Tourism minister pledges to open third resort in Thaa Atoll

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb has pledged to lease a third island in Thaa Atoll for resort development.

Only one resort is operating in the south-central atoll at present.

Speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate a futsal field in Thimarafushi last night, Adeeb said the government plans to lease Kanimeedhoo for tourism. The island is located next to Thimarafushi, where the atoll airport is located.

The government in May leased Thaa Atoll Kalhufahalafushi for tourism development to a Chinese company.

Some 8,945 people live in Thaa Atoll.

President Abdulla Yameen had pledged to bring ten resorts into operation every year.

According to the central bank, three resorts were opened in 2014, which increased the total registered number of resorts to 112 in the Maldives.

The Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) said the Maldives earned US$2.6billion in tourism revenue in 2014.


Island council feared sheikh’s sermon would disrupt social harmony

Omadhoo Island Council stopped controversial preacher Sheikh Adam Shameem from delivering a religious lecture at the local mosque Saturday evening, fearing it might “disrupt the stability and social harmony of the island” reports CNM.

Council member Mohamed Ibrahim was quoted as saying that the imam of the Friday Mosque Ahmed Ramzi had confronted a group of senior Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members from the island, saying that the party’s Mohamed Nasheed is a laadheenee [irreligious] person and that it was because of that he lost the presidential elections.

“They said he is a disbeliever. So, a senior MDP member said, even if the council gives permission, that lecture cannot be held on this island. From that point things got bad,” continued Ibrahim.

Haveeru reported that when the council asked for a formal request for permission, the organisers sent a text message to the council president saying the lecture would go on with or without the council’s permission.

The lecture on ‘backbiting’ was later held on the street, accompanied by a heavy police presence.

In May 2013 Sheikh Imran Abdulla and Sheikh Ilyas Hussein were obstructed from preaching in Vaikaradhoo, in Haa Dhaalu Atoll, whilst Kamadhoo Island Council – Baa Atoll – prevented Sheikh Nasrulla Ali from preaching. In Vaikaradhoo the sheikhs continued with Police protection in the presence of local opposition activists.

Current laws and regulations require religious preachers to obtain permission from local councils in order to preach at mosques in their administrative areas.

The ministry of Islamic Affairs, particularly the current Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, have been trying to bring all affairs of the mosques under the ministry.

Sheikh Shameem, 37, studied at Jamia Salafiyya in Pakistan, Medina Islamic University, and has a Masters degree in Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Heritage from International Islamic University in Malaysia.

The Sheikh has attracted much controversy following his “mega-lecture” ‘Andalus‘ during the recent presidential elections, the live broadcast of which was interrupted by the national television for violating state broadcaster’s guideline.

The lecture, seen as highly political, was condemned by the MDP as “incitement of hatred among the public with the intention of influencing the election”.


Body of Madifushi’s former island chief discovered in island’s lagoon

Islanders on Madifushi in Thaa Atoll discovered the body of the former island chief Mohamed Rahaa in the island’s lagoon.

A member of the island council told local newspapers the body was discovered at 1:00pm this afternoon.

The council member told the paper that Rahaa was more than 65 years old, and that his body was found naked.

He said Rahaa’s family has advised the council that it was the deceased’s practice to go to the sea every afternoon to take a bath before attending prayers.


President Waheed inaugurates Thaa Atoll, Dhaalu Atoll road developments

President Dr Mohamed Waheed yesterday (August 5) inaugurated two separate road development projects on the islands of Vilufushi in Thaa Atoll and Kudahuvadhoo in Dhaalu Atoll.

Speaking on Vilufushi, Dr Waheed said the projects were part of a nationwide commitment undertaken by his administration to build roads over the last two years. Nine roads were expected to be built in Vilufushi alone, according to the President’s Office website.

President Waheed added that with Vilufushi being one of the islands most severely impacted in the Maldives during the 2004 Asian Tsunami, a greater number of services still needed to be provided to the local population living there.

According to the President’s Office, Dr Waheed also shared specifics of government development plans for the island.

The president’s campaigning has recently come under criticism from rivals standing against him in the upcoming election.

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – part of his current coalition government – has accused Dr Waheed of using state resources to campaign for his own Gaumee Ihthihad Party (GIP) ahead of the upcoming presidential election scheduled for September