Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sea May Swallow Maldives if Global Warming unchecked

COLOMBO - His Indian Ocean island cluster is a magnet for Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise, but the Maldives may disappear within generations unless world leaders urgently combat climate change, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom warns.

With a United Nations climate panel forecasting world sea levels likely to rise by up to 59 cm (23.2 inches) by 2100 due to global warming, the risks to the low-lying island chain dotted across 500 miles (800 km) off the toe of India are glaring.

"The average height of the Maldives is 1.5 metres above mean sea level. Therefore, if the rate of sea level rise per century is 59 cm, it would take a couple of centuries at the most to totally inundate the entire Maldives," an alarmed Gayoom told Reuters in an email interview.

"That of course will happen only if there is no concrete action to address the issue at a global stage," he added. "It is further evidence that our country is in peril, and that timely action is needed to ensure our future survival."

Renowned for its luxury resorts -- accommodation in pavilions on stilts over turquoise lagoons can run to over US$1,000 a night -- white sand beaches and world class snorkelling and scuba, tourism is the lynchpin of the Maldives' US$800 million economy.

"Our tourism industry will be affected for certain. The stretches of white sandy beaches are one of the main assets of our tourism industry," Gayoom said.

"Climate change will lead to an increase in stormy weather and coral damage too. These are major concerns for the Maldives, which has a narrow-based economy."

Of the palm-fringed archipelago's 1,192 islands and coral reef atolls, 194 are inhabited -- and the beaches on 60 percent of those are already facing varying degrees of erosion, he added.


The experience of the nation's 300,000-strong Sunni Muslim population during the December 2004 tsunami serves as a cautionary tale.

While geography helped save the Maldives from the kind of scenes of death and destruction seen in hard-hit countries such as neighbouring Sri Lanka, authorities were forced to evacuate 13 islands completely and relocate their residents elsewhere.

The Maldives islands are effectively the peaks of underwater mountains -- many are only a few hundred metres across at most -- so, without a large landmass to crest on, the tsunami waves just washed over them at a height of around one metre rather than the towering waves seen in other countries.

"The main threats to our island nation's survival -- global warming and sea-level rise -- emanate from beyond our geographical borders," Gayoom said, adding that the chain was investing in coastal protection infrastructure.

"We do not wish to become environmental refugees, and we will not leave the Maldives unless we are forced to."

Gayoom takes no comfort from the fact that the UN climate panel's forecast of sea level increase has narrowed from a bracket of 9-88 cm by the year 2100 to 18-59 cm, a reduction some experts see as encouraging.

"It indicates, on the contrary, that sea level rise is a clear and present danger," he said. "These figures clearly demonstrate the need to act urgently, as sea levels are expected to continue rising for many decades and centuries."

And his message to fellow world leaders?

"My message is a simple one -- take global warming and climate change more seriously. Act now, before it becomes too late to save not only the low-lying islands but the entire planet."

Story by Simon Gardner

Air Sahara set for domestic, international expansion

By: Indian Muslim Info

New Delhi, Feb 27 (IANS) India's private airline Air Sahara is set to expand by adding a destination and increasing flights on the domestic sector and launching a new flight on the international sector.

Kuala Lumpur will be added to the airline's network March 19, making it the fifth international destination after Sri Lanka, Nepal, Singapore and the Maldives.

Air Sahara is offering the Delhi-Kuala Lumpur-Delhi flight for Rs.13,000 (plus taxes), which includes a two-night-three-day stay, an airline statement said Tuesday.

In addition, the airline will begin a direct flight from Thiruvananthapuram to the Maldives from March 10. It will also offer a connection from Delhi and Cochin to Male on this flight.

To strengthen its presence in southern India, Coimbatore will be added to the route network from March 10 with two daily direct return flights to Delhi and Bangalore.

Coimbatore will become Air Sahara's 27th domestic destination.

Also from March 10, the airline will add two new flights between Cochin and Delhi to add to the one that currently operates. Connections to Bangalore and Thiruvananthapuram will also be available from Cochin.

The expansion on the domestic front began Feb 22 when Air Sahara began operating daily return flights between Hyderabad-Pune and Nagpur-Pune. A new connection between Mumbai and Srinagar (via Delhi) is also being offered.

"We are moving ahead with our expansion plans and we will continue to bring new flights to new destinations at very convenient timings and at attractive prices in the future," Air Sahara president Alok Sharma said.

Info Ministry quiet on Maldives Media Association Fiasco

Information Ministry often takes blame on two extremes. For being involved in some state of affairs or for not being involved in them at all. The fate of the Maldives Media Association is one such case on point.

Yes, Information Ministry did push for creation of the Maldives Media Association. It was Information Ministry that created a concept paper on the formation of a Maldives Media Association and submitted that paper to the media outlets of the country in one of the dialogue sessions the Ministry holds with the media outlets on the third of each month. The concept paper was based upon a combined format of the Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Canadian Journalists Association.

Information Ministry pushed the idea of an association for several reasons: Maldives media needed a common platform for the local journalists; they needed a lobbyist organization to enhance and defend media freedom; there had to be a common focal point in the local media landscape for international interactions; the journalists of Maldives needed a mechanism to bind them together facilitating common understanding and mutual respect and shared respect amongst them; at the stage things were in the Maldives a united group of journalists was a fundamental requirement if they were to be a force to reckon with.

The paper on forming a media association was debated by the media outlets represented in those monthly dialogue sessions and it was adopted in principle. The Association was registered on 2 October 2006 with nine founder members representing various shades of the media climate: government, independent, and opposition media outlets.

The nine founder members authorized a committee of 7 journalists from across the media spectrum to finalize membership issues; get the association set up; take the association to holding its first general meeting; and electing its first office bearers.[Read More]

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Huvafen Fushi Maldives listed in Condé Nast Traveller 2007 Gold List for Best Service

By: Quick Announce

Condé Nast Traveller has included Huvafen Fushi Maldives in their 2007 Gold List - a compilation of the hotels around the world that have the best service, rooms, food, ambience & design, location and leisure facilities.

