Doing crazy things in the name of art

When people run out of ideas, they do crazy things. When pressed for an explanation they say its art. Consider this:

A group of young people sitting on a chair with dough over their heads.

models sit with dough over their heads

The artist who came up with this idea say its art. But if its art then what is not art? To an artistically untrained eye, this looks more like a situation where the artist in question ran out of ideas to get publicity and cleverly fooled the local art gallery to host a period of madness. With so much hunger and poverty around the world, the dough that went over the heads of the brainless models could have been used to feed a few starving kids somewhere!

This is also not a local situation. Everywhere around the world people are falling in to these gimmicks of vanity and doing crazy things in the name of art. When challenged they will readily explode defending their ‘art’ with the determined zeal of the worst religious fanatic.
spencer tunic filled a street in Israel with nake ppl

The emperor without cloth comes to mind. People undress in public places in their hundreds and thousands for a photographer to take their pic in the name of art! Imagine the cost of preparation of the whole project, the transportation of people, licenses, rent and so many expenses that go along with it; money that was burnt for vanity. Think why the world is hungry

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Alidhoo staff on strike, again!

Alidhoo Cinnamon Island JResorts Maldives
Alidhoo (Cinnamon Island)

We are getting reports that a strike is happening at Alidhoo Cinnamon Island over last month’s pay. Apparently the resort has still not paid August month’s pay to the staff and is not even able to tell the staff when the resort can pay them. The same situation was repeated in June when staff had to go on strike to get their pay! That time the resort fired 12 staff for their legitimate demand on pay.
SAARC secretary General Dhiyana and JResorts owner Abdulla Jabir
Chairman of Yacht Tours Jabir with his wifeDhiyana former AG

Under the labour laws of the country, every employer is required to pay the previous month’s salary no later than the 10th of the next month. Cinnamon Island resort which is owned and managed by JResorts Maldives (formerly Yacht Tours Maldives) has a history of abusing workers rights and flout labour laws without fear of reprisal. The managing director of the company happens to be a senior member of the ruling MDP and a former parliamentarian whose wife is the current SAARC secretary general. It is scandalous that such high profile persons can afford to openly flout laws of the country with impunity.

We call on the Tourism Ministry and the Human Resources ministry to look in to the recurring problem of delays on staff’s monthly pay at resorts managed by JResorts and to bring those responsible to justice.

The fine-print of BlackBerry on Wataniyya

Blackberry storm
For those who loves lots of buttons on their phone, are reasonably paranoid about security, is a little bit obsessed with the latest the phone company provides, the latest Blackberry and Wataniyya join-up will be helpful. Wataniyya has infact sold out its stock of Blackberries and is awaiting a bigger shipment of phones very soon. The novelty is not in the phone but in the service. This time Dhiraagu has properly been beaten by Wataniyya on who gets there first with Blackberry. But lets read the fine-print. Important details are always dropped down to the bottom of the page in to the fine-print area hoping the majority of people would conveniently skip them over.

Wataniyya Blackberyy services elite elite plus
Monthly Fee Rf1,199 Rf1,499
Mobile Internet* UNLIMITED
BlackBerry® Messenger & E-Mail*
Social Networking*
FREE Numbers 2 3
FREE SMS 75 100
FREE Local Minutes 700 1000

So there it is! The UNLIMITED mobile internet, email and social networking that’s deal here. This UNLIMITED word infact means exactly the opposite! The package is limited to 1GB and 1.5GB of data which is survivable if you can go without enjoying any online videos. The other two parts Emails and Social networking are even not relevant because typical emails and facebook statuses does not go beyond even a kilobyte of data. The real fine-print Wataniyya is hoping we conveniently look-over is the 1 laari per kilobyte they will happily charge if a customer goes over the 1GB monthly allowance. At that rate, an access of even 1Mb will be 10Rf which is not generous even by Dhiraagu’s greedy standards!

The skilled 8.5k


Under the economics reform agenda, it was decided that 8500 people will be trained in various areas of study in work related fields to combat widespread unemployment among young people. According to the plan there will be 56 areas of study for study which will certify the participants in 1 to 6 month duration courses some of which will be accredited internationally.

According to latest statistics of HRM, there are 2000 vacancies in construction industry, >3000 vacancies in tourism industry, 700 vacancies in transport industry and 800 vacancies in fisheries industry.

