Saturday, December 25, 2010

Maldives to welcome 750,000 th visitor this year

Press Release

Maldives extended a warm welcome to the 750,000th visitor to the country today.  British citizen, Mrs. Daniela Ruth Selig arrived Maldives this morning by British Airways flight which landed at

Mrs. Selig clocked the 750,000th visitor mark at the immigration counter where she was met by the officials of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture and the Maldives Tourism promotion Board and were presented with a beautiful flower bouquet and sash.  Mrs. Selig arrived in the Maldives with her husband and two children.    They were escorted with a warm welcome procession of traditional Boduberu beats and dance from the arrival terminal up to the VIP lounge where they were warmly welcomed by The Minister of State for Tourism, Arts & Culture Mr. Thoyyib Mohamed together with the senior officials of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, The Maldives Tourism Promotion Board and representatives of the Tourism Industry of Maldives.   

At the VIP lounge, Mrs. Selig was presented with a gift and a special letter from the Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture extending a warm welcome and offering a special holiday package for two in the Maldives within the coming year.   

UK is one of the biggest generating market to the Maldives with a total of 95,586 arrivals to the Maldives from January to October.   This is an increase of 9.4% compared to the same period of 2009.   The 750,000th visitor being a British citizen is thought to create more interest and publicity to the destination especially amongst the British consumers.   Mrs. Selig is spending her holiday at Anantara Digu with her family.   This is her second holiday in the Maldives.     

For more information, please contact:
Maldives Tourism Promotion Board
Malé, Maldives
Telephone: +960 332 3228
Facsimile: +960 332 3229


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Luxury Vacations: I had daunting preconceived notions of what the Maldives would be like. My mind had always envisioned Tiffany box blue water, creamy white sand, and islands shaded by oceans of palm fronds. My expectations for the Maldives were more than met at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, the second Maldives resort property of the Banyan Tree resort group.

At Vabbinfaru, intimacy and care of the environment are cherished in a luxurious, natural setting. I was impressed by a number of things at Vabbinfaru, three of which I'll highlight as the most dazzling assets.

The Villas: Vabbinfaru is ringed with 48 villas, all of which house a private sunbathing deck, outdoor and indoor shower, and a jet pool. I admired the unique spiral design of our villa: our 4-post bed rested in the center of the bedroom while the bathroom unfurled into a long stretch of tiling and beach décor.

We soon learned the design mimics a seashell, which only impressed us more. Nearly half of the bedroom was composed of windows, which every moment gave us pristine, private views of the ocean just yards away. As if the ocean wasn't close enough, our private wood walkway led to a shaded escape, suspended gently over the water. As one employee mentioned to us, some guests never leave their villas.

The Marine Biology Lab: This is a first of its kind and something that just enthralled me- a fully functioning marine biology lab funded completely by a private resort. Guests are allowed to join biologists on coral evaluations, species inventory checks, and green sea turtle monitoring. We were considering one of Vabbinfaru's many water sport activities, such as wake boarding or windsurfing, but we were captivated by the opportunity to join one biologist in an enclosed area to feed young green sea turtles.

Our biologist then treated us to a guided snorkeling tour, pointing out sharks and exotic fish tucked under coral crevasses. Perhaps most impressive was the "electric reef," an electrically charged web pioneered by a handful of biologists the world over. The electric reef attracts coral growth and speeds the recovery process of damaged coral reefs. The fact that Vabbinfaru is developing and implementing technology to help keep delicate coral reefs healthy is more than a notable attribute; it's a tremendous effort worthy of international attention.

Dining: I admire a resort that seizes the sense of adventure and delight in its cuisine, especially if adventure and delight are the elements already showcased throughout the property. At Vabbinfaru, fabulous feasts are a daily occurrence. Breakfast at the palm leaf sheltered Ilaafathi restaurant offers an array of traditional Maldivian specialties as well as international staples. At night, the open-air Sangu restaurant entices guests with themed dinners warmed by fire flames and the sea breeze.


UAE discusses insurance cooperation with Maldives

Senior officials from the UAE's Insurance Authority and Maldives Monetary Authority have discussed cooperation on exchange of insurance information and regulations.

