Monday, April 30, 2007

Abu Dhabi to 'rival the Caribbean'


Abu Dhabi has announced ambitious plans to compete with the likes of the Caribbean and the Maldives by developing 'Desert Islands' as a key tourism attraction.

The Gulf emirate will transform the existing islands – which lie off its western coastline – into 'multi experience destinations,' adding a total of 4,000 hotel rooms.

Desert Islands will consist of eight islands and an onshore gate, and encompass a nature reserve and the 'Arabian National Park'.

“This project embodies Abu Dhabi’s ambitions to develop its islands and other natural resources in line with the guidance and vision of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to progress the tourism sector in the UAE capital,” said His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

“Such projects will contribute to the generation of career and training opportunities for UAE nationals. This will be a world-class tourism destination with local, regional and international appeal,” said Al Nahyan.

It is hoped the Desert Islands will raise the profile of Abu Dhabi’s international tourism trade and will compete with famed tourist destinations such as the Maldives and the Caribbean.

"The Desert Islands will significantly raise Abu Dhabi’s international tourism standing creating a singular destination with experiences rivalling those of the Caribbean and the Maldives," said a statement issued by the emirate's Tourism Development & Investment Company.

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) believes the region's Desert Islands will attract around 250,000 visitors when the first phase is complete in 2010. And it hopes for over a million visitors a year - consisting of both day trippers and those staying overnight - by 2017. The project aims to attract $3 billion in public and private investments, according to the authority.

According to a press release, the Desert Islands comprise of the former Royal nature reserve of Sir Bani Yas Island, Dalma Island and the Discovery Islands. The islands will be linked by a hydrofoil service, ferry, water taxis, a private ‘resort’ boat service and regional sea planes.

Sir Bani Yas is about 160km west of the Abu Dhabi city and is a little over 80 sq. km in area. Its central hills, rising to a height of over 130 metres, contain the oldest rocks visible anywhere in the country. The island contains archaeological sites from the Late Stone Age (7000 years ago) onwards. Today, the island is a major centre for the captive breeding of endangered wildlife, with herds of several hundred Arabian oryx and several thousand Sand Gazelles and Arabian Gazelles, some of which are being reintroduced to the wild, as well as other species.

The Desert Islands will have a variety of accommodation including five star-star hotels and small family resorts.

Source: Arabian Business

Sri Lanka flights suspended

Colombo - Emirates Airlines and Hong Kong's flag carrier Cathay Pacific on Sunday suspended flights to Sri Lanka following a rebel air strike around the troubled island's capital.

"For Emirates, the safety of its passengers is of paramount importance," a spokesperson for the Dubai-based carrier said, adding that the situation would be reviewed within a day.

Emirates operated scheduled flights from Dubai to the Maldives, Singapore and Indonesia through the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

However, the airline plans to operate a relief flight for any stranded passengers.

Hong Kong's flag carrier Cathay Pacific suspended flights to Sri Lanka's international airport indefinitely, it said in a statement on Sunday.

Source: IOL

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Better sleep, better memories.


BEIJING, April 28 (Xinhuanet) -- A new study shows that sleep protects memories, meaning people who have a good night's sleep have better memories than people who sleep poorly.

The study will be presented May 2 at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Boston, media reports said Saturday.

"There was a very large benefit of sleep for memory consolidation, even larger than we were anticipating," said study author Dr. Jeffrey Ellenbogen, an associate neurologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, and a postdoctoral fellow in sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School asked 48 subjects between the ages of 18 and 30, who all had normal, healthy sleep routines and were not taking any medications to learn a list of 20 pairs of words and then tested them 12 hours later on their recall of the pairs.

These subjects were divided into four groups: a wake group without interference (competing information); a wake group with interference; a sleep group without interference and a sleep group with interference.

Two of the groups (the wake groups) were taught the words at 9 a.m. and then tested on the pairings at 9 p.m., after being awake all day. The other two groups (the sleep groups) learned the words at 9 p.m., went to sleep, and were then tested at 9 a.m.

Researchers found that the students who slept at home before the tests performed best, correctly identifying three-quarters of the word pairs. The students who took the test before going home for the evening correctly identified one-third of the word pairs.

"These results provide important insights into how the sleeping brain interacts with memories. It appears to strengthen them," Ellenbogen said. "Perhaps, then, sleep disorders might worsen memory problems seen in dementia."


Source: China View

Saturday, April 28, 2007

South Asia is paying for sins of the West

The region comprising India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives has found time to discuss everything under the sun, but never the environment, ecology or climate.

Yet this is where global warming affects the most. The disappointing part is not the lack of knowledge. It is the lack of interest. I am not aware of any effort in the region to fight global warming.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at Brussels has predicted dire consequences: 30 per cent of species will be wiped out, 3.2 billion people will face water shortage and a large-scale melting of the Himalayan glaciers will play havoc in the Gangetic plains.

An increase of a mere one foot of sea water can endanger Mumbai and Kolkata as much as it could Karachi, Chittagong and Colombo. Even if the rise is not that much, the countries in the region cannot afford to wait and watch.

How to tackle the impending disaster coolly and collectively is the question stares us. India set up a Department of Environment in 1981. Similar official establishments exist in the other countries as well. Alas, all of them are lost in trivialities.

They have never budgeted anything for steps to fight against the challenge hurled at them. Nor have they planned anything as a region. The famous Sunderbans in West Bengal has lost 10 per cent of its area as well as some rare species to the rising water. [Read More on Gulf News]

Source: Gulf News

Maldives Presents SriLankan Airlines Pro: - Count Down begins to one of Surfings Jewell Events


Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 28 April, 2007 : - - Once again the exotic and magnificent Maldives Island’s will host one of the worlds best and most anticipated surf events – the ASP 5 Star Prime rated Maldives presents SriLankan Airlines Pro, running from June 3 through to June 9.

Renowned world wide and attracting the very best surfers from right across the globe, The Sri Lankan Airlines Pro delivers the true essence of the sport to the world with perfect surf, amazing weather and possibly the warmest surfing waters in the world - All this on a paradise island setting where the problems of the world disappear and the sport of surfing takes over!

Elite World Qualifying Series competitor Hira Terinatoofa (Tahiti) commented on the SriLankan Airlines Pro saying “Simply awesome! It’s my favorite event on the world tour. Everybody has fun enjoying fantastic surf and it’s just a wonderful experience. It’s just like my home in Tahiti - surf, sun and fun. A great event for surfing!”

The Maldives Islands is open to the entire Indian Ocean swell window and while great surf is consistent throughout the year, the monsoonal June winds have regularly delivered powerful and excellent surf to this event. Last year’s event saw Pasta Point on the Dhonveli Beach & Spa Resort Island add even more quality to the options of excellent surf available and Pasta Point will again be the events base with options to surf other quality surf breaks like Lohifushi, Cokes and Jails! [Read More on Global Surfer News]

Source: Global Surfer News

Amana Takaful fully fledged branch in the Maldives had Insurance profit grow by 396%

As more and more Sri Lankans look to the Takaful way of insurance, known as the most rewarding in the industry, its Sri Lankan flag-bearer Amana Takaful Insurance (ATI) revealed remarkable growth, for its financial year of 2006.

The net profit after tax shows an extensive rise of 396%, from Rs.2mn to Rs.11.5mn, while the total Gross Written Premium (GWP) has increased by a significant 57%. Total assets increased by 38%, and are at Rs.597mn, as at the end of the financial year. According to the financial statements Earnings per Share is recorded at Rs.0.92. ATI’s prolific year showed General Takaful achieving a growth of 53% and Family Takaful boasting a growth of 85%.

Recently completing 8 years of operation in Sri Lanka, Amana Takaful Insurance has made tremendous headway in the insurance industry, showing potential to lead the Takaful industry in the South Asian region. ATI’s growth in 2006 confirms and reflects the Global Takaful industry growth of 15-20%.

"The Company’s business operations are based on fairness and a commitment to sincerely serve all participants on a mutually beneficial platform," said Mr. Ehsan Zaheed, CEO/ Director - ATI, when asked to comment on the Company’s performance during 2006. "We have, throughout the past year, strengthened and reinforced key activities such as, risk management, corporate governance and the overall organisational structure - geared to provide a total Takaful solution and a company wide focus to provide a service that exceeds the expectations of customers." One of the key strategic priorities was the investment in enhancing people and their skills. The development of our people has helped motivate employees reach their individual goals by complimenting the overall corporate objectives, he added.

