Wednesday, January 11, 2012

One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives Partners with Institut Esthederm Paris in First for The Maldives

Resort offers guests exclusive tailored sun tanning care One&Only Reethi Rah has opened an exclusive Sun Spa partnering with innovative French skincare brand, Institut Esthederm Paris. Sun Spa Esthederm at One&Only Reethi Rah is the only Sun Spa in The Maldives: providing tailored sun care and tanning programmes for guests.

The Sun Spa Esthederm is a unique service which will identify each guest's individual skin sun potential and advise them on the best skin care to maximise their full tanning potential. Institut Esthederm has developed more than 28 different sun care products, which allow all skin types to get the benefits of the sun safely. They also allow users to get the desired results under any kind of sunlight intensity.

A full day service by the pool or the beach includes the services of a professional Sun Spa Esthederm therapist who will start by preparing the skin for the sun and then apply and reapply sun cream every hour or two and after swimming according to the guest's skin type and programme. At the end of the day, guests will enjoy an after sun treatment to sooth their skin and prolong their tan. For example, the Adaptasun Normal Skin programme is designed for normal skin that rarely burns. Those who wish to tan quickly and safely in the most extreme sun conditions will get a more natural and deeper tan that will last longer. Full day body treatments start at USD200*

Surrounded by crystal blue ocean, this superb all-villa resort offers the ultimate holiday experience to those seeking the pinnacle of tropical luxury. Set amid six kilometers of white sand coves and turquoise bays, One&Only Reethi Rah is located on one of the largest islands in North Male' Atoll: nowhere else in the Maldives is there a resort with this much space and exclusivity.  Sleek and spectacular, Reethi Rah offers intimate accommodation in the world’s largest luxury resort villas, including luxurious beach and water villas, all with spectacular ocean views.

Inspiring extraordinary journeys for the soul, The One&Only ESPA spa is set in beautiful gardens, offering healing therapies in eight luxurious treatment villas, with swirling vitality pools, crystal steam rooms, saunas and ice fountains. Foodies can enjoy a choice of cuisine from three restaurants or in the privacy of their own villa and the Rah Bar is ideal for after-dinner cocktails.


The Maldives are Buying Land in Australia as Preparation for Mass Migration

The Maldives Archipelago is one of the most idyllic destinations on the planet; beautiful tropical islands in the Indian Ocean surrounded by coral reefs abundant with sea life. It is also one of the lowest nations on the planet. About 80% of the 1,200 islands are less than three feet above sea level, so if sea levels rise by 23 inches over the next century, as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Maldives will disappear beneath the waves. 14 islands have already been abandoned, and the Maldivian population will eventually have to evacuate their country, becoming the first refugee victims of global warming.

Unfortunately, on their own the Maldives can do nothing to combat climate change and prevent rises in sea level, and as a result they must face the reality that they will lose their land. The Maldivian President, Mohamed Nasheed, says that his people obviously want to remain on the islands, but “moving was an eventuality his government had to plan for.” In the Search for a new home for his countries 350,000 citizens he looked at India and Sri Lanka (due to cultural similarities) but has eventually settled on Australia. Nasheed set up a sovereign savings account, funded by revenue from tourism, with which he has been buying land on high ground because “he did not want his people living in tents for years, or decades, as refugees.”

The island nations of Tuvalu and Kiribati are also facing similar problems and have approached the Australian government to discuss the possibility of immigration assistance, hoping that they could move their entire nations to Australia, but thanks to their president the Maldives are one step ahead in as much as they will already own their own land and will therefore not require the bureaucratic generosity of other nations.

Source: By. James Burgess of

Maldives Islands: Meeting the Nation Builder

The FINANCIAL -- Before I fly to Male, the tiny capital of Maldives Islands, I am invited to meet with Ali Umar Manikku, the man who, over a 50 year period, took a tiny nation of islanders from total obscurity to a well-to-do country which, just a few days ago, created the record of having pulled in one million tourists for 2011.

Maldives per capita tourist influx is phenomenal. The ratio of 350,000 population to the tourist population of one million is staggering. Maldives does not necessarily cater to cheap tourism. Some resort accommodation sell at $10,000 to 15,000 a night while downward cascading prices for accommodation do not fall below $250 a night in 3-star resorts.

