Sun Travels to compensate couple while police investigate ‘wedding ceremony’ video

The Maldives Police Service have confirmed they are investigating staff at Vilu Reef Resort and Spa at the request of both the Ministry of Tourism and the resort’s operator Sun Travel and Tours, after a video of a controversial ‘renewal of vows’ ceremony was leaked to YouTube.

In the video, a Vilu Reef staff member, acting as the ‘celebrant’, unleashes a tirade of insults against the couple in Dhivehi in the solemn tone of a religious preacher, sparking both local and international outrage.

The couple, identified by the AFP as Swiss, appear oblivious to the humiliation as 10-15 resort staff look on and make disparaging comments about the couple’s appearance, and urge the celebrant to “make them suck mouth” – a Maldivian phrase to denigrate the act of kissing.

Non-Muslims are unable to be married in the Islamic country, however many resorts offer ‘traditional Maldivian’ renewal of vows ceremonies and the country is a popular destination for honeymooners.

Sun Travels and Tours issued a statement yesterday afternoon saying the corporate management of the resort was “deeply saddened by this humiliating event and expresses its serious concerns over the incident, including the content shown in the video and the unforgivable conduct displayed by the staff involved in the incident.”

“The management is in the process of contacting the two tourists who were victimised in this incident to extend sincerest apologies for this unacceptable incident. The management would offer compensation for the abuse they have suffered,” the company said.

“We sincerely apologise for the damage and serious repercussions this incident could cause to the tourism industry of the Maldives, the image of the country, the Maldivian people and their government.”

Speaking to Minivan News today, CEO of Sun Travels Ahmed Shakir confirmed that police had taken up the investigation “and the people directly responsible have been removed from the property.”

“Two employees have been removed to Male’, others have been suspended from duty and forbidden from leaving the staff area of the resort,” Shakir said. “[Staff] on the resort are being individually questioned as to how informed they were [about the incident].”

Vilu Reef Manager Mohamed Rasheed told Minivan News on October 26 that the that the staff member who uploaded the video, Ali Shareef, did so as “a joke”, without “realising the seriousness of the potential consequences”, and complied with management’s request to remove the video from YouTube.

Rasheed also said that he had become aware of the nature of the ceremony conducted by Food and Beverage Assistant Hussain Didi, and had banned Didi from performing any more ceremonies.

Shakir said today that the company was waiting on the advice of its lawyers as to whether it had grounds to take action against Shareef, and had established a proceedure for conducting the weddings and “eliminate the reading of anything in Dhivehi during the ceremony.”

Minivan News understands the company is attempting to contact the couple and explain the situation, and offer undisclosed compensation.

Shakir would not divulge the identity or nationality of the couple, “as we believe that at this stage it would do more harm than good.”

He would not comment on whether the humiliating ceremony was an isolated case or whether the behaviour had occurred before, but said the resort was “investigating”.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the resort was cooperating fully with the police investigation.

“We are discussing with the Prosectutor General’s office as to whether there is any way those involved can be charged,’ Shiyam said.

Not uncommon

Disparaging of guests in Dhivehi by resort staff was not uncommon, claimed Vice President of the Tourism Employment Association of the Maldives, Mahrouf Zakir.

“Sadly this is very common, and not only in Vilu Reef but even in very upmarket luxury resorts,” said Zakir. “I’ve seen it happening, and not just for wedding ceremonies but birthday songs as well. It’s a stupid thing to do, I think it’s crazy.”

“I don’t think this is new – if you look at the Vilu Reef video there are 15 people standing around for the ceremony, and a lot more people in the background. The management must have been aware of it.”

Many upmarket resorts actually prohibited Maldivian staff from speaking Dhivehi in front of guests, he noted.

“I know it’s difficult to believe, but the workers don’t do this out of disrespect for the guest. They don’t think that far. I know it probably doesn’t make sense, but they just do it for fun as they know guests don’t understand the language.

“We have to raise awareness among resort workers that this is unacceptable, as well as talk to the Ministry [of Tourism]. Many resort staff come from local islands, and simply do whatever they want for a laugh.”