Marketing and branding has also played a key role in ATI’s recent achievement. The nature of Takaful commands the creation of an innovative model to take it to the market. According to ATI’s Asst. Marketing Manager Aashiq Aminuddin, ATI has been able to enlighten the market about the benefits of Takaful through proper education. This has reflected in the market acceptance and growth of sales.

“The concept of Takaful can be termed as the next phase or generation of insurance. Its evolution has brought about a product that is a truly win-win proposition for everyone involved. Not only does it take care of participants, the system of operation also gives back a return to them. This is something new and interesting for the market”, Aminuddin added.

ATI has led the way in many instances in the industry. It was the first to open out mobile phone insurance and also medical insurance for individuals, fulfilling a dire need of the masses. ATI is also has a strong hold in Aviation and Hull Insurance, which is mainly in the Maldives.

The Takaful concept of insurance has become widely popular locally as well as globally due to its practice of giving back a ‘surplus refund.’ When you take a life or general cover, your premiums are pooled into a fund which yields returns from prudent investments while every member’s needs are taken care of. In General Takaful once all claims are paid the remaining (underwriting profit) is proportionately paid back to members who have not claimed during the policy year as surplus refunds.

Amana Takaful Limited, in collaboration with Takaful Malaysia, one of the largest Takaful operators in the world, has from inception catered for both Family and General Takaful Insurance. Its success is mirrored in its phenomenal growth and the extent of customer loyalty it commands today.

The Company’s operations have expanded to include 15 locations island-wide including in the South and East of Sri Lanka, also extending overseas with the setting up of a fully fledged branch in the Maldives. Amana Takaful Insurance is currently backed by some of the best re-insurers in the Takaful Industry, including Takaful Re, Best Re, Malaysian Re, Asian Re and Lauban Re.

Source: PRLEAP.COM

After Long time passengers of Bell 212 Helicopter crashed near Rangali Island of Maldives is Compensating.

More than seven years after his death in a helicopter crash in the India ocean the family of a Calgary businessman is finally being compensated.

A judgement order filed in Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench says the survivors of Harry Chernetz will receive $3,215,000 for his untimely death.

The order by, Justice Sal LoVecchio, was filed this week by lawyers for the dead man’s family, and two of the companies sued over his death.

After consultations with insurers, Eagle Copters Maintenance Ltd., and Maldivian Air Taxi, remained as defendants to streamline the case.

They admitted liability for Chernetz’s death and held a trial in late 2005, to determine proper damages.

Chernetz, 51, perished with nine others on Dec. 3, 1999, when their helicopter plunged into the Indian Ocean.

Chernetz was a passenger on board a Bell 212 helicopter when it crashed into the sea near Rangali Island in the Republic of Maldives shortly after take off.

Chernetz was head of Calgary-based Venture Helicopters and was in Maldives to establish a helicopter taxi service from the nation’s various tropical island resorts to its capital, Male.

During the trial on damages, court heard in seven years he took the company from a start-up business to one which had an operating profit of $2.5 million in its last two.

Following Chernetz’s death, his widow, Madeline took over as company president, but could not maintain its viability and sold it for $300,000.

At trial Madeline Chernetz said she was overwhelmed by her husband’s death and had little recollection of the months which followed and her handling of the company.

“I was not in a full state of mind, I was bereaved, I was on drugs, I was not well,” she said at the time.

Source: By KEVIN MARTIN, SUN MEDIA

Naladhu, Maldives - Luxurious New Resort named “Hottest” in Conde Nast Traveler “Hot List”


Naladhu, Maldives, has been named one of the world's hottest new resorts by Conde Nast Traveler in the 2007 “Hot List”. The list, featured in the May edition, comprises 138 hotels, and Naladhu, Maldives is the one of the “Hottest” new properties worldwide.

The Conde Nast Traveler Hot List recognizes hotels and resorts for design, service and ambiance, making it one of the most coveted designations. Each year, an anonymous group of writers evaluates new hotels and resorts around the world for the publication. Naladhu was chosen as one of only 138 properties whose offering surpass expectations. Of the chosen properties, each is awarded a “Hot”, “Hotter” or “Hottest” title, Naladhu, Maldives claimed the position as “Hottest” in the magazine’s listing.

In describing Naladhu, Conde Nast Traveler says “this intimate resort provides a level of privacy and personal attention impressive even in the Maldives”. In addition “Dedicated butlers, or VGCs (Very Good Chaps), exceed expectations with quiet, smiling service”.

The magazine concluded “Naladhu represents the Maldives' most convenient exclusive destination yet”.

Located in the aquatic setting of the Maldives, one of the world’s most celebrated tropical havens, Naladhu Maldives offers a unique lifestyle to those who appreciate the sophistication and charm of times past.

Naladhu has captured the elegant aesthetics of a slightly colonial era, with hints of Sri Lankan regality in its design. However, the resort also proffers every modern convenience imaginable to the luxury traveller. Naladhu means “pretty little island”, and each of the exclusive 19 Houses – each named after a Maldivian plant - has been designed to make every guest’s wish become reality.

With a commitment to perfecting every detail, Naladhu fuses modern facilities with a sense of the nostalgia. White-washed timber wall panels juxtapose the zesty Indian motifs and colours of the house upholstery. Antique furnishings, such as an early 20th century writer’s desk and the decorous bar cabinet conjure up images of a romantic, bygone age.

Naladhu provides the canvass and colour palette to those who wish to make their holiday picture perfect.

Source: E-Travel Blackboard

Friday, April 27, 2007

Climate Change: Asia Is More Vulnerable

By Bhimsen Thapaliya

ASIAN countries are headed to face critical water and food shortages unless concrete measures are taken to control the rise in greenhouse gases, warns an internal body of experts on climate change. The warning is based on the already visible phenomenon of increasing temperatures and extreme weather patterns that have brought decline in the agricultural output and water availability in the continent.

"Future climate change is expected to put close to 50 million extra people at risk of hunger by 2020," says a report prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The number of Asian people to be hit by hunger is projected to 132 million by 2050 and 266 million by 2080.

Temperatures are expected to rise by 5 degrees Celsius by the year 2080 unless drastic cuts are brought in the emissions of greenhouse gases. The IPCC report suggests that an increase of 2 degree Celsius in mean air temperature could decrease rice production by 5 to 12 per cent in China where rice farming depends on rain. Under the same scenario, net cereal crop output in South Asian countries is expected to decline by 4 to 10 per cent by the end of this century. In Bangladesh, rice production is feared to fall by about 10 per cent and wheat by a third by the year 2050.
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And 60 per cent of this increase is expected to occur in the South Asian coastal regions from Pakistan to Burma. Rest of the sea level rise will occur in Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines. The impact of this rise could be more visible in megacities such as Bangkok, Shanghai and Tianjin. In Maldives, with 80 per cent of its islands lying not more than 1 metre above sea level, they are feared to be uninhabitable within 100 years, forcing 360,000 people to evacuate. [Read More]

Source: The Rising Nepal

China Eastern begins operating flights to Maldives

China Eastern Airlines Corporation Limited, an airline based in Shanghai, will operate Shanghai-Maldives-Johannesburg flights starting from April 27, as it further expands its international network. The carrier will operate four flights per week on the route using Airbus A340-300 aircraft.

Day of opsA/C TypeRouteSTASTD
SaturdayA340PVG-MLE-JNB0455LT0605LT
SundayA340JNB-MLE-PVG0050LT0200LT
WednesdayA340PVG-MLE-JNB0455LT0605LT
ThursdayA340JNB-MLE-PVG0050LT0200LT

China Eastern is a major Chinese airline operating international, domestic and regional routes. Its main bases are Shanghai Hongqiao Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

This airline will open up the door for Chinese and eastern tourists to travel easily to Maldives and as well as traffic from South Africa.

Chinese outbound travel is based on a system called Approved Destination Status (ADS). According to this system, Chinese nationals can travel to ADS countries only. The Maldives became an ADS country at the end of 2002.

