Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More environmental initiatives

In last week’s column, I proposed a number of legislative measures that should be taken to improve the efficiency of our environmental enforcement mechanisms. The protection of our local environment and an awareness of the affects of Climate Change are of the utmost importance. Globally, the economic crisis has put the concept of sustainable development on centre-stage. There are now discussions of just how realistic a “green” economy can be. As Pakistanis we owe it to ourselves and the future generations, who will suffer the effects of climate change, to be aware and practice of what means to be environmentally-friendly.

At the moment, there is total lack of awareness of what environmental problems and climate-change issues face Pakistan. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that the word “environment” when employed in Urdu as “mahaul” is not correct. Mahaul and mahauliyat convey a different meaning in Urdu than in English. It is not for nothing that many a local “environmentalist” seldom goes beyond planting trees or cleaning up litter. Wo mahaul saaf rakh rahein hain.

Another challenge is how, too often, we compartmentalise climate change, the environment and, say, health. For example, the Ministry of Health is responsible for premature child deaths. A World Bank study states that in Pakistan some 22,000 premature child deaths a year are caused by air pollution. This is the air pollution in our cities caused, primarily, by the burning of fossil fuels in the transport sector. The burning of fossil fuels is, according to Pakistan’s own Initial Assessment of Climate Change, responsible for roughly half of Pakistan’s total CO2 emissions. These CO2 emissions are responsible for climate change. But nowhere is the Ministry of Health connected to the Ministry of Environment. And in no way is the Ministry of Environment in touch with the Ministry of Transport. Our bureaucrats may be the best and most seasoned of professionals (and may Allah grant them greater glory and more plot allotments), but if the system they have to work in – the Federal Government Rule of Business – doesn’t help them, a rational approach to the environment and climate change is unlikely. I should mention that the Rules of Business, the document which sets out the manner in which the Federal Government operates, was written in 1973. This was before I was born. To think that, in my lifetime, no one has come up with a better way of running government is shocking.

The Ministry of Environment should take the initiative and begin examining the failures in the very structure of our government. It needs to undo the compartmentalisation mentality in government. By keeping climate change as a priority, the ministry should investigate to determine if there are better ways of designing a government structure.

The prospect of climate change often seems insurmountable. After all, what will turning off a light bulb do to slow the alarming rate at which polar icecaps are melting? How can not using plastic bags keep Bangladesh and the Maldives from sinking into the Indian Ocean?

The fact is that activism on environmental issues and climate change has gone beyond merely personal obligations. The challenges posed by these issues now permeate into government responsibility on the national and international level. I know we have a tendency, counterintuitive that it is, to fall into the mistaken belief that government is responsible for the public good. We continue to hold this belief despite the fact that, as a rule, our governments only fail our expectations. But the environment is an issue that offers redemption. It is incumbent on government, in the larger interests of its citizens, to take the environment seriously and begin taking stock of what is required to meet the challenges of climate change.

Just as a better understanding of the environment forces a better understanding of unseen connections – the linkage between premature death, air pollution, transport and climate change being a perfect example, a better understanding of climate changes forces us to appreciate global unconnectedness. Take Bangladesh, for example. In 2006, Bengalis emitted less than 0.3 tonnes of carbon per capita. In comparison, the average US citizen emitted 6 tonnes of CO2. That polar ice caps are melting because of climate change is not disputed. But millions upon millions of Bengladeshi citizens are going to be effected by rising sea levels and their contribution to global climate change is negligible! The Maldives is expected to be completely submerged by 2050. Recently, the prime minister of the Maldives launched a proposal whereby a portion of the country’s tourism revenue is to be set aside for the acquisition of real estate. That’s correct: the Republic of the Maldives and its 350,000 inhabitants are planning to shift. But where are the more than 130 million Bangladeshis going to go? Do the Indian and Burmese economies have the capacity to deal with such a refugee situation? To what extent are developed countries, whose emissions over the past century and a half are the cause for the current state of the earth’s environment, responsible for indemnifying the losses to be suffered? The environment and climate change are the means by which these hitherto unseen connections have been identified. What is to be done remains a topic of international debate today.

Because of these seemingly intractable international equity issues that arise within the context of climate change, countries routinely take their best and brightest to international conferences. International treaties are negotiated by armies of professional lawyers, environmentalists, economics, scientists, diplomats and experts. One of Pakistan’s proud sons, the climate-change specialist and blogger Adil Najam, once told me that some European countries took over a hundred negotiators each to the table at the international climate-change conference at Bali last year. The Pakistani contingent could be counted on one hand. How can we hope to carve out a place on the international level? How can we get equity without an army of experts of our own? The Ministry of Environment should be busy finding and trainings its own army of experts to forge a way in these international conferences. Only by being smarter and better prepared than western countries does Pakistan stand a chance is getting its fair share. At the moment, with the exception of the brilliant Furrukh Iqbal Khan and a handful of others, the fate of Pakistan lies in the hands of bureaucrats from the DMG who are lucky enough to be assigned a junket.

The Ministry of Environment should take the initiative and launch a large-scale climate- change awareness programme within the existing structure of government. We are beyond the specious argument that environmental regulation will detrimentally affect the development of our economy. We are beyond the mistaken belief that the cap-and-trade system is a licence for developed countries to continue polluting. It is my belief that a “green” economy is Pakistan’s only option for future development. The environment and climate change are the most pressing issues of our time. And if anyone thinks the Ministry of Environment has nothing to do, they need to think again. The massive responsibility of organising our government on these issues is squarely balanced on their shoulders. Climate change is no longer just a personal commitment to the environment. Mitigation and adaptation strategies must be our government’s commitment to the people. By not taking these initiatives, the ministry is letting down the Pakistani people.

