Is King Salman really buying an atoll in Maldives?

The short answer is sort of yes. The atoll in question is Faafu which is a sparsely populated atoll with lots of beautiful islands.  Total population of Faafu atoll is around 5000 will in all likelihood will be resettled in  Hulhumale under the proposed deal. The deal is rumored to be worth 10 billion and the atoll will be reclaimed and enlarged to build a mega tourist city. The rationale for the business idea around the project involves Saudi’s desire to diversify economic interests to counter whatever may appear after demand for  fossil fuel becomes low. 

In all likelihood the deal is likely to proceed with current government having super majority in parliament, significant control in judiciary, curbs on media and doing their 100% to stay credible after huge corruption scandal which landed the vice president Adheeb in jail.In president Yameen’s estimate this deal if sealed will produce same amount of revenue for the country as that of the whole tourism sector.

And then there is also significant opposition to the deal from opposition political parties who are also suffering the blame for voting for a bill in parliament which paved the way for private ownership of land in Maldives. 

For the average citizens this just political posturing as there is little difference between 99 year long term lease of islands and outright buying of the islands. Given the average life span of a Maldivian being 77 years, its very unlikely a Maldivian who lives today will see the day when existing long term leased islands lease expires. 

The only real danger Maldivians will face with selling islands may not be that one day all the islands will be bought by billionaires but that these deals will be tainted with corruption and invaluable pieces of beauty will be sold for knockdown prices. Maldives is already reeling from the biggest corruption scandal in history with the same administration in power. Several islands,  lagoons and sandbanks were traded unashamedly by corrupt politicians and things got so bad that tourism ministry even announced any party who have purchased any island or lagoon to get in contact with the ministry with proof of purchase to register the transaction! The corruption saga was never fully inspected and case looks all but closed after jailing 4 individuals including former vice president.

The business case for developing a huge resort island might be sound but the Saudi’s will be well advised not to alienate the opposition who might be not very cooperative if the current regime fails to win the election in 2018. The opposition lacks funding, clear sense of direction and leadership. The current regime almost lacks legitimacy and trust. Trust will never be won with money or power.

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Why not give discounted room rates to individual customers rather than to Tour Operators? To make them fat?

moneybundle

 

Guests want to book their holidays with the resort; resort wants guests to book directly with them.

But resorts give discounted wholesale rate to tour operators but not to individual guests despite wanting them as direct booked guests. What cooks?

anantara-dhigu-sunrise-beach

Here is the everyday situation in resorts that shouldn’t have been in the first place. After seeing a gorgeous picture (something like the picture below) of the perfect blue sky and an even perfect white beach, the would be guest hurriedly tries to book a romantic getaway to Maldives with a life partner. Searching through google brings the guest tons of ads almost all leading them to a booking site. The booking site happily lets the would be guest click through a few times on the webpage and sends confirmation email with travel itinerary and a welcome email for holiday package worth sometimes a little over 5k$ for a week’s stay in one of the most beautiful islands in the world. The customer is indeed set back that many dollars from his net worth for this effortless business created by a third-party booking site. The hotel gets a slice of the pie as well as the booking site and sometimes a few other partners all enjoy a slice of the pie. This is standard proven business model right?

Actually this maybe the wrong model but the one working model customer has no option but to comply with.  Tour operation is effortless big business which should belong to history. At least that’s what it should be considering Maldives is one of the safest destinations in the world, together with good internet coverage and this being 2017; in theory a customer shall be able to deal directly with hotel to book his stay without intermediaries. But why are guests still paying the (evil) middle man? The answer is actually funny and kind of depressing.  Resorts give discounted wholesale rates to tour operators with the assurance that tour operators will do the marketing work and send guests to the resort in off-season. Its outsourcing their most important department (marketing) and doing business the effortless way.

Marketing in most resorts in Maldives is less about marketing than dealing with outsourced marketing firms and tour operators. Tour operation is so widespread that there are tour agencies who do not market at all, but sell packages to other tour operators from discounted packages they get from resorts. What all this does is add bloat to the customer’s holiday package from which only a small portion is received at the resort. This is one reason vacation packages in Maldives are pricy compared to some similar destinations. On the other side it’s also important to keep prices artificially high to appeal to the wealthy customers for “exclusivity effect”.  This is also mostly true of big brand resorts while average resorts are happy with their island being self- marketed by natural beauty and word of mouth type marketing.

