Friday, July 17, 2009

Cell broadcast ideal for Maldives public warning: think tank

Cell broadcasting, a messaging system that is found in the two celco networks in the Maldives can be used to send immediate public warning messages to users, a think tank has said.

The cell broadcast facility has to be activated by each phone user.

"It can, if citizens and tourists can be educated to turn on the appropriate channel, serve as an ideal one-to-many channel for disseminating hazard information from the government," LIRNEAsia, a regional telecom policy and regulation think tank, said.

"Cell broadcasts reach further to the sea than normal mobile coverage and can thus serve those in fishing boats, ferries and other craft as well."

In 2008, the Communications Authority of the Maldives had asked LIRNEasia, which has expertise in disaster early warning, to identify the preconditions needed for cell broadcast for early warning and evaluate its commercial potential.

"In the tiny but intensely rivalrous Maldives industry, the operators, each with a customer base less than that of a small city elsewhere, focus almost exclusively on marketing," LIRNEAsia said.

"However, upon being educated on CB’s potential not only for public warning but for myriad commercial and other applications, it is likely that Maldives will become one of the pioneers in effective public warning."

LIRNEAsia says according to the Asian Development Bank, the Maldives was among the worst affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Loss of life was small, but around one-third of the population was affected and property damage was estimated to have been around 60 per cent of gross domestic product.

"Its principal industry is tourism," the think tank noted. "Ensuring public safety and giving visitors a sense of security are thus high priorities for the government."

Because the population of the Maldives is highly dispersed radio and television would be less than ideal for public warning, LIRNEAsia said. Tourists were also unlikely to listen to local channels. The sets also need to be switched on for messages to be heard.

Short message service (SMS) was also an option but phones need to be pre-registered and congestion could also delay message delivery.

"A discreet campaign telling tourists how to turn on the Maldivian warning channel can not only enhance their security but also communicate the image of a caring Maldives," LIRNEAsia said.

For sustained adoption, it will be necessary for the regulator to continue discussions with the operators to develop a framework for commercial CB applications and to encourage such uses.

Source: LBO

Giant Rays' "Feeding Frenzy" Spots Protected

A manta ray channels plankton-rich water through its mouth near Hanifaru, one of the Indian Ocean islands that make up the Maldives, in an undated photo.

Hundreds of giant fish converge in Hanifaru Bay from May through November, when the lunar tide sucks krill and plankton to the surface, giving rays an all-you-can-eat buffet.

(Read about the manta ray feeding frenzy in National Geographic magazine, or see more photographs.)

In June 2009 the Maldives created three new marine protected areas that include Hanifaru and other crucial feeding areas for mantas and whale sharks, the world's largest fish (whale shark pictures, facts, and more).

Fishing, boat speeds, and waste disposal will be regulated. The new sanctuaries, however, will allow some diving and snorkeling—a healthy tourist trade may provide alternative livelihoods for fishers, experts say.

"The government is committed to protecting and preserving the Maldives' exceptional biodiversity," Maldives Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam said in a statement.

"The marine environment is the bedrock of our economy, supporting our largest industries, tourism and fisheries."

(The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic magazine and National Geographic News.)
—Photograph by Thomas P. Peschak, NGS Image Collection


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Maldive or MalDIVE?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the maldives or malDIVES is a great place for diving. Due to its very specific geographical situation and remoteness, the Maldives archipelago is the perfect example of why liveaboard diving holidays are perfect for the keen divers.

Liveaboard diving cruises meet all requirements of a perfect diving holiday at once: it provides top accommodation, excellent food, socializing with fellow divers and people having the same poles of interest. Relax on sun decks, go for a swim or a snorkel peek between dives, and of course, it brings the best of an ecosystem of discovery through the variety of dive sites visited and the extreme range of dive capacity offered.

In one word, Liveaboard is the way to go for the enthusiastic divers. Liveaboard vessels will start their journey from nearby Male international airport, and will follow the yearly patterns of current and nutrients fluctuations to ensure divers the maximum chances of big pelagic seeing such as sharks, manta rays and whale sharks, who start their migration through the Indian Ocean from off the Maldives, through the Seychelles, to end off Mozambique and follow warmer currents up to Tanzania, Kenya and the Horn of Africa where they achieve their migration and prepare for the way back.

