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.

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.

Can I fly my latest DJI drone in resort?

This is a frequent question guests ask while in resort. Most guests buy their drones before coming holiday and have the idea to use the holiday time to practice drone skills. Some even bring high end photography drones to capture their happy moments. The answer depends on the resort they are staying. Some high end resorts which often hosts celebrities limit drone use for guests citing privacy issues of other guests. In such a situation its likely guests will be directed to a nearby uninhibited island or to supervised sessions with resort’s security personnel. Drone use can also be a problem if resort hosts a sea plane platform and frequent sea plane transfers happen on the island. It just takes a few distracted seconds before a sea plane appears in the resort’s lagoon out of nowhere.

On the other side, aerial videos and shots by guests is free marketing by guests which has tremendous value. 

Also with a recent update to small businesses rules, the authorities forbid proffessional photography equipments to be imported, with the exception of registered media outlets or locals for personal use. So its always better to check with resort before bringing expensive photography drones to resort. 

Tourist arrivals increasing

deepika-katrina-vacation759

Its good news for all the resort owners and workers alike. Tourists are again finding Maldives attractive and are filling the resorts in good numbers. According to stats from Tourism Ministry, average occupancy in resorts now is above 70% with 3.6% increase over same period from last year. The increase from last month was 11.4% compared to last year same period.

Most Visitors by nationality:

  1. England +11.7
  2. Italy +10.2
  3. Germany +2.2
  4. France -3.2
  5. China -10.6
  6. Russia +4.4
  7. India +45

From the stats its apparent that the Chinese market is dwindling because of the higher rates at this time of the year. A surprising increase is from India, which may well be caused by popularity among wealthy Bollywood celebrities visiting Maldives.

According to tourism ministry stats, there are 110 resorts operating in Maldives with occupancy average of 74%. Average stay duration for tourist is 5.6 nights.

 

Dusit Thani Maldives

It’s a political State of emergency… Not a real one!

Today is just another day Maldives is making headlines again for all the wrong reasons. The timing couldn’t be more perfect as tourist high season is just beginning and the country depends heavily on tourism revenues.

bomb disposal unit  checking on a reported IED
bomb disposal unit checking on a reported IED

The government all of a sudden declared state of emergency across the whole country citing security concerns. Specifically the authorities believe a container of explosives and fire arms has been imported to the country from China (by VP and his partners) and some elements are planning to use them against the president. The president already survived an IED attach on his boat after he returned from Hajj and the VP has since been arrested and kept in detention pending charges of “high treason” according to the home minister. The VP is accused of all sorts of crimes including running gangs, influencing police and military, bribing institutions etc. and its very likely that there are some elements of truth in these charges and that he will be given long prison sentences. The parliament is already trying to impeach him without the support of the biggest opposition party MDP, which means a crucial 5 votes needed to pass the impeachment motion will have to be either bought or ransomed for the release of former president Nasheed (who is also in jail) or whichever is less costlier for the current government.

mdp demo
Opposition MDP rally against the governement

However the view from across the public is of deep mistrust as this state of emergency looks very much an effort to stop huge demonstrations against the government for detention of several politicians including the former president Nasheed and Sheikh Imran the leader of Adhaalath party. What is most apparent in these unfortunate events is that the decree to impose state of emergency also includes clause halving the number of days the VP can prepare to answer to the parliament in the no confidence motion. The stated reason for the state of emergency namely about loose weapons posing danger to the public shall have nothing to do with the number of days VP can get to prepare for his defense. It’s also true that the current government has very little public support and is in deep trouble with public opinion locally and globally. Imprisoning politicians, stifling dissent and ruling under state of emergency should not be the way forward for Maldives. Maldives is such a sunny country we can do better than this.

For the record we can say that Maldives is as sunny as always and there are no threats to life or property and guests are unlikely to be ever harmed in their holidays. What is happening inside is crude political drama and is more hype than substance.

Male’ braced for big Mayday rally.

