Letter on draconian immigration

Dear Editor,

I am a Maldivian, who is studying in UK. I have been living in UK for the past five years and have always been keen in travelling and exploring other places and cultures of the world.

For much of the westerns and other nations, Maldives is heaven on earth. It is a paradise they all highly value and dream of visiting for once at least in their life time. For they are all true regarding this. And I have no doubt their dream holidays are nothing beyond perfect and excellent during their visit to Maldives.

But they don’t enjoy Maldives only because of its sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. Nor it is only due to the exotic resorts or the delicious food. It is all about the hospitality and the welcome they recieve as well. Maldivians are well known to host their visitors with utmost care and excellent treatment. From the time the forigners land in Maldives and until they leave, they are always treated with a smile. They never face any difficulties or problems at the airport, transit to their hotel, stay in the resort and journey back to the airport. We serve them well with proficiency and excellence. This is how Maldivians are.

But I would like to tell you all some of the experiences I have faced while travelling to other countries. I have to say unfortunately I didn’t face the very same hospitality I expected despite the fact I was also paying for my trip just like the way other foreign visitors do when they travel to Maldives. My passport clearly says on its first page that the Foreign Minister requests the bearer of it to pass Maldivian national to pass freely without any problems for me. I guess this must be their in every country’s passport and to be honest no one cares about what is written on that page.

I went on a trip to Europe trip this winter. I was travelling on a Schengen Visa. I visited Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Italy and France. I was travelling with my study friends who were all British citizens and there was one Malaysian citizen too with us.

At each airport of the above mentiones countries, the immigration stopped me and asked lots of questions which made me feel very unwelcome and uncomfortable. Despite having the Schengen visa and all other travelling documents like tickets and travel cheques, I found myself subjected to unnecessary scrutiny by these immigrations. The French and the German immigration were the worst. My British colleagues passed the immigration in less than a second, without facing a single question from no one. I am not surprised for them as they are EU nationals, but what surprised me was my Malaysian friend. He was treated just like the British nationals and he did not face any questions from them. He even didn’t need prior visa to enter these countries. I was very surprised.

Here I am visiting some countires in Europe who send thousands of tourists to my country every day and I have been treated like some alien trying to intrude in to their property or something. It was very upsetting and I hope no other Maldivian faces this. May be the Maldivian diplomatic passport holders might not face what I have been through, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t simple ordinary maldivians like me who do travel through europe. I believe its time the Maldivian goverment (I mean all of you) try and work more harder with the Schengen blog to include Maldives in their Visa Waiver List. This would make Maldivians travel free without hastle in the EU, just like for Malaysians.

The previous governments foreign minister Mr Fathuhullah Jameel has travelled all around the world on his diplomatic passport but never bothered to do this during his long FM job. But can you all (the new government) do this for us, for the sake of simple ordianry Maldivian Passport holders? I don’t think Maldivians are a risk for the EU as we have visa free entry to UK and Ireland as well. The government could bridge this as a promoting factor for us to get into the Schengen blog. Can you all please do your best to get us travel free and avoid the difficulties at immigration at EU countries? I hope you all will work hard for this and this is my request as a Maldivian from you all. I believe we also deserve to have freedom of movement and be treated with respect just the way we treat the EU nationals when they come to our country, don’t we?

The next I experienced was during last year summer. I was going back home, Male’ from London. My flight was stopping at Dubai and it was a long transit of more than 24 hours.

I didn’t want to stay this long period inside the airport building and so thought of going out to see the city of dubai during this long transit period. To my surprise I needed a visa to go out. I don’t understand why. A person from Lithuania doesn’t need a visa to enter Dubai but here I am, a Maldivian, whose country has more close ties with Dubai needs a visa to see the city for just 24 hours. Any ways I asked for a visa which they issued me for US$75.

Now that’s a lot for a visa of 24 hours, isn’t it? And not only this, the authorities who issued the visa were utterly rude and unprofessional. They were very nice and pleasant with the white Europeans but I noticed they were very different with tone and customer relations with the dark skinned asians. And I was one of them.