Out of 205033 locals eligible for work, 38602 are out of work whilst another 73840 expatriates works in different sectors throughout the country.

In theory this is alright, jobs are there lying vacant unmatched to prospective job-seekers. Job seekers also would have to be helped to become skilled if they are not. But the real problem that 30% of people eligible to work who remain unemployed is because of unrealistically low wages. Consider the picture below.

The picture is a typical job ad by a top local business brand which clearly is seen offering an unreasonably low pay for a demanding job. As for skills required, fiber optic networking could not be attempted without skills. Yet a lousy 3k per month is offered for full time employment which actually means, the employer is not interested in hiring locals. A local simply cannot survive on that kind of pay in Male’ island if he does not live in a hole or a cave or needs to eat and drink water even if occasionally!
Job ads like these are clearly designed to exclude locals from work and is all the more reason why we shall have a basic minimum wage and other protective measures like work visa quotas. Ideally a country would be left better off not having to legislate on issues like this, but if employers do not take the social responsibility then they shall be prompted to. Its also worth noting that the worst offenders when it comes to dodging social responsibility are the local employers who still have pre-slave era beliefs about the worker class.

Safety first..

safety firsta guest prepares for snorkelling

If any lessons would have been learnt from the recent Huraa tragedy, it will shortly translate to policies and hopefully legislation which we currently do not have. However more relevant would have been a change in attitude to personal  safety, even which  cannot sprout up quickly. Reflecting on the Huraa tragedy and past such tragedies, here is a list of improvements which could be helpful.

  1. Resorts could employ life guards to monitor the beaches full time because our tourism industry is rapidly changing with more arrivals coming from mainland China and the East  which is very different from traditional European  markets.
  2. Some resorts even now do employ safety procedures like making guests wear life jackets on the journey to and from airport / resort which is a good thing. Although most resorts still overlooks this procedure, it could be a good improvement on personal safety issues.
  3. Over the course of the last few years, we have lost quite a number of able bodied fishermen to sea at various work related accidents. Safety work regulation could make it a requirement for fishermen also to don proper  safety gear at work.
  4. Construction industry also needs tougher rules on safety. Currently the only guys who wear the hard-hats and safety shoes in a typical construction site will be expat contract workers whose only fear  which makes them wear them is  possible loss of insurance cover in an eventuality.

Our 9/11 tragedy unfolds… in Maldives

Although we do not have tall sky scrappers like the US, today 9th September 2011 is one of the saddest days in our nations history.  Just like as the USA lost 3000 souls in their 9/11 tragedy, today we lost 5 people which is exactly the same percentage when US and our country’s population are compared. However our tragedy is not related to any war or global conflicts.

On behalf of all fellow resort workers we send our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and we wish them courage in this hard time. May Allah bless them and their loved ones, and make them rest in peace.

The specifics:

 

the spot where the tragedy happened
It happened in a most happy carefree setting which is repeated numerous times throughout the year in various parts of the country. Two Classes of Hiriya School (2nd girl’s school in Male’) went on a Fisheries science project to the island of BoduHuraa (near Four Seasons Kuda Hura) with some of their teachers and their late principal Mr. Ali Nazim. He is a strong swimmer and a swimming instructor as well. Over the course of the project, a group of about 8 girls somehow went in to a deeper part of the lagoon (8 feet depth) and shouted seeking help. Nazim managed to free some of the drowning girls and it appears that the remaining panic stricken teens somehow overpowered him reflexively and that appears to have been how the tragedy happend. The total body count of the tragedy is five including Nazim.

people throng the gates of IGMH to pay condolences of the Hiriy school victims

The tragedy has taken the whole country by surprise and the whole country is in mourning. Three official days of national mourning has been announced by the president and Health and Education ministry are conducting reviews of the whole situation to prevent repeats in the future.

the children in happier times
the children in happier times

What is so indigeneous about it?

artificial island

Most resorts would love to develop their own style of everything to identify their uniqueness among the crowded uniformity as a selling point to the guests. To prove their point of uniqueness they go to great lengths, sometimes extending the very core values they try to preach. Basically the marketing crew will do anything to develop the unique signature of resort as their work progresses. So its a constant evolvement of ideas and practices which makes up the story of a typical resort.
However there are the atypical bunch to prove the opposite!There are some resorts which are year around booked whole time with repeater guests sometimes more than 3 months in advance. Mostly these would be club style small resorts whose guests fell in love with the resort because of its unpretentiousness. These resorts indeed do not have a long narrative about their philosophy, core values and bla bla and sell the real deal to the guests without the proverbial ado. That is the guest would know what to expect and is generally gets better value for their money.

