Saturday, February 28, 2009

A unique piece of paradise in the Maldives

All Maldivian islands are idyllic, so how do you decide which of the hundreds of resorts to choose from? The recently opened Iru Fushi Beach & Spa Resort offers something truly special for families and couples alike and here are just some reasons why it excels above the rest.

Size matters - many resort islands are rarely large enough to really escape and enjoy a stretch of derelict beach. However, Iru Fushi is unique in that the sprawling 52 acre island is encased by swathes of soft sand and it takes around 30 minutes to walk the whole parameter. So guests can enjoy a piece of paradise without hoards of people to share it with. What’s more, for those who enjoy exercise, approx. 3.5 km jog around the island at sunset with the ocean gently lapping the shoreline and a cool breeze lifting from the lagoon is the perfect way to end a day.

Food, glorious food – when spending a week or two on one island, it is important to pick a resort that supplies a good choice of dining options. If variety is the spice of life, then Iru Fushi offers a gastronomic feast with its five restaurants, each specialising in cuisine from around the globe, and additional intimate dining experiences. Whether for a traditional Maldivian red snapper at the beach fronted Islanders Grill or, for special occasions, a customised á la carte western menu in the over-water wine cellar, there is something to suit every taste bud.

Rest and relaxation - with the economy in crisis, many people are finding their stress levels are invariably increasing and sleep levels are seemingly decreasing which is why some need a little nurture in the art of nodding off and total relaxation. Totally unique to the Maldives, Iru Fushi has devised a Sweet Dreams programme that will ensure guests leave fully rested and revived. The programme incorporates a sleep spa with yoga classes and a sleep diary, relaxing spa treatments, a pillow menu, soothing herbal baths for bed as well as a Sleep-All-Night-Cap.

Diving Delights – Located in Noonu Atoll, which is a new atoll in the Maldives for tourism development, means that Iru Fushi is surrounded by unchartered waters teeming with neon-coloured life. Perfect for beginners and experienced divers wishing to explore the deep delights of the Indian Ocean, Iru Fushi also boasts a PADI Gold Palm five-star dive school with a plethora of diving packages.

Seven nights at Iru Fushi Beach & Spa Resort starts from US$ 1,240 per person. Valid from 20 April to 20 July, the price includes return seaplane transfers from Malé airport and accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis staying in a Jacuzzi Beach Villa.

Visit for more information and bookings.

Special Offer: Get two nights free when staying seven nights in either a Water Villa or Jacuzzi Water Villa on a bed and breakfast basis (guests only pay Government bed tax of US$ 8 per person, per night for the two complimentary nights). Valid from 20 April until 31 October, prices start from US$ 429 per room, per night for a Water Villa.


Get body beautiful in the Maldives

Model Saffron Aldridge checked herself into a five-star tropical boot camp to recharge her body and mind.

Last year's growing sense of gloom was hard to escape and in the short days of winter it was tempting to stay home scoffing plates of food while the world fell apart outside. My motivation to keep fit hit an all-time low and, at 41, I had become as lazy as my teenage son. Things had become so bad that I could no longer pull my jeans up over my knees.

Most of the time, I consider myself a healthy person. I do yoga and the odd run and mostly eat well, yet none of this counted for much at my first appointment with Darina, the nutritionist at Reehti Rah in the Maldives.

We had discussed my eating habits and lifestyle for an hour, and she made it clear that I had been getting it all wrong - missing lunch to then fill up on a Starbucks hot chocolate at 4pm was not clever. Then Darina got out the scales and I realised that I had work to do.

Reethi Rah is a beautiful island resort where I went to recover from my overindulgence and weeks of feeling sluggish and lazy. The Maldives are popular with divers, but Reethi Rah offered me exactly what I needed: peace, quiet, health and fitness programmes, yoga, meditation and swimming pools to lounge around.

Darina told me that I needed to eat three meals a day, with healthy snacks in between to keep hunger pangs at bay. That was easy - there are three restaurants serving mouth-watering, nutritionally balanced meals. They are even calorie-counted on the menus. My favourite was Tapasake, serving the freshest sushi I had yet tasted.

The treatments keep you in the right frame of mind for a detox. At the resort's award-winning spa I tried a Balinese massage with hot stones and followed that up with an appointment with Coco, the residential yoga teacher. I found her positive attitude and warm smile contagious; my worries faded away.

I have done many yoga classes in the past 15 years, but under Coco I learnt a new style, Kundalini. This yoga is focused on personal transformation and revitalising your body.

Through deep-breathing techniques, combined with meditation and music, you attempt to shift the “negative energy” in your mind and body. It worked for me. I left the class feeling refreshed and clear-minded.

After a week of scrubs, facials, cycling, meditation, massages and Coco's yoga classes I left Reethi Rah with much more than just a new diet. I had a new outlook. Several weeks on I look and feel a whole lot happier.


Maldives Foreign Minister met with Qatar''s Ambassador to Sri Lanka

Maldives Foreign Minister Dr. Ahmed Shahid met here today with Qatar''s Ambassador to Sri Lanka H.E. Saeed bin Abdullah al Mansouri. They reviewed the Qatar-Maldives relations and ways of developing them in various domains. The Maldives foreign minister is on a a visit to Sri Lanka to take part in the meeting of foreign ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, currently in session in the Sri Lanka''s Capital, Colombo.