There has been a tremendous growth in the Chinese market for the past four years to Maldives, partly, due to the Approved Destination Status (ADS) and also the new found freedom for Chinese citizens to travel. After the Maldives became an ADS country, the arrivals from China increased tremendously.

However, in 2004 arrivals dropped tremendously compared to the projections for 2005. But in 2006 there was an unprecedented growth of 127 percent in comparison to 2005. Chinese tourists now account for 4.4 percent of total tourist arrivals to Maldives.

China Eastern's local operation agent in the Maldives is Inner Maldives Holidays, one of the premier brands in the travel and tourism industry in Maldives.

For more information please contact:
Abdulla Ghiyas, Deputy Managing Director or
Ali Nifaz, Operations Manager
Inner Maldives Holidays
Tel: (960) 3326309.
END


Source: MTPB

New flight links China, SA directly for first time

China Eastern Airlines will begin flying the first-ever direct service between mainland China and South Africa with the launch of a Shanghai and Johannesburg service on April 27.

The new service will offer travellers from China's largest commercial city a more convenient route when flying to South Africa for business or leisure without a flight transfer.

The Shanghai-to-Johannesburg flight will fly with an Airbus A340-300 each Tuesday and Friday with a one-hour stop in the Maldives. The return flight will be available on Wednesdays and Saturdays (local time) [Read More]

Source: MGO

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Qtel buys Pakistan telecom operator

DUBAI: Qtel yesterday said it had agreed to buy a telecom operator in Pakistan, its first in the country, as it seeks to expand outside its home base where it is losing its monopoly.

State-controlled Qtel and Saudi Arabia’s A A Turki Corporation for Trading and Contracting (Atco) agreed to buy 75% of Pakistan’s Burraq Telecom for $12.3mn, the companies said in a statement.

The deal still needs regulatory approval. Burraq Telecom offers international calling, wireless telephone and broadband Internet services, according to its website.

“The price is very reasonable to access to the Pakistani market, which is a fast-growing market with huge potential,” said Marc Hammoud, a telecom analyst at Dubai-based investment bank Shuaa Capital. “They can do a quick return on investment on this.”

Pakistan is Asia’s fourth-most populous country. As competition has risen at home, Gulf telecom operators have been hunting for foreign assets. Asia is a top priority, Hammoud said. Emirates Telecoms (Etisalat) bought a 26% stake in Pakistan Telecom for $2.6bn in 2005, and this year started a telecom software unit in India.

Qtel is expanding outside Qatar as the state prepares to sell a second mobile phone licence this year, ending the last Arab monopoly. Qatar will also sell a second fixed-line licence. In Asia, Qtel bought a 25% stake in Asia Mobile Holdings, a unit of Singapore Technologies Telemedia, in January.

It also took control of Kuwait’s National Mobile Telecoms (Wataniya) in March for $3.72bn, the largest Gulf telecom acquisition, giving customers in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, the Maldives and Iraq.

Qatar, home to 840,000 people and with a mobile penetration of more than 100%, invited expressions of interest in the country’s second-mobile licence this week.

Source: Reuters

ADB Helping to Upgrade Maldives' Main Inter-Island Harbor with $5.33 Million Loan


MANILA, PHILIPPINES - ADB is helping to ensure enhanced access to markets and social services for the 70% of the Maldivian population living on outer atolls, where the comparative incidence of poverty is highest.

“Maritime transport in the Maldives is comparable to that of a road network in land-based nations,” said Lise Weidner, the project team leader with ADB’s South Asia Department. “A well-developed maritime transport infrastructure is critical to sustained social and economic development in the country.”

The Domestic Maritime Transport Project enhances the existing Malé North Harbor through the construction of a 290-meter long quay to ease congestion and increase the sustainability and efficiency of the harbor. The Project also includes substantial support for institutional development and capacity building in key sector agencies.

The Malé North Harbor is the most important inter-island transport hub in the Maldives. It is the lifeline to social and economic development opportunities in the capital for the outer atoll population.

Congestion in Malé North Harbor warrants capacity expansion and improved harbor management. The Project addresses these development needs and is a top priority under the country’s national development plan.

“This project will help reduce regional disparities within the country by lowering transport costs and boosting inter-island trade,” said Ms. Weidner.

Source: ADB

Outgoing Commonwealth chief says successor need not be Asian

KUALA LUMPUR: Outgoing Commonwealth chief Don McKinnon said Thursday his successor need not necessarily come from Asia, amid expectations the region should be given the post for the first time.

The Commonwealth secretary-general has not come from any of the eight Asian member countries since the 53-member grouping of former British colonies was established in 1965.

McKinnon said Commonwealth leaders would want the "best person'' to replace him when his term as secretary-general expires at the end of March 2008.

"There is an assumption that it could be an Asian candidate because Asia has not had a secretary-general,'' he told The Associated Press.

"The message will be, sure put up an Asian candidate ... but Commonwealth leaders would want to ensure that he or she is a credible and good candidate,'' he said.

"The candidate doesn't necessarily have to come from Asia.''

McKinnon, 63, a former foreign minister and deputy prime minister in New Zealand, has held the post since 1999.

His successor will be elected by Commonwealth leaders at their annual summit in Uganda in November.

So far, only Malta has nominated its Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Frendo for the post.

McKinnon, who is visiting Malaysia on the last leg of a Southeast Asia tour, said he expects more candidates to emerge.

With Asia accounting for two-thirds of the group's nearly two billion population, he said Asian candidates would be seriously considered.

"There are a lot of talented people in this region,'' he said.

"India and other countries are thinking about it. We will have to wait and see.''

The Commonwealth's Asian members are Bangladesh, Brunei, India, Malaysia, the Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Singapore.

Source: The Star

Maldives student attacked in India

MALE, April 26 (HNS) -- A Maldivian student was attacked in Bangalore, India, on Tuesday while on his way home from college and has been admitted in hospital.

Mohamed Ahmed, 25, studying for a degree in information technology, was attacked by a group of unknown assailants; the assault left him with head injuries.

According to Mohamed Ahmed’s college mate, Mohamed Musthafa Farooq who spoke to Haveeru on the phone from Bangalore, the incident happened around 4:00 in the evening on Tuesday while Mohamed was walking home with a classmate.

“While on the way home after finishing a college exam , a group of people coming from behind demanded to step aside and grabbed Mohamed’s head,” said Musthafa. “Mohamed batted the hand away and accidently hit the man nearby. In anger the man picked up a stone and hit Mohamed across the head. We can’t tell whether these people were intoxicated or under what condition they were in.”

Musthafa said after the incident, he quickly took Mohamed to a nearby hospital and after a CT scan the doctors have said that Mohamed had suffered internal bleeding in his head. Afterwards when his condition became serious, they had transferred him to the intensive care unit and had even performed an operation on him. Musthafa added that the doctor had even said that Mohamed would need cosmetic surgery as well.

“He seems to be recovering well now,” said Musthafa. “He can somewhat talk but he’s unable to open his eyes yet.”

Musthafa also said that he had personally contacted the Maldivian High Commissioner Anbaree Abdul Sattar in India as well as Mohamed’s family about the attack.

According to Mohamed’s Father, Ahmed Ibrahim, his son’s condition is not serious anymore. He said that he had received word of the incident only on Wednesday but that he will be flying to India to see his son on Thursday.

Musthafa said that earlier, a similar incident had also occurred when a group of intoxicated people had attacked another group of foreign students studying in Bangalore Garden City College.

Source: Haveeru

Pakistan preparations for Asian Volleyball Championship in full swing

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s preparations for this year’s Asian Central Zone Volleyball Championship are in full swing here at the Liaquat Gymnasium. The championship will be played in June at the same venue. To get a place in the team, twenty hopefuls are undergoing training under the watchful eyes of Bulgarian coach Stefan Dimitrov and assistant coaches Muhammad Akram and Farooq-e-Azam. “Islamabad will stage the competition for which Iran, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Kazakistan have confirmed their participation. And we are expecting few other teams from Central Asian States will also participate in the event,” a spokesman for the Pakistan Volleyball Federation (PVF) told Daily Times on Wednesday. “Ace players Kashif Mansoor and Naseer Ahmad, both of whom are playing in leagues abroad, will join the camp in mid May,” he added.

