Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Maldives Education Minister on working visit to Brunei


The Minister of Education of the Republic of Maldives, Ms Zahiya Zareer arrived at the Brunei International Airport yesterday (29th May 2007) afternoon to begin a three-day working visit to the Sultanate. Ms Zareer, who is accompanied by two officers from the Maldives' Ministry of Education, was welcomed on arrival by two Senior Officers from the Brunei Ministry of Education. Among the places visited by Ms Zareer yesterday were the Sultan Saiful Rijal Technical College and the Nakhoda Ragam Vocational School.

Source: Brunei-Online

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Maldives wooing Malaysian business

THE Maldives is renowned as a tourism haven for its sandy white beaches and palm trees, but that's not enough to spur the economy for this tiny nation of 300,000 people.

What the country needs is foreign investment, and its sights are set on Malaysia.

High Commissioner of the Maldives to Malaysia, Midath Hilmy, ranked attracting Malaysian trade and investments as one of his country’s top priorities.

»Ours may be a small economy, but I want Malaysian businessmen to know that we have a very open economy« MIDATH HILMY

“Sad to say, there is hardly any Malaysian investment in the Maldives. Ours may be a small economy, but I want Malaysian businessmen to know that we have a very open economy.

“I want to see substantial trade flow established between our countries. Malaysia is now our fourth largest source of imports. Our view is that Malaysia can offer a lot more to the Maldives,’’ he told StarBiz.

Hilmy, a former Communication, Science and Technology Minister who was posted here last year as his country's first resident High Commissioner, had much to say about why the Maldives was ideal for investors.

“First of all, there is no income, corporate or property tax. Foreign ownership is allowed right up to 100%, and there is unrestricted repatriation of profits and capital proceeds.

“There is also the freedom to use foreign managerial, technical and unskilled workers,'' he explained.

Other advantages include a legally-backed investment guarantee, overseas arbitration of disputes, long-term contractual obligations and land-lease for large-scale projects, plus no foreign exchange restrictions.

Hilmy unveiled the “package” of business opportunities available in the Maldives. Projects are needed in hotel and properties, food and beverage, banking and finance, insurance, information technology, construction and infrastructure, fisheries, construction equipment and material supply, hospitality industry supply, venture capital and higher education.

“Educational facilities are lacking as we have only one private college offering diplomas and certain degree courses,'' he added.

Besides tourism (33%), the main industries there are transport and communications (15%), fisheries (6%), wholesale and retail trading (4%) and construction (4%). Other businesses make up 38% of the economy.

The Maldives, which consists of 1,190 coral islands spread over 90,000 sq km in the Indian Ocean, has been experiencing robust economic growth over the past three decades, with average growth of 7.5% over the past 10 years.

However, the 2004 tsunami caused extensive damage to its infrastructure and people’s livelihood, with the country's gross domestic product falling by two-thirds.

But Hilmy was pleased to say that things have been on the mend, with the medium-term forecast pointing to an economic rebound, resulting in an 8% to 9% growth over the 2006/07 period.

“The Maldives is a heavily import-oriented economy. Merchandise exports are relatively small as our economy is mainly service oriented.

“Frozen, fresh and processed fish accounts for the bulk of the merchandise exports,'' Hilmy added.

The telecommunications sector is also ripe for investments.

“When I was the minister in charge, I brought in additional companies to break the monopoly that existed. Since then, the Internet and mobile phone rates have fallen dramatically,'' he said.

On the tourism sector, the envoy said it had shown resilience despite the extensive damage caused by the tsunami.

On claims that the Maldives was too expensive for tourists, he said that although some room rates were high, there was still affordable accommodation to be found.

Source: The Star

Looking for Osama in the Maldives.


Fixing me with a fierce scowl, the imam made it clear I was unwelcome. I can't say I was surprised. Somewhere in his 50s, he wore the long beard and calf-length pants that marked him as a follower of Wahhabiism, the strict fundamentalist brand of Islam that originated in Saudi Arabia. But I was not in Saudi Arabia. I was in the Maldives, the remote and lovely island chain in the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka and southern India.

True, the Maldives is a Muslim country—exclusively so, since the practice of other religions is illegal—and has been since 1153, when the king at the time fell under the sway of an Arab traveler and ordered his subjects to convert. The islands had been predominantly Buddhist, a faith they shared with Sri Lanka, whose Sinhala language is similar to Divehi, the native Maldivian tongue.

But if Islam has a long history in the Maldives, it's not the kind of place you associate with hostile mullahs. Quite the opposite, in fact. With a population of just 360,000, the archipelago is dotted with luxurious private resorts—think Robinson Crusoe with plunge pools—and is a magnet for celebrities such as Tom Cruise, who honeymooned there in December. In Male, the cramped little island capital, tourists are relatively scarce. But the atmosphere, at least at first, seems laid-back and globalized. The skyline is dominated by modern, pastel-colored apartment blocks that would not look out of place in South Florida, and the streets are jammed with shiny new motorbikes, many piloted by sinewy young men in dreadlocks and baggy shorts. I even saw one young woman in a T-shirt that read, "Good Girls Don't Get Caught."

Still, there is no mistaking the Maldives' Islamic character. Alcohol can only be sold to foreigners at resorts, and nearly everyone I spoke with remarked on the growing popularity of beards and headscarves. When I caught up with the surly imam in Male not long ago, he was preparing for afternoon prayers in an illicit and supposedly clandestine mosque, which was hidden behind a row of stores. After he shooed me away, I retreated across the street and watched as a steady trickle of young men—all bearded and sporting abbreviated trousers—disappeared into the alley that led to the mosque. When they emerged a little while later, none of them would talk to me, either.

Some fear the worst is yet to come. In spring 2006, authorities announced the arrest in Sri Lanka of three Maldivians—two women and a man—who allegedly were heading to militant training camps in Pakistan. Charges have since been dropped, and when I spoke to Fatimah Nisreen, a policeman's daughter who was accused of helping to arrange the trip, she asserted that the man had been escorting the women to Pakistan so he could marry them—something he couldn't do at home. But the 26-year-old also described herself as "totally obsessed with Islam" and acknowledged that she regularly visited an extremist Web site, although she has yet to make up her mind about Osama Bin Laden: "There are things I support, and there are things I can't decide on him." [Read More on Slate]


Source: Slate

Aspen's Chris Klug surfs the Maldives


Twelve-hundred minute islands and vast reefs straddling the equator dot the azure waters off the southwest tip of India.

Here, heads of coral - some as big as the hood of a car and resembling an umbrella - lurk under the crystal blue surf. Here, dolphins and sea turtles poke their heads above the surface to gaze curiously at surfers and vessels floating by. Here, white sand beaches fade into the warm ocean.

The Maldives, which rest in the Indian Ocean, offers the starkest of contrasts with the mountains - no point in the island country (the world's flattest, according to multiple sources) rises more than 7.8 feet above sea level. After another year toiling on the competitive snowboard circuit and traveling clear across the globe, such a place provided the perfect escape for surfing enthusiast Chris Klug.

"It's a nice balance after being in cold temperatures all winter and suffering all that impact from snowboarding," said the 2002 bronze medalist from Aspen. "It's a nice change of scenery. I'm always in dry climates at high elevation, so it's nice to go to sea level to mix it up.

"It's become a kind of tradition."

Klug's love of both the surfboard and snowboard were cultivated during his years growing up in Oregon. And when the 2007 U.S. parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom champion isn't competing, he travels the globe - from Costa Rica to Sumatra and Bali - in search of the perfect wave. [Read More on The Aspen Times]

Source: The Aspen Times

Monday, May 28, 2007

Maldives to open five new airports


The Maldives' Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation has revealed that five new airports will be built on reclaimed lagoons across the North and South atolls taking the Maldives' total hub count to seven.

Mahamood Shougee said that Emirates Airline, which already flies to the capital, Mahe, was considering flying to the new hub in the south and that charter airlines from Europe were already scheduling flights to the new airports.

Each of the new airports will be built in conjunction with at least one resort as the Maldives gears up to introduce more mid-range properties to its portfolio of products.

Source: Arabian Business

emirates holidays and hyatt hotels offer summer suite special deals


Emirates holidays and hyatt hotels offer summer suite special deals

It’s summertime, and the living is about to get real easy with Emirates Holidays and Hyatt Hotels in Dubai announcing a unique, co-branded brochure and promotion that guarantees a highly-rewarding holiday.

The “suite specials” promotion brings together the best of two worlds – a first-class tour operator and a top-notch hotel chain – for the very first time in the industry.

Loaded with a range of features, the packages come with attractive price tags for travel in Economy Class, including options for Business and First class where applicable, and a choice of suites at three properties – Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency in Dubai. Besides couples and honeymooners, the suite packages are ideal for families as they accommodate two adults and two children at the Grand Hyatt and Park Hyatt and two adults and one child at the Hyatt Regency.