Mayday rally used to be a simple affair in Male’ mostly organized by TEAM. Often times the rally is attended by less than 100 and looks more like a cause for resort workers as others don’t seem interested.  But this time it’s looking like it’s going to be different. Mayday for once is going to be attended in good numbers and for a good reason.  Apart from the ruling party PPM, every other party has joined the effort to free former president Nasheed and some other high ranking officials of the previous administration who have recently been jailed on trumped up charges. Amnesty international and EU has backed the calls for releasing the former president and former defense minister Nazim as the legal proceedings that landed them in jail were neither free from political interference nor just. It remains to be seen how the popular anger against the political trials and injustices are going to be heard by the ruling minority led government which has shown amazing naivety in thinking they can mask the discontent by threats and intimidation and remain non committal to popular sentiments.

Politics being politics every party will take as much advantage as they can out of situations and frequently lie their way through situations making small things appear big, tiny problems appear as huge but there are very good reasons for voicing discontent against the government this time.

Adheeb

image012
image012

The current controversial tourism minister is by all accounts very much involved with the gangs in Male and he has made no effort to distance himself from them. It is also said that when he was made tourism minister his net worth was around minus 5000 dollars and in just 3 years he was able to present brand new car to first lady on her birthday. Former auditor general Niyaz was removed from his job for trying to probe allegation of corruption against Mr. Adheeb.

car donated by Adheeb to firstlady
car donated by Adheeb to firstlady

The courts:

Maldives maybe the only country where a sitting judge in court may have less qualification than the lawyers. It’s sad but true that some sitting judges in our judicial system have not even completed their primary education and preside over cases argued for and against by lawyers who are much learned them. Positions in courts were historically all favors by government to their loyal supporters and they basically just used technicalities in the new constitution to cement their questionably gotten positions. They have also made their positions permanent for life and wrote their own pay scale and benefits.  Against this backdrop its easy to see how any political position the government wants is easily implemented by the courts and this is exactly how the hastily conjured up sham trials of former president and defense minister were concluded.

The police

The opportunity to shine and rise to the occasion for police came when they mysteriously found an elaborate scheme collectively by all opposition politicians to murder president Yameen and tourism minister Adheeb. According to this theory, Villa group chairman (presidential contender) financed the scheme. Former defense minister Nazim wrote the sequence of events. He also kept a pistol with exactly 3 bullets (allegedly: 1 for president Yameen, 1 for Minister Adheeb, 1 for police commissioner). A trained soldier Mr. Nazim also kept an ied, the thumb drive with the murderous plans and the pistol and bullets under his pillow and he and his wife slept blissfully aware of the monstrous things under their pillow while they slept. AND WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE THIS OF COURSE…

One maybe forgiven for believing that politics is for grown up people but when situations like these are actual news from Maldives, it’s hard to believe that sane people can go through this much longer. So in effect this mayday rally is warranted and for the right reasons.  The drama has to stop and sun has to shine. Maldives deserves better than this.

Worrying political developments in Male’

Maldives is going through a phase of undemocratic gangsta-rule just when we need more democracy and more and fair treatment for the people. It seems we are taking huge leaps backward and the process is too strong to halt.

It came slowly but things are getting speedy now. First it was websites having to register with home ministry so that nothing untoward can be said against the authorities. At the same time former president’s (now a convicted terrorist!) case against detaining a judge was getting dust in the court because the govt. was not decided what to do with him. The decision to make him a terrorist only happened after Rehendhi flats in Hulhumale were awarded to state prosecutor and supreme court judges. Perhaps re-activating president Nasheed’s case and make a terrorist out him was their way of thanking the regime for the generosity.