Deputy Minister of Tourism Ismail Yasir said the Ministry was “very concerned” about the impact the incident would have on the Maldives’ reputation, and was also investigating to determine whether the practice was common.

Despite the religious insults in the video, Yasir said he did not believe the video was evidence of rising extremism.

“I don’t think this is extremism,” he said, “just irresponsibility on behalf of the management of the resort. It has had a huge impact on our reputation, and I would like to assure people that the government is doing everything in its power to make sure this does not happen again.”


98 thoughts on “Sun Travels to compensate couple while police investigate ‘wedding ceremony’ video”

  1. This is just sooo typical. Maldivians are pirates in nature, this is how the men behave there! they never grow up.

  2. looks like Minivan news has found a gold mine, keep it up guys, translate this with sub title every language you guys are capable of doing so, you will get more readers to "hate Maldives campaign",so you will succeed to destroy Maldives at every level.This is what you guys have been doing past 5- 6 years nothing else.

  3. Be careful, you thickheaded Maldivians. You may end up in Australia as climate refugees...

    Or are you going down with Maldives on your Jihad!!!

    All this happens while the Arab Muslims are looking on wondering if dates will nourish you in your dilemma...

  4. We must feel pity for Ekaloa...he is unable to answer a simple question. Would he like the same thing to happen to his family? He cannot answer it. Or perhaps he treats his family is this way...or he is treated this way by his family. He also hates the Minivan News...yet he can write freely on it. Again, this right of freedom of speech he does not value. He is pitiful...

  5. miniva news directly controlled by Mr. Anni.

    Mr. Anni must be responsible for international widespread bad naming of Maldives. Almost all international medias quoted news from minivan news website.
    lets not vote for MDP or mr.Anni since he is responsible for collapsing our economy and denigrating our image, not only this alone,he is the person who spoke about existence of Maldivian alqaidas in international forums while we dont have alqida terrorists in Maldives. This president thinks he is obama or mendela assuming himselt that he posses intellectual and mental capacities like the great leaders of the twenty first century, Mandela.

  6. Hameed, the question must be asked of why no other Maldive papers reported it? Why hide the truth? Besides the cause can only be attributed to your citizens who carried out the act. Remember, it is they who posted it on UTube. Minivan is only reporting the facts...the disgusting act at the hotel happened. Nothing changes this. Do not have your head in the sand like others. Open your eyes and ears...and think for yourself...not what others tell you.

  7. Nasheed's government has said yesterday they are going to investigate this and punish for saying "auguraana" to tourists. But on the basis of what law to speak "auguraana" is a crime. If so Nasheed himself is famous for using these languages like he said to former president " fain erifa" " rakis bondu" Inst that "auguraana" enough for a punishment.

  8. Maldives is a country which imposes that all its citizens be Muslim, and Maldivians repress one another to maintain this, yet vehemently deny that this is the case this! There are two maldives, one is bliss and paradise and the face of the serene, beautiful Dhivehinith nothing but compassion towards all, and the other is that behind the mask, tyranny!

    There are Maldivians who in their heart of hearts are not Muslims, they may be atheists or Christians or they may be Buddhists, or Hindu's or free thinkers! It is a cruel and emotionally savage existance they live in to feel forced to deny their true hearts from the rest of their world. This is because, the punishments for denying Islam include extreme alienation, social ostracisation, imprisonment and loss of citizenship. They don't have money to escape this enforced hypocritical existance in most cases and so they are trapped in a world which imprisons them in a world where they are forced to live as something they are not. Their existance is very dehumanizing and painful because, to live a lie out of fear makes one feel dishonest, cowardly, mistrustful of others. It is dehumanizing and emotionally, mentally, and even physically destructive. The whole society is like this because of this religion being imposed via the constitution!

    This is why, when Maldivians see this Islamic prejudice, they are so upset. But they, more than these Westerners, are the cruellest hit by this prejudice.

    Now that minivannews has got the attention of the world, I beg, wholeheartedly, to you world. Maldivian non-Muslims desparately need your help to eradicate religious oppression.

