own words through the captions.

“Taking part in this project and speaking to people about their photographs was incredibly moving,” said Ms Robinson.

“One picture that really stands out was by a man in Indonesia called Bakhtiar. At first it looks like an amusing picture of a toddler in a nappy with sunglasses on, but when the individual explained his picture to me a heart-wrenching story was behind it.”

She explained: “He took the picture for remembrance of his family members who died in the tsunami, in particular his nephew who Bakhtiar was trying to hold onto but the tsunami swept him away.”

The British Red Cross project aims to be empowering for those involved and offers a unique insight into their thoughts and feelings.

One of the participants, 34-year-old, Soufan from Addalachchenai, Sri Lanka, explained: “I have taken these pictures to touch your minds and hearts and I hope the people who come to see these pictures at the exhibition will be inspired by our communities and our lives.”

“It is important that we feed back to the public how their donations have made a difference to people’s lives,” said Matthias Schmale, director of international at the British Red Cross. “What better way than to enable those who were caught up in this tsunami to tell their own stories of their recovery?”

The exhibition is open to the public from Thursday 6 December to Sunday 6 January at the.gallery@oxo on the South Bank in London. Open daily (except closed 24-25 Dec and 1 Jan), Open from 11am to 6pm (except 26 and 31 Dec, 11am to 4pm).

Source: By Georgina Cooper, British Red Cross, Reliefweb

Tsunami survivors capture images of their own recovery

As the third anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami approaches, the British Red Cross has opened an innovative photographic exhibition that displays images taken by tsunami survivors in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Three years on from the tsunami, which devastated vast swathes of Asia, people whose lives were torn apart have taken part in a photography project to show how they are putting their lives back together.

Officially opening the exhibition London, Shahid Malik MP, a minister for international development said: "There are some really remarkable and powerful images - you can't help but be moved. These are people who are continuing with life despite tragedy.

"These photo's give us a real sense of the courage, determination and resilience of the people caught up in the tsunami. I pay tribute to the Red Cross for the enormous response they delivered."

The project involved photographer Ruth Robinson working with around 90 tsunami survivors, who took their own photographs and then explained them in their own words through the captions.

“Taking part in this project and speaking to people about their photographs was incredibly moving,” said Ms Robinson.

“One picture that really stands out was by a man in Indonesia called Bakhtiar. At first it looks like an amusing picture of a toddler in a nappy with sunglasses on, but when the individual explained his picture to me a heart-wrenching story was behind it.”

She explained: “He took the picture for remembrance of his family members who died in the tsunami, in particular his nephew who Bakhtiar was trying to hold onto but the tsunami swept him away.”

The British Red Cross project aims to be empowering for those involved and offers a unique insight into their thoughts and feelings.

One of the participants, 34-year-old, Soufan from Addalachchenai, Sri Lanka, explained: “I have taken these pictures to touch your minds and hearts and I hope the people who come to see these pictures at the exhibition will be inspired by our communities and our lives.”

“It is important that we feed back to the public how their donations have made a difference to people’s lives,” said Matthias Schmale, director of international at the British Red Cross. “What better way than to enable those who were caught up in this tsunami to tell their own stories of their recovery?”

The exhibition is open to the public from Thursday 6 December to Sunday 6 January at the.gallery@oxo on the South Bank in London. Open daily (except closed 24-25 Dec and 1 Jan), Open from 11am to 6pm (except 26 and 31 Dec, 11am to 4pm).

Source: By Georgina Cooper, British Red Cross, Reliefweb

Wake-up call on effects of global warming


CLIMATE change has been on The Body Shop's agenda since the early 1990s. It ran a campaign on acid rain in 1992/93.

For its latest campaign, The Body Shop Malaysia collaborated with Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) to send out an important message about global warming.


With the help of advertising agency Grey Worldwide Sdn Bhd, The Body Shop produced five picture-perfect postcards highlighting the imminent effects of global warming on popular holiday destinations, flora and fauna, and traditional communities that were familiar to everyone.