Travelling on Emirates Airline, guests are greeted by meet-and-assist services, chauffeur-drive and a welcome pack at Dubai International Airport. Guests are also pampered with exclusive benefits from Hyatt that include complimentary continental breakfast, a minibar and access to the Club Lounge. The rates include all accommodation related taxes and charges.

These offers are valid from 1st June to 31st August.

John Felix, Vice President Emirates Holidays said: “At Emirates Holidays we believe in designing fresh and novel travel experiences that envelop a broad spectrum of benefits and provide a completely hassle-free holiday. The suite special offer has been carefully designed to marry the best Emirates and Emirates Holidays has to offer with Hyatt’s reputation for outstanding properties and luxurious service. With the Dubai Summer Surprises running during this period, guests are assured of returning with memorable experiences and bags full of shopping.”

The packages are available around the Emirates network in Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Morocco, Mauritius, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, South Africa, South Korea, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda & Yemen.

Peter Fulton, Regional Director at Hyatt Hotels said: “The Hyatt’s range of properties in Dubai offer unique and memorable experiences for the traveller and consummate levels of luxury. Summer is a great time to enjoy our range of properties, given that the city wears a festive look with the Dubai Summer Surprises in town and travellers descending from all over the world. We are delighted to team up with Emirates Holidays, the region’s leading and top-notch tour operator, and offer unsurpassed levels of benefits to our customers.”

About Global Hyatt Corporation
Global Hyatt Corporation, one of the world’s premier hotel companies, offers today’s travellers over 735 hotels and resorts (over 136,000 rooms) in more than 44 countries. The company’s affiliates own, operate, manage and franchise Hyatt branded hotels and resorts under the Park Hyatt®, Grand Hyatt®, Hyatt Regency®, Hyatt Resorts®, Hyatt®, Hyatt Place™ and Hyatt Summerfield Suites® brands. Global Hyatt Corporation is also the owner of Hyatt Vacation Ownership, Inc. operator of the Hyatt Vacation Club and fractional residential properties and U.S. Franchise Systems, Inc., which franchises Hawthorn Suites and Microtel Inns and Suites.

About Emirates Holidays:

Emirates Holidays, the largest wholesale tour operator in the Gulf and Middle East, offers the region's most comprehensive programme of inclusive vacations. With ground arrangements and transfers included, the company meets the needs of today's discerning travellers by offering them a choice of arrangements that travel agents will find easy to sell.

Emirates Holidays launched its latest range of A World of Choice 2007-08 brochures in April. In its 17th year, the latest Emirates Holidays brochures feature the largest-ever range of holidays in four volumes covering Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean; Europe and The Americas; Asia and Australasia; and the brand-new Dubai and the Emirates. On offer are flexible, affordable and quality holidays to more than 120 stunning leisure destinations in 39 countries and a choice of more than 1,000 accommodation options.

Emirates Holidays provides sales and support services throughout the Gulf and Middle East, as well as an ever-increasing number of Southern European, Asian and African markets.

Source: Al-bawaba

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Using Logon Scripts in Pure and Mixed Active Directory Environments

Using Logon Scripts in Pure and Mixed Active Directory Environments


Logon scripts can be useful tools for configuring desktop environments for users. Some of the things such scripts can be used for include mapping network drives, connecting to shared printers, gathering system information, synchronizing system clocks, and so on. In fact, just about anything you can do from the command-line can be done using a logon script.

Logon scripts have been around for a while and most administrators of Windows-based networks have had occasion to use them. On Windows NT domain-based networks things were simple: if a user needed to have his environment configured using a logon script, the administrator would first write a logon script using the batch programming language, which has been around since the days of MS-DOS. Once written, this script was saved using a .bat extension to make it executable, but to make it work for a particular user the script needed to be found in the NETLOGON share of the domain controller to which the user’s account was authenticated. In Windows NT this NETLOGON share corresponded to the %systemroot%\system32\repl\import\scripts folder, and by placing the script in this folder on the PDC it was automatically replicated to all BDC’s in the domain. Once this was done, the administrator only had to add the name of the script to the Logon Script Name field on the User Environment Profile dialog box using User Manager for Domains.

Then Windows 2000 came along, with its support for assigning logon scripts using Group Policy and its built-in support for Windows Script Host (WSH) as an alternative for traditional batch scripts. While WSH lets you create much more powerful logon scripts and Group Policy lets you manage logon scripts more easily, a problem arises when your networking environment has a mix of desktops that include legacy platforms like Windows 95/98 and Windows NT 4.0 Workstation. The rest of this article provides some suggestions for managing logon scripts in both a mixed (Windows 2000/XP/2003 and legacy Windows 95/98/NT) environment and a pure Windows 2000 (or later) environment.

Using Logon Scripts in a Mixed Environment

By “mixed environment” I mean a mixture of Windows clients that support Group Policy (Windows 2000/XP/2003) and those that don’t (Windows 95/98/NT). Managing logon scripts in environments that include Linux/UNIX or Mac desktops is beyond the scope of this discussion. For simplicity, we’ll focus here on Active Directory environments that have domain controllers running Windows 2000 Server and/or Windows Server 2003 and a mix of current and legacy Windows desktops.

Let’s say you want to use a logon script in a mixed environment to configure users’ desktop environments by mapping a drive letter to a network share. A simple batch file logon script that does this might be this:

@echo off
net use x: \\filesrv\budgets

To use this script, type it into Notepad and save it as logon.bat or something similar. Then put the script into the NETLOGON share on a domain controller, which if your domain controllers are running Windows 2000/2003 can be found at %systemroot%\sysvol\sysvol\\scripts as shown in Figure 1:


Figure 1: Location of NETLOGON share on Windows 2000/2003 domain controllers

Once this script is placed in the NETLOGON share it will automatically replicate to all domain controllers in the mynewforest.com domain.

The next step is to assign the logon script to the user accounts of users who need to have the script run on their desktop machines. To get the script to run on Bob Smith’s machine, for example, use Active Directory Users and Computers to open the Properties sheet for the User object representing Bob Smith and select the Profiles tab. Then simply type the name of the script in the Logon Script field as shown in Figure 2 below. Note that if you store your logon script in a different share than NETLOGON, you should type the full UNC path instead to the script in the Logon Script field below but make sure the script replicates to all your domain controllers.


Figure 2: Assigning a logon script to user Bob Smith

If you want to leverage the power of Windows Script Host in a mixed environment, you can do so two ways:

  • Download and install the appropriate Directory Services Client (DSClient) for Windows 95/98 or Windows NT. DSClient allows these legacy Windows platforms to participate in an Active Directory environment and they include support for WSH and VBScript. To obtain DSClient for the appropriate platform, see article 288358 in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.
  • Download and install Windows Script Host for Windows 95/98/NT. Doing this lets you run VBScript scripts on these platforms, but it doesn’t give you ADSI functionality so this limits the usefulness of WSH for scripting purposes. You can obtain WSH for Windows 95/98/NT from the Microsoft Download Center.

Either way, once your legacy Windows desktops support WSH you can write your logon scripts in the more powerful VBScript language instead of the limited batch programming language. Unfortunately, in a mixed environment you can’t directly assign a .vbs script to a user account on the Profile tab as shown in Figure 2 above as this won’t work on legacy Windows clients. The workaround to this problem is to do the following:

  1. Write your logon script using VBScript and save it with a .vbs extension, for example logon.vbs.
  2. Store your logon.vbs file in the NETLOGON share on your domain controller.
  3. Use the batch programming language to write a traditional logon script that calls your logon.vbs script and save it with a .bat extension, for example logon.bat.
  4. Store your logon.bat file also in the NETLOGON share on your domain controller.
  5. Assign logon.bat on the Profile tab of each user account as described previously above in Figure 2.

A simple logon.bat script that calls a logon.vbs script would be the following:

@echo off
wscript %0\..\logon.vbs

And a simple logon.vbs script that maps the x: drive to the \\filesrv\budgets share would be:

Dim wshNetwork
Set wshNetwork = CreateObject("Wscript.Network")
wshNetwork.MapNetworkDrive "x:", "\\filesrv\budgets"
WSCript.Quit

Now when Bob logs on to his machine, logon.bat executes and calls logon.vbs which maps x: drive to the budgets share as desired. And this will work on both your legacy Windows 95/98/NT desktops and your newer Windows 2000/XP desktops.

Using Logon Scripts in a Windows 2000 or Later Environment

If all your desktops are running Windows 2000 or later, then the first thing you should do is forget the Profile tab as far as logon scripts are concerned. In fact, forget the Profile tab entirely as the fields on this tab are provided only for downlevel (Windows NT or earlier) environments. Instead, use Group Policy to assign your logon scripts, which is a far more powerful and flexible approach than what the Profile tab provides. Furthermore, forget the batch programming language and use VBScript to write your logon scripts as this lets you create far more powerful scripts than batch scripts. If you haven’t yet learned VBScript, see the Resources section at the end of this article for some tutorials.