I meet Ali Umar Manikku in Singapore, in a quiet office at International Plaza in Anson Road. I have met him on and off for some 20 years, mainly during President Gayoom’s time. He has turned 72 now, somewhat feeble, but his memory, and his grasp of the global trends, global economy and what it means to smaller nations is formidable. What is more, he is still interested in taking Maldives Islands to a next level of growth, trying to find innovative ways of increasing its wealth generating capacity and in ensuring still better standards of living for his people. He remains a committed nationalist and a nation builder.

Maniku, serving as Vice President and as Presidential Advisor under two Presidents – Ibrahim Naseer and Gayoom – has been the chief architect of Maldives development and has played a key role in developing the capital Male which currently has some 120,000 people living there, the tourism infrastructure of resorts, Airport s, sea planes, fast boats; he developed the strategy for the Maldivian National Shipping Corporation which not only linked Maldives to the rest of world but became a key income generator for Maldives, the Maldivian National Trading Corporation as well as the fishing industry which now is one of the lifelines of Maldives. From the first day electricity dawned in Maldives or the first kilometre of road was carpeted in the capital, Manikku’s footprint is to be seen everywhere.

He gave me his book titled “ My Log Book : 1947-2008”, autographed it and said “ this was not written to say what I did, but where do we go from here”. The 50 years of enriched experience of dealing with the British over their exit from Maldives and from the Royal Airforce base in Gan Islands, of steering 30 years of President Naseer’s regime and that of President Gayoom’s tenure over 20 years focussed on developing a nation without water, without stones or any building materials, without educated people and without any real international support to a country whose water levels are constantly rising  must have been a real challenge. In his book, he describes his frustration when the world’s first woman prime minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka thwarted his plans to import large quantities of dried fish from Maldives to Sri Lanka – the only lifeline his people had of making any money at that time. Maldives has come a long way from that time.

After my meeting with Manikku, I was in Maldives, talking to senior government officers including the chief of staff of the President’s Office, and the Minister of Tourism, a lady in a Muslim country with a doctorate in law from Australia and a very key portfolio in the country. I find that the present generation of Maldivians are highly intelligent, well educated, totally focussed, very nationalistic and above all, they display a passion for building their tiny nation of hundreds of inhabited and uninhabited islands into a “ Singapore on the Water”.  They are all betting on developing their large number of islands into more and more affordable resorts for avid travellers seeking sun, sea and sand, building retirement homes for the wealthy and the ordinary men and women who may not be well cared for in their own countries, of information technology parks, fishing industry which can provide much of the fish to the world. Despite all the odds of not having any resource except the islands without rocks,r wood or river sand for mixing with concrete, the Maldivians, educated and disciplined are upbeat. They are planning to raise their national GDP to over $50 billion per annum within years. In simple terms, they are looking at over a $100,000 in per capita income which will be the highest in the world. Goals are being set.

Manikku served two Presidents who were deemed autocratic, although Manikku argues that without a certain level of autocracy, nothing much can be achieved in poor and emerging nations. But concedes that autocracy, like the early days of Lee Kwan Yew’s Singapore, need to be on the basis of having people’s development as utmost priority. Today, under the new government of President Nasheed, a UK-educated dissident who was in an out of jail under former President Gayoom, there is greater democracy, more freedom of expression and room for dissent and protests ranging from calls for the abolition of massage parlours in the capital to demanding work for everyone. There is also a measurable shift toward traditional Islamic practices in a country which had comparatively more liberal attitudes.

Maldives tourism has captured the world’s imagination. It is perhaps the ultimate tourist paradise and Maldives hopes of building the nation up the ladder are still based on income from tourism. Any attempt by radical thinking to snuff tourism will undoubtedly be the road back to the subsistence economy of fish and coconut as well as economic and cultural isolation in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

During the last days of my visit to Maldives, I discussed Georgia as a destination for Maldives investments. I told them that there is plenty of land, plenty of water, plenty of rocks and indeed plenty of people to work. Very few have heard of Georgia and its wonderful resources, but they are all extremely interested in checking it out. I am keen to see smaller emerging nations working powerfully together in sharing their expertise and their financial and other resources to build their economies.


Expect Rs 900 cr loss from Delhi Airport in CY12: GMR Infra

A newspaper report said GMR Infra will be allowed to collect airport development fee from Maldives Airport. Last month, a local court had banned the company from collecting it.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Sidharath Kapur, CFO-Airports at GMR Group says, "New tariff hike has not yet been finalised by the regulators. The company expects requisite approvals to come in by March."

Below is the edited transcript of Kapur's interview with CNBC-TV18's Latha Venkatesh and Reema Tendulkar. Also watch the accompanying video.