The postcards depict images of the island paradise of Maldives, polar bears of the Artic, islanders of Kiribati, dive spots of Pulau Redang and the livelihood of fishermen along the coastline of Terengganu.

It aimed to give the public a wake-up call that these popular and priceless sights may disappear forever due to global warming.

Grey also designed limited edition T-shirts as part of the campaign.

Rampai Niaga Sdn Bhd managing director Datin Mina Cheah-Foong said MNS shared information on global warming, Grey gave creative input and The Body Shop poured in financial resources.

“The campaign will run for the whole of December. We are targeting consumers visiting our outlets.

“We try to bring it down to consumers that climate change is such a huge problem that no one can handle it alone.

“Corporations have a bigger responsibility mainly because they are the biggest polluters.

“As a retailer, we have responsibility too but we also need customers' support,” she said, adding that by getting consumers to change, they would be able to effect change on other retailers.

For example, Foong said retailers should put aside competition when it came to issues such as phasing out the use of plastic bags.

“Consumers have the power to change but they do not realise it. Therefore, we have to get through to the consumers,” she added.

The Body Shop's projects for the environment are inter-related. Foong said the company would continue with efforts to get Temenggor forest gazetted as a state park next year. Some 117,500ha of the total 300,000ha of the Belum-Temenggor forest reserve were gazetted in May.

The preservation of rainforest is also linked to global warming.

Foong added that global warming was a threat to reefs and The Body Shop would continue on a project to preserve reefs.

Source: The Star Online

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Liberal Party is Deemed Registered in the Maldives


In the press conference I had this afternoon I was asked about the validity of the claim made by Male’ MP Ibrahim Ismail as regards the deemed registration of his Social Liberal Party. The facts surrounding registration of Social Liberal Party are well publicized. Is it deemed registered as claimed by Ibrahim Ismail? Well, that is a moot point that may be argued both ways. However much one may not like the present set of circumstances, it is my professional belief that his party is now deemed registered. Read full story on live-pr.com

Maldives Attorney General Azima, made it clear that she is not fit for the job. How?

The hard truth is that the government secretly gave up 35 miles of the EEZ in 1993- and it cannot be won back! This concession was made by Attorney-General Azima Shukoor on live TV and radio, seen and heard in Colombo. There is joy today in Sri Lanka as the Maldives concedes that Sri Lankan fisherman can freely enter and travel through Maldivian waters.

The hard truth is that the government secretly gave up 35 miles of the EEZ in 1993- and it cannot be won back! This concession was made by Attorney-General Azima Shukoor on live TV and radio, seen and heard in Colombo. There is joy today in Sri Lanka as the Maldives concedes that Sri Lankan fisherman can freely enter and travel through Maldivian waters.

Our jurisdiction over the EEZ arises from the Law of the Sea. We had no right to claim 200-mile EEZ before we ratified the Law of Sea Treaty in 2000," said Azima, in explaining why the Maldives did not object to UKs' declaration in October 1991 of sovereignty over some 70 miles of Maldivian EEZ south of Addu.

"How can we claim 200 miles for us before we ratified Law of the Sea? We ratified the Law of the Sea only in 2000," said Azima.

Azima may not have known the minefield that she was entering. President Gayoom had asked her to go on TV and bash Dr Hassan Saeed. But Azima ended up bashing the Maldivian fishing community and Maldivian sovereignty; and in the process proving to the rest of the country that she has no clue about international law.

What did Hassan Saeed actually say?
On Friday night, former Attorney-General, Dr Hassan Saeed said that President Gayoom did not take national interests seriously and cited refusal to hire an international expert to contest UK's claim over 70 miles of Maldivian Exclusive Economic Zone south of Addu Atoll Gan. Hassan warned that if the government did not act fast enough, it risked losing sovereignty over the waters forever.