Maldives Foreign Minister met with Qatar''s Ambassador to Sri Lanka

Maldives Foreign Minister Dr. Ahmed Shahid met here today with Qatar''s Ambassador to Sri Lanka H.E. Saeed bin Abdullah al Mansouri. They reviewed the Qatar-Maldives relations and ways of developing them in various domains. The Maldives foreign minister is on a a visit to Sri Lanka to take part in the meeting of foreign ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, currently in session in the Sri Lanka''s Capital, Colombo.


U.N. Says Climate Change Threatens Right To Housing In Maldives

Rising sea levels and coastal erosion, both wrought by climate change, threaten the viability of Maldives, a United Nations independent expert cautioned Thursday.

The UN expert also said that overcrowding and other impacts are already felt by the island nation's 300,000 people.

After an eight-day visit to the country, Raquel Rolnik, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, said that "Maldives and its Atolls, because of their unique geological and topographic aspects and their fragile and delicate environmental system, are already experiencing the impacts of climate change."

This jeopardizes the survival of the nation, which could be inundated by water, but more immediately, it jeopardizes the right to housing due to the scarcity of land, a UN press statement said.

Over the past four years, donors and agencies have mobilized over $400 million in aid, but the Rapporteur voiced concern over the allocation of the resources and their management by Maldivian authorities.

Over 80,000 migrants from Bangladesh and other South Asian countries live in Maldives, with half of them working in the construction sector, and the Rapporteur said she was concerned over their housing and living conditions.

She called for a "human rights-based approach" to address the housing situation in the country, calling for the government and international organizations to promote public participation in making key decisions.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Doubling stock in SAARC food bank recommended

Bearing in mind the huge demand for food in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region in times of emergency, senior government officials of member countries have recommended the existing volume of food in the regional food bank be doubled, Nepali local media reported on Tuesday.

With the collective contributions, a total of 243,000 tons of produce has been brought in cooperation with each member nation of the eight-country block, contributing the food (rice or wheat) as per their capacity.

"The existing volume of food storage in the SAARC food bank is insufficient given the huge population and possibilities of different kinds of natural calamities in the region. So a joint secretary-level meeting of member countries in Colombo last week has decided to recommend to governments to double the food stock," Ganesh Dhakal, joint secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies told

The SAARC region, making up almost one third of the world, has been affected by natural disasters such as floods, storms, landslides, earthquakes and drought.

India, the food bank's largest contributor, has set aside 153,200 tons. Likewise, Pakistan and Bangladesh have each contributed 40,000 tons to the stock. Nepal and Sri Lanka have set aside 4,000tons each, and Afghanistan, the Maldives and Bhutan have contributed 1,420, 200, and 180 tons, respectively.

Dhakal, who also attended the joint secretary level meeting in Colombo, said any member nation can contact nodal officers of supplier countries for food supplies at times of emergency.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Maldives recognize Kosovo independence: gov't

The Maldives, the Indian Ocean atoll nation, on Thursday officially recognized Kosovo, the government said.

Kosovo celebrated the first anniversary of its declaration of independence from Serbia on Tuesday.

The Maldives becomes the 55th country to recognize Kosovo since it declared independence on February 17, 2008, among them the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan and all but five of the 27 EU member states.

Serbia still considers Kosovo as one of its provinces and fiercely opposes its independence although it has had no control over the territory since the end of 1998-1999 conflict when a U.N. mission took over the administration.


Maldives recognize Kosovo independence: gov't

The Maldives, the Indian Ocean atoll nation, on Thursday officially recognized Kosovo, the government said.

Kosovo celebrated the first anniversary of its declaration of independence from Serbia on Tuesday.

The Maldives becomes the 55th country to recognize Kosovo since it declared independence on February 17, 2008, among them the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan and all but five of the 27 EU member states.

Serbia still considers Kosovo as one of its provinces and fiercely opposes its independence although it has had no control over the territory since the end of 1998-1999 conflict when a U.N. mission took over the administration.


Nepali FM to participate SAARC meeting

Nepali Minister for Foreign Affairs Upendra Yadav will participate in the 31st South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Ministerial meeting to be held in Colombo, capital city of Sri Lanka, on February 27-28, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday

The meeting will focus on the establishment of SAARC development fund, climate change, and multi-model transportation among others.

It will also review the implementation of the commitment made in the 15th SAARC Summit. Yadav will hold bilateral talks with his counterparts from the SAARC region, the Foreign Ministry said.

Founded in 1985, the SAARC includes Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Maldives hand over stock of essential food items to IDPs in Sri Lanka

The Maldivian government today handed over a stock of essential food and other items to Sri Lanka for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North.

Maldivian Ambassador Ali Hussain handed over five truckloads of essential items and food stocks this morning to Rishad Bathiyutheen, Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services.

Sri Lanka government hopes to dispatch these essential food and other items among the IDPs in the North with the assistance of International Committee of Red Cross within the next few days, the Minister said.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

New luxury resort opening in Maldives

Constance Hotels will open a new resort in the Maldives in May.