Resorts run by big brands know that they would need to keep their clients in a  bubble so that they can charge higher rates for their stay. So basically a lot of things are invented to keep the guest in the imaginary state! For example a resort may need to create an artificial greeting in the local language just to impress the guest with their ‘groundedness’! Guests sometimes cringe uncomfortably in self-consciousness when staff pour rose petals practically at their feet as they walk the pier to reception on their arrival. Guests would duly be told and expected to understand that this is local culture while its in fact nothing of the sort. Arrival fanfare is another exercise which is duly forged to impress guests with the originality of the resort. While its true that there was a local tradition to beat drums to welcome dignitaries and elders from neighboring islands, such drums would generally be lively and not solemn at all.

Its the irony of resort life that you have to create dis-ingenuity to make  money and keep the guests in an imaginary bubble, preach to the staff about how moral our resort is and how unpretentious we aught to be etc.

Lets meet the people’s representatives

people's majlis
Apparently there is an issue about our parliament members requesting privacy of their phone numbers, which is despite the fact that most members pledged to be in contact and forever approachable by the people in their election campaigning. Most parliament members promptly went back on their pledge the moment their election victory was announced. However an effort led by a facebook group Majliswatch calling for reform of majlis member’s pay structure have put up a posters in Male’ with our majlis members photos and their contact details asking the people to send views direct to the members on this and other similar reform issues.


We believe this is a very good initiative and everyone shall engage in calling for reform of relevant issues through majlis. Majlis members as they are people’s representatives shall respect the peoples right to be heard and shall maintain open lines of communications with the people. As long as they are in the service of the people, the people will have every right to demand and to know how much their representatives are being paid, offered, by whom and what-for etc.. This is basically accountability to the people.

Listed below here are some details of our parliamentarians and their contact numbers. We urge all fellow resort workers to respect their position and address issues in respectable terms when texting your views.

