Although Tomato ( sorry Matato) claims otherwise, there will be absolutely be NO damage to the reputation of Maldives by agreeing to resettle Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Here are the reasons.
Most resorts in Maldives are geared for high spenders rather than budget spenders who have their own businesses, professions and generally their heads with them. So they could not possibly be unaware of world politics or ramifications of it.
Guantanamo Bay is not a terrorist camp or a training ground for terrorists. Rather its a place that came to be associated with the wrongful policies of the last US president whose successor is making good on his election promises to close down the place to show the ethical and humane side of American values. World media knows this and any measure to close down the camp will be cheered in any part of the globe.
Our Obama (sorry, our president Mr. Anni) may not have always aligned his political steering to the correct compass direction but this time the president is correct. Absolutely correct to ZERO decimals without error. Assisting fellow human beings who happened to be caught in a global battle without an end in sight, is the responsibility of all respectable people of the world.
Its the opposition politics which is taking advantage of the ignorance of the masses to gather support for their parties which is creating all this fuss about the move to resettle the POWs which has no basis whatsoever. Our president Anni showed considerable courage (far more than is generally necessary) in cutting short the reporters who are questioning this move because the media can make or break a country. In this case, the opposition is using media to the hilt to discredit a rather commendable move by the president.
Maldives Association for Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) which is different from tomato (of course!) are not experts of world politics, terrorism, tourism or anything. These are just individuals (locals) who make a life selling package holidays to unwary tourists who might not have come across big names of world famous tour operators who operate in Maldives. Top brands in tour operations in the world knows the value of their statements to media so they generally refrain from commenting on issues without prior knowledge. Moreover these Tomatoes (sorry MATATOs) are the most worker unfriendly people who works in the tourism industry. Generally they make a living by their fancy websites (to unwary guests of course ) while we the workers resort workers tarry with the guests.
The Tomatos (sorry MATATO) said that certain countries issued travel warnings to Maldives citing “internal conflicts and linking terrorism to Maldives.” these are just claims which has absolutely no basis. Even the specific wording they used has nothing to link this to the recent decision by the government to resettle Guantanamo Bay prisoners. What it has if anything was the fact that the former government of Maumoon committed the big mistake of smearing the name of the country by claiming to the world media about the presence of terrorism and terrorist camps in the country. These were of course lies to win in the presidential election by playing the “fear” card which thankfully backfired.
Below is the link to country specific information about Maldives which is certainly not issuing cautions against visiting the country. US Department of State
Here is the world alert page by State Department which also does not contain advice to boycott our country’s tourism. Worldwide caution
Moofushi a small club style resort island, which was closed for repairs is opening up soon. Although their website does not give this glad tiding, we just came across a job ad from Haveeru. by the new company (www.constancehotels.com) which will be operating the resort.
The job ad says that interested candidates shall apply before 31st May 2010 and placements will begin 15th July 2010. Its the first batch of staff or pre-opening team consisting mainly of managers and department heads etc.
Recent clashes by the “Reds” on the issue of Power bills shall have raised the issue of global warming which fortunately it didn’t. It need not have been global warming but the Met Office is saying that power bills for March were pushed high by hot weather conditions and that every year in March, the country is sweltering in heat which is why the power bills sky rocketed. One easy way to counter this heat which has never been mentioned by the authorities as they frantically sought to appease the Reds with explanations of the status of many wind-farm projects the country is undertaking to go on target to become emission free in 10 years time, is planting more trees.
Planting trees were normally done by NGO’s and the past government under various names such as the “Million Tree Project” etc and had those projects any merit except to play PR to media, the trees shall have been grown big now and greenery once again brought to overcrowded islands like Male’, Naifaru, Komandoo, etc. Planting trees in the road side has helped Male’ immensely and Addu, but still more needs to be done. Also if fruit bearing trees were planted such as mangoes and jack-fruits, bread fruits trees, it would have been better and there would have been more public participation.
The education ministry is in the process of revamping the national syllabus which is said to include interesting many changes to the national curriculum. One such interesting and controversial change the ministry is pondering is offering foreign languages to secondary students which are said to include Chinese, Japanese and French. Another change they want to usher in is making Islamic studies and Dhivehi language optional which is proving to be controversial as there is opposition from mainstream to such a drastic change without public consultation.
