Good things just happen… sometimes

In a heartwarming announcement, the gender ministry is at last trying to do a long overdue good thing for the country. This is about providing employment for the disabled. The stated goal is to provide 30 jobs for thirty individuals by this year from participating public companies and government affiliated institutions.

Providing jobs to people able or disabled has never been a priority of any government past or present although politicians will vehemently disagree. Although much noise was made about just doing that, actions spoke louder and the results are there to show. We have a huge unemployment problem the size of which will be known once the census data comes out by then end of this month. In developed countries like USA they do actually estimate how much jobs was shed or created during a particular month. We are far from that level and the ‘authorities’ are really trying to grapple the unemployment monster by doing their typical baby steps. But estimation of our unemployment problem shall not be a very big problem at all. This is a tiny country where we don’t have lots of legacy systems and compatibility of datasets and lots of red tape to hinder such work. All we have is lots of inefficiency and unproductively, lack of imagination to solve problems and passionate political thinking everywhere.

All hope is not lost yet, good things are happening albeit slowly and with every improvement there is reason for optimism.

Where is the Mad one?

This is probably the hottest question in Maldives right now. This is about a prolific blogger who used the alias “moyameeha” meaning mad person who mysteriously went missing one evening 46 days ago. Since then many things happened and this case has been on everyone’s conscience and yet after a lot of work trying to find him, his whereabouts is unknown. From what is already known, he lives alone in Hulhumale and has received online threats for his controversial views like politicians prior to the disappearance. Police have launched a massive campaign to find him and yet they don’t seem to have come up with much. Maybe they have but they aren’t revealing much of what they have found. Notable news stories that has since come up with which may or may not be connected with this story include a report of a forcible abduction of a person in Hulhumale and a storage facility that was destroyed by fire. The abduction according to police was a woman who was drunk and they refused to divulge any other information about this case as they believe the two cases are not related. The storage facility that was destroyed by a huge fire some allege might have something to do with disposing of evidence to something more sinister. However nobody is sure of anything as of yet, and the authorities are not yet in singing mood.

And then there is the politics.

MDP the opposition party is trying to get as much currency out of this issue since their electoral defeat, in both presidential and parliamentary elections and accusations are flying energetically everywhere. Proxy NGO’s run by MDP members are making reports accusing everybody from the president to the scholar to the laymen and everyone in between. Astounding as it may seen, they are even energetically promoting the theory that this is about a forced disappearance orchestrated by religious scholars and irreligious street thugs however difficult maybe to promote the theory. One peculiar thing that is unique to MDP is always to appealing to their international partners rather than trying to convince the electorate that their position is better than their enemies. In this regard they have made quite damaging allegations against the country such that investors and tourists arrivals will be affected by alleging the country is gripped by extremism etc. This is not a new thing to MDP and this maybe the reason why they lost lot of support from patriotic mainstream when they are seen to be too out of touch with the common people and too eager to impress their international partners elsewhere.

Whatever the political leanings maybe, this is a worrying case and there appears to be an honest desire to arrive at the truth with the resources we have. Even if a crime is established and a culprit brought before the law, it’s highly improbable that justice will be served because of the giant sized holes in our constitution.

Petition to urge the government to develop tourist resorts in H.Dh Atoll

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/To_President_of_the_Maldives_Abdulla_Yameen_Abdul_Gayoom_Petition_to_urge_the_government_to_develop_tourist_resorts_in_H/?nEqNihb

Why this is important

description

Haa Dhaal Atoll has the highest population compared with the other individual atolls, yet the needs of the people from this atoll have gone unnoticed or perhaps unheard for years by consecutive governments. It is worrying to highlight that residents of Haa Dhaal Atoll earn the lowest income in this country. Similarly, but not surprisingly, people of Haa Dhaal Atoll have the lowest standard of living compared with other regions of Maldives. These factors, combined with lack of employment opportunitiesavailable within the atoll have caused mass migration of people to Male’ in search of jobs, better education and better healthcare. As a result, the resident population of Haa Dhaal Atoll is decreasing every year causing it harder to compete with other atolls on bringing development projects to many Islands that are in desperate need.

Higher standard of living and earning a decent income while working within the atoll is something we all dream of. The main sector that offer a decent and reliable income for people is Civil Service but this represents a small proportion of our population. At present, we have determined working people in fisheries and agricultural sector. However, their work is generally confined within the atoll as they do not have the necessary mechanism or the incentives to expand their work. In addition to this, inability to move their products between islands and low demand due to low resident population have caused them to settle for an income that barely meets their financial needs. The stagnated state of these activities have led to low income from fisheries and agricultural sector.

The state of our local economy is a great concern for the people of Haa Dhaal Atoll. More importantly, the absence of tourism industry within this atoll has become a major barrier for economic and social development. For instance, in many cases, men are having to work away from home for most of the time, leaving their responsibilities as the head of the family towomen who are increasingly being burdened with double responsibilities. This puts a lot of stress on both partners which leads to undesirable family issues. Similarly, young people are another particularly disadvantaged group within our atoll as a result of lack of employment opportunities. Unemployment is one of the main reasons behind the increasing rates of crime among the youth. This dire situation in our atoll is tearing up the social fabric of our society.