Former president was a colorful character both loved and hated almost by equal measure by the population. He was loved for his amicable character honest talk and innovative style of leadership. He was hated for some of his liberal views which are too liberal at times (such as trying to cozy up to Israel when they were bombing Gaza..) and exclusives, sometimes autocratic style of governance most probably pushed to by party activists. Whatever he may have been, he was definitely not a terrorist and the political case against him was dispensed with in a very questionable judicial process which was just a political sham as declared by world bodies such as the ICJ and Amnesty International. What the government fails to acknowledge now is their stand that they are following the law doesn’t hold much water, since every dictatorship used the same language when repressing the people. Things like apartheid, colonialism and slavery were all legal at the time it was practiced and by those who practiced it. But that doesn’t mean it was right.

Just as everything is connected to everything else, the current political intrigues all connect with president Yameen and tourism minister Adeeb. There will be lots of questions they will have to answer to come clean through things that are going very wrong, such as the wrongful conviction and framing of a once political ally, the former defense minister Nazim. In a plot straight out from comics, the former defense minister was sentenced for 11 years for allegedly plotting to kill 3 people including Adeeb, the president Yameen, and police commissioner Hussein Waheed.

The ‘plan’ is a sad but elaborate hoax which is better suited for movies than real life. In the plan the subjects all have nice pictures and proper names and even describes their ends in plain words suitable for laymen to understand the implications. The plan also connects all current government foes such as Villa group of hotels as accessory to terror and doesn’t even leave anyone out, even the religious extremists. The saddest part is that the ‘court’ accepted this hoax and sentenced a potential political rival to Yameen to kill his career.

And then there are the gangs… Even before Yameen became president there were allegations he was controlling some gangs in Male’. Notably Masodi gang was always mentioned by the opposition. Politicians are always labeled with this and that but there are worrying indications that these allegations have some weight in cases such as the notorious drug dealer Safa who was flown to Sri Lanka from jail and later he won appeal against his case being a fugitive in Sri lanka. We have something like 11 gangs operating in Male’ and its almost common knowledge that the authorities have failed to stop them. Gang wars happen daily in Male in full day light, despite Male’ being such a small place. Only last week we had 2 murders by gangs in Male’, one a Bangladeshi waiter was killed in his café’ and despite the gang being known, the police have not apprehended any gang member yet. Although they have searched a local parliament members residence for the murderer’s clues. The gang is known to associate with the said MP. The implication from the latest murder was that government decided to shorten business hours by one hour forcing the shops to close at 10 and cafes at 12. This hasty decision comes as opposition parties are holding nightly demonstrations against the government and will be seen as a punishment for the business community.

If all the above weren’t enough, worst is yet to come. The government has decided that they will use special powers to prevent demonstration starting from Saturday which means that all demos will be dispersed with no notification and as soon as it happens. This is a serious infringement on the right to protest and it appears that the government is seriously weak to handle any more pressure from the streets. They have failed to checkup on what was pointed out by the opposition as serious wrongs and seems to be on an unstoppable descent to electoral defeat in 2018 or some possible event even sooner.

Links:

http://minivannews.com/news-in-brief/home-ministry-opens-up-second-call-for-newspaper-magazine-re-registration-91854

https://raajje.mv/33750

http://www.vaguthu.mv/en/12853

http://www.icj.org/maldives-grossly-unfair-nasheed-conviction-highlights-judicial-politicization/

https://www.amnesty.org/en/articles/news/2015/03/maldives-mohamed-nasheed-convicted-terrorism/

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/news/58544

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/news/59861

http://www.dhivehisitee.com/judiciary/getting-away-with-murder/

Former president Anni sentenced for 13 years behind bars

In a deeply flawed trial, the former president Anni was found of guilty of terrorism and sentenced 13 years behind bars. This is a deeply shocking news to many as the twists and turns of this saga were closely followed by friends and foes alike, although nobody believed he would anyhow get a free or fair trial. President Nasheed (popularly known as Anni) had many friends and foes, but even most of his foes agree that this time he has received more than he deserves.

