“Woodstock of the mind” coming to the Maldives

Imagine Ian McEwan, author of Atonement, performing a reading or participating in a panel discussion on a beach in a Maldivian island.

That is exactly what Hay Festival Maldives promises to do.

Famously described as “the Woodstock of the mind” by former US President Bill Clinton, the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts is among the most famous literary festivals in the world.

And for the first time, the festival is going to be held in Maldives from October 14-17 this year.

The festival is Europe’s largest literary and arts festival, which started in the sleepy village of Hay-on Wye in Wales – a village made famous for having the highest ratio of bookshops to inhabitants with over 30 bookshops for its population of 1,846.

Over the last few years the Hay Festival has gone global and now holds Festivals each year in Lebanon, Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Kenya and India, with the Maldives the latest to join the list.

Hay in the Maldives

“The Maldives has gained fame in the world for its beaches and the sea, with this festival we hope to showcase the 2000 year old rich cultural heritage of the Maldives to the world,” says Xiena Saeed, Hay Festival Volunteer.

At the press conference announcing the Hay Festival Maldives, Xiena said she hopes that the festival will help start a vibrant literary and arts culture in the Maldives.

In keeping with the Hay tradition of fostering the exchange of ideas, the festival will bring together local and international writers, thinkers, musicians, filmmakers and scientists.

An exciting line-up of local and international artists promise to make the first Hay Maldives a memorable one.

Confirmed artists so far include well known local personality and writer Ogaru Ibrahim Waheed, and Fathimath Nahula, film director and writer of several screenplays and books.

They will speak alongside internationally famous authors like Ian McEwan, and historian and biographer Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans and Mao.

With the growth of Hay Festival audience over the last 23 years from 1,000 people in Hay to 28,000 visitors on four continents each year, the festival is very conscious of the impact it has on the environment.

“In 2006 we started the Greenprint Project to audit our impacts and put in place actions to improve our sustainability,” says Andy Fryers, Project Director Hay Festival Maldives and Director of Greenprint.

The objectives of Greenprint are firstly to reduce the direct impacts of the Festival, and secondly to help the visiting public to reduce their own impacts, and thirdly, to programme debates, conversations and lectures, educating people about sustainability and stimulate action.

Andy says “the Maldives Festival follows similar lines to our other Festivals but with a stronger emphasis on the environment given the likely climate change impacts on the islands.”

This is reflected in the line up of environmental writers and campaigners like Montagu Don, Tim Smit – the businessman who founded the Eden project, the largest green house in the world – Mark Lynas, activist and author of several books on climate change including the acclaimed Six Degrees, and Chris Gorell-Barnes.

Musicians like popular band Fasy live and Mauritian-born electronic fusion artist Ravin,have been roped in to perform at the event.

As more artists are in the process of being confirmed, Xiena says “We would like to invite local writers and artists to get in touch with us if they are keen to participate in the festival.”

“This would be a good platform for local artists to showcase their talent and become known to a global audience .”

Festival Programme

The three-day festival will kick-start with a performance of live bands at Carnival grounds in Male at 7:00pm on 14th October.

It will then move on to the presidential retreat island of Aarah.

“We will start the next day’s programmes after Friday prayers at Aarah,” says Xiena.

Panel discussions and debates will take place at Aarah for the next two days. This will be a rare opportunity for the public to gain access to Aarah, as it had been used as a presidential retreat since the 50s.

“Aarah was chosen as its a suitable venue near the capital, we want to ensure that it is easy for Maldivians and tourists to to mingle freely and celebrate the arts and culture Maldives.”

On the last day of the festival on the 17th, writers and artists’ workshop will be held in schools and colleges to encourage a new generation of artists.

Later on with National Centre for the Arts (NCA), which is facilitating the holding of the festival, Hay Festival Maldives plans to develop a rolling programme of workshops for this year and next.

Xiena explains that “The workshops will teach children and young people to interview their parents and grandparents, to gather and record legends and stories and experiences of life in the Maldives over the past century.”

The stories are to be collected in a huge online library to be launched at the second Hay Festival Maldives 2011.

A limited number of tickets are being sold keeping in mind the capacity of each venue.

2000 tickets will be available for the music show that will be launching the festival.

“1000 tickets will be sold for each day at Aarah, because that is the capacity of the island,” informs Xiena.

The tickets will be sold from the first week of September at NCA, and Xiena promises “the tickets will be at an affordable price for the locals, as we want a high participation from Maldivians.”

The event will also be marketed to tourists – at a different price than locals – however with the Hay Festival being a non-profit organisation tickets will remain reasonably-priced, organisers claim.

Hay Festival Maldives promises to be an exciting literary and arts event, the first major cultural festival to be held in the Maldives in recent times, and one not to be missed.

