Our take on the bungled Vilu Reef wedding ceremony

The video that went viral in Utube of a Swiss couple who had their weddings renewed in the Vilu Reef resort, who got taunted insulted unwittingly at the ceremony as the ceremony was conducted in dhivehi (the local language), is generating quite big waves in otherwise a sleepy tourism industry in Maldives. The language used in the video is inexcusable is undeniable but there are more factors that needs to be explored. There indeed is more to the story than is acknowledged. Before we analysed the issue in detail, our heartfelt sincere apologies for wronged couple on behalf of all the workers of tourism industry. Our country also took hit on reputation by the foolish actions of a few fellow workers and we hope that this event will make everyone including the government work more to help the industry encounter the shortcomings and failings in the future. Resort workers are the most neglected bunch of workers in the country who are seldom cared, thanked or even entertained. In the vast majority of resort islands, the staff live below substandard pay, accommodation as well as food and other services. Resort workers are also human beings who have families and friends yet they sacrifice almost all their entire life on these tiny beautiful paradise islands which serves as their second home just as convicts who serve their time in isolation. Now lets analyse the story surrounding the incident.

1. The story first appeared in Minivan News from where its gone truly global now. The story is now taken up by http://www.vancouversun.com,Montreal Gazette,www.expatica.com,www.gulf-times.com etcHowever anyone who have really seen the article in Minivan News would agree that the article is excessive in its detail for a purpose. The article itself is a tiring long detailed tirade of ‘insults’ for the purpose of creating maximum shock value. Considering that the victim in this instance is not only the couple in the video (the whole country is also victim because this incident identifies with the country), the excessive details is just doing more harm to all the parties involved; the wedded couple, the country, the resort, the staff etc. The only party who benefits from this story is Minivan.

2.The story when it appears in global media got another twist and a make-over. Now it is about “Couple victim of hate video” -which is the headline at http://www.straitstimes.com. The said video was shot by a staff at the scene and was anything but. However when global media takes an issue every blemish is magnified multiple folds for a good reason. To reach maximum ratings and generate as much shock value. The amateur wedding video now termed a hate video interlaced with religious themes (which is useful vitriol) as if the video originated from Tora Bora. To make the matters worse some readers of Haveeru has indicated that they will put English subtitles to the video which will add insult to the injury.

3.Modern media is both a blessing and a curse. Media like everything else is controlled by people and people have different agendas. For some its a way of earning recognition and fame at the expense of others, be it against their own family or country. In the case of Minivan News, the paper had a non too a humble beginning, became at one point a full blown printed paper and then went into decline. Currently Minivan is said to be run at a desk inside the office of the president by people who are close to him. However the genie that just escaped from this journalistic bottle inside the President’s office is likely to give the president a few headaches for a few days possibly till the furore dies down.

4.The money argument which is also mentioned in the straitstimes article is a non-starter. The fact of the matter is that almost every service, in a typical resort has a price tag attached. However, events like weddings do not have standard procedures in most resorts, so staff do with improvisations that go along with the experience they get from events like these. A staff who worked in Vilu Reef as far back as 2003 confirmed that what he has seen in the video is no more sinister than what he has witnessed in the island when he worked there. The meaning is that the staff did not intend the slang and improper wording they used as an insult to the guest, but for them its a kind of joke. The difference this time is that the media caught them off-guard. Its a little bit like the philosophical question of weather the tree has fallen in the far off jungle if there was no body to witness it.

5.Knowing full well the implications of this journalistic Coup_d’état, we have tried to do damage limitation on Minivan News and will be doing in other sites as well. This is not about not-acknowledging a wrong to the Swiss couple in question or being insensitive to their unwitting ordeal, but this is about redressing the wrong and trying to help the workers and the industry. We urge all our readers and fellow workers to do the same and help encourage constructive dialogue. Feeling ashamed of being a resort worker or a Maldivian will hardly do the job.