Strike action in Hulhule Island Hotel over discrimination

hih_strike

Vaguthu reports about the ongoing strike action in Hulhule Island hotel.

The local staff of the hotel are on strike about dissatisfaction with management for not being paid the salary in US dollars and asking for a raise.

HIH is operated by a joint venture company with 35% share of sats (Singapore) and 65% share of MACL (Maldives).

According to Vaguthu report, 80 of the 90 local staff are on strike. The local workers demands are actually very simple considering the fact the hotel gets all its revenue in US dollars. The local staff are actually asking for a portion of their salary to be paid in dollars; not even the whole amount. The expat staff are being paid in dollars by HIH and the resort recently increased the pay of expat staff following the recently implemented law on remittance fee for foreign workers in the country. The local workers are citing this as discriminatory as many new taxes were implemented for the local population and they did not get a raise to cover these by the hotel.

Another concern raised by the workers is that almost all the position of management of HIH are filled by expat workers and the hotel offers very little opportunities for local talent.

Morning briefings..

In theory it ought to be about planning the work for the day; about passing relevant information to the workers for the day, but in practice its very different. Although most resorts do not employ the procedure of morning briefings, some better managed resorts do. The idea is of course to focus the work. However it’s also the chance for the supervisors or middle managers to do a little bit of showing off and impress upon the workers who is the boss around. It maybe a side effect of bad upbringing or a sign of inferiority complex but it’s very prevalent in resort life. Maybe we need better talent up there where it counts.

We have had reports of supervisors doing briefing for a full hour in some resorts, just making it a long long rant going over the same thing. Also the general idea to conduct briefings does not somehow seems to be known by those who do that. In some such briefings the sequence goes like this

· Find fault with somebody and start attacking him/her.

· Inform tid bits of useful info to the work for the day

· Go a long rant about how he (supervisor/manager) came to this position.

It’s a sure way of demoralizing workers by these things while some senior managements are not aware of the drudgery their workers struggle with. Of course life has ups and downs but most resort workers are keeping up just with things like this on a daily basis to survive in the workplace.

Mayday at Maldives, the drudgery continues…

Isn’t it ironic that most resorts in Maldives still do not recognize May 1 as a public holiday despite Mayday being officially declared a public holiday in 2011 by then president Nasheed? It shall be more so, considering the fact that this affects tourism workers who are by far the most productive workers and the most deserving of a Mayday break from workplace. However stubbornness have it, that its always the unproductive, demoralized, polarized civil workers who gets all the benefits while the resort workers toil hard, unloved and uncared for. This is not to belittle the civil workers,  but to emphasize a massive wrong doing done to resort workers which nobody seems to notice. On the issue of Mayday, it is indeed past time that we seem to come to a conclusion about which is a public holiday, which is a govt. holiday, a bank holiday, or a religious holiday or whatever. Currently the resort HR’s are still sticking to an outdated portion of the hard-fought-and-almost-lost-cause-called-labour-rights-bill which has a section for “miscellaneous matters” where it  says:

“public holiday” shall mean Fridays, Day of Commemoration of the Birth of Prophet Mohamed, Day of Commemoration of the Maldives converting to Islam, Independence Day, National Day, First Day of Ramazan, Day of Eid‐ul‐Fitr, Victory Day, Republic Day, Hajj Day and Day of Eid‐ul‐Ad’ha;”

Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Workers’_Day http://minivannews.com/news-in-brief/may-1-designated-a-public-holiday-to-mark-labour-day-19395

 http://www.miadhu.com/2011/04/local-news/labour-day-may-1-to-be-public-holiday-in-the-maldives/

 http://www.presidencymaldives.gov.mv/Index.aspx?lid=11&dcid=7288

 http://www.sun.mv/17869

 DO

Striking thoughts… (Add yours below)

A strike in its abstract sense is an amazing social organism. It has its own heart and beat, and most likely will be  unpredictable. Nor will its goals be clear or targets definite.