The players attending the camp are: Mohammad Zaman, Mohammad Yasin, Imran Ali, Syaad Ahmad, Naeem Jan, Mohib Rasul, Bakht Risal, Mohammad Farooq, Azhar Mahmood, Ismail Khan, Mohammad Riaz, Ali Abbas, Zaheer Abbas, Muhammad Zahid, Mohammad Ali, Asif Hussain, Shahid Manzoor, Mohammad Tariq, Ishfaq Hussain, Imran Sultan and Mohammad Siddique.


Source: Daily Times

Maldives Minister visits Thiruvananthapuram

By Roy Mathew

Thiruvananthapuram, April 25: The Minister of State and Principal Collector of Customs of Maldives Ibrahim Rashad visited Thiruvananthapuram here on Wednesday for an interaction with the Central Excise and Customs here.

Mr. Rashad visited Vizhinjam and the airport here to see the operations of the Customs Department here. Matters related to liaison with the customs wings of both the countries were discussed.

Source: The Hindu

MERCY Malaysia completes post-tsunami projects in Aceh, Indonesia

MERCY Malaysia today handed over the last two of its projects in Aceh, Indonesia. This marks the final completion of 16 projects MERCY Malaysia undertook following the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004 that caused widespread devastation resulting in the loss of more than 167,000 lives while 570,000 people were made homeless in Indonesia alone.

MERCY Malaysia was the first international organisation to deploy medical relief in Banda Aceh on the 26th of December 2004. MERCY Malaysia's medical and humanitarian relief efforts included the provision of emergency medical relief, primary healthcare, psychosocial intervention, as well as the reconstruction and rehabilitation of medical facilities, homes and orphanages. As part of our capacity building, disaster prevention, preparedness and mitigation, we also engaged in community education programmes. [Read More]

Source: Relief Web

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Victory Sports Club won Hoa Phat match by 2-0.


Hoa Phat Hanoi crashes out of Asian football champ

Vietnam Cup champion Hoa Phat Hanoi lost 2-0 to the Maldives’s Victory club Tuesday in the AFC Cup and now has no chance of qualifying from group D.

Hoa Phat now trails the group with just two points from four games. Hong Kong club Xiangzue Sun Hei is the likely qualifier with nine points so far.

The Vietnamese club will play its last two matches on May 8 and 22.

FC Cup’s group D
Teams GP W D L GF GA Points
Xiangzue Sun Hei (HKG) 3 3 0 0 6 1 9
Victory SC (MDV) 4 1 2 1 6 6 5
Negeri Sembilan (MAS) 3 0 2 1 2 4 2
Hoa Phat Hanoi (VIE) 4 0 2 2 3 6 2

Source: Thanh Nien News

Dr. Ahmed Shaheed to visit Pakistan in early May

The Foreign Minister of Maldives Ahmed Shaheed will visit Pakistan on May 3-5 to attend the First Meeting of the Joint Commission for Economic and Technical Cooperation between Pakistan and Maldives.

Shaheed will lead a four-member delegation in the meeting, according to a statement issued Tuesday by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry.

Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistani Minister of State for Economic Affairs Division, will lead the Pakistani side.

The Foreign Minister of Maldives will exchange views on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual concern with his Pakistani counterpart during the visit.

"The prime focus of the visit would be to further consolidate bilateral relations with particular emphasis on ways and means to enlarge economic and technical cooperation," the statement said.

Source: Xinhua

President of Maldives meets Blue Sky delegation from the UK


The President of the Maldives Dr Abdul Gayoom met with a British media group, currently visiting the Maldives to study the tsunami effects and the recovery work, the effects of global warming on the environment of the Maldives and the ongoing democratic reform agenda in the country.

Speaking during the meeting, the President briefed the journalists on the current activities of the post-tsunami recovery programme. He also spoke on the environmental challenges facing the Maldives and the ongoing work to usher in a modern democracy to the country.

The meeting was followed by a private meeting with group leader Nic Careem, founder of the Blue Sky Network and organiser of the trip to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, to discuss the future of the Islands which literally disapeared for five minutes from satellite images during the Tsunami.

Nic Careem said: "The Maldives is one of the most beautiful places on earth. We all found Dr Gayoom to be an impressive man who has made some genuine steps towards democratic reform. We were able to go wherever we wanted, without any restrictions, and speak to anyone we wanted to. Dr Gayoom spoke of his concerns on global warming nearly two decades before Al Gore and has even written a book about it. We were all impressed with the healthcare and prison system. In fact health care is as good as anything you find in the NHS. As no one pays tax on the Maldives this level of care is remarkable. We were also allowed to visit one of the few Islands prisons in the world. We were impressed with the humanity shown to prisoners. All cells had fans, showers and toilets. One of our party, a retired judge and QC, was heard to jokingley ask one of the offficals whether he could book two weeks on the island for his family in July."

Earlier in the week the group visited Sri Lanka, where they met with the Defence Minister and Tourist Minister to discuss ways Blue Sky could help with the peace process.

"The truth is a tourist dying from a knife or gun attack is far greater in London than it is anywhere in Sri Lanka or the Maldives. Nevertheless, unless the country sorts out its political problems it is in danger of destroying itself. There must be a sensible resolution to this crisis and Blue Sky is planning a "live aid" style concert on the island with international stars" said a spokesperson for the group.

The retired Judge Dr John Roberts said: "it's so important that people visit these wonderful islands with such kind and generous people - tourism is the lifeblood of these countries and it is important that people experience the beauty and not get put off by scare stories in the media. London is a far more dangerous place then Sri Lanka or the Maldives"

The trip was part of Blue Sky Network's mission to bring a new kind of thinking to address world issues from global poverty to ethnic conflicts.

Blue Sky is in discussion with major music impresarios about holding an international concert for peace on Sri Lanka - a sort of "Live Aid for peace" on the Island with major artists from the US, UK and Asia performing on the Bill.

Source: Clickwalla

Changes in Wataniya International Leadership – Qtel CEO takes the lead

Qtel’s CEO Dr Nasser Marafih is to take over the role of CEO for Wataniya International following the decision by Ahmad Haleem not to renew his employment agreement as CEO of Wataniya's international operation.

The integration of Qtel and Wataniya will be a top priority for Dr Nasser who will combine roles as CEO of both Qtel and Wataniya International.

Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani, Chairman at Qtel, commented. “It is with regret that we announce the departure of Mr. Haleem who has expressed his wish to pursue personal endeavors. Mr. Haleem has been a major component in the success of Wataniya. His outstanding efforts to drive Wataniya's international operations and its rapid operational expansion into Tunisia, Iraq, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and the Maldives in a span of just over four years establishes a legacy that Qtel is fortunate and proud to inherit.”

Sheikh Abdullah continued. “The decision for Dr Nasser to take the lead in Wataniya’s international operations is a very positive one for our enlarged group. As CEO of both Qtel and Wataniya International, Dr Nasser’s dual roles will provide many synergies to add value to both Qtel and Wataniya International operations, and, ultimately, it is our shared customers who will feel the benefit.”

Qtel is steadily pursuing its international growth strategy as it seeks be a top 20 telecommunications company worldwide by 2020. The acquisition of Wataniya, in which Dr Nasser played an important role, follows a number of key acquisitions spearheaded by Dr Nasser since he became CEO in 2002, including Qtel’s deal with AT&T to gain an equity stake in NavLink, the region’s leading provider of Managed Data services, and a strategic alliance with ST Telemedia to give Qtel a strong foothold in South East Asia.

Dr Nasser said, “I am delighted to take on the role of CEO in Wataniya International. With our two companies now part of one enlarged group, we have been making the necessary adjustments to maximize our growth potential. As CEO of both Qtel and Wataniya International, I look forward to ensuring that we pool our resources and strengths in order to reach our common goals.”

© 2007 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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Source: Mena Report

An island made by global warming

By Michael McCarthy, Environmental Editor

The map of Greenland will have to be redrawn. A new island has appeared off its coast, suddenly separated from the mainland by the melting of Greenland's enormous ice sheet, a development that is being seen as the most alarming sign of global warming.

