Thursday, April 29, 2010

The future of energy: 'It can't be business as usual'


* President Nasheed of Maldives wants more help and action in coping with climate change
* Puma's CEO thinks businesses should lead in drive towards renewable energy
* James Cameron believes climate skepticism is still a great problem
* Earth's Frontiers debate took place in Seoul, South Korea

Climate skeptics are indicative of societies in decay.

So said Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldives.

Speaking at CNN's Earth's Frontiers debate in Seoul, Nasheed said he was looking for a greater urgency from countries and business across the world in dealing with the problems caused by climate change.

Rather than a slow decay, Nasheed's own nation is faced with a rapid extinction caused by a rise in sea-levels, according to many climate scientists.

Joined at the debate by filmmaker and environmentalist James Cameron, Puma's CEO Jochen Zeitz, and Changhua Wu of The Climate Group, Nasheed noted what was at stake when talking about future energy sources.
"I think it's going to be very difficult for the Maldives to survive if business goes as usual," he said. "I think it's time especially for big emitter countries to find alternatives and move forward. If not, it's not just going to be the Maldives, it's going to be all of us."
Instead of revisiting the divisions that flared between countries at the Copenhagen climate summit in December, Nasheed struck a more inclusive tone on how countries can work together to create a carbon-neutral future.

"I don't think this is an issue of developed and developing countries. Given the opportunities, (developing countries) would have done the same.

"But of course industrialized countries have more capabilities and more means and there are people who are in trouble. If they want to lend a hand that's the decent thing to do."
Zeitz took a stand for businesses taking the initiative in promoting renewable energy by saying that business cannot wait for government action.

"We can't wait for the perfect solutions, its trial and error," he said.

Puma has a carbon neutral HQ in California and two of its factories operate off-grid. Zeitz said he was committed to fostering responsible businesses.

"If you plan your business out for the long run you have to plan with renewable energies and eliminate carbon footprints. Business ultimately has caused a lot of the environmental degradation we see around the world, so business is there to also fix it," he said.

A number of solutions that balance energy production and environmental protection exist, but the panel took different stands over a particular hydroelectric damn project in the Brazilian state of Para.

Cameron had recently visited the region to campaign against the dam, but as a a head of state immediately threatened by rising sea-levels, Nasheed took a different view.
"Reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is the priority right now," he said.
"If Brazil do that through damming their rivers, I would say go ahead and do it. I think a number of countries are unable to understand the mathematics of the whole issue. If we cannot become carbon neutral by mid-century, then we won't be around here. It's as simple as that."

Zeitz disagreed: "You have to look at carbon holistically. We live in a connected world where conservation, community, culture all have to play together," he said.
Wu touched upon China's position as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases as well as its biggest investor in renewable energy projects.

"No matter how much China invests today, it's not just a one country issue. More importantly we need to work together in order to deal with the core issue," she said.
Ultimately that core issue for Cameron was getting a greater consensus that climate change itself was a serious, global problem.

"The fundamental problem out there is how many people (don't) actually believe there's a problem," he said.

"The most powerful force on the planet right now is the abilities of individuals to communicate with each other. I believe in the power of ideas. People can certainly make a difference in the way they live if they're motivated. The important thing is to get the ideas out there."


Maldives rakes up Indo-Pak ties at SAARC Summit

In unusual comments at the SAARC forum, Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed today talked about strained relations between India and Pakistan, saying that he hoped that tomorrow's meeting between the two countries' prime ministers will lead to resolution of their differences.

Addressing the 16th SAARC Summit, Nasheed said he hopes that leaders of India and Pakistan will have effective conversation and resolve their differences.

Nasheed, who spoke extempore, said he hoped that the "conversation will lead to greater dialogue between India and Pakistan."

The remarks came as a surprise as normally bilateral issues and relations are not raked up in the multilateral forum of SAARC.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh is meeting his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani tomorrow.

The comments also reflected the common feeling that the relations between India and Pakistan mostly overshadow SAARC meetings.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

16th SAARC Summit Starts today in Bhutan capital Thimphu

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is all set to host the 16th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, SAARC, and Summit in its capital Thimphu. The two-day meeting, beginning today will witness the participation of the heads of state or government from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives with the host Bhutan. The SAARC is a regional forum launched in 1985 with eight countries in South Asian region.

The forum, which represents over 150 Crore people, has the mandate to work for some important areas like agriculture, rural development, health, transport, science and technology, telecommunications, meteorology, sports, arts and culture. Thimphu Summit will primarily highlight the issue of climate change and theme of the Summit will be ‘Conservation of Environment and Climate’ and also issues like poverty reduction, connectivity and sharing of water resources.

The Summit, where observers from China, Iran, Japan, Australia, Mauritius, Myanmar, South Korea with the European Union and United States will be present, is supposed to provide adequate space for discussion on its theme of climate change. Prior to the main Summit, the foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives met on Tuesday and deliberated on a wide range of issues.

Earlier, briefing the media, Foreign Secretary Nirumpma Rao said, it is being held for the first time in Bhutan and marks the 25 years of establishment of SAARC.

Ms Nirumpma Rao said the SAARC Development Fund, SDF Secretariat, proposed by India in 2008, will be inaugurated in the forthcoming Summit. AIR correspondent reports that the Summit is also expected to endorse the rules, regulations, academic and business plans of the SAARC University in New Delhi.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives has been listed in the Luxury Travel Gold List 2010’s Top 20 in the categories of ‘Best Overseas Resort’ and ‘Best Overseas Spa Resort’. Now in its 6th year, the Luxury Travel Gold List 2010 survey is one of the most comprehensive and highly respected luxury travel surveys conducted in Australia.

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives is spread across a pristine beach and over one of the largest lagoons in the Maldives, with 62 luxuriously appointed villas. Heralded for its culinary offerings, guests may dine in one of the resort’s restaurants, experience 24 hour in-villa dining valet services or choose any location around the island for memorable al fresco private dining. A highlight of the resort is the Jiva Grande Spa – a private island sanctuary offering a range of Indian wellness signature treatments and rituals.

Only 15 minutes by a private luxury speedboat from Malé International Airport, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives epitomizes luxury with a conscience. It is a five star property which has risen to the challenge of protecting the natural tropical flora and fauna and surrounding blue waters of Emboodhu Finolhu Island. Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives has implemented a range of initiatives to reduce its carbon foot print, whilst ensuring that guests continue to experience a high level of comfort, luxury accommodation, culinary offerings, spa and recreational facilities, as well impeccable service – an international hallmark of the Taj group.


PM Nepal calls on Maldivian President

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal paid a courtesy call on President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed in the capital on Tuesday morning.

The Maldives President arrived in Kathmandu on Monday night en route to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan to attend the 16th SAARC summit which is slated for April 28 to 29.

In the meeting that took place at the VVIP lounge at Tribhuvan International Airport, PM Nepal and the Maldives President discussed agendas the two countries are to raise at the SAARC summit.

On the occasion, the two leaders agreed that the topic of climate change should be included as the main agenda of the SAARC summit in view of the adverse impact of the climate change with the rapid melting of snow and glaciers in the Himalayas in Nepal and the risk of rising sea levels in the Maldives.

The PM's press advisor Bishnu Rijal said, the two leaders also discussed issues of bilateral interest and establishment of Nepali diplomatic mission in the Maldives.

President Nasheed who arrived in Kathmandu at 9:40 pm on Monday stayed the night in Kathmandu and left for Thimphu this morning.


LeT planning attacks in India, seeking links in Maldives

Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is making concerted efforts to carry out attacks in the country and to develop links in Maldives and other neighbours, the government said on Tuesday.

"Available inputs indicate that Pakistan-based terrorist groups primarily the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are making concerted efforts to organise terrorist attacks in various parts of the country, inter-alia, including iconic institutions, prominent industrial installations and tourist locations among others," minister of state for home affairs Ajay Maken told Lok Sabha today in a written reply.

The minister said some of the prominent groups which pose a serious threat include LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Hizbul-Mujahideen (HM), Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami (HuJI), Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), Al Badr, Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), Khalistan Commando force, International Sikh Youth federation (ISYF), United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and Communist party of India (Maoist).

"There is also another organisation, the Indian Mujahideen," the minister said.

Maken said, "The government continues to be alert to these threats and re-calibrates its measures to combat terrorism by way of reviewing threat perception and a number of important decisions and measures have been taken.

"Government has constituted National Investigation Agency (NIA).The Multi-Agency centre has been strengthened and reorganised to enable it to function on 24x7 basis for real time collection and sharing of intelligence with other intelligence and security agencies," he said.