It could be like fire,

mist or snow

or anything for that matter

(forgive the poetic part)

but its hard to define. 🙂

At least that’s the sort of past 45 or so strikes that has happened in various resorts in the country to various degrees. But of course there are rules to follow. TEAM (tourism employees association of Maldives) is forever at pains to stress this point that employees shall always play by the rules. But who is TEAM when the employees rights are in jeopardy? Its like the perpetual battle between the parents and the children. The children puts on tantrums, win or loose their cause and ultimately falls to the protective umbrella of family. Likewise, even though most resort employees are not paying members of TEAM, they are always ready to help when an employee is thrown out of a resort for a strike. Anyways…

Incomplete info, or superiors deliberately raising workers expectations such as that of a yearly bonus or the next month’s service charge to motivate the team for a full season etc, are all fine ingredients for a destructive strike. The potent wisdom in this situation is to deliver as much was promised. The language barrier is also another factor which contributes a lot to misunderstandings which develops in to full scale riots.

The perception that others are crooks (especially the accountants) have connotation with the ghastly belief that ghosts predominantly live in dirty places such as cesspool etc! But objectively thinking, one can can arrive at the absurdity as to why ghosts shall live in such places when we loath such places. So it could be our conscience or the inverse of that function that makes us believe that only we are clean and others are dirty. This is not about exonerating the class of people called accountants but it won’t harm to be a little generous as to believe that people can actually be honest.

And then there are the leaders. Some lead not by knowing they are leaders but it takes others to realize who is leading whom in a strike situation. In a basic primitive sense, a leader must have strong vocals chords to be able to lead the sheep over the din of dissenting voices. In this situation the leader needs not to have coherent ideas or grand plans, but a high decibel voice to command and shout back at dissent. Its not about answering point by point, but rather thwart discussion by noise!

The utility of having a docile spokesperson to liaise with the management or owners is a very prominent need for a runaway strike as its leaders use such a person for such use!

Arriving at the value of a withheld service charge or a defrauded bonus in a resort situation is a possibility if people are willing to use their brains. A resort works like a clock with many cogs and wheels turning in their routines. Each cog and wheel is bound by its design parameters (in this case things like confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement etc). However short of stealing company’s data to justify a strike, employees can achieve the same result like by following the narrative of the three blind folks who tried to describe the elephant! Forgive the round about way we describe this but, each was wrong individually but collectively they were able to describe the thing they never saw! Likewise, a simple collaborative spreadsheet model (on Excel for eg) could provide some limits to what can be expected for a given period of time, with such and such occupancy, room rates etc. But where is the utility of going through all this when we have a better hunch? But then again, is a hunch good enough when enough is not enough? 🙂

Paradise accused of prostitution

Villa group's Flyme airline
Villa group's Flyme airline grounded

In an evolving political dispute heating up between the ruling MDP and the opposition coalition, the latest victims seems to be Villa Group of hotels and their own airline Flyme. Apparently responding to calls to close down  prostitution centres  in the big demonstration held on Friday, the administration responded by sending police and tourism officials to Paradise island to check on the spas in the island. Embroiling in an increasingly political battle, the tourism ministry sent orders to close the spa operation in Villa’s 5 resorts which the resort politely declined citing legal inconsistencies. Villa’s own Flyme airline which ferries tourists and locals to the area around Maamigili island airport has also been grounded yesterday by order from civil aviation authority citing safety concerns. This is in contrast to the fact that other local airlines have never been similarly grounded following major incidents.

Its unfortunate that political scores are being settled against critical infrastructure and tourism facilities which are the mainstay of economy of the country. It is in the interest of the country to keep tourism industry in firm stable footing and to insulate the industry from  political infighting as  tourism industry is critical for the economy.

Ayada Maldives opens

Ayada Maldives
Ayada Maldives

The latest resort to join the resort list opens quietly on 30th September and the resort looks absolutely stunning. The resort is quite far from Male’ but is actually another addition to growing  tourism in the south.

The specialty about the resort will be its Turkish theme in services and concept, such as the Hammam (steam bath), the Turkish hookahs (smoking water pipes) etc.

Here are some quick facts about the resort.