The "Halaveli Resort" will pre-open at the end of May and officially start operation from June 15.

The five-star resort is on the North Ari atoll and is 20 minutes away from the country's main airport.

The resort comprises 86 villas, three restaurants and a spa, along with various recreation programs.

The villas come in four different types, including water villa with private plunge pool and sun deck, beach villa with private plunge pool and garden, double-story beach villa and presidential beach villa.

All villas feature WiFi, DV, Mac mini, LCD television, and iPod connection, along with a mini bar, and mini wine cellar.

There will be two boutiques on the island for jewelry and luxury clothing, along with an exclusive arrival and departure lounge for the visitors.

Free sports activities include gymnasium, tennis, windsurfing and kayaks.

Constance Hotels, based in Mauritius, runs luxury hotels and resorts in Mauritius and a resort on Praslin island in the Seychelles.

For more information, visit or contact Chun Do Travel Co. at


India to export 29,177 tonnes of wheat flour to Maldives

India, the second-largest wheat producer in the world, today eased a near 16-month-old ban to export 29,177 tonnes of wheat flours to Maldives.

"The prohibition imposed... on export of wheat flour shall not be applicable to export of 29,177 tonnes of wheat flours during 2009-10 to Maldives through PEC Ltd," the Directorate General of Foreign Trade said in a notification.

The shipment of wheat flours to Maldives followed the announcement by Minister of State for Food and Public Distribution Akhilesh Prasad Singh in December 2008 to export up to two million tonnes of wheat to friendly nations.

The government had earlier declared to export 10,000 tonnes of wheat to Nepal and 950 tonnes to Myanmar through diplomatic routes.

India had banned the export of wheat in February 2007 and that wheat flours in October that year to prop up domestic availability and keep prices under control.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Sri Lanka Spence profits boosted by Maldives resort sale

Sri Lanka's Aitken Spence group said December 2008 quarter profits grew 38.4 percent to 473 million rupees, helped by a 163 million gain from the sale of a Maldivian resort.

Without the sale, consolidated profits fell to 310.6 million rupees from 342.3 million rupees. Before minority interest the sale brought profits of 218 million rupees.

Spence sold out of Bathala Island Resort, which it acquired in 1993, making it the first Sri Lankan run resort in the Maldives.

An official said the firm got a good price and the sale was concluded shortly before its lease expired. Aitken Spence runs seven resorts in the atolls. It also manages hotels in India and the Middle East.

Revenues of the group, which has operations in shipping, power, plantations and leisure increased 26.8 percent to 8.7 billion rupees.

The group said its Sri Lankan tourism business was hit by falling arrivals due to travel advisories, while in the Maldives high energy costs and refurbishment and new investment increased the interest burden.

In recent months, tourist traffic to Maldives has also slackened with the global tourism industry tapering off.

But Aitken Spence said its port management services, especially in South Africa as well as its power projects had done well.

"In power generation we are expecting future growth in renewable energy and in overseas expansion opportunities," Aitken Spence managing director J M S Brito said in a statement.

Aitken Spence plantations were also hit by falling global commodity prices. Sri Lanka tea and rubber prices have fallen steeply in the last quarter, though tea prices have since recovered somewhat.

In the 9-months to December 2008, revenues grew 21.4 percent to 23.4 billion rupees while group net profits grew 15.1 percent to 1,266 million rupees.

Without the resort sale net profits were flat at 1,103 million rupees against 1,099 million rupees.


Head teachers wooed by Maldives

English head teachers are being encouraged to swap their high-pressured jobs for teaching posts in the palm-fringed atolls of Maldives.

Maldives' Minister for Education Dr Mustafa Lutfi said they were seeking head teachers familiar with the English curriculum in order to boost standards in schools on some of the country's 200 inhabited islands.

Dr Lutfi says that while 12 to 15% of the government's budget is spent on education, an average of only one in three students obtains five O-levels at grade C and above.

"Currently our standard is poor compared to the money we spend on education," he told the BBC. "We want foreign professionals to come and help us turn our schools around."

The move is part of a wider strategy by the government, which came into power in November, to improve education, which also includes the privatisation of some schools.

Local priority

"Previous education policies centralised schools and colleges in the capital, Male, where one third of the country's population live. We need to give the other two thirds similar access to high quality education," Dr Lutfi said.

Head teachers with three years experience will be offered a monthly salary of 10,000 Rufiyaa (£523) and accommodation, and will teach in one of the country's 227 schools.

The head of Teachers' Link, the country's teaching association, Abdullah Mohamed, said he supported the move but said the government must also prioritise training for Maldivian teachers.

President Mohamed Nasheed, who was elected in October in the country's first multiparty polls, studied in the UK. Maldives' schools have used an English curriculum since 1960.


Stoikov Feels Every Match IS Tough

Former Maldives national football and New Radiant Coach Stoikov said that every match in the Wataniya Dhivehi League is tough and players have to fight at their best to win the match.

In an interview to ahead of Friday's clash against the minnows, Kalhaidhoo, Stoikov said that the winner of each game is dependent on the person who is committed.

"If you notice the teams, except Victory all the teams are in the same level. The league is very competitive and there aren’t any easy games anymore. The players have to fight and be committed. The winner would be the team who is more committed and hard working", said Stoikov.