Planet Scuba India is offering an exclusive dive trip to the Maldives at incredible rates.


Dragonflies migrate 14,000-18,000 km from India to S. Africa

Millions of dragonflies migrate thousands of kilometers across the Indian Ocean from southern India to Africa, reports the BBC.

The migration may be the longest of any insect, exceeding that the Monarch butterfly the moves 7000 kilometers (km) between Mexico and the United States, says Charles Anderson, the author of the study, which is published in the Journal of Tropical Ecology.

Anderson kept detailed records of dragonflies arriving in the Maldives, a chain of islands that lie 500 to 1000 km off the coast of Southern India. He found their dates of arrival across the islands show a steady movement from north to south. The insects, which flight at altitudes up to 6300 meters (20,475 feet), end up as far south as Mozambique, in Southern Africa, before returning to India, a round trip of 14,000 to 18,000 km.

The dragonflies appear to follow the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone weather system, taking advantage of rain puddles to breed. Maldivians, the people who inhabit the Maldives, "consider the dragonflies' arrival to be a harbinger of the north-east monsoon," according to the BBC.

Anderson told BBC that bird species seem to overlap with the dragonflies, suggesting they feed on the insects as they travel.

Over 98% of the dragonflies found in the Maldives are Globe skimmers (Pantala flavescens), although Pale-spotted emperors (Anax guttatus), Vagrant emperors (A. ephippiger), Twisters (Tholymis tillarga) and Blue perchers (Diplacodes trivialis) are also known to occur on the islands.

R. Charles Anderson. Do dragonflies migrate across the western Indian Ocean? Journal of Tropical Ecology, Volume 25, Issue 04, July 2009


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Where to go next:

This week Thompsons says: It must be the Maldives

This archipelago’s hundreds of tiny islands are often called the pearls of the Indian Ocean. The Maldives are regarded by seasoned travellers and wannabes alike as the most perfect tropical paradise on Earth.

A sprinkling of the islands are host to fairytale desert-island boutique hotels, from thatched beach-front bungalows to state-of-the-art villas on stilts in the sea with open-air bathrooms and private pools.

There is, however, a dark cloud looming over this garden of Eden. With the highest point only 2m above sea level and the constant threat of melting ice caps, climate experts have warned that some of the islands could slip under the waves within 20 years.

The good news is that Thompsons Holidays has recently launched its Thompsons Maldives Specialist Collection. The collection offers the best value at expertly chosen resorts at the best locations on selected islands.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Maldives Tourism Promotion Board showcased the destination at 13th annual Unique Choice Road Show

Maldives Tourism Promotion Board participated for the first time at the 13th annual Unique Choice Road Show held in 6 cities of GCC countries namely Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Dammam/Al-Khober, Riyadh, Jeddah from 30th May till 3rd June 2009.

Unique Choice group is identified as one of the top wholesale tour operator in the Middle East region. These workshops are marked as one of the important events each year due to its success targeting tour operators/ travel agents in the GCC region. The main objectives of Maldives participation in the road show was to increase market share from the Middle East countries by providing the travel trade with the most updated tourism information on the Maldives and secure commitments for the future promotions of the Maldives among their clients. Furthermore, to ensure that as many travel agents and tour operators as possible have the tools they need to be able to effectively promote Maldives island resorts.

The workshops started in Abu Dhabi on the 30th May, with a networking session followed by a lunch at the Crowne Plaza in Abu Dhabi. More than 50 travel agents and tour operators were invited to the work shop, while majority of the visitor showed a keen interest in visiting the Maldives booth to collect information. Emphasis was placed on the warm welcome that GCC nationals and resident expatriates will receive when visiting the islands and the easy accessibility to the country in terms of flight connections and visa procedures.

The Maldives is currently the ultimate getaway for those who are attracted by private islands, stunning beaches and crystal clear waters. The Maldives provides the perfect backdrop for a relaxing, rejuvenating holiday, which is a welcome contrast to the frantic pace of life in the Arabian Gulf.

The workshop session was concluded by a raffle draw held among the visitors by giving away several free vacation prizes from the participating hotels/resorts. Among other participants include destination such as Malaysia, Singapore, Oman and a collection of resorts/hotels from these destinations.

Similar format was adopted for the event in Dubai on the same day, where more than 75 travel agents and tour operators were invited to the JW Marriot Hotel in Dubai which was concluded by a dinner.