salaams

moosa manik 7771907 mdp hulhu henveiru dhaaira
eva abdulla 7782847 mdp galolhu uthuru dhaaira
muhammadh rasheed 7764243 mdp machangolhi dhekunu dhaaira
ibrahim rasheed 7785618 mdp maafannu dhekunu dhaaira
muhammad shifaaz 9699626 mdp baarashu dhaaira
ahmed sameer 7772046 mdp dhidhoo dhaaira
ali arif 7917489 drp vaikaradhoo dhaaira
ali riza 7783081 7781429 mdp milandhoo dhaaira
ali saleem 9911132 drp funadhoo dhaaira
muhammadhu thaariq 7788510 mdp manadhoo dhaaira
dr. afraasheem ali 7775327 drp ungoofaaru dhaaira
ali azim 7771918 drp mehu henveiru dhaaira
ahmed mahloof 7774567 drp galolhu dhekunu dhaaira
imthiyaz fahmee 7777852 mdp maafannu uthuru dhaaira
ahmed nihaan hussein manik 7774330 drp vilimaafannu dhaaira
Dr. abdulla mausoom 7791001 drp vilimaafannu dhaaira
muhammadhu mujuthaz 7777948 drp hanimaadhoo dhaaira
muhummad nasheed 7902266 kulhudhuffushi dhaaira
hussein waheed 7771166 mdp komandoo dhaaira
ali muhammad 7772076 drp velidhoo dhaaira
muhammad naashiz 7772370 drp alifushi dhaaira
visaama ali 7774256 drp maduvvari dhaaira
haamidh abdul ghafoor 7778245 mdp henveiru dhekunu
mariyaa didi 7771769 mdp machangolhi uthuru dhaaira
abdulla abdul raheem 7993113 mdp maafannu hulhangu
ahmed rasheed 7774650 mdp hoarafushi dhaaira
ahmed abdulla 7775645 mdp ihavandhoo dhaaira
muhammad nasheed 9992013 mdp nolhivaram dhaaira
abdul ghafoor moosa 7772656 mdp kulhudhuffushi uthuru dhaaira
muhammad hussein 7775555 drp kanditheem dhaaira
ahmed easa 7773764 mdp kendhikulhudhoo dhaaira
hamdhoon abdulla hameed 7772333 drp inguraidhoo dhaaira
muhammad zubair 7900166 duvaafaru dhaaira
thasmeen ali 7772547 drp kendhoo dhaaira
ahmed moosa 7772339 kurendhoo dhaaira
ismail abdul hameed 7777137 kaashidhoo dhaaira
hussein muhammad 7784383 drp mathiveri dhaaira
gasim ibrahim 7771111 jp maamigili dhaaira
ahmed nazim 7786789 pa dhiggaru dhaaira
ahmed aamir 7782131 kudahuvadhoo dhaaira
riyaz rasheed 7771331 (GP) vilufushi dhaaira
abdul aziz jamal abubakr 7785619 pa maavashu dhaaira
muhummad ramiz 7771724 drp vilingili dhaaira
muhummad nazim 7774548 mdp madaveli dhaaira
zahir adam 7783433 mdp gadhoo dhaaira
abdulla maseeh muhammad 7772233 drp foamulaku dhekunu dhaaira
hassan latheef 7902231 drp hithadhoo dhekunu dhaaira
alhaan fahmee 7900324 mdp feydhoo dhaaira
ahmed saleem 7773508 lp aedhafushi dhaaira
ahmed muhammad 7774618 drp naifaru dhaaira
rozaina adam 7778061 drp thulusdhoo dhaaira
ali waheed 7925554 mdp thoddoo dhaaira
yusuf naeem 7772506 drp felidhoo dhaaira
abdul muhsin hameed 7775763 drp nilandhoo dhaaira
ahmed siyam muhammad 7771020 meedhu dhaaira
muhammad musthafa 7778844 mdp thimarafushi dhaaira
abdul raheem abdulla 7795834 pa fonadhoo dhaaira
muhammad riyaz 9991298 mdp dhaandhoo dhaaira
ibrahim muthalib 7775087 jp fares maathodaa
muhammad rafeeg hassan 7778455 drp foamulaku uthuru dhaaira
muhammad aslam 7772966 mdp hithadhoo uthuru dhaaira
ilyas labeeb 7774670 mdp hulhumeedhoo dhaaira
nazim rashaad 7781182 mdp thulhaadhoo dhaaira
ibrahim muhammad solih 9998171 mdp hinnavaru dhaaira
ibrahim riza 7772823 guraidhoo dhaaira
rugiyya muhummad 7907984 mdp mahibadhoo dhaaira
abdulla yameen abdul gayoom 7785665 pa mulaku dhaaira
ahmed hamza 7771328 mdp bileydhoo dhaaira
moosa zameer 7771727 pa kinbidhoo dhaaira
ahmed rasheed ibrahim 7874050 9996027 pa isdhoo dhaaira
yusuf abdul ghafoor 7786517 7936517 pa gamu dhaaira
ilham ahmed 7777197 drp gemanafushi dhaaira
muhammad gasam 7777322 mdp thinadhoo dhaaira
shifaq mufeed 7772271 mdp foamulaku medhu dhaaira
muhammad rasheed 7781360 mdp hithadhoo medhu dhaaira
hassan aadil 7785050 mdp maradhoo dhaaira

Useless trainings…

frequent trainings are held in resort irrespective of purpose or use
Trainings come in various sizes and shapes! Mostly if a resort employs an in-house trainer he or she will make sure that a project is always going on even if its of use to no one. These trainings goes by various names. It could be about ‘brand orientation’ or ‘company philosophy’ or ‘green globe -whatever’ etc.. Sometimes outside parties such as marketers of a brand or a product might be invited to the resort to lecture a section or a department to introduce their products, all in the guise of a training. Basically these trainings are created and implemented so that the trainer wants to be seen to be doing some work!

The worst part of a useless training would be to be expected to learn some archaic abstract meaning of the shape of the company logo or the personal history of the humble beginnings of the company. For example, For The Taj Group it will be long long story of how the British were in India, The East India company, the Rajs of the time and inevitably the freedom struggle all somehow related to the company and how the founders toiled hard to please the always-right customer in their small hotel! (And remember, the founder was always smiling! {that’s important}) Similar stories goes for every employer. It maybe a required obsession of the employer to inflate the corporate ego but in this day and time, it might be worthwhile to check the return value of such an exercise. Namely what the resort or company gets by forcing uninterested employees the intricacies of their humble beginnings except wasted hours and soft-drinks and T-shirts etc.
If all in-house trainers in every resort acts up like this, its a little solace that similar schemes are not thought of by in-house resort doctors who might come-up with ideas to vaccinate staff routinely on various imaginary ailments!