    Help them. Don't just go to the Maldives without realizing that Maldivians need your help desparately and urgently. Forget what you heard about climate change, for many maldivians, religious freedom is a far more urgent need.

    Pressure your governments to pressure Maldivian Government to give freedom of conscience to its people!

  9. That behavior of those apes on the Maldives is exactly what triggers the hate against Muslims even more here in Europe.

  10. I will never set foot on your island!
    There are many countries that offer what you have, but do not show disrespect to tourists who come to spend money and keep your people in employment.
    Your island has now been exposed as a fraud, and a place to be avoided!

  11. This is no fun at all .As a maldivian my self i feel disgusted to hear dis news and even see the vedio..I feel so sorry for da couple who had to under go all dat...but what i know is that due 2 such a irressponsible act of one resort all of us dnt have to get blamed..all Maldivians are not like each nd evry country there will be people like that..there r rasits murderers...or people who mock islam nd quran..that dosn't mean we should stop mingling with the people of that country..nd what about the other people..???people who r good???what ever comments we get from dese kind of acts of few people still the majority are good people..i hope dat couple gets justice ..:(

  12. @mohamed. A typical Maldivian. Always trying to compare and contrast everything and undermine the situation that will cause great damage to the Tourism industry. If someone does a wrong thing don't try to defend him by deviating attention to other issues. Everyone knows so many bad things going on this country. Talk like a grown up if not shut your mouth. "loner addu boy" my foot asshole

  13. This incident has gathered a lot of publicity in the UK press. But Trip Advisor, the website that is a guid for travvellers has censored any and i mean any discussion whatsoever about the topic. Furthermore, I have had my membership of trip advisor cancelled and am now barred from re-joining for expressing my abhorrent views on the subject. Trip Advisor is totally pathetic not allowing debate on the matter.

  14. @B Freeman. You are very right canceling the tickets to come to this country at this time and you have a reason to do it. But I hope one day you will consider coming here and experience the true hospitality of Maldives. I also hope that you would not blame for all the Maldivian for this disrespectful act of some foolish mad guyz. I really feel ashamed to say this but I couldn't stop wishing you and your family a very good holiday...

  15. @john please don't show that much hatred to this beautiful country because of some mad guyz actions. They are headless chickens. Everyone one is not like that. Sometimes we also do very bad things in life but we don't stop living. I know now must be very angry now and you have every reason but please calm down and think and don't let these disgusting guyz actions eat your head and mind.

  16. hmm why is so many people bashing minivan news????
    its terrible that this happened, but if things like this dont get mentioned/ reported people will keep doing it. good job minivan news!! in the long run this is beneficial to the country if it means people learn how to respect others!

  17. Fooling foreigners is a pastime in Maldives in many levels.. from the resort workers to the international relations.

  18. This is a shocking incident and an indication of how young men in intolerant banana republics view non muslims. The Maldives is a small backward country where respect for other religions and cultures is discouraged by the state. Maybe only muslim tourists should visit this dump. I cannot understand why anyone would want to visit the Maldives now.

  19. If anyone is thinking of going to the Maldives in the future if Gay-yoom is in power, think again! His earlier comments show just how vile some Islamic people are. You need someone to promote peace and harmony thoroughout the world and not hate which is all too prevalent in todays society. He says
    'Also if anyone of us get elected again, we will install the hatred to other religion like we’ve always been doing. We can’t let the current president make friendly agreements with Chrisitian USA and Jew Isreil. We will only promote ISLAM with zero tolerance towards other religions. This is proven with all the debates from our guys so far. Be it parliament or TV or anything else.

    (yes, the wannabe president again)'

  20. Minivan News operated by president Mohamed Nasheed translated in exact words the statement made in the video. This would damage the toruism industry of Maldives. The main purpose of Minivan News is to deface Maldives and gain political weight for Nasheed. How can they do something like this. This is not professional journalism one of the reader commented. President Nasheed, David Hardingham once ran a campaign boycott Maldives tourism. Now they are in power. News sites operated by them are again damaging the tourism industry. The person who operated Minivan News before is appointed as the head Maldives Tourism Promotion Board. He is silent on the issue. Is he promoting or demoting Maldives. Its not a coincidence when Vilu Reef was a resort in the list of resorts to be boycotted in 2006. The list was prepared by Mohamed Nasheed and David Hardingham. Now this is personal vengeance because Mr. Ahmed Siyam is getting ready for presidential campaign. This incident aimed at Shiyam by Minivan News due to this.......