The participating Maldivian artists are currently being programmed, if you wish to be considered please send details to [email protected] If you would like more information about the festival please drop by the festival desk at Olympus Theater between 21:00pm to 23:00pm.


36 thoughts on ““Woodstock of the mind” coming to the Maldives”

  1. This is going to be great! A dream come true that it will be in Maldives.

    Pleeeeaaase can we also have a decent book stall there!

  2. too bad i won't be there to see it.. this is great news.
    we need more promotions on arts, science and creativity.

  3. Its amazing to have something so refreshing and educational for the youth and everyone compared to the awful religous speakers the country is treated to!

    I hope this becomes a regular thing in the Maldives. It is about time we shared our talents and creativity with the rest of the world.

    Good luck to all the participating artists. I am sure you will all be amazing.

  4. Who is the organizer? Salibury / UK?
    Where Maldives reform movement began?

    “ideas, conversations and FUN!”.

    I hope there won’t be any “DIVINE COMEDY” here under the guise of “fun”?

    Be ware. Maldivians! President’s Office is supposed to organize more of these events in future!


  5. I hope this is going to be a yearly thing. As this will really put Maldives on the Map!

    I am very much looking forward to it. What a difference from the usual brainwashing back to the 8th Century!

  6. this is awesome. finally something we can relate to and enjoy. i think we all should take part in this one way or the other.. m definitely goin to volunteer.. this is a chance to do something meaningful and constructive for our nation and for our future generations.

  7. yeah right. this must be some evil conspiracy to humiliate the muslim 'ummah'. salibury cursaders blah blah blah blah. we should ban this. and replace this with...uh...more dharus from sheikhs! the only way to establish the utopian islamic empire (with saudi arabia as capital and pakistan the center of knowledge). no fun, no music, no arts...these are human traits. we cant be human. we are the chosen ones to enslave the rest of the human population. including other non-fundie muslims like sufis. yes yes. allaahu akbar! all hail heck. all hail adhaalath paateys.

    ugh.tuna people!

  8. @Hillath

    Here is your chance to flash your LITERARY vulgarity !

    No need to beg for a job from the AI.

    Your book should be less than ONE GRAM to qualify!

  9. "I was referring in my interview to a tiny minority who preach violent jihad, who incite hatred and violence against 'infidels', apostates, Jews and homosexuals; who in their speeches and on their websites speak passionately against free thought, pluralism, democracy, unveiled women; who will tolerate no other interpretation of Islam but their own and have vilified Sufism and other strands of Islam as apostasy; who have murdered, among others, fellow Muslims by the thousands in the market places of Iraq, Algeria and in the Sudan. Countless Islamic writers, journalists and religious authorities have expressed their disgust at this extremist violence. To speak against such things is hardly 'astonishing' on my part (Independent on Sunday) or original, nor is it 'Islamophobic' and 'right wing' as one official of the Muslim Council of Britain insists, and nor is it to endorse the failures and brutalities of US foreign policy. It is merely to invoke a common humanity which I hope would be shared by all religions as well as all non-believers." - Ian McEwan

    Why is the Maldives allowing entry to this man who's against everything the True Muslim Maldivians (TM) stand for? And does the Maldivian government not incite hatred against apostates and homosexuals? I hope they don't sell literature promoting views such as his. Oh the blasphemy. Na'oozubillahi.

  10. @heck
    Are you sure you are a real believer?
    I don't think we Muslims are supposed to create hatred and slander individuals left right and center.
    You seem to be doing it non-stop, at this rate you might get mental health problems. All this hatred and conspiracy theories must be taxing on the brain.

    On and great news, Hay festival comming to Maldives.Something constructive for the youth to do.

  11. @shaz & heck:

    It's not the Maldivian government that incites hatred against homosexuals, apostates or whatever, it's the public that's been brainwashed by the self-proclaimed true muslims that does so. Islam was known to be a religion that encouraged arts, creativity and science throughout it's existence up until the Wahhabi's emerged. If that wasn't the case, our ancestors too would've had long-beards, trimmed mo's and three quarter pants. We would've had no culture besides reciting the Quran, oppressing women, homosexuals, and what not. Get your heads straight and open your eyes.

  12. @ Mr. Adhaalath,

    "According to the Section 15, clause 173 (8a) “Sexual activity with a member of the same sex”, under the “Rules of adjudication”, the punishment is to be lashed (tha’zeer) between 19 to 39 times and banished or imprisoned for a period between 1 to 3 years, taking into account, the severity of the offence."

    That's what the law says. If that's not inciting hatred and violence against homosexuals I don't know what is.