Q1: If you could confirm for us what exactly is the tariff that GMR will be getting for the Delhi airport?

A: At this stage regulator has not approved the tariff; they have put a proposed tariff into consultation. We had asked for a certain tariff increase and they have put an increase of 334% on the existing aeronautical tariffs into a consultation process. This process will run through the next three-four weeks, stakeholders will be invited for discussions and after that the regulator will take a final call on what kind of increases they want to approve.

Q2: How does this compare with what you wanted?

A: We had asked for a 770% increase in tariff. I will list out 2-3 key differences between our demand and actual tariff rates. A 774% increase in tariff looks daunting but if one keeps the background in mind. For the last ten years the aeronautical charges in India were based upon what airport authority was charging and Delhi airport continued to charge at same rates when they took over the airport. These charges have not increased in the last 10 years. If you factor in an inflationary growth the charges should be twice of what the currently prices are right now.

The infrastructure and the operating cost at Delhi airport have changed dramatically. A world class infrastructure worth USD 2.8 billion and commensurate operating cost, the total area of build-up in the T3 terminal is 7 times what it was 3 years back when the infrastructure was taken over.

Keeping all these factors in mind the growth in tariffs was bound to happen. In the current scenario, the revenues are ten years old but the development costs are most recent. So there is a complete mismatch between the revenues and the costs. The tariffs which we are currently demanding have been benchmarked against global airports and suppose to be the lowest in the world. The project cost has been benchmarked by Delhi airport through independent consultants.

Q3: If tariff hike of 334% is approved then what kind of impact do you think it would have on your own revenue stream and in terms of a timeline when do you think this proposal may come through?

A: The revenue approval to come in by March and effective 1st April is what we expect the new tariffs to kick in. In terms of impact on revenues, our current revenues are about Rs 600 crore on aeronautical tariffs so a 334% increase on aeronautical tariffs if proposed will take our aeronautical tariffs to about Rs 2,400 crore plus if you take non-aeronautical tariffs we are looking at about Rs 3,000-3,500 crore as our total revenue for this year.

Q4: At 330% increase in tariffs, when will you breakeven on Delhi airport?

A: For the last two years we have been making losses. Last year, we made loss of 450 crore, this year we expect to make a loss of about 900 crore. So our total networth of Rs 2,400 crore has been wiped off by more than 50% as of today. But with this tariff proposal which has been split into two parts; 148% increase next year and another 148% increase the year after that we would continue to make losses in 2013 and we will breakeven in the year after that.

Q5: Any indication of a compensation that you guys would be given in this period for the delay in the implementation of the tariffs in the proposal?

A: The way the Operation Management and Development Agreement (OMDA) works we have filled our tariff proposals strictly in line with the OMDA and we are eligible for a tariff increase 2009 onwards. So there was a delay in receiving the approvals which are beyond our control. At the same time there were certain areas that we have gone strictly by OMDA, may be 10% which are grey areas as per the OMDA and those grey areas are ones which have become issues of differences and opinion between the regulator and us. These 3-4 areas have caused that difference of 774% versus 334% and all those areas we have backed it by independent consultants based upon independent studies and reports.


Maldives faces tides of change

MOHAMED Nasheed carries the air of a man without much time. ''How did it go? Did we win?'' he asks an aide as he sweeps, almost at a run, down the marbled corridors of the presidential office. Told yes, the vote on the reappointment of his Minister of Islamic Affairs succeeded in his country's fractious parliament, he is pleased: ''That's good, our minister keeps his job. Now, what's next?''

The West Wing Bartlet-esque manner is no mere affection. Mohamed Nasheed is a man running out of time. As President of the Maldives, the string of paradisiacal Indian Ocean islands that could become the first nation ever lost to climate change, there are not too many minutes to waste for Nasheed.

''We've already lost it in so many senses,'' he tells The Saturday Age during a rare moment of peace in a meeting room. His country is losing three inhabited islands a year, swallowed by the ocean, he says. ''People are saying, 'we can't live there any more'. For us, it is difficult not to be worried about the climate.''

Mohamed Nasheed is compact: 155 centimetres and leanly built, with square shoulders and a narrow waist. Maldivian humidity means jackets are usually eschewed, but the 44-year-old favours formality with silver cufflinks and ties with broad knots.

As he speaks, the clipped tones of his British public school education fight for space through the lyrical lilt of Maldivian English. As a man who lives with the consequences of climate change, and looks out his window at a rising sea every day, Nasheed brooks no argument from sceptics.