The writer is an advocate of the high court and a member of the adjunct faculty at LUMS. He has an interest in urban planning. Email: ralam@nexlinx. net.pk

Source: www.thenews.com.pk

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thousands Pay Final Respects To Former President

Thousands of people queued outside the presidential palace in Malé on Sunday to pay their final respects to the late former Maldives President Ibrahim Nasir after his body was flown to Maldives.

Nasir, who died in a hospital in Singapore on Saturday evening at the age of 82, had not returned to the country since he left in 1978 due to persecution by ex-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Queues of men, women and children snaked along the roads in Male to see Nasir, the first president of the second republic of Maldives, for the final time. Sunday was made a national holiday to commemorate the event.

Nasir, who is succeeded by three children, died in Singapore Mount Elizabeth Hospital on Saturday after having suffered from kidney failure in the intensive care unit for some time.

With the consent of President Nasheed and Nasir’s family, Nasir’s body was brought to Male International Airport on a Sri Lankan Airline flight. Hundreds of people congregated at the airport.

His body was brought for a ceremony held at Republican Square before being taken to Theemuge, the former president’s palace, for public viewing.

Thousands of people proceeded to pay their final respects. Among them were the ex-President Gayoom, who lost power on 11 November, and President Mohamed Nasheed (Anni).

The funeral prayer and burial was arranged to have after Isha prayer, but later decided to postpone till Fajr prayer due to the long queues.

Nasir’s body was placed in the hall of Theemuge covered with an orange cloth, with only his face exposed.

Speaking to the media today at the President’s Office, Nasheed said Nasir had rendered numerous services to the Maldives.

Without forgiveness and reconciliation, he added, it would be impossible for us to achieve the democracy that we hope for.

Among those who attended the ceremony, forty-year old salesman Ali Mohamed said he agreed that Nasir should have been given a state funeral.

Moosa Ali, 49, a fish seller, said Nasir was the one who had introduced mechanised fishing vessels and many other services to Maldives.

“I don’t know how Gayoom would have dealt with Nasir’s body if he had been in power,” he said. “We should give all the respect to Nasir,” he added.

Nasir served as country's Prime Minister under Sultan Muhammad Fareed Didi from 1957 to 1968 and succeeded him to become the first President of the Second Republic from 1968 to 1978.

Nasir is recognized for bringing independence on 1965, when the country been a British protectorate since 1887.

His work included bringing Maldives to the United Nations, modernising the fisheries industry with mechanized vessels, and starting Maldives’ lucrative tourism industry.

He was credited with many other improvements, such as introducing an English-based modern curriculum and building the first international airport in the Maldives.

He also abolished “Vaaru”, a tax on the people living on islands outside Malé.

But he has also been criticised for human rights abuses and the use of authoritarian methods against opponents, such as a crackdown on a 1959 breakaway republic in the south of the country.

As prime minister in 1962, Nasir sent a militia from the capital, Malé, to suppress islanders of Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo after they declared a breakaway state in the southern atolls.

Reports suggest an estimated two or three hundred islanders were allegedly brought to Male, jailed and tortured.

Islanders of Thinadhoo on Sunday were protesting over the decision to fly the Maldives flag at half-mast, angry over his treatment of their island.

But Abdullah Abdul Rahmaan, 70, from Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo, believes Nasir sent a militia to Thinadhoo for their good. “He was a good person who wanted to make this nation unified,” he said.

In 1981, Nasir was sentenced by President Gayoom in absentia for alleged corruption and planning a coup, but he was later pardoned.

President Nasir’s family was with him when he passed away on Saturday.

The funeral prayer for the late President Nasir will be held after the Fajr prayers, at Masjid-ul Sultan Mohammed Thakurufaanu-al Auzam. He will be buried at the Friday Mosque.

Source: www.minivannews.com

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Maldives' first president dies at 82

Ibrahim Nasir, who led the Maldives' independence movement from the British and became the nation's first president, has died at age 82, an official said.

Nasir died Saturday at a Singapore hospital and his body was flown to the Maldives and kept for public viewing at the president's office, Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaeed said Sunday, adding that the cause of death was not known.

Born on Sept. 2, 1926, Nasir became the prime minister of the British protectorate in 1957 at age 31. He signed an agreement with the British that won independence for the Indian Ocean archipelago in 1965.

In 1968, three years after independence, Nasir became the Maldives' first president and held that position until he resigned 10 years later. He was accused of ruling the country as a dictator and fled in 1978 amid public resentment and unproven allegations of corruption in handling public funds.

Nasir modernized the country's fishing industry and introduced tourism, for which the Maldives is now world famous.

President Mohamed Nasheed and his ministers were to be present at the burial Sunday night.

Nasir is survived by two sons and a daughter.

Source: AP

Friday, November 21, 2008

Club Med Kani offers a peaceful paradise in the Maldives

A room that looks like an image from a coffee-table book on tropical living, a bed covered in fine cotton sheets, a white mosquito net that's draped over its dark timber frame and folding doors that open on to a private balcony.

Breathe in the fresh air, a mix of humid equatorial heat and salty sea spray, and look across the shallow blue water of the lagoon to the deep indigo of the Indian Ocean stretching to the horizon.

Walk down the timber steps to a private swimming platform, then down the short ladder and slip into the still water of the lagoon.

Tropical fish of all shapes and sizes swim around, not at all disturbed when you slide below the surface, and the temperature of the water is perfect.

This is the morning routine that awaits you in the Maldives at one of Club Med Kani's luxurious bungalows.

