Maldives resort arranging repatriation of Finnish tourist killed in speedboat collision

The body of a Finnish tourist killed this week in a speedboat collision near to Male’ will be repatriated “as soon as possible”, the Honorary Consul of Finland in the Maldives has said.

An as yet unidentified male from Finland, who was said to be holidaying in the country with his wife, was killed after an express speedboat service to the island of Hulhumale’ collided with another vessel belonging to the Bandos Island Resort and Spa on Sunday (December 2).

Nine local people were also injured in the collision.  One of the injured – a 29 year-old woman – suffered a severe head injury that was since said to have improved, according to authorities.

A spokesperson for the honorary consul confirmed to Minivan News that its representatives had met with the wife of the deceased and were presently trying to assist the resort in which the couple had been staying with arrangements to return the body home.

The spokesperson said that the consulate was unable to provide any information on the exact cause of death, adding that it was waiting on the details from an ongoing police investigation.

Local media, citing police sources, reported yesterday that the Finnish national had been thrown overboard following the collision and was said to have been found dead when retrieved from the water.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Ahneef was unable to clarify the reports, claiming that investigations were continuing into the matter.

Following the collision on Sunday, a spokesperson for the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) said it had temporarily suspended its express speedboat service between Hulhumale’ and Male’ while it reviewed guest safety procedures.

“We believe we need to do some work on safety,” a company spokesperson told Minivan News. “We will be working with transport authorities, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and the police on the matter and will resume the services after that.” Dhoni services will continue to run between Male’ and Hulhumale’ as normal, the MTCC added yesterday.

When contacted today, the MTCC said it would be issuing a statement on the matter once the details of its own internal investigation and the findings of the police has been completed.

Meanwhile, Bandos Island Resort and Spa, which operated the other speedboat involved in the collision, said it was “not in a situation to discuss the incident” until police have completed their investigations.


All the world’s a stage: Maldivian death metal band beats the odds and goes global

Death metal is the genre, Maldivian is the nationality – not the best odds for making it on the world music stage. However Nothnegal, a band of determined and passionate young Maldivians, have beaten the odds and are getting ready to perform at twenty different venues across Europe.

The band of young Maldivians Hilarl, Fufu, Avo, and Battery have been signed by Season of Mist, one of the biggest labels on the death metal music scene, who count music monolith EMI as a distributor.

They are going to open for Fintroll, one of the biggest bands on the contemporary metal scene, on their European tour. Starting from Europe, the band will perform gigs in various cities across Germany, France, the Netherlands, Finland, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Hungrary, Slovenia, Italy and the Czech Republic.

Their tour will conclude at the O2 Academy in the UK, supporting Fear Factory, a gold-selling band which tops the death metal scene. For band members it is a sweet success – Fear Factory is one of the first death metal bands they ever listened to.

“They were our heroes, and now we are doing support for them,” Hilarl, the lead guitarist and composer, told Minivan News. He feels the same about Arch Enemy, which they supported in July at Rockstorm in Male’.

Nothnegal started their career doing covers of Arch Enemy in 2006. Within four years, Nothnegal were their supporting act, an astonishing transformation by any standard.

Banging heads against a wall of prejudice

Nothnegal’s journey into big time has been difficult. The genre itself is a tough one in which to make it on the world scene. Being Maldivian has made it doubly-hard where musicians have to overcome not just the non-mainstream nature of the genre but also lack of support for music and youth as a whole.

“You are not a Maldivian band”, Nothnegal was once told by a local television station, which refused to give it any coverage. “You do not sing in Dhivehi”, was the reason given for their ‘un-Maldivianness’.

Without any institutional support to encourage the music scene in the Maldives, band members had to go to wealthy members of society with out-stretched hands, asking for sponsorship.

“It is a very subjective process – people fund what they are themselves into. If the head of a company likes football, football is the only activity that company will support”.

Even when a potential sponsor did like music, it was hard to find someone who had time for a death metal band. “It is easier for those who mime, or those who cover Bollywood music, to find sponsorship. Original work gets sidelined, because people are not prepared to listen,” Hilarl said.

They met Minivan News with a photocopy of their record label contract in hand, apparently a document demanded as “proof” by journalists.

“When we meet the media, they ask us to bring ‘valid documents’. They do not believe that we have a record deal”.

The general prejudice against youth manifested mostly in potential sponsors’ aversion to the length of band members’ hair, almost a must on the death metal scene. In Maldivian society, a ‘sure sign’ of a life wasted on drugs.

Nothnegal found an exception in Maaji (with Nothnegal people do not have surnames) of Le Cute, a businessman with a passion for music who looked beyond the long hair and the negative perceptions, to encourage and support Nothnegal. “Without him we would not have made it,” Avo and Hilarl were both keen to emphasise.

There were a small band of others who helped Nothnegal for nothing more than the love of music and belief in the band. Shamheed who did all the artwork and a soon to be released video for the song “Web of deceit”, Muhaa who did the photography, and Kudoo who does all the local promotion work, are people that the band wants desperately to thank.

