The resort will be constructed under the Lithuanian brand Olialia, managed by the small European country’s largest newspaper, Vakaro Žinios. The company also operates a pizzeria, payment card, limo and bus service, and sells ice-cream, soft drinks, chips, and computers decorated with Swarovski crystals, and runs parties at popular Lithuanian nightclubs.
Local tourism industry website Maldives Traveller revealed that the project was expected to open in 2015 and would be funded by investors from Lithuania, Russia, UK, Germany, United Arab Emirates and an undisclosed Maldivian travel company.
In an interview with Maldives Traveller, Olialia’s Giedre Pukiene told the website that the company was already in negotiations “with the owners of several atolls, who are ready to cooperate in the creation of the island of blondes.”
The working title of the resort is to be ‘Olialia Paradise’, Pukiene told Maldives Traveller, but noted that this was subject to change.
The project will also include the creation of an airline and yacht service for visitors to the island, both staffed exclusively by blondes.
“The pilots and stewardesses on the planes will also be blonde only,” Pukiene confirmed.
On paper, the project is likely to encounter logistical difficulties. Resorts in the Maldives are obligated to employ at least 50 percent Maldivian staff who naturally have dark hair. Olialia has not revealed whether local staff will be required to use bleach.
State Minister of Tourism Mamduh Waheed said he was unaware of the proposed project, but noted that the Ministry of Tourism had no involvement in negotiations between operators and leaseholders.
“The Ministry officially has no role to play in negotiations, and I think it would be out of line for us to do so, but we certainly facilitate and assist those operators seeking to acquire property,” Mamduh explained.
If it goes ahead, the project would take the country’s tourism industry in a different direction to that proposed in May by visiting Islamic speaker Dr Zakir Naik, who noted that investing in a resort profiting from the sale of alcohol was already technically haram (prohibited), and recommended the country encourage investment in halal (permitted) tourism.
Such resorts, he suggested, should be “exclusively halal, free of pork and alcohol, and with proper segregation and dress code – it will be a benefit.”
President of the Adhaalath Party and State Minister for Home Affairs, Sheikh Hussain Rasheed, said that even if a company attempted to open a resort as the one proposed by Olialia, ”nothing against the Tourism Act can be conducted in the Maldives.”
”Tourism is not bad itself, but it can also be conducted in a bad way,” he said. “Ever since the beginning of tourism in the country has become broader day to day, and the government has established the Tourism Act to maintain and organise the industry,” said Sheikh Rasheed, explaining that the employment of female staff was also regulated by the Tourism Act.
”There should also be a percentage of Maldivians in all the resorts, according to the Act,” Sheikh Rasheed explained. ”I don’t really think the Tourism Act allows such an island to be developed in this country.”
In March the government signed an agreement with Dutch Docklands to develop a gigantic floating golf course, holding a signing ceremony in the President’s office.
”Golf has a good market in the world, and most of our resorts do not have a golf centre due to lack of space,” observed Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair at the time.