Club Med Kani is a 40-minute boat ride from the Maldives' capital of Male and a 30-minute hop from the airport island of Hulhumale where one of the resort's super-fast vessels will meet you at the door of the terminal.

From dawn to dusk you can enjoy the dozens of activities that are run by the resort's friendly team of GOs – general organisers – from stretching at sunrise and yoga at sunset to water aerobics, beach volleyball, kayaking, sailing, snorkelling, scuba-diving and deep-sea fishing.

While it would be easy to spend all your time on Kanifinholu Island, there are lots of options to get out and see more of this Indian Ocean destination that's made up of 1190 islands and 26 atolls.

The Maldives are famous as a dive location but if you don't want to scuba, and are keen to get your head under the water to look at life beneath the waves, you can join one of the half-day snorkelling cruises.

Club Med Kani has access to a couple of dozen snorkelling locations and the experienced staff will pick a few sites to visit depending on the weather and the currents.

This is the home of the Male Express, a powerful ocean current, and surfers are told not to paddle between islands because they could end up a couple of kilometres from their intended destination if they're swept up.

It's a surprise, when you're cruising along in a speedboat, to stop in what appears to be the middle of nowhere, but your guide knows that this seemingly random patch of blue is right beside a deep ocean ditch where tropical fish graze on a coral reef.

Jump off the boat, adjust your goggles and slip into the silence below the surface. Schools of tropical fish as colourful as neon signs are comfortable with their human companions.

Another excursion is a visit to the Blue Lagoon – a patch of white sand that rises out of the ocean just enough to walk on and is surrounded by a calm stretch of azure water that's protected by a distant reef.

The boat backs right up to the island and it's only a couple of steps in the shallows until you're on a feature that isn't much more than a sandbank and there's nothing to do but float in the quiet water or sit in the lapping waves near the beach.

Another outing gives you the chance to visit Male and see a slice of life in this Muslim country which survives on fishing and tourism.

The capital city looks like a movie set, with highrise buildings coming right to the edge of the island, and the city feels like it's about to burst at the seams with more than 80,000 people living on a pint-sized patch of land.

An afternoon is more than enough time to visit the attractions, have a meal, and do some tourist shopping.

Make sure you visit the Grand Friday Mosque – with its walls built from carved coral blocks – the busy fish and produce markets, the always hectic fishing harbour and the National Museum in the Sultan's Gardens.

Source: www.news.com.au

Maldives showcased at World Travel Mart 2008

The Maldives Tourism Promotion Board and representatives from Maldives tourism industry participated in the World Travel Mart 2008 from 10 to 13th November 2008 at ExCel London. This is the biggest travel trade event held in the United Kingdom.

A total of 70 tourism related companies from Maldives participated in the fair of which 33 companies represented resorts and hotels in the Maldives. Also travel agencies selling resorts, hotels and live-aboards participated in this fair. The three day long fair attracted over 50,000 visitors. Visitors include press, media and travel trade. This year’s fair attracted 5500 exhibitors representing over 200 countries and regions.

This year, Maldives stand at WTM was re-designed to portray the dynamism of the tourism product developments in the destination Maldives.

UK is the major generating market for Maldives with 17.8% of the market share. Maldives welcomed 89,952 visitors from UK by the end of September 2008.

Source: www.visitmaldives.com

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Maldivian commences flights to Lanka

Maldivian, the airline division of Island Aviation Services of the Maldives commenced its scheduled operations to Colombo.

This is the second international destination for the airline after Trivandrum.

Maldivian will initially operate five daily evening flights on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Two types of aircraft, Bombardier Dash8 Q300 (50 seats) and Q200 (37 seats) will be utilised by Maldivian for operations to and from Colombo. These aircraft are owned by the company.

Free lounge facilities will also be offered to all passengers who travel on Maldivian.

They can avail themselves of the ‘Palm Strip Lounge’ in Colombo and the ‘Finifenmaa’ Lounge in Male. The airline also provides four connections within Maldives.

Managing Director of Maldivian, Bandhu Ibrahim Saleem said he was happy with commencement of the flights to Sri Lanka. “Given the vast tourist potential between our two countries, we foresee a booming business and great promise in this sector.” He said 8,000 Sri Lankans working there and over 2,000 Maldivian students here would use this airline.

Maldivian is represented in Sri Lanka by Hemas Aviation (Pvt) Ltd, the GSA for Maldivian since December 1. “Recession is the fine time to invest and we are doing it now,” Saleem said.

He said they are also looking at Chennai from 2010.

Head of Hemas Transportation Sector Imtiaz Esufally noted that the company has over a decade long relationship with Maldivian, and looked forward to supporting and growing with them, in the years to come.

“It’s always good for the economy when ever a new airline commences operations,” he added. “It augurs well for tourism as well,” he added.

The company’s core business activities include Domestic Air Services, Ground Handling, Cargo Services at Male International Airport, Operation of CIP lounge at Male International Airport, Engineering Services and Flight Operations.

Source: www.dailynews.lk

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Maldives: The President meets with the Special Envoy of the Leader of Libya

President Mohamed Nasheed today met with Mr. Mohamed El Barrani, Secretary for Asian Affairs and the Special Envoy of Col. Maummaral-Gaddafi of Libya. The meeting was held at the President's Office.

At the meeting, the President expressed the strong wish to maintain and expand friendly relations and reinforce mutually beneficial cooperation between the Maldives and Libya.

Mr. Barrani congratulated President Nasheed on his assumption of office. Reciprocating the sentiments on bilateral relations Mr. Barrani extended an invitation to the President to make an official visit to Libya. He also commended the Maldives for the successful establishment of a modern liberal democracy in the country. Further Mr. Barrani noted that Libya too was working its way to bring democratic reform to the country, and said that Col. Gaddafi wished to share the experience of the Maldives.