Stoikov also hinted that there might be 2 or 3 changes ahead of the game and there might be a shuffle in the midfield. New Radiant would be boosted by the return of their newly joined Liberian striker Puyol. He could not play against Maziya because the management did not receive his International Transfer Certificate (ITC).

New Radiant started the new season with a shocking 3-3 draw against Maziya. New Radiant and Kalhaidhoo game will kick off at 1600hrs MST.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Former Nepalese Coach Thomas Flath To Join Maldives?

Football Association of Maldives (FAM) has confirmed that they are in negotiation with the former Nepalese Football coach Thomas Flath for the National football team.

Flath was under eye from FAM after Nepalese team under him had performed improved game in the 5th SAFF Games played in Maldives last year.

In an interview to, the current Assistant Coach of Maldives National Team, Saanthi confirmed that the negotiation process has been ongoing for some time.

"We are in the negotiation process with Thomas Flath. But we are having problem with the salary demanded by Thomas Flath", Saanthi told According to the official, Thomas Flath has initially asked for US$ 15,000 per month as his salary.

However, Saanthi confirmed that they have not stopped the negotiation process and is still trying to bring the highly rated coach in the island.

National Team's coach position has been vacant after the historic SAFF Championship. The cup winning coach, Joseph Jankech left Maldives last year, after the SAFF championship, claiming he experienced a very difficult time in Maldives. Jankech also turned down to rejoin the Maldives National team after his Club refused to release him.


Float this stimulus package

For years Japan has struggled with the question of how to revive the countryside. With few jobs and an aging population, the countryside isn't much of a draw for anyone under the age of 80.

This goes for the islands in the Seto Inland Sea too, where the last generations of fishermen barely manage to hang on to a folkloric lifestyle. There have been many thoughts on how to revive the islands, but despite the half-hearted promotional efforts by the government, nothing much changes here.

But, I have an idea on how to revive not only the island where I live, but all of the islands in the Seto Inland Sea. My plan would increase the overall island population by 400,000, build a new industry, and create up to a million jobs. This idea would make you, me and Japan very rich.

My economic stimulus package for Japan is this: Japan should lease out the 200 or so inhabited islands in the Inland Sea.

Why? Because we already have a potential buyer. The Maldives. You see, the Maldives (a series of over 1,000 islands, but of which only about 200 are inhabited), have this sinking feeling that they are not going to be around for much longer. The relatively flat islands are disappearing as sea levels rise due to the warming of the planet. The Maldives are already relocating its population to safer ground.

The Maldives government considered the possibility of protecting their islands by building giant sea walls around them, but the idea was deemed impractical and too expensive. Eventually people would be living in holes in the ocean and they'd need repelling gear and possibly miners' hats to get down into the holes to visit their relatives. Centuries later, people would have to drill for their ancestors.

So instead, the country is looking for a new home. The Maldives government is already saving money to buy up land somewhere else. They have reportedly looked into large tracts of land in India, Sri Lanka and Australia.

Hey Japan, these people have cash! Their population needs islands, and our islands need population. And since our islands are basically mountains, should the seas continue to rise, we can always move to higher ground. With the Maldives population 70 percent Buddhist, I see a smooth transition to traditional island life in Japan.

But it gets even better. Most of our islands are part of the Seto Inland Sea National Park, which, by the way, could use some animal inhabitants. So, part of the deal would be that the Maldives bring their diverse wildlife with them. This would put the Seto Inland Sea National Park on a par with the great national parks of the world.

Imagine the possibilities these animals would bring to our islands: leopard tourism, loris tourism, and elephant tourism. Japan's TV stations would have plenty of material close at hand for numerous documentaries on the sloth bear, the jackal, and the mongoose. There could be annual water buffalo races, giant squirrel safaris and eco trips for student groups to study the behavior of the hanuman langur.

A whole new meibutsu for the area would develop: sambar cuisine. Move over Hello Kitty — these exotic animals will all be available on key chains and cell-phone straps!

After all, are the Maldives just going to leave all their animals there to drown? If animals can survive in zoos around the world, they can survive here in Japan. If it's a little cold for some of the elephants, just give them kimono.

We wouldn't want the Maldives tourist infrastructure to go to waste, so we could load all the hotels and other structures onto cargo ships and transport the entire country over here. Then all we'd have left to do is divert flights. Anything headed to the Maldives would be redirected, in mid-air, to Japan. Heck, some tourists probably wouldn't even notice.

Bringing the Maldives here will create jobs in our new joint-tourism sector. We'll need to employ rangers, mahouts and bear trackers. We'll need zoologists, veterinarians and keepers. We'll need multilingual guides, hotel staff, cooks and a beefed-up transportation system. And whatever your skill is, we'll surely need you too.

But most importantly, we'll need the mother of all arks to bring the animals over on. I have confidence in the Japanese, because of their long history as shipbuilders, that they will be able to construct a luxurious animal cruise ship to bring these animals safely to Japan.

What happens if the Maldives don't want to lease our islands? Don't despair. The South Pacific islands are sinking too.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Maldives: Ahmed's story, the begining of a new life in Dhuvaaafaru

Twenty-year-old Ahmed Mohamed hums a tune as he pushes the loaded wheelbarrow piled high with lunch packs. It is 12:30 pm - the sun is glaring fiercely above Dhuvaafaru and the temperatures have hit 31 degrees Celsius.

