DQP requests action against President, Tourism Minister as Maldives image shifts from glam to grit

Minority opposition Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has requested Maldives Police Service to take immediate action against President Mohamed Nasheed and Minister of Tourism Mariyam Zulfa for ordering all resorts to close down health spas.

In a letter, DQP alleged that the government officials were conspiring to damage the Maldives’ image as a popular holiday destination.

The party’s statement added that the government’s “irresponsible” action is making headlines in the international media.

Police confirmed that they had received the letter, and would deliberate the matter.

DQP officials had not responded to inquiries at time of press. DQP Leader Hassan Saeed told local media this week that the government’s actions were causing “irreparable damage” to the tourism industry, from which “it would not be easy to come out of even after 25 years.”

An official at the President’s Office however argued that the opposition should bear responsibility for the fallout from December’s mass protest to ‘Defend Islam.’

“The opposition has been whipping up, and in some cases financing, extremism for months and spreading lies saying the government wants to introduce other religions. They can’t now complain about the economic damage they are ultimately responsible for.”

While resort reviews and booking services still make the first page of a Google search on the Maldives, headlines noting spa and resort closures amidst religious extremism and political turbulence have lately joined the mix.

Today’s Google searches for “Maldives”,”Maldives spa” and “Maldives resort” pulled a news feed exclusively addressing the political-religious whirlwind of the last week in which the government announced it was closing resort spas and considering a ban of pork and alcohol in response to popular demands favoring Islamic policies.

Over 229 articles are listed from leading outlets including UK’s The Guardian, India’s The Hindu, global Agence France Presse (AFP), and the BBC.

In keeping with the Maldives’ fame as a tourist destination, the headlines are eye-catching.

Global feed Associated Press (AP) ran the headline “Maldives closes hundreds of luxury resort spas,” while Sydney Morning Herald vigorously announced that “Sex claims force luxury resorts to close spas”.

Zimbabwe Metro simply stated “Maldives bans all spas after religious protests”, and Argophilia Travel News sardonically wrote, “Maldives spa ban: ulterior motives perhaps?”

Clicking beyond the headline, readers worldwide find content ranging from skeptical to sensationalist.

In their reports, America’s CNN today reported that “honeymooners and international hotel owners” were caught in “an acrimonious showdown over religious between the government and opposition parties”, while Mail & Guardian Online pointed out that the Maldives “reputation as a paradise holiday destination has come under pressure from a minority of religious fundamentalists who are growing in influence.”

Rather than ignoring the demands of the ‘Defend Islam’ demonstration on December 23, CNN observed that “the government raised the stakes” by issuing an order to close all massage parlors and spas.

Tourism accounts for approximately 70 percent of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) indirectly; a significant portion of resort profits are earned from spa services.

Although the stories do not always present an accurate picture of the situation, they are ubiquitous.

Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) Secretary General Sim Ibrahim Mohamed said the industry “has serious problems with people not understanding what is going on.”

Sim said that the situation was generally “murky, with one thing leading to another and another”, and added that “most of our communication is in Dhivehi–press conferences, press releases, notifications, debates. It’s very difficult for the international community to report accurately because they don’t understand our language.”

Stepping back from the details, Sim explained that tourists trying to book a relaxing holiday are not soothed by a media storm at the destination, particularly when it involves certain hot-button words.

“Fundamentalism, radicalism, extremism–since 9/11 these have been very sensitive words. And they don’t go very well with tourism.” Sim added that the industry has suffered “many booking cancellations” in the past several weeks.

The media flurry is also being addressed by those inside resorts. The blog Maldives Resort Workers, which allows resort employees to express their opinions on a carefully-manicured industry, noted in the post “The media circus continues” that Maldives’ formerly polished profile is gradually becoming dark and contorted as the issue drags on.

“What is not so funny in these political manuevering is: the negative publicity this generated across the media despite the high value tourism we have. The administration clearly needs to dismiss their spin doctors who didn’t warn them about this media storm,” wrote one commentator.

Religious Adhaalath Party, one of the parties which had organised the mass protest against the alleged anti-Islamic agenda of the current administration, has also expressed concern that the media coverage is “damaging” the Maldivian people.