The President accepted Mr. Barrani's invitation to make an official visit to Libya. He also said that it would be a great pleasure for the Maldives to assist Libya in its efforts to foster democratic reforms in that country.

Source: www.isria.info

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jennifer Ellison celebrates engagement in the Maldives

English actress Jennifer Ellison has been on cloud nine ever since she got engaged to her man Robbie Tickle.

Ellison, 25, was seen lapping up the sun in her white teeny bikini and looking happy as she showed off her sparkling new diamond ring in the Maldives.

The actress had earlier admitted that she wanted to marry 29-year-old Tickle, who she has been dating for seven months and he popped the question while they were there.

Jen is over the moon. Robbie hadnt told her he was going to propose, so when he did she was crying tears of joy she immediately said yes, News of the World quoted a source as saying.

You could tell that they were totally smitten. They were really sweet to watch, the source added.

Source: www.thaindian.com

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Abu Dhabi plans new resort to resemble Maldives

Tourism authorities in Abu Dhabi have released details of a new and ambitious project that would transform eight islands into a major tourist centre in the style of the Maldives.

Located off the coast of Al Gharbia, Sir Bani Yas Island is the first to be developed, and will be opened for visiting tourists in 2009, in an attempt by the government to build tourism in this Middle Eastern country. The project will also involve the development of Dalma Island and the Discovery Islands, which were previously unexplored. Two of the Discovery Islands will be turned into Maldives-type resorts.

Sir Bani Yas Island was originally planned as a wildlife reserve that would help ensure the survival of some of the most endangered species of the region. It is a legacy of the late UAE President, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The Arabian Wildlife Park covers a large part of the island’s 50 square miles, and is home to 23 animal species, such as antelopes, giraffes, hyenas and the Arabian Oryx. There are also more than 60 species of migratory birds as well as dolphins, dugongs and sea lions.

The first resort to be built on the island, the Desert Islands Resort and Spa, is a 64-room Anantara resort that opened to guests in early November. Plans are in the works to construct five lodges and resorts, 500 luxury waterfront homes and a golf course.

Source: www.abudhabitourism.ae

Abu Dhabi plans new resort to resemble Maldives

Tourism authorities in Abu Dhabi have released details of a new and ambitious project that would transform eight islands into a major tourist centre in the style of the Maldives.

Located off the coast of Al Gharbia, Sir Bani Yas Island is the first to be developed, and will be opened for visiting tourists in 2009, in an attempt by the government to build tourism in this Middle Eastern country. The project will also involve the development of Dalma Island and the Discovery Islands, which were previously unexplored. Two of the Discovery Islands will be turned into Maldives-type resorts.

Sir Bani Yas Island was originally planned as a wildlife reserve that would help ensure the survival of some of the most endangered species of the region. It is a legacy of the late UAE President, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The Arabian Wildlife Park covers a large part of the island’s 50 square miles, and is home to 23 animal species, such as antelopes, giraffes, hyenas and the Arabian Oryx. There are also more than 60 species of migratory birds as well as dolphins, dugongs and sea lions.

The first resort to be built on the island, the Desert Islands Resort and Spa, is a 64-room Anantara resort that opened to guests in early November. Plans are in the works to construct five lodges and resorts, 500 luxury waterfront homes and a golf course.

Source: www.abudhabitourism.ae

Friday, November 14, 2008

Democracy in the Maldives, Meet the world's newest multiparty democracy.

Here's news to cheer: The Maldives, a picturesque archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean, this week became the world's newest multiparty democracy.

The new president, Mohamed Nasheed, was sworn in on Tuesday, winning office in an election last month by a 54% to 46% margin over the incumbent, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. This is the first time the Maldivian people have directly exercised their suffrage for the highest office in the land. Since independence from Britain in 1965, the country has seen only two rulers; both were authoritarian and elected indirectly by the legislature.

President-elect Nasheed is a long-time democracy activist who has been jailed often during the past 15 years for criticizing the government on matters of free speech and political opposition. In 1991, Amnesty International declared him a "Prisoner of Conscience."

There is one exception to Mr. Nasheed's democratic bona fides and that is religious freedom. The Maldives is a Muslim country and Mr. Nasheed aligned himself with the Adaalat Party -- which aims "to establish an Islamic political, social, economic, cultural and moral system" -- to win office. He has also expressed support for continuing curbs on religious freedom; the Maldives denies citizenship to non-Muslims. Promoting religious tolerance is especially important in a country that is 99% Sunni Muslim, is infused with Middle Eastern cash, and where Wahhabism has been on the rise.

With this week's inaugural, the Maldives has entered a new stage in its short history. Mr. Nasheed now can take the nation further forward by granting citizens all of their basic freedoms, including that of religion.

Source: online.wsj.com

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Plan for new Maldives homeland

The president-elect of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, says he wants to buy a new homeland for his people.

He says that the gradual rise in sea levels caused by global warming means the Maldives islanders may eventually be forced to resettle elsewhere.

The Maldives is the lowest nation in the world. Its highest land is little more than two metres above sea level.

The United Nations estimates that sea levels may rise globally by nearly 60 centimetres this century.

Devastation fears

The Maldives comprise more than 1,000 islands and coral atolls surrounded by the clear waters of the Indian Ocean.

The white sandy beaches are a major tourist attraction bringing in billions of dollars every year.

Now Mohamed Nasheed, who will be sworn in as the country's first democratically elected president on Tuesday, has said that he will set up a fund to acquire land in other parts of the region.

Mr Nasheed's spokesman, Ibrahim Hussein Zaki, told the BBC's World Today programme that the new government had to take action.