Links:

http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/World/Story/STIStory_596065.html

http://minivannews.com/society/resort-%E2%80%98wedding-ceremony%E2%80%99-in-dhivehi-degrades-tourist-couple-as-infidel-swine-mocks-islam-12671

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/?page=details&id=102622

http://www.montrealgazette.com/travel/story.html?id=3733527

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40 thoughts on “Our take on the bungled Vilu Reef wedding ceremony

  1. Thank you for your kind reply.
    Let me explain that it wasn’t my intention whatsoever to revive old news.
    My point is that being a new reader of your excellent blog I was pleasantly surprised to, in spite of different cultures, countries, etc be sharing most of your views about several subjects. Then I read your opinion about the mentioned affair and thought that you were being partial and trying to find excuses about the inexcusable.And I thought, well, it seems like over there we, tourists, are just cash cows waiting to be mocked of and nobody cares. But that is just my opinion and I may be wrong. In an ideal world we should be on the same side: remember that most tourists are just workers on holidays.
    Thank you for your attention.

  2. Thanks for dropping by Lili.
    The story is quite old now but we appreciate your views.
    Through the many claims and counter claims, it seems our original assertion that the story in question was stretched and spiced up doesn’t seem to have gained much traction.
    But we still maintain this: That we know the language used in the ‘film’, (without the help of subtitles), we know the context of the story. We can also relate the time-line of the rise and fall of the news outlet which broke this story (the website is now only virtual and updates infrequently..)
    And our understanding is that the whole issue is bloated to make interesting read! Knowing this much and having to rely on second hand information from failed newspapers with incorrect subtitles is different.
    Thanks again for sharing your views. We are always ready to help our readers with this or any other issues related to tourism industry. Just keep in touch. Our email address is in the about page.
    Tc.
    Salaams

  3. Dear Maldivesresortworkers Editor,

    I booked a wedding anniversary in Maldives next June. I was thrilled to have found such an intelligent and well written blog like yours, full of interesting information. Having said that I must remark that I couldn’t avoid not feeling utterly disappointed with your point of view about the Vila Reef wedding affair.
    If you consider that your readers may be as clever as you, to say the least, you would understand why nobody, and I really mean nobody, would buy your arguments. Do you really believe that we, your tourist readers would think that you are really concerned about that poor couple’s feelings? If what happened didn’t become international news would you have bothered? Have you never ever heard of incidents like that before? It begs belief that it was an isolated incident as there were many people involved and no one seemed shocked by the staff attitude then, no even you in your comment. Even more: if everything is fault of the lack of good wages and salaries that means that as long as Maldives remain a poor country, things like that will often occur.
    I will be frankly afraid of having my food being spat before being served.
    The Caribbean now seemed a better destination if I could change my booking.

  4. To meghana, stick to the fact and dont create another diversion..no one care about what you think if this is what you wish for..go get a life..

  5. Your perspective on this makes it sound as if A) Its ok for the locals to have been doing this kind of macking of tourists for years, because its all just a joke – toobad it was now discovered and B) The poor resort workers sacrifice their life for the tourists, so for this reason also we should understand their behaviour.

    One must wonder what would their life be like (and, indeed the life in the whole country of Maldives), if all the tourists they “sacrifice their lives for” stopped coming there. Surely with your logic this is a better choice then? Duhh. And I sincerely doubt you’d have sympathy towards any (christian) persons who you had hired for a similar event for yourself, who’d then proceed in calling you an “infidel swine” etc.

    I think your post made me at least have even less pity for the tourism industry & people of Maldives – please just sink away.

  6. As tourists we do not care about workers’ problems – it is for your country’s administrators to take care of. As tourists, the least we expect is some respect. I wish tourism in Maldives gets hit big for good.

    1. We are always in contact with different tourists. Most of our tourists are blissfully unaware of the tough life of the average resort worker. But then there are other tourists who are genuinely angelic in their treatment of the staff. They ask all sorts of questions about resort life, accommodation, food etc. and make a point of being nice to workers. The majority we believe are this type of guests. So it generally depends on the type of the tourist. After all we are all human being and we are all different.
      As for wishing tourism in Maldives a big ‘hit’, that’s very ungenerous coming from a ‘tourist’. Anyways we understand the little impromptu gestures..
      Thanks for sharing your views.

  7. If the workers are not paid enough they should unionize and negotiate for improved conditions. The government should help this to occur. But being dissatisfied with pay is no excuse for taking cruel amusement at other people’s expense. Tourism is a cooperative enterprise in which those with money exchange it for the chance to relax and be at peace. Hopefully both sides are getting something they like out of the bargain, and can respect each other with good feelings. Those on either side who can’t do this should do something else.