It has been over 40 years since the tourism industry flourished in Maldives. However, the atoll with approximately 20,000 people has not yet got the opportunity to enjoy the economic benefits of this sector. In fact, Haa Dhaal Atoll is the only atoll in Maldives that does not have an operational resort. We do understand that three of our islands have been given for resort development but it has been over 12 years without any of them being opened for tourists. This has cost 2,000 jobs that was promised for us with these resorts. Furthermore, some of our uninhabited islands have been leased for agricultural purposes.Sadly, even these agricultural projects have failed in creating enough employment opportunities for residents of this atoll.

We have waited long enough to enjoy the success and development that tourism industry has brought to other regions of the Maldives. We want the people of Haa Dhaal Atoll to have the convenience of working in resorts within this atoll without having to move to other regions.

We believe that development of resorts in our pristine uninhabited islands is the key to improve our income, hence improve our standard of living and to bring the mass migration to halt. This will not only allow us to have an equal participation in tourism industry but also pave the way for further development of this industry. Furthermore, creation of a more vibrant local economy will allow our fishermen and farmers to thrive and expand their work.

Hence, on behalf of all the people from Haa Dhaal Atoll, we humbly ask the government not to exclude us from this prosperous and growing industry. We urge the government to give the utmost importance to solve the issue of income disparity caused by uneven development of tourism industry in Maldivian atolls. Further, we urge the government to open up more islands for resort development in Haa Dhaal Atoll.

History will vouch for the courage of people from “Bodu Thiladhunmathi”. We are proud of our ancestors and we learn from their lessons. We seek courage from their strength and in honor of them, we will stand up in unity to bring the benefits of tourism industry within our reach.

So dear people of Haa Dhaal Atoll,

We ask on behalf of everyone of this atoll to sign this petition. The purpose of this petition is to deliver our concerns, hopes and wishes to the government. We hope the petition will make the government aware of the current economic and social situation in Haa Dhaal Atoll. We want to express our interest in being a part of the industry that generate the highest income for this country. We are here to fight for the development of our atoll and In Sha Allah this will become true in the near future!

Tholhendhoo Ruins:

How does an abandoned island look after 22 years? Here are some pics of Tholhendhoo which was abandoned in 1992 and the people of the island moved to nearby Kendhidulhudhoo. The island itself was a small beautiful island which didn’t have a calm safe lagoon which made it very difficult for the islanders to engage in fishing or sea transport.

Its autumn in Tholhendhoo. The haunting image of the main road of the island after 22 years of quietness.

Here is the island now; trees have grown up and erased all signs of past human habitation. Only a small area with a few roofs remains to show the history of the island.

Tholhendhoo (right) people migrated to their much big brother island nearby which is kendhikulhudhoo

The biggest tree in the island.

The ruins of the island pre-school.

The island office, once symbol of authority,

One last pic a villager took of his home before emigrating to new life in Kendhikulhudhoo

The farewell ceremony of the island was attended by by the then president Maumoon.

From a distance the beaches of the island are the same as any other island, but Tholhendhoo has a history.

Sherton Full Moon workers on strike over low service charge

Local workers of Sheraton have stopped work and are on strike citing service unbelievably low charge, discrimination against workers and nepotism. According to one worker in the island, the service charge has been around an unimpressive 600$ for most of the year including in the high season. This is in contrast to $2k and above in Kihaava Villas and other top resorts in the country. It’s strange that big brands like Sheraton could have got things so wrong in the middle of high season when everywhere resort workers are expected to earn substantial incomes. One worker opined that the resort feels immune from pressure because of the strong connections to the resort owners (Universal Group) with the ruling class.

Gaakoshibee to be the first Islamic resort in Maldives.

The resort being developed by ADK group is about 70% complete and will be the newest and the biggest in Maldives. Once complete Gaakoshibee will have 673 rooms and would have cost 170 million dollars to the main investor Caprice Gold of Turkey. The project for the island has started in 2007 and gone through several plans and investors and this hopefully will be the last twist in the story till the island opens. The island is located in Shaviyani atoll in the north and will be 50 minutes from sea plane from Male airport. The resort will have an Islamic concept of tourism with separate secluded beach for ladies only, pool villas for couples and certified halal buffet from all the restaurants. The island will not sell any alcohol and will be family friendly.

Although we have several middle eastern tourists arriving in Maldives including royalties from Gulf states, a resort island for the Muslim tourist has been wanting for some time.

Source:

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/dhivehi/business/149242

Image credits:

http://www.gadarchitecture.com/maldives-gadakoshibee-project-details-1,5,100112

http://www.borneobenar.com/construction.html#prettyPhoto[gallery5]/0/

Workers strike in One and Only Reethi Rah

A workers strike has been going on in one and only Reethi Rah for more than one day and it appears that the employer has again taken the weary route of resorting to ask help from ‘higher’ authorities rather than engaging with the workers. A report on Mvyouth claims that as of 0300 today, the resort has refused to meet with the representatives of the workers to negotiate their demands. Police teams have been send to dissuade the staff from protesting and it appears that staff have been given ultimatum to stop the demo as of today. The demands are as usual about salary, discrimination, poor accommodation etc. The number of workers who joined the protest is about 200.

It’s amazing how big employers like One and Only cannot manage simple demands like better food and accommodation and every so often strikes springs up in Reethi Rah.