Last year Maldives welcomed a total of 683,012 visitors while a total of 9,141 tourists represented the Middle East region. By end of May 2009 Maldives received 3,082 tourists from the region showing a growth of 2.5 per cent compared to the same period of 2008.


Sri Lanka firm claims 48-pct share of Maldives ice cream market

Sri Lanka's Elephant House brand, part of the John Keells Holdings group, said its ice cream sales in the Maldives had grown strongly to give it a 48 percent share of the narket.

Elephant House ice creams' penetration in the archipelago's retail, modern trade and resort markets was strong, a statement by Ceylon Cold Stores, a JKH subsidiary, said.

"It currently enjoys significant volumes generated from the resort markets which cater almost exclusively to a discerning foreign clientele."

JKH is also one of the biggest resort owners in the Maldives.

"Elephant House Ice Creams, which first entered the Maldives market in June 2000, has been on an upward growth curve over the past nine years," Head of Frozen Confectionary of Ceylon Cold Stores Sector Neil Samarasinghe said.

"We are currently the top player in the Maldives ice cream market with an over 48 percent share, and are proud to compete with major international brands such as Walls, Nestle, and Haagen Daz."

The statement said latest addition to its list of buyers is the up-market Four Seasons Hotel in the Maldives.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

President Nasheed meets with senior officials of some British companies

As part of his visit to the UK, President Mohamed Nasheed has met with Richard Lapthorne, Chairman of Cable & Wireless; Tim Smith, Chief Executive and Co Founder of Eden Project; and, Naz Bashir, Managing Director of Ultra Green Resorts Ltd.

Speaking at three separate meetings held yesterday, the President briefed them on the investments opportunities available in the Maldives. He also stressed the priority the Maldives attaches to greener technologies.

The President also met with Robin Gwynn, UK’s Climate Security Envoy for Vulnerable Countries.
Discussions were focused at the meeting on the impact of climate change on vulnerable countries such as the Maldives. They also spoke on the need for an effective international agreement at Copenhagen which will massively cut emissions of the gases that cause climate change and prevent average global temperatures from rising.

President Nasheed briefed Mr Gwynn on the measures the government was taking to tackle environmental problems faced by the Maldives.

Mr Gwynn congratulated the Maldives for its plan to become world’s first carbon neutral country. He also assured that he would support and assist the Maldives in this endeavour.


Maldives - President Nasheed meets with the Duke of York and some members of the British parliament

President Mohamed Nasheed has today met with His Royal Highness Prince Andrew the Duke of York. The meeting was held at the Buckingham Palace.

In their meeting President Nasheed and Prince Andrew discussed on the ways of strengthening bilateral relations and on possible areas of cooperation between the Maldives and the United Kingdom.

The Duke of York noted that opening the Maldives for business would bring greater development and prosperity to the Maldives. He also assured that he would assist the Maldives in seeking foreign investors.

The President thanked the Duke of York for his assistance and cooperation in various areas to the Maldives.

Separately, the President also held meetings with some members of the British parliament, including Robert Key, Richard Prosser, Richard Spring, David Cameron and Gary Streeter.

The MPs commended the President for his work to promote and consolidate democracy in the Maldives. They also said that they would support the Maldives in this endeavour


Monday, July 6, 2009

Climate Change: World's Top Security Challenge - President Nasheed

President Nasheed called on Commonwealth countries to unite to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, warning that climate change is the "greatest security and human rights challenge of the 21st Century."

Addressing 250 Commonwealth parliamentarians gathered at the British parliament in London on Monday morning, President Nasheed urged Commonwealth nations to take the lead in cutting carbon dioxide emissions, responsible for global warming and associated sea level rise.

"In every battle you have a frontline. And in the climate change battle, the Maldives is a frontline state. Maldivians have lived in these islands for 2,000 years and we don't want to trade paradise for an environmental refugee camp. But climate change not only threatens the Maldives it threatens us all. What happens to the Maldives today happens to other countries tomorrow."

President Nasheed said world leaders must reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to avoid a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius:

"The science is no longer in doubt. Carbon pollution, left unchecked, will wreak global climate catastrophe. We must slash greenhouse gas emissions and control the climate before we reach the two degree tipping point. If warming rises over two degrees, the battle may well have been lost. The stakes are as high as they come. If we lose this battle, we lose most of life on Earth. We must act; and act decisively," the President said in a stirring address.