In reply to another question, Maken said, "available input indicated that Lashkar-e-Taiba endeavours to develop links in India's neighbouring countries including the Maldives.

"India and Maldives continue to work closely in strengthening bilateral security cooperation. Our security concerns are conveyed through bilateral channels or mechanisms, with the concerned authorities," he said.

Government also denied any proposal to create the post of National Intelligence Coordinator to strengthen intelligence system.


Maldives’ former AG set to become SAARC Secretary General

Maldives’ former Attorney General Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed is now set to become the first ever woman to hold the post of Secretary General of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), when the summit opens tomorrow in Thimphu.

Dhiyana is part of the official delegation accompanying President Mohamed Nasheed to Bhutan, reliable sources told the Asian Tribune, confirming her nomination to the post.

Dhiyana will assume key post when the 8 member South Asian grouping endorses her name.

The key post is rotated among the member countries and it’s the Maldives turn this year to nominate the Secretary General.

Dhiyana was appointed the Maldives’ Attorney General on 12 November, 2008 - -a day after Nasheed took oaths as the country’ new President.

In May 2009, the President dismissed her from the post, after she fired a strongly-worded letter to him, alleging political appointees including ministers and councilors were abusing their positions to influence the May 9 parliamentary elections. Nasheed then called her letter “politically motivated.”

Since then, relations between the two have been restored with Dhiyana becoming the government nominee for the post of SAARC Secretary General.

Former Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party member Parliamentarian, Dhiyana was a president appointed member to the House, under the Gayoom administration.

Ahead of the 2008 presidential elections, she joined the newly formed Republican Party – a party that backed Nasheed for presidency at the run-off.

Meanwhile, President Nasheed who has been spearheading calls to arrest climate change is due to “lobby an Asian perspective” with key Cop 15 issues at the top of his agenda, during the 2 day SAARC summit.


Akon tickets being refunded

Organizers of the Akon concert which was scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka last Saturday but later had to be cancelled, have begun refunding the cost of the tickets purchased, officials said adding that the rescheduled concert in the Maldives was also postponed.

“We have already begun refunding the tickets. Those who purchased tickets from Dialog and Cinnamon Grand Hotel will be refunded on Thursday 29th April,” an official at Platinum Entertainment told Daily Mirror online.

The concert by Akon was to be held in Sri Lanka last Saturday but had to be cancelled as a result of protests by some groups who charged that the singer had disrespected Buddhism by having a group of semi-nude dancers perform in front of a Buddha statue in one of his videos.

Platinum Entertainment had later made arrangements to have the concert in the Maldives and had the support of the Maldives government for the concert as well. However when contacted by Daily Mirror online today Platinum Entertainment said the concert had been “postponed” but could not comment on the reasons behind the postponement.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Top diplomats meet in Bhutan

Thimphu: The top diplomats of the 8 South Asian nations met in the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu to prepare the groundwork for the proposed meetings of their leaders next week.

Foreign Secretaries of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Maldives set the agenda for the SAARC summit due to be held on April 28 and 29.

SAARC affairs in-charge said that the summit will discuss issues on trade and environment and is expected to sign a joint declaration on environment, entitled ‘Towards a Green and Happy South Asia.’

A meeting between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan is also expected during the summit.


European airports find it hard to clear passenger backlog

Flights have resumed to Europe from all countries, although backlogs are still causing trouble.

With no respite in sight for hundreds of stranded passengers, the backlog is proving to be almost insurmountable for airline companies.

In Britain, BA has asked its passengers to consider giving up seats so the thousands of people still stranded after the volcanic ash disruption can get home.

Virgin Atlantic has made the same request and has said many such volunteers have already contacted the airline so it can make existing ticket holders a priority.

British airspace reopened on Tuesday following almost a week of grounded flights, leaving thousands of people stuck in unfamiliar circumstances.

During the weekend BA will put on more flights to bring people home from holiday destinations such as New York, the Maldives, Antigua/St Kitts, Barbados, Johannesburg, Dubai, Sharm El Sheikh, Mumbai, Bangkok and Hong Kong.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

16th SAARC Summit to begin from Wednesday

The sixteenth SAARC Summit will begin in Bhutan on Wednesday. Heads of State and Government of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka will attend the meeting.

Representatives from the observer states including China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Mauritius, Myanmar, Australia, United States, and European Union will also be present.

The Summit will adopt a Declaration titled Towards a Green and Happy South Asia, which will focus on problems relating to environment and climate change.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives Readers’ Choice Finalist in Luxury Travel Gold List 2010

Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces is delighted to announce that for the second year in a row, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives has been listed in the Luxury Travel Gold List 2010’s Top 20 in the categories of ‘Best Overseas Resort’ and ‘Best Overseas Spa Resort’. Now in its 6th year, the Luxury Travel Gold List 2010 survey is one of the most comprehensive and highly respected luxury travel surveys conducted in Australia.

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives is spread across a pristine beach and over one of the largest lagoons in the Maldives, with 62 luxuriously appointed villas. Heralded for its culinary offerings, guests may dine in one of the resort’s restaurants, experience 24 hour in-villa dining valet services or choose any location around the island for memorable al fresco private dining. A highlight of the resort is the Jiva Grande Spa – a private island sanctuary offering a range of Indian wellness signature treatments and rituals.

Only 15 minutes by a private luxury speedboat from Malé International Airport, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives epitomizes luxury with a conscience. It is a five star property which has risen to the challenge of protecting the natural tropical flora and fauna and surrounding blue waters of Emboodhu Finolhu Island. Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives has implemented a range of initiatives to reduce its carbon foot print, whilst ensuring that guests continue to experience a high level of comfort, luxury accommodation, culinary offerings, spa and recreational facilities, as well impeccable service – an international hallmark of the Taj group.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Maldives president wins UN eco prize

President Mohamed Nasheed of Maldives, a low lying atoll nation in the Indian Ocean which fears inundation rising sea levels, has won a top environmental prize from the United Nations, his office said.

He has been named a winner of the 'Champions of the Earth' award for policy leadership.
Maldives had committed a becoming a carbon neutral nation and is going ahead with multiple fronts to protect its ecological resources eco friendly.

"It goes to show that by doing the right thing, a small country can make a big impact on the world stage," the statement quoted Nasheed as saying.

The head of UN's environment program, Achim Steiner had said that Nasheed was not only a voice for the vulnerable and poor facing the challenges of global warming but was a politician who showed that even a small nations could be climate neutral.

Previous winners of the award included former US vice president Al Gore, and former prime minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark.

Zhou Xun, a Chinese film star and popular green lifestyle guru and Taro Takahashi, a pioneering Japanese earth scientist are among the winners this year.


President informs South Korean business sector on the investment opportunities in the Maldives

President Mohamed Nasheed has informed the representatives from South Korean business sector on business and investment opportunities in the Maldives.

Speaking at a meeting held at Intercontinental Hotel in Seoul with South Korean businesses, President Nasheed elaborated on the potential investment opportunities in green energy industry and government’s housing projects, in addition to traditional industries such as fishing and tourism.

The President said the government would welcome South Korean companies that were interested in investing in the Maldives.

He also said South Korea was a growing market for Maldives tourism industry, and numbers of South Korean tourist arrivals were continuously increasing.

During the meeting, number of Korean companies expressed interest in investing in the Maldives. They sought information on the regulations on foreign investments in the Maldives and the government incentives to encourage investments.


Maldives leader wins highest UN environment award

The United Nations has honoured President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives with its highest award for environmental leadership.

Nasheed was among six people to receive the 2010 Champions of the Earth award today at the Business 4 Environment conference in Seoul.

He has tried to attract international attention to threat of rising sea levels to his island nation, including holding an underwater cabinet meeting.

One of his boldest proposals is that his country go "carbon neutral," and he has urged others to follow suit.

The 46-year-old leader says he is delighted that "a small country can make a big impact on the world stage."

Past winners include former US Vice President Al Gore and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Conrad Maldvies' World's First All-Glass Under-Sea Restaurant Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

Ithaa, the world’s first all-glass undersea restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island celebrated its fifth anniversary. And to celebrate, the resort is offering guests the chance to spend the night under-water by turning the restaurant into an exclusive suite for two, complete with private champagne dinner and breakfast in bed.

Sitting five meters below the waves of the Indian Ocean, surrounded by a vibrant coral reef and encased in clear glass, the restaurant has hosted over 43,800 diners*, 151 under-sea ‘Renewal of Love’ ceremonies and been witness to the consumption of over 14,235 bottles of the ‘house wine’ champagne since opening.