Earlier in the morning, Ahmed - or Dhonna, as his friends call him - had been acting as lottery staff, then a security officer, and then a guide. But now Ahmed has more serious business - making sure that the team of 50-plus women and men running the house lottery get their lunches.

My colleague, Mariyam, had a chat with him a few minutes later after he had delivered all the lunch packs. He said that he had taken two days off from his job as a social worker in charge of Raa Atoll's family and children's service to help the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) conduct a lottery in preparation for the relocation of his tsunami-affected community to the island of Dhuvaafaru. He sheepishly added that he also wanted to witness his father pick - from the draw - the houses that would be their new home.

The Dhuvaafaru project is the biggest in the IFRC's history. When work began in April 2006, the 40-hectare coral island was uninhabited. In just under three years, and at a cost of 35.6 million Swiss francs, it has been transformed into a thriving community that now boasts 600 new houses, three schools, one mosque, a health centre and an island administration block complete with auditorium and sports stadium.

Ahmed's family have received two houses. With his two sisters, who are married to men from the nearby and former host island of Ungoofaaru, his family has just enough rooms for everyone: his parents, himself and his four brothers.

"But this might change if my sisters or extended family members decide to visit - I might have to sleep in the sitting room," he notes.

He added that he was happy because Dhuvaafaru is just ten minutes away from Ungoofaaru by speedboat. "I will continue doing my job and seeing my sisters while dedicating free time to making my new island a better place."

Besides lending a hand during the lottery, Ahmed is a key member of a youth group that had earlier sought support from the IFRC to sensitize the community about environmental and social issues. IFRC provided them with the means of transport, and by the end of December 2008 the group had conducted awareness sessions on two islands.

Ahmed explains: "Our presentations are focused on waste management, which is one of the biggest problems facing most islands in the Maldives today."

He added that as their community is moving to a new, clean island they must learn to keep it pristine and beautiful. "That is why we are taking every little opportunity to create awareness and to provide information on proper management of household waste," he says.

When asked what his dream was for Dhuvaafaru, he said, "to mould teenagers who roam idly into hardworking youths. If I can do something - however small - to bring that generation back on track, the future of Dhuvaafaru will be brighter."

In the meantime Dhonna is thinking of how he will best achieve that dream.


Protected paradise?

The Seychelles is one of those tropical paradise destinations that attracts wealthy holidaymakers and ultrahoneymooners. Located in the Indian Ocean, 1,000 miles off Africa's east coast, this otherwordly archipelago of 115 islands - some made of low-lying coral and reef atolls, others of ancient granite - offers textbook -white powder sand, aqua waters and a balmy climate with temperatures rarely lower than 24°C nor higher than 32°C. It is more remote and rugged than Mauritius or the Maldives, yet it is has regular flight connections direct to the capital of Mahé from Dubai (four hours away) and the UK (10 hours). It also sits in a time zone between Asia and Europe with working hours that overlap with those of major financial centres.

Not surprisingly, property on the islands has long been coveted by foreign househunters. Butthe market has only opened up in the past four years, following a legislative change that allows non-locals to buy into new, high-end developments. This is designed to promote the right kind of new construction and ensure that locals - who tend to live in two- to three-bedroom traditional wooden or contemporary concrete houses on the main islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue - are not priced out of the market.

As a result, a host of new residential resorts is springing up. The first to launch, in early 2006, was Eden Island, a high-density development on a man-made island beside Mahé, followed by the Banyan Tree Residences on Mahé. Last April Dubai-based Kingdom Hotel Investments (KHI) announced it was opening up a group of 23 Raffles-branded residences and estates on Praslin alongside a soon-to-be-constructed Raffles Resort and, in May, Four Seasons Private Residences launched an upscale collection of 28 individual villas on the south-west side of Mahé at Petit Anse. The Per Aquum group has also revealed plans for a project called Zil Pasyon on its own private island, Félicité, with 28 ultra-sleek hilltop residences.

"The Seychelles is regarded as the most beautiful group of islands in the world, it is not too accessible and it is a new marketplace for real estate, so there is a long way to go for appreciation, as well as huge rental potential," says David Sparrow, director of sales for the Zil Pasyon development. "There will never be that much supply but demand will continue to grow."

There is one catch, however. The new homes on the island are only affordable for the seriously wealthy. "We are aimed at people with such significant wealth and such diverse portfolios that they are not so affected by the global credit crunch," says James Davies at Hamptons International, the agency handling sales for the Four Seasons. "A lot of them are worth as much as $50m and many are significantly wealthier than that."

Indeed, even as recession grips most world economies, Seychelles developers and agents think their market could remain strong. And perhaps it's true. Within 10 days of the Four Seasons project announcement, 15 villas sold for an estimated combined total of $150m. Buyers are international and have backgrounds from hedge funds to publishing. The starting price for the remaining villas is $7m (prices are routinely quoted in dollars) and each sits on a plot of up to two hectares, with infinity pools, gardens, steam showers and Bose entertainment systems.

