Comment: The Maldives will not survive just on fish and tourists

The world is watching how Dhivehin are struggling to shape up their future by fighting seriously to give up their banana republic and become a player in the big league of democracy.

This is not an easy task, as we in Europe, heirs from ex-fascist countries, know. Changing a system and a mindset requires effort, dignity, time and a strong will to not want to go back in time. Democracy maybe is not perfect but it is by far the best and the most respectful ruling system we can have in a globalised world.

A democratic party system, that necessarily goes hand by hand with respect for the law, is the way to up the value of a country by giving its citizens a determinant role and thus use all the existing potential in the country.

It is clear that under a dictatorship regime this is not feasible. Dictators, like all authoritarian and nepotistic rulers, have only one main goal: become the owners of the country and sponsors of the body and soul of their people, thus owning their life by shaping up slavery either physically or psychosocially, just like old fashioned little kings. The Maldives has already had enough of this.

It is not easy to move from dictatorship to freedom as, like the dog that has been beaten for years, people when free from the hand of the master will tend to go wild and think that anything is possible. That is not democracy. Certainly a coup d’état is not democracy. Dictatorship always gives a false feeling of peace not because there is real peace but because the leash is on, permanently struggling people’s throat.

It is not possible to develop a country in a state of permanent harassment even if disguised of social peace. The core indicators of a country willing to develop are: work for all, freedom, law and respect for people, culture, health and intellectual development. At the moment Maldives lacks from all these in one way or another.

The Maldives – with a basic income from fish (sea resources) and tourism (food will always be an asset, nut tourism is a volatile business), will not be able to develop without offering more to the world. Strategies might be to attract different casts of tourists, with more or less money, but still, tourism is a fairly young industry in the country – only 30 years old. So far so good, however, it cannot be seen as the permanent chicken of the golden eggs. One day the chicken will get old and no more eggs will enter into the basket.

The Maldives, to survive in years to come, needs to offer added value beyond sea protein and nice sunny water bungalows, and it is a fact that in the present industrial and commercial world panorama that is not possible without an evolution of the Dhivehi society. The Maldives is condemned to develop, yes or yes. There is no way back.

The leash, sort of saying, cannot be on anymore and needs to be released unless the population wants to go back in time. That doesn’t seem to be the case.

In a global market, a country is no longer free, certainly neither from a production-commercial point of view nor from a political one as the world has become small, and it will be even smaller in 30 years’ time with supersonic jets and the communication generation. The only way to progress is by enhancing the development of society, opening up the creativity that will lead to discover new resources, give added value to the world and play accordingly.

Maldives is today in a cross roads, and its people need to take a decision on where to go. The possibilities are not that many, I’m afraid.

The author lives in Spain, has a business and marketing degree from ESADE, is the CEO of an international management coach company and a former owner of a Maldives private company.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Maldives to host 2013 World Tourism Day

The Maldives will host the 2013 World Tourism Day celebrations under the theme ‘Tourism and Water – Protecting our Common Future.’ The event is a function of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, which chose the Maldives over contender Iran.

The decision was made during the 19th General Assembly in Gyeongju, South Korea, held from October 10 to 13. Tourism Minister Dr Mariyam Zulfa and Deputy Director General Moosa Zameer Hassan were among the 600 participants from member countries.

Tourism Ministry Deputy Director General, Moosa Zameer Hassan, said Iran conceded its bid for the event when the Maldives joined the running.

Tourism accounts for nearly 70 percent of the Maldives’ GDP indirectly, and 30 percent directly. Recent shifts in the global economy have brought a new wave of tourists from Asia, which has made the Maldives Conde Nast’s second-most popular tourist destination at a time of global recession.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the VVIP Koimala Executive Lounge at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), Tourism Minister Dr Zulfa said tourism should be at the center of Maldives socioeconomic development. “Because tourism, of course, is our number one industry, and everything we do should center around making the product even more perfect than it is today.”

Hassan said the event was highly relevant to the Maldives.

“Tourism and environment are closely related to the future of the Maldives,” he observed. Although the event is a still two years away, Hassan said the Maldives hoped to take the opportunity to “provide our viewpoint to the U. N. on these issues, and portray our country and its message for this theme to the world.”

Although Hassan could not provide specifics, he was confident that the Maldives’ message in 2013 “will be about supporting tourism and environment in order to protect the Maldives, improve the quality of life for local Maldivians, and benefit foreign visitors and investors.”

Various public and private groups have lately taken steps to merge tourism and environmentalism.

Maldives Game Fishing Association (MGFA) is moving forward with a tag-and-release game fishing competition, to be held November 9-12 in and around North and South Male’ and Vaavu atolls. MGFA Committee Member Tiffany Bond previously said the event would introduce a new sport for tourists and locals while promoting conservation-friendly methods. “In many ways, it’s another feather in the tourism hat,” she said.

World Tourism Day is set for September 27 of each year. Next year’s celebration will be hosted in Spain under the theme ‘Tourism and Sustainable Energy–Powering Sustainable Development.’

Hassan concluded with a reflection on the importance of hosting World Tourism Day in the same year as the next presidential election.

“Twenty-thirteen is going to be a big year for the Maldives. By hosting an international event like this, we will be in a positive position for moving forward,” he said.


Letter of Spanish support

Dear People of Maldives,

My name is David González and I am a student of teacher training in the Barcelona University in Spain. When I do not have anything to study or homework to do, I write in my blog called “El Internacional” whose subject matter are the current International notices.

Well, when I saw the speeches of the representatives of your country and the Tuvalu’s one in the Copenhagen’s conference I was shocked. The tears of Ian Fry and the words of President Nasheed in the UN Assembly were terrifying. What were we doing? Our Eastern brothers can be the Atlantis of the XXIst century and we do not do anything to avoid such awful end?

I wrote an article in my blog to attempt to show what is happening in your country and in Tuvalu. The mass media only look at Libya and Japan but the Maldives’ issue continues being an important topic that must not be forgotten.

In addition, that is why I am writing in this newspaper, because I think it is important that the Maldivians knew they have fully support of, at least, one person in Spain.

Nothing else, thank you for giving me the chance to write here and please, continue fighting and defending your land, Maldives is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and it would be a shame that it disappears under the water of the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, I will continue my crusade to make people aware that some insular nations can be sunk in few years if we do not stop the global warming.

David González

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]