"Global warming and environmental issues are issues of major concern to the Maldivian people. We are just about three feet (0.91 metre) above sea level," Mr Zaki said, speaking from the capital, Male.

"So any sea level rise could have a devastating effect on the people of the Maldives and their very survival".

Similar culture

Over the last century, sea levels around parts of the archipelago rose by nearly 20cm. Mr Nasheed fears that even a small rise could leave some islands inundated.

Mr Nasheed's plan is to create a "sovereign wealth fund" using tourism revenues to buy land so that future generations will have somewhere to rebuild their lives if they have to leave.

He wants somewhere within the region, where the culture is similar - possibly India or Sri Lanka.

His fears is that if he does not take action, the future descendents of the 300,000 islanders could become environmental refugees.

Source: BBC

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Katie Price & Peter Andre jet out to the Maldives for marriage-fixing holiday

Even though they’ve just arrived back from Los Angeles, Katie Price and husband Peter Andre have flown out for a romantic holiday together in the Maldives to help smooth over their tensions in their relationship.

Before jetting off, glamour model Katie - also known as Jordan - told OK magazine that they’re leaving their two older children - sons Harvey and Junior - with their nanny in the UK but are taking 16 month old daughter Princess with them.

She explained: “I can’t wait - we’ll be in the middle of nowhere and it’s just me, Pete and Princess for a whole week.

“All we are going to do is have spa treatments, relax, have sex, eat and sleep.”

A source close to the family told Star magazine that the couple hope the break will fix their marriage woes and bring them closer together again: “They have decided to take a step back from everything and focus all their time and energy on rekindling and strengthening their feelings.

“They both still love each other and are committed to putting a stop to the arguments they’ve been having recently.

“They both agreed that the way forward was to go on holiday as soon as they got back to the UK to get away from work and the constant rumours.”

The couple have repeatedly denied rumours that they’re about to separate but admit that earlier this year Katie did walk out for a few days after an argument.

Source: fametastic.co.uk

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New Maldives president sworn in

A former political prisoner who unseated Asia's longest-serving leader as president of the Maldives was sworn into office Tuesday, taking charge of a nation he fears could soon disappear.

Mohamed "Anni" Nasheed, 41, took his oath of office at a ceremony televised live from a convention centre in the capital island Male where he began his pro-democracy campaign in 1990 as a journalist for an underground magazine.

He was in and out of jail for a period of six years under former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had led the nation for 30 years before he allowed democratic reforms and was beaten in an October 28 run-off election.

Nasheed has already hit the headlines with his idea to take out insurance in case the Indian Ocean atoll nation, a top luxury tourism getaway, is swamped by rising sea levels.

A one-metre (3.3-foot) rise would almost totally submerge the country's 1,192 coral islands scattered off the southern tip of India. Experts predict a rise of at least 18 centimetres is likely by the end of the century.

"I don't want Maldivians to end up as environmental refugees in some camp," Nasheed told reporters at his first press conference after winning the election.

"We are talking about taking insurance -- if the islands are sinking we must find highland some place close by. We should do that before we sink."

Nasheed told Britain's Guardian newspaper that he had already broached the subject of finding a new homeland for Maldivians with several countries and found them to be "receptive."

India and Sri Lanka are targets because they had similar cultures and climates, while vast Australia was also an option.

Aside from global warming, Nasheed faces a host of other challenges as he begins his five-year term.

There is a danger of civil unrest after decades of one-party rule under ousted president Gayoom, a need to release political prisoners and push through a series of promised reforms in the new democracy.

"There should be no political prisoners in the Maldives," Nasheed said. "That is clear and we will very quickly look into the cases of those who are being held."

The new president will also have to steer the economy through some difficulties, with crucial tourism earnings -- driven by well-heeled visitors to island resorts offering white-sand beaches and crystal clear water -- set to dip because of the global financial crisis.

Nasheed told AFP that he was seeking about 300 million dollars in emergency international aid to restore economic stability in the nation of 300,000 Sunni Muslims.

Although the islands are best known as a luxury holiday destination, about 40 percent of the population earn less than a dollar a day and are clamouring for a greater share of tourist revenues.

The country also faces a serious drug problem, with one out of three youngsters in the country affected.

Nasheed has promised to improve healthcare and links between remote islands, to privatise state enterprises and to turn the presidential palace into the country's first university.

He has also promised action on an acute housing shortage: average families often cram into a single room in Male, one of the world's most congested cities with 90,000 people living in a 2.5-square-kilometre (one-square-mile) area.

"The biggest challenge for the new president is managing expectations," said Mohamed Latheef, a senior leader of Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party.

"People expect a lot. They want to see a change very quickly. It won't be easy to move quickly."

Source: AFP

Maldives saves for new homeland amid flooding fears

The Maldives' newly-elected president said in an interview Monday that his government will begin saving to buy a new homeland in case global warming causes the country to disappear into the sea.

Beloved by tourists for their white sandy beaches, palm trees and clear waters, the 1,192 coral islands that make up the Indian Ocean country risk devastation by rising sea levels caused by climate change.

Mohamed "Anni" Nasheed, who won the Maldives' first democratic presidential election last month, told The Guardian his government will start putting aside part of its billion-dollar annual tourism income in case the worst happens.

"We can do nothing to stop climate change on our own and so we have to buy land elsewhere. It's an insurance policy for the worst possible outcome," he told the newspaper.

He added: "We do not want to leave the Maldives, but we also do not want to be climate refugees living in tents for decades."

Nasheed said he had already broached the subject with a number of countries and found them to be "receptive". India and Sri Lanka are targets because they had similar cultures and climates, while vast Australia was also an option.