Zil Pasyon, which is Creole for "isle of passion", targets a similar buyer. Entry prices start at $3.8m for a 612 sq metre, three-bedroom property and the villas have plunge pools, 90in plasma televisions, "castle" entries with drawbridges and moats, plus exclusive access by private helicopter. "Our market is the ultra-high-net-worth individual - people looking for utmost privacy and services with a combination of raw nature and architectural design," says Tania Horoupian, marketing manager.

The Raffles development is slightly less stratospherically priced at $2.8m- $5.8m for three- to five-bedroom villas of 325 sq metres to 550 sq metres, with private infinity pools and big ocean-view verandas. The Banyan Tree Residences are in the same category, with one- and two-bedroom hill and beach villas costing from $1.5m to $2.9m, though a second phase of larger, more expensive properties is set to go on sale soon. So far, 50 per cent of the first group has sold to Asian, Middle Eastern and north European buyers, "most of which tend to be between 45 and 55, affluent businessmen and -women and semi-retired couples," says Robert Green at Cluttons, which is marketing the project. "The majority have families and own more than one holiday home already."

Properties at Eden Island are meanwhile the most affordable in the islands. A marina development of 450 apartments, maisons and villas, designed to exploit the Seychelles' world-class snorkelling and yachting offerings, it offers owners their own moorings as well as electric vehicles to get around, with prices starting at about $400,000 for a one-bedroom unit. Half of buyers have been South African, followed by the French and British, Russians and Italians.

Brad Berry at KHI spells out the appeal of the Seychelles. "It is an exclusive sanctuary that is totally untrampled. It is not busy, there are perfect beaches and it [has been] a quite unbranded place [with] no big international real estate or retail brands."

There are financial reasons to buy too. Acquisition of a property enables the owner to establish an off-shore entity and residency is immediate. There are no capital gains or inheritance taxes and the islands' economy is also stable, allowing for a safe, laid-back living environment.

And, in spite of all the construction, the Seychelles government seems keen to protect its biggest asset. Its 2001 Vision 21 mission statement set stringent guidelines on construction and environmental protection and there are conservation laws designed to keep each island's eco-system in its unspoiled state, with 50 per cent of land set aside as protected reserve, including two Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) World Heritage sites - Praslin's prehistoric Vallée de Mai, a sort of Jurassic park for plants, and Aldabra, one of the the largest raised coral atolls on earth.

Residents, such as Alex Hurren, 32, who bought a three-bedroom flat in Eden Island for $530,000 in May 2007, feel understandably blessed to own a little piece of this particular paradise. "The Seychelles is an amazing destination with an ideal climate," he says. "It is perfect for all sorts of activities, from island-hopping to golf and fishing."

Nigel Guenier, 70, a retired yachtie with a penthouse in the same development, agrees. "It is gorgeous, it has very little crime, the beaches are second-to-none, it is like the West Indies without the hurricanes [and it] is the best place in the world for sailing."

If you have more than half a million dollars to spend on a second home, you could own there too.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sonam Kapoor looks hot on Verve

Bollywood has a new star kid on the block, after impressing masses and critics alike with her debut film Saawariya, Sonam Kapoor is back with a bang this year.

Though people didn't get to see this young Kapoor, daughter of the very talented and versatile Anil Kapoor, last year in 2009 the pretty actress will be seen in the much-awaited Delhi 6.

But before her film hits theatres her fans can get a glimpse of the actress in a hot avataar on the cover of Verve.

Sonam, who is the fresh face of L'Oreal, has done an exclusive photo-shoot for the magazine that was shot on the beaches of Maldives.

One look at those 'holiest-than-thou' snaps and one is bound to get impressed with her zest for life, the love and cheer she spreads liberally and a sharply discerning mind that doesn't allow for compromise. Verve has discovered the undiscovered aspects of the petite Sonam Kapoor. (With inputs from Bollywood


Travel to the Maldives.

Once a completely remote and isolated tropical paradise, the Maldives has now become a very popular holiday destination for Europeans and Americans. The Maldives is made up of a group of atolls with luxury resorts scattered around its coastline.

The Republic of Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean. Situated south of India and south west of Sri Lanka, the Maldives total twenty-six atolls with over 1000 small islands, most of which are inhabitable.

Most of the resorts have their own entities with some resorts taking up whole islands - these resorts offer great privacy and ensure a relaxing vacation. Nearly all of the holiday resorts are located on the five main atolls, which are Kaafu, Baa, Alifu and Lhaviyani. Alifu is the main tourist zone where new hotels and resorts are in the process of being built.

Travelling to the Maldives is pretty straightforward. Standard travel documents, such as a passport are needed, but you don‘t need a visa. Visas are only required if you are planning to work there.

Accommodation in the Maldives differs from resort to resort and from island to island. Some resorts offer basic huts with outdoor bathroom facilities that will give you the traditional island feel, while others offer all the standard services that we are accustomed too.

Most of the resorts in the Maldives provide some, or all, types of water trips. Night time fishing trips are a special treat. The Maldives is also known as one of the best diving destinations in the world and the resorts cater very well for this. Most of the resorts have got their own diving school.