I could not believe all this and I was very dissapointed. I did visit Doha also a year ago and faced a similar situation. I had to pay a visa fee to enter Doha too just for two days. I don’t think this is the way we should be treated. Maybe it is an arab thing, I don’t know, but I didn’t deserve it. I don’t think Arabs are treated like that when they visit Maldives. First of all we give them more respect I think because they are Muslims. Secondly they all get to enter Maldives free of visa without having a penny to pay for it. So why did I have to face the opposite when I visited their coutries? They are more rich in natural resources than Maldives and yet I have to pay for visa to see their country but they don’t have to pay nothing to see my country.

This is not fair. Plus I have to face discrimination and rude behavious from them when we treat them with respect and dignity. I believe these things have to addressed at formal level by all of you with these Arab and other countries. And I don’t think its fair to give them free visas when they charge so much from us to visit their country. May be its time and best that Maldives government also charge a visa fee from them too. I am sure their nationals are capable of paying the same visa fee I paid to see their cities for few hours or days. Plus the visa fee could generate some income to our economy too just like the way ot helps theirs. So I think it is better to bring some changes to the famous ’30 day free visa on arrival to Maldives’, maybe make some countries not included in this famous logo.

Maldivians are not generally big time travellers. But there are lots of us who do travel, aspire travelling and wants to travel. If all of you and the government make travel easy for us by asking other countries to make us visa free and provide hastle free immigrations, it can put more maldivians into travelling. Travelling bridges societies and cultures. It opens hearts and unites people. It makes us realise about others in this world and helps us more to realise how much more is there to life. So please can you all work on this. Make travelling easy for us. Ask other governments to make visa free for Maldivian citizens. At the moment there are just a handful of countries where we can go without a visa. I was very surprised to know that I need a visa to enter even Morocco as a tourist, a country whose national made us all muslims. So I guess the foreign ministry needs to do a lot of work.

I appreciate the new look of the website of our foreign ministry. But its sad to know it doesn’t contain a list of the countries where Maldivian citizens can travel to, as a tourist, without a visa. I think this list is very important and should be there on the ministries website (always up tp date). Also surprisingly there is no proper contact email address (for Maldivians) of the ministry given on the website.

I hope this letter is not offensive to any one of you. The purpose of this letter is to let you all know how an ordinary maldivian feels when he is subjected to such taunt by other countries immigrations. And its not my fault that I need a visa to enter those coutries. I hope you all will try to work with other foreign governments to make us visa and hastle free when we travel to other coutnries. For we are all humans and we all deserve freedom of movement, respect and dignity.

IY

All letters are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write a letter, please submit it to [email protected]

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33 thoughts on “Letter on draconian immigration”

  1. I totally agree with this writer...Maldives foregn ministry needs to work a lot... get up and start working instead of just sitting in your offices in Male and Abroad...

    and yes we need to look at our own free visa policy...because already wer have 50000 illegals living here....this is large...we should definitly impose visa requirements on Bangladheshi and other known fraudsters who take the 30 day free visa to enter and then stay here and take up jobs here....

    As for visa for maldivians...it will be hard for us to obtain visa free travel to EU and US as long as we have free visa on Arrival for Pakistani and Bangladeshi Nationals....as visa free travel to these places have security implications....that being said if Maldives government work even half as much as they do now...they would have gotten the visa free deal for EU...as even countries like Mexico (a country that has send about 30 million illegal residents to USA) have visa free travel to EU

    Good examples of how poorly Maldvian PP holders are treated abroad....hopefully Minivan News will actually intrview the Maldives Foregn Minister on these types of issues !

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  2. I live in Villingili and a month ago I was at a Bangladeshi tailor shop. While I was handing over my stuff, a white fat lady happen to come inside. I had to intervene as a translator. apparently she want to patch a "small" hole in her cotton pants, which from my observation to be beyond repair. The Bangladeshi being embarrassed, kept politely reminding her that it is beyond repair.
    My take from this experience is these white people with their superficial Excuse me and Thank yous demand hospitality from us as tourists using their skin while they would bother two pence if we were in England.