“I don’t want international media to treat Maldives poorly, I want them to do their job carefully and justly. You can’t see any country like Maldives in Islamic world, so why would we want to damage these people? These are Muslim people and they like moderate views,” said chief spokesperson Sheik Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed.

Shaheem yesterday told CNN, “We respect tourists…we are very happy with the tourism industry in the Maldives.”

Adhaalath Party previously released a statement inviting tourists to visit the Maldives and promising protection, after the UK released a travel advisory.


22 thoughts on “DQP requests action against President, Tourism Minister as Maldives image shifts from glam to grit”

  1. I see there are *normal* people in Maldives. This incongruent believe in other beings is the fruit of ignorance and remember in the Middle Ages they nearly cut off Copernicus's head because he said that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe. He apologised and survived. However, the vast majority thought he was wrong. Does it ring a bell? We are stardust and nothing else.

  2. Allahu Akubaru! Allahu Akubaru! Allahu Akubaru! Save our religion! Allahu Akubaru! Allahu Akubaru!

    As our Grand Sheikh Gasim 'Buruma' Ibrahim said there is no "moderate" Islam. Hence all alcohol, pork, and activities that lead to fornication needs to be banned across board. No exceptions as there is no middle ground!

    Allahu Akubaru! Allahu Akubaru!

  3. shaheem..Liar liar. has made a complete U-turn now and the people of the Maldives will now know he was only exploiting religion... we should be vary and careful of such people in the public domain..

  4. “The opposition has been whipping up, and in some cases financing, extremism for months and spreading lies saying the government wants to introduce other religions. They can’t now complain about the economic damage they are ultimately responsible for.”

    That's all there is to it really. Be careful what you wish for! Hassan Saeed calls the police to take action against the President; always good for a laugh that joker.

  5. As Shaheem said even the so called fundamentalists in the Maldives respect the tourism industry that we have. It is President Nasheed who seems ready to destroy our tourism industry just because he was upset after seeing the large number of people at an opposition rally compared to his own rally. Very sad indeed.

  6. Ask Hassn Saeed to go fly kites. Is this guy dreaming. No one wants him to become the President of Maldives. He is just another cartoon like Yaameen

  7. DQP has gone mad! I fear they may have also become Jews! Beware of Jews, my Maldivian Muslim brothers and non-fornicating sisters! For they are the most evil of creatures. We do not want an economy built on revenue earned from the Jewish invented alchol, the Jewish animal meat....and the Jewish service of Spas. These are all pulling us closer to hellfire, which is so many times hotter than the fire we have on Earth! Do you not fear your creator and the hereafter?!

  8. Good work DQP, media engagement will level the playing field a bit.

    Foreign press agencies really should reference more sources other than the Press Unit at the President's Office and the government-affiliated Minivan.

    Haveeru news has an English-language service. Reputable publications worldwide cite Haveeru as a source.

  9. @Sheikh Imran Abdullah on Tue, 3rd Jan 2012 11:01 PM

    May I know why you are doing this?...

  10. @Bismuth
    Don't read the filth from the fake sheikh. Just some crude kaafir impersonator trying to assassinate sheikh imran's image. ignore him

  11. Ibrahim luthfee, no he is not, hassan saeed raises very valid points, at least he respects maldivians and does not humiliate and try to potray maldivians ass barbaric and suicide bombers at every opportunity like ourpresident does. And he can construct a sentence that makes sense unlike most mdp leadership and their gobbledigook. The 40 pecent independent voters are sick of this government and its rhetoric and the foreign invasion, it will be our vote that counts, just like it did in 2008

  12. People that align themselves with extremists our destroying this country to overthrow democracy. The stone age is returning!!!!

  13. This is a political stunt of a dictatorial government. Maldives does not have sex tourism. As there are some brothels being operated under the dubious name of "spas" and "traditional medicine" in locally inhabited islands, all opposition parties in a political rally called for prohibition of this to the government. One of these opposition parties is lead by a local resort operator. The government went on to punish him by first banning airline operation owned by the resort operator followed by closing resort spas of his five resorts only. When he appealed successfully against this and when the judiciary issued a statement that the government cannot punish individuals without evidence the government issued a statement stating that they are following public calls to stop spas. This was followed by issuing a statement to all the resorts to close their spas and health clubs. Lawyers have said that this cannot be done and such politically motivated actions of the government looses investor confidence. Now the government is saying that IF the locals agree to an Israeli airline to start operating to the country then the government will consider allowing spas in the resorts. This is just another political stunt from the same people who called for Westerners to boycott tourism when they were in the opposition. Tourism industry is the victim of an authoritarian regime. Unfortunately locals are paying for bringing an activist to the government. As the local saying goes, we have given a sword to a madman. Now we have to suffer the consequences.