Using aquarium technology, “Ithaa” meaning “pearl” in the Maldivian language of Divehi, was built to allow guests to enjoy the color, clarity and beauty of the Indian Ocean without getting their feet wet.

Ithaa consists of three five-meter wide x 125mm thick glass arches sitting one meter below the sea level during low tide and almost two meters at high tide, the widest constructed underwater structure in the world at the time of building. The inside of the restaurant is nine meters long and five meters wide and sits above the seabed.

Such a unique restaurant deserves a distinctive cuisine, which is why Ithaa is the first and only restaurant in the world to offer fusion Maldivian cuisine, taking local spices, seasonings and traditional cooking methods, but adding a western twist to create an innovative style of cooking.

Diners at Ithaa Undersea Restaurant experience a set-menu composed of 23 different dishes over four courses; from Reef Fish with grape, almond and saffron reduction to Maldivian Banana and Chilli Mascarpone cream with refreshing crushed basil. A three-course lunchtime menu is also offered.

World-renowned wine-makers and Chefs have also flocked to Ithaa to host numerous food and wine events with highlights including visits from Hubert de Billy from Pol Roger who will help celebrate the anniversary this month; Frederic Engerer of Chateau Latour and Chef Mathieu Pacau of acclaimed Paris restaurant L’Ambroisie.

Seats: 12 people (children may join for lunch while dinner is reserved for over 16’s only).
Open: Daily lunch & dinner at 12:30 and 6:30. There is one seating for each meal.
Concept: Contemporary fusion-Maldivian cuisine, under the sea.
Price: Dinner: US $320 per person. Lunch: US $195 per person

Did you know?
• There has never been water inside Ithaa. It was built on dry land and dropped into the ocean in one piece.
• The total cost of building totalled about US $5 million.
• Ithaa Undersea Restaurant weighs 175 tons, with an additional 85 tons of sand ballast placed beneath the floor to weight it down.
• At lunchtime, it is so bright inside Ithaa that diners and waiting staff need to wear sunglasses. The resort keeps extra sunglasses handy in case a diner forgets to bring theirs and offers a sunglass cleaning service during lunch.

About the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Set in a picturesque corner of the Maldives, the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island combines three distinct resort experiences on two islands, linked by a bridge and surrounded by a vibrant coral reef and lagoon. Accommodation includes 50 of the most luxurious Water Villas in the country, 79 exotic Beach Villas and 21 fabulous Spa Water Villas – the ultimate in pure indulgence.

About Conrad Hotels & Resorts
CONRAD HOTELS & RESORTS is Hilton Worldwide’s global contemporary luxury brand, offering a seamless intersection of life, business and pleasure for today’s sophisticated traveller. Each Conrad hotel is a dynamic reflection of its city and culture, as well as a showcase for striking design and distinct surroundings. With hotels & resorts across six continents, the world’s gateway cities and most sought-after resort destinations, Conrad invites each guest to enjoy the personalized service and business savvy that truly delivers The Luxury of Being Yourself?. For further


Designing and Construction of Maldives Stand at World Travel Market (WTM) 2010, London, UK

The Ministry of Finance and Treasury, on behalf of Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB) (the Employer), invites bids from local and foreign Contractors for designing and construction of the Maldives stand at WTM 2010.

Right Click and click "Save Link As" to download the materials.

-Request for Proposal
-WTM 2010 Stand Build Regulations
-Maldives Stand Design Requirement
-Maldives Stand Floorplan

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Maldives Received Runner–up in The Destination of the Year Award

Maldives received runner-up position in the Destination of the Year category of The DIVER Awards 2009.

On the award which was presented on Friday, 26th March 2010, the island-nation of the Maldives received the runner-up award by compete against several dive destination loosing against its rival Egypt, who won the Destination of the Year award. The Diver Magazine states that “the popularity of Egypt with DIVER readers reflects its convenient proximity, its good value for money, the hospitality of its people and the high quality of its diving in terms of both wrecks and reefs.”

The Diver Magazine also stated that the Maldives, which was a very significant destination for divers, was beat off by Egypt by a solid margin due to the fact that the Maldives is much further away from the UK, and so significantly more expensive.

The vast country of Indonesia, with its growing popularity with DIVER readers, took third place this year.


Volcanic ash cloud in Iceland: Maldives arrivals for the month of April 2010

Cancellations from the European flights have resulted in huge loss to the Maldives tourism industry from last Friday till Monday.

This year Maldives tourism did very well during the last 3 months and estimated a forecast growth of 25% for the month of April with 71,482 arrivals.

However, during the last 5 days from Friday to Monday it is estimated that with the flight cancellations a total of 5000 less arrivals would result with an estimated growth of 18% on the forecast figures with a total of 66,482 arrivals for the month of April 2010. In April 2009 Maldives had a total of 57,186 arrivals.

According to Reuters Airline industry group IATA criticized Europe’s responses to a volcanic ash cloud and called on Monday for urgent steps to reopen airspace after five days of closures that have cost airlines US$250 million a day.

According to BBC and Reuters; flights from large parts of Europe are set to resume on Tuesday under a deal agreed by the European Union to free up airspace closed by a cloud of ash hurled into the sky by an Icelandic volcano. Under the deal, which Kallas said would take effect from 0600 GMT; the area immediately around the volcano will remain closed. But flights may be permitted in a wider zone with a lower concentration of ash, subject to local assessments and scientific advice, the European aviation control agency Eurocontrol said. "From tomorrow morning we should see more planes flying," EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas told reporters on Monday after EU transport ministers held a video conference.

Flight from Schiphol Airport on Monday night operated, one of three bound for New York, Shanghai and Dubai from Amsterdam with almost 800 passengers on board.

Germany will mostly maintain its no-fly zone until 1200 GMT, and in Britain, where some northern airports excluding London's international hubs will reopen from 0600 GMT, National Air Traffic Services warned. France said it was reopening some airports to create air corridors to Paris. Italian airspace will open from 0600 GMT.

Eurocontrol said it expected up to 9,000 flights to have operated in Europe on Monday, a third of normal volume. “The volcano eruption in Iceland has strengthened and a new ash cloud is spreading south and east towards the UK."

Industry losses worldwide for passenger airlines and cargo companies could reach as much as $3 billion from the cloud, Helane Becker, an analyst with Jesup & Lamont Securities, told Reuters Insider on Monday. For U.S. airlines, she estimated the impact at $400 million to $600 million. Japan Airlines said it had cancelled 55 European flights, affecting 14,277 passengers. All Nippon Airways (ANA) has cancelled 33 flights, affecting about 8,500.

Millions of people have had travel disrupted or been stranded and forced to make long, expensive attempts to reach home by road, rail and sea, as well as missing days at work and school at the end of the busy Easter holiday season.

It is anticipated that the holidays booked for long haul destinations would remain unaffected and therefore once the airline industry starts normal operation this week, it is expected that the arrivals for the Maldives will have a positive growth of 25% for the month of April as forecasted prior to the flight cancellations.


Hrithik, Barbara Mori in Maldives for ad shoot

Mexican actress Barbara Mori, who is in India for the promotion of "Kites", left for the Maldives to shoot an ad campaign for Provogue with co-star Hrithik Roshan.

The Roshans wish to keep her visit as low key as possible until she returns from the Maldives Thursday for a series of press interactions in Mumbai.

Hrithik wrapped up the final few days of shooting with Sanjay Leela Bhansali for "Guzaarish" before Barbara's arrival.

Hrithik and his wife Susanne gladly played Barbara's host on her arrival in Mumbai Monday.

About her current visit to India, Rakesh Roshan, the film's producer, said: "We don't want to create any unnecessary hype about her presence. But we do want to make it clear that we didn't sign Barbara for 'Kites' because we needed any Caucasian girl."

"Barbara is not just a pretty girl. She is an amazing actress. You have to see her in 'Cosas Insignificantes' where she had shaved off her hair. She is an outstanding dramatic actress," he added.

Barbarba spent Monday in Mumbai with the Roshans and left early Tuesday morning for the Maldives.

She leaves Mumbai May 2 and will join Hrithik for the US premiere of "Kites".


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Forty-two-year-old President Mohamed Nasheed is the first democratically elected president in the island nation of the Maldives, home to 375,000 people located in the Indian Ocean off the tip of Sri Lanka. A former human rights activist and journalist, Nasheed was jailed and tortured by his predecessor. Today he is one of the most outspoken politicians in the world talking about the impact of climate change and its effect on all coastal areas, especially the low-lying Maldives.