  21. B. Freeman. Re-read my earlier posting. I am not an apologist of this heinous act. It should be condemned by all means and in all dimensions. What I said, which I repeat, is that an act by a bunch of youths should not be used to condemn the whole nation. I have watched it again and again, and I still believe it is humour [on the side of the resort employees] gone bad and too far. The act cannot be justified by any means. I said ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you’ to mean that many who may have renewed their vows there may have undergone the same insults and all that, but since they didn’t know, it didn’t hurt them. I still believe that this started way back as a small ‘let’s make fun because they can’t hear our language’ fun, but then as days went by it took root. I squarely blame management for failing to nip it in the bud before it took root. There is no way it could have gotten that far without management’s knowledge. No way you can have over 10 employees ‘entertaining’ a guest without someone in management knowing about it. I have managed a resort in Maldives, and I insist no way it could have gone on without management’s knowledge. That said, cancelling a trip to Maldives is too harsh since that’s judging over 100 resorts based on the behaviour of one! Worse things have happened in my country, Italy, or even Australia [such as the racist attacks on Indian students] but then should our countries be condemned because of the behaviour of a few? As for the interpretation that it may have to do with extremism, that’s farfetched. If they were attacking ‘infidels’ for real they wouldn’t poke fun at the constitution or even the Koran the way they did. Which is why I say it is humour gone all wrong. The employees are displaying a deeper issue. They are rebelling in a way. Perhaps even against that same extremism. Think of when they used to call blacks nigger as a derogatory term. The blacks took the word nigger, twisted it around, and they neutralised the negative connotation by making nigger a word they call each other. Do you really think the employees honestly meant what they said?

  22. This is more about politics than anything else
    as for money argument, it doesn’t’ hold. every service in a resort is to be paid for. nothing is free..

    the fact of the matter is minivan news which broke this story is just trying to become popular enough to be a print media again. So they just got a chance to batter Sun Travel shiyam because he belongs to the opposition politics. So basically this is MDP bashing DRP from a desk inside president’s office.

    As for the marriage itself its just entertainment. these marriages are not valid for anything. by trying to bloat this issue we will only hurt ourself.

    pls do not buy into Minivan political propaganda. Minivan News will do anything to be famous..

  23. strangely in the actual maldivian marriage ceremonies a whole lot of arabic is part of the proceedings and the bride, groom.. etc have no idea what is being said. the joke is on maldivians in their real marriage ceremonies.

  24. President Mohamed Nasheed should take responsibility for whats happening in the tourism industry today mainly in Vilureef and the reputation of Muslims in the world and specially security of the Maldivian living abroad due to Minivan News widespread bad naming of Maldives. Almost all international medias quoted news from minivan news website which is operated by the friends and families of Mr.Nasheed and by the money given by MDP to the news paper for these kind of proper-gander news to destroy others image, specially his party oppositions....this is done to get one more seat in the parliament to get the majority for MDP by pressuring Mr.Shiyam like they do for the other MPs... Before spreading this news world wide MDP never thought of what will happen to the Maldivian living out side Maldives after spreading this news....

  25. in this article staff are condemed but not the mangement which already made millions of dollars from such weddings. The poor staff will be punish but not the management who is ordering and orginizing and proffiting from the event. This is how things are in Maldives, the people who make laws and they violate it first and and last. The government never check how the service are given which service are given and the standered of such things.
    The owners will do what ever the4y want to the staffs guests and kan keep quite.

  26. Say Michal, I don't know about you - but them foreigners are opting outta Maldives. I think they take this seriously.

    Seriously enough to post things like "drown'em with BBQ power".