President Nasheed said he felt large, developing nations can be part of the "climate solution" as long as Western governments are prepared to help pay for clean development, based on renewable electricity generation.

The President also called for reforms to the international political architecture, to help place large developing nations at the centre of a climate change solution. The President specifically called on the United Nations Security Council to accept India and Brazil as permanent members.

The President reiterated his belief that climate change is also "fundamentally a human rights issue because it threatens fundamental human rights."

"Already climate change is killing some 300,000 people a year, according to Kofi Annan's think tank the Global Humanitarian Forum," the President added.

President Nasheed said the Maldives' 10-year carbon neutral plan made good economic sense, as Maldivian schools and hospitals are spending large proportions of their budgets on diesel power generation.

The President also said he hoped other countries would emulate the Maldives' plan and adopt carbon neutral targets of their own.


Maldives president Mohammed Nasheed demands action on climate change

Global warming should be seen not as an environmental crisis but as a human rights issue that risks the lives, livelihoods and homes of millions of people, the President of one of the countries that is most vulnerable to climate change said yesterday.

Mohammed Nasheed, the President of the Maldives, told The Times that defending his island nation against rising sea levels was a humanitarian challenge as critical as defending Poland against Nazi Germany in 1939.

“We feel that climate change is not an environmental issue, it’s a security issue, it’s a human rights issue,” the country’s first democratically elected leader said at the launch of The Times World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford.

“If you thought that defending Poland was important, defending the Maldives is important. If you can’t save the Maldives today you can’t save yourself tomorrow.”

The Maldives is among the countries most endangered by climate change as none of its 1,190 islands in the Indian Ocean lies more than two metres above sea level. As scientists estimate that sea levels will rise globally by between 20cm and 60cm by 2100, many islands face complete inundation and even the more elevated ones will experience increased flooding.

The President was invited to address the conference by Sir David King, the former government chief scientist who is director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford UNiversity.

President Nasheed announced in March that his country would spend $110 million (£67 million) a year to become the first in the world with a zero-carbon economy by 2019.

The zero-carbon initiative, he said, would set an example to the rest of the world, but was also the best answer to the Maldives’ energy and development needs. “We know that the Maldives becoming carbon neutral is not going to decarbonise the world and stop us from annihilation. We know that. But at least we could die knowing we’ve done the right thing,” he said.

The President said that electricity costs accounted for up to 70 per cent of the budget of some small schools. “We cannot have an education system, we cannot have a health system, we cannot have a transport system on the carbon economy. If we want to develop we have to find some other source of energy.”

He accepted that zero-carbon status would not take into account the emissions from 500,000 tourists who fly to the islands each year — outnumbering the population of 385,000. However, they would use less carbon while in the Maldives than they would have done at home.

“If you spend this minute in England you are using more carbon than you would if you were spending it in the Maldives,” President Nasheed said. “Therefore your travel will be offset by the time you spend in the Maldives.”

He added that democracy and good governance would be critical to adapting his nation to a warmer world. “If someone asks us in the Maldives what kind of assistance we need for adaptation, we say yes, of course we need embankments and sea walls and so on.”

Sir David agreed that climate change should be seen as a security and human rights issue as well as an environmental one. “We are facing this being the century of environmental migration driving terrorism at a level we haven’t seen before, and geopolitical economic destablisation of a sort we haven’t seen before, unless we get smart,” he said.

Other speakers at the three-day conference include Al Gore, the former US Vice-President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, President Kagame of Rwanda, and Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London.

The conference began as Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, published a report saying that most of the technologies to tackle climate change already existed, but that they still needed to be integrated into the world economy.

The document, published with the Climate Group for distribution at this week’s Major Economies Forum in Italy, highlights energy efficiency and measures to prevent deforestation as critical to reducing carbon emissions. These two areas can together deliver 70 per cent of the carbon cuts required by 2020, it said.

The report also called for major investment in greener energy technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, new approaches to nuclear and solar power, and public infrastructure such as smart electricity grids.

Mr Blair said: “Just as investing in electrification, railways and the internet led to economic growth in the past, investing in clean energy can help reignite the global economy now.”

Source: The Times