Jon Bowermaster: How immediate is the problem of climate change and rising seas in the Maldives today? What evidence are you seeing?

President Nasheed: Climate change is not a distant or abstract phenomenon in the Maldives. The affects of climate change are being felt today. One-third of inhabited islands in the Maldives are suffering from coastal erosion, which is exacerbated by climate change. Fishermen are complaining that weather patterns have become unpredictable and warmer and more acidic seas threaten our coral reefs. If the world fails to curb carbon dioxide emissions and global temperatures continue to soar, these problems will worsen over the coming decades.

JB: Have sea levels risen already?

PN: The Environment Ministry calculates that sea levels in the Maldives are rising by 0.7 millimeters per year, which is around the global average. The big fear, however, is that this rise in sea level accelerates as climate change starts to rise even more towards the end of this century. This is a concern not just to the Maldives, but all low-lying areas around the world.

A 1-meter rise in sea levels, which some climate scientists warn will happen if nothing is done to reduce carbon pollution, would be devastating for the Maldives. Such a rise would also inundate other low-lying countries such as Bangladesh and the Netherlands and seriously threaten many of the world’s coastal cities. We must not allow this to happen.

JB: Soon after your election you announced plans to look for higher ground to move your people to. Where are you looking and how is the search going?

PN: Nobody in the Maldives wants to leave home. The government is doing everything we possibly can to remain here. We are improving sea defenses, such as sea walls, revetments and embankments. We are working to improve the coral reefs and coastal vegetation, which are our islands’ natural defense mechanisms. And we are exploring new building designs, such as building houses on stilts so they withstand storm surges and floods.

The bottom line, however, is dry land and if the world allows the climate crisis to turn into a catastrophe, then future generations of Maldivians will have no choice but to seek new homes on higher ground. I believe it is right to have this conversation today so we can start to plan for the problems tomorrow may bring.

Last year, I suggested we should start saving a portion of our tourism revenues in a Sovereign Wealth Fund, to help future generations cope with climate change. Ultimately, this fund could be used to help people leave.

If we ignore the warning signs and continue blindly down a ‘business as usual’ polluting path, then it will not just be Maldivians looking for a new home but also the good people of London, New York and Hong Kong.

JB: In your travels around the Maldives do you find that most people understand the seriousness of climate change and its potential impact on them?

PN: People living in Male’ and other urban areas are quite knowledgeable about the environment, particularly young people. In more remote parts of the country, people see that erosion is increasing. They know that the fish catch is more irregular and they understand that coral reefs are stressed. Maldivians know there are environment problems which affect their daily lives and that these problems are linked to global climate change.

JB: You’ve also proposed that the Maldives will become the first carbon neutral country in the planet. How is that going and have you set a timeline?

PN: We have a plan to make the Maldives carbon neutral in 10 years. At the heart of this plan lies a commitment to renewable energy. 155 1.5MW wind turbines, coupled with half a square kilometer of solar panels and a back-up biomass plant would produce enough green energy to power the country.

Aviation is trickier. Until airlines can switch to biofuels, there is little the Maldives can do other than offset the pollution caused by international tourist flights, by investing in carbon reduction schemes elsewhere.

Our carbon neutral plan is on track. This year, the government has started working with a number of international energy companies to build wind farms, which we hope will provide the bulk of our electricity. We are also working with the Government of Japan on a $10 million solar project, to install photovoltaic panels on schools and government buildings in and around the capital.

JB: You recently convened an underwater meeting of your entire cabinet. Whose idea was that? Some in the press called it a ‘stunt’—which is not always a bad thing, when you’re trying to draw attention to important issues.

PN: It was a cabinet decision to conduct the underwater meeting. We estimate that over 1 billion people watched, heard or read about the underwater cabinet meeting. While it was a bit of fun, it underscored a serious message. I hope the meeting raised people's awareness about the dangers climate change poses to the Maldives and the rest of the world. I hope that some of those people go on to ask their own politicians what they are doing to help solve the climate crisis. It is only when people start holding leaders to account, when politicians start losing elections over environmental issues, that they will treat climate change with the seriousness it deserves.

JB: What can bigger nations do to help lessen contributions to climate change, which will adversely impact island nations first?

PN: To save the Maldives—and the rest of the world—we need to halt climate change. It is as simple, and as complicated, as that. And to halt climate change, we must listen to the advice of those who know best. Not politicians, but climate scientists.

After the massive loss of polar ice two years ago, scientists realized that global warming was happening more quickly and on a larger scale than they had anticipated. Wherever scientists’ looked—high-altitude glaciers, hydrological cycles, and the spread of mosquitoes—they found change happening decades ahead of schedule. Average global temperatures have risen by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial Revolution but this has been enough to tilt the world's climate off balance.

In January 2008, James Hansen, one of the world's leading climatologists, published a series of papers showing that the safe limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was at most 350 parts per million. Anything higher than that limit, warns Hansen, could seed "irreversible, catastrophic effects" on a global scale. At the moment, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 387 ppm and rising. Reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere to 350 is our best chance of preventing global temperatures from rising even further.

Sadly, most politicians have chosen to ignore these warnings and still talk about limiting temperature rises to 4 degrees Fahrenheit. But a 4-degree temperature rise would not stop climate change. Rather, 4 degrees will sink the Maldives, melt Greenland and devastate the Amazon rainforest. Four degrees would also turn most of the Mediterranean into desert. We must not allow that to happen.

We all need to stop polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, which we know are poisoning our world. And we need to start using the renewable resources we all have in abundance to power the planet, namely, the sun, the sea and the wind.

JB: Many of the things causing climate change are created far from the shores of the Maldives. Do you hold the big industrial nations responsible for a problem now dramatically facing your country?

PM: Blaming others for causing the climate crisis is not necessarily the best way to solve it. What’s done is done. We want to focus on the future, not on the past. The industrialized nations have the greatest changes to make, in terms of transforming their economies towards carbon neutrality. But developing nations also have responsibilities.

If we want to reduce carbon pollution in the atmosphere, developing nations cannot pursue the same dirty development path that the West did. We must embrace renewable energy and green growth. Developing countries are relatively poor, however. To my mind, it makes sense that Western nations, that have the money and technical resources, should help poorer, developing nations go green. It is in everyone’s interest that richer countries play this leadership role, while also transforming their own economies.

JB: In the face of the growing consensus that our seas will rise, perhaps more quickly than we now expect, how do you maintain your apparent sense of optimism?

PN: I believe in humanity and human ingenuity. I do not believe that humans are suicidal or that the path ahead is insurmountable. I believe that the winners of the 21st century will be those countries that jettison dirty fossil fuels for renewable energy and green technologies. These pioneering countries will free themselves from the unpredictable price of foreign oil. They will corner the market in the green industries of the future. These countries will also have greater moral authority and political clout on the world stage.

The Maldives has committed to carbon neutrality but our efforts alone will not stop climate change. We need other nations to come on board and commit to carbon neutrality. Politicians rarely act unless their electorates push them to do so. In that regard, I would invite everyone living in a country that has not signed up to carbon neutrality to ask their elected representatives why they are dragging their feet on the most important issue in human history.


Liveaboard Association of Maldives has participated on ADEX 2010 held in Singapore.

The Liveaboard Association of Maldives (LAM) have participated at Asia Dive Expo (ADEX 2010) held in Suntec City Convention Centre , Singapore. The following members of LAM have represented their boats at this event. It’s the 16th Year of this event and Maldives did participate last on 2004.

Liveaboard Association of Maldives have initiated with the members in promoting the Liveaboard industry on international exhibitions since from the 1st Year of forming the association. Likewise, LAM have successfully participated at Boot Fair held in Dusseldorf, London Dive Show in London and the current Fair in Singapore. LAM is also thinking of participating at the DEMA show to be held in Las Vegas, USA during November this year. And LAM develops it’s own annual publication in German and English language which is distributed free of charge on international travel fairs.


Hassan Saeed enters 2013 presidential race

Former Attorney General Dr. Hassan Saeed is elected as the presidential candidate for the 2013 election from the Dhivehi Qaume Party (DQP).

Dr. Saeed was elected as DQP leader and as per party rules and he is now set to contest the presidential elections, Miadhu reported quoting the party Registrar Abdulla Ismail.

Dr. Saeed also contested the 2008 presidential election and he secured the third place.

But in the run-off, he backed MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed’s bid for presidency.