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  3. Welcome to the real world-if we treated other people better when they visited our country then maybe we would get the same treatment in their countries!
    If you visited the UK then you would know there is a large population of indian, pakistani, chinese, and every other asian and foreign national living there, feeding off the kindness and stupidity of the country.
    Firstly EU citizens also need to apply for US visa, same like everyone else! Secondly I worked many resorts and have seen first hand how badly maldivians treat tourists, mocking them, charging them over inflated prices, photographing them, inappropriate sexual comments, what a great welcome they receive for the thousands they spend!! Not all Europeans are rich, being white doesn't make you rich-they have to save hard like all of us do to go on a holiday. Not like the many lazy Maldivians who rely on mom and dad to support them. Maldivians are happy to 'put up with' tourists so long as they have a wallet full of dollars, otherwise they don't care and make that known loud and clear!
    Maybe you should go experience USA or Australia, New Zealand and many parts of south east asia where europeans are treated the same as every other person entering the country-strict immigration and visa rules for short holidays/stop overs.
    Travelling does not unite maldives with rest of world-abroad they are open minded and welcome different cultures, in maldives if you are in male' or local island then you are looked at in disgust and called a prostitute if you are a white woman-nice.
    If maldivian people started to first respect themselves and each other, then maybe this would be noticed by tourists and maldivians could expect the same when they visit other countries.
    If you are not happy with welcome you receive abroad, it's simple, come back to Maldives.
    Much as i am proud to be maldivian i am ashamed by my people, if we didn't like in such a beautiful place then we wouldn't have so many tourists visiting and contributing to our economy. It's not the hospitality that brings tourists here it's the beautiful scenery.

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  4. IY. This is true. Us Westerners are often racist bigots and for that I am deeply ashamed and sorry. For example, the hideous comments that were passed at my work place about Asians and especially Muslims... before my colleaugues realized I was married to an Asian-Muslim, really hurt me. At first, I was frightened to stand up against those that passed these comments, and played along with them, but, they hurt me because what was said against South Asian Muslims applied to my own children. But I have made many stands against this lately, but, yes, all it takes for ignorance and prejudice to spread, and for human rights to be obliterated in the West, is the fearful silence of Westerners who know better. Sadly, those that have insight are the more reflective who are the type of people who are easily intimidated into silence. But if that is you, it is not good enough (I understand I am not the only Faranji who reads this outside Maldives!) If you hide in fear and patronize evil you lose your destiny! Truth and justice only prevails in this world when brave people are willing to put truth and justice before their own well being and safety and suffer for it through acts of courage! If you are not a naturally brave person, try something, some spiritual inmspiration toughens some people up, some use meditation, excercise, take up boxing, ANYTHING, GET TOUGH mentally!

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  5. ahem, forgot about this already? http://minivannewsarchive.com/society/resort-%E2%80%98wedding-ceremony%E2%80%99-in-dhivehi-degrades-tourist-couple-as-infidel-swine-mocks-islam-12671

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  6. Minivan publishes this kind of wishful thinking and idealistic rants but when someone writes a critical opinion piece and forwards it as a letter, Minivan holds it back. Bravo Minivan! You are now the bastion of protectionism and propaganda that you should have been at the outset. Too bad you reach such a small portion of the public. I guess the international community is the focus after all.

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  7. wow. i've never heard any maldivian calling someone a prostitute just coz they were white...and i've been around my country.
    but yes, its common for maldivian guys to call maldivian girls 'badi' or in english, slut, but i have yet to hear such a thing directed at a foriegner. "Maldives n proud" where exactly do you get this? i'd like to go and see for myself...

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  8. Booohooo! The writer of this letter needs to grow up and take a chill pill.
    As someone who has travelled around europe i can assure you that most people i know don't face so many problems. So what if an immigration official asks us a couple of questions? it is done for the betterment of everyone. If stupid fellow Maldivians stopped siding with extremists and travelling to Pakistan and trying to blow up people they don't even know, things would be even easier.
    And yes while we might be hospitable to our guests, there are idiots everywhere, likewise Maldivian idiots regularly pass bad comments to foreigners who visit here.
    If you would like the red carpet treatment every place you visit, try and get a high profile job or why not try for the presidency?
    We the rest of us mortals are ok with the stringent requirements of visa and the questioning, in the end it benefits us all, if a stupid extremist can be kept away from those lands. Cause when a muslim extremist decides to blow himself up he does not check to see if there are other muslims around either.