This allegation immediately set the midnight oil burning in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Fisheries, the Attorney-General's Office and the President's Office. Teams of lawyers sifted through reams of paper in stacks of boxed files to refute the allegation. A press conference was called for the following Sunday. The mission of this endeavour was not to protect national sovereignty or to inform the truth to the people, but to lambast Dr Hassan Saeed, and if possible, his associate the former Foreign Minister and if possible Hassan's new found political ally and predecessor, Dr Munavvar.

Enter Janet Reno
The stage was set, and the lights went out, and in marched Janet Reno and her team at Dharubaaruge. The intention was to accuse all three of neglect. But what happened was quite the opposite.

Azima ended up confirming that, yes, part of the EEZ was being claimed by UK and that the Maldives has so far not forwarded a counter claim. She also confirmed Hassan's allegation that his request for government funds to hire an expert was refused by Government in November 2005 and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was asked to find a donor who can provide an expert.

While conceding this, Azima used the platform to say that the President had fired 8 letters to the Attorney-General and the Foreign Minister between 1998 and 2007, as if to say that the President was on the ball on this subject. She lied about government already having surrendered a 35 mile area to the UK in 1993- even 100 letters from the President's Office to the AG since 1998 cannot erase the previous crime committed in 1993.

Azima's incompetence?
But Azima conceded much more than the accuracy of Hassan's allegations. Azima in fact made it clear that she was not suited for the job. How?

A reporter asked her why the government had not protested to UK's claim over part of Maldivian EEZ, ever since the UK advanced the claim on 1 October 1991. Her response was shocking: "You see, we could not advance a claim to 200 miles before we ratified the Law of the Sea Convention. We ratified the Convention in 2000."

That was a shocker! How can the Attorney-General say that we had no legal right to a 200-mile EEZ before we ratified Law of the Sea Convention? Is she not aware that the Law of the Sea Convention codified what was already widespread State practice? Is she not aware that our own current maritime law, dating from 1998, in fact claims 200-mile EEZ? Is she not aware that even before that time, we had been claiming 200-mile EEZ?

This point would not be worth noting if it was only to point out Azima's incompetence. Any person who claims to be a lawyer without reading for a basic law degree will definitely be incompetent. But there is more to this. The fisheries ministry in Sri Lanka has at last got the government of Maldives where it wants. For years, they have been trying to force the Maldives to concede that it will abide by the Law of the Sea provisions and allow right of innocent passage to Sri Lankan fishing vessels. Now they have got it straight from the horse’s mouth – our very own Attorney General.

What Azima did not know!
Azima's answer was clearly wrong. The Maldives right to 200 mile EEZ does not emerge from the Law of the Sea Treaty. Being the Attorney-General of Maldives, her ignorance of international law is nothing short of a catastrophe! International law is not just based on conventions and treaties. In fact, the traditional source of international law is customary law. The 200 mile EEZ has long been claimed by most states of the world, apart from maritime powers like the US who advocate freedom of the seas for their warships. What Law of the Sea Convention did was to codify existing State Practice. Thus, the Maldives claim to 200 mile EEZ arises from our own Act of Parliament. The current Act dates from 1998. According to Azima, that Act was meaningless until we ratified Law of the Sea Treaty in 2000! What rubbish! In actual fact, long before the 1998, the Maldives has been claiming 200 mile EEZ and arresting trespassing fishing vessels. It was our customary practice.

Azima went on to contradict herself in every department. The UK ratified the Law of the Sea on 25 July 1997. In that case, how come the UK could claim 200 miles for Chagos in 1991?

Government Failure
Clearly, the government failed to protest to the UK in 1991. Clearly it should have done so when the UK claimed 200 miles of EEZ. However, one of the most serious failures of this government was in 1993, when the government agreed with the UK on dividing the waters equally between the UK and Maldives, with each getting some 165 mile EEZ.

The million dollar question is did anyone take bribes for agreeing to that? Why is that document kept confidential? Why did Azima lie about what is in that document? Has the Maldives ever told the UK that we do not agree to give up part of our EEZ? The government also failed to protest to the UK in 1997 when UK lodged a claim for part of our EEZ at the UN. Why? The government also failed to protest to the UK in 2003 when it declared an EPPZ over part of our EEZ. Why? The government failed to give the money Dr Hassan Saeed to hire an expert to protest to the UK and take UK to the Court. Why? The truth is, in 1993, we had given up 35 miles of our EEZ to the UK!