Starting with the properties that received the highest ratings in the Readers’ Travel Awards 2006 survey and adding the Editors’ choices and the stand-out quality for each hotel, the result yielded
the ultimate guide to the world’s hotels featuring those establishments which set the Condé Nast Traveller Gold List standard.

Mark Hehir, Area General Manager Maldives, commented on this wonderful news: “We are delighted to be recognized in the Gold List, especially in the category for Best Service. It reflects the hard work and dedication of the team at Huvafen Fushi. It is service from the heart. Every hotel operates on service standards and that is what we have implemented here. From Food and Beverage to Housekeeping, Front Office, Kitchen and all other departments, everyone plays a part to ensure the operation is run smoothly and all guests’ needs are met or exceeded in expectation”.

Kuwaiti mobile operator, Wataniya the National Mobile Telecommunications, may be sold

By: Internation Herald Eribune

DUBAI: National Mobile Telecommunications, the second-largest Kuwaiti mobile phone operator, may be sold by its controlling shareholders after receiving several approaches.

Kuwait Projects, an investment company with assets of more than $18 billion, is leading a group of National Mobile shareholders with a combined 51 percent stake that will consider offers, Robert Hipkins, a Kuwait Projects spokesman, said during an interview Sunday. Several potential purchasers have expressed interest, he said, declining to identify them.

"It's a question of making sure that the return for the shareholders is maximized," Hipkins said.

National Mobile — known as Wataniya — has a market value of $4.9 billion. It has four million customers in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Tunisia, Algeria and the Maldives. The company's 2006 profit increased 39 percent to 73.2 million Kuwaiti dinars, or $252 million, from 52.8 million dinars, a year earlier. Its shares have climbed 31 percent in the past year.

The stock did not trade Sunday because of a public holiday in Kuwait. Executives of Wataniya could not be reached for comment.

Mobile Telecommunication, or MTC, is the largest Kuwaiti mobile phone company.

Emirates Telecommunications — known as Etisalat — is one of several companies that may buy the stake in Wataniya, Mohammed Omran, chief executive of the company, based in Abu Dhabi, said last month.

Arab phone companies are expanding abroad as their home markets mature.

9 bids for Saudi license

The Saudi Arabian telecommunications regulator said that nine groups had submitted bids for the country's third mobile phone license.

Bidders include Orascom Telecom Holding, Oger Telecom in Saudi Arabia and Kingdom Turkcell, a joint venture between the biggest Turkish mobile phone company and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi billionaire, the Saudi Arabian Communications and Information Technology Commission said Saturday.

Bids from Samawat-Bharti group, MTN Group, Mobile Telecommunications, Reliance-Al-Rajhi, Tawasul-Digicel and MTNL were also accepted, the regulator said.

The third license could fetch more than $5.3 billion, the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported, citing unidentified industry sources.

Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates paid $3.2 billion for the kingdom's second mobile telephone license in 2004.

Monday, February 26, 2007

UN Judicial Envoy Due To Arrive In Male’

By Minivan News

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Leandro Despouy, was due to arrive in Male’ on Sunday to study the country’s legal system.

Despouy will stay in the Maldives until March 1 in order to “conduct a first hand investigation” into the judiciary.

Despouy will assess the level of public access to the justice system, fair trial guarantees, independence of judges, and the level of professional training to lawyers and prosecutors.

The senior UN diplomat is due to recommend ways of making the judiciary independent and effective, “principles that are not enshrined in the present constitution,” the UN said on Wednesday.

Despouy’s visit follows similar visits by Professor Paul Robinson in 2004 and Sir Ivan Lawrence in 2005. Both Robinson and Lawrence severely criticized the judiciary for being both partial and incompetent.

Some critics of the government suggest Despouy’s visit is an attempt by the Gayoom regime to further delay the implementation of judicial reforms that Robinson helped draft.

In President Gayoom’s ‘roadmap for democratic reform’, published in March 2006, the government promised to table a raft of new reform bills before the People’s Majlis by August 31 2006.

According to the roadmap, a bill on the new penal code; a bill on new sentencing regulations; a bill on the new criminal procedures code; a bill on evidence; a bill on the National Security Service; a Police bill; a bill on detention procedures; and a bill on parole were all due to be placed before parliament by August 31.

Inexplicably, the government failed to meet its own deadline and, so far, has failed to enact any significant reforms to the judiciary either through the People’s Majlis - in which government MPs hold a large majority - or through presidential decree.

“How many reports do we need until the Government of Maldives actually makes the changes?”, questioned democracy activist Sara Mahir, in an open letter to the Dhivehi Observer newspaper on Friday.

“I sincerely hope that this time, the recommendations will be taken into account, and will not end up on a dusty shelf like the previous ones,” she added.

Despouy was appointed Special Rapporteur in September 2003. He has extensive experience in human rights and international humanitarian law and has held a number of high-level positions in the United Nations and the Government of Argentina.

During his visit, Despouy is scheduled to meet with the President Gayoom, a number of government ministers including the Attorney General, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, international organizations and non-governmental organizations.

Despouy is also due to travel to Addu to meet judges, prosecutors and civil society representatives from the atoll.

SriLankan’s International Aviation Academy operating in Maldives

This is an important step in the IAA’s vision of becoming the premier centre for aviation-related learning in South Asia.
We view it as a natural progression since SriLankan has long been the largest carrier in the Maldives and actively promotes Sri Lanka and the Maldives as dual destinations for global tourists, together with tourism authorities in both countries

The International Aviation Academy (IAA), the training arm of SriLankan Airlines, will shortly begin programmes in the Maldivian capital, Male, a significant expansion of its services to the South Asian region, the airline said.

Diploma courses will initially be offered in two fields - Passenger Handling Management; and Air Cargo; with a non-Diploma programme in Dangerous Good Regulations. Classes will be conducted in Male by the Academy’s IATA-accredited instructors.