The party will hold its congress on May 1, which is held once in every four years.

The DQP was registered on 1 January 2009 and it has a membership of 3442.
Amongst other contestants who have announced their candidacy so far, for the 2013 presidential polls are DRP leader Thasmeen Ali and PA Leader Abdullah Yamin.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

President’s office snaps back at VP: Says Executive is no “log of wood” to shoulder equally

Press Secretary for the President’s Office snapped back at Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed saying “the Executive is not a log of wood” for the President and the Vice President to shoulder equally, after the latter publicly said he was not “consulted” over government matters calling Nasheed administration “a single man running the show.”

He [the Vice President] is suggesting it is dictatorship again under President Mohamed Nasheed “as if the Executive was a log of wood to carry with which the President should shoulder one end and the VP should be allowed to shoulder the other,” Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair told the Asian Tribune.

On April 12, Dr. Waheed appeared on the Hoonu Gondi (Hot Seat) show on VTV and lamented the fact that though being the Vice President, he is not “consulted” over government matters and he not satisfied in the job.

Later, he told media that the Nasheed administration is still a “one man running the show” like it used to be under President Gayoom.

The “way we function in [this] government is not too different to what it used to be. It’s still one man running the show,” he was quoted as saying in Minivan news.

But Zuhair said Dr. Waheed’s comments that the “country runs like before as single party rule is misleading and deliberate political prevarication as it also suggests that there is no pluralism in the Maldives.”

“No one can actually refute that the political system had completely changed here, that there are multiple parties, independent institutions, so there cannot be a dictatorship,” he said.

The Press Secretary called the Vice President’s comments “pure phantasmagoria which can only be aimed at the public” hoping to persuade some to believe him.”

Asked if President Nasheed is not concerned when his Vice President says he is not happy in the job, Zuhair said: “The President has commented that he would extend serious consideration to the VP’s recent remarks.”

According to Zuhair, Dr. Waheed’s comments are rather “political” aimed at the public and not at the President.

“As the nature of the VP’s remarks were entirely political there is also a misconception that they were aimed at the government. However they were aimed at the public,” he argued.

He [Dr. Waheed] mooted greater participation for coalition parties - - that they participate fully in the government, during the VTV show.

However, Vice President Dr. Waheed is a professional with a Masters in Education Planning and has held key positions in the field of education globally.

He has worked as UNICEF Head of Education in Tanzania, as a Senior Advisor at UNICEF Headquarters in New York and UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for South Asia and Acting Regional Director based in Nepal, amongst many positions held.

Dr. Waheed also noted that his experience in the education sector is not fully tapped by the government.

Waheed’s political party, the Gaumee Ithihad (National Unity) tied up with the then MDP presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed in 2008, becoming his running mate.

However the party failed to win a single seat in Parliament in the May 2010 general elections.

And Zuhair queried as to “how can a coalition partner demand a bigger share in the government when they lack support even for a single MP?”

The Gaumee Ithihad got “negligible public support” during the vote, he said.
Yet he said the Vice President is being consulted “over and above the Constitutional requirement.”

“The Constitution does not sanction the President to divide his executive duties and responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the President to safeguard this important feature in the Constitution.”

“The President is the one and only Head of the Executive and State,” Zuhair explained.

Articles 117 and 122 of the Constitution deals with the responsibilities of the Vice President. It sauys “The Vice President shall exercise such responsibilities and powers of the President as are delegated to him by the President.”

Dismissing Dr. Waheed’s comments on lack of consultation, Zuhair noted “the VP attends daily executive meetings, all weekly cabinet meetings, his party’s ministers work and contribute to the government and attend Cabinet meetings.”

Dr. Waheed’s party has two ministers, two state ministers and number of other political appointees in the government.

“So there are consultations happening all the time in the government, over and above the Constitutional requirement as there is the political element of his own party’s politicians in the government. “

He said “an appeal for any more consultation would be political, outside the parameters of the VP’s role in the Constitution,” adding “the additional engagement would only mean with his party, which is directly related to garnering more public support.”


Holidaymakers Seek Out Alternative Destinations to Cut Holiday Costs

New research from Post Office Travel Money has revealed that more than three-quarters of holidaymakers believe they will take as much holiday in 2010 as they did last year . However, the findings also indicate that eight in 10 people will adjust their travel plans this year in a bid to get the most out of their travel money .

One of the primary ways UK travellers are set to save is by choosing cheaper alternative destinations which they may not have previously considered in the hope of getting more value for their travel money.

The Post Office advises that by researching the best-value destinations, not only could holidaymakers make substantial travel money savings, but they could also secure themselves an extra few days away. For example, travellers who switch from 10 days in the Maldives to two weeks in Thailand could save an extra £530 in travel money per person and gain an additional four days away for a similar price.

According to Post Office Travel Money research, Thailand is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations for UK tourists. The combination of stronger sterling foreign currency exchange rates, combined with lower tourist prices, can make Thailand a great value destination to help UK holidaymakers' travel money go further.


Stay In An Underwater Hotel Room

Yesterday, Ithaa, the world"s first all-glass under-sea restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island will celebrate its fifth anniversary. And to celebrate, the resort is offering guests the chance to spend the night under-water by turning the restaurant into an exclusive suite for two, complete with private champagne dinner and breakfast in bed.

Sitting five metres below the waves of the Indian Ocean, surrounded by a vibrant coral reef and encased in clear glass, the restaurant has hosted over 43,800 diners, 151 under-sea "Renewal of Love" ceremonies and been witness to the consumption of over 14,235 bottles of the "house wine" champagne since opening.

Using aquarium technology, "Ithaa" meaning "pearl" in the Maldivian language of Divehi, was built to allow guests to enjoy the colour, clarity and beauty of the Indian Ocean without getting their feet wet.

Ithaa consists of three five-metre wide x 125mm thick glass arches sitting one metre below the sea level during low tide and almost two metres at high tide, the widest constructed underwater structure in the world at the time of building. The inside of the restaurant is nine metres long and five metres wide and sits above the seabed.

Such a unique restaurant deserves a distinctive cuisine, which is why Ithaa is the first and only restaurant in the world to offer fusion Maldivian cuisine, taking local spices, seasonings and traditional cooking methods, but adding a western twist to create an innovative style of cooking.

Diners at Ithaa Undersea Restaurant experience a set-menu composed of 23 different dishes over four courses; from Reef Fish with grape, almond and saffron reduction to Maldivian Banana and Chilli Mascarpone cream with refreshing crushed basil. A three-course lunchtime menu is also offered.

World-renowned wine-makers and Chefs have also flocked to Ithaa to host numerous food and wine events with highlights including visits from Hubert de Billy from Pol Roger who will help celebrate the anniversary this month; Frederic Engerer of Chateau Latour and Chef Mathieu Pacau of acclaimed Paris restaurant L"Ambroisie.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Salman meets Maldives president

Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman held talks here Thursday with Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed on issues of mutual concern. Nasheed highlighted the strong relations between the two countries and thanked the governor for visiting the Maldives.

Prince Salman arrived here earlier in the day and was received at the airport by Maldives Prime Minister Ibrahim Hussein Zaki, Maldivian Ambassador to the Kingdom Hussein Shihab and Saudi Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Abdul Aziz Al-Jammaz.

Prince Salman was accompanied by Prince Muhammad bin Salman, special adviser, Riyadh Mayor Prince Abdul Aziz Al-Muqrin, other princes and high-ranking officials including Abdul Rahman Al-Jeraisy, chairman of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Prince Salman arrived in the Maldives after a five-day official visit to India where he met President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna and other officials.


Vice President says President Nasheed runs “one man show”

Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed has accused President Mohamed Nasheed of running a “one man show” saying it was no different to that of President Gayoom’s regime.

The “way we function in [this] government is not too different to what it used to be. It’s still one man running the show,” Dr. Waheed was quoted as saying in Minivan news.

However he assured he was “not picking issues” with the government, but “talking about democratic process,” it said.

Dr. Waheed initially expressed his dissatisfaction with the government in the first ever talk show of Hoonu Gondi (Hot Seat) on 12 April, on VTV.

He said then that “he was in the government not because he is happy with it.”

And his bombshell comments of dissatisfaction with the government in which he holds a key post, were totally unexpected and is not going augur well for the Nasheed administration.

Later, Minivan news quoted Dr. Waheed as saying that he is “not sufficiently involved in the decision making process” of the government.

“I don’t feel I am able to contribute, that consultation is not there,” Dr. Waheed has said according to Minivan news.