Even Male - the Maldivian capital and the most densely populated island in the world, with more than 110,000 people crammed onto 1.77 square kilometres - has needed tens of millions of dollars spent on a three-metre seawall to keep the ocean from it. ''The science here is very sorted. They say there is a window of opportunity of about seven or eight years.''

For some in this archipelago, that window is already closed. Fourteen of the country's 200 inhabited islands are already gone, massive coastal erosion making their seaside villages unliveable. A further 70 islands rely on desalinated drinking water because groundwater aquifers have been overcome by seawater.

About 80 per cent of the Maldivian landmass is less than a metre above sea level. The highest point in the entire archipelago is just 2.4 metres. A sea-level rise of 59 centimetres over the next century, the upper limit forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, would make most of the Maldives uninhabitable.

The government is already saving money, squirrelled away from its $600 million tourism industry, to buy land in another country if theirs is lost to the ocean. Sri Lanka and India, for their proximity, and Australia, for its space, are the names that have been publicly considered.

But it's a last resort.

Maldivians whose families have spent countless generations living on 'their' island, can't bear the thought of moving to the next atoll, Nasheed says. They can't fathom abandoning the whole country.

''I said to one lady, 'Ma'am you have to move, we have to take you to another island. And at the end of this whole thing we might have to go elsewhere, all of us.' She told me, 'You can take the island people away but you can't take the sounds away, you can't take the butterflies, you can't take the colours'.

''You can migrate a people,'' Nasheed says, ''but you cannot take a culture, you cannot take a nation, you cannot take a history.''

If the Maldives moves, the Maldives is lost.

For a man whose country needs the world's co-operation to survive, Nasheed can be undiplomatic. French newspaper Le Monde recently quoted him as saying of the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change: ''The current negotiation process is stupid, useless and endless.''

To The Saturday Age, he doesn't precisely own up to the incendiary language, but nor does he shy from its sentiment. ''I think this UN FCCC is silly … It's built in a form where if two countries agree and a third country comes around and says 'I don't', and then you dilute your positions to accommodate the third country. And countries take so long even to say 'I don't' … at the end of the day the process might actually come out with an agreement that means nothing.''

He wants the framework convention process - bureaucratic, leaden, and immobile without consensus - abandoned, but suggests only in replacement ''a more imaginative way of dealing with it''.

Nasheed believes developed countries, although the largest emitters, are not the only ones that must bear the burden of emissions cuts. The right of developing countries to lift their citizens' standard of living does not absolve them from their obligation to the planet.

''If the West stopped their emissions and China, South Africa and Brazil carried on emitting on the basis of business as usual, we would still die. The Maldives would disappear,'' he said during a recent European visit.

Nasheed appreciates the complexities of trying to engineer a global climate deal that has so far eluded 17 major climate change congresses over as many years. He understands his bargaining position, and the domestic pressures guiding the hands of other nations.

He realises, too, his is a nation without economic, military or diplomatic clout. Nasheed is not above a media stunt to draw attention to the plight of his country, or to the Alliance of Small Island States, of which he is totemic leader.

In 2009 Nasheed and his ministers dressed in scuba gear for the world's first ever underwater cabinet meeting. The same year he allowed a documentary crew to follow him through his negotiations at the Copenhagen climate talks. The film that emerged, The Island President, has won acclaim at film festivals around the globe.

The week The Saturday Age was in Male, Nasheed invited the country's media to watch him install a solar panel on the roof of the president's office building, part of his pledge to make the Maldives carbon neutral by 2020.

Nasheed leans forward in conversation, and speaks quickly, a man perpetually short of hours in his day. But there was a period, his recent history, when Nasheed had nothing but time.

Returning to the Maldives from Britain in the late '80s, Nasheed became an outspoken critic of the despotic, one-party rule of his predecessor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Nasheed was jailed in 1991, the first of more than a dozen times he would be arrested and imprisoned. He was tortured by the Gayoom regime, and spent 18 months in solitary confinement in a metal shack barely 90 by 150 centimetres.

Released, he was elected to parliament in 2000, but jailed again on trumped-up charges of stealing ''unidentified government property''. His daughter Zaya was born during his second stint of solitary confinement.

Nasheed was banished to the tiny island of Angolhitheem, population 30, for six months, before being placed under house arrest. On his final release in 2003 he fled the Maldives for Sri Lanka, where he established the Maldivian Democratic Party in exile.