Sanjeeva Jayatilleke, Manager Human Resources at SriLankan Airlines, said: “This is an important step in the IAA’s vision of becoming the premier centre for aviation-related learning in South Asia. We view it as a natural progression since SriLankan has long been the largest carrier in the Maldives and actively promotes Sri Lanka and the Maldives as dual destinations for global tourists, together with tourism authorities in both countries.”The IAA offers seven programmes for external students at its main centre at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake, a short distance from the Sri Lankan capital Colombo. Apart from the three courses offered in the Maldives, it has courses in Aircraft Weight & Balance; ICAO 201 Flight Dispatcher Programme; Baggage Handling; and Airline Cabin Crew Training.

SAFTA meet to discuss sensitive goods' list, NTBs

By A Staff Reporter
KATHMANDU, Feb 25: The second meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council is beginning in Kathmandu on Monday.

The Commerce Ministers from the South Asian nations have started arriving in the capital to take part in the meeting that, according to the sources at the Ministry of Industry Commerce and Supplies (MoICS), will discuss on various agenda including the issue of sensitive goods' list, non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM).

The ministerial meeting is preceded by a two-day meeting of the Committee of Experts (CoE) that began from February 24. The joint secretary level meet will present its recommendation to the Ministerial Council, the MoICS sources said.

SAFTA came into effect on January 1, 2006 with the aim of reducing tariff for enhancing trade among the seven SAARC member states. Pakistan and India are to complete implementation of the agreement by 2012, Sri Lanka by 2013 and Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal by 2015.

The Agreement on the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) was reached at the 12th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit held in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan on 6 January 2004. It is a framework for the creation of a free trade zone covering 1.4 billion people in the region.

The seven foreign ministers of the region signed a framework agreement on SAFTA with zero customs duty on the trade of practically all products in the region by the end 2012. The SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA), with concessional duty on sub-continent trade, went into force on January 1, 1996.

SAFTA requires India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to bring their duties down to 20 per cent in the first phase of the two-year period ending in 2007. In the final five year phase ending 2012, the 20 per cent duty will be reduced to zero in a series of annual cuts.

The least developed country group in South Asia consisting of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Maldives will get an additional three years to reach zero duty.

The effective implementation of SAFTA, according to experts will determine the larger success of SAARC. They maintain that for SAFTA to exploit its true potential, it will have to be widened to cover, apart from 'free movement of goods', investments and services.

Maldives keen to boost cinema industry: Sanath

By: Daily Mirror

The Maldivian government is making every effort to encourage foreign productions to be shot in its locations thereby sharing their technical know-how with the local film clan.

Maldivian Minister of State for Arts Hussain Shihab who is in charge of the country’s film industry has been playing a key role in motivating young filmmakers in Maldives, award-winning film star Sanath Gunathilaka said.

Sanath participated as the Chief Judge at last week’s Maladivian Film Festival together with seasoned filmmaker Somartane Dissanayake.

“Maladivian filmmakers are influenced by popular cinema, almost addicted to Indian film styles. But I advised them in my capacity that though popular cnema is crucial for a movie industry, it should also strive to create an own identity and I believe they took me seriously,” he said adding that Maldives also planned to hold film festivals including those representing the SAARC countries soon.

“They have big plans for the future and their motives seem to be genuine. I hope they would emerge as a force to reckon with soon,” he said.

The Maldivian government is now taking steps to build new cinema halls and promote the industry by offering several concessions to those involved in the field.

Even foreign teams which choose Maldivian location to picturise their films are given free access in a bid to boost the industry.

Popular Sinhala films Sulanga and Sakman Maluwa have also been screened in Maldives recently.

Abramovich yacht sails to the rescue of Maldives challenge swimmer

Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich has stepped in to rescue an environmental campaigner's epic swimming challenge, by lending him the services of his yacht.

Pugh just can't stop swimming
Abramovich resigns governorship 'because he's accomplished mission'
Abramovich sets the hills alive with the sound of money

Lewis Gordon Pugh's mammoth swim across the breadth of the Maldives was in danger of being called off, when storm damage to his boat grounded the expedition yesterday.

But in "an amazing stroke of luck", organisers said, the Russian billionaire's yacht is also in the Maldives.

Mr Abramovich has offered the WWF-sponsored expedition the services of Pelorus.

Its 47 crew will form an addition to the expedition's seven-strong support team on the last leg of the challenge, due to be completed on Monday.

The maritime lawyer aims to demonstrate the plight of the island nation as the first country to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol and thought to be the first which would feel the devastating impact of rising sea levels and warming seas.

The 36-year-old swimmer has been battling through a succession of extreme weather conditions on his 160km journey.

Storms and strong currents blew him 50km off course.

Mr Pugh, who comes from South Africa and lives in London, has completed a number of aquatic feats, including swimming the length of the Thames last year to raise awareness of environmental issues.

Speaking at the launch of his latest adventure earlier this month, Mr Pugh said: "The Maldives is an island nation inhabited by people.

"Unless we are able to cut our carbon emissions dramatically we are going to have environmental refugees."

He added: "The Maldives is a classic example, they have nowhere to go and are stuck on the islands and the water will rise unless we are able to cut carbon emissions."

The swimmer highlighted the recent prediction in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Reports which stated that the Maldives would see a "probable" sea level rise over the next 200 years of 59cm each century.

Around 80 per cent of the islands, which number more than 1,190, are no more than 1m above sea level and it will take less than 100 years for many of them to become uninhabitable.

Mr Pugh is the only person to have completed a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world, including the Arctic and Antarctic.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Destination Maldives exhibited at FESPO, BTL, and FITUR.

The Maldives Tourism Promotion Board and representatives from the Maldivian tourism industry have participated in several more travel and trade exhibitions across Europe in January and February, including FESPO in Zurich, BTL in Lisbon, and FITUR in Madrid.

FESPO, BTL, and FITUR are some of the major travel trade exhibitions that take place in important source markets for the Maldives such as Switzerland, Portugal, and Spain. Switzerland already accounts for 4.4 percent of total arrivals to Maldives while Spain and Portugal are potential emerging markets with shares of 1.1 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

Wind Pushes Endurance Swimmer Off Course

Endurance swimmer Lewis Gordon Pugh experienced disappointment this week as his attempt to swim the entire width (roughly 160km) of the Maldives was hindered by Mother Nature.