On the issue of new foreign languages, the religious party Adhaalathu pointed out a similar case of curriculum change in Turkey which modified their ultra secular stance to include Arabic as the country has many important cultural and economic ties with middle east. Retorting on the Chinese, Japanese and French languages as optional subjects to be offered to students in Maldives, the party mentions it would have been better to offer languages Sinhalese, Tamil and Bengali which are languages of our neighborhood countries which all aspects of our country’s commerce is tied to.
Although not much commented about, this draws an important point about the choice of subjects and disciplines the ministry is considering to offer to students which clearly needs better direction. If we take a look at each language and our relation to that language in particular, we see these languages falling in the category of art and such cultural aspects of education which bigger and more advanced nations can dwell upon because of their wealth and affluence. Developing nations needs talents more in the line of crafts, and sciences which will build and the strengthen the country, after which the bourgeois can come in and setup shop. So instead of offering Chinese and Japanese language to students, the education ministry could offer them computer based languages like c++ or java or something in the line of AI (artificial intelligence). Instead of French as a subject, which was the bourgeois language of the past taken over by English, a substitute can be offered in Esperanto which is an artificial language nobody really talks. That is if the ministry is adamant that it has to be a language.
Traditions has it, that as soon as a person gets a plot of land to build a house, he or she will erect the ‘wall’ of his house which is like marking his official boundary to the outside world. So the first steps to build a house is directed at demarcation of boundary. This maybe because we are territorial creatures by nature, but also by the need to safeguard and secure the place we call home. Whatever the justifications, the fact of the matter is that building the inevitable stonewall is an unnecessary drain on the environment as well as the funds needed to build the house in the first place. This drain over the years ruined many a historical place we had as those places were destroyed and the stones removed to make walls for houses etc, and of course the all too evident effects on environment. The issue of walls has been neglected by the authorities even now because there is lack of awareness as to the detrimental effects of to the environment and alternative means to achieve what a stone wall might be used to achieve.
For a fraction of the cost to erect an unsightly, unnecessary, unwieldy stone wall, a better alternative which provides the same security and aesthetically and environmentally friendliness is a hedge. Plants can be used with little effort to construct a hedge which is an ideal solution for islands as the plots are bigger.
However for people to embrace the hedges and destroy their stone walls, there are steps the authorities will need to take which they do not seem to be aware at the moment.
Hedges are ideal places for mosquitoes to loiter around so the authorities should in theory propose a solution for the mosquitoes problem. Vandalism and burglary issues are also issues which left as it is a non-starter for the people to dismantle their beloved stone walls. Historically our armed forces were there to protect the president and the elite and currently they seem to be engaged in some war efforts with a phantom army of aliens few knows about, while the gangs thrive unchecked in the capital Male’ and other islands. Once our armed forces can take care of these gangs, the island planning committees can spring up and start promoting the idea of flowering hedges, and fences for gardens instead of ugly concrete and stone walls barricading every house.
If you have a couple of hundred million dollars in disposable income, now is definitely the time to drop in by to Maldives for a small business trip. The Maldives government is in the process of bidding out 4 small beautiful islands for eligible buyers to raise money to develop a number of housing units for the countrymen. The issue of housing has been a problem for the country and with the new democratic government hard pressed to make good upon election pledges, the feeding frenzy of resorts idea came to happen.
Although there were several more islands given away to develop in the last few years which are still not developed, these new four islands would not have to go the same way as those other islands if more investors show an interest. The islands which were stalled mostly were taken up by existing pool of resort owners under various names and pseudonyms and front companies just because they knew how much the islands are worth despite having funds to develop them. These islands are now in the process of being renegotiated to make them profitable business ventures and possibly to be sold to other parties who can deliver.