Let’s use our logon.vbs script above that maps a drive and assign it to all our company employees in Winnipeg. The beauty of Active Directory is that you can create organizational units (OUs) for different locations or departments in your company and then create Group Policy Objects (GPOs) and link them to each OU. In Figure 3 you can see that we have three OUs in our mynewforest.com domain: Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg:


Figure 3: Users in the Winnipeg OU need a logon script assigned to map a network drive

To assign logon.vbs to the users in Winnipeg, right-click on the Winnipeg OU and select Properties. Then select the Group Policy tab, where you can see we’ve already created a new GPO named WinnipegGPO and linked it to this OU (Figure 4):


Figure 4: The WinnipegGPO is linked to the Winnipeg OU

Click Edit to open the WinnipegGPO and navigate to User Configuration\Windows Settings\Scripts as in Figure 5 below:


Figure 5: Policy settings for assigning logon and logoff scripts

Now right-click on Logon in the right-hand pane and select Properties (Figure 6):


Figure 6: Assigning a new logon script using the WinnipegGPO

Click the Show Files button to open the default folder where logon scripts assigned using Group Policy are stored on your domain controller (Figure 7):


Figure 7: Default folder where logon scripts assigned using Group Policy are stored on a domain controller

Note from this figure that logon scripts assigned using Group Policy are stored in a subfolder of the SYSVOL share on your domain controllers. This subfolder of SYSVOL is named \sysvol\\\user\scripts\logon and the contents of this folder (being in SYSVOL) are automatically replicated to all domain controllers in the domain.

Now, using Windows Explorer, find the logon.vbs script we created earlier and press CTRL+C to copy it to the clipboard. Then return to the folder in Figure 7 above and press CTRL+V to copy logon.vbs into the folder where it needs to be. Close the folder window and return to the Logon Properties screen in Figure 6 previously and click the Add button to open the Edit Script dialog box, and in the Script Name field type logon.vbs, the name of the script you want to assign (Figure 8):


Figure 8: Assign the logon script

Click OK twice and the script has been assigned. Now once Group Policy refreshes on Bob’s machine, the next time he logs on to his machine he’ll see X: drive when he opens My Computer or Windows Explorer.

Resources

If you want to learn how to start writing WSH scripts using VBScript, or find some useful scripts others have already developed, here are a few resources to check out:

Maldives welcomes constructive engagement with Amnesty International

The Government of Maldives on Thursday responded to the publication of Amnesty International's annual report by “welcoming” Amnesty’s continued interest in the Maldives' progress toward democracy.

Briefing the press on the report's contents, Chief Government Spokesman Mohamed Hussain Shareef expressed his satisfaction that the report refers to the release of Naushad Waheed and Ahmed Didi, as well as the Maldives’ accession to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Shareef stressed that, whilst the report contains some elements of criticism, it also recognises that hold-ups in the pace of constitutional reform relate in part to “disruptive moves from the opposition”. He commented: “We are pleased that Amnesty has recognised the nature of the work we are doing on our Constitution and are encouraged that they are beginning to understand the complexity of the political situation.”

Shareef continued: “It is also important to understand that the report focuses solely on the calendar year to December 2006. Since then, the Government has taken concrete steps to further improve its record. The Government has passed a Civil Service Bill which establishes an independent and autonomous Civil Service Commission, demarking Government jobs from political jobs. Further, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives is now fully operational with a full quota of members and statutory powers that are in line with the Paris Principles.”

The Chief Government Spokesman concluded with a wish to continue working with Amnesty International and other international audiences: “It is important to note that we remain in close contact with Amnesty International, both here in Male’ and through our network of diplomatic missions abroad. It is only through continued engagement with our NGO stakeholders, and through their shared commitment to Maldivian democracy and human rights, that we can bring about the radical constitutional change envisaged by President Gayoom. We are confident about our future and look forward to Amnesty’s continuing interest and support.”

Source: Haveeru

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Maldives cricket trip for Worcester Police


THE Worcester Police cricket team have returned from a ground-breaking first-ever tour of the Maldives.

The team were the first from any country other than Sri Lanka to play in the Indian Ocean island republic and they were very well-received by their hosts. They played five games and won two of them.

The Maldives have recently won the Asian Emerging Nations tournament and have some fine young players used to playing in hot conditions and on non-turf pitches.

All five games were played in the Maldives capital of Male, which is just three kilometres square but has a population approaching 100,000.

The team were taken to each game by speedboat from the island of Faro where they stayed and there was a five-minute break for prayers at noon.

While the police team's opening bowlers struggled to come to terms with temperatures in the mid nineties and the high standard of batting, Dave Bradley, Dave Price and Robin Longmore returned the best figures.

Man of the tour was opener Paul Gough, who hit a century and an unbeaten 83. Neil Fletcher also batted well and the rest chipped in when needed.

It was great experience for the players, wives, partners, and friends in the party of 33 that included 13 players.

The club was delighted to present a cheque for £1,000 to the Maldives Board for equipment, which will help towards the development of the younger players.

Results: Worcester Police v Cricket Control Board of Maldives (CCBM) CCBM 284-6, Worcester Police 201-9 (Neil Fletcher 57, Robin Longmore 51, Paul Gough 41). Worcester Police lost by 83 runs.

Worcester Police v CCBM Under 19s CCBM 191 all out (Robin Longmore 4-41, Dave Bradley 3-13).

Worcester Police 192-6 (Paul Gough 83 not out, Neil Fletcher 31). Worcester police won by four wickets.

Worcester Police v CCBM Chairman's Eleven CCBM Chair XI 248-7, Worcester Police 186-7 (Paul Gough 46, Graham Blomfield 36, Chris Holt 33). Worcester Police lost by 62 runs.

Worcester Police v CCBM Veterans Worcester Police 197-5 (Paul Gough 105 not out, Neil Fletcher 45, Graham Blomfield 32), CCBM Vetrans 110 all out (Dave Price 3-26, Steve wood 3 for 29). Worcester Police won by 66 runs Worcester Police v Maldives Police Maldives Police (257 all out) Dave Bradley 3-34, Robin Longmore 3 for 56 Worcester Police 164 all out. Worcester Police lost by 93 runs.

Source: Worcester News

Friday, May 25, 2007

USAID Provides Assistance to Maldives Flood Victims

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Due to the effects of recent flooding in the Republic of Maldives, the U.S. Government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing $100,000 to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) for emergency water and sanitation services to the affected populations. On May 22, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Robert O. Blake declared a disaster and authorized U.S. assistance.

Beginning May 15, seasonal high tides and large waves exacerbated by intense winds flooded at least 55 of the 194 inhabited islands in the Maldives. Flood waters affected local infrastructure, water supplies, and crops on many islands, but did not cause any deaths, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The flooding is the most widespread on record, apart from the December 2004 tsunami, according to the Maldives Government.

USAID will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as appropriate.

For more information about USAID's emergency humanitarian assistance programs, please visit: www.usaid.gov/our_work/humanitarian_assistance/disaster_assistance/.


Source: USAID

Maldives: Coastal flooding OCHA Situation Report No. 2

This situation report is based on information received from the Maldives’ National Disaster Management Center, the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in the Maldives, as well as from the OCHA Regional Office for Asia and Pacific in Bangkok.

SITUATION

1. On 15-17 May 2007, a series of swells, between 10 – 15 feet, hit an estimated 35 islands in 13 Atolls across the Maldives, causing the inundation of up to 600 metres from the coastline. The southern atolls of the Maldives were the most affected, in particular Seenu and Gaafu Dhaalu. These high tides occur annually, but not to this magnitude.

2. There were no human fatalities from the coastal flooding. 1649 people were evacuated from their homes.

3. On 19 May 2007, a Rapid Assessment Team, comprised of Government of Maldives personnel, IFRC and UN counterparts, was deployed to conduct a rapid assessment of five high tide affected islands of Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll: Fares-Maathodaa, Fiyoare, Rathafandhoo, Nadellaa, and Madaveli. The assessment found:

a. Water-sanitation: There is an urgent need for clean drinking water and household water (community tanks need refilling – due to dry season prior to the high tide). Ground tests indicated contamination.

Action recommended by the assessment mission: Urgent need for drinking water. A detailed assessment is urgently required on fresh water wells.

b. Housing: 217 housing units were damaged and 258 were otherwise flood affected.

Recommended action: Further assessments are needed on the long-term impact of flooding on the coral based houses, where there are indications that weakened foundations will require repair/reconstruction.

Recommended action: Provision of mattresses and bedding

c. Livelihood: Need for recovery intervention in local gardens, small plantations, hay harvesting and other livelihoods such as fish processing. There will also be a long-term impact from saltwater permeation damaging crops and trees.

Recommended action: Further detailed assessments on livelihood impacts needed.

d. Education: Some schools were flood damaged with irreparably damaged furniture.