Pugh, 36, who is trying to raise awareness of the Maldives’ vulnerability to climate change, was blown off course by an unexpected storm half-way through his swim, which commenced on February 17.

Pugh’s planned feat, known as the “Investec Maldives Challenge”, has not been previously attempted.

Speaking of his recent setback Pugh said: “I am trying to swim westwards and I ended up being blown about 20km off course. I was pushed southwards. It may not be possible to counter this wind - as stronger winds are expected.”

“I will crack on,” Pugh continued, “but I may end up heading even further south and even further from my destination... it's impossible to tell.”

According to the rules of the Maldives Challenge, Pugh must begin his swim at the same point where he finished from the pervious day. Therefore, the distance he is pushed off course one day, is an extra amount he must swim the next.

Despite what happens, Pugh said his main goal is to raise awareness of the devastating effects that rising sea levels will have on low-lying countries like the Maldives.

“By swimming in areas threatened by rising global temperatures, I want to highlight the impact of years of government inaction on climate change,” said Pugh.

He continued: “Governments should not pass the responsibility for climate change to the unquantifiable acts of individuals, but should instead be taking tough measures and introducing dynamic legislation that will force polluters to start making genuine reductions in their carbon emissions.” [Read More]

Saturday, February 24, 2007

SAARC countries favours educational programmes for children

To check drug abuse in the region, representatives of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries have favoured educational programmes for children and empowerment programmes for women and other vulnerable groups.

Representatives of SAARC countries--Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka made the suggestions at the day-long meeting on Drug Demand Reduction Rehabilitation of Victims of Drug Abuse yesterday, PTI reported here today quoting official sources.

Veena Chhotray, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment inaugurated the meeting which discussed issues of common concern relating to drug abuse in the SAARC region and underlined the need for concerted effort to fight the menace.

Though a national survey had been conducted in India some years ago with various epidemiological as well as focussed thematic components, she said there was a need for more representative and in-depth study for authentic data on extent, pattern and trends of drug abuse.

Delegates from other SAARC countries also briefed the meeting on the actions being taken in their respective countries to reduce demand for drugs and rehabilitate the victims of drug abuse.

The meeting finalised recommendations for implementation by relevant SAARC bodies for awareness generation, counselling intervention and rehabilitation of drug-abuse victims.

SriLankan International Aviation Academy expands to Maldives

EXPANSION: The International Aviation Academy (IAA), the training arm of SriLankan Airlines, will shortly begin programmes in the Maldivian capital, Male, a significant expansion of its services to the South Asian region.

Diploma courses will initially be offered in two fields - Passenger Handling Management; and Air Cargo; with a non-Diploma programme in Dangerous Good Regulations. The Academy’s IATA-accredited instructors will conduct classes in Male.

Manager Human Resources at SriLankan Airlines Sanjeeva Jayatilleke, said: “This is an important step in the IAA’s vision of becoming the premier centre for aviation-related learning in South Asia.

We view it as a natural progress since SriLankan has long been the largest carrier in the Maldives, and actively promotes Sri Lanka and the Maldives as dual destinations for global tourists, together with tourism authorities in both countries.”

The IAA offers seven programmes for external students at its main centre at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake, a short distance from the Sri Lankan capital Colombo.

Apart from the three courses offered in the Maldives, it has courses in Aircraft Weight and Balance; ICAO 201 Flight Dispatcher Programme; Baggage Handling; and Airline Cabin Crew Training. [Read More]

Maldives take part in Second SAFTA Ministerial Council

KATHMANDU, Feb. 24: The meeting of SAFTA Committee of Experts has begun here today for the preparation for Second SAFTA Ministerial Council.

The ministers looking after trade and commerce in the member countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation will take part in the meeting of SAFTA Ministerial Council to be held here on Monday.

The meeting of SAFTA Committee of Experts discussed the future plan and additional measures to expand trade and commerce in member countries.

The meeting, to be continued for tomorrow, would also discuss institutional development for the implementation of SAFTA and resolution of problems that could arise at the time of implementation, a participant in the meeting said.

The conclusion reached in the meeting of experts and future strategy to be implemented will be presented in the meeting of SAFTA Ministerial Council to be held on Monday, he said.

Experts of all eight countries of SAARC are taking part in the meeting and Joint Secretary at Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Purushottam Ojha is leading Nepalese delegation in the meeting.

Representatives of Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs are also taking part in the meeting.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Trade of Maldives Abdulla Salih reached Kathmandu to take part in Second SAFTA Ministerial Council, today.

Similarly, a delegation from Afghanistan has also reached Kathmandu to take part in the meeting.

The ministers, who are looking after industry and commerce in India, Pakistan, Shree Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh are arriving in Kathmandu tomorrow, SAARC Secretariat has informed. [Read More]

Long distance swimmer begins campaign to swim across Maldives

Now Pugh crosses the Maldives - iAfrica
A swim to save the Maldives - Reuters Video

By Aminath Sulthona

Long distance swimmer, Lewis Gordon Pugh, who arrived in Maldives last Wednesday, has started his campaign to swim the breadth of the Maldives early this morning.
Pugh, 36, began his swim from Meeru Island Resort since the resort island is the one that’s located to the extreme west of the island chain. He plans to end his 160-kilometre (99-mile) challenge over nine days, completing it by arriving in Alifu Alif atoll Moofushi on the extreme east of the Maldives. The time frame was confirmed by Maldives Tourism Promotion Board’s Marketing Executive, Muraad Hassan.

Speaking to a Haveeru Daily reporter over the phone around 10:00am this morning, Muraad said that Pugh was at the moment approximately near Thulusdhoo or just passing the island. He said that Pugh’s swim was closely followed and monitored by a team on the boat, Nooranee 2. [Read More]

Friday, February 23, 2007

How To Choose The Right Resort For You In The Maldives

The Maldives are a truly spectacular destination – while it’s a holiday location not exactly ideal for the highly budget conscious, a variety of different star resorts do offer most travellers a chance to taste its delights.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding on a Maldives resort:

• Determine what your budget is – this will immediately narrow your list of potential resorts.