The process of bidding and acquiring a resort in Maldives started a small informal venture which has grown up to be a complicated issue where the talents of various consultancies work tirelessly sometimes for a year to produce ‘a-resort-on-paper’ to impress the bid evaluation committee which ultimately scores the prospective bids and chooses a ‘winner’. The winner of course is overjoyed every time because its commonly understood that the investment to cover a normal resort pays off in roughly 3 years and a luxury one in 7 years. After which everything the resort earns is profits and the tax bill to shave some of those earnings is thankfully (or not) is still quietly sleeping in the parliament.
If there is one lucky person in Maldives who consistently gets his way through the courts of law, then that person could be the chairman of Yacht Tours Mr. Abdulla Jabir.
Mr. Jabir was a typical tourism worker till he was got the little secret red number of the then formidable government minister Mr. Abdulla Yaameen. Being like minded in style and in outlook they created a business partnership that endured. Several years since, they both used their influence and political posturing to get their way through several business deals and ultimately from zero resorts to nobody-knows-how much, Mr. Jabir is probably now the man with the most resort islands in the country. At a business level Mr. Jabir was not successful in running resorts which was apparent from the selling renting out of islands such as Dhonveli, yet he has even obliged the government to award him another one resort and that’s one another interesting story.
The island kudavillingili (or “chickens” in the above image) is awarded to Mr. Jabir against compensation for the “oppportunity costs” they would have incurred because of a failed bid for “Biyaadhoo” which erroneously was awarded to some other parties. The interesting part in this story is that those who sat on the evaluation board did not have to take any responsibility for their error but the government had to and they are giving away the island as a result. All these events happened with political maneuvering in the background such as
Mr. Yameen in and out of several government ministries and boards including the STO which was a principal lender of materials for Jabir’s resorts. etc
Mr. Jabir becoming an MP in the ticket of the then ruling party DRP
Joins Jumhooree party in the elections which failed to secure the top job.
now Mr. Jabir is again in the ruling party and there are already talks about the cases against him being looked in to by presidential commission to be being quietly laid to rest now that he belongs in the correct fold..
All these cases of corruption, influence peddling, gaining priceless islands for free and political maneuvering are not lost on some who include the Attorney General but he is at a disadvantage because even the judiciary is influenced by the poisonous politics which resulted from the dismantling of the iron fisted rule of the last 30 years. According to news sources, the Attorney General voiced his opposition to the supreme court order to give the islands to Jabir and that he is weiging his options now. However its very unlikely that the island of kudavillingili will be saved now that Mr. Jabir has AGAIN joined a ruling party (this time the MDP).
Giving away this precious island for free for a purely political reason is symbolic of the reasons why so many islands were given away to develop in the last two rounds and yet very few islands were developed as resorts. The last thing we need in our country is corruption and political misjudgment as we strive to progress after the stagnant politics of the last 3 decades. Those advanced countries of the world became what they are not by sheltering criminals and allowing them to take advantage of law and the common good but by being fair and even handed in principle. Frequently we hear our politicians remarking about Singapore as a model of business success but nobody seems to realize Singapore is the least likely (Singapore is smaller than Huvadhoo Atoll in area!) to let their business model be hijacked by perverted politicians.
But not if you do not happen to be a Philippino or a Nepalese… At least that’s the immediate comprehension one can draw after reading their job at JobMaldives site. The position advertised specifically requires a Phillipino or a Nepalese for the post of Senior HR Officer. Now its a strange request coming from a resort’s HR department but let’s analyze how such requests can not be justified in the first place.
In some resorts where a particular nationality of clients dominate the clientèle, its not uncommon to employ staff who could speak their language fluently. Resorts operating in the Italian Club style may not require much more than proficiency in Italian in their front desk skills set. The same goes for resorts who have a high concentration of Russians who would definitely demand someone in the front desk who can speak Russian. Now these positions are normally front of the house jobs and the jobs are offered on the basis of ability rather than belonging to a particular nationality, ethnicity or sect, creed.
Coming to back-of-the-house, its also plausible to employ a polyglot in the HR if there is a particular high concentration of foreign staff who has difficulty interacting in the universal language of English. However its a well known fact that almost all Nepalese can understand Hindi and that all Philippino can speak and understand English. Its also a fact the Human Resources ministry demands at least a 50% of the staff be employed from the country to help alleviate the social problems caused by unemployment. So this type of concentration of workers from a particular country other than Maldives is not even possible if the resort abides by tourism industry’s laws and norms.