  13. ދަންނަބޭކަލުންގެ ބަސްފުޅުތަކަށް ބަލާއިރު ވެސް ހުރިހާ ދަންނަބޭކަލުން މިފަދަ މީހާގެ ޙުކުމަކީ މަރުންކަމުގައި އެއްބަސްވެ ވަޑައިގަންނަވައެވެ. ނަމަވެސް މެރުމުގެ ގޮތަކަކީ ކޮބައިތޯ މިކަމުގައި ދަންނަބޭކަލުން އިޚްތިލާފު ވެވަޑައިގަންނަވައެވެ. އިމާމުވެރިބެއިކަލުންގެ ތެރެއިން ގިނަބޭކަލުން ދެކެވަޑައިގަންނަވަނީ މުޙްޞިނެއްކަމުގައި ވިއަސް އެބަހީ ކައިވެނި ކޮށްފަ ހުރި މީހެއްކަމުގައި ވިއަސް ނުވަތަ މުޙްޞިނެއް ނޫން ކަމުގައި ވިއަސް އެބަހީ ކާވެނި ނުކޮށް ހުރި މީހެއްކަމުގައި ވިއަސް އޭނާ ޤަތުލުކުރުމަށެވެ. އަނެއްބައި ބެއިކަލުންގެ ބަސްފުޅަކީ މުޙްޞިނެއް ކަމުގައި ވިއަސް ނުވަތަ މުޙްޞިނެއް ނޫން ކަމުގައި ވިއަސް ރަޖަމުކުރުމަށެވެ. (އެބަހީ ކުދިގަލުން ތަލާ މެރުމަށެވެ.) އަނެއް ބައި ޢިލްމުވެރިން ވިދާޅުވަނީ މުޙްޞިނެއްނަމަ ރަޖަމު ކުރުމަށެވެ. މުޙްޞިނެއްކަމުގައި ނުވާނަމަ ޤަތުލުކުރުމަށެވެ. އަދި ބައެއް ޢިލްމުވެރިން އުސްތަނަކުން ވައްޓާ މަރާލުމަށް ވެސް ވިދާޅުވެއެވެ. މިކަމުގައި އެޅުނު މީހާއާއި އެޅެވުނު މީހާގެ ތަފާތެއް ނެތްގޮތަށެވެ.


    And that's what a once Minister of State for Home Affairs had to say on homosexuals. Being stoned to death or thrown off a high place, which do you think does not incite violence?

  14. As Mamdooh said in his interview, it is Maldives High Commission in London that initiated & facilitated the Hay Festival Maldives. I dont think Salbury, Uk is involved in the organising of the event. Author Shazra should have clarified in her article who initiated and the people who are helping to organise festival to avoid these ridiculous allegations about the hidden motives of the festival.

  15. @Aicha

    "All this hatred and conspiracy theories must be taxing on the brain."

    You go ahead and quote just one HATRED and conspiracy theory from me!

    I promote LOVE, PEACE and SECURITY!

    If you perceive me as promoting anything else - then you are using your HEAD which is good for REBONDING only!

  16. @Shaz

    It's still better than being rained with brimstone and land turned upside down!

    Travel in the land and see the fate of those who rebelled against God!

    Evil was their end!

  17. @Shaz

    I was not able to see your true colour from the posts.

    It's very ambiguous.

    What is your POSITION on homosexuality?

    Please advise.

  18. How far away is Aarah from Male? and how much are tickets? I want to book immediately. This is going to be the best thing to happen to Maldives in a long time!

  19. @heck, Exactly my point. Inviting pro-gay writers into our pristine and morally superior Islamic nation not only exposes the hypocrisy of the government, which loves to champion Islam when it serves their political interest; but also invites the wrath of the Divine Peeping Tom who has nothing better to do but watch what people do with their genitals. If that doesn't tell you what my position on homosexuality is, then I can't help you.

  20. @Shaz

    "..nothing better to do but watch what people do with their genitals."

    Watching others genitals is a sin in Islam except your legally wedded spouse!

    Because we are human beings NOT animals.

    It is important that we use our TOOLS in the right way to create the "right products".

    For instance a carpenter starts using a SCREW DRIVER to plane a piece of wood. Will he ever get the surface levelled with that wrong tool?

    OR what good is it, hammer hitting hammer head instead of hammer hitting nail head?

    The result is only unproductive noises and nothing else!

    Our purpose in this life is obedience towards God, WHETHER or NOT Ian McEwan likes it or not.

    I don't think Islam will ever be conducive to "apostates, Jews and homosexuals" as he wants us to be!

    Not because Islam is against PEACE but because they stand against the very basic tenets of Islam!

    He does not have the right to GRILL Muslims because of their religious belief!

    He is not a religious scholar and NEITHER am I!

  21. @heck, Maybe in Aristotle's purpose driven universe this sexual ethics made sense, and for the same reason Aquinas and medieval Islamic theologians championed it, while failing to notice the flawed logic, which is,things needn't have to have one single function or a list of proper functions.