• Decide what you’re likely to be interested in. For instance, the Maldives is a great place for diving – if you’re going to be spending a lot of time diving then you must be aware that different resorts have different standards in their diving facilities. Some resorts are also naturally better for divers than others. You’ll want to choose a package that’s best for diving (it’s possible to get diving packages so you don’t have to spend a fortune on additional diving expenses on a daily basis). Further, some resorts offer a wealth of activities and entertainment – others are very chilled and offer fewer activities (perfect if you just wish to laze by the sand gazing at the crystal blue waters). [Read More]

Dream times on islands in the sun

y Emma Pomfret
Wandering along the powdery white beach on my first morning in the Maldives, it's easy to imagine that any minute somebody would scream 'cut' and the entire scene disappear back into a movie-reel box as the classic paradise backdrop.

But no matter how hard I pinch myself, it soon becomes obvious that the Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa is one of those destinations that actually mirrors the photographs in their travel mags.

The difference here being that, unlike many other Maldivian 'retreats', this resort has a seriously relaxed atmosphere best summed up by its fabulous 'no shoes' policy, which even extends to its stunning array of world-class restaurants and bars.[Read More]

Vietnam hammer Maldives in Beijing Olympics qualifier

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam beat the Maldives 5-0 in their second match of the 2008 Beijing Olympics' first qualifiers on Wednesday, keeping their hopes alive of going through to the next round.

Despite coach Tran Ngoc Thai Tuan's decision not to field his strongest team, which lost 1-0 to Thailand in their opener on Monday, against unfancied opponents," halfback Van Thi Thanh, the national Golden Ball winner in 2005, scored just 16 minutes into the game from the penalty spot following an accidental handball by a Maldives' defender.

Three minutes later, striker Tuyet Mai tapped in a corner kick to score Vietnam's second. Mai also scored Vietnam's third goal after 14 minutes following a break into the penalty box by Dao Thi Mien, recently named the nation's "Most Valuable Player," who then nudged the ball to Mai who had no trouble finding the lower corner of the net.

The Maldives' coach changed his tactics in the second half, asking his players to play defensively and the Maldives' girls tried to cut their losses by slowing down the game and kicking the ball out of play.

However, their stalling tactics made little difference and the Vietnamese side scored a fourth goal 10 minutes into the second half. Defender Minh Nguyet dribbled the ball from the Vietnamese half into the Maldives' box before firing the ball into the back of the net beyond the reach of the diving goalkeeper.

Vietnam's fifth and final goal came from the boot of Tuyet Mai who took advantage of defensive chaos in the Maldives' penalty area to score her third goal. [Read More]

Maldives and Bhutan doesn’t participate in Indo-Pak Peace: Talking

Last week I attended a two-day seminar in New Delhi, organised by Rotarians in India, called Rotary South Asia Goodwill Summit. It had Rotarian delegates attending from five out of the seven SAARC countries – Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Unfortunately, Maldives and Bhutan do not yet have any Rotary Clubs. This seminar was attended by 560 Rotarians of which 130 were from Pakistan alone. All the Rotarians had paid for their own travel and participation, to be a part of this goodwill and peace initiative in the region.

The seminar was addressed by such luminaries like Mr Inder Kumar Gujral, Former Prime Minister of India; Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunga, former President of Sri Lanka; Mr Tariq Azim Khan, Federal Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, Pakistan; Mr Farooq Sobhan, former Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh; Mr Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramdev, Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan; Ms Sujata Koirala, MP, Nepal; and, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, Indian Union Minister. Two things emerged out of the two-day deliberations. Firstly, without exception, people want to live in peace in the region; and, secondly, there is growing acceptance that while differences may be in the minds of the Governments of India and Pakistan, it was only peace, brotherhood and mutual affection that was in the minds of the people of the two countries. It is becoming increasingly evident that inroads to normalizing ties between the two neighbours could only be made by improving people-to-people contacts. It is my very considered opinion that there is an upsurge of hope for peace among the people in both countries. They are looking for normal relations between India and Pakistan and a better life created by the enhancement of political, economical and social opportunities. [Read More]

Victory Sports Club will be play in AFC Cup 2007

Negri will start their campaign in the AFC Cup against Vietnam champions Hoa Pat Noi on March 6 at the Paroi Stadium. Besides Negri and Hoa Pat Noi, the other teams in Group D are Victory FC from Maldives and 2006 Hong Kong League champions Xiangzue Sun Hei.

One School is build in Maldives among 18 FIVB funded schools in tsunami-hit regions to be completed by September 2007

Lausanne, 22 February 2007 – After the 30th FIVB World Congress approved the FIVB’s 3 million dollar tsunami relief package last October, FIVB President Dr. Ruben Acosta, the Asian Volleyball Confederation President and head of the task force Mr Jizhong Wei and Mondo Rubber have all of them confirmed the final details of the project and the schedule for construction.

A total of 18 new schools will be funded by the FIVB, distributed across the tsunami-hit regions according to the priorities fixed by the FIVB’s tsunami task force. The majority of the schools will be built in Indonesia (8), with 5 planned for Thailand, 4 for Sri Lanka and 1 for the Maldives. [Read More]

Maldives To Open Embassies In Saudi Arabia And China

By Will Jordan in Male', The Maldives will open embassies in China and Saudi Arabia within the next 4-5 months, the Foreign Minister Dr. Ahmed Shaheed has told state media.

A Maldivian embassy is already open in Tokyo, Japan, though an ambassador has not been assigned. Chargé d’Affaires Ali Khaleel is currently running the mission following a post as second-in-command at the Permanent Mission to the UN in New York. [Read More]

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Actor Iqbal honeymooned in Maldives to avoid embarrassment

I Honeymooned in Maldives -

Mumbai, Feb 19 (IANS) Television artist Iqbal Khan surprisingly chose not to honeymoon at any of those exotic spots that his new bride Sneha selected on the net because he was not sure he will get a visa.

"After the experience I went through some months ago who knows how the immigration authorities would've reacted to my name," Iqbal told IANS.