Some facts about the trial:

  • Anni’s defense witnesses were prevented from giving witness; the court essentially said the prosecution witnesses were too strong to be negated by defense witness.
  • One of the three sitting judges was a prosecution witness in the first lesser charge. The state prosecutor was also a witness to the case.
  • The prosecution changed the charge sheet almost overnight without giving Anni’s lawyers time to make defense. The original charge was a lesser charge of wrongfully imprisoning a person, the later was terrorism.
  • Anni’s lawyers had to quit because the court essentially made it impossible for them to work by giving them strange and unworkable deadlines to defend the former president.

Despite these setbacks this will be a blow to the sitting government for allowing this farce of a court case to have gone to completion. In the middle of the court case there were frequent allegations and sightings of govt. officials such as the all powerful tourism minister meeting with sitting Judges and even supreme court judges. The allegations were that current government wanted the courts to windup the case as quickly as possible so as not to allow more media scrutiny into the case. It is also interesting to note that this court case was quickly revived up after being left gathering dust for 3 years just a few weeks after government owned apartments were given to court judges.

Politically this is a big mistake by PPM who have majority of parliament, government and judiciary all in their hands to be seen as crushing any form of dissent. The government cannot hide under the slogan that they are unable to interfere with judicial proceedings. This is a well-known tactic everywhere used by all sorts of dictators to crush dissent. They used just one mantra and it won’t buy them any legitimacy. It is unlikely that the govt. can stand the negative pressure from media and global community.

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/dhivehi/news/167021

Where is the Mad one?

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

And then there is the politics.

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

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

Tholhendhoo Ruins:

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

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

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

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

The biggest tree in the island.

The ruins of the island pre-school.

The island office, once symbol of authority,

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

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

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

Sherton Full Moon workers on strike over low service charge

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

Gaakoshibee to be the first Islamic resort in Maldives.

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

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

Source:

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

Image credits:

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

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

Dusit Thani Maldives: heart to heart review by staff

Dusit Thani Maldives
Dusit Thani Maldives

One of the newest brands to Maldives, Dusit Thani Maldives is a popular resort according to many reviews in TripAdvisor. Among the many endearing terms used in the review these terms stand out. Helpful people, eco-friendly resort, top notch service, prestigious resort… After every review in TripAdvisor there appears a thanking little message by GM of the resort thanking for the review.
For lack of a similar service where staff can rate their employer, we had to ask about from our friends in the resort to give us an honest, heart to heart review of the resort, and what we got is not amusing at all. Here is one review by a trustworthy source about the resort:

The resort has recently decided to drastically cut down on benefits for staff and is currently in the process for terminating 60 local staff. That’s almost half of the total employees whose agreements will not be renewed. While most of the resorts goes to great lengths to keep their longer serving staff in the island, this looks like a departure from that trend. RNR (Rest and Relax 1 or 2 week extra paid leaves given to manager level persons) will be restricted only to a handful top managers. Around 70 local regular staff has been kept in limbo without permanent work agreements (used as casual workers; mostly this is the case for expatriate laborers in other resorts). Laundry, stewarding, gardening and landscaping, powerhouse, pest control, and public area cleaning services are going to be outsourced. Staff will not be able to plan their holidays or accumulate pending off days or lieu days for public holidays when going on annual vacation. This is allowed and hassle-free in most resorts. Most of the staff who worked in the pre-opening team are being terminated for flimsy and sometimes made-up reasons by their superiors who joined later. The resort Financial Controller is reported to have said that service charge for local staff shall be capped at 250$ per month irrespective of occupancy. Many local staff have been threatened with summary dismissal for minor reasons. There are only 3 locals in management level which is very low compared to other resorts. It seems the management is not willing to listen to any complaints or suggestions; and staffs have been dismissed for revealing these grievances in meetings with GM. Despite these negatives, the staff believe it has more to do with the individual temperaments of the managers themselves than company policy, which is making the resorts appeal less to local talent.