  8. as saying again..u kill a man with a knife or u kill a man with a pistol…u still kill a man, no need to argue what eapon u use…those vilu staff kill the wedding..they did it with a purpose..and they KILL the industry..resortwokers, no need to find excueses..u are so pathetic to find excusses and diverting the real situation

  9. Oh! common grow up Resort workers! Ear short referred by MAT is to the vilu reef gang who arranged this so called ‘traidional wedding’ and who where there in person. Good lord!

    Undoubtedly whether you were there or not, many of them will know about it as its quiet common to talk about this if they really thought its for fun. IF they didnot talk about it thats more reason to beleive on their cruel intent. Thus according to you its entertaintment. Therefore it should be known to everyone. However to the response to MAT you are beating another drum.
    What a sick joke!

  10. This post doesn’t help. You try as hard as you can to shift the blame. It has religious-based hate overtones, so it is indeed proper to characterize it as a hate video. The fact that you deny it and continue to try to justify the abhorrent behavior speaks volumes, and only tells me that this thinking pervades among the staff. I know where NOT to take my vacation! There are plenty of other tropical getaways that not only have staff that make for pleasurable experiences, but that also aren’t sinking.

    Signed,
    Western Infidel

    1. Dear infidel,
      where is the wisdom of characterizing a video without knowing what is being said in it? just by reading the subtitles some anonymous put to it? We are maintaining that we know the language, the history etymology And the context surrounding the whole issue. We are not condoning what has happened. But we are pointing out the fact that the story is much exaggerated by minivan for its sensational value. Salaams

  11. What a load of hogwash!
    Poverty doesn’t explain this sort of behaviour at all..!
    I’ve been to some of the poorest countries in the world and the people were generally speaking very courteous!

    I’ve travelled all over the world, (including some Mulsim countries) and I was -never- treated like this! I might have been fleeced somewhat for money afew times, but it was done at least with a smile and politeness!

    This was done by the marriage celebrant, in full earshot of the ENTIRE STAFF, and -no-one said a thing..!! Thats inexcusable!!

    My only experience of anything like this was when an ex-partner was dressed somewhat inappropriately (mid-level skirt and showing her arms) in a back-street in Morocco – I should add first that masses of tourists dressed that way, but my point was that when some local began insulting her, the entire street, shopkeepers alike turned on him, and then apologized for his behaviour.
    Bit of a contrast here I’d say..!?

    That the entire Maldives staff went along with it and didn’t intervene shows at best indifference, and at worst that they passively (or actively) agreed with the attitudes involved! Heck, they had been holding these [expensive] marriage cerimonies for years – so its likely this sort of thing is probably commonplace! Heck – I dont want people like that anywhere near me, let alone preparing my food (and likely spitting in it, if this attitude is anything to go by).

    Your tourism industry deserves everything it gets as a result of this incident;
    I certainly expect there wont be a lot of romantic couples visiting your country any time soon…

    Lets hope the video archives dont reveal similar past ‘video nasties’ of Maldives cerimonies…

    QED

    1. hi Matt,
      Wedding ceremonies are not held in the earshot THE ENTIRE STAFF in resorts. Typically only a few select group of staff will be present. Thanks for sharing your views with us

    2. Very well said, Matt!

      People in very much poorer countries genuinely welcome and appreciate guests and treat them with courtesy and respect.

      It is very clear that a LARGE NUMBER of people were involved in this disgrace. All the people watching (at least 12 people) plus the fact that it was posted on Youtube means that a LOT MORE people were in the know. It is quiet possible that ll Maldivians working at the resort knew about it. I wonder if they will all be dealt with by the Resort.

      To find that the GM knew about it as well and took no action (other than asking for the video to be removed) makes my eyes water…

      All of them Maldivian, all of them involved in this insulting behaviour and the only thing Maldives Resort Workers can say is that the reporting could have been more “balanced”. In fact, Minivan News was far too LENIENT towards the perpetrators in its reporting and it is time this website accepted that fact.

      By the way, it is true there were two victims – the couple who were treated so shabbily. But that is it – the others were responsible for the shabby treatment, so let us be clear about that.

  12. Who are you people? justifying this evil act and/ or blaming the media on this subject? You seems to be calling yourself as Maldives Resort Workers. Thus you have the gut to open your foul mouth? Dont paint everyone in same paint brush, is it what you really think this is about? dont you realize how serious this has become overnight? got back to school and learn more before you talk…This is like doomsday to Maldives!