The actor, who was seen in series like "Kyun Hota Hai Pyarr" and "Karam Apna Apna", referred to his humiliating experience with the American consulate which rejected his visa plea some months ago arguing that his name suggested terrorist links.

"I'd rather not think about these things. There're enough holiday spots in our own country for my wife and me. We had a week of bliss in the Maldives. And our honeymoon is still on since I'm not working. [Read More]

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Record number of tourists in January 2007

A record number of tourists visited the Maldives last month, statistics show.
The Tourism Ministry said 64,570 tourists arrived in Maldives in January, compared with 58,332 at the same time last year. The previous record month was March 2004, pre-tsunami, when 63,855 visited.

“This is a great start,” Director General of the Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB) Dr. Abdulla Mausoom told Haveeru. “We expect the arrivals to increase during the rest of the year too. The new resorts that haven’t begun operations yet will soon begin their operations.” [Read More]

Six Senses launches One Million US Dollars Promotion in the Maldives

The two iconic Soneva resorts in the Maldives are offering the ultimate exclusive island experience. They are offering the opportunity to take over each island resort, completely and privately, at an all-inclusive rate of one million dollars (US) for a full seven days and nights, for a full compliment of guests – at either resort.

This extraordinary offer also includes seaplane and powerboat transfers, unlimited water activities, Six Senses Spa and gourmet dining for all guests. High-end wines and gift boutique purchases are the only items that are additional.[Read More]

Six Senses Resorts & Spa launches $1 Million promotion by Haveeru

Dive into the tropical Maldives

Travel Editor

Oliver Deubel, 38, is dive center manager at the One&Only Maldives at Reethi Rah, a resort in the Maldives. A native of Germany, he has spent six years in the Maldives, a nation-archipelago in the Indian Ocean southwest of India and east of Somalia.

Q. I read that the Maldives is the flattest country in the world. Is that true -- and what happened when the tsunami tore through the Indian Ocean in 2004?

It's true about the flatness. Most of the islands have a maximum height of 2 or 2.5 meters (6.5 or 8.2 feet) above sea level.

We didn't get any wave-breaking from the tsunami, like in Thailand or Sri Lanka. It was more like a high tide, where the water went up 2 or 3 meters (6.5 to 9.8 feet) over half an hour, then disappeared, then came back a half-hour later.

Q. Does the flat topography extend to under water there? It is said that some of the best diving in the world can be found in the Maldives.

It's one of the world's best diving destinations because of the beautiful reef systems and the variety of reef systems. You have straight-line formations where you can drift along. There are pinnacles with overhangs like gates that you can swim through. All of this is in quite shallow water -- from 10 feet to 80 or 90 feet maximum. You don't have to go deep to see the best diving spots; most are around 50 or 60 feet under.

Q. And the water?

Nice and warm: about 29 Celsius (84 Fahrenheit), depending on the season. There are two seasons, rainy and dry. The water is clear, too: You can get up to 100 to 120 feet visibility underwater, depending on where you are.

Q. Ancient people from India visited there; over many centuries, traders from China, the Middle East and Africa stopped there. Are there dive wrecks to explore?

Some from the Second World War are in the southern Maldives, like a cargo ship from England that was attached by Japanese subs.

A few wrecks are Portuguese traders; there are a few from Greece, Egypt or China. Basically, everything from East and West passed by the Maldives. [Read More]

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

LECS organizes boat show in the Maldives

Lanka Exhibitions and Conference Services (LECS) through its subsidiary Maldives Exhibitions and Conference Services (MECS) is organizing a boat exhibition this year from May 7-9 in the Maldives.

A LECS spokesman said this will be an exhibition with a difference as it will have water transport solutions to all segments of society; from luxury cruise boats, to heavy goods transport vessels or just small fishing boats - the exhibition will cover it all.
The exhibition is aimed at buyers and visitors not only from the Maldives but also from the region as it is targeted to achieve the standards of the Dubai International Boat Exhibition. [Read More]

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Commemorating Earth Day at Banyan Tree and Angsana Resorts worldwide

In conjunction with Earth Day on 22 April 2007, Banyan Tree Group promotes green awareness on a global scale through exclusive activities at Banyan Tree and Angsana resorts worldwide. In addition, Banyan Tree Gallery will also channel five per cent of total sales proceeds from the newly developed Marine Laboratory collection to the Group’s Green Imperative Fund.

Following the success of last year’s inaugural packages, this year’s Earth Day promotions give guests a greater range of hands-on activities and opportunities to get personally involved with Mother Nature. Banyan Tree holds Corporate Social Responsibility as a key corporate value, which is integrated into the management of its resorts in the most beautiful locations in the world. All Earth Day activities are available in the months of April and May. [Read More]

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Addu to shine more on Shangri La, Herethere resorts opening

Economic boom will make Addu stand tall among other atolls
Addu atoll is set to get its biggest boost in recent years with the opening of two mega resorts and the people immensely benefiting with income and jobs.

Located on the southern-most tip of the Maldives is Addu Atoll comprising five islands–two of which are Villingili and Herethere where the projects will come up. The world-renowned Shangri-La will put up its resorts in Villingili- - its first initiative in the Maldives. The resort will start operations in January 2008 giving rise to an economic boom in Addu.

In Herethere, the first ever government and private sector owned resorts comprising 600 beds will be opened by August 2007.

But, why these two particular resorts are important in a country strewn with resorts is a question noteworthy.

Employment generating opportunities in Addu with a population of nearly 35,000 people are scare, forcing many to travel to Male’ seeking jobs.

But not all have been able to secure employment and many are left with hardly any alternatives.
Come January 2008, things will change for the better for Addu islanders.
The two mega projects are expected to generate over 2000 jobs of which priority will be given to Adduans.
“We will recruit foreigners only if we fail to get the Maldivians with necessary qualifications,” Managing Director of the MTDC, M.Solih said.

The government pumped in Rf 50 million into the Herethere resorts while another Rf 100 million was raised by selling shares, he said adding a loan of US$ 25 million was obtained from the Bank of Maldives.
In Maldives, sprawling sandy beaches are nothing new. But when those sandy beaches are coupled with tree villas and vast stretches of vegetation, it will sure be a cut above the rest.
And, that is what a guest who visits Shangri-la in Villingili will be in for.