Recommended action: School-based psychosocial support activities are required

e. Infrastructure: Minor damage to harbours and quay walls on the west-side of the islands. Basic services, including electricity, water and sewerage systems were affected by the inundation of seawater.

f. Health: No damage to health facilities or health services.

g. Environment: Substantial coastal erosion and saltwater inland flooding. Ground water assessments show signs of contaminated fresh water on all five affected main islands.

II. NATIONAL RESPONSE

4. NTR

III. INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE

5. NTR

For detailed information please contact:

OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (Bangkok)
Mr. Rajan Gengaje, Regional Disaster Response Adviser
Tel. + 66-2288-2572, Fax: +66-2288-1043, Mob. + 66-8-1916-1271
e-mail: gengaje@un.org

Desk Officers:
(NY) Mr. Wojtek Wilk, Tel. +1-917 367 9748, e-mail: wilkw@un.org
(GVA) Mr. Guadelupe deSousa, Tel. +41-22-917 4339

Press contact:
(NY) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, Tel. +1-917 367 5126
(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, Tel. +41-22-917 2653

Maldives: Coastal flooding OCHA Situation Report No. 1



Source: Relief Web

Angsana offers free nights with stays in the Maldives


Angsana Resort & Spa Maldives Velavaru and the Angsana Resort & Spa Maldives Ihuru have launched two great offers to top off a sensational holiday to the Maldives.

Located on the secluded South Nilandhe Atoll in Maldives, the newly opened Angsana Velavaru is one of the most sought-after destinations for marine enthusiasts and honeymooners. The Angsana Ihuru on the other hand, is circled by a shallow lagoon teeming with colour corals and thriving marine life. Its palm fringed beaches and crystal clear waters make it one of the most photographed Maldivian islands.

From now until 30 September, Angsana Velavaru is offering guests one complimentary night for every three nights booked at Angsana Treats rates. To sweeten this treat, Angsana Velavaru is also offering guests a complimentary 90-minute Body Massage session for two at the Angsana Spa.

The Angsana Resort & Spa Maldives Ihuru is also offering one complimentary night with every four nights booked with rates from Angsana Treats. In addition, guests will also receive a complimentary upgrade to the Deluxe Beachfront Villa. Furthermore, for stays in May 2007, guests will also receive a 60-minute Indian Head Massage session for 2 at our award-winning Angsana Spa. This offer is valid for stays between 18 May and 31 July 2007 as well as 1 and 30 September 2007.

Source: E-Travel Blackboard

Thursday, May 24, 2007

SAFF C’ships in Colombo, Maldives


The South Asian Football Federation Chiefs who met in New Delhi decided to hold the South Asian Football Federation Championships from December 19 to 22 in Colombo and Maldives.

The championship will be competed by Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan and Afghanistan. The opening ceremony is scheduled to be held in Maldives while the closing ceremony will go to Sri Lanka.

All group matches where Sri Lanka is involved are to be conducted in Sri Lanka while the games involving Maldives are to be staged at the National stadium according to reliable sources.

Meanwhile the President of the Maldives Football Association is making a request to change the opening and the closing ceremony for them to have the final in Male.

As there is a request for this change, the South Asian Football Officials are scheduled to meet again to finalise the arrangements.


Source: Daily News SriLanka

Maldives Say Indian Reaction To Send Reconssainnce Aircraft To Help Engage Ltte Boat Was Quick And Swift


The Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has telephoned Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to thank for Indian naval aircraft’s quick response in providing reconnaissance for the country’s Coast Guard to help engage the high jacked Indian fishing trawler “Sri Krishna” and sink it with an alleged load of LTTE guns and rocket launchers.

The Indian response for help to pursue the hijacked boat by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been described by the Maldivian government as “quick and swift.”

India’s Tribune newspaper publishing an agency item quoted Maldivian Foreign Minister Ahamed Shaheed as saying, ““We asked for the Indian government's assistance,” and, “the response was swift.”

The Maldivian government used its coast guard ship “Huravee” to engage the allegedly gun running hijacked “Sri Krishna” trawler that attempted twice to leave the territorial waters of the Maldives. The renamed “Huravee” is a former Indian coast guard ship given to the Maldives and its former name was INS Tillanchang. The transfer took place last year when Indian Defense Minister visited Maldives .

Now it has been revealed four of Sri Krishan’s occupants were killed when it was engaged by Huravee and five survived including the kidnapped Kerala based Malayali boat mechanic Simon Soza, whom the alleged LTTE gunrunners took with them in their long illegal sojourn.
The Indian Trawler “Sri Krishna” was missing from the last known position of the South East of the Pamban island and is believed to have been hijacked by the Sea Tigers with its crew of 12 , 11 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and one mechanic from Kerala, named Simon Soza.

“Tamil-speaking persons” who hijacked Sri Krishna first threw out its fishing equipment and later brought in arms including AK-47s and RPG launchers. Soza, who is from is a Malayalam speaking person from Kerala, had reportedly told the Maldivian authorities that he was kept on board because he was the trawler’s mechanic, someone very essential in the long journey undertaken by the pirates of the Sea Tigers. He was one of the first to jump from the boat to the sea when the boat was being pursued and rescued by the Coastguard ship.

A team of investigators from the Sri Lanka navy also has traveled to the capital Male where the alleged LTTE Sea Tigers are in custody to investigate what actually the boat was doing in the Maldivian waters.

In the sting operations conducted by the FBI undercover agents in the United States it had been revealed that the LTTE was planning to ship its arms shipments to the Indian Ocean and from there to smuggle them to Sri Lanka in smaller vessels.

During the regime of Ranil Wickremesinghe , when a lie low policy was advised to the Sri Lanka Navy larger ships came closer to the LTTE dominated shores to unload cargos of armaments and explosives. Thereafter the LTTE has been increasingly engaging fishing craft re-loaded from other ships in mid seas to smuggle in arms.

Source: Lanka Web

The Bangladeshi chief advisor pledges assistance to the Maldives

The Chief Advisor of the Government of Bangladesh, Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, has pledged assistance to the Maldives, in the wake of last week’s widespread damage caused by tidal waves on many islands. He made the pledge in a telephone conversation with the President yesterday. He called the President after receiving the President’s letter of appeal requesting urgent international assistance.

Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed said that he was sad to hear of the flooding and its impact on the lives of many Maldivians, and conveyed the sympathy of the Government and people of Bangladesh to President Gayoom, the Government and the brotherly people of the Maldives.

During the conversation, the President briefed the Bangladeshi Chief Advisor on the scale of damage and the ongoing work to extend humanitarian relief to the victims. Further, the President thanked the Government of Bangladesh for their generous assistance and emphasised that Bangladesh had always supported the Maldives in every such hour of need.

Source: Relief Web

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

UN agencies assist flood-stricken Maldives

United Nations agencies are providing much-needed assistance to the Maldives, which is suffering from the effects of two days of wave swells last week which have impacted at least 35 islands in 13 atolls in the Indian Ocean nation.

“Except for the tsunami in 2004, the Maldives has never before faced such widespread and simultaneous flooding of so many islands,” said John Holmes, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

The UN was part of a rapid assessment team, also comprising personnel from the Government, the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent (IFRC), deployed on 19 May to five islands in the hardest-hit Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), while no deaths have been reported, approximately 1,650 people have been forced to leave their homes while 217 housing units as well as several harbours and jetties have been damaged.

Heath and education facilities are functional in spite of the flooding and considerable damage, with streets strewn with garbage, debris being widespread and septic tanks needing repair.

The Government of the Maldives is appealing for international support and for UN aid in the relief and recovery efforts.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is supplying 10 water tanks and five rainwater harvesting kits to Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, while the UN World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating with the Government’s Ministry of Health on possible aid that may be required. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is working with authorities to assist in livelihood recovery.

The Government has distributed emergency items, such as food, water and mattresses, as well as a mobile water desalination plant.

Source: United Nations News Service

Maldives: Coastal flooding OCHA Situation Report No. 1

This situation report is based on information received from the Maldives' National Disaster Management Center, the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in the Maldives, as well as from the OCHA Regional Office for Asia and Pacific in Bangkok.

SITUATION

1. A series of wave surges of varying magnitude hit about 35 islands in 13 Atolls across the Maldives on 15-17 May 2007, causing inundation up to 600m from the coastline. Southern atolls of the Maldives, especially Seenu and Gaafu Dhaalu, were particularly affected due to their flatness as well as their location in the open sea. The wave that affected the southern atolls had wavelength of 350 – 433 meters, which doubled in height as it approached the coastline.

2. The disaster resulted in no human casualties, although four persons were wounded and some 1649 people were evacuated.(1) 217 housing units were damaged and 258 more were otherwise affected by the flooding. Three days of wave swells caused extensive damage to the home gardens and other means of livelihood; 43 vegetation sites were destroyed, about 15 sea vessels were damaged. The disaster caused partial damage to a number of harbour and jetties as eroded sections of beaches and coastline walls.

3. The seawater incursion contaminated the wells and the groundwater table, causing shortage of drinking water in some islands. Septic tanks were damaged or filled with seawater, causing sewage to flood some areas. The tide also flooded some landfills and scattered trash throughout the affected area, raising sanitation concerns. Cleaning-up operations are in progress.