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  9. We have our own "draconian" immigration rules as well. Just try getting married to a non-Maldivian in the Maldives!!! You have to show that the person earns at least MRF15,000 a month (payslip and 6 month bank statement), he/she has no "gai in gayah araa bali" (what these diseases are, is not defined anywhere), show that they are not already married in the country of origin (where's their "muslim" AND Maldivian right to have 4 wives?), show a certificate that they have converted to islam 6 months prior (even if they are already muslim?). Until sometime last year there was the issue of the "state dowry" where 1-way flight ticket back to the country of origin had to be placed as deposit (defined as a deposit because you get it back when you DIVORCE!). All these are required whether u get married in Maldives or if you want your marriage registered in the Maldives. If you don't register your marriage in the Maldives you are not recognized as being married, and can be subjected to flogging if pregnant (even if you were married under islam in another country). BUT....these rules are designed to discourage labourers from countries like India,Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from marrying dhivehin...and they are not white...so we don't care! The hierarchy goes, "White" people, Maldivians and then "Bangaalhees"...BUUUUT, let's just complain about how we are treated, not the way we treat others!

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  10. welcome to the real world. this might be your first trip around the world but hopefully not the last. this has been happening in the world from time immemorial not only at airports my dear!! get used to it or stay home. don't feel sad. it just proves they are still uncivilized. there is nothing foreign ministry or anyone could have done.

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  11. "Maldivians are well known to host their visitors with utmost care and excellent treatment. From the time the forigners land in Maldives and until they leave, they are always treated with a smile." Do you believe this yourself? Or is it that you just don't know better? It reads like a joke really.

    'Maldives n proud' is spot on with his/her observations, not only are many Maldivians disrespectful towards any non-Maldivian, the whole concept of 'Maldivian hospitality' actually is a myth invented by the tourism industry. It doesn't exist. Go to Bali and venture out of the main tourist areas for example and you will learn what hospitality really means. At least people there have genuine smiles on their faces, and not those fake ones forced upon by tourist dollars.

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  12. Dear friend don't get upset even Indian and Bangladeshis who build your country and keep the male city clean and tidy by disposing your garbage have been ill treated by Maldivian go to any restaurant and sit and observe Maldivians smoke and exhale it on Bangladeshis and Indian faces. even a super power Indian citizens are ill treated in SARC countries, always in our Asian blood is to respect the whites . we can at least by reading your letter we change our attitude and respect our own people and build Asia as super power.

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  13. Sorry Dear, your idea is ok, but I feel that instead of making Visa free, why not be equal, if a country is taking visa fee from Maldivian, Maldivian Government also must take the Visa fee from that country citizen, why not, its equal. After all they are not treating you like that because you are a Maldivian no, but the way some of the Maldivian's behavior has labeled all of us, it is not the fault of the government, it is the fault of some of us and it has happened, I don;t think this can be changes soon. But let's all of us try hard to change this "label" from all of the Maldivian. The recent Wedding Celebration of a tourist couple done in a well known resort also will be one of the reason of such ill treats for the Maldivian, If we don't want or not we have to accept it. So let's all of try hard to change our attitudes towards to all our foreigner, no matter he is from European or Asia or African country, neither a Bangladeshis, or India or any where. Let's treat them as our gussets. one day we will be treated the same from their country too. But the foreign relationship of all the countries towards to us can be changes if we change our attitude too.

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  14. I am sure that we get free visa to Israel. They will treat us better than the ARABS, for sure. So, why wouldn't we have relation with Israel?

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  15. Maldivians have only themselves to blame. Pushing an apostate kid to suicide and forcing another one to revert to islam on TV under threat of death?

    Serves you all right for standing idly by.

    Oh, and that video of the wedding?. It's still making it's rounds in the tubes of the internet.

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  16. Dear friend,
    Better late than never. You have just realised it. It is difficult to be a Maldivian abroad.
    By the way, a Maldivian can be humiliated at Male Airport too, for no other reason than that you are a Maldivian.
    And those Arabs? I was treated very badly in Egypt once.
    Arabs don't care you are a Muslim.
    Racism is round the corner always facing the Maldivian.
    A Maldivian travelling abroad may even face an identity crisis.
    The problem may be your passport. Have you ever thought of changing it?