  13. The Religion of Peace takes another hit….good! It’s obvious this attitude of the workers performing the ceremony is not restricted to them. I suspect a larger number of the population have the same disdain for the infidel but hide it well in the interest of making a living. In a way I’m sad for everyone concerned–looks like Malives WAS a good place to visit.

  14. We westerners love a good joke too, this was no joke. It was a sustained tirade of disrespect and serious insults of people who apparently “deserve ” it as they do not share your religious views. Not funny! Maledive culture has proven itself to be stuck in the stone age, totally lacking tolerance. Who needs the Maledives. Some insignificant sand bank in the indian ocean struggling for exitsence as sea levels rise!. The Maledives need the rest of the world!
    Salaam!!!

  15. “The meaning is that the staff did not intend the slang and improper wording they used as an insult to the guest, but for them its a kind of joke.”
    This is the EXACT kind of thinking that leads to such event.
    Totally unacceptable!!
    And you cannot blame on working conditions and other issues on this behaviour.

  16. We understand your feelings Juliana. In tourism industry we are about a few thousands of workers working in all areas of tourism. Not all of us (workers) are waiters, or marriage facilitators etc. So we shall not all be painted by the same brush. Nor is it the situation that any group or party has condoned this issue. Our sympathies are all for the wronged guests.

  17. I just watched the sub-titled video on Youtube. This is an absolute disgrace. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you, and then trying to excuse it with rubbish about “working conditions” and “unbalanced media”. Just watch the video, it speaks on its own terms. I have just cancelled my travel plans for maldives – I’m sure I will be able to find a place in which I will not be racially vilified by cowardly religious idiots for spending my hard earned money and keeping them employed. It sounds to me like the Maldives need to take a good hard look at themselves.

    1. Thanks for coming by Boris. It seems every commenter was just minutes from arriving at Maldives and suddenly changing mind after seeing the video clip. Anyways we always remain hopeful that our guests will love our country and keep coming back. Its not fair to generalize a whole country by the actions of a few.

  18. I’m shocked how – not one person – a group, could be so aggressive, mean, and disrespectful. I wouldn’t do it even to an ant, neither to an enemy. Once I thought going to Maldives, but of course this won’t happen. I’m sorry for you guys, but you should be more civilized – not saying that all of you aren’t, but of course if one is, this person would prevent this from happening. It’s shocking how everybody participates not saying a word, not censuring this act.

  19. I understand your position but it is a nightmare to blame the media, the inequity of tourist/resort worker relationships and the Western world at large for the disgusting actions of one of your own.

    The couple in the video have been victimized twice, once without knowing it and again by all the attention. Just because they are white, have wealth and are western, does not justify what the workers did-and you know it.

    All the “explanation” in the world will never justify the cruelty of that video. They do not look like “swine” to me, they are smiling and participating; without which that assistant may not even have a job.

    So Just cut the cr** . It would be worthwhile to revisit your position and simply admit that this incident was reprehensible and leave it at that.

    1. Thanks for the advice Carla.
      Our position all along has been that this incident was reprehensible and should not have happened at all.

  20. “MaldivesResortWorkers” is run by an anonymous group of Wahhabis trying to undermine Maldives’ tourism industry by trying to pitch itself as the saviours of the industry. Lots of people takes this site seriously.

  21. This is silly, you’re trying to cover up for an inexcusable event!

    Minivan had the guts to put it out in the open if it didn’t it would still continue to happen and people would laugh it off! no wait.. YOU guys would be laughing it off as you always have been!!

    there’s a saying ‘vagakah haas dhuvas, veriyaka eh dhuvas’ well this is the verin ge dhuvas… people will see this they will get upset and understandably they will react. Anyone with a hint of moral values will find the video difficult to watch….

    imagine if the couple was you and your wife.. or a family member…. yes it’s an atrocity when it happens to us. but when we do it to others it’s a little fun?

