The Maldivian government has signed a contract with Dutch Docklands of the Netherlands to develop a floating golf course and hotel in the Maldives.
Minister of Trade and Economy Mohamed Rasheed signed the contract on behalf of the Maldives, and Chief Executive Officer Wen Di Cam signed on behalf of Dutch Docklands.
President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed and Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Maldives Leoni Margaretha Cuelenaere attended the ceremony held at the President’s Office on 4 March when the agreement was signed.
Cam said the Docklands was proud to develop the floating centres in the Maldives and the company would seek a good location for the development.
He said the company would start the project as soon as possible after doing the necessary studies.
Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair said the project would be “very beneficial for the country.”
He added that it would increase the number of tourists visiting the country.
”Most of our resorts do not have a golf centre due to lack of space,” Press Secretary Zuhair said, noting that ”Golf has a good market in the world.”
Deputy Minister for Environment Mohamed Shareef said the floating golf centres would be “much better and more environmentally friendly than reclaiming land.”
Shareef noted the floating developments would be stabilised by anchoring.
”It would not be very harmful for the environment,” he said, ”the only damage is that it will block the sunlight from the stones and corals.”
He added that there were showcases of floating centres made by the same company in Australia.
”They are now developing such centres in the Middle East,” said Shareef. ”We would not compromise our environment for anything.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for conducting environmental impact assessments, has not yet been consulted on the project according to its director Mohamed Zuhair.
The project would “definitely have negative environmental impacts”, he said, but added that “it is not for the EPA to assess the risks of this project at this stage. The contractor [Dutch Docklands] is responsible for finding a suitable consultant to assess the risks.”
Zuhair said once project proposal by Dutch Docklands’ is finished, it will be submitted to the EPA who will then screen the project. The EPA will then provide an environmental assessment report.
“They can only start actual work once they have EPA approval,” he noted.
Director of environmental NGO Bluepeace, Ali Rilwan, said as long as the project was conducted in an environmentally friendly manner he thought it was “very exciting” and “innovative and weird”.
“I don’t think there should be a problem,” he said, “but it depends on how they do it.”