Our assessment: overall this is a good employer which has to do some serious housekeeping work to make sure from the management side, things are as it should be. Frequently what would happen is resorts are part of bigger chain of hotels and local management is assumed to be in order from corporate office if the monthly figures look ok. But there is always room for improvement and if half of those on the payroll are to be replaced in a year, then there indeed is cause for alarm. As for employing local workers wherever possible, this should be included in the Corporate Social Responsibility agenda and followed through to execution especially considering the high level of unemployment in the host country and the potential for conflict which will ensue.

Madoogali and Velidhoo Island fined for breach of standards

Madoogali Resort and Spa, and Velidhoo Island Resorts have been fined 1000000 Rf and given a month’s notice to resolve health and safety problems.

A letter from the Ministry of Tourism states that resort does not have a proper garbage disposal mechanism, lacks can crushers, glass crushers, balers and shredders. The letter also states that the accommodation and catering facilities provided to the resort staffs are below regulation standards.

A Ministry official stated that the resort operator has been repeatedly asked to resolve health and safety issues since 2011.

Also, the official stated that they are currently investigation allegations against the resort management regarding Service Charge Taxes.

The Tourism Ministry has reportedly forwarded the case to the Prosecutor General’s office.

On reflection it can be said that it’s just stupid to run high end resorts and not spend on upkeep of the hotel. Another point is that although the law mandates resorts to have incinerators, compactors, bottle crushers; one very crucial element of the recycling idea is missing. It’s the buyers who will take the compacted cans, paper bales and use them to actually recycle something out of it. As long as we are burning or throwing things which can be recycled, we are just wasting resources.

On the positive side, it’s a good thing that the ministry appears to be getting tough on standards.

Fake demos cost travel advisories against the country

Basically it happens like this. The country is highly polarized with people pro and against controversial former president Anni. Approximately a little bit less than half of the population supports him while the rest are split between what could be termed as royalists (PPM) and progressives (JP coalition). So we have 3 major political thinking at the moment. The current hullabaloo about the case before Supreme Court is just a technical legal process which has to be completed whoever runs the show. There are many issues in the whole story including the personal lifestyle of a Supreme Court judge and the quality of evidence JP submitted against the first round of presidential elections. To summarize the whole story, it may be safely said that politicians are encouraging disruptive behavior by calling for tourism boycotts which are usually followed by unsuspecting politically naïve followers.

In resorts the political wheeling and dealing are enthusiastically followed by resort workers who discuss the finer points of the days happening after duty hours normally in the staff gym or cafeteria. There is great camaraderie and honest heart to heart discussions sometimes quite heated. To make for a party atmosphere soft drink cases are usually bought from staff shop and enemies and friends enjoy political toast to their political masters in Male’. Usually somewhere in the discussion the idea to capture the moment and share in social media occurs to somebody and is carried out.

From there on the evil political masters take over and twist the story to their advantage and start frantic anti campaigns against the country.

To make the story go viral they even include Iran and Syria as well in the hash tags to get attention to the story.

The damage has already been done. What started as a light hearted talk was quite successfully turned to something more sinister. Travel advisory against the country has already been issued from 5 countries and more are to follow. Those who are calling for tourism boycott against the country are the true enemies of the country. Tourism can make or break this country and no sane person with a cool mind will call for self destruction. If this was about a single hotelier abusing the staff or something similar, a strike can be justified. But we have at the moment is no strikes and irresponsible hot-headed politicos inviting maximum damage to the country. It’s sad that TEAM the biggest organization representing tourism workers also appears to support boycott of tourism forgetting that more than half of those who work in resorts are not going to support their political view. TEAM shall be more neutral and be support of all political views to succeed in the long term. Whichever party comes to power, a self damaged economy would be the most difficult wound to heal.