“The resorts offer many unique features such as tree top villa’s, chi spa, nature trails, all land villas to have pools, and many other features that are encased in a heavily forested large island with 3 natural lakes, that provides its own unique attributes”, Director project Development of Shangri-La, Robert Poole told the Maaloafaanu yesterday.
Asked where he would rate Villingili resorts among other Shangri-La resorts in the word he said: “This is a premier property for Shangri-la due to its diverse, unique, and geographical location.”

The Shangri-La is one of the world’s finest hotel management companies, garnering international awards and recognition from prestigious publications and industry partners. Its chain comprises hotels and resorts spanning across the globe.

The government and Shangrila Maldives Ltd entered in to agreement on June 16, 2005 to develop a tourist resort in Addu Atoll Villingili as a joint venture between the two parties.
The project which dilly dallied for various reasons– is now in the midst of construction.
“We will not let you down sir, the resort will be completed by December,” Project Manager, Shangri-La Maldives Resort and Spa Stuart Ward assured President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom during a recent visit to the atoll.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Preparing against future threats in the Maldives

Text by Azza Hameed, International Federation Information Officer in the Maldives.

The Red Cross Red Crescent is supporting communities across the Maldives to prepare for and reduce the impact of future threats such as natural disasters and disease outbreaks.

In December 2006 the International Federation held a 'mock' emergency drill on Muli Island in the Meemu Atoll. Twenty-one community representatives from 11 islands attended the exercise, organized in cooperation with UNDP and the Maldives' National Disaster Management Centre, with the event seen by many as an important step towards being prepared for future natural calamities.

For Ibrahim Mufeed, 60, the importance of such an exercise couldn't be more real. “This is the shirt I had on the tragic day when the tsunami destroyed almost the whole eastern side of this island,” he says, tugging at his bright yellow shirt. “I hope and pray it never happens to us ever again.”

Following weeks of preparation, the mock drill allowed the islands' newly formed Emergency Management Committee (EMC) to test their response capacity. The EMC was able to quickly implement procedures for rescue and evacuation as well as establish safe shelter areas and perform basic first-aid and counseling.

“This is very emotional for me and I'm so grateful that we are now getting prepared for such a situation,” says Ibrahim.

However, communities in the Maldives are not just threatened by natural hazards. Enza Mancuso, the International Federation's disaster management delegate in Malé, the capital of the Maldives, says that communities are also highly vulnerable to outbreaks of disease.

“The Federation's community-based disaster management programme addresses disaster preparedness and response, but it also looks at community health promotion,” she explains.

“The programme was developed following a vulnerability capacity assessment which identified, amongst other things, the importance of dengue and chikungunya prevention and control.”

Outbreaks of dengue fever and chikungunya fever pose an increasing threat to many people across the Maldives. Dengue is endemic in the Maldives and over 6,000 cases of Chikungunya fever have been reported since December 2006. Both are transmitted by mosquito bite and neither can be vaccinated against. Preventative measures are therefore the key.

The International Federation has developed a community based approach for Dengue and Chikungunya prevention, the first step being a 'training of trainers' workshop. Community members from six atolls, as well as representatives from the Department of Public Health, the Vector Borne Disease Control Unit and the Red Cross Red Crescent took part in the five day training session.

The workshop stressed the importance of education and awareness raising within communities about how the diseases work, how they are transmitted and what can be done by way of prevention, with particular emphasis placed on the importance of clearing potential mosquito breeding sites.

“The next step now is for participants to take what they have learned back to their communities and to ensure that everyone knows what to do in the face of disasters or disease,” says Enza.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

10 year-old local boy skydives from 13,000 feet

A 10-year old boy Maldivian boy has skydived from 13,000 feet during the commercial skydiving boogie organized jointly by Island Aviation and Germany’s Skydive-Nuggets. The skydiving sessions began in Gan in Addu atoll, yesterday. The event is being sponsored by Dhiraagu.
Ali Dhaanish, who is currently studying at Grade 5 of Iskandhar School, was among the second group to dive from an altitude of 13,000 feet from a plane provided by Island Aviation. After the dive, he said that it felt like he was “in a dream”. He said that he had wanted an opportunity like that for a long time and that it was his father who had presented the opportunity to him. Dhaanish also received a certificate of remembrance from the Skydive-Nuggets team.
Island Aviation has said that the skydiving sessions that began yesterday, and would continue till the 21st of the month, was the initiation of skydiving in Maldives as a commercial sport. According to the Customer Services Officer and the official in charge of coordinating the dives, Hussain Rasheed, the main objective of the dive was to open the market in Maldives to those tourists who had an interest in skydiving.
Island Aviation also revealed that there were two rates being introduced for the skydiving sessions.
“We have set two rates for the dives,” said Hussain. “A tandem jump costs $400. A tandem jump with photo and video opportunity costs $600. This is open to anyone who is interested and they can contact Island Aviation to make the reservations. The sessions will take place in Gan and we are planning to do six or seven dives from an altitude of 13,000 feet every day.”
He said that they had decided to hold to jumps over Gan in Addu because Gan was more appropriate for such activities and also because Skydive-Nuggets had previously held skydive sessions in Gan.
Skydive-Nuggets’ Manager, Alexander Simon said that they were hoping to host skydive sessions in other parts of the Maldives in the future.

News From Haveeru

Monday, February 12, 2007

Maldives to host first commercial skydiving event

Island Aviation, in association with Germany’s Skydive-Nuggets, is set to host the Maldives’ first commercial skydiving boogie event. The event will run from the 13th to 21st of February. 19 tourists are set to take part in the skydive event and Island Aviation will be providing the Dornier planes to get the skydivers to the perfect altitudes for a stunning jump over the islands.
According to a press release issued by Island Aviation last Thursday, the Skydive-Nuggets team will be diving in Addu atoll Gan and the first jump is scheduled to begin this Tuesday at 9:00am. The team plans to hold on average around six or seven dives every day and the skydivers will be jumping from an altitude of 13,000 feet. The event is sponsored by Dhiraagu.
Although this is the first commercial skydive to be hosted in the Maldives, the first skydiving event in Maldives was held in 27 September 2002 by Skydive Adventures from Singapore. During that event a group of 8 skydivers jumped from an Air Taxi plane from an altitude of 8,000 feet and gave an 8 minute show to spectators on the western side of Male. There are no skydiving laws or regulations currently in place in Maldives.