He told the newspaper he intended to create a "sovereign wealth fund" from the money generated by tourism, much like Arab states had with oil revenues. "Kuwait might invest in companies -- we will invest in land," he said.

Outgoing president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Asia's longest-serving leader, launched a book in April to highlight the threat to the Maldives posed by global warming.

He said at the time that they could only adapt to the problem by relocating citizens to safer islands. The alternative, building protective walls on the 193 inhabited islands, was too expensive.

Source: AFP

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Five Sri Lankan deported from Maldives for engaging in prostitution

Five Sri Lankans were deported from Maldives for engaging in prostitution, the Department of Immigration has said. In addition, 12 other expatriates were also deported after being arrested on various charges.

The five Sri Lankans were deported for life and the others were barred from entering Maldives for 10 years, according to a statement issued by the Department of Immigration. According to a statement, there were four women and one man among the Sri Lankans who were deported for prostitution. The statement however did not say in which of the several prostitution busts the five had been arrested.

One of the expatriates who was deported and barred from entering Maldives was a Sri Lankan man who tried to leave Maldives using a Malaysian passport. Three Bangladeshis and one Sri Lankan arrested on assault charges; and two Indians, one Bangladeshi and one Sri Lankan who were in Maldives illegally were also among those who were deported from Maldives for 10 years. Two Bangladeshis who were arrested on drugs-related charges and for working under a fake work permit were also deported, the statement said.

Source: www.asiantribune.com

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Vice president heads to a new Maldives

Vice President Hamid Ansari goes to Maldives Monday on a two-day visit that will mark India’s first top-level contact with the new democratic government in the Indian Ocean country.

During the visit - that will also underline continuity in India’s special ties with the Maldives, a member state of the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) - Ansari will attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new president elect Mohamed Nashid Tuesday.

Ansari will also meet Nashid and hold talks on a wide range of issues.

“It will be primarily a familiarisation trip that will help India establish equations with the new democratic leadership in the Maldives,” an official said.

The visit by Ansari, a former diplomat who served as India’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Iran, barely a fortnight after the 47-year-old Nasheed was elected president underlines New Delhi’s desire to build stronger ties with a strategically important country, 800 km away from India’s southern tip.

India enjoyed excellent bilateral relations with the Maldives for the three decades when Maumoon Abdul Gayoom ruled that country - a period that saw the dramatic transformation of the idyllic island nation into a luxury holiday destination, bringing prosperity on one hand but also checks on political liberties.

In an assertion of its security interests in the Maldives, the then Rajiv Gandhi government sent troops to beat off Sri Lankan mercenaries who tried to oust Gayoom in a failed coup in 1988.

The vice president’s visit will build upon enormous goodwill across the spectrum in Maldives for India. A large number of Maldives diplomats have been trained in India. And Maldivians have not forgotten India was among the first few countries to help when the 2004 tsunami struck the Indian Ocean nation that comprises nearly 1,200 islands.

Indians are the largest expatriate community in the Maldives with a population of 19,430. India provides training to the Maldives’ defence personnel and hardware for its military.

According to strategic experts, the historic change of guard in the Maldives will make it easier for New Delhi to deal with a democratic regime instead of a one-man dictatorship in the neighbourhood.

Source: www.sindhtoday.net

Launch of Exclusive Maldives Travel Portal www.MaldivesHotels.com

Canopus Maldives, an inbound tour operator based in the Maldives has launched their exclusive Travel portal under the name Maldives Hotels. They offer you information about Maldives, wide range of holidays including family holidays, honeymoon holidays, spa holidays, diving holidays, surfing holidays, and even for Corporate Seminars and Incentives. Discover offers from budgeted to luxurious to all inclusive special holiday deals from Resorts, Hotels and Cruise Boats in Maldives.

Canopus Maldives is an inbound travel agency based in the Maldives working with a notable portfolio of travel partners from around the world in marketing and selling Resorts, Hotels and Cruise Boats in Maldives. They are the exclusive partner and Destination Management Company (DMC) for several international travel agencies and online travel portals.

Their new travel portal is offering holiday makers the most convenient way to book their holidays to the Maldives at very competitive online rates.

They offer rich information about Maldives and wide range of holidays including family holidays, honeymoon holidays, spa holidays, diving holidays, surfing holidays, and even for Corporate Seminars and Incentives.

They also offer budgeted to luxurious and all inclusive special holiday deals to Resorts, Hotels and Cruise Boats in Maldives.

They have launched the website with Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi, Adaaran Select Meedhupparu, Anantara Resort Maldives, Angsana Resort & Spa Maldives Ihuru, Angsana Resort & Spa Maldives Velavaru, Bandos Island Resort & Spa, Banyan Tree Maldives Vabbinfaru, Chaaya Island Dhonveli, Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo, Cinnamon Island Alidhoo, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Embudu Village, Eriyadu Island Resort, Filitheyo Island Resort, Fullmoon Maldives, Giraavaru Tourist Resort, Helengeli Island Resort, Hotel Relax Inn, Hulhule Island Hotel, Island Hideaway at Dhonakulhi Spa Resort & Marina, Meeru Island Resort, Naladhu Maldives, Paradise Island Resort & Spa, Soneva Fushi & Six Senses Spa, Soneva Gili & Six Senses Spa, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Vilamendhoo Island Resort, Vilu Reef Beach & Spa Resort, W Retreat & Spa Maldives, Zitahli Resorts & Spa Kuda-Funafaru.