4. The healthcare facilities were not damaged and have assisted the affected populations. No major outbreaks were reported. Nevertheless, cases of tsunami-related trauma among the population, including children, were reported. The schools were not affected and continue to function on schedule.

5. A Rapid Assessment Team, comprised of Government personnel and IFRC and UN counterparts, was deployed on 19 May 2007 to conduct a rapid assessment of five islands of Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll: Fares-Maathodaa, Fiyoare, Rathafandhoo, Nadellaa, and Madaveli. The assessment is to focus on infrastructure, health, water-sanitation, livelihood, environment and emergency relief needs. The final report is expected to be released by Government of Maldives in the next few days.

II. NATIONAL RESPONSE

6. The Government of Maldives provided emergency relief assistance (food, water supply, mattresses) to the affected communities. A mobile water desalination plant had been dispatched by the Government's National Disaster Management Center.

7. The Department of Meteorology has been monitoring the weather situation and issued warning information to communities. The National Disaster Management Center provided updated situation reports of the island situation as well as coordinated Government's assessment and emergency relief assistance efforts.

8. The Government of Maldives issued an appeal for assistance to the international community. It also made a formal appeal for assistance to the UN Secretary General to assist in the immediate relief and early recovery efforts.

III. INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE

9. UNICEF provided ten water tanks and five rain-water harvesting kits to the most affected Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. IFRC is preparing provision of drinking water in Gaafu Dhaalu atoll. American Red Cross is organizing a parents-teachers meeting to assess stress levels among children.

10. WHO is coordinating with the Ministry of Health on possible health assistance that may be required. UNDP is liaising with national authorities in order to provide support in the areas of livelihoods recovery and coordination. OCHA has offered the UN Resident Coordinator its assistance in coordinating international response, as well as technical assistance in environmental impact assessment and disaster prevention and risk reduction.

11. The UN System and IFRC are awaiting the report of the rapid assessment team to identify next steps and will accordingly update partners.

Note

(1) Population of the Maldives is estimated at 369,000.

For detailed information please contact:

OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (Bangkok)
Mr. Rajan Gengaje, Regional Disaster Response Adviser
Tel. + 66-2288-2572, Fax: +66-2288-1043, Mob. + 66-8-1916-1271
e-mail: gengaje@un.org

Desk Officers:
(NY) Mr. Wojtek Wilk, Tel. +1-917 367 9748, e-mail: wilkw@un.org
(GVA) Mr. Guadelupe deSousa, Tel. +41-22-917 4339

Press contact:
(NY) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, Tel. +1-917 367 5126
(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, Tel. +41-22-917 2653

Source: Relief Web

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sweden trumped by Maldives in Second Life


The Maldives has pipped Sweden to the post by unveiling the world's first virtual embassy in Second Life just days before the Scandinavian country's planned launch.

Sweden received much international attention in January when it first announced plans to open an embassy in the virtual online world.

Sweden's Second Life embassy, which opens on May 30th, is to be a replica of the House of Sweden in Washington DC.

Susanna Wallgren from the Swedish Institute has just received an e-mail informing her of the new Maldives embassy when we speak to her. She assures The Local that there is no sense of being upstaged by the island nation.

"Not at all. Good for them. It is great that more countries are realizing the importance of establishing a presence in Second Life," she said.

The head of the Swedish Institute, Olle Wästberg, mentioned earlier this week that the project has cost a total of 400,000 kronor ($57,000). Next week Wästberg will be joined by Foreign Minister Carl Bildt - both in Second Life and at the Swedish Institute - for an inauguration ceremony to mark the opening of the new embassy.

But for now the spotlight is on the Maldives. The small island nation in the Indian Ocean has placed its virtual embassy in the Diplomatic Quarter of Diplomacy Island in Second Life.

"The Maldives is not the wealthiest island in the world. This can give people a contact with the Maldives that they might not otherwise have," Stewart Gibbon from the Maldives Mission in Geneva told The Local.

He explains that he was not even aware of Sweden's plans for online diplomatic representation until his boss happened to mention the fact.

"I suppose it's nice to be first but this was not a deliberate attempt to beat Sweden to it," he added.

At the time of writing there were around 6,500,000 residents living in the alternative reality of Second Life.

Source: Sweden Local News

Maldives Opens World’s First Virtual Embassy


The Maldives has become the first country in the world to open a Virtual Embassy in Second Life, the online virtual world.

Second Life (SL) is a fast-growing virtual community with more than six million “citizens.” It has its own currency, the Linden Dollar, which can be exchanged for US dollars. SL citizens own property, socialize, learn and interact in SL.

The Maldives Virtual Embassy is located in the Diplomatic Quarter of Diplomacy Island in Second Life, an on-line space designed to allow new avenues for diplomatic representation and negotiation, especially for small and developing countries that have limited diplomatic outreach in the “real” world.

The embassy building features a notice board with detail on “democratic and human rights reform” in the country. “The Maldives is a small country but that does not mean we do not have a valuable contribution to make in international affairs,” said Abdulla Shahid, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

“The Virtual Embassy offers another channel for us to provide information on the country, to offer our viewpoint on issues of international concern, and to interact with our partners in the international community,” he said.

Diplomacy Island is the brainchild of Diplo Foundation, a nonprofit organisation which works to assist developing countries participate meaningfully in international affairs.

The official inauguration ceremony took place simultaneously in the real world (Geneva) and in the virtual world (Second Life), with participants in both “place” and “space” able to watch the speeches, interact with each other, and explore the Maldives Embassy and the rest of Diplomacy Island.

The Maldives Virtual Embassy will soon be followed by embassies representing Macedonia and the Philippines. Sweden has also announced plans to open a Virtual Embassy.

Source: Minivan News

Bangladesh offers 1 mln USD in cash for flood victims in Maldives


The Bangladeshi government on Tuesday announced an offer of 1 million U.S. dollars in cash as relief for flood victims in the Maldives.

Bangladeshi caretaker government Chief Advisor Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed Tuesday telephoned President of the Maldives Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and conveyed his deepest sympathy at the devastation caused by the widespread flooding in his country.

Earlier, President Gayoom had addressed Ahmed a letter stating the extent of the damages following what he described as an environmental emergency and requesting assistance and support from friends.

Bangladesh and the Maldives are members of the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Source: Xinhua

Sri Lanka, Maldives to set up business council


Sri Lanka and the Maldives plan to set up a bilateral business council this week to promote trade and investment between the two countries, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday.

The Maldives is Sri Lanka's the third largest trading partner in south Asia with the trade balance being in favour of the latter.

There was potential to export skilled labour and products like rice, fresh fruits, vegetables, miscellaneous edible preparations, coconut, rubber and plastic products, the chamber said in a statement.

The Business Council, the 19th such bilateral council to be formed under the chamber's aegis, is to be launched on May 25 during the visit of Maldivian Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mohammed Jaleel.

"We had identified Maldives as a potential market and our members too felt that they need a formal linkage to emerge into this market," said Prema Cooray, Secretary General of the CCC.

Sri Lanka's main exports to the Maldives are textiles and clothing, fruits and vegetables, jewellery, ceramic products and tea.

It imports mainly Maldive fish, cement clinker, Yellow Fin Tuna, flour, fish meal and frozen fish.

Among the objectives of the business council are the promotion of joint ventures, tourism and services between Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Sri Lanka’s presence in the Maldives tourism industry is very significant with two large conglomerates, John Keells Holdings and Aitken Spence, accounting for almost 10% of the hotel rooms in the archipelago.

Source: LBO

In search of blissful and romantic seclusion? Then fly a little further


The remote Maldives have long been regarded as a "just-the-two-of-us" destination. This is probably because of the one-island-one-resort concept - perfect for honeymooners, lovers and romantic seclusion.

Accommodation varies from the rustic to the state-of-the-art and is either land-based or built on stilts above the water.

Children are welcome, but only a few resorts offer specialised facilities for young ones, so the chances are they may complain of boredom. In most cases they are not allowed to be accommodated in the water villa rooms.

All watersport activities in the Maldives are provided at a cost to be settled at the resort but several places also offer an all-inclusive option, which is a big help in budgeting for a holiday.

The good news for SA is that China Eastern Airlines has introduced a Joburg-to-Male (the Maldives capital) direct flight taking just seven-and-a-half hours. There are two flights a week.

The resorts have fully equipped spas but book early because they are always busy.

What is there to do in the Maldives? Those who can tear themselves away from the beaches could visit Male or a neighbouring island, taking a scenic seaplane flight over the atolls. Excursions can also be arranged by resorts for guests keen on fishing or snorkeling.

Shopping is restricted to the resort boutiques, offering mainly beachwear and souvenirs. The duty-free shopping at Male Airport is good: perfume prices are reasonable and the selection adequate.

For the nightowls, the resorts offer evening entertainment - live bands, games and traditional dance shows.