The seas around the Maldives also provide great areas for snorkelling; the coral reefs are amazing and are full of and wonderful marine life. But to see the full extent of the amazing sea around the Maldives you need to go deep into the sea. A deep-sea dive will certainly be worth it and these are widely available.

The Maldives is also a perfect spot for any type of water sports, especially windsurfing and scuba diving and is also a great destination for sailing and water-skiing.

Most of the resorts have their own bars and restaurants. The food is similar on most resorts with restaurants ranging from Oriental to Middle Eastern. Most resorts have coffee shops that serve light snacks. Fish and rice are the two most common dishes in the Maldives.

If you are looking for some thing different a cruise around the islands of the Maldives is certainly the best way to see the area. This is a unique experience and will give you a great insight into the region.

The resorts of the Maldives are very well known for their lavish spa treatment. Along with its stunning white sandy beaches and glorious sunshine the Maldives will certainly make for a great holiday.


Maldives to recognise Kosovan independence

Maldives’ decision to recognise Kosovo as an independent state has been described as “very good news” for both the government and its people, by a Kosovan government spokesperson.

Kosovo, a predominantly Muslim country, declared its independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008, but backed by Russia, Serbia claimed the move was illegal. Vojislav Kostunica, the Serbian prime minister at the time, described Kosovo as a “false state”.

In an exclusive interview with Minivan News, Memli Krasniqi said he was delighted to hear about Maldives’ recognition and hoped it would strengthen ties between the two countries.

“We had officially requested the major powers and Islamic countries including the Maldives to recognise Kosovo after declaring independence,” he said. “A number of Islamic countries like Senegal, Malaysia and United Arab Emirates have also recognised Kosovo.”

Maldivian foreign minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed told Minivan News that the Maldives was committed to upholding the principles enshrined in the United Nations charter, which supports the principle of national self-determination.

“This is the main reason for recognising Kosovo,” he said. “The Maldives will announce the date of its recognition after official discussions.”

Shaheed added Kosovan recognition had been recommended to the Maldives by two of its allies, the UK and the USA, to ensure peace in Eastern Europe.

Following the Maldives’ decision, Krasniqi has said the Kosovan government is interested in holding an official meeting with the Maldives.

After declaring independence, the UN Security Council was divided on the issue of recognition in July 2008.

While countries like the USA, the UK and France supported Kosovan independence, others such as Russia and China considered it to be illegitimate.

55 countries have since extended recognition to the Republic of Kosovo including Australia, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, and Japan.

Pakistan and India, two of the Maldives’ neighbouring countries, have not recognised Kosovo.

Commenting on this, Shaheed said, “We don’t have to consider neighbouring countries policies as the Maldives is an Independent state.

“We are also entitled to make our own decisions. There won’t be a negative impact with our relationship with India and China after we recognise Kosovo.”

The foreign minister added he was interested in pursuing both business with Kosovo and free visas for Maldivians travelling to the country.

The last country to recognise Kosovo was Panama, on 16 January 2009


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fergie and Josh Duhamel enjoy honeymoon in Maldives

Newlywed Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie has been relaxing on her Maldives honeymoon, canoeing and pottering about with husband Josh Duhamel.

Fergie, 33, and actor Josh, 36, tied the knot in Malibu on 10 January before jetting off to their secluded £10,000-a week suite at the One And Only Reethi Rah hotel.

A fan who chatted to Fergie at Los Angeles airport said: ‘She told me the wedding was amazing.’

On arriving at the hotel the singer headed straight to the spa for a massage, no doubt tired after the long flight and one-hour boat transfer to the island.

Josh and Fergie shunned the hotel restaurant in favour of a private barbecue served by their own butler at their villa. Fergie nibbled at grilled crayfish, before succumbing to a late-night attack of the munchies and ordering pasta from room service at 2am.

She was feeling more energetic the next day, grabbing a paddle as the couple took a canoe out
on the water. Josh seemed happy to let her take the strain while he merrily took snaps for the family album.

The two had been dating for four years before getting hitched, having met when The Black Eyed Peas appeared in an episode of Josh’s hit TV show Las Vegas. The romantic LA wedding had an all-white theme with Fergie – real name Stacy Ann Ferguson – and Josh exchanging vows under magnolia trees. There was tight security, with guests receiving details of the venue at the last minute.

Fergie’s mother Terri Jackson let slip some of the details, however. ‘Kid Rock was there, with rapping,’ she said. ‘It was an amazing show. It would cost you a fortune to see a show like that.

Quick - grab your copy of Now magazine dated 2 February 2009 to see the photos of Fergie and Josh Duhamel on honeymooon - out now!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Maldives is competing in the “New 7 Wonders of Nature” Campaign

The Maldives archipelago has been nominated for the New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign. This campaign is a process in which seven natural wonders of the world are chosen by people through a global poll which will be declared in the year 2011.

The campaign is being organized by the Swiss based New7Wonders Foundation after their success in organizing the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. 261 qualified national and multinational nominees are now competing to make it to the top 77.

Please vote for Maldives by visiting or Voting continues from January 7th until July 7th 2009 to determine the top 77 in each of the seven competing categories. The New7Wonders Panel of Experts will select the 21 finalists from the top 77 nominees.

