Sunday, May 10, 2009

Maldives seeks ways to diversify potential

Dubai and the Maldives took a positive step towards a possible exchange programme between the two destinations during the course of the recently-concluded Arabian Travel Market (ATM).

The newly appointed Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture for the Republic of Maldives, Dr Ahmad Ali Sawad met with Saeed Hareb, CEO of the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) to seek advice and discuss potential watersports opportunities between Dubai and the Maldives in an attempt further diversify their market.

Dr Sawad sought a meeting with Hareb to discuss the "impressive success" of the DIMC and follow a quest to discover how it has been achieved. Dr Sawad explained that he was looking at the DIMC project to see if it could be adopted in the Maldivian Republic.

"We are exploring ways to broaden our horizons and Dubai has an amazing story we'd like to pursue. Dubai has managed many things and retained its identity, values and culture whilst developing tourism and a multicultural community," remarked Dr Sawad.

"In the Maldives, we have been focused on tourism for 30 years but have kept our community and tourism separate for fear of losing our principles and core values. We want to change our approach are preparing policy and plans to address this. We intend to empower our people in the tourism market to stop them feeling alienated whilst we expand our industry. We also want to concentrate on our heritage as part of our diversity," he added. Hareb was flattered that such a thriving economy like the Maldives felt that the DIMC has something to offer them. The DIMC official then went on to relate tales from the Rulers of Dubai who also saw the importance of heritage in a changing society and took measures to retain it.

Hareb invited Dr Sawad to join him to watch the 19th edition of the annual Sir Bu Naa'ir sailing race for 60ft dhows on May 23. He also extended an offer to assist Dr Sawad in his efforts for his country. Dr Sawad expressed a desire to explore how the two government bodies could work together to help develop and promote watersports in the Maldives by using the expertise DIMC has to offer.

Sid Bensalah, General Manager of DIMC, explained that "it takes small steps, a strong plan and a government that is very supportive". "These three things have been fundamental to our development as well as having fantastic facilities. The development of a marina and facilities capable of hosting good sailing and powerboat events in the Maldives would be a good place to start. With assets such as the biggest and best waterfront in the world, the best water quality and perfect weather conditions the Maldives is already more than halfway to achieving its new goal of a diverse economy. We will certainly do what ever we can to assist," Bensalah promised.


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