But he returned to his homeland, to a hero's welcome, in 2005 and in 2008, in the first ever multi-party elections held in the Maldives, beat the sitting president in a run-off vote, securing 54 per cent of the vote.

Remarkably, Nasheed has allowed the man who imprisoned him to stay in the Maldives, free from sanction or punishment.

''I have forgiven my jailers, the torturers. They were following orders … I ask people to follow my example and leave Gayoom to grow old here,'' he said upon taking office.

The elderly Maumoon remains on Male, more actively involved in the vituperative world of Maldives politics than the President's supporters would like.

Once prisoner, now President, Nasheed finds himself leading a country facing significant problems beyond the slowly rising seas. None are unique to a developing Muslim country or an island state, but they are especially acute in his tiny, diffuse homeland.

The Maldives has a massive youth bulge: 44 per cent of the country is under 14, and 62 per cent under 25, but jobs for any, especially beyond working on a tourist resort, are hard to find. In the atolls, a quarter of all young men are unemployed, half of all young women.

The country also has a serious drug problem. An epidemic of cheap heroin has swept through the archipelago, but taken root in Male in particular. The UN has estimated 40 per cent of the country's youth use hard drugs.

Nasheed, a Muslim as the Maldives constitution obliges all Maldivians to be, also faces a rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism. Wahhabist Islamic scholars, most schooled in madrassas in Pakistan, are radicalising Islam in the Maldives. Female circumcision is practised, and is reportedly on the increase, across the archipelago. There are calls for the return of amputation for crimes and for the banning of music and dancing. Women are flogged for having extra-marital sex.

Every effort to resist this gathering radicalisation is painted by Nasheed's political opponents as an attack on Islam. After Islamist protesters threatened on a website to ''slaughter anybody against Islam'', Nasheed was forced into confrontation: ''Kill me before you kill a fellow Maldivian.''

Financially, too, the Maldives' dependence on wealthy Western tourists has left it vulnerable to the vicissitudes of the global economy. The IMF this year withheld loans, declaring the Maldives at moderate risk of debt distress, and forced the country to introduce an income tax and a GST, as well as massively reduce government spending, largely through cutting the country's bloated public service.

Everywhere in the Maldives, the government's new eye for the frugal is apparent. The former Presidential Palace has become the Supreme Court (Nasheed lives in his own house), even the ornate leather thrones that were once in the meeting room where he meets with The Saturday Age have been replaced by bottom-of-the-line blue-cloth office chairs.

But climate change dominates the President's agenda. While the course of global climate action is largely in the hands of others, Mohamed Nasheed says he feels a sense of responsibility to do what he can to save his country.

''Any responsible Maldives government should be mindful of what might happen in the future, and save for that rainy day.''

His government talks of climate contingencies, of floating islands, desalination and of making a new homeland in other countries, but he believes the Maldives' only chance lies with holding back the tide. And time is running out.

''If we start seeing disasters one after the other, I think that would be … when countries would suddenly start acting. Now that might be very late in the day, but perhaps it is already very late … it's getting very, very late.''


Maldives president orders resort spas to reopen pending court decision on conformity to Islam

The president of the Maldives ordered the country’s upscale resorts to reopen their spas on Wednesday pending a Supreme Court decision on whether they violate Islam, just days after they were shut under pressure from protesters led by an opposition party.

The court decision could be critical to the tourism-dependent island nation’s economic future.

“The government has decided we will open all spas and give all the services to tourists which we have been giving before,” President Mohammed Nasheed told The Associated Press by telephone.
“The tour operators were very worried” about the closure, he said.

Last week, authorities ordered all spas to close following a protest in the capital on Dec. 23 in which thousands of people called for a halt to “anti-Islamic” activities including spas.

The protesters also demanded that authorities halt the sale of alcohol on islands inhabited by local people, stop plans to allow direct flights from Israel, and demolish statues given by other countries to commemorate a South Asian summit in November which they saw as idols.

“To be racist in any way is detrimental to the tourism industry,” Nasheed said of the call to halt Israeli flights. “This is not the way to go forward.”

Debates on religious issues have intensified since a group vandalized a statue given by Pakistan bearing the image of Buddha. In November a protest followed a call by the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, for the Maldives to end the flogging of women found to have had sex outside marriage.

Nasheed has said he stands for a brand of moderate Islam traditionally practiced in the country and that it is vital to preserve tourism.