He said “it was the president’s privilege not to consult him on everything,” still he thought the core of a democratic government should be “more inclusive and participative.”


Discover an exciting cultural heritage in the Maldives

The Maldives is synonymous with luxury resorts offering world-class cuisine and accommodation, pristine palm-fringed beaches, sensational diving and snorkelling and sumptuous spa facilities. For those who are happy to ditch the deckchair, the Maldives also has an exciting cultural heritage, rarely seen by many visitors and waiting to be explored.

Guests staying at Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort and Vilu Reef Beach & Spa Resort can swap sunbathing for sightseeing and discover more about the Maldives’ traditions, local island way of life and its capital Malé.

Cultural excursions at Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort, located in the South Male Atoll, include:

Malé Experience: Few people take the time to see Malé, the smallest capital city in the world, but it offers a great insight in to the history and foundation of this wonderful country. Amidst the densely crowded streets is a pleasant, quirky city with an incredible array of shops and lively markets where traditional items can be bought including handcrafted wooden lacquer ware, plates and woven mats made out of dried reeds. There’s a guided tour to the Islamic Centre and Grand Friday Mosque to see the golden dome which dominates Malé‘s skyline. Visitors can then enjoy the lovely gardens at Sultan's Park, visit the National Museum and for a real flavour of the Maldives, wander the fish and local markets. Available twice per week from US$ 75 per person.

Sunset Fishing & Beach BBQ: A chance to learn or enhance fishing skills whilst watching the sun go down. This trip culminates on a desert island with a BBQ dinner under the stars, including some delicious, freshly caught fish! Available on Tuesdays from US$ 75 per person.

Local Island Half Day: See the local way of life on Guraidhoo and Maafushi islands and their traditional houses built out of coral stones, mosques and schools. Available four times per week from US $45 per person.

Excursions at Vilu Reef Beach & Spa Resort, located in the South Nilandhe Atoll, include:

Half Day Island Discovery: Visit the local fishing villages at Meedhoo and Bandidhoo in the Dhaalu Atoll to experience the Maldivian way of life. Meedhoo is a tiny island, which was severely hit by the 2004 tsunami. Visit its mosque, primary school, power house and health centre erected under the aid of UNICEF. Bandidhoo has significant landmarks in the form of a 300-year-old mosque and an old Banyan Tree. Home to many Dhoni or traditional boat builders, it also has its own indigenous doctors for which the island is renowned for. Available twice per week from US$ 45 per person.

Full Day Island Hopping: An extension to the Half Day Island Discovery, this tour incorporates a visit to a third uninhabited desert island, Faandhoo picnic island to enjoy snorkelling, swimming and sunbathing. After exploring the virgin island and surrounding waters, enjoy a delicious BBQ lunch under the shade of palm trees. Available twice per week from US$ 62 per person.

For more information regarding Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort visit and for Vilu Reef Beach & Spa Resort visit

Destinology ( offers seven nights for the price of six on a half-board basis at Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort from £1,289 per person (a total saving of £130 per couple). Valid for travel on selected dates from 1 May to 30 July, the price includes return flights from Gatwick with British Airways, resort speedboat transfers, taxes and surcharges. Nestled amidst tropical vegetation and surrounded by a vast sandy, award-winning beach and crystal clear lagoon, facilities include a selection of restaurants and bars, two large pools and an excellent watersports centre with one of the only registered kite-surfing schools in the Maldives.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Maldives Student Loses Handbag In Mosque

A Maldives student doing practical training with the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) lost her handbag while praying in a mosque in Titiwangsa on Thursday.

Fathimah Nasra, 21, of Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA) said she found the handbag missing after Asar prayers at Masjid Ibnu Sina at 4.45pm.

"Such incident never happened in Maldives. I am shocked as it occured in a place of worship," she said.

Fathimah lost her international passport, credit card, debit card, mobile phone and student card.

She then lodged a report at Setapak police station.


Maldives national taken into custody in India

A Maldives national, suspected of terror links, was taken into custody by officials of Central Intelligence here, official sources said today.

After an input received from the Intelligence Bureau, the accused, Abdul Haleem, was taken into custody last night from a lodge in the city for questioning, they said.

According to sources, he was staying here since June last year.

The Maldives Consulate has been informed of the custody, the sources said.


Are You Driving a Car or a Taxi?...

The guys living in the Republic of Maldives are probably some of the luckiest people in the world when it comes to nice weather, sunny beaches 365 days/year, turquoise water, palm trees, incredibly fine white sand, etcetera. But, as nature always likes to compensate, their tiny capital of Male – having an area of just 5.798 square kilometers (2.238 square miles) – has some of the shortest streets in the world. If you were to find a straight road there with a length of 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) it would be something, though I seriously doubt it...

Even if the tiny city is literally packed with motorcycles, the young Maldivians also own cars. Not a lot of them, but enough for everyone to make a very simple and truthful categorization of the car "breeds" out there. In Male, there are only taxis and cars. Everything is very simple, although apparently, you'd think that since they're driving on the wrong side of the road they're as complicated as the Queen's subjects.

In the Maldives, any car that doesn't have two doors is automatically classified as a "taxi". In other words, these people have rapidly understood what the deal with sports cars is. Moreover, they've simplified everything to the extreme: there are cars (sports ones) and there are taxis. A simple and perfect conclusion!

I find it amazing that a bunch of people living on a tiny island have arrived at this conclusion, are organizing drag races on any small patch of asphalt they find and are fanatical supporters of real sports cars. This is happening while the EU's roads are congested with French econoboxes, Italian crapmobiles and lots and lots of other POS cars from "emerging markets" - like Skoda, Seat, etc.

This is also while BMW is launching another five-meter mammoth with seven seats, dubiously explaining its customers how they're about to drive a very sporty car, while Porsche is revealing a diesel SUV, pressed by the hillbillies who want to plow with a Porsche, and while Audi has began to rival locomotives by building a Q7 as ugly, as stupid and as exaggerated as the twin-turbo diesel V12 underneath one of its versions' hood...

The European Union is choking by polluting diesel piece of crap cars, the United States is still filled with Goliaths sporting V8s that hardly crawl away from the stoplight, the UK is infected with motorized fashion accessories and the Land Rover refrigerators on wheels, while a few tanned people on an exotic island are teaching us what a car actually means. It has to have two doors, it has to be fast and it had to have pleasant seats. It's what they're calling a "car".

If you're now thinking that you're driving a taxi, learn that you can still change that. And if you're driving a diesel, don't tell anyone and quickly change it with a car that sports a refined gasoline engine. If gasoline is expensive or the fuel consumption is too high, just walk. It's healthier both for you and for the future generations...

Now get yourself a real car! Leave taxis in the hands of professionals!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Maldives – Ranked No. 4 amongst the 28 finalists of “New 7 Wonders of Nature”

With an increase of 99.32% Maldives is ranked as no.4 amongst the 28 finalists of New 7 Wonders of Nature. The ranking for this week is based on according to the number of votes received in the past four weeks from outside the country as well as local nationals.

The Official New7Wonders of Nature is a worldwide campaign, and finalists have to achieve a minimum of 90% of international votes and 10% locally.

The reason for Maldives climbing to the 4th position is the support that MTPB has got from the private sector together with the effort of MTPB in promoting the New 7 Wonders of Nature voting activities in the Maldives stands in all the tourism and travel fairs participated abroad.

In order to motivate voting a raffles draw was held during the end of each fair at the stand and the winner was awarded a free 1 week holiday in a Maldivian resort. MTPB would like to take this opportunity to thank all the resorts that sponsored the raffle draw and hope for the continued support in the future activities as well.

Inorder to initiate voting in the resorts and to create awareness amongst the guests, a seminar with the resort managers were held in January. All the participants were given a trailer DVD of the “New 7 Wonders of Nature” along with 3 different sizes of the flyers that was used by the MTPB in the fairs and in other public events. The trailer DVD is ideal for broadcasting in the resort in house TV. This was also sent to all the resorts by email for them to use in the activities carried out to promote New 7 Wonders of Nature.

For additional information regarding the “New 7 Wonders of Nature” and to vote for Maldives please visit


Maldives stands firm with Akon concert despite complaints

The Maldives government is standing firm with the decision to hold the Akon concert as scheduled despite public “complaints” over the show.

“No one including the Islamic Ministry has to date submitted any valid reasons to stop the show and therefore the government would stand firm with the permits already issued,” Press Secretary to the President’s office Mohamed Zuhair told the Asian Tribune.

Zuhair said that the Islamic Affairs Minister himself has commented that there was no issue over the show.

“Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari was in Cabinet today [Tuesday] and has commented to colleagues that there was nothing wrong with the Akon show being held here,” Zuhair said.

However, State Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Ahmed Shaheem Ali Saeed has told Minivan news that the ministry has received “many complaints” from people concerned about the Akon concert scheduled for 23 April.

”We have received many phone calls and complaints from people asking why we are doing nothing when a person who sings explicit lyrics is about to perform in the country,” Shaheem was quoted as saying in Minivan news.

”Our opinion is that we do not like explicit singers to perform in the country,” Shaheem has said.

Zuhair noted that “the President has been advised on the all the issues that may be relevant to the show and is on the record as wishing the concert well.”

“He has today [Tuesday] reiterated his wishes that everyone attending the show to have a good time. These comments are seen as a signal that it has been weeks after the show was publicized,” Zuhair said adding that the Islamic Ministry has not complained to the government over the show.

“The government also takes notes that there is tremendous public support for the show to go on here,” Zuhair added.

Akon was denied visa to Sri Lanka for the show that was initially to be held there.

The Lankan government alleged that one of Akon’s videos dancing around a Budha statue disrespected Buddhism.

Subsequently, the show was shifted to Maldives.


UN to give $40.6m to Maldives

United Nations and Maldives Government have signed the agreement on the USD 40.6 million, as pledged during the donor conference. The agreement was signed at a special ceremony held at Ministry of Finance and Treasury. The assistance would be utilized in Maldives efforts to achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and to achieve the goals in the Maldives Strategic Action Plan. Of the USD 40.6 million, health sector will receive USD 3.1 million and fight against narcotic drugs and AIDS will receive USD 4.6 million. Environment, Climate Change and natural disasters will receive USD 15.6 million.

Speaking at the Event, Mansoor M. Ali, UN’s Acting Resident Coordinator in the Maldives said that Maldives has achieved remarkable progress in achieving MDGs. Mansoor also said Maldives had already achieved 5 of the 8 MDGs and that he is hopeful of achieving the remaining three by 2015, deadline for achieving MDGs. Speaking in local language Mansoor also said that Maldives and UN shares a special bond.

Minister Ali Hashim thanked the UN on behalf of the government at the ceremony. He also said that some institutions are not performing as expected, and said that for the progress to be achieved all government and state institutions shall perform to its maximum.

Although as part of donor forum pledges UN alone has materialized USD 40.6 million, opposition DRP previously said that the donor forum only materialized “less than USD 20 million”.


New Kuwaiti Ambassador presents credentials to President Nasheed

The new Kuwaiti Ambassador to the Maldives, Mr. Yaqoub Yousef Al-Ateeqi, has presented his Letter of Credentials to President Mohamed Nasheed at a function held this afternoon at the President’s Office.

After the presentation of credentials, the President and the Ambassador discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and ways to further strengthen these relations.

Speaking at the meeting, President Nasheed said the Maldives and Kuwait have very close historic relations, and two countries were good development partners. The President also conveyed his best wishes to the Emir of Kuwait.

Ambassador Al-Ateeqi assured the President of his commitment to further strengthen the existing relations between two countries.

Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed and Special Envoy of the President Ibrahim Hussain Zaki were also present at the meeting.


'We should avoid using climate for making new trade wars'

The European Union (EU) may have been hinting at imposing a carbon tax to force exporting countries into taking urgent steps towards adopting cleaner technologies, but EU’s Climate Action Commissioner says the carbon trade, or cap and trade, system is preferable to a carbon tax system. In New Delhi, Kirtika Suneja recently spoke to Connie Hedegaard about this cap and trade system and more. Edited excerpts:

Why do you prefer a carbon trade system to a carbon tax one?
In a carbon trade system, you put a price on carbon and set a cap on how much carbon can be emitted. There is also an incentive structure, so when emission permits are scarce, there is a price on them and those who are energy efficient, don’t need to buy those permits. In a carbon tax system, some countries might feel that because they are rich, they can pay the tax and others can do the reductions.

How do business houses react to such a system?

The business world gets to know that they can’t get as many permits as in the previous one, as the quota gets tightened. It forces them to innovate and find new smarter and intelligent energy-efficient solutions. Those who are energy-efficient, can be rewarded because they don’t need to buy energy allowances. All the 27 countries in Europe follow this system and business houses also did not mind it. We have set a target for 2020 and so, the businesses know the playing field till then.

What are the implications of levying a carbon tax on any country?
We should try to avoid using climate and environment for making new trade wars. We have to pursue an international framework to put a carbon trading system in place. We don’t have to put taxes on different goods to indirectly start a trade war. It is not difficult to start a trade war. That’s an easy solution and a last resort. Europe’s priority is a carbon trading system, a system of highest environmental integrity. I would not like to speculate into anything more.

You visited the Maldives before coming to India. What is the sentiment there?
The discussion at the Maldives revolved around sea rise. They are extremely vulnerable and already feel so. So, we should not talk only of the big players like the US, China or India, but also the smaller ones who are suffering and we can’t afford to wait for adaptation and financing mechanisms. They did not create the problem and should not be suffering the most.

What do you expect from the climate talks in Bonn?
The talks in Bonn are expected to start a process towards Cancun. These will be the first set of talks after Copenhagen, and I hope they are constructive. We need to get specific on decisions and actions, and start discussing the actual issues not just the procedures. Moreover, there will also be a ministerial level meeting in Bonn on May 2-3.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hrithik and Barbara together in Maldives

Kites co-stars and the much-talked about couple Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori are now packing their back for Maldives. Sources inform that they are taking off on 17th of April.

Hold your horses guys, the duo is flying to Maldives for an ad campaign. From sometime now Hrithik has been looking for good promotional strategy for his upcoming films and seemingly it has occurred to him in the form of an ad-campaign. But what we hear now is that Hrithik has used his good offices and got Barbara into the ad.

The ad is likely to air around the same time when Kites will hit the theatres on May 21. It will definitely give a leg-up to the publicity and promotion of their film. Apart from that Hrithik would also get some more moments together with Barbara.


New French Ambassador presents credentials to President Nasheed

The new French Ambassador to the Maldives, Mrs. Christine Robichon, has presented her Letter of Credentials to President Mohamed Nasheed at a function held this afternoon at the President’s Office. [Read More]

New Mexican Ambassador presents his credentials to President Nasheed

The new Mexican Ambassador to the Maldives, Mr Jaime Virgilio Nualart Sanchez, presented his Letter of Credentials to President Mohamed Nasheed at a function held this morning at the President’s Office. [Read More]

Monday, April 12, 2010

Deals on environment, trade to be signed at 16th SAARC summit

The 16th South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit to be held in Bhutan this month is expected to sign a number of agreements on environment protection and trade in South Asia, the Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes said on Saturday.

The theme of the summit is "Conservation of Environment and Climate".

Briefing reporters Mijarul Quayes said that the theme of the summit is important as some South Asian countries including Bangladesh and the Maldives are most vulnerable nations to the changing climate.

Quoting environment scientists, he said the Maldives will lose its existence with the rise of sea level while Bangladesh will lose 20 percent of low-lying areas in the Bay of Bengal resulting in displacement of 25 million people.

He said the council of ministers comprising the Foreign Ministers of the 8-member SAARC countries will finalize a declaration on the climate change.

Quayes said though the Copenhagen Summit (COP-15) on Climate Change failed to reach a legally binding agreement on reducing the greenhouse gas emission, but it is a first step to lead to the such agreement at the COP-16 in Mexico in December this year.

He said the summit is expected to sign agreement on rapid response to natural disaster, cooperation in environment conservation, trade in South Asian countries and the South Asian Development Fund.

The 2-day summit will be preceded by the Council of Ministers meeting on April 27, Standing Committee meeting of the Foreign Secretaries on April 25-26 and Programming Committee meeting of senior officials on April 24.


Taj opens skills certification centre.

The Taj Group of Hotels has opened the Skills Certification Centre (SCC), a training hub offering specific hotel training services, at the Taj Samudra in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The centre, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, will cater for Taj’s five properties in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The SCC is equipped with modern facilities including a model room and model front desk to allow for simulation-based training. Currently, Taj operates more than 80 hotels globally.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

SAARC summit in Thimpu Apr 28-29

The 16th SAARC summit will be held in Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan, on April 28-29 with the theme: 'Conservation of Environment and Climate'.

The two-day summit will be preceded by the Council of Ministers meeting on April 27, Standing Committee meeting on April 25-26 and Programming Committee meeting of senior officials on April 24.