  14. We need a responsible opposition to keep this Governments feet firmly grounded. What I see at the moment is not very reassuring.

  15. @Bismuth

    Does one need a reason to advocate and spread the religion of Allah SWT? Does one need a reason to defend the religion of Allah SWT?


    The best way to respond to a Jewish munafiq like you, is to remind you of the fiery punishments which await you in jahannam!

  16. they had the freaking taliban flag waving at their "mega protest" & they accuse the government of degrading the public image!!?

  17. MDP members should distance themselves from Government officials who are trying to play this blame game on the opposition and Maldivians who came out in a majority to only ban brothels in Male'.

    No opposition member or Islamic NGO, nor ordinary Maldivian ever called out to ban spas in the whole of Maldives. However Maldivians are not stupid when the Government came out with this, to understand that after the initial statement.. the blame would be politically pointed towards the opposition.

    This is simply a dangerous attempt to discredit a Majority of Maldivians who defeated a minority protest led by the Government. However, by doing this, the Government is damaging our economy in the long run in their greedy battle to show that they have more power when it comes to politics.

    We are not asking the Government to destroy our economy. However if the Government wants keep blaming the majority of Maldivians.. than sure go ahead because remember the people see the Government as an MDP led government. All the damage that this Government does will and should be blamed at MDP since its leaders supported the minority counter protest by the Government.

    Facts are there for Maldivians to see daily. You can try to get support from Western Media like CNN, BBC, etc.. however at home.. people are not as dumb as CNN.

    Pls stop damaging our economy before you do too much damage. Dont you know that when economy goes down.. people lose their jobs?

  18. What was the demand on the government by the 23 December's ‘Protect Islam’ protest? They claimed prostitution by spas and demanded them closed. The government was threatened of further protests if the demands were not met. So there was no choice for the government but carry out the demands. If the protesters had an authority for their demands then it is not the government to blame for carrying them out, but the December 23 protesters themselves. If they don't assume the responsibility then they have no authority to demand as they did.

    The QDP appears to say that the Maldives image as an attractive tourist destination depends on the spas which they together wanted to see closed. If this is true then the protesters were not wholehearted in making their demand on the government. They did it for making headlines as protectors of Islam and did not expect the government to act upon them.

  19. lol at sheik imrans abdullahs comments 😀
    now i look forward to seeing your comments on every article. good job Muslim Brother! lmfao

  20. The "defend Islam" rally, had its motives.
    All along the way words of ALLAH (swa) and of the Prophet Muhammadh (saw) was being recited and speakers were calling the government to give up or do things according to the way they were calling for!

    Religious factions had their motives, politicians in the fore front and the business community in disguise had their own motive! This was a reality show where the attendants thought that it was all for ISLAM!

    Religious scholars wanted to bring down this government, take reigns and do things the way Sheikh Imran indicates in his columns and etc.!

    Politicians and the forces in disguise, wanted to over throw this government by any and all means and start up their aged tricks and fill their coffers out of which much was being spent on the peoples!

    Now that the government is steps in favour of what was being called for, why not the organizers defend and stick to what was being preached?

    Previous President, today likely would condemn action taken by the government allowing spas be reopened!!!

  21. When will you understand that the tourism industry, being your main asset, cannot be damaged by some nonsense policy out of Islamic radicalism. You close the Spas and we will stop sending tourists to you lovely islands. If you want to play in the big league, you need the right cards. How can you think that we are ready to loose all the money paid in bribes all these years to build our hotels and resorts that fed your families and children? Be adults and be responsible for the decisions you are taking: you will be harsh to us and you will be going back to pick up blue fin tuna in your little nutshell boats. You are no longer alone in the world. You wanted our money and we gave it to you, now stop nagging and creating problems to our industry or we will go somewhere else. Your Sheikn Imran forgot already the bribes he got?
    Jennifer P. – Tour Operator in Europe.


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