Discussions were held at a meeting between the Insurance Authority's Deputy Director General Fatima Issac Al-Awadhi and the Maldives Monetary Authority's Governor/Chairperson Fazeel Najeeb and the Executive Director of the Human Resources Division Neeza Imad.

The Maldivian officials expressed desire to send financial control staff to the Insurance Authority for training.

At the meeting, the two sides also agreed on holding further discussions on signing a memorandum of understanding.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Maldives Intensifies Campaign To Tackle Climate Change

Maldives, facing an existential threat from rising sea levels, has intensified its campaign on climate change, which is led by none other than its president Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed has figured in Foreign Policy magazine’s 2010 list of the world’s most influential thinkers for his endeavours to check climate change. The magazine has described him as “the world’s most environmentally outspoken president.”

Climate change has emerged as the most important aspect of Maldivian foreign policy. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that President Nasheed has been trying to highlight the issue at all global fora. Most recently, while speaking to students in Oxford University, he urged them not to work for oil and coal companies which were responsible for major carbon emissions into the environment. He also pointed out that these companies were also funding campaigns to deny the existence of climate change. He pleaded with the students to instead join those companies engaged in the area of alternative energy sources and green technologies.

However, his campaign on climate change has come to be mired in some controversy after a UK media report, citing documents leaked by Wikileaks, suggested that Maldives had pushed for US $50 million assistance from the US government in exchange for unequivocally backing the Copenhagen Accord. According to the leaked US State Department cable marked “secret” and dated February 26, 2010, the Maldivian Ambassador, Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, told US Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change Jonathan Pershing that several projects including harbour deepening and strengthening sea walls would cost approximately US$50 million. The cable further says that Pershing encouraged Ghafoor to provide concrete examples and specific costs in order to increase the likelihood of bilateral assistance and congressional appropriations. On the basis of this conversation, the report inferred that Maldives had agreed to support the Copenhagen agreement if the US were to provide it with $50 million.

The Maldivian Foreign Ministry has however refuted this. In a press release the ministry clarified that this meeting took place nearly two months after the Copenhagen summit. It also stated that Maldives gave its support for the Copenhagen Accord unilaterally and without reservations on December 19, 2009, just hours after the climate change negotiations concluded in Copenhagen.

The ministry also released a letter sent by Maldivian Foreign Minister Dr. Ahmed Shaheed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on December 30, 2009, in which Shaheed informed Clinton that Maldives was keen to activate the Copenhagen Accord in order to get assistance from the $30 billion fund promised in the accord as early as possible. The letter pointed out the necessity of funds being allocated for countries like Maldives which have to undertake urgent adaptation projects and programmes so that they can reorient themselves towards a low carbon future.

The press release emphasized that Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed and Foreign Minister led a diplomatic offensive to urge other countries, including the US, to follow suit. Nasheed, in an interview to Foreign Policy magazine, has also urged people to take direct action and put pressure on their respective governments to abide by the agreement.

In the meantime Maldives has been taking concrete steps for its part. On 24 November 2010, Maldives released the first ever carbon audit. The audit calculates current and future emissions trajectories and recommends steps to reduce greenhouse gases and oil dependency. This audit was funded by France’s Rothschild banking dynasty and carried out by BeCitizen. According to this audit, the country’s national emissions were at 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2009. The main contributors to this were the combustion of diesel fuel oil for power generation (50 per cent), domestic transportation (22 per cent), emissions from the fishing industry (13 per cent) and waste treatment (15 per cent). The audit projects that if nothing is done to change the situation then the amount could double by 2020. On the basis of the country’s population (310,000), these emissions correspond to 4.1 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per individual. By way of comparison, India records 1.7 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per person per year, China 5.5, France 9, and the United States 23.5.

Rising sea levels threaten the survival of Maldives prompting the country to intensify its efforts to highlight the consequences of climate change. But the country faces challenges at both the domestic as well international levels in this regard. Domestically, the carbon neutral master plan would have to be approved by its parliament, where the opposition holds the majority; this at a time when the country is in the midst of an intense phase of fractious domestic politics. At the international level, Maldives can only set an example of how to move towards reducing carbon emissions. Much would depend on what other countries do. The big emitters are not looking at Maldives as an example, claiming that their social and economic development cannot be compared to that of a small state. It is not clear whether a broader agreement on climate change will be forged before major damage is done to Maldives.