Source: www.pr.com

The Maldives offer an even warmer welcome

After 30 years in power, democratic elections and a change of leader could change the fortunes of the Maldives

While all eyes are on the US presidential election, another election in a much smaller country on the other side of the world will also have a significant impact on British tourists. After 30 years in power in the Maldives, the dictatorial Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has been defeated in the first democratic presidential election by a friend of Britain.

Mohamed Nasheed, leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party, was educated in England. He is an ally of David Cameron and his election campaign was orchestrated by a Conservative Party adviser. The new President has promised much needed reforms in the Islamic state, where opposition parties were oppressed for decades. Tourism is certain to benefit and visitors, who have been heading there in increasing numbers, especially for honeymoons, can expect an even warmer welcome.

An added advantage is that Sri Lankan Airlines has just introduced direct return flights to Heathrow from Malé, the capital. Until ten days ago the airline flew direct to Malé but return journeys went via Colombo, Sri Lanka. That involved three separate flights for some visitors because many of the islands in a chain that stretches 800km (500 miles) from north to south are only accessible by seaplane from Malé.

Each resort in the Maldives is on its own island, surrounded by white sand beaches with turquoise waters bordered by coral reefs. The best prices are generally to those within a boat ride of the airport, such as Kurumba.

Only ten minutes by speedboat, this was the first resort to open in the Maldives and has been modernised into a five-star destination with six restaurants, two pools, a fitness centre, spa, tennis, watersports and diving centre. A week's B&B with Kuoni costs £1,297 with a Sri Lankan Airlines flight from Heathrow on December 6.

Monarch Holidays has a good deal at the Giravaru Tourist Resort, 15 minutes by boat from the airport. B&B for a fortnight costs £870, with a Monarch flight from Gatwick on November 23. The resort has a restaurant, pool, disco and windsurfing, and offers divers the choice of 20 excellent sites to explore.

One of the best times to visit is January, especially for those who are looking to start the new year in style thousands of miles from the British winter. Kuoni offers savings in January at some of the finest resorts in the Maldives, including a £450 discount for a week at the Sheraton Full Moon resort, 15 minutes by speedboat from the airport. The holiday now costs from £1,199 for B&B, a room among the palm trees a few steps from the beach, and a Monarch flight from Gatwick on January 11.

A week at Baros, one of the most magical resorts 30 minutes from the airport, is from £1,408. There are three restaurants at the water's edge, watersports, a dive centre and sunset cruises under sail. Flights are from Heathrow with Sri Lankan Airlines and the price includes access to airport lounges.

Discounts are also available with Kuoni for an early new year all-inclusive holiday at Thudufushi on Ari Atoll. Guests will fly from Gatwick on January 4, transfer at Malé airport to a seaplane for a 30-minute flight to the resort and pay from £1,649. About 400 yards square, Thudufushi encompasses a popular beach bar, open-air restaurant, boutique, spa, dive school and watersports centre.

Source: www.timesonline.co.uk

Maldives president-elect wants private investment

The Maldives' president-elect said on Monday he will open up public enterprises to foreign investors to help create more sustainable revenue for the tourism-dependent Indian Ocean archipelago.

Mohamed Nasheed, 41, a longtime political prisoner of the man he defeated, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, said he would also conduct a review of people in prison to decide whether they should stay behind bars.

Nasheed unseated Gayoom, Asia's longest-serving ruler with three decades in power, at the island's first multiparty presidential election by winning a second-round runoff with 54.2 percent of the votes.

He takes power on Nov. 11.

Gayoom conceded defeat last Wednesday and pledged to hand over power to a man he repeatedly jailed and charged in cases rights groups said were trumped up to stop Nasheed's campaign for greater democracy in the nation of 300,000 Sunni Muslims.

Nasheed inherits a country with South Asia's highest per capita income but which is facing a downturn in its tourism industry because of the global financial crisis.

"We want to see how we can open up state enterprises for international and local investments. So that would be a very big priority," Nasheed told Reuters in an interview.

Key goods and services are now provided by state enterprises, while foreign investment is limited to tourism, which contributes 28 percent of GDP directly and up to 70 percent indirectly.

Nasheed also said the two main state hospitals would be privatised next year.

While Gayoom's government has said it is working with companies keen to prospect for oil, Nasheed says his government "wants to export solar cells instead of oil".

Gayoom brought international notice to the low-lying country by highlighting the risks of climate change, but Nasheed aims to make environmentalism a reality at home by introducing solar, wind and other alternative energy sources to the islands.

"We are talking to a number of international companies, who are very excited about the prospects of using the Maldives as a solar power showcase. This is where the sun is," he said.


The International Monetary Fund warned earlier this year that the Maldives needed to create more sustainable revenues and trim its government wage bill, while cutting costly energy subsidies.

The country's foreign currency reserves presently are standing at $116 million.

Gayoom's government this year faced a $200 million hole in its budget after a transshipment port in the north and a port complex in the capital Male fell behind schedule.

Nasheed said those two plans would be scrapped.

He has also asked Amnesty International, which declared him a prisoner of conscience in the 1990s, to help review prison terms.

Gayoom was accused by rights groups and Nasheed of jailing opponents or banishing them to remote atolls, until he finally succumbed to pressure to create democratic reforms.

Nasheed said prison stints gave him time to dream of how he would lead the country.

"I've imagined this in so much detail, because I've spent time in solitary," he said. "You had to live another moment, another life elsewhere. So the elsewhere life is the other Maldives we've all envisaged."

Source: in.reuters.com

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

MTPB holds Road Shows in three countries in South East Asia

Maldives Tourism Promotion Board together with the Maldives tourism industry held road shows in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Singapore on the 17th, 20th and 21st of October respectively.