Several miles long, the island was once thought to be the tip of a peninsula halfway up Greenland's remote east coast but a glacier joining it to the mainland has melted away completely, leaving it surrounded by sea.
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That would inundate most of the world's coastal cities, including London, swamp vast areas of heavily-populated low-lying land in countries such as Bangladesh, and remove several island countries such as the Maldives from the face of the Earth. However, even a rise one tenth as great would have devastating consequences. [Read More]

Source: The Independent

China Eastern begins operating flights to Maldives


Shanghai-Maldives-Johannesburg flights starting from April 27, as it further expands its international network. The carrier will operate four flights per week on the route using Airbus A340-300 aircraft.

China Eastern is a major Chinese airline operating international, domestic and regional routes. Its main bases are Shanghai Hongqiao Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

Day of ops A/C Type Route STA STD
Saturday A340 PVG-MLE-JNB 0455LT 0605LT
Sunday A340 JNB-MLE-PVG 0050LT 0200LT
Wednesday A340 PVG-MLE-JNB 0455LT 0605LT
Thursday A340 JNB-MLE-PVG 0050LT 0200LT
This airline will open up the door for Chinese and eastern tourists to travel easily to Maldives and as well as traffic from South Africa.

Chinese outbound travel is based on a system called Approved Destination Status (ADS). According to this system, Chinese nationals can travel to ADS countries only. The Maldives became an ADS country at the end of 2002.

There has been a tremendous growth in the Chinese market for the past four years to Maldives, partly, due to the Approved Destination Status (ADS) and also the new found freedom for Chinese citizens to travel. After the Maldives became an ADS country, the arrivals from China increased tremendously.

However, in 2004 arrivals dropped tremendously compared to the projections for 2005. But in 2006 there was an unprecedented growth of 127 percent in comparison to 2005. Chinese tourists now account for 4.4 percent of total tourist arrivals to Maldives.

China Eastern’s local operation agent in the Maldives is Inner Maldives Holidays, one of the premier brands in the travel and tourism industry in Maldives.

For more information please contact:
Abdulla Ghiyas, Deputy Managing Director or
Ali Nifaz, Operations Manager
Inner Maldives Holidays
Tel: (960) 3326309.

ENDS

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Source: MOG

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Conrad Revises Name And Corporate Identity To Reflect Growing Portfolio

LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Conrad brand today announces that it is changing its Corporate Brand Identity from Conrad Hotels to Conrad Hotels & Resorts.

The move comes at a time of extensive growth and development for the luxury brand and emphasises the fast-evolving portfolio of Conrads hotels and resorts globally.

The transformation will be most noticeable in the new name, Conrad Hotels & Resorts as well as being reflected in distinct visual refinements to the brand and hotel logos.

With a number of new resort projects set to join the Conrad portfolio over the next two years, the new corporate identity will highlight the message that Conrad Hotels & Resorts appeals to both leisure and business travellers, while simultaneously underlining the ever-increasing importance of leisure travel within the luxury market.

Says Richard Blamey, Senior Vice President Brand Management, Conrad Hotels & Resorts: This is an exciting time for the luxury travel market and undoubtedly for Conrad. The decision to revitalize the brand identity is testament to our global growth, with each new opening showcasing the World of Conrad, a world that celebrates individuality in every sense. We welcome the opportunity to further strengthen the influence of Conrad Hotels & Resorts around the world.

Conrad Hotels & Resorts portfolio currently includes 18 luxury award-winning properties in leading urban and resort destinations globally. New Conrad Hotels & Resorts are in conversion in the Maldives and under development in Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the Bahamas, Las Vegas and Koh Samui.

About Conrad® Hotels & Resorts

Conrad Hotels & Resorts is the contemporary luxury brand of the Hilton Family of Hotels (NYSE:HLT), with 18 award-winning properties in cosmopolitan destinations across the US, UK, Ireland, Belgium, Egypt, Turkey, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Australia and Uruguay. Conrad offers luxury services for the discerning traveller, creating a world that celebrates individuality in every sense. Another seven Conrad projects are under development in the US, the Bahamas, the UAE, Thailand, the Maldives and China. All Conrad properties participate in the acclaimed Hilton HHonors® reward programme.

Discover the World of Conrad and the greatest luxury of all...The Luxury of Being Yourself.

For further information on Conrad Hotels & Resorts please visit ConradHotels.com.


Source: Business Wire

Milestone for Maldives

he British Red Cross has completed its construction work on two islands in the Maldives, enabling families whose lives had been torn apart by the tsunami to settle into their new homes.

On the islands of Fonadhoo and Madifushi, the new homes signal a new dawn after the 2004 tsunami.Hadheeja Ahmed and her husband Moosa Hassan received the 100th home handed over in the Maldives on Fonadhoo island, where 43 houses have been completed.

I am very happy with our house, it is lovely and a relief after such an ordeal.

Hadheeja Ahmed

They had been living in cramped conditions, first with their neighbours and later their daughter. Hadheeja said that although they were grateful to stay there, times had been hard.

Happy

"I am very happy with our house, it is lovely and a relief after such an ordeal," she said.

On the island of Madifushi, 54 homes were finished at the end of February, where people are pleased with the design of their new homes.

Jaariya Mohammed, who lives on the island, said: "The new houses are like heaven compared to my old house."

More than 100 homes have now been completed and handed over and work is progressing on the other three islands where the British Red Cross is assisting people affected by the tsunami.

Achievement

British Red Cross head of mission in the Maldives, Jill Clements, said: "Finishing the construction on these two islands and seeing people living in their new homes is a real achievement.

"It is a landmark in our tsunami recovery programme, particularly bearing in mind the small island environment where the logistics of construction has proved quite a challenge."

On the island of Vilufushi, the land reclamation process to triple the size of the island has been completed by the Dutch and Maldivian governments paving the way for the British Red Cross to begin construction work.

The British Red Cross plans to build up to 250 homes, and will also build a school, an electric power supply and communal sanitation system for the island.

Source: Reuters

Monday, April 23, 2007

Tom Mcloughlin named one of the 15 most powerful men in travel

Tom set up Per Aquum Resorts • Spas • Residences in 2003 as a joint venture with Universal Enterprises. Having established Per Aquum’s resort and spa credentials with the award-winning Dhoni Mighili and Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives, Tom is overseeing a meteoric expansion of the company, both into new geographical areas - as evidenced by the recent opening of The Fortress on the south coast of Sri Lanka, the imminent opening of Desert Palm in Dubai, and forthcoming new projects in Grenada and the Seychelles - and into new markets; Per Aquum’s residence management division is rapidly building up an iconic and innovative portfolio with confirmed projects in Morocco, Grenada and the Seychelles. [Read More]

Source: AL Bawaba

Findings of Colombo JMO “contradictory and inexplicable”: Sri Lankan lawyer

“A CT scan on the body of Solah was done at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male on 15 April soon after the discovery of his body and the subsequent statements issued by Maldives police to the media confirm that there was a fracture of the sinus bone and several injuries to the head. “Unfortunately, the findings of the JMO (Dr. [Read More]

Source: Haveeru

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Maldives man Hussain Solah 'was not tortured'


BBC News, Colombo:

An independent autopsy in Sri Lanka has found no sign of torture on the body of a Maldives opposition supporter whose death sparked protests.

Hussain Salah's body was found near the capital, Male, a week ago.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said Mr Salah had been killed in police custody.

The procedure was carried out in Sri Lanka at the request of the dead man's family. The preliminary report showed that the cause of death was drowning.

Physical violence was ruled out.

'Not satisfied'

The government of the Maldives says the autopsy proves that Mr Salah was not killed by the police, as the opposition has been maintaining for a week.

And the preliminary report showed that the cause of death was drowning.

When Mr Salah's body was found floating in a lagoon last Sunday, the MDP said he had been murdered in custody and dumped.

Several people were arrested in protests that followed.

But the police maintained the dead man had been released unharmed 36 hours earlier.

And the postmortem report showed the injuries might have happened while he was in the water.

The MDP says it is not satisfied by the investigations - saying the sequence of events that led up to the drowning has not been established.

The opposition and the government are at loggerheads in the Maldives where political parties have been allowed only since 2005.