  • distance: 268 miles south of the capital Male
  • size: 150,000 square metres
  • number of rooms: The 112-villa
  • 33 Beach Villas,
    4 Beach Suites,
    14 Sunset Beach Suites,
    33 Ocean Villas,
    11 Sunset Lagoon Suites,
    16 Sunset Ocean Suites
    1 duplex Ayada Royal Ocean Suite.
  • seven restaurants
  • an extensive 3500 sqm AySpa
  • Health Club managed by ESPA
  • dive and water-sports centre
  • kid’s club.
  • investment: $110 million
  • proposed number of staff: 350
  • rooms price range: 1300$ to 10000$

links:
http://www.asiatraveltips.com/news11/3110-AyadaMaldives.shtml

http://maldives.net.mv/3689/ayada-maldives-resort-opens/

http://ayadamaldives.com/

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=turkish-firm-to-open-luxury-hotel-in-the-maldives-2011-07-25

 

Laamu Asseyri given to JResorts

asseyri project at Laamu Gan
proposed design of the Asseyri Project

Laamu Asseyri project could be the next best thing to come to Maldives tourism. Asseyri (or Beach) project was thought up to cater for the growing calls to start mid-market tourism in the country. Tourism experts have called for such a concept for a long time. With the new Assyri concept, guest rooms will be built on the western beach side of Laamu Gan on approximately 25 acres of land. There will be two resorts with 300 beds each, 79 guest houses and recreational facilities.
laamu gan asseyri project
location of Asseyri highlighed in red

The selling point for new Asseyri based tourism will be to be able to give lower room rates than conventional resort islands which is perfectly feasible as existing resort islands operate at very high profit margins.

However the concept does not seem to have generated a lot of interests and only 3 parties are known to have proposed bids to build the facilities. The winning bidder is JResorts which is already struggling with a string of undeveloped islands and barely managing to keep afloat their only running resort at Alidhoo. However there is still potential for this idea as Laamu area is being expanded for tourism.

Laamu Gan Asseyri project will consist of 2 resorts and 69 guest houses
Laamu Gan Asseyri project

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 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.

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.

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.

Alidhoo Staff fired asking for salary!

SAARC secretary General Dhiyana and JResorts owner Abdulla Jabir
Chairman of Yacht Tours Jabir with his wife Dhiyana SAARC Secretary General

Not to be unfair or one sided but if a survey is made of all the resorts in Maldives and asked which employers are the worst, Jresorts will come to the bottom of the results. There is very little doubt about that. Its a combination of bad politics and corrupt business practices which views the workers as nothing better than paid slaves. This is in very contrast to the excellent service resort workers give to their high paying clients who blissfully are unaware that the workers who pamper them in their expensive holidays sometimes go without pay for months while they still retain the smile.

Our solidarity with the wronged staff of Alidhoo Cinnamon Island who were summarily dismissed for asking for their last month’s salary. This sends a chilling message to honest workers who toil hard in resorts far away from family and friends that employers can still cheat and threat and getaway with everything and nobody seems to take notice!

Here are some background info about Alidhoo the resort, the parent company and the owner of the bussiness.

The owner:
Jresorts is owned and managed by Mr. Abdulla Jabir who is frequently referred to as a self made businessman from Huvadhooo Atoll. However like all creations of the state Mr. Jabir was also a creation of the former administration. Specifically Mr. jabir rose to prominence in tourism industry by association with Yameen the powerful minister who held many ministerial portfolios and half-brother of the Maumoon the last president. It could be safely assumed that almost all of Jabir’s resorts were built, renovated or maintained by finances and materials from deals with the State Trading Organization whose board chairman was also Yameen at the time. So unlike most resort owners who struggled with finance arrangements, Jabir had an important friend at the right place and time. Mr. Jabir’s wife the Diyana the current SAARC secretary general is not associated with his bussiness but its frequently noted in forums and local news that the position for Dhiyana was offered as part of a political deal to keep Mr. Jaabir away from ruling party politics. He is the only prominent politician/businessman in the country to have been in all major political parties, DRP, MDP, Jumuhooee Party, And People’s Alliance (Yaameen’s party) in so a short period of time. Basically he is an opportunist businessman involved in politics for the business interests like everywhere else around the world.

The resorts:
Jresorts currently owns Alidhoo, , KudaRah, Vatavarreha, Funamaudda among many other islands. The parent company of the islands is Yacht Tours Maldives. Past management deals and ownerships include Dhonveli Beach and Spa which has been sold to John Keels Holding Co of Sri lanka and Herethere which was leased from MTDC. The Herethere deal has since been abandoned after a sizable loss to everyone including the MTDC. Jresorts has also been awarded an island in lieu of a failed bid he presented to Vilivaru and Biyadhoo which was a precedent which has since not been replicated.