The main objectives of these road shows are to diversify further into South East Asian market. This new approach of promoting the Maldives as a destination for South East Asian visitors will further enhance the existing business collaboration and pave way for new business ties. South East Asia is a promising market in consideration of easy access to Maldives and a growing affluent population. It is the first time that MTPB has organized a road show targeting South East Asian market.

The road shows were mainly targeted to the travel trade and media. Maldivian event in Kuala Lumpur was attended by over 50 participants, while Bangkok event welcomed over 130 participants and Singapore event was attended by over 70 participants. The attendees included travel agents, tour operators, airlines companies and the media. Presentation about the Maldives as tourist destination was given to the participants by Maldives Tourism Promotion Board. In addition, industry participants gave presentations about their products. During each of these events a raffle was held and winner won a holiday for two in Maldives with complements of Adaaran.

Last year Maldives welcomed a total of 675,889 visitors. Asian market represented 144,363 visitors which is 23.3% of the market share.

Source: www.visitmaldives.com

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Maldives to end tourist restrictions

The newly elected president of the Maldives, Mohamed 'Anni' Nasheed, wants to end travel restrictions for foreign tourists. At present, they are only welcome on specific atolls and in the capital Malé.

The measure was brought into force to prevent the Islamic population being alienated from its own culture by too much contact with Westerners. However, says Mr Nasheed, in an ever-shrinking world such an attitude no longer makes sense. He also emphasized how important tourism is for the economy of the Maldives.

Tuesday's elections were the first democratic elections in the islands and ended former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's 30-year rule, under which there had been little political freedom. President-elect Mohamed Nasheed was himself a frequent political prisoner.

Source: www.radionetherlands.nl

Monday, November 3, 2008

ADK Group, Maldives now on Evolution ERP

Perfect Business Solution Services Limited PBSS signed an MOU with ADK Group of Maldives, the operators of the ADK hospital the largest hospital in the Maldives and part of the ADK group as their Business Solution Software partner

With a history of 21 years ADK was the first to establish a private hospital in Maldives. Apart from that they are the largest pharmaceutical distributor as well as the retailer in the country. ADK a synonym for health care in Maldives is now a diversified entity with interests in Shipping, Real Estate, Leisure & Travel Trade, Optometric Services, Electronics and Telecommunication sectors. They are the largest share holder of the J-SAT the cable TV provider and the sole agent for Sharp Electronic Items and own Gaakoshibee Island resort.

PBSS, an Authorized Business Partner and Certified consultants for range of Sage Software in Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia and Maldives is having rapidly increasing clientele in all three regions. PBSS started its Maldives operation during this year, but has penetrated the market remarkably and now a well established name in Maldives as a reliable partner with superior products.

In the first phase of the project ADK is planning to complete the automation of its Pharmaceutical distribution along with the pharmacy chain and the Shipping operation of the Group.

The exchange of MOU s took place at the ADK head office, Male`. Mr. Madura Gamanayake the Managing Director of PBSS and Ms. Fazla Hassan the Managing Director of ADK Company (Pvt) Ltd signed the MOU. Speaking at the ceremony Mr. Madura Gamanayake expressed his confidence in achieving rapid growth in Maldives operations and recognized the partnership with ADK as a significant milestone. Further he said that the advantage PBSS having over the competitors is their product range comprising Sage Peachtree, Sage Pastel Partner, Sage Evolution ERP, Sage Accpac ERP and Sage UBS which covers the requirements across the industries from the small to large enterprises.

Mr S.M. Muzammil the General Manager of ADK Company (Pvt) Ltd expressing his views said that the partnership with PBSS to implement an ERP solution to ADK is a vital step towards to keep up with the latest technology.

Group Chief Financial Officer of ADK Mr. Gamini Pathirana said the wide range of features and the user friendly interfaces of Sage Evolution ERP induce them to decide on the package. “Number of leading Maldivian businesses has worked with PBSS within a short period of time and that was the reason to place the faith and confidence to sign this deal with PBSS” he further added.

Source: www.dailymirror.lk

British Govt welcome Maldives Presidential elections

The British Government has welcomed the successful holding of the Presidential election in Maldives and said it would continue to support the reform process in the Indian Ocean country.

Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Lord Malloch-Brown, in a statement congratulated the President-elect Mohammad Nasheed and expressed hope that his administration will succeed in addressing the important challenges that lie ahead as they work to implement the provisions of the new Constitution and to ensure a sustainable, prosperous and peaceful future for all Maldivians.

The Minister also paid tribute to the outgoing President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, for successfully leading the country into this period of democratic reform.

Source: www.app.com.pk

Statement on Election in the Maldives

The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement on the first multi-candidate presidential election in the Maldives, which was completed on October 28, 2008:

“Canada congratulates the people of the Maldives on the successful conduct of their first multi-party presidential election. Canada also extends its congratulations to President-elect Mohamed Nasheed on his victory. The election is an important moment in the Maldives’ ongoing political reform process, and the high turnout throughout both rounds of the election testifies to Maldivians’ commitment to the democratic process.

“Canada actively supported the safe and transparent conduct of these elections, including through co-leadership by the Canadian High Commissioner to the Election Observation Mission during second-round voting. Canada looks forward to continuing to work with the Maldives in support of its democratic development.”

Source: news.gc.ca


The Secretary-General congratulates the people of the Maldives on the peaceful conduct of their nation’s first multi-party presidential election, which marked an important step forward in the country’s democratic reform process. He commends both the outgoing President and the President-elect for their statesmanship, and urges them to continue to work together to ensure a smooth transition of power. The Secretary-General encourages all parties to work in a cooperative manner and continue to carry forward the reform process aimed at achieving a more open and democratic Maldives.

Source: www.un.org/News