  27. NEVER again, we, our friends, family, co-workers, will vacation there. Thank god for the proof of the worldly known by now video. Finally a proof of how evil, fake and hating of tourists your employees are. Hate, sexual, religious slurs in your local language towards tourists are a 'normal' daily routine. Nothing will change.

  28. Don’t balme it all on me. Don’t say that I did not do enough to develop a respectful society in Maldives.

    Don’t say that I didn’t educate the people. I’ve built school.

    However, people may say these schools were with low quality school systems, low quality syllabus, local teachers mostly who’re drop-outs from their respectove schools. Also people may say there is not a single university in the country after I’ve reigned in power for 30 long years. Yes, true. I was going to build one this year but the people wanted to elect Mohamed Nasheed (oh, how much I hate that little guy…..#%^&).

    So please elect me or Yamin again in 2013. You need a good leader. A leader who studied in an Arab country. Not a leader who studied in the UK.

    I will make sure these things are totalls erased from the face of Maldivian lands when I or my party people get back to power. Just imagine how smoothly we were running the country before.

    Also if anyone of us get elected again, we will install the hatred to other religion like we’ve always been doing. We can’t let the current president make friendly agreements with Chrisitian USA and Jew Isreil. We will only promote ISLAM with zero tolerance towards other religions. This is proven with all the debates from our guys so far. Be it parliament or TV or anything else.


  29. I cancelled my christmas trip to Maldives earlier today. Will be hard to find another trip this late, they are all sold out. But I will never go to such country and jepardise my family for something like this. Neither will I ever travel to a muslim country. Never!
    Just think what happens in the kitchens with the "infidels" food!

  30. mujthaz (on Thu, 28th Oct 2010 6:22 PM)is say " this kind of direspect to other faith was promoted by zakir naike and this is the result when preachers say Maldivian tourism is not allowed in real islam". Actualy i can tell you you are woried if an alchohol free tourism starts no alchohol for you to drink on every sun day and other days. So you go on drinkin alchohol the day will come to you also to answer aboput your deeds. Bcx of such people we are embarassed in resorts being muslims.

  31. I have removed Maldives from Santa's GPS, so Maldivian kids won't be getting any gifts this Christmas.

  32. As far as I am concerned, there is only one single comment i want enlighten the guy who call Adduan as a bastard i think he is a sort of racist freak n the only word that come from his mind is only bastard u can call them anything but dude they will lead and are know also leading so no more racism here ok

  33. @all the tourists canceling your trips - whilst I know that this is going to negatively effect our economy, this is exactly what Maldivians needed to awke them up to the cold hard truth - they may get away with treating bangladeshi workers like shit, but it doesn't work on paying visitors. So bravo. Spread the word. I know I am.

  34. Maldives is obviously not safe for non Muslims. Why put you family at risk. I think us infidels should spend the money elsewhere. Cancel you trip ASAP

  35. I am in Australia, and already people I know are saying that they won't go to the Maldives. I don't think it will have a long term effect on your tourist trade (I sincerely hope it doesn't) but it hopefully will make you re-appraise your attitude to foreigners. And like B Freeman, I am interested in how Ekaloa would feel if those things were said to him and his family. We he consider it a joke. We certainly don't.

  36. Mike Meriki, if some one say those things to me or my family definitely it will hurt me, I am not denying the way those tourists are treated is bad, neither I am defending those individuals. I have been working in Maldives tourist resorts, I have the knowledge how things go there much worse things happen. But these things happen every where in the world its not confined to Maldives only. My whole point is this satiric video has been disproportionately elaborated by our own local media to gain some political revenge or destroy the economy. I believe they have some responsibility to use freedom and journalism.I have been living in America for past 10 years and I am well aware how sensitive if there is any news flash that can feed to media to bash Islam, many times its used by politicos to fear mongering to gain political points.

  37. as a 20 year hotel employee and manager in Niagara Falls Ontario Canada I have never heard or witness anything like that which was done to that couple. Not a joke was ever told of our guests. Those boys behaved like they have done it many times before. Our Managers know about everything that goes on. Nothing escapes our attention as managers. Come to Niagara Falls Canada next time. We can use your business and be treated like Gods. Yes, Gods! A simple attitude we have of our service to all our guests.