    I'll borrow your metaphor. There's a spectrum of hammer functions. Some like to hit on nails. Others like to hit on them, but also pull them out. Some are used in a courtroom. Others in a doctor's consultation room. Some make music. Others are used to listen to music. Thankfully in the hammer-world, judgmental bigots don't exist, so they all live in harmony, proving that functions are not limited, but interchangeable. We can learn a lot from hammers.

    However I do agree with you that Islam isn't 'conducive' to homosexuals, Jews, apostates etc etc. So instead of boring us with tired old ancient anti-gay arguments, maybe you could join me in protesting this visit by Ian McEwan, the Islamaphobe who doesn't tolerate intolerance against Jews, homosexuals and other enemies of Islam.

    By the way, I think that when it comes to divine voyeurism, the rules don't apply to the rule-maker.

  22. @Shaz

    That brings you to the end of your logic, I suppose?

    "..I think that when it comes to divine voyeurism, the rules don’t apply to the rule-maker."

    IF the rules don't apply to the rule maker - then DON'T you think "divine voyeursism" is an illogical term and a misconception?

  23. @Shaz

    "Some like to hit on nails. Others like to hit on them, but also pull them out."

    Yes, but pulling out a nail does not negate the action of hitting the nail head in the first place!

    "Some are used in a courtroom."

    Yes, only to ensure that there is order in the courtroom and justice is served. Not to hammer down both the defendant and plaintiff.

    "Others in a doctor’s consultation room."

    Yes, to attempt a correct diagnosis of the patient. Not to anaesthetize him with a blow on the head!

    So you see there is harmony because the person using it was TAUGHT of its correct usage and they all follow without deviation!

  24. @heck, Unless you're asking for more. Here:
    1. Voyeurism is illegal in Islam
    2. Rules don't apply to the rule-maker.
    Voyeurism is legal for the rule-maker thus making 'divine voyeurism' logical and true. QED.

  25. "pulling out a nail does not negate the action of hitting the nail head"

    Neither does homosexual sex negate heterosexual sex. Ask any bisexual.

    "hammer down both the defendant and plaintiff." "blow on the head"

    I see that you agree that hammering is not the only function of a hammer.

    "correct usage and they all follow without deviation"

    Implying that a hammer can be put to multiple uses. So can your genitals. My point exactly.

  26. @heck,

    some things grow from deviations, language and music for instance, the richness of which can be attributed in part to certain outstanding breaks from tradition.

    perhaps you could consider humans as creative deviants, because some of the most interesting, wonderful things that we see in the world was born out of somebody thinking outside the norms of his time, ie deviating.

    if you could excuse a platitude, deviations aren't intrinsically bad.

    ps. also, you seem to thinking that watching each other's genitalia (except those of your legally wedded spouse) turn us into animals:
    "Watching others genitals is a sin in Islam except your legally wedded spouse!
    Because we are human beings NOT animals"

    just how many animals spend their time ogling each other's genitalia in the obsessive manner of humans? and how many animals have sex and reproduce?

    it would seem that watching pornography, or even having a homosexual affair is less animal-like than copulating with your opposite sex for reproduction, because even though animals do engage in homosexual behaviour they predominantly have sex to reproduce.

    so, if you desperately want to distinguish yourself from an animal, perhaps it would suffice to pull on a g-string and watch some porn as animals do neither.

  27. What happened, MN? Too chicken to pulish my counter arguments to Shaz?

    This is all too expected. I had a gut feeling that MN was all third class "hidden agenda" journalism !

    Enjoy the cheap anti Islam blabbering that is called MN !

    Here the comment you have chickened out to publish.


    “Neither does homosexual sex negate heterosexual sex”

    It DOES! Homosexuality causes deviation from the Purpose of Life. So it DOES negate!

    “Ask any bisexual.”

    Why ask a burglar about the reason for his actions? Important thing is to try and find the lost items. No need to waste time asking unnecessary questions.

    “hammer down both the defendant and plaintiff.”

    “blow on the head”

    All negations! While your proposed actions are deviant and unjustifiable, creates havoc and disorder! So there your are scoring an “own goal” proving homosexuality negates justice and purpose!

    “I see that you agree that hammering is not the only function of a hammer.”

    You see the physical action is the same for all hammers like “hitting” the nail head! The difference is the exertion and the purpose sought in each scenario, but the action is the same – hammering or hitting!

    So, No! I didn’t agree with you. Hammer still doesn’t hit hammer head!

    “Implying that a hammer can be put to multiple uses. So can your genitals. My point exactly.”

    Yes. Hammer can be put to multiple “uses” as long as the action of “hammering” is productive and does not NEGATE by being DESTRUCTIVE like you have proven with your “own goal”. Hammer hitting hammer head is DESTRUCTIVE and BLIND!

    So you didn’t EXACTLY prove anything! Naught, Nil, Cipher & Zero!


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