Maldives oil exploration and job creation and…

For the first time in a very long long time, the words ‘job creation’ has been mentioned in an election pledge. We have in a previous post mentioned about jobs being a non-issue in our politics. But this seems to be changing now. Of course election pledges are just empty words and most rational people do not believe in the flowery language. But the fact that job creation is at least mentioned now is an improvement. The promised figure is 26k and way they would go about doing that according to PPM would be by inviting more investors and building more resorts. This is of course easier said than done. Our tourism industry has grown up from humble beginnings to ludicrously expensive industry in a recession prone world. In today’s standard, there simply is very little space except for the rich guests. The resorts are designed just for the rich, not for the budget traveler. What cost 5m to build today costs anything over 50m in the space of roughly 20 years. Attracting that kind of investors would be a challenge especially when a healthy opposition is hell bent on thwarting the administration on everything. The saddest part of this political drama is when opposition started calling to boycott our tourism industry and the effects of their negative campaign were felt. There simply has to be a way to do politicking without damaging the economy.

Another useful nugget of information from the Yageen Team was their belief that oil exploration will be renewed, if they basically had their way. There was an attempt to test for oil exploration roughly 20 years ago and it was stopped some years for some reason. The reason we now understand is that it was not feasible at 20$ per barrel at that time. Now that a barrel costs 125% it would be feasible.

Coming from politicians there is little reason to be overjoyed with these prospects. They have a reason to make pledges and promises and we have a reason to be judicial on whether to take their pledges at face value or not.

Chess thoughts…

At the beginners level chess is a dull mechanical rule based game. However when the player gets a better insight into the game, it becomes like life itself. In life we do not normally become aggressive, unkind and violent for no reason. Same kind of thoughts sometimes prevents the advanced chess player from taking advantage of the opponents ineffectual game. They will want to be charitable, generous and courteous with the other player. There are many romantic thoughts about chess in this stream of thought and they are valid in that sense of the word. But ultimately it’s a game of intellect between two players and the goal is to win. So one player will win at the expense of another player’s weaker game. If it was a defeat then the defeated will take a hint from boxing; the person who can take the most blows has more endurance!

At the highest end of game the game takes on a whole new meaning. Its sort of again back to square one with mechanical rule based game. The stakes at the top are higher, the challenge, reward are all higher and that’s probably the attraction to beat the average. But life is a very adaptable system, life compensates for the loss by offering another perspective, congratulates the winner for the achievement.

The usual fraudsters stole the Mayday rally.

labour of love
for the real workers it was a labour of love…


The Mayday rally was hijacked by the usual gang; politicians. Politicians from both sides claimed they did and this and that workers and they plan yet to do more of these and those in the future. But it was all baloney.  They were just unkind in not giving the workers cause their backing and considerable voice. What they did was to steal the workers cause and do the usual politicking.

ports workers and TEAM
ports workers and TEAM

Here are the facts about last Mayday rally:

  • The number of the participants could not be over 100. The low turnout could be still about people not ‘getting’ the deal about workers. Most seem to have the idea that Mayday and workers rights is all about resort workers or civil workers. It is about every worker, but that message doesn’t seem to have been delivered.
  • There were 3 main groups of workers represented in the rally. They are the usual redshirts of TEAM, the predominantly girl powered civil service, and the diehard port workers union.
  • There were no agendas or abundance of them depending on the way one takes it. The list of grievances shouted over the sound system include among other things, longer working hours for parliamentarians, calls to ratify or implement various provisions of workers rights bills, empowering local workers etc. In short, there was no logic, it was all free speech.
fake rally
the fraudsters who stole the workers cause

Compared to the small but ‘real’ workers who participated in the Mayday rally, the fake rally conducted by the politician’s was well attended and well organized. They had their drummers, cheerleading girls, beautiful yellow headbands and yellow t-shirts written with the usual demands like ‘stop police brutality’ etc.

pity the civil workers
pity the civil workers

If we are going to do this right the next time, its important to hardtalk the issue of hijacking the workers cause with the politcians. Just because honourable EASA is an MDP parliamentarian,  should not mean we shall let the politican’s use our name to promote their agenda. Also activism works. We the workers have to be more active to promote our views on all platforms, to promote our views. Its easy to call, demand, ask to ratify or implement this or that but without compelling momentum by voting public,  politician’s do not budge. They are thicker than that! 🙂

Long live the workers.

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