Chamber of commerce vice president slams ‘old-fashioned’ officials

The “old-fashioned” or “outdated” mentality of senior officials at state institutions poses difficulties in introducing new sports for Maldivian youth, chamber of commerce vice president Mohamed Asif has said.

At a ceremony to open a biannual street market, Asif said that previous efforts to reintroduce new sports were thwarted, reported CNM

Yesterday’s ceremony featured a display of paramotor or powered paraglider flights for the first time in the Maldives.

Asif said the chamber plans to bring foreign pilots to introduce paramotoring as a sport to Maldivian youth.

The paramotor consists of a small motor driving a propeller, which is worn like a backpack.

Asif came under fire recently over a video filmed at the national art gallery depicting Austrian models with body paint. The video was filmed in March by Austrian company WB Productions as part of an installation art project on violence against women, who were invited by Asif on behalf Maldivian National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MNCCI).


Topless women, dead octopus and body paint: an art exhibition sparks controversy

A video of an art exhibition on violence against women, which depicted scantily clothed women with body paint and some posing with a dead octopus, has sparked controversy.

The project was commissioned in March by the vice-president of the Maldivian National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MNCCI) Ismail Asif as part of his fourth annual exhibition on women and children’s rights.

The first half of the video shows female models, who work for the Austrian company WB Productions, at the National Art Gallery with traditional Maldivian dress painted on to their bodies.

The second half shows some models posing with a dead octopus on the beach while others posed topless with body paint and coir rope.

Maldives Art Gallery & Experimental Bodypainting Trip

Projects in the field of bodypainting is what we do. About 2 months ago we were invited to fill the Maldivian National Art Gallery with painted bodies. ///////////////////////More about the exhibition: In the week from 7th of march 2015 "WB Production" is invited with a team to the Maldives to be part of the Installation Art Project by Ismail Asif in the Maldives National Art Gallery. It's his 4th annual exhibition about "Abuse of woman and children" in his country.It's also the first time he incorporated Bodypainting into his art. The design of the Bodypainting was taken from the Dhivehi Libaas, the traditional Maldivian dress, elaborately adorned with a gold and silver neckline called Kasabu Bovalhu.Every day protests out on the streets against the government were almost knocking the plan of an indeed nervous looking Mr. Asif off.The team of WB Production with Alex and Anna Barendregt, Aga Glińska, Anna Tuzańska and Vitaliya Abramova is very thankful to be part of this great experimental trip and very glad that the exhibition in the end did happen. WHAT A trip ;)

Posted by WB Production – on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The video was uploaded on May 20 on Facebook and has been viewed more than 53,000 times.

CEO of WB production Alex Barendregt said: “Our team was able to be part of a very intense art exhibition in the Maldivian art gallery. Why intense? Because for the first time we did incorporate body painting in a very strict conservative Muslim country.”

Many praised Asif for the controversial exhibition, but others said the video contained “pornographic material.” Some censured Asif for what they called double standards, claiming he had criticized former president Mohamed Nasheed’s government for allegedly secular policies.

Asif was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

“Great work. Nice to see the artist who was happily branding the jailed president Mohamed Nasheed’s government as un-Islamic taking the daring step to hold a body painting exhibition in Malé’s Art Gallery. Sadly even for watching this video us mere locals would be arrested and charged with having pornographic material,” Munshid Mohamed said on Facebook.

Nasheed is currently serving a 13-year jail term on terrorism charges. His trial was widely criticized for lack of due process and triggered daily anti-government protests for three months.

Another expressed concern over the national gallery allowing Asif to hold an exhibition that “pushed public norms of decency,” despite having rejected art work by Maldivian students depicting Nasheed as a hero for an exhibition on the country’s golden jubilee of independence.

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 5.16.32 PM

One asked: “What would have happened if this had happened during president Nasheed’s time?” Many of Nasheed’s supporters feel his opponents unfairly targeted them by branding them as un-Islamic.

Others expressed concern over artists using an octopus in the photos, to which WB productions replied: “Don’t worry, it was a dead octopus from the market, and later one of our friends took him home to cook as millions other people do.”

A supporter of the exhibition, Faiyal Ahmed said: “Nice stuff, if this is what locals are calling shooting a porn video I think we should educate them more.”


Chamber of commerce vice president slams economic development minister

Vice President of the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) Ismail Asif has severely criticised Economic Development Minister Mohamed Saeed, questioning his “sincerity” and “competence”.

Asif told the press on Thursday (August 7) that Saeed lacked “vision,” discriminated among local businesses, and had not been able to attract foreign investment.

The relationship between the ministry and the chamber of commerce has deteriorated during Saeed’s tenure, Asif reportedly claimed.

Saeed has not provided necessary information regarding a loan scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Asif added.

He went on to accuse the minister of “corruption” in appointing businessmen of his choosing to business-related committees formed by the ministry.

Declaring the chamber of commerce’s backing for the government’s flagship special economic zone (SEZ) bill, Asif, however, questioned Saeed’s ability to implement the legislation when it is signed into law.

He added that Saeed had not consulted local businessmen before the bill was drafted and submitted to parliament.

However, Asif praised the government for proposing the SEZ bill early in its five-year term and expressed support for its provisions, arguing that it would expand the domestic economy and spur growth.

If income generated from the SEZs was evenly distributed among the populace, Asif said it would benefit the public and raise standards of living.

He also dismissed criticism that SEZs could be used for money laundering and criminal enterprises, suggesting that it was not directly linked to the establishment of such zones and advised control measures.

Parliament’s economic affairs committee is currently reviewing the SEZ legislation and has set itself a deadline of October 10 to complete the assessment and possibly make revisions.

However, MP Abdulla Khaleel – chair of the committee – told newspaper Haveeru today that he expects the review process to be completed this month, after which the bill would be sent to the People’s Majlis floor for a vote.

Parliament breaks for a one-month recess at the end of August.

As the bill was a high priority for the government, the Progressive Party of Maldives MP for Faafu Nilandhoo said the committee has decided to hold two meetings for every day when there is a parliament sitting.

He stressed that stakeholders would be consulted and technical expertise would be sought.


Chamber of Commerce VP stabbed by two men on motorcycle

A pair of men have stabbed the Vice President of the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MNCCI),  Ismail Asif, near private Radio Station SunFM.

Speaking to Minivan News from ADK Hospital, Asif said the two men came up on a motorbike and stabbed him twice in the back.

‘’They were two very young persons, they just stopped and stabbed me. I was shocked to see there was no fear on their face, they were not covering their faces or anything, I mean it was broad daylight,’’ Asif said. ‘’They did not say anything to me and I have not received any threats or warnings, so I do not what it is about.’’

Asif said the two men must have been following him for a long time, because he said he was not stabbed at a place he goes to regularly.

‘’I came out from a meeting at the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) and went to drop this friend and right before I turned to leave they came up and stabbed me,’’ he said, adding that it was a “complete shock”.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that the incident was reported to police at about 3:25pm.

‘’We have information that Asif was attacked with a sharp object and that he is currently at the hospital,’’ he said, adding that investigation was ongoing and declining to provide further information.


Valencia wants Heena as coach

Club Valencia are hoping to sign Ismail Asif, popularly known as “Kuda Heena”, as their coach for the next season.

Kuda Heena, who spent the best days of his playing career at Valencia, is currently the technical director of All Youth Linkage, AYL.

According to Haveeru, Kuda Heena is choosing not to stay with AYL due to financial issues.

Haveeru reported that AYL has failed to pay Heena and many other players.

After an illustrious playing career spanning 15 years, Heena went on to start his coaching career.