Source: by Badruddeen Naseem Live-Pr

Friday, December 14, 2007

Maldives bomb plotters jailed for 15 years

Three Maldivian men have been sentenced to 15 years in jail for carrying out a bombing that wounded 12 tourists, the first recorded attack by Islamic militants in the Indian Ocean island chain.

Moosa Inas, Ahmed Naseer and Mohamed Sobah were found guilty under the Maldives Terrorism Act of "causing bodily harm with the intention of creating fear or terror", after they confessed to planting and detonating the bomb in the capital Male's Sultan Park.

"Because of the nature of the crime I cannot show leniency," Judge Abdullah Arif said as he passed sentence on Thursday at Male's Criminal Court. Under Maldives law, 15 years is the maximum sentence for an act of terrorism in which no one was killed.

Thirteen other men have been charged in relation to the Sept. 29 blast, which the defendants have said was planned as a deliberate attack on the tourism industry, the linchpin of the Maldives $1 billion economy.

Three others will face trial this year, but 10 men who police say masterminded the attack left for Pakistan in the days preceding the explosion. An Interpol warrant has been issued for their arrest. The Government has not said whether it will exercise the option of trying the 10 men in their absence.

"Investigations into the bombing revealed that the major role in the crime was committed by these three people," the Maldives Police Service said in a statement on its Web site (www.police.gov.mv), which carried pictures of the three.

"They confessed to their crime requesting the court to finish the case as soon as possible by issuing a justified verdict."

The Maldives remains on high alert, with the Government aware a further militant attack could be fatal to the reputation of the Maldives as a tourist idyll. Celebrities and honeymooners pay up to $1,000 a night to stay in villas standing on stilts in the island chain's 60 resorts.

In November, police uncovered a plot to detonate a second device simultaneously with the Sultan Park bomb.

The explosion has led to speculation about links between international Islamist militant organisations and the Maldives.

The Indian newspaper the Hindu alleged links between the Sultan Park bombers and Kashmiri group Lashkar-e-Taiba, while a propaganda video shot inside a radical Maldives mosque was posted on an Internet forum associated with al Qaeda in November.

Source: (Reporting by Ajay Makan; Editing by Alex Richardson) Reuters

Maldivian parties form National Alliance


Maldivian political parties comprising the Maldivian Democratic Party, Islamic Democratic party of Maldives, National Maldivian Movement and SLP of Maldives have established a political party called the National Unity Alliance to protect the democratic rights of the people and to restore harmony and peace in the country, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed the representative of Maldivian Democratic Party said yesterday.

A new constitution will be introduced without jeopardizing stability of the nation to formulate a democratic environment within the country.

He said more than 95 per cent of the Maldivian population are frustrated with Mahmoor Abdul Gayum’s Government. Everybody’s desire is to establish a new democratic Government putting end to the 35 year sole governance of President Abdul Gayyum. Gayyum has been elected as the President for the 7th consecutive time.

Addressing the media at Hotel Hilton Dr. Shaheed said that The National Unity Alliance hopes to enlist the support of People of Maldives and the support of the members of the People’s Special Majlis Government of National Unity.

He said that National Unity Government must be established upon coming into force of the new constitution to govern the nation during the transitional period leading to the first Presidential and Parliamentary elections under the new constitution and assumption of duties by those elected.

Shaheed said that the new constitution will come into force within one month from the date of its adoption by the People’s Special Majlis. The existing constitution of 1998 shall be repealed upon the entry into force of new constitution.

Asin Mohammed and Sh. Hussain Rasheed from Adhal Party, Dr. Mohammed and Mohammed Nasheed from Maldivian Democratic Party and several others spoke.

Source: Daily News

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Minor girl refuses to marry Maldivian national

T’PURAM: Tension prevailed in Sulaiman Street at Valiyathura here on Wednesday following the refusal of a 16-year-old girl to marry a 52-year-old Maldivian national.