Holidays in the Maldives are marginally more expensive than Mauritius.

A seven-night trip starts from R9 980 per person sharing, including return flights, airport taxes and fuel levies, transfers, accommodation and breakfast. The offer is valid until July 20 this year.

Either way, it promises a perfect Indian Ocean holiday.

Source: The Star

Taste of the Dream ToTaste of the Dream Tour for World Qualifying Series Comes to the Maldivesur for World Qualifying Series Comes to the Maldives


Two Hundred of the worlds best surfers making up the ASP World Qualifying Series will next week experience the Qualifying Series version of the much acclaimed dream tour of surfing as they head to the truly exotic and wave rich location of The Maldives for the Five Star Prime Rated SriLankan Airlines Pro.

With the event set to begin on June 3rd and running through to June 9th many competitors, media and officials are already planning their arrival to Dhonveli Beach to take advantage of possibly the most fun high quality surf breaks in the world.

The Maldives Islands are set in the Tropical North region of the Indian Ocean just to the south west of Sri Lanka. The event is based on the Dhonveli Beach & Spa Resort Island with a perfect peeling lefthand point break known as Pasta Point running off one corner of the island.

Within 20 minutes either side of Pasta Point lies numerous quality reef breaks which include Jails, Sultans, Honky's, Lohufushi, Ninja's, Coke's and Chicken's. All these breaks offer great waves to all the surfers at the event providing ideal preperation surf opportunities in what many regard as the warmest surfing waters in the world!

Throw in the hospitality and food surrounding the event and professional surfing life simply does not get much better than this.

With $US100 000 dollars up for grabs along with essential points as a highly rated prime rated event this years super quality field promises to be the best yet. The list of competitors includes excellent surfers from every surfing nation across the globe.

Two outstanding young surfers who have burst onto this years world scene , South Africa's Jordy Smith and USA surfer Dane Reynolds. These two super talents are the legitimate YOUNG GUNS of World Surfing and they can almost assure their pathway into next years ASP Foster's World Tour with a winning performance in the Maldives. Both will enter the event full of confidence following multiple high scoring performances during the first half of the season

Former World Tour surfer Nathan Hedge (Australia) recently returned to form with a big victory in Scotland and will be looking to continue his run at this event.

Masotoshi Ohno from Japan heads up the strong Japanese contingent emerging through the Qualifying Series.

Numerous Foster's World Tour surfers will also compete including the defending event champion Luke Munro (Aus) and Brazilian Adriano De Souza.

SriLankan Airlines Promotions Manager Mr Saminda Perera commented about the event saying, "SriLankan Airlines are extremely happy to be involved in this super event along with our key partners, ASP and the 'Maldives Tourism & Promotions Board'. The Maldives is a significant destination for SriLankan Airlines, and we welcome the opportunity to bring the world's best surfers from across the globe to the Maldivian atolls for what is the largest international sporting event held in the Maldives."

Contest Director and co ordinator Glenn Best (Tour Manager ASP Australasia) commented on the quality field by saying " This years event is sensational. With the event ideally positioned right in the middle of the contest season many of these surfers can virtually secure their position inside the top ten on the ASP World Qualifying Series Ratings with a finals performance. It's an event that everyone looks forward to and it really is the dream event on the ASP Qualifying Tour. "

It's Monsoon season in the Maldives and every year these Monsoonal winds have delivered excellent waves to this event and expectations are again high for another great event.

This year a huge media contingent will attend to supply news feeds, digital images, daily press and a live webcast which includes video and audio to the massive audience now locked into ASP webcasts.

Join the event in paradise via www.aspworldtour.com

Source: Surfline

Monday, May 21, 2007

Asian beaches reopen after winds trigger huge waves


Tourist beaches in Southeast Asia reopened on Monday after giant waves triggered by intense winds thousands of kilometres away crashed ashore last week, reviving memories of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The waves, which were 7 metres (23 feet) high in some areas late last week, struck large parts of Indonesia, the Maldives, Thailand and Western Australia.

There was no official warning about the freakish waves that killed at least one person, damaged hundreds of homes and displaced thousands of people across Indonesia. Homes and fishing boats were also damaged in Thailand and the Maldives.

Weather officials said the waves were the result of an accumulation of winds in one spot on the ocean, but were looking at why they were so intense.

Triwahyu Hadi, a meteorology expert at the Bandung Institute of Technology, said the phenomenon was likely caused by Kelvin waves, giant waves caused by a surge of irregular wind patterns in the Indian Ocean.

He said it could have easily been predicted because such waves commonly occurred around this time.

"However, we didn't expect the waves to be of this size, that's why we need to analyse the other factors first before arriving at a conclusion."

The European Space Agency said the huge waves were generated by intense storm winds in the Southern Ocean on May 8.

The waves originated south of Cape Town in South Africa and travelled northeast for nearly 4,000 km (2,500 miles) over three days before slamming into Reunion Island on May 12, said the ESA's Web site, (www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMAKIV681F_economy_0.html).

Using satellites, French researchers tracked the huge swell as it travelled northeast, hitting first Reunion, Madagascar, the Maldives and finally Indonesia.

Initial forecasts were for waves only a couple of metres in height, said French researchers on the ESA Web site, but due to the large time period between swells, around 19 seconds, the intensity of the waves was much greater.

"Swells are still surprise factors, which can unfortunately be deadly," Bertrand Chapron of IFREMER, the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea, said on the ESA Web site.

WASHED AWAY

Australian surfing Web sites started monitoring the huge swell from early last week as it rolled out of the Southern Ocean, creating around three-metre swells in Madagascar and the Maldives, which flooded some low-lying islands.

Australia's big surf breaks around Margaret River in southwest Australia were pounded by waves up to 20 feet as the huge westerly swell hit the coast.

Huge waves later hit Bali, giving surfers adrenalin-fuelled rides, but washing away beachside restaurants and fishing boats.

"This month there has been an astronomically extreme phenomenon. The tidal waves were caused by a combination of several factors, including winds travelling at extreme speed in the Indian Ocean," said Widada Sulistya, head of Meteorological and Geophysical agency in Bali.

The crashing waves brought back painful memories of the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004, which killed about 170,000 people in the Indonesian province of Aceh alone.

Sukabumi regency in West Java was one of the areas worst hit last week, with more than 600 people fleeing their homes.

On Monday, foreign and local tourists returned to the sea on Bali's famous Kuta beach, while fishing boats also set out again.

In Thailand, strong winds and high tides generated a storm surge along the Andaman Sea coastline, with waves as high as 5 metres pounding Phuket beaches.

"Some homes and fishing boats were damaged," Smith Dharmasaroja, head of Thailand's National Disaster Warning Centre, told Reuters. There were no reports of injuries.

In Bangkok, workers laid 400,000 sandbags in 14 flood-prone areas along the Chao Phraya river, which rose as much as 2 metres at the weekend due to high tides, the Thai News Agency said. (Additional reporting by Michael Perry in Sydney, Darren Schuettler in Bangkok and Ahmad Pathoni and Adhityani Arga in Jakarta)

- Reuters -

The President appeals for international assistance in helping the victims of the unprecedented sea swells which hit the Maldives on the 15th May 2007


The President has appealed for international support and assistance in helping victims of the unprecedented sea swells, which caused extensive flooding, inflicting damage to homes, livelihoods and infrastructure in many parts of the country since the 15th of this month.

In a letter to world leaders and international organisations appealing for assistance, the President noted that apart from the 2004 Tsunami, never in the country's recorded history had so many islands faced flooding simultaneously. He said that while, with the Grace of the Almighty Allah, there had been no casualties as a result of the flooding, extensive damage had been caused to homes, jetties and fishing vessels, as well as trees, plants and crops on many islands.

Highlighting the fact that the December 2004 Tsunami had caused tremendous damage to the country's economy, the President said that the disaster set the country back by many years, in development efforts. He stated that while the country had been restoring the lives and livelihoods of the people, rebuilding damaged homes and infrastructure across the country over the past two and a half years, this latest environmental emergency would certainly create further grave challenges in what is already a gigantic task.

In the letter, the President appealed to the leaders and international organisations for their immediate support and assistance in helping the victims by providing relief and recovery at the earliest possible time.

Source: Relief Web

Maldives 'not certain' on trawler


The identities of the arrested foreign nationals three days ago off Maldives seas are yet to be determined, authorities in Maldives said.

Maldives government spokesman Mohamed Hussein Sharif told BBC Tamil Service that one person, identified as Simon, is an Indian national probably from South Indian state of Kerala.

Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), together with the police are conducting investigations to verify the identities of other four people captured after sinking their boat, the spokesman said.

"We don't know for certain as yet whether it was a Sri Lankan trawler or whether the persons who are currently in the custody are Sri Lankans," he added.

Sri Lankan detectives

He confirmed that Sri Lankan detectives are also taking part in the investigations.

"The Sri Lankan authorities contacted our foreign ministry and they were given due permission to participate," Mohamed Hussein Sharif said.