So we ask why does a resort require staff from a particular nationality? Is it not the skills and experience and the ability to do the job rather than belonging to a particular country or ethnicity? Does a resort has to be accused of being racist just because the HR department wishes to employ their likes and the kindred? In this age and time where this country is going through huge unemployment and social instability, how can eligible locals be prevented if they have the right skills just because they do not belong to a particular country?
The island is being developed by Six Senses brand which owns the Sonevafushi and Sonevagili resorts. The island is located in Laamu atoll which has the longest islands and the area is set to become the next hub of tourism. The resort is still under construction with work at frantic speeds trying to beat the deadline of August in time.
Most of the time we come across these problems in our work, no matter what area we are in. The guest is always right, or so… that’s what we are told from the beginning of our career in this industry. Which some of the guests take very seriously and take advantage of it whenever they can. And poor us (the staff) we cannot do anything against it most of the time.
“My room service order got delayed 45 minutes!”
“There are no toiletries in my room!”
“There’s a gecko in my room, I want change to another room immediately!”
“Get me the manager!”
These are all too common interjections by some guests even if the order got delayed by 2 minutes and the guest was informed or even if the said toiletries were refilled in the morning two times and even though this is tropical island where you can see these small harmless creatures (geckos) if you leave the doors open whole day!!
In most of cases the employer will either dismiss the staff concerned or give a “Written warning” even if the guest is KNOWN to be lying and everyone knows about. Sometimes these fake allegations by the guest are to get a free bottle of wine, champagne or a free upgrade. This is common in Hotel industry.
However just as there are opposites to everything, there are some wonderful guests who will overlook major mistakes and greet the staff with smiles all the time. Perhaps our works in tourism is worthwhile for considerations like that. Its not always the money in the job but the satisfaction of work and a fair work place that ultimately makes the day.
The list of the biggest problems we face in the country are many but they certainly do not include an issue about copyright laws. Nevertheless our parliament ie The Majlis is busy debating this very issue. A fair question might be, why? Why indeed are they debating this issue which is an issue with the advanced countries of the world who are inundated with intellect and intellectual property? Compared to them who are we and what do we produce of intellectual value? Zilch is the answer!
The bill was said to have been tabled by the ruling MDP which might be a political necessity for securing better foreign relations with donor countries but the implications of the bill will certainly hurt the country as a whole. The bill will ultimately govern all aspects of modern living from music, films to softwares etc which is all but too expensive for the 99% of the population of this country to buy at original copy right sanctioned prices. The proponents of the bill are saying this bill will encourage productivity but that is far from reality considering the current situation of the country. For example once this bill comes in to law, its very probable that small to medium business owners will turn to local software ‘engineers’ to write for them some sort of POS application for their shop which will will be happily sold by the few crappy software engineers we have for highly bloated prices which will land the business owner in circle one. Basically the bill will give an unfair advantage to the few local software makers at the expense of the public who are used to pirated copies of the best softwares of the world for a very fair price!
There are no opponents to the bill in DRP, which normally opposes MDP in almost everything but this time around they had only to say this. “That some businessmen are getting richer by selling these fake products and pirated software and films and this shall be stopped.” However they also failed to acknowledge the immense benefit the public receives from such commerce.
As for the songs and movies, this sector is so small as to be completely insignificant compared to the demand of the viewers. Most of our countrymen (and women of course!) are polyglots by nature as they learn English in school and Hindi at home while speaking various dialects of local language in everyday life. So the lacking of Dhivehi films and songs is complemented by the abundance of such materials from Bollywood and Hollywood which needless to say are prevalently pirated copies of originals. Once this door is slapped by the copyright regime, the mother or father of necessity shall in theory be called upon to fill the gap which it simply can never do. Literature and arts and culture take time to develop and cannot be forced in by legislating them in.
Every country in the world except perhaps ours, puts the best interest of their countrymen above that of others. Now our national interest certainly lies in not opening this Pandora’s box of intellectual property rights but dealing with real world issues that are more pressing and important such as tackling our high unemployment rates and the ongoing tax works.