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  17. while all is true, especially the part where you encourage people to travel cause it opens hearts and bridge the differences (nice touch and very true), im not sure why you sound so surprized.

    we are barely out of jungle.. the so called civilized world is only civilized enought to care about their comfort and i don't make difference here. I do not agree we are that hospitable either.. the same forces are at work here and over there..

    humans are still narrow minded (in general), racist, sexist and infected with everyother form of premitive thinking. in every house there is a bigot and a racist you know.

    coupled this with socio-economic values in this world, you see the results you experienced.

    I have been through the same but i don't wonder why? i know why and i know there is very less a govt policy can do to change these human folly traits..

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  18. I think the Author is not a real Maldivian..if so the Author must have known that as long as the Maldivian big-shots or diplomats do not face such difficulties or rude behaviors from abroad, there is no problem at all...

    You say the Malaysians face no difficulties....you know why? because the Malaysians FM cannot survive in his position as a Minister for Foreign Affairs without doing his job but here a Minister means a Minister even if he does the art of doing NOTHING my dear...

    In Malaysia, if a Maldivian living in Malaysia makes a Boakibaa and sells, the Immigration shall deport the Maldivian....that's how Malaysia protects their citizens' rights...but here in Maldives we see foreigners making money without Work Visa....May be one can ask Maattey for more details or how he made money from the Labor Ministry

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  19. Ordinary Maldivians are being subjected to draconian immigration practices overseas, in contrast to our own welcoming nature, writes IY.

    5 MONTHS LATER AND STILL ZERO ACCOUNTABILITY.......... I WOULD LAUGH IF IT WASN'T SO SERIOUS ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

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  20. Regarding your treatment in Dubai, Doha, etc. In those countries, it's common that there are 4 classes of people and the way you are treated depends on what class you fit into. This rule especially applies in Dubai, and probably similar ones exist in nearby places like Qatar.

    1)You are born Emirati. (You are pretty much regarded as royalty and treated extremely well)

    2)You are white European/American (treated almost as well, and never rudely)

    3)You are Oriental/Filipino/Indonesian (tolerated as they have a lot of Filipino/Indonesian workers in the customer service industry)

    4)You are South-Asian, all inclusive. (Brown skin means you are the lowest class possible, thousands of migrant poor migrant workers and prejudices towards them have established this)

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  21. @ posh poh. I have seen many times foreigners being mocked, white ladies being called prostitutes because after all everybody knows Europeans will have sex with anything, right? No actually in my experience it's not.

    Happens sometimes in Male' on the streets, near no 1 jetty, but mainly happens when I take guests to local island (one in particular) to enjoy "a traditional way of Maldivian life", I think this is how we sell it to them as a day trip. Gangs of youths and elders sit on the jetty, making comments, luckily the tourists don't understand.

    Bad move to open up some local islands as a cheap alternative to our resorts, now we have these tourists in bikinis in front of our very eyes every day. But I guess the youths will enjoy the view and a blind eye will be turned by our women so long as the dollars keep coming in. Sad but true.

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  22. It was only a few years ago there was a video clip on the Internet in which we saw a Maldivian Taliban getting ready to blow himself and go to paradise to his promised 72 virgins. We have Maldivian Talibans fighting in Pakistan and Afghanistan and many have been captured. So when we make ourselves notorious in our Jihad efforts, of course Western countries will have questions to ask before they can allow us into their countries. Tourists come to our country and what do they see if they visit any inhabited island? They see almost 99% women wearing burqa or hijab. They see the increasing number of men who look like Pakistani Talibans. So we have to accept the questions we are asked by the Western immigrations officials. As for the Arab immigration officials treating us as if we are criminals, I think racism plays a part too. But they are also weary of terrorism in their own countries.

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  23. hospitality?! maldivians are welcoming everyone with a smile?! delicious food?! do you think you can make people believe what you say with only one letter? If you had any sense of hospitality, which means you don't, you would show it to everyone not only for those who throw bunches of dollars on you. Do you think your garudhiya is delicious? Most of the food cooked there is not even maldivian. You should be thankful to pakistani, bagladeshi and hindi people for their foods. To sum up, Maldives, as a place to visit, is one of the best places but for its people it is not the place to be desired. Sorry to say the truth 🙂

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  24. I have been to Vienna thru Zurich this april and I found the immigration officials in Zurich very friendly. didnt had to go through immigration in vienna. so not sure about your claims.