The Maldivian had promised a huge amount to the girl’s family. The marriage was scheduled for Thursday. But, the girl had not seen the bridegroom till Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the girl was introduced to the bridegroom at the house of a middle-man who had acted as broker for the marriage.

The girl, from Vallakkadavu, then refused to marry Ahamed, the Maldivian national who was of the same age as that of her father.

The girl, who managed to run away from the broker’s house, sought refuge at the office of the Civil Aviation General Workers’ Cooperative Society.

Later, the girl was taken to her father’s house following intervention by the Jama’ath office-bearers. Police, however, did not register a case or question the broker or the bridegroom.

Such cases of marrying off minor girls to senior men from Maldives are rampant in the coastal areas of the city.

There are complaints that a racket which arranges such marriages after offering huge amount or jobs to relatives in Maldives has been operating in the area.

Source: News in Press

Maldives opposition push for interim govt. ahead of polls

Five Maldivian opposition parties Tuesday urged President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to put in place an interim government ahead of the archipelago's first multi-party polls next year, officials said.

"We are urging the international community to support us, to support our cause for democratic reforms," former Maldivian foreign minister Ahmed Shaheed and spokesman for the five-party opposition alliance told reporters here.

The newly formed alliance, which includes main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the religious Adhaalath Party, the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), Social Liberal Party and the New Maldives Group, plan to field a common candidate to contest in next year's presidential poll.

They accuse Gayoom, Asia's longest serving ruler since 1978, of being a dictator and leading the country to anarchy and mismanaging the economy of just under a billion dollars.

"Traditionally elections are rigged in the Maldives. This must stop," said Umar Naseer of IDP.

"The crime rate is rising, the jails are full of people, inflation is rising. We call on the international community to put maximum pressure on Gayoom, to accept our proposals," Nasser said in the presence of western diplomats.

Ex-Attorney General and presidential hopeful Hassan Saeed accused Gayoom of wastefulness and arrogance, and said he looked forward to the "task of rebuilding our nation" in the next government.

MDP chairman Mohamed Nasheed asked Gayoom "to stand down gracefully" and claimed the alliance controls nearly 98 percent support of Maldivian people.

The Maldivian government has so far declined to speak directly to the alliance and Legal Reform minister Mohamed Nasheed has dismissed the grouping as a "single issue three week alliance," which will dissolve once a transitional arrangement is worked out.

Home to 330,000 Sunni Muslims on 1,192 tiny coral islands scattered across the equator, Maldives has built South Asia's most successful economy based on luxury tourism, but the atoll nation is now facing religious tensions as it undergoes a difficult transition to democracy.

The tranquillity of the paradise holiday destination was shattered in September when Islamic radicals set off a home-made bomb, wounding 12 foreign tourists.

The attack was followed by a clash between troops and Taliban-style fundamentalists who want women to be totally covered, singing banned and no schooling for girls.

The government has hit back with restrictions to prevent militant Islam spreading in the moderate nation.

Source: LBO

Kandooma-Maldives.com Achieves More Than 100 Growth



The newly launched website of Kandooma~Maldives at www.kandooma-maldives.com has more than doubled its number of visitors, with overall traffic to the website in the 4th week increased by over 100% compared to the 2nd week of the launch.

This impressive growth was registered in both the number of page visits and the number of web visitors, and with new content to be continuously added in the months leading up to the resort’s opening in mid 2008, it looks set to maintain this upward trend.

Most of the visitors accessed the website from Germany, where it registered almost 20% of the total web visitors, followed by Australia and the UK. The rest came from Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, India, Singapore and Malaysia. The top three most-viewed pages on the website are “Island Resort”, “Villas” and “Photo Gallery”. Divided into 10 easy-to-navigate sections, the website was conceptualised to make the visitors’ online experience an informative and effortless one.