We could use drones to search

we could use drone technology to search for missing people
an Aereyon drone

It might have something to do with the proliferation and easy access to media, but almost every other day the sad news of a drowned or disappeared person is relayed in local news. Normally when a person goes missing in an island, the islanders comb the whole island sometimes for a whole week, during the same time authorities are notified who in their part scour the seas from the sky using hired aircraft. Sometimes the body washes up a few days later, and sometimes the search goes fruitless. Although not frequently attached with the grim story of such a fatality, the authorities do spend huge amounts of money on such search operations.

Prevention is indeed better than cure at which the tourism ministry is currently drawing up guidelines to tourism industry to incorporate safety guidelines at new resorts which will require more emphasis on safety. Same or more measures in these lines needs to be implemented in building/construction and fisheries industries where people work with dare-devil mentality. Its not particularly smart to be a daredevil, it pays to be precautions.

Perhaps one small help that we can use to do an effective search with minimal cost would be to use drone technology instead of hiring normal airplanes. There are drones which can do spectacular military strength photography from above, which can be very useful in situations like this at very reasonable prices. Such drones are sometimes used by oil exploration companies and environmental agencies to photograph massive areas cost effectively. One such drone technology available for civilian use was bought and used by Libyan rebels against Gaddafi forces on their march to Tripoli in the days prior to 23rd August, the day they stormed Tripoli. The system they used was called Aeryon Scout, a product of Cananadian company which was sold for a little less than what would cost to buy an “3 cylinder engine dhoni” (100k$ to 200k$)in our terms. If our forces opt for this technology in their search operations it surely will enable them to do more thorough searches of large areas of land and sea many times less expensive than current methods.

Absurd descisions..

the island of Foamulah
Officially this is Not one, but three islands!

Geographically Maldives consists only of atolls and islands. While the majority of the islands fit in the coral reef ring that makes the atoll, some islands stand by themselves in the Indian ocean. Foa Mulah, Kaashidhoo, Thoddoo, Alifushi are lone islands like this. On the other hand we have perfect geographical atolls like the normally acknowledged atolls and Rasdhoo, Makunudhoo, Gaafaru, Fulhadhoo and Goidhoo.

However for administrative reasons successive governments have named, renamed and titled islands and atolls at will for quite some time. These naming and renaming does not follow geography and only follows what is practicable and sometimes what is convenient in politics. For example the big atoll Huvadhoo was made two atolls for administrative purposes back in the 80s because the communication equipment at the time did not have full coverage of the atoll from end to end. Ari atoll was cut in half in the 90s for purely political reasons. Similarly absurd titles were given after 2000 to Male atoll Villingili and the newly developed island at Hulhule as wards of Male’ despite the islands being separated by sea from Male’. However these naming and renaming serve the political purpose as no strong objections has been raised against such measures.

The latest absurd naming of the island happened quite recently at FoaMulah which is now officially 3 islands two of which are supposed to be uninhibited although in reality the island is still one indivisible island which couldn’t even add more territory to it by dredging because the island lacks the protective lagoons and beaches most islands have. FoaMulah has been an island by itself for centuries despite being quite close to Addu atoll. Although there were attempts to associate FoaMulah as an island belonging to Addu, it does not appear to have found any wider acceptance. The recently found two islands (imaginary ones!) is an honest attempt by current government to host two city hotels which could do for a resort possibly to provide more jobs and income to economy. Whatever the reasons, its unlikely to go unchallenged by political rivals as the plan is an obvious half thought idea! With many resort islands opening in Huvahdoo atoll and two in Addu, any hotelier who would open camp in these two islands would find it a stretch to compete for customers to their city hotel (in an imaginary island!). The idea that FoaMulah could be helped to develop by two city hotels and a domestic airport does not seem viable as Addu has had facilities for years and yet is lacking in so many ways.

Giving titles to islands and atolls maybe a tame political pastime but the implications of such changes cost the economy as each titled island is in effect a small administration with its requirements such as offices and officers who will manage the newly created narrative. If however the prevailing idea is to help an island by raising its title, what could be feasible for that island needs to be introduced. Everything does not have to be of or related to tourism. Diversifying industries which can help the economy would be better in the long run than to keep all the eggs in the same basket.