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  25. @Nasheed, good idea and it has been considered many times here however as we are dependent on tourism, we need as many people as possible to visit the country and imposing such a fee would just work against our advantage, and Europe and the rest of the world knows that. Unfortunately our demise comes from our geographic location, which is one of the poorest on earth, we do not have any fully developed countries near us and until India reaches that stage, we will always be classed as a poor region.
    Our foreign ministers in the past has also never really put high importance on visa issues for ordinary passports because they do not need to travel on one. There is ALOT more that needs to be done and it is in the hands of the foreign minister!

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  26. I am a Maldivian and I completely agree with Maldivian and proud.

    @poshpoh: I have heard numerous maldivians call white women prostitutes. So better comeout of the rock u've byn under.

    Maldivians are racists, and are only nice to white foreigners mostly if we can get some dollars in our pockets. I emphasize "white" because maldivians are obsessed about color! magey dhari kalhu vanee, kaley dhari dhon vanee, what is this nonsense?

    And how many Maldivian make obscene comments about foreigners and treat bangladesh or srilankan employees like dirt, when in a lot of ways, these employees are doing a lot of work many Maldivians are too lazy to get around to.

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  27. I find it surprising to read some of the comments here, specially when they are attacking the writer. I didn't find this article discriminating in any way the south asian in Maldives. The article is actually a good piece of writing which has higlighted an important view of his own (Visa for maldivians) to the concerned authorities (Foreign afairs and Immigration). Now what is so wrong in doing so. Some comments here are attacking the wroter instead of supporting him with his views. Its true maldivians do not treat well the south asians in here, but it is true there are many maldivians who do treat them well and have incorporated them well into their lives by marriage and business partners. Every country is like that. Do you all think maldivians get respect in colombo, trivandrum and madras because they are Maldivians? No, its only becuase they think Maldivians travellers to these places are nothing but a bunch of fat wallets with dollars or their local currency. Many maldivians are harrased, cheated and dodged in sri lanka and india also. So dont complain about the way the maldivians treat them in here. Its not only Maldives, its the whole south asian which needsto brush up their social manners and behaviour. One comment says, foreign minster cannot do anything, then who can. In all over the world it is the forwign minister who does the job if getting visa policies sorted with other countries. Recently India got visa requirement removed for Croatia. Could Maldivian foreign ministry do a similar thing? I met they dont care. This is not a time to criticise the writer, but rather think about the writer's view and see what you can do to further work on it.

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  28. Always remember Sri Lankans assisted Maldives in many ways even before the surge of Foreign tourist to your country.
    Even your first Airport was built by our people and the first flight that landed in your Airport is from sri Lanka.
    Your National Anthem music was given to you by our music Veteran Amaradeva.
    We helped u with our teachers and many more even before toursit arrived to ur country
    Even now Maldives and singapore are the two countries than can land in Sri Lanka without visas.
    However what i am requesting is never forget us and keep praising white man only.
    Afterall we are neigbours and should respect,help and admire each other than despise each other.
    Dollars are not everything but respecting humanity and treating likewise is important

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  29. Maldivians praise and boast to much about their affliations with europeans whether it be on political level or on general partnership level.
    But unfortunately europeans and Arabs cares too hoots as the writer correctly quoted.
    Think,in every aspect of maldivian progress the Sri Lankans as a neighbour had always stood with them.
    Even Before the advent of Tourism boom to Maldives,Sri Lankans had sent teachers,built the first Airport and landed the first flight,gave the Lyrics to the Maldivian National anthem,sent the professionals to work in their hospitality industry and even today the Maldivians can Land in Sri Lanka without visa.Even MDP party was formed in Sri Lanka
    Have u ever be grateful for Sri Lankans for there contribution?

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  30. iam german, believe me these mofus treat me the same way everytime i enter germany....its not because you're maldivian, its because your are a muslim.
    I can tell you, even they give you a hard time at the imigration doesnt mean that all german people doesnt like you....

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