Most of the visitors were direct traffic, a result of HPL Hotels and Resorts’ aggressive direct marketing efforts. Figures revealed that HPL Hotels&Resorts website also plays a key referral role in providing the link to www.kandooma-maldives.com while about 10% of the traffic came from major search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN.

Construction work on the resort is progressing according to schedule. Owned and managed by HPL Hotels&Resorts, Kandooma will feature 160 villas, namely beach and garden villas, duplex villas, family villas and water villas.

Blessed with white sands, azure skies, lush tropical greenery and clear turquoise waters, facilities and services on the island are created with the aim to satisfy, engage, entertain, inform, educate and luxuriate. For a sneak preview into this new experience, visit www.kandooma-maldives.com

Source: Forimmediaterelease.net

Maldives nominated in five categories in the 14th Annual World Travel Awards

The Maldives has been nominated in five categories in the 14th Annual World Travel Awards to be held in the Turks and Caicos Islands on the 12th December 2007. The five categories that Maldives got nominated are World's Leading Destination, World's Leading Dive Destination, World's Leading Honeymoon Destination, World's Leading Romantic Destination and World's Leading Travel Television Commercial. In addition Maldives Tourism Promotion Board has been nominated in the World’s Leading Tourist and Convention Bureau category.

Furthermore, some of the Maldives tourism industry players have been nominated in important categories. In this regard Inner Maldives has been nominated in the World’s Leading Travel Agency category, Baros Maldives got nominated in World’s Leading Villa and World’s Leading Beach Resort category, Hilton Maldives has been nominated in World’s Leading Resort category and Huvafenfushi has been nominated in World’s Leading Spa Resort category.

Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as the "Travel industry's equivalent to the Oscars", the World Travel Awards are the most comprehensive and most prestigious awards program in the global travel industry. The World Travel Awards were established in 1993 to acknowledge and celebrate excellence in the world's travel and tourism industry. With thousands of votes cast by travel professionals from 167,000 travel agencies in over 160 countries across the globe, winning a World Travel Award has become one of the highest accolades a travel product can achieve.

The 2007 World Travel Awards world winners will be announced and presented at the gala ceremony which will take place in the islands of Turks & Caicos on the 12th December 2007. Candidates nomination for world winners categories are based on the results from the four regional ceremonies which took place in Abu Dhabi, New York, NewcastleGateshead and Bangalore in 2007.

MTPB won the Indian Oceans Leading Tourist and Visitor Bureau Award in Bangalore ceremony. Maldives also won the Indian Ocean’s Leading Destinations Award and Indian Ocean’s Leading Dive Destination Award in the same ceremony. During this ceremony Maldives Tourism industry won awards in many categories.

Source: MTPB

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Kerala firm inks deal with Maldives Ports Authority


Technopark-headquartered IBS Software has signed a deal with the Maldives Port Authority to implement and maintain iPort, a port operations management solution.

iPort, developed by IBS, will optimise the management of core port and marine operations at Male port, reducing throughput time of vessels and cargo.

In a press release Friday, IBS said that its iPort was selected for port operations after an international bid and detailed evaluation.

V.K. Mathews, chairperson and CEO of the group, said their experience and expertise in the transportation and logistics was their key strength behind building functionally and technologically superior software products.

"We are certain that iPort will ensure improved service levels and revenue. We look forward to a long-lasting relationship with the Maldives Ports Authority," said Mathews.

iPort is a comprehensive and fully-integrated port operations management solution that supports the entire gamut of port operations, ranging from marine operations, cargo and container operations, yard operations, cargo delivery to billing of all services rendered by the port.

iPort currently manages three ports under the Sharjah Ports Authority.

Mahdi Imad, managing director, Maldives Port Authority, said iPort would help them manage their resources optimally while helping them adapt to changing business needs.

IBS group is a leading provider of new-generation IT solutions to the global travel, transportation and logistics industry.

A specialist in the domain, IBS offers a range of products that manage mission-critical operations of major airlines, airports, oil and gas companies, seaports, cruise lines and tour operators worldwide.