Tourism Ministry reprieving dodgers

Alidhoo Cinnamon Island JResorts Maldives
Alidhoo (Cinnamon Island)

The decision to reprieve resorts who are dodging payment of  rent and accrued fines is a dangerous precedent created by the tourism ministry. This is actually a very serious  issue as all of the owners of these defaulting resorts are senior members of the ruling MDP party. Tourism industry is the one sector of our economy that works well relatively compared to other sectors so its an alarming situation. The ministry and administration has to make a point of being seen as not playing favourites to the party members.

Tourism ministry may have considered the effect of revoking operation license of these resorts and the ensuing economic factors which might negatively effect the upcoming national elections in their decision. However these figures owed by the resorts in question are not of the magnitude that would have been impossible for resorts to come up with if the resorts are in business. Our resorts are well known for their over pricedness where even a bottle of water is sold for guests to the equivalent of a bottled water case! Also a quarter of million dollars is average monthly value of payroll in a mid sized resort. So its bewildering how the ministry has to bend its uprightness just to appease party benefactors.

Below is a list of resorts and the amounts owed by these resorts as rent and fines.

Alidhoo (Cinnamon Island) (JResorts) $792,042.12
Kuda Rah (JResorts) $759,363.38
Funamaudda (JResorts) $1,241,226.20
Filitheyo Island $2,563,509.01
Medhufushi $3,431,328.44
Kudafunaafaru (Zitahli Resorts) $669,604.72
Hadha (Park Hyatt) $200,833.33
Giraavaru $2,519,276.98
Kihaadhuffaru (Zitahli) $1,471,221.90
Laamu Olhuveli (Six Senses) $4,751,511.11
Nasandhura Palace $265,054.93
Total $18,664,972.12

source:Haveeru

New developments & recent industry news roundup

Male' pic
Male' Maldives
  • Raa Atoll Maamunagau island has been awarded to BIR Hotel Management (Pvt) Ltd. The island has been awarded under new procedures without a competing bidding process, whereby the resort is developed as a joint venture business with the participating company and the government. The government retains a 5% share which will be sold back to the company one year later. The island is awarded after taking advance cash payment of 2.5m$ which will be paid in 30 days and another 2.5m$ to be paid in 1.5years.link :@ Haveeru
  • Two more regional airports are to built at Huvadhoo Atoll accompanied by two more resorts!
  • The first airport is to be built on Kooddoo which also has the fish processing facility. The developer would be Bonaventure (Maldives) Pvt Ltd. Bonaveture has also been given Gaaf Alif Dhigurah to develop a resort as consideration for developing the airport at Kooddoo.
  • The second airport will be built at Gaaf Dhaal Maavarulu. The developer will be Moving International Pvt.Ltd. As consideration for the development of the airport, the company has been awarded Gaaf Alif Kodaanahutta
  • Addu City authorities propose to develop areas of the city as a Asseyri (Beachside) Project. The two areas ear-marked for development under this project are the Maafishi Area of Hulhumeedhoo Island and the start of the Hankede area, Hithadhoo.
  • An MoU has been signed between Kalaidhu Investment and Dubai’s Jauhara Group to open first Shari’a-compliant resort in Maldives. The resort  would comprise of 50-75 luxury villas with private swimming pools as well as a private beach, restaurant, recreation centre, spa, marina and yachts, is estimated to cost between US$70-100 million and is expected to be complete by late 2013 or early 2014.
  • Tourism Ministry has issued last warning of revocation of operating licenses for 10 resorts and Nasandhura Palace Hotel, which were given a 90-day notice for failing to pay the lease rent, land rent and the fine, fail to settle the payments before July 20. The notices were given to Alidhoo Island, Kudarah Island Resort managed by Yacht Tours Maldives, Summer Season Maldives managed by Huvadhumaafushi, and Filitheyo Island Resort Maldives and Medhufushi Island Resort Maldives run by AAA Hotels and Resorts. Zitahli Resorts and Spa Kuda-Funafaru , Kihaadhuffaru Island Resort managed by Athama Marine International, and Olhuveli Resort run by Olhuveli Laamu Holdings were also given the notice.