A solo act

For the rest of the journey, they walked alone. Their last album, “Antidote of Realism”, was produced after many a sleepless night in a studio, which a friend had let them use for free. All of them were working, some holding down full-time jobs.

“Avo would come to the studio straight after work. He would stay up all night, sleeping for only an hour before going to work the next morning,” Hilarl said. They paid close to Rf70,000 (US$5500) for the album’s production in Finland out of their own money.

It was worth it.

“Antidote to Realism”, which they released on the internet, got Nothnegal noticed by the world death metal scene. It is also got them their new drummer – American Kevin Talley, and Finn Marco Sneck.

Both are big names in the world of death metal worldwide, and both wanted to join Nothnegal because their music is good. Greg Reely, a Canadian record producer who has worked with some of the biggest names in music including Coldplay and Fear Factory, is going to work on their next album.

Even the global recognition, however, has not been enough to get them noticed within the Maldives itself.

“We are still waiting to meet the Youth Minister [Hassan Latheef]. We asked for an appointment a long time ago. We are not even sure if he got the message,” Avo said.

Being left in the cold by the Youth Minister, however, is not the most pressing issue for Nothnegal right now. They have other, more important – again, uniquely Maldivian – problems to worry about, such as finding the right clothes to wear for the middle of winter in Europe.

“Not an easy task in the Maldives,” where wool is harder to find than even foreign currency. Nothnegal are in the process of procuring winter gear on e-Bay, and are hoping that it will get here on time before they leave.

Even wrapped up in wool, ready for a harsh European winter, Nothnegal remains Maldivian through and through.

Their new album, which they have just completed writing after a year’s hard graft, is going to be influenced by Maldivian sounds. Like Metallica, they have mellowed their sound from extreme metal to what they call ‘industrial thrash metal’.

Their new lyrics will tell the story of a post-apocalyptic world brought about by climate change. Their last album, ‘Antidote of realism’ tells the story of the political chaos of recent times.

“Singing in Thaana, to the tune of someone else’s music, is not what Maldivian music should be about’, Hilarl said. Nothnegal is going global as a Maldivian band, and are proud of it.

Listen to ‘Antidote to Realism’ online


President councludes European tour in Finland

During the last days of his European tour, President Mohamed Nasheed met with the Speaker of Finnish Parliament Sauli Niinistö, Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb, and former President Martti Ahtisaari.

President Nasheed spoke to the Speaker about inter-parliamentary cooperation between the Finnish Parliament and the People’s Majlis.

The president also met with a parliamentary association of scientists and deputies.

President Nasheed then met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. They discussed the importance of EU’s leadership in tackling climate change.

The president met with former Finnish President and NObel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari. They spoke of President Ahtisaari’s Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), which works on peace-building and conflict resolution.

President Nasheed also signed an MoU with Winwind, a Finnish company that builds latest-generation wind turbines, to begin work on a wind farm in the Maldives.

President Nasheed returned to Malé on the afternoon of 18 March.

The president said his European trip was very successful and he hoped it would bring more assistance to the Maldives.


President Nasheed meets Finnish counterpart

President Mohamed Nasheed arrived in Finland yesterday morning, continuing his European tour.

President Nasheed met with Finnish President Tarja Halonen. The two presidents discussed climate change and democracy.

A press conference was held after the meeting, where President Halonen welcomed President Nasheed and expressed confidence that his visit would strengthen relations between the two countries.

President Halonen said climate change was a great issue to Finland and they were willing to work with the Maldives to find a solution.

President Nasheed congratulated the Finnish president in her strive to promote women’s rights and said the Maldives was committed in promoting gender equality.

President Nasheed said democracy and good governance were as important as financial assistance in combating climate change. He said citizens as well as governments needed to strive to protect the environment.

President Nasheed also spoke of establishing democracy in the Maldives and said he was confident Finland would support the Maldives in consolidating and strengthening its democracy.

President Nasheed will meet the Minister of Public Administration and Local Government, Mari Kiviniemi and representatives of the Finnish tourism and business sectors.

He will also participate in a seminar on climate change and leadership which is being organised by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.


President departs on four-nation European tour

President Mohamed Nasheed has departed this morning on his four-nations European tour.

The president is to visit Germany, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland.

President Nahseed will meet with political and industry leaders, as well as investors and climate experts in all four countries.

The president is scheduled to visit ITB Berlin, an international travel and trade show held yearly in Berlin.

He will also hold a lecture on climate change at the Freie Universität Berlin hosted by the Environmental Policy Research Centre. The Freie Universität is one of the leading research universities in Germany, and ranks among the best in the country.

President Nasheed will then attend a public lecture in Iceland, followed by a speech at the Seminar and Policy Debate organised by the Finnish Institute of International Affaris (FIIA), which produces topical information on international relations with the EU.