The MDP accuses President Mamoun Abdul Gayoom, in office since 1978, of dragging his feet on reforms in an attempt to hold on to power.

Source: BBC News

Maldivian student wins first place in Cambridge International Examination Biology subject.


MALE, April 22 (HNS) -- A local girl from Aminiya School was chosen amongst the top two achievers in last year’s Cambridge O’ Level examinations. The girl who was achieved the best results in Biology and the top achiever in Cambridge International Examination was Fathmath Naaziya Abdullah (pic) from Henveiyru Bokarumaage.

In addition to receiving ‘A’ grade in Biology, Naaziya had also achieved ‘A’ in all the eight subjects she sat in last year’s examinations and also managed to get the first place in the Maldivian Top Ten O’ Level students.

“This is truly unbelievable,” said Naaziya in an interview with Haveeru Daily. “I never expected to win anything on an international level. But I was working hard on achieving the first place in the Top 10 O’ level students. I studied for Biology just as hard as I did for the other subjects. There were no differences.”

Naaziya who is currently working in Voice of Maldives on an opportunity given by Aminiya School, has made up her mind to do further studies in Medicine. Naaziya had also been awarded a scholarship for receiving first place amongst the Top 10 O’ Level students. Naaziya has also been accepted in Center for Higher Secondary Education (CHSE).

This is the first time that Cambridge University has awarded the Best 10 achievers from around the world and 15 Maldivian students were amongst the candidates selected for the list. This is also the first time in the last 44 years that a Maldivian student has achieved a position in the world top ten students. Oxford O’ Level examinations was replaced by Cambridge examination in the year 2001.

In addition to Naaziya, the other Maldivian students who were selected for World Top 10 candidates were, Aminiya students: Aishath Jumaina Ahmed, Mariyam Hishmaa Shaahidh, Mariyam Yooma and Agaram Krishnan Suvaamiyashri; Dharumavantha students: Ahmed Ameel Shakeel, Hussein Rasheed, Ali Malik Moosa and Gufuraan Abdul Gafoor; Seenu atoll Muhibudheen students: Aminath Rausha Haadhee and Hawwa Imaan; Majeedhiyaa students: Hassan Sinaan, Mohamed Naajil and Ibrahim Shiyaaz as well as Nasrullah Ali from Gaafu Dhaalu atoll Thinadhoo, Kurangi, who sat for the examination as a private candidate.

A ceremony was held last Thursday night to award the Maldivian students who were selected for the World Top 10 achievers. Dr Newman Burdett, Head of International Examination and Regulations Manager of Cambridge International Examination also attended the ceremony as well as Education Minister Zahiya Zareer.

Source: Haveeru

Kuwait’s Wataniya Q1 jumps 131 pct to record

KUWAIT - National Mobile Telecommunications Co. NMTC.KW (Wataniya), Kuwait’s second mobile phone operator, posted a 131 percent jump in first-quarter profit, its biggest quarterly earnings on record.

The firm, in which Qatar Telecommunications Co. QTEL.QA (Qtel) bought a majority stake in March, made 25.74 million dinars ($88.90 million) in the three months to March 31, compared with 11.15 million dinars in the year-earlier period, it said in a statement on the bourse Web site.

Earnings per share more than doubled to 56.84 fils in the first three months, from 24.72 fils a year ago. There are 1,000 fils to the dinar.

Wataniya did not explain the rise in earnings, which were the highest for a single quarter according to Reuters statistics going back to 2004.

The company’s former Chairman Faisal al-Ayyar told Wataniya’s annual shareholder meeting in March he expected the firm’s net profit to grow by 20-25 percent in 2007.

Wataniya has expanded abroad with mobile phone networks in Iraq, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and the Maldives.

Qtel bought 51 percent of Wataniya from a consortium led by Kuwait Projects Co. KRPO.KW for $3.72 billion in March, the largest-ever Gulf Arab telecom acquisition.

Qtel said earlier this month a court had been asked to shut down Wataniya’s Iraq affiliate, Asiacell Telecommunication Co., which contributed 49.7 million dinars to Wataniya’s net profit in 2006, the single-largest non-Kuwait contributor.

Source: Khaleej Times

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Caltex Sri Lanka unit eyes Maldivian lubricant market

April 20, 2007 (LBO) – Chevron Texaco’s Sri Lanka unit, Caltex Lubricants, Friday signed a five-year deal with a Maldivian firm to expand in to the lubricant market in the archipelago.

The agreement will let Caltex enhance its market position in the Maldivian lubricant market which is growing at 12 percent a year.

“Currently we have approximately ten percent of the lubricants market in the Maldives and we estimate an annual growth of around five percent. We plan to further strengthen our position in this market,” Kishu Gomes, Managing Director Caltex in Sri Lanka told reporters.

Gomes says the firm aims to increase its market share to 30 percent within the next two to three years.

Although the size of the Maldivian market is only three million litres per year, it has good profitability due to its high growth rate.

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago consisting of 1,192 coral islands, uses different types of boats to travel among islands.

It is considered South Asia's most exotic holiday destination and employs a large number of Sri Lankans who work in areas ranging from leisure, finance, trade and education.

Caltex Lubricants has a 70 percent share of Sri Lanka’s 45,000 kilolitres per year or six billion rupee lubricant market.

The firm also has its own blending plant in Sri Lanka.

Gomes says the firms hopes to focus on toll blending for local lubricant companies and tap in to the oil exploration business.

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Source: LBO

Dave McClymont of Jupiter rides a big one during the recent 14-day surf trip to the Maldives.

Dave McClymont of Jupiter rides a big one during the recent 14-day surf trip to the Maldives, a cluster of volcanic atolls located off the coast of India.


North Palm Beach County surfers return from Maldives

Fifteen local surfers returned this week from a 14-day surf trip to the Maldives, a cluster of volcanic atolls located off of the coast of India.

Gone are the days of "Jeff Spicoli" and "Mr. Hand" dominating the surfing industry and defining the standard surfer stereotype. Many things have changed in surfing since the early 1980s cult classic film "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Fifteen local surfers returned this week from a 14-day surf trip to the Maldives, a cluster of volcanic atolls located off of the coast of India.

Gone are the days of "Jeff Spicoli" and "Mr. Hand" dominating the surfing industry and defining the standard surfer stereotype. Many things have changed in surfing since the early 1980s cult classic film "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

[Read More]
Source:

Lanka Business Online says Maldives had inflation 0of 3.7%

Neighboring Maldives (which did not have a central bank and therefore could not print money) which registered a growth of 18 percent last year only had inflation of 3.7 percent.

Read Full Article

Source: LBO

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

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: The Maldives has sanctioned the Muslim nation's first-ever post mortem examination to examine the suspicious death of an opposition activist who was allegedly beaten to death in custody, officials said.

The body of Hussain Salah, which was found floating in Male harbor last Sunday, was sent to neighboring Sri Lanka on Friday for an autopsy on the request of the deceased man's relatives, Maldives' chief government spokesman Mohamed Hussain Shareef said by phone from the capital Male.

Islam requires that a corpse be buried quickly without cutting or disturbing it.

"So far in Maldives, an autopsy has never taken place, partly due to religion — and also there was never such a request," Shareef said.

The Maldives is a Muslim nation of about 300,000 people on 1,192 coral islands in the Indian Ocean.

"This isn't without controversy," Shareef said of the government decision to agree to a post-mortem.

"Already some religious groups and parties have vehemently opposed it," he said, adding that the government agreed to the family request because it has nothing to hide.

A Sri Lankan foreign ministry official confirmed that the body is in Sri Lanka but declined to give further details.

Mohamed Nasheed, a senior leader of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, said earlier Salah had died in custody and police attempts to bury his body in a hurry were thwarted by protesters including himself.

But the government says that Salah had died 36 hours after being released from police detention over a narcotics charge.

The government identified Salah as a drug addict who had previous convictions on narcotics and burglary charges.


Source: IHT

Friday, April 20, 2007

Calm waters of the Maldives soothe the soul


With nearly 1,200 islands sprinkled throughout 26 sun-baked atolls in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are the last great outposts of tropical perfection. Movie stars, beach bums, scuba junkies and Asia- and Caribbean-weary Europeans have been flocking here for the better part of a decade. Americans are just beginning to discover these slice-of-paradise islands southwest of India, so get there fast.

