Economic Ministry stops issuing work permits to foreign photographers

The Ministry of Economic Development has decided to stop giving out work permits to foreign photographers starting from yesterday (January 26).

“We want to provide the opportunity to Maldivian youth and to ensure that photography stands up on its own as an established industry,” Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed has told Haveeru.

“This will encourage small and medium sized businesses to develop,” he explained, adding that only Maldivians will be allowed to provide photography services in resorts.

The current government has pledged to create more jobs for local youth by replacing expatriate workers with Maldivians.

Maldives Photographer’s Association (MPA) President Mohamed Shafy told Minivan News that the government’s decision is a “huge accomplishment” for the organisation, which has been working relentlessly to provide more opportunity for local photographers.

Shafy said that foreign nationals were taking up opportunities which would otherwise be given to local photographers – especially at resorts – by demanding a smaller price than their local counterparts.

He explained that the association had discovered, via the recently passed Right to Information Act, that 14 foreign nationals were working in the photography industry in the Malé area, despite just 3 having been licensed throughout the country.

“We do not mind the photographers who come for a certain project or with famous celebrities,” said Shafy. “However, some of these resorts have foreign resident photographers for weddings and occasions while it could be Maldivians doing the job.”

Shafy said that the association has held talks with various government officials regarding the matter.

“We have had talks with tourism minister Adeeb, [former] defense minister Nazim and we were told they will try to change things around. So we did not think that the minister Saeed would take such a drastic measure.”

Another local photographer described the move as a “very good decision” which would provide a lot of opportunities to work at resorts.

While there are 1500 professional photographers registered with MPA, Shafy estimates that there are over 3000 photographers working professionally in the country.

“It used to be that tourists would come to the Maldives just for the underwater scenery and pictures. But now we see more honeymooners who want their pictures taken,” said Shafy, describing the potential of the industry.

He expressed his belief that the decision would prompt a lot of photographers who had given up on the profession to return to the industry.

The theme of ‘Maldivian work for Maldivians’ forms a major part of the government’s current policy for strengthening the economy and reducing youth unemployment.

Youth minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal has told Minivan News recently that there are over 13,000 individuals in the youth unemployment registrar. Shortly after the current government took office in late 2013, the youth ministry said it would attempt to resolve unemployment by replacing expatriate workers with locals.

After pledging to create 94,000 jobs during its five year term, the government recently announced that it would be illegal to hire expatriate workers as cashiers starting from April this year.

Speaking at the time, Saeed said: “A large percentage of the Maldivian youth is unemployed and looking for unemployment. All they need is support and guidance.”

In December last year, former Managing Director at Maldives Airports Company Ltd Bandhu Ibrahim Saleem told a Majlis committee that difficulties with local staff had resulted in a dependence on foreign employees, and even military assistance, to keep the international airport running.

Saleem – who had been called before the Majlis to explain the high number of foreign workers at Malé international airport – was removed from his post for unspecified reasons last week.

Related to this story

Foreigners barred from cashier jobs as President promises work for Maldivians

MACL chief says airport dependent on foreign workers


12 thoughts on “Economic Ministry stops issuing work permits to foreign photographers”

  1. This is a very good move. There is absolutely no justification for allowing work permits for foreign photographers. It is not a skill that we are short of. Hopefully, similar moves in other areas will follow soon.

  2. First step in removing the ability for foreign journalists from exposing the true face of what is happening on the streets.

    Next step will be all local photographers will be licenced with the government and require permits to publish their pictures.

    It's called restriction of press to prevent truth being seen by the international community. Burma, N Korea and Zimbabwe play the same game and we all know what type of governments they are.

  3. If this govt is really smart they will do something about this runaway problem of expat employement. Of course we need them where we lack skills but they are everywhere for no reason

  4. Stopping work permits for foreign photographers should have nothing to do with international journalism! Last time I checked, journalists don't need a work permit to report from here or elsewhere.

    As far as we can see, this is about professional photographers and not about journalists. If you don't know the difference between the two, then go and learn about it!

  5. but they are everywhere for no reason-bebe

    Foreigners are there because locals have no work ethic and want to be paid to do nothing. Saleem, the sacked airport manager, stated this very fact before he was fired.

    The government should deport all illegal labor immediately and let current work visas expire for all legal expats. Then only hire Maldivians, problem solved right? Good luck with tourism if you have a local "work force". Human trafficking would be done as well so only fish to survive on would be quite an interesting experiment.

  6. So Maldivian photographers suck so much the only way they can get work is by making the competition illegal? Better watch out Daniel Bosely, they will probably make foreign journalists illegal so the kind of people that write stuff for rags like Vaguthu will be able to get work too.

  7. Priority should go to Maldivians for all employment if they are qualified for the position. That shouldn't be controversial at all and is the norm in most countries. The problem is the incompetent and corrupt government that doesn't provide quality education and vocational training to their citizens. Leaving the local "work force" unskilled and uneducated with a massive sense of entitlement. If the government cared about its people, it would stop stealing money for booze and hookers and educate the population to make them solid competitors in the job market.

  8. ali on Tue, 27th Jan 2015 11:12 PM

    Work visa is required for a photographer who works for a media company under the international press association listed as journalist on visa application forms.

    I know the difference, seems you don't.

  9. slogan would be if the time comes that only maldivians work.
    dear tourists!
    pay and clean up after yourself.
    local stuff on duty

  10. A work visa for a photographer working for a media company and listed as a journalist is quite a different kettle of fish from a professional photographer applying to work here as a professional photographer.

    Two people wielding lenses: one is a journalist other is a professional photographer. Spot the difference?


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