Sharif who earlier suggested the arrested were Tamil Tigers told BBC Tamil Service on Sunday that Simon's allegations that other four are Sri Lankan Tamils led to speculations in the media.

Sri Lankan authorities were concerned after media reports that alleged they were LTTE members.

'Arms smuggling'

A Maldivian coastguard vessel has opened fire on a suspected boat and arrested five foreign nationals on board on Thursday.

"They were definitely intruding Maldivian waters but their motive is yet to be determined," the spokesman added.

The chief spokesman for the Maldives government Sharif said on Thursday that nearly 12-hour stand-off between its coastguard forces and the suspected rebel boat happened near an atoll, several hundred nautical miles south of the main archipelago.

He said it may have foiled an attempt by the rebels to smuggle arms to Sri Lanka.

The five people on board the boat were being questioned, the spokesman said.

The Tamil Tigers military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan has denied the rebels were involved in the incident.

Sea clashes

"We are not operating in that area," Ilanthiraiyan told the Reuters news agency from a rebel base in the north of Sri Lanka.

"These guys are not our people."

Earlier this month, a number of rebels were killed in a sea battle with the Sri Lankan navy off Sri Lanka's north-eastern coast.

The navy said it sank two Tamil Tiger boats, part of a flotilla of 26 rebel vessels, and killed at least 10 rebels.

The Tamil Tigers are fighting for an independent state in the north and east.

Clashes at sea and on land are now an almost daily occurrence. Both sides say they still respect the ceasefire and are responding to the other side's aggression.

Source: BBC Sinhala

Maldives probes Sri Lanka LTTE suspects

The Sri Lankan government is closely liaising with Maldivian authorities in the interrogation of five LTTE suspects who were on board an ammunition laden trawler that was destroyed by the Maldivian coast guard on Thursday morning, Foreign Ministry officials said.

The men are suspected to have been transporting weapons to the Tamil Tigers, according to reports from Male.

The trawler had been fired upon by the Maldivian coastguards in the Maldivian waters. Five of the men had jumped over board and were picked up by the Maldivian authorities later on, Foreign Ministry officials confirmed.

The suspected trawler flying the Sri Lankan ensign had allegedly fired upon a Maldivian fishing vessel and had been pursued by the Maldivian coastguards who had ordered the trawler to stop.

The trawler had ignored the orders and started firing at the coastguards which lead to the retaliatory attack.

News reports from Maldives said the five crew members were found to be LTTE cadres after interrogation.

Investigations are in progress to ascertain whether the trawler bearing the name “Sri Krishna” is the same vessel that was reported missing by the Indian authorities since March 12 along with 12 Indian fishermen, reports from Male and Colombo said.

The Minivan news Agency that operates from the Maldivian capital Male quoted the

Director General of the Coastguard, Colonel Zakaria Mansoor, confirming at a press briefing on Thursday that the men were involved in smuggling weapons.

“Several large explosions also suggest to us that the vessel was carrying a considerable load of weapons and explosives,” he said.

Source: Lanka Every Thing

Pakistan will take part in SAFF Championship

Pakistan will take part in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship, a spokesman for the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) told Daily Times here Sunday. “After a meeting of the South Asian Football Federation in New Delhi, the member nations have agreed to hold the tournament in Male and Colombo from December 10 to 22,” the spokesman added.

He said it was agreed that the opening ceremony would be held in Male while the closing ceremony along with the tournament final in Colombo. “ The group matches involving Maldives will be played at National Stadium Male and the group matches involving Sri Lanka will be played at Sugathadha Stadium Colombo.” It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan won a bronze medal in the 1997 edition of the tournament.

This year’s showpiece event comprises four-times champions India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives and underdogs Bhutan and Afghanistan. A total of six tournaments have been played in the past. India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are the only three nations that have won the tournament. The SAFF Championship is held biannually to promote football in South Asian region. It was launched at Lahore’s Railway Stadium in 1993 as the SAARC Gold Cup. Since 1997 onwards it is known as the SAFF Championship.

Source: Daily Times of Pakistan

LTTE sympathy to erode over fishermen abductions

The dramatic return of 11 of the dozen Indian fishermen abducted from the sea by the Tamil Tigers marks the end of an ugly nearly 70-day saga that is bound to cost the group valuable sympathy in India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, officials say.

Indian officials who closely studied the case say that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has lost face over the episode when it initially denied seizing the men who had done it no wrong until its own cadres arrested in Tamil Nadu spilled the beans.

And with the return to India of the 11 men from Tamil Nadu Friday, soon after the 12th man from Kerala got caught in a battle involving a LTTE vessel and Maldivian security forces, has only deepened the embarrassment of the Tigers and their supporters in Tamil Nadu.

'It is a huge blunder (by the LTTE),' an official here said of the abductions and the commandeering of their vessel, Sri Krishna. The 12th Indian is stated to be in custody in the Maldives now after apparently jumping into the waters.

The bizarre drama unfolded in March when the fishermen who had set out from Kanyakumari to stay put in the sea failed to return home even after weeks, sparking alarm in their families who sought help from the authorities to trace them.

The same month, Tamil Nadu was enveloped in protests over the killings of five fishermen from the state, with most political parties blaming the Sri Lanka Navy for their deaths in the sea at the hands of men from a vessel called Maria.

Early in April, the Coast Guard caught six cadres of the LTTE's Sea Tigers off Tamil Nadu and handed them over to the police after dramatically sighting the Maria floating in the sea sans any occupant.

In revelations that shocked Tamil Nadu and the Indian establishment, the arrested men confessed that it were the Tamil Tigers who had not only shot dead the five fishermen but also kidnapped the dozen men who had gone missing -- in two separate incidents.

The guerrillas - whose confessions were videoed - said that another group of Sea Tigers involved in smuggling weapons ended up killing the five Tamil Nadu fishermen when the latter picked up a row with the rebels thinking they were Sri Lankan fishermen.

One of the arrested Sea Tigers also stated that he had seen the abducted Indian fishermen in LTTE territory.

Officials speaking to IANS gave credit to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi for giving the police a free hand to deal with the latest crisis, quite unlike in 1989-91 when his government was dismissed for overlooking similar activities of the LTTE.

The abducted fishermen have stated that they suffered while in LTTE custody, were moved from one place to another and threatened with death if they tried to escape. One of them was asked to sail with a group of Tigers who got hit near the Maldives.

Eventually, the remaining 11 men were taken to the sea and transferred on to two Indian fishing boats Friday when it became clear that the Tigers' complicity in the saga could no more be denied.

The LTTE, which has used Tamil Nadu since the early 1980s in its armed campaign against Sri Lanka, is known to have commandeered Indian fishing boats earlier too. But it is the first time it ended up seizing and holding Indian fishermen this long.

Source: IANS

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Missing the boat: " Not all boats are tigers, but all captured ones are "

Recent stories about boats captured by both Indian and Sri Lankan military authorities are so dubious that we have piled up several convincing jokes on all the stealth stories of these captures and the destruction. Readers have a recollection of the recent increase in the so-called 'captured' and 'drowned' LTTE boats on the mainland as well as in the island's international waters. The claims stating that the boats belong to LTTE are quite hilarious.

In this article we produce some obvious questions that the news reporting agencies ignored. Do all of these boats belong to LTTE? In the following we found some interesting facts.

The anti-Sri Lankan Tamil newspaper, HINDU, reported on May 16th, 2007 the following:

Sri Lankan boat seized
Staff Reporter - The arrested include two Sri Lankan nationals RAMANATHAPURAM:

The `Q' Branch on Wednesday arrested six persons, including two Sri Lankan nationals, and seized a Sri Lankan boat with 50 bundles of beedis worth Rs.2.75 lakh and a van. Two 25 HP engines and another 1.5 HP motor engine were also seized. `Q' branch Inspector P.

Thiagarajan said they were arrested while trying to load the bundles onto the boat at Valangapuri near Thamaraikulam. Xavier (33) and Roshanth (23) of Pesalai in Sri Lanka, Gandhi (33) of Ponkulam, owner of the van, Baskaran (31) of Servaikara Oorani and Selladurai (23) of Thamarai Oorani in Ramanathapuram were among those arrested. They purchased beedi bundles from a shop owned by Zia-ul-Hag (47) of Ramanathapuram, who was also arrested.

How come the above boat captured by the so-called Q-branch does not belong to LTTE? This was the only time in the history of the HINDU newspaper that they reported on captured boats belonging to Sri Lanka and not to LTTE.

Smelling a rat in the story, our staff officers called the HINDU newspaper to clarify the obvious and the Hindu newspaper refused to discuss the matter.

So was LTTE smuggling beedi bundles to its war-weary military officials? If not, how come the non-LTTE boat stories are always written by a staff reporter of the HINDU newspaper?

The answer reveals some interesting facts from the HINDU newspaper and other news agencies.

We counted more than 75 news reports on the so-called mid-sea battles encountered by both Sri Lankan and Indian military officials with LTTE during the last one year period.