What makes the 17-plus-hour trek worth it? Aren't there equally gorgeous islands located much closer to home? The answer is a definitive "no." These 1,190 islands - 202 of which are inhabited, including 87 exclusive resort islands - are unequaled in untouched splendor. Most of the Maldives are quite small, so guest rooms are often built on stilts over lagoons rich with sea life. The islands are teeming with exotic birds and tropical forests spilling over with plants and flowers.

But what make these islands so unique are the shallow lagoons that ring each island, making swimming, wading or snorkeling virtually perfect. The color of the water varies from lime green to navy blue, depending on how deep the water is. When flying over these majestic islands, the colors are mesmerizing. From the deck of your room or from a sandy shoreline where waves hit the shore at about the speed of a bathtub splash, you can swim, wade and snorkel with sea life painted neon and perfectly reflected in the equatorial sun.

Nowhere is this more evident than in four high-profile resorts, varying from rustic luxury to squeaky clean and mere months old. In a country where tourism is less than 30 years old and has really caught on in the last seven years, the Maldives are a study in grass-roots tourism. This feels like what Hawaii and Southeast Asia must have felt like in the '70s. [Read More]

Source: Bend Weekly

DIVE FOR EARTH DAY 2007


Ten Dive Centers from Male Atoll will be joining thousands of scuba divers,snorkelers and ocean lovers from around the world to celebrate Dive for Earth Day, an international Earth Day event during the week of 22 April.

150 divers from Maldivers Diving Center, Planeta Divers, Divers Lodge, Ocean Diving Desk, Vadoo Diving Club, Sea Explorers Associates, Bolifushi Diving Center, Multi Marine Services, Dive Centre Laguna and the Coast Guard will come together on 22 April 2007 for the underwater clean up of Old Shark Point, a dive site located on the outer reef of Thilafushi Island.

In addition, an awareness program for a 100 students from schools in Malé will be conducted on 23 February 2007.

Dive for Earth Day 2007 is exclusively sponsored by Dive Shop, sole distributors of Scubapro products in Maldives. This event is supported by PADI Project AWARE and Ministry of Environment, Energy and Water.

Our main aim is to bring attention to the growing threats faced by our fragile underwater ecosystems. At the moment the state of our environment is simply a non-issue in the politics of our country. We hope to influence the policy makers to do something about it, says Azim Musthaq, Dive Instructor from Maldivers Diving Center.

This is the first time that divers from such diverse backgrounds are uniting to act together. We hope by the end of this event, we would have built a network of proactive divers who will in the future act in a united effort for the protection of our environment, he says.

For more information please contact:
Azim Musthag,
T: +960 771 9555
E: maldivers@gmail.com

Source: MTPB

Indochina’s Victoria Hotels & Resorts announces key appointments

Indochina's 'off-the-beaten-track' luxury hotel group, Victoria Hotels & Resorts has announced five key transfers and appointments.

Mr. Raphael Guillien transfers to Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa in Siem Reap, Cambodia as General Manager.

For the past two years, the Frenchman has been overseeing a new concept and full renovation as General Manager of Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort & Spa. His career has included seven years within Le Meridien, in the South Pacific and Abu Dhabi. He has also worked at hotels in Malaysia, Cyprus and The Maldives.
Mr. Hanno Stamm takes his place as General Manager at the Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort & Spa.

Mr. Stamm was formerly General Manager of Victoria Can Tho Resort in the Mekong Delta, having joined Victoria Hotels & Resorts in 2002 as rooms manager at Victoria Sapa Resort. A graduate of the prestigious Swiss hotel management school "Les Roches", he has previously worked at hotels in Luxembourg, Germany, Dubai and Beijing.

Ms. Carola Buck, a graduate in economics from Germany’s Bayreuth University, and Heidelberg’s Hotel Management School, is the new Front Office Manager at Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa. She joins from Hotel Splendid Conference & Spa Resort in Montenegro. Her career previously took her to Abu Dhabi, with Le Meridien, and the Reethi Rah Resort in The Maldives.

Frenchman Mr. Francois Foulon is new Sales Manager at Victoria Head Office. For the past two years he has managed the Victoria Express Train.

Mr. Jean-Maurice (Maurice) Bertrand is appointed Food & Beverage Manager at Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa. The graduate of Geneva’s Hotel Management School joins from Sheraton Oran Hotels and Towers in Algeria, where he was Conferences and Banqueting Director. His hospitality career has taken him from hotels in Switzerland to Brazil, where he managed a restaurant, and Myanmar.

Victoria Hotels & Resorts (www.victoriahotels-asia.com) is the rising star of luxury holidays in Indochina.

It operates the mountain chalet-style Victoria Sapa Resort, close to the Chinese border in the picturesque north-west highlands of Vietnam; Victoria Can Tho Resort and Victoria Chau Doc Hotel in the Mekong Delta; Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa on the outskirts of the UNESCO World Heritage city of Hoi An; Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort & Spa 200km north of Ho Chi Minh City; and Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Mr. Eric Simard, General Manager of Victoria Hotels & Resorts, said: “I’m delighted to welcome our new team members, and confident our resort manager shuffles will continue our mission to create the most outstanding chain of boutique resorts and spas in Indochina."

Source: E-Travel BlackBoard

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

The Maldives has sought Sri Lanka's assistance to conduct an independent autopsy on a man that its Opposition says was murdered in custody.

Reports said that the body of Hussein Salah was found floating in a lagoon near the capital Male on Sunday, and attempts to bury him without an autopsy led to angry protests.

“Following requests from the bereaved family, the Maldivian government has asked Sri Lanka to help with the autopsy,” one report said, quoting a Sri Lankan official. The official said the request is under active consideration.

Source: Colombo Page

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tropical Paradise launches website


Tropical Paradise Pvt. Ltd, a leading travel publishing firm based in Maldives has launched its official website; www.maldives-traveller.com the privately owned publishing firm that helps in promoting the tourism industry of Maldives around the globe five years ago launched the publication “Maldives Travel Guide” which became an instant hit in the international travelers market.

Though the publication began in Japanese, aimed at the lucrative Japanese tourist market, the firm has now expanded the Maldives Travel Guide into English, Russian, German, French and Italian.

Like its travel guide, Tropical Paradise’s website is also one of the most comprehensive guides on Maldives tourism.

The firm said on its website that one of its visions was to “continue its growth by increasing the number of publications in different languages which are most suited to promote the tourism of Maldives.”

The firm’s Maldives Travel Guide is a customer oriented publication and one of the most comprehensive, informative, user-friendly and entertaining guides on Maldives.

Tropical Paradise also explores new markets with an in-depth understanding of cultural diversity of each nation to develop the Guides in-accordance with the tastes of different market segments, the firm said on its website.

Source: MTPB

SriLankan Airlines rewards online booking In Abu Dhabi

SriLankan Airlines rewards Abu Dhabi residents using its online booking engine with special fares and promotional offers.

"We want to encourage the steady stream of passengers who book through our internet booking engine by offering them a series of special fares," SriLankan Airlines Sales Manager for Abu Dhabi, Sudath Kuruppu said. Special fares to Sri Lanka, India, the Maldives and the Far East will be introduced regularly, on a limited time basis.

The internet booking engine has been designed with the consumer and convenience in mind, allowing travellers to search for flights, check availability of flights on any given date, book their tickets and pay online via the secure payment gateway with an internationally accepted credit card. Credit card users can book tickets for themselves and for accompanying immediate family members. Once the reservation procedure is complete, they can print their E/tickets instantly.

Mr. Kuruppu is confident that the new procedure will prove popular with travellers because of the advantages offered over the traditional paper ticketing arrangement. "Customers using SriLankan Airlines' internet booking service no longer have to worry about bringing their tickets to the airport. They can simply stroll up to our check-in desk and give their booking reference, passport number, or frequent flyer details to board their flight, making issues like misplaced, damaged and forgotten tickets irrelevant," he said.