We would like to call all Maldivians, fans and well wishers of Maldives to join our effort to make Maldives as one of the Natural Wonders of the World.


Sri Lankan Construction Industrialists invited to Maldives Construction Fair 2009

Maldivies Construction Fair 2009 (MCF 2009) is scheduled to be held in Male, Maldives from 20th to 22nd April 2009 and press conference was held at Hotel Taj Samudra by the Maldives Association of Construction Industry to invite Sri Lankan Construction Industrialists to participate at this Fair.

It was indicated that last year 80 percent of the participants at MCF 2008 were Sri Lankan Construction Industrialists. But this year already various other countries also have booked their places at the MCF 2009 and Sri Lankan Industrialists would thus cover only about 60 percent

At the press briefing Mohamed Ali Janah, President, Maldives Associatin of Construction Industry said that in the Maldives the 30 years of one-man show of the Government is now over and the country now heads towards an era of the people and the private sector as even the Airports and the Ports in Maldives are be privatized.

He said that Maldives is a country that imports everything, even, sand is imported and now as the entire gamut of industry such as construction industry is widely open to the private sector their country has opened the opportunities for other countries to engage in industries in an equal, transparent and competitive manner.

The country’s main industry is the tourist industry and the private sector is now invited to participate in constructing more than 64 tourist resorts which would be US $ 30 to 40 million investments. There are plans to build 10 more airports and several ports. Thus there would be a tremendous amount of construction work in the Maldives.

This exhibition is held for the 4th consecutive year. There would be opportunities for interior design, architecture, building construction and engineering and the exhibition provides a common arena for the business community to exhibit their services and products.

Imran Hassan, Director, South Asia Exhibition Services who are part of the organizers of the Exhibition said that the choice of holding a construction fair in the Maldives continues to be the best choice as the Maldives was chosen as the "Indian Ocean’s Leading Destination’ at the World Travel Awards 2008.

Last year about 80 percent of the participants for the exhibition was from Sri Lanka. Mr Hassan told that this year as the competition is very high with the development activities in the Maldives, the Sri Lankan participation would come down to around 60 percent as other international construction industrialists have already booked in their places.


Sri Lanka Galle Face group to build resort on Maldive island

Sri Lanka's Galle Face Hotels Group plans to build a 100-room luxury resort hotel on an atoll in the Maldivian archipelago, a senior official said.

Lakshman Sirimanne, group director, corporate development of the Galle Face Hotel group, said construction work on the resort on Gaafu Atoll, south of the capital Male, is about to begin.

"We have obtained all necessary approvals and completed the surveys of the island," he said.

"We're now in the process of fencing the land and building the quarters required for construction workers."

He said it was not possible to immediately reveal the group's investment in the project.

The Galle Face Hotel group is also putting in place the necessary ancillaries such as desalination units and sewerage units, as well as backfilling the island and dredging for a small jetty.

The company hopes to complete construction of the 200-bed resort by end-December 2009 and get into operation early next year, Sirimanne said.

A new subsidiary company of the Galle Face Hotel group has been incorporated in the Maldive islands.

The new hotel is sited on an uninhabited island which also has a domestic airport.and airport buildings.

The new Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed, during his recent visit to Sri Lanka, announced that the Galle Face Hotel group was embarking on the project and also made a request for the airport to be modernized.

The Galle Face group started on the project after winning the bid for the island when it was put up for bids by the Maldivian government, which is focusing on developing the Gaafu Atoll.

Gaafu Atoll (also named Huvadhoo Atoll) is touted by surfers as having some of the best waves in the Maldives. It is also known to be good for scuba diving, snorkeling and sailing.

It is among the outer atolls of the Maldives and promoted as a surfing attraction without crowds as they are further away and harder to get to than the North and South Male Atolls


India steps up defence ties with Maldives Mauritius

As part of its policy to further bolster military ties with Indian Ocean Region (IOR) countries and counter Chinese strategic moves in the region, India is stepping up the defence engagement with Maldives as well as Mauritius.

Defence minister A K Antony held talks with his counterpart from Maldives, Ameen Faisal, on Tuesday about the various steps which can be taken to boost defence cooperation between the two countries.

Almost simultaneously, a delegation from Mauritius held talks with an Indian Navy team to ascertain Mauritius' hydrographic requirements for 2009 as well assistance in setting up the requisite infrastructure there. "The delegation later left for Dehradun to hold talks with chief hydrographer Rear Admiral B R Rao there," said an official.

India has given military aid to both Maldives and Mauritius over the years since it sees itself as a major stakeholder in the security and stability of the IOR region.

In April 2006, for instance, then defence minister Pranab Mukherjee had visited Male to "transfer" INS Tillanchang, a 260-tonne fast-attack craft designed for fast and covert operations against smugglers, gun-runners and terrorists, to Maldives.

The military package also included Rs 6 crore for training, material and technical assistance. Moreover, an Indian Navy survey ship, INS Darshak, conducted a hydrographic survey in the waters around Maldives.

The Rajiv Gandhi government in November 1988 had rushed paratroopers and naval warships to Maldives under Operation Cactus to thwart the coup attempt against the then Abdul Gayoom government. More recently, it had deployed two ships and four aircraft to Maldives after the killer tsunami struck in end-2004.