One wonders: is LTTE really into the business of boat making rather than a self-determined fighting machine against a terror state?

And very recently, on May 17th, 2007 the news was buzzing again and this time the tiny coastguard of Maldives swung into action.

The Associate Press states, "The Maldives coast guard Thursday sank a boat suspected of ferrying arms for separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in neighboring Sri Lanka - and captured five men", a government spokesman said.

Maldives, an archipelago of 1,200 coral islands, is located 400 nautical miles (740 nautical kilometers) southwest of Sri Lanka - But before long the story takes another turn.

Reuters reports: "However, one man who threw himself overboard before the clash and surrendered spoke the south Indian language Malayalam and not Tamil, and officials were treating the alleged rebel link with caution."

So one wonders: are all the boat stories really true or not? Should the news agencies report on something that has no news value rather than just a rumor, should the news agencies ask the obvious questions from these so-called governments which are claiming victory over sea battles?

What are these vessels doing? At any given time there are thousands of marine vessels moving in and around the globe in international waters and the ones that are sunk are always LTTE vessels.

And the pathetic news agencies reported it as if they were news worthy and therefore they, too, profit from making news.

All in all, if you believe the tall tales from these news agencies, one thing is clear: not all boats are Tigers but the ones destroyed and captured are.

Now that is no coincidence. Interestingly, during the arms surrender by the militant groups soon after the 1987 Indo-Sri Lankan accord, the late President Ranasinghe Premedasa asked the obvious, "How come we have so many weapons here and how did they all come here?" And now we know they all came from the sunken ships down in the deep ocean.


Source: Tamil Canadian

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bank Of Maldives Profit Up 150%

The Bank of Maldives has recorded a 150% rise in profits for 2006 compared with the year before.

The Bank, which is 75% owned by the government through a variety of shareholders, recorded profit after tax of Rf.235 726 million, compared with Rf.94 440 000 in 2005.

The bank has recorded a big rise in both the retail and corporate customers.

“Robust growth in the tourism, fisheries and construction sectors during the second half of the year has driven distributional activities in the country tremendously,” said Chairman Abdul Hameed Mohamed.

Source: Minivan News

Friday, May 18, 2007

MTPB concludes its Gulf Region Road Show at the Bahrain International Travel Expo, 2007Participation at the Bahrain International Travel Expo (BITE),

Participation at the Bahrain International Travel Expo (BITE), held at the Kingdom’s International Convention Centre, was the last of three events to be organised by the Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB). Following the successful conclusion of their participation at the Arabian Travel Market 2007 in Dubai, MTPB took eight resorts and destination management companies on a road show to Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain. The companies involved were: Naiade Resorts, Villa Hotels, Island Holidays, Cross Asia Travel, AAA Hotels and Resorts, Sun Travels & Tours and Crown Tours.

Mohamed Adam, Deputy Director, Maldives Tourism Promotion Board commented. “From May onwards, consumers across the Gulf region are beginning to plan and book their summer holidays. So far, the visitor numbers to the Maldives from this region are small, however there is great potential. We are confident that our events in Qatar and Kuwait, as well as our participation at BITE, 2007 will have significantly improved destination awareness among resident expatriates and Gulf nationals.”

The Maldives Tourism Road Show started in Qatar on the 6th May, with a reception and dinner at the Movenpick Tower & Suites in Doha. More than 150 travel agents and tour operators were invited to a presentation on selling the Maldives to travellers from the Gulf Region. Emphasis was placed on the warm welcome that GCC nationals and resident expatriates will receive when visiting the islands. The Republic of the Maldives is an Islamic nation, providing Arab travellers with easy access to Mosques, even on the resorts islands

Mohamed Adam continued by saying “The flying time to the Maldives is around four hours from the Gulf region. With daily flights from a combination of airlines, the consumer has plenty of choice on how to get there.” Our aim at the road shows was to ensure that as many travel agents and tour operators as possible have the tools they need to be able to effectively promote our island resorts.” Mohamed Adam added “The Maldives is currently the ultimate getaway for those who are attracted by private islands, stunning beaches and crystal clear waters. The Maldives provides the perfect backdrop for a relaxing, rejuvenating holiday, which is a welcome contrast to the frantic pace of life in the Arabian Gulf.”

Similar format was adopted for the event in Kuwait on the 7th May, where more than 100 travel agents and tour operators were invited to the Holiday Inn Downtown in Kuwait City. MTPB’s participation at the BITE 2007 was from the 8th to the 10th May and provided Maldives Tourism with an opportunity to show case the destination to visiting travel trade, meetings and incentives buyers as well as consumers from Bahrain and the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Official attendance figures have yet to be confirmed however they were expected to be up on last year’s number of 16,800 visitors.

The Maldives Tourism Promotion Board has recently appointed Afkar Marketing Company W.L.L. as its PR & Marketing Agency for the Gulf Region. Mohamed Adam concluded by saying “Our focus now is to ensure that the travel trade in the GCC understands the Maldives product and how to sell it effectively to both expatriates and GCC nationals resident in the Gulf region”. He added “Our presence in the region will ensure that we actively promote the ongoing infrastructure developments in the Maldives and as new resorts are opened, we grow visitor numbers by working closely with our travel trade partners”. We are confident that our efforts over the past week will have taken us a step further to achieving this goal”

-ends-

For further information contact:

Mark Senior
Director
Afkar Marketing Company W.L.L.
Tel: +971 502977129
Tel: +973 39630801
e-mail: mark@afkarmarketing.com

Source: MTPB

MTPB consolidates its regional marketing activities at the 2007 Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.

The Maldives Tourism Promotion Board’s presence at this year’s Arabian Travel Market in Dubai was its strongest ever. From the 1st to the 4th May, 2007 the Maldivian delegation profiled a wide range of products and services to the Gulf region’s travel trade. A total of 44 participants from the hospitality industry, representing some 24 companies, were on the stand to meet with tour operators, travel agencies and media.

The 2007 Arabian Travel Market confirmed record breaking attendance figures of more than 12,000 visitors during the first three days of the show which were focused on visiting travel trade. There was a significant growth in visitors from around the Gulf region, which reflects each country’s buoyant economy and the strong demand for outbound travel. The Maldives is a relatively new leisure destination for the Gulf Region and the Maldives Tourism Promotion Board is now placing greater emphasis on driving destination awareness across the Gulf Co-operative Council (GCC) countries of the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

The Maldives is easily accessible from the Arabian Gulf with a short flight time of around four hours. With daily flights from a combination of airlines, the consumer choice continues to grow as more tour operators and travel agencies feature the destination. The Maldives is currently the ultimate getaway for those who are attracted by private islands, stunning beaches and crystal clear waters. The Maldives provides the perfect backdrop for a relaxing, rejuvenating holiday, which is a welcome contrast to the frantic pace of life in the Arabian Gulf.

Travellers from the GCC account for a small part of the current total visitor numbers to the islands. However, with a high percentage of the population being Muslim and with no visa restrictions, the destination is preparing to attract many more visitors from the Gulf region. Dr Mahmood Shougee, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation for the Republic of the Maldives said “Over the past 30 years, tourism has played a vital role in the sustained development of the Maldives economy. Today we enjoy high hotel occupancy levels and this is set to continue. The low season of June, July and August is relatively short and this coincides with the high season for outbound travel from the GCC.” Dr Shougee added “Our short term strategy is to continue to encourage new business from the Gulf region, by placing greater emphasis on the development of strong relationships with the region’s travel trade. We need to give them the tools to effectively sell the destination.”

Today, the Maldives attracts visitors who want to enjoy the peace and tranquility of an island paradise. With luxury hotels and resorts, award-winning Spa’s and probably the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world, the Maldives offers total relaxation. Currently, the islands attract more resident expatriates living in the Gulf region than GCC nationals. Dr Shougee commented “Our medium term strategy is to grow the business from the Gulf region by developing resorts which are focused on the preferences of Arab nationals.” “Today we attract Arab honeymooners and water sport enthusiasts, however we see the opportunity to develop family-focused resorts which are located on the inhabited islands, where GCC nationals can interact with the local Muslim community and enjoy many of the activities associated with town life”.

Investment in the tourism infrastructure of the Maldives continues to gather pace. Today there are many new projects underway and future foreign investment is being encouraged by the Maldivian Government. Dr Shougee concluded by saying “GCC real estate developers are currently transforming the face of the Gulf region. We will be sharing our vision for the future development of the Maldives with many of these organisations and offering them exciting investment opportunities here”. “We are confident that the marketing activities that are now being implementing in the region will ensure that there is a greater awareness of our beautiful islands, which will stimulate foreign investment and more inbound travel from both resident expatriates and GCC nationals.”

-ends-

For further information contact:

Mark Senior
Director
Afkar Marketing Company W.L.L.
Tel: +971 502977129
Tel: +973 39630801
e-mail: mark@afkarmarketing.com

Source: MTPB