The airline's www.srilankan.aero website also offers passengers a number of other services including pre-booking their onboard duty-free purchases and meal preferences. The can select and prebook from an entire onboard duty-free catalogue, including exclusive designer items and a range of Sri Lankan crafts. Pre-booking also ensures the availability of fast-moving onboard duty-free products.

Meanwhile, passengers with special dietary requirements can select from the extensive menu of special cuisine ranging from health and dietary meals to religious and vegetarian meals and special menus for children.

Source: Lankaeverything.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Maldives opposition leader says police beat him, detained him for 11 hours after protest

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: A senior Maldives opposition party leader said Tuesday that police assaulted him and then detained him for 11 hours after he protested the alleged beating death of a prisoner.

"When people heard that the man had died in prison and police was going to bury him, they rushed there (to the prison) to protest," said Mohamed Nasheed, a senior leader of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, by phone from the Maldivian capital, Male. The protest and alleged assault on Nasheed took place on Sunday.

"When I went there, police was trying to bury the body quickly and then hundreds of our supporters came and the process (burial) was stopped," he added.

The MDP says Hussain Salah was beaten to death while in prison, a charge the government has denied.

It is unclear when exactly Salah died but the government says his body was found floating in the sea on Sunday morning.

"The police were extremely on edge when they saw me. They charged at me and one of them hit me on my face," he said. "The others punched me all over and then I fell," he added.

Nasheed said he was taken to a police station, kept there for 11 hours, and released without charge.

He added that 35 members of the party were still in prison.

Maldives' chief government spokesman Mohamed Hussain Shareef told The Associated Press the government was not aware if Nasheed was beaten by police and said the alleged incident could be investigated if a formal complaint was made.

He also denied allegations that Salah died in police custody and said his body was found floating in the sea 36 hours after being released from police detention over a narcotics charge.

"We don't think there is any basis whatsoever (to the allegations over Salah's death)," Shareef said, claiming that it was an attempt by the MDP to create public unrest over the death of one of its members.

The government in a statement identified Salah as a drug addict who had previous convictions on narcotics and burglary charges.

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has governed the Maldives since 1978 with a firm grip. He promised political reforms in 2004 in response to international pressure sparked by anti-government riots and allegations of torture of political prisoners, but the reforms have been slow. The first multiparty elections are due in 2008.

The Maldives is a Muslim nation of about 300,000 people on 1,192 coral islands.


Source: IHT

Delegation from Maldives visits Salem Child Line centre

SALEM: Child is defenceless and hence needs to be protected. And Child Line in Salem in coordination with law enforcing agencies and district administration is taking efforts to preserve the rights of children in this part of the State.

This message, being underscored at the interactive session here on Monday with the senior police officials, was also shared with the members of a delegation from Maldives, who had come to `study and understand' the functioning and experiences of the Salem Child Line, which has a good track record of rescuing and rehabilitating the abandoned children.

Led by Leen Decadt, Programme Officer of Child Helpline International, a five-member team from Maldives, including officers from its Ministry of Gender and Family, would stay in the city for four days from Monday and get `sensitised' on the issues especially related to abandoned and abused children and the rehabilitation.

The Ministry's Project Officer, Munzir Ismail, said that child trafficking in his island nation was not alarming. But child abuse was a serious issue of concern. Ms. Leen pointed out that children needed to be protected, as they were the future of any country. Initiating the interaction Police Commissioner K. Gopalakrishnan said that Tamil Nadu police had been doing wonderful job in the area of child protection, launching sustained action against child and women traffickers. The nexus between gangsters and brokers had been broken and the city was free from such evils today, he said.

The Commissioner also assured all assistance to the Child Line functionaries and its nodal organisations of YWCA and Don Bosco Anbu Illam. The Maldives delegation, included Zeenath Shakir, Aishadh Shoojah, Nazeeb, and Fazna Iyasha. Later Police commissioner formed the anti-trafficking committee. The delegation attended the City Advisory Board meeting chaired by Collector N. Mathivanan.


Source: The Hindu New

World Press Freedom Day Conference to be Held in Maldives

Maldives will host this year’s World Press Freedom Day Conference. The conference is being held in collaboration with UNESCO and Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC).

The Press Freedom Day events and special ceremony to commemorate the day would take place on the 2nd and 3rd of May in the capital Male’.

President of the Maldives, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom would attend the special session to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day. A high level delegation from the Asian region would converge in the Maldives to present, discuss and disseminate information on issues related to Press Freedom at the two day session. The theme for the conference has been set for “Media Control, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press in South Asia.”

International and local media personnel are invited to take part in the Press Freedom Day events held in the Maldives.

For online registration and further information please visit www.maldivesinfo.gov.mv

Source: hyphen

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

UK to tell U.N. climate change is a threat


UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Britain will try to convince reluctant U.N. Security Council members that global warming poses a threat to international peace and security when the body holds its first debate on climate change on Tuesday.

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett chairs the meeting on an issue which remains contentious for many governments, including the Bush administration that has fought mandatory caps on greenhouse gases emissions that spur climate change. [Read More]

Source: Reuters

Monday, April 16, 2007

Maldivian opposition leader arrested


The opposition leader of the Maldives was arrested Sunday afternoon as the police dispersed a rally that had gathered in the Maldivian capital of Male, said the Maldivian government.

The government said in a statement that Mohamed Nasheed, chairman of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, was taken into police custody as unruly crowds gathered after the body of a drug addict was found floating in the Male harbor in the morning.

The statement said that the deceased had been released from police custody on Friday.

At around noon, about 200 people gathered outside the main cemetery in Male, where the body was placed prior to burial. The police dispersed the crowd and arrested some demonstrators.


Source: China People Daily Online (Xinhua)

Jet Airways strikes Sahara deal

A lawyer for Jet Airways, Harish Salve, told journalists: "The important thing is that there was a dispute and it has been settled amicably by both sides."

Mr Salve said the agreement was confidential and that he could not reveal much except that Jet had bought all Air Sahara shares.

In 2006, Jet Airways announced it would pay $500m to buy Air Sahara. But the deal fell apart after Jet Airways failed to get the necessary regulatory approval.

The airline at the time said it would not go through with the acquisition in the interests of its shareholders.

Air Sahara argued the agreement should be honoured and demanded compensation from Jet Airways.

An arbitration panel was set up to hear the case, and it recommended the two parties come to some sort of an agreement among themselves.

Jet Airways, founded by London-based former travel agent Naresh Goyal, controls about 24.5% of the Indian domestic aviation market.

Air Sahara, owned by reclusive businessman Subroto Roy, controls about 7%.

Aviation expert Kapil Kaul said the new deal was good news for Sahara who had achieved an "honourable" exit from negotiations.

"They are the biggest gainers... It's strategically very, very important for Sahara.

"For Jet Airways, I think that they are trying to project it as a good deal, like a 40% off from what they had discussed earlier.

"Since there is no large cash up-front, the deal debate is better than what was originally estimated. However, overall it is going to add to their challenges in a very complex environment." India's largest private airline, Jet Airways, says it has agreed to buy out its smaller rival, Air Sahara, for 14.5 billion rupees ($340m).

Jet Airways has already paid Sahara $116m. It will make a further payment of $83m before 20 April and the rest will be paid in annual instalments.

The deal gives the airline a combined domestic market share of about 32%.

Jet's attempt to buy Air Sahara last year collapsed, but the company says the new deal has been reached amicably.

Both airlines also fly to international destinations.

'Amicable'

"This deal is definitely going to be good for the shareholders," Jet Airways founder and chairman Naresh Goyal said at a press conference in Mumbai (Bombay), India's financial capital.

Source: BBC News

Sunday, April 15, 2007

No light at end of tunnel for national carrier: Finance Minister

The government has so far failed to get a good deal from a foreign partner in establishing a national airline after the former Air Maldives went bankrupt.

The Maldives was recently in talks with Qatar Airways but did not reach a mutually beneficial deal.

Finance Minister Qasim Ibrahim last week told the parliament that the government was still actively pursuing all ways to get help to establish a national carrier in a country where tourism and aviation play an important and mutually beneficial role. Qasim was responding to questions by Laamu atoll and opposition MP "Rico" Moosa Maniku on the continued delay in setting up a national airline. [Read More]

Source: Haveeru