News from: Haveeru

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Profile of the President of Sri Lanka, H. E. Mahinda Rajapaksa

Rajapaksa was born in Weeraketiya in the southern rural District of Hambantota. He hails from a well known political family in Sri Lanka. His father, D.A. Rajapaksa, was a prominent politician, independence agitator and former Member of Parliament. D.M. Rajapaksa, his uncle, was a State Councilor for Hambantota in the 1930s who started wearing the earthy brown shawl to represent kurakkan (a type of local maize) cultivated by the people of his area, whose cause he championed throughout his life. It is from his example that Rajapaksa wears his characteristic shawl. [Read More]

President on State visit to Maldives

COLOMBO: President Mahinda Rajapaksa will leave on an official three day tour to the Maldives today.

This tour will be the President's first official visit to the Maldives, since assuming office as President.

The visit is expected to further consolidate the existing bilateral links between the two friendly SAARC countries.

It will also enhance and promote cooperation between the Maldives and Sri Lanka, in the spheres of trade, tourism, education and fisheries.

A top-level delegation comprising Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, Investment Promotion and International Trade Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, Education Minister Susil Premjayantha, Tourism Minister Milinda Moragoda, and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Felix Perera is also expected to accompany the President on this tour. First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa too will join the tour. President's Secretary Lalith

Weeratunga, Presidential Advisor A.H.M. Azwer, Assistant Secretary to the President Duminda Nanayakkara, Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona, SAARC Director General Grace A. Asirwatham, and Chief of Protocol M.M. Jafeer will be the other officials in the delegation.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

International hotel brand enters in Maldives in late 2008

Male, the capital island of Maldives, is gearing up to welcome the entry of a long-awaited international hotel brand, to meet a market need among seasoned business travellers, airline crew and stopover visitors seeking high standards of comfort and service.

The new-build Holiday Inn Male marks the entry of InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) first hotel in Maldives. The property will be developed by Male Hotel Associates Sourcing Limited. Following the recent successful procurement of financing by the local partners, construction of the hotel is expected to begin by 2nd quarter of this year, and operations scheduled to commence by late 2008.

IHG which will be managing the hotel as a non-equity partner, has teamed up with partners from Male Hotel Associates Sourcing Limited, led by Abdul Sattar Ali and Lawrence Lee.

Ali, a Maldivian, is the Founding Partner and Director of one of Maldives largest and fastest growing graphic design, advertising and publishing firms. He is also Director and majority shareholder of Aribeach Resort on Ari Atoll. Lee, an industry veteran who has played key roles in a number of successful hospitality property acquisitions, is also the former owner of award-winning White Sands Resort & Spa.

According to the Maldive Tourism Promotion Board, the well-timed entry of the Holiday Inn brand into Male coincides with the robust growth of Maldives’ vibrant tourism industry. The archipelago is experiencing a development boom with 35 new islands released for tourism at an estimated budget of US$600 million.

Deputy Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Mr Abdul Hameed Zakariyya, said, “Maldives’ natural appeal as a beach, diving and honeymoon destination of exceptional beauty, has seen tourism grow into our biggest industry. We are expecting a sustained growth momentum of about 7% annually over the next few years. Demand will clearly exceed the current capacity of 16,000 rooms. We welcome the entry of esteemed global players like InterContinental Hotels Group with its renowned Holiday Inn brand. Companies like IHG play a role as a tourism partner in attracting tourists from new markets. Their presence adds to Maldives’ image as an exotic destination offering world class infrastructure and service.”

Jan Smits, Chief Operating Officer for Southern Asia and Korea, InterContinental Hotels Group, added: “Male stands to benefit from IHG’s Priority Club Rewards’ 31- million-strong global membership base which presents a potential pool of guests from around the world. With one guest checking into a Holiday Inn hotel around the world every four seconds, Maldives looks set to enjoy a boost in visitor arrivals.”

news from

Maldives tops the poll in Kuoni`s report

Maldives have been declared as the favorite long haul destination for the UK for the year 2006 by Kuoni Travel annual long haul travel report. The Maldives was followed by Thailand in second place and Egypt in third. [Read More]

Tourist arrivals in the Middle East reach 40.8m
Maldives receives Best Island Destination Award for 2006!
Hilton Maldives wins more awards!

Swede off to vacation in Maldives

DUBAI -- Dubai Desert Classic winner Henrik Stenson is off on a well-deserved holiday to the Maldives.
After winning the handsome trophy at the Emirates Golf Club yesterday, Stenson promised that he will not touch a golf club for the next 10 days.
"I've had it coming and I am feeling so tired. I just need to relax and unwind after such an early hectic schedule. I go off to the Maldives for four days... a sort of short honeymoon, swim a bit and lie down on the beach," Stenson said. [Read More]

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Ousted Thai PM leaves Maldives after brief holiday

Ousted Thailand Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, has left Maldives Tuesday night after spending a short holiday here. Thaksin Shinawatra who arrived in Maldives last Sunday on a China Airlines jet was accompanied by four others and spent their holiday in Four Seasons Resort at Landaa Giraavaru. [Read More]

Wiki Thaksin Shinawatra
Profile of Thaksin Shinawatra

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

President inaugurates Addu Ferry Network

President Gayoom inaugurated MTCC’s Atoll Ferry Network and opened the MTCC Regional Office in Feydhoo, Addu Atoll on 6 Feb 2007.

“Today marked an important development in the history of transportation in the Maldives,” Gayoom declared at the inauguration ceremony, and highlighted the urgent need for ferry services in the atolls. He said the Ferry Network would promote trade and facilitate essential services. [Read More]