    what happened was inexcusable and highlights the need for reforms in the tourism industry.. the day of sweeping things under the rug is over… social media is is here you cannot just use “it will damage the tourism industry” line here!! if you thought it would have damaged the industry.. you would have been working to stop it in the first place… as a worker in the industry you know it is happening.. consistently and continuously…

    we deserve the firestorm we’re about to face…

    1. Thanks again for commenting our blog. We are all for exposing wrongs and trying to improve what needs improvement. We believe our blog’s primary job for the past three yeas has been to expose mistakes of the tourism industry in various resorts and elsewhere. We believe we will be the last to hide gross mistakes in the tourism industry because that runs counter to the main reason of our blog.
      Coming to the issue at hand, our position is this:
      The original article in Minivan News which broke the story to the world was written for maximum damage. The story was spiced up enough to elicit emotional warfare traits of the reader. You can check the original article in Minivan and what is reported in Strait Times or BBC east Asia or NZ herald, you will find that major newscasters have dropped the spicy bits of the Minvan story to make it less offensive to the readers. That we believe is responsible journalism. When reporting on or about the victim, journalists make sure that the victim is not hurt by the same stroke of pen that is designed to hurt the perpetrator. The situation now we have is that this country is also a victim as was the couple. The workers in the industry are also victim by association to the country and to the industry. So we are all being victims and we are all getting far more than we deserve.
      Thanks once again for commenting on our blog. We hope you will visit our blog again and share your views with us.

      Most respectfully yours
      resortworkers

  22. Bottom line is they made a mockery of the wedding ceremony that the foreigners paid for. And to justify it by stating the workers conditions are poor is just inexcusabe.

    I wonder what if a non-muslim knowingly fed a muslim pork meat without telling him and considers it to just be an innocent joke, what do you think would be the reaction of the muslim?

    Always wanted to spend some down time in the Maldives.. this thing is now giving me second thoughts. Especially if no action will be taken

    1. The issue of religion was inserted to the original Minivan article for a reason. The reason we believe is maximum damage and maximum publicity. That the minister of the ceremony did a huge wrong is granted. That’s the bottom line we all agree upon. Nor do we consider this whole issue as an innocent joke though the staff who were involved in this might consider so.

  23. You may want to sweep this under the carpet, but making excuses for this sort of disgusting behaviour is only going to ruin the tourism industry in your country. Maldivian resorts are already seen as overpriced and opportunistic, so condoning this stupidity is only going to help send more and more people to other resort locations.

    The tag line for your blog reads “Resort workers: A lot of good people doing a lot of good for the industry and the country”. You obviously don’t care to live up to those words – these are not good people and they are doing no good for the industry or the country. If you did believe in your blog’s tagline then you should be the first to stand up and say that this sort of idiocy needs to stop. You should be ashamed of yourself, the puerile actions of the pathetic individuals involved in the video and the industry you write about for condoning this. Truly good people would be.

    1. We are not condoning this issue and no will we ever. However we are stressing the point that the whole country is being hijacked by this one issue and we will suffer the consequences. The wronged couple needs all the sympathy of whole world for what they were made to go through unwittingly, but so does this country. This time we have two victims, not one!

  24. why are you shooting the messenger? the fact is it has happened. different people perceive it differently, not necessarily what you or minivan news think.
    And who do you speak for? resort workers? how many & what % of them actually has the same view as yours while u tend to speak for them?

    being sympathetic to wages/conditions does not mean you have to defend everything they do. i think your effort to mitigate it by treating as just a joke will backfire.

    “For some its a way of earning recognition and fame at the expense of others, be it against their own family or country”
    Do you feel the same about people who expose atrocities committed by states? such as wiki-leaks etc? or others who exposed torture in Guantanamo and other jails? are they also looking for fame?

    1. We are not shooting any messenger. All we are saying is that given the gravity of the matter, the original writer of the article could have used a more balanced form of reporting than write an inflammatory exposé’s. However this time the Minivan article was written for maximum shock value which is what we got.

  25. Whilst I agree with almost all of your views on the articles on this site, the above comments are utterly disappointing. Poor employment conditions, low salaries & other work grievances do not give these associates the right to commit such travesty to other human beings.

    1. I can only agree with the comment of herleginez. This is about decent human behaviour and honesty.
      I am very disappointed by the whole occurence, because I have been coming to the Maledives many times since 1983, it used to be my favourite holiday destination. However, during the last 6-7 years I did notice a decline in staff morale in several resorts I have been visiting. You don’t always have to understand the words to know that staff are making comments behind your back, and you can tell a lot from body language. I don’t believe the rude behaviour shown in the video is an isolated incident, but rather that it reflects the ‘culture’ that has been allowed to develop within the groups of young male staff. So with great sadness I have to say that neither I nor my friends will come back to the Maledives, as I feel I could not trust the staff to look after us with respect and honesty.

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