President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has appointed businessman and Chairman of Yacht Tours Abdulla Jabir as the Special Trade Representative of the President’s Office, at ministerial level.
Jabir, now the deputy leader of fellow businessman Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP), has also been a member of both the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).
Jabir’s wife, Dhiyana Saeed, was the former Secretary General of SAARC prior to her resignation in protest over the detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed.
The Tourism Ministry under Nasheed’s government sent a letter to the Finance Ministry in August 2011 requesting that “measures be taken” against Alidhoo and Kudarah Resorts, run by Jabir’s Yacht Tours company, for non-payment of outstanding rent and fines.
Then Tourism Minister Mariyam Zulfa also requested action against Giraavaru Island Resort (owned by Abdul Rauf, M. Sunrose), Kihaadhupparu Island Resort (Athamaa Marine International) and Zitali, Filitheyo and Medhufushi (owned by the family of MDP MP Hamza and Economic Advisor to former President Nasheed, Ali Shiyam).
Alidhoo was also the scene of a strike in July 2011 after staff alleged that allowances had not been paid for the previous three months, including service charge and overtime.
The management first told staff that the payments were delayed because the chairman of the company [Jabir] was not in the Maldives, “and when he came back, they said the banks were not giving money to the resorts – how can we believe them now?” a staff member alleged at the time.
The resort’s management dismissed 12 employees following the strike.
Yacht Tours also won a high profile civil court case in January 2010 against the Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTDC), after a long-running dispute over Herathera Island Resort.
MTDC had claimed that Yacht Tours had been running Herathera Island Resort without paying rent and took the company to court. In May 2009 Yacht Tours was ordered to pay US$8 million in outstanding rent to MTDC.
However in 2010 MTDC agreed to pay Yacht Tours US$3.5 million to end the dispute, as at one stage 600 staff had been employed to look after 28 guests.