Briefing reporters at the Foreign Ministry on Saturday, Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes said the theme of the 16th SAARC summit is important as some of the South Asian countries including Bangladesh and the Maldives are most vulnerable to the changing climate.

Quoting environment experts, he said the Maldives will lose its existence with the rise of sea level while Bangladesh will lose 20 percent of its low lying areas in the Bay, which will displace 25 million people.

Quayes said though the Copenhagen summit (COP 15) on climate change failed to reach a legally binding agreement on lowering the greenhouse gas emission, but it was a first step leading to such an agreement at the COP 16 in Mexico in December this year.

He said SAARC council of ministers meeting in Thimpu will finalize a declaration on the climate change.

Besides, the summit is expected to sign agreement on trade and services, rapid response to natural disaster and cooperation in environment and South Asian Development Fund


Dietmar Koegerl - Anantara Kihavah Villas Maldives

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Dietmar Koegerl as the General Manager of Anantara Kihavah Villas Maldives.

Dietmar joins Anantara from his position as General Manager of the Sheraton Pattaya Resort, Thailand, where he was responsible for the overall management of its 156 rooms and villas Hotel.

Dietmar, who is a German national, has a strong background in hotel openings having worked as part of the launch team and General Manager at two, five star, Le Méridien hotels in the Seychelles.

Set on Kihavah Huravalhi in Baa Atoll, one of the most exclusive of all the Maldivian islands, Anantara Kihavah Villas is just 35 minutes by seaplane from Male International Airport. The 78 luxurious overwater and beach suites will all have private pools, wooden sundecks with spacious seating and lounging areas, outdoor showers and over-sized bathtubs big enough for two. The interiors will be contemporary with local, Indian and Moroccan accents with colour schemes that take their inspiration from the surrounding coral reefs; Anantara Kihavah will also boast the largest swimming pool in the Maldives. The hotel is slated to open in late September.

Dillip Rajakarier, Chief Operating Officer of Minor Hotel Group, the owners of Anantara, commented: "We are extremely pleased that Dietmar has joined the Anantara team. With over twenty years experience in hotel management and his experience in pre opening resorts will be a great asset to us as we move towards our fourth resort opening in the Maldives. Dietmar will be instrumental in cementing Anantara's position as one of the top emerging players on the worldwide hotel stage."
Dietmar is a graduate of the Senior Management program from INSEAD in Paris, France.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Underwater Museum in Mexico Offers Hope for Natural Coral Reefs

Cancun’s got a new museum. But to view its installations, you’ll have to snorkel, dive, or ride a glass-bottomed boat. That’s because the museum is on the ocean bottom near Mexico’s National Marine Park of Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc. Apparently, underwater is the new place to be. (Remember the under meeting of Maldives government held last October to make a statement about climate change?)

During the latter part of 2009 and much of 2010, artist Jason deCaires Taylor will cover this seabed withhundreds of life-size statues, art that Taylor and his partners from the National Marine Park and the Cancun Nautical Association hope will eventually form a reef structure for marine life to colonize.

Taylor plans to make each piece from cement, sand, micro silica and fiber glass—a combo said to promote coral life—and place the installation over 1,600 square feet (about 150 square meters). An area so large will intentionally draw the more than 750,000 annual visitors away from the Marine Park’s heavily strained natural reefs, giving them a chance to survive and regenerate.

The installation’s inauguration happened last November when three of Taylor’s pieces hit ocean bottom: The Gardener of Hope (La Jardinera de la Esperanza), The Archive of Lost Dreams (Coleccionista de los Suenos), and Man on Fire (Hombre en Llamas). Phase two is happening now, with an exhibition Taylor calls TheSilent Evolution, a set of sculptures cast from real people from local and international communities. The last of the three-parter includes commissioning artists from all over the world to contribute installations and host events.

For Taylor, it’s about recognizing the importance of nature. “With the advance of technology and the built environment, we seem to have lost our intrinsic link to nature,” he writes in the installation description. “The manifestation of living organisms cohabitating and ingrained in our being is intended to remind us of our close dependency on nature and the respect we should afford it.”


Guin sets record with first solo scull

AN Olympic medallist from Henley has become the first person to scull solo across the equatorial Zero Degree Channel.

Guin Batten completed the 60km crossing of the Indian Ocean in the Maldives on Tuesday in a time of seven hours and 16 minutes.

Guin, 42, of Luker Avenue, braved strong tides, swells and poor visibility as she rowed from Foammulah to Huvadhoo Atoll at night to avoid sweltering daytime temperatures.

Although accompanied by a support team, she was alone in a sculling boat just 6m long and 78m wide. But she had a reminder of home with her Leander Club blades.

And she received a hero’s welcome when she made it back to land.

Guin, who won silver at the Sydney Olympics and holds the record for rowing the Channel, told the Standard that the experience had been “quite scary”.

Speaking from the Maldives, she said: “We set off at about 2am and the only light came from a full moon. Because it’s dark and you are going backwards, you don’t see the waves coming but you can feel them rolling under you.”

The weather remained calm until dawn when she reached the equator, an area notorious for harsh storms.

“The wind picked up and there was a lot of swell and chop,” said Guin.

“We had thunderstorms all around us. They were about 20 miles away and we could see and hear them.

“We were lucky. If we had got caught up in them, we would have had to sit it out because the wind would have been ferocious. The area is also known for sharks, but I didn’t see any.”

As her row continued, it was the effect of heat that was her biggest challenge.

Guin said: “Coming from a British winter to an average temperature of 30C was tough. Even at 2am, I was sweating.

“The sweat made my hands soft, just as if you had been in a bath for a long time, which meant it was really tough to grip the oars and meant the calluses wouldn’t work.

“My hands are a real mess now — both are virtually all blisters — but every bit of my body aches.

“It was a struggle with the energy consumption — our bodies are not designed for this sort of physical exercise.

“The real risk was dehydration because of the heat. I was wearing lightweight clothing but because the Maldives is a Muslim country I had to make sure that I was wearing leggings and that my shoulders were covered.”

On her 35kg boat, Guin carried water in plastic bags, a compass, GPS satellite navigation system, a radio to keep in contact with the three support boats following her and a lucky leaf given to her by a local rower.

She said: “I also carried muesli bars and energy drinks and made sure I took a break for no more than five minutes every hour to rehydrate and eat something.

“When going over the equator, it was quite surreal. It was like Blackpool baths because there were so many people in the water.

“My entourage of about 50 people all jumped into the water over the line and back into the boat again. It was as dusk came up and will be a sight I will never forget.

“However, when you do something like this, you are concentrating all the time and making sure you are steering right.

“There was a technical element involved too because you lose power if the oars catch the water in an odd way.”

Fifteen minutes from the end she received a call of congratulations from Mohamed Nasheed, the president of the Maldives, with whom she went to school in Wiltshire. It was he who had suggested doing her record Channel crossing in 2003.

Guin was greeted by a crowed of about 200 people when she finished her row, exhausted but happy.

“I have had a fantastic response from locals — I am a celebrity,” she said. “People are wanting to touch me, prod me and pinch me. They are going to hold a women’s regatta in celebration.”

The only downside was she cut her right foot when she got out of her scull.

Guin was pleased with her time, saying: “I predicted that I would do about 8.5km an hour and that is exactly what I did, which is pretty consistent and is jogging speed.”

She is staying in the Maldives until next Saturday and plans to take it easy.

“I hope to relax on the beach and recover before thinking about working towards the world rowing championships in Turkey in October,” she said.

“I will get home and once I’ve done the washing up, made the beds and done the washing, I will probably get a warm glow — perhaps when I get a chance to sit down and have a quiet cup of tea.”

Guin was trying to raise the profile of rowing in the Maldives and highlight the threat posed to the island by climate change and rising sea levels.

Rowing is a Maldivian tradition dating back thousands of years but the art is dying out due to the introduction of motor boats.

She said: “I hope I have inspired the women on the islands to look again at the disappearance of rowing from their culture and show them that it is a sport not just for the men.”

Guin started rowing at age 19 while studying at Southampton University.

She is a member of Upper Thames Rowing Club, where she has coached for two years, and has rowed for Leander Club.

She currently works for the Youth Sports Trust and is supporting a bid to create a women’s rowing centre in the Maldives.

She moved to Henley in 1995 to train for the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Her sister Miriam lives in Chiltern Close and their father Dave lives in Lower Shiplake.

The sisters have a brother Steve, a businessman in Sydney, scene of their triumph in the quadruple sculls at the 2000 Olympics Games.