  38. this was an appaling act and i condemn it as a Maldivian and as a human being and measures should be taken to make those resposnible accountable. Having said that, many maldivians have experienced worse racist actions against them, and to people like Adam and other people who are trying to portray Maldivians as evil and backward, most other countries have done more to foreigners than this, at least we never invaded any country and killed and conquired and pillaged. it pisses me off when things like this are blown out of proportion just because this happened to white couple. and this has nothing to do with islam, in fact these misguided pple mocked not only the poor couple but their own religion

  39. aharen, this incident has everything to do with the teachings of islam. Name one islamic state where religious tolerance is permitted? Give up? The ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF MALDIVES does not allow non muslims to marry in the country and calls itself a 100% muslim state where only muslims can become citizens. In 1998 50 citizens were arrested on suspicion of being christians. Amazing that such backward states exist in the world today. Non muslims should stay away from this primitive place.

  40. minivan is a failed news paper which now only appears in internet. its run by a desk in the president's office. They just want some publicity to get more people to read their site so that they can start going again back to the printed paper. So they will do anything to get publicity. They will destroy the whole country to get more readers.

  41. Ekaloa, as an Australian myself i take great insult at the drivel you spit out on this forum. We Australians have been very bad to our Natives in the past, yes, but we have apologized and do everything we can to right our wrongs. We gave them back their lands, renamed many places and landmarks back to their original names. Also, for someone who supposedly worked in resorts and lived in "America" (normal people would call it United States but w/e) for 10 years you sure do suck at basic English mate.
    I too however have canceled my business trip to your resort paradise. A trip i might add would have brought over 25 of my employees and would have earned you $375.000 AUD for a simple 5 day conference. That is without the extra days some of my people would have stayed and money spend after the conference. After seeing that video, and more importantly, your comments i decided to go to Fiji instead. You sir, are a grade A fool, who cant string 2 cohesive sentences together, yet here you are, all pretentious, talking politics. A joke mate, you're an absolute joke. Not worthy of my time or money.

  42. I saw the video on You Tube last night.
    I have to agree that these people seem to have done this many times before. Sad.
    It may appear strange to Maldivians why we are so up set about this incident.
    I live in Queensland, Australia, where tourism is also a big part of our income. This sort of thing would never happen here. We actually want our tourists to have a great experience, not be the butt of some really bad joke. (And I am being kind calling it a joke.)
    We actually have laws against racial and religious vilification. These chaps would be in jail for what they did.
    We also have laws against discrimination on racial, religious or sexual grounds.
    To give some idea how seriously we take this , let me give you an example.
    I was talking to the manager of a large international tourist hotel on the Gold Coast.
    He said that they had problems from guests from 2 countries in the world. Tourists from these countries often trashed the rooms and treated the whole place like a toilet.
    They had to get specialist cleaners in because their own cleaners would not do it. He said they usually lost money on these people.
    But, and this is the point, he could not refuse to accept people from these countries because this would be against the racial anti-discrimination laws, and he could be charged.
    And again, we have freedom of worship.
    About a kilometer from where I am sitting now is a Christian church. 2 kilometers away is a Mosque (one of many in this city). On the way to work, I pass a Bhuddist Temple. In the other direction is a Tao Temple. In the city is a Synagogue.
    We find it hard to comprehend when a teacher in the Maldives gets in to all sorts of trouble when a compass is drawn and people mistakenly think it is a Christian cross. (As reported in Minivan)
    It seems to us that Islam is going down a path of extreme racial and religious intolerance, and this makes us very uneasy.
    The atrocities of the 2nd world war have their roots in this kind of thinking, and I am sure no-one wants to revisit that particular time in history.
    So please, learn lessons from this experience, and try to see the world through more tolerant eyes. If not as responsible citizens of the earth, then as good business people managing your very lucrative tourist industry.
    Thankyou to Minivan for publishing all spectrums of opinion, even those highly critical of its editorial policy.
    Freedom of speech is fundamental to the health of any democratic country. Thankyou


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