Source: Kalinga Times

QATAR CRUSH MALDIVES


Qatar raced to a seven-wicket victory over Maldives in the opening Group A match of the ACC U-15 Challenge Cup. The Maldives batsmen gifted the match to Qatar with some reckless strokes against the leg-spinner Ali Ishtiaq. From 44 for 1 in the 11th over the Maldives just collapsed.

Qatar didn't find it easy against Maldives' sbowlers in reply - they too opened with spin - but 63 was always achievable. The Maldives had an off day and can surely do better, Qatar have a valuable win in the bag.

Maldives v Qatar at AIT, Bangkok
QATAR WON BY SEVEN WICKETS
Maldives: 64 off 20.1 overs (A. Ishtiaq 5-9)
Qatar: 65 for 3 off 14.5 overs (F. Rauf 33*)
Man of the Match: Ali Ishtiaq (Qatar)

U-15 ACC Elite Age-Verification Program Results Issued

Source: Asia Cricket Council

Crisis of confidence hits SAARC

The collective journey of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), established with the commitment by the seven countries to present themselves in one forum on common international agenda by alleviating the widespread poverty in South Asian region through regional cooperation and understanding, has completed 22 years amid both hopes and pessimism.

However, questions are raised if this two-decade long journey of SAARC has fulfilled the aspirations of the people of the region, and that no reply for it has been found yet.

Each year commitments are made in dozens of new areas and proposals, but their implementation is not moved ahead concretely and crisis of confidence between the member states is seen as the obstruction to SAARC so far.

This region has common problems such as poverty, illiteracy and backwardness and the aspirations of the people are centered on resolving these problems and the organization is moving ahead as per the times in the context that it has been backward in technology and in economic point of view.

The organization established on December 8, 1985 has completed its 14 summit conferences and in a short time it will be held in the Maldives capital Male, for which the date has been fixed to hold the 15 th summit.

Showing concern as to how far works could be done as per the objectives of the SAARC as we near the 15 th summit and what subjects should get priority in the coming decades on that basis will help it move ahead actively.

Indeed, the establishment of SAARC was to make collective efforts for the resolution of the common problems of the region through cooperation and understanding and to identify in the world arena as a peaceful, regional and non-political common organisation.

Although there is a decades long conflict between India and Pakistan because of Jammu and Kashmir as a cause of disagreement for South Asia, to see goodwill among all the member states during the summit is somewhat positive.

With the start of the 1980s and development of regional organizations worldwide and in line with the development of regional unity in Asian region, the then Bangladesh President Ziaur Rahaman had put forth the SAARC concept and it was founded with the participation of the seven nations of South Asia.

India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal are the SAARC founding members. It has now eight members with the formal entry of Afghanistan from the 14 th summit.

The organization criticized of being a forum of the poor and not being effective has shown some activity after two decades and hopes are raised in the South Asian people.

Asian economic powers China and Japan and countries like USA to remain as observer and to show concern on SAARC activity and development has added some hopes.

There have been some hopes in development of the region as some concrete programmes have been put forward for regional development in the 14 th summit instead of the abstract commitments enmeshed in the earlier wordy documents.

A free commission has been proposed on poverty alleviation in the regional level in the 14 summit declaration as per the effort to alleviate poverty in the region. Likewise, another commitment is to build transport by making air or land route at least for reaching another capital from one member state of the SAARC.

Likewise, other commitment is to work jointly by studying the feasibility of the energy including solar, bio, hydro to work with solidarity for the use of energy available here, as petroleum availability is low in the South Asian region.

Other commitments including establishment of the South Asian common university in the South Asian region, common body to control criminal activities, and identification in the world as a collective identity of the region are the most effective and meaningful.

Although it was given birth by the leaders of this region with a sole spirit of making SAARC a powerful forum for making the fortune of the south Asian people, it has not been moved ahead accordingly, but has been always thinking on the regional problems.

There is a need for heading towards addressing the problems by the SAARC in view of the present day reality that South Asia has been taken as the origin of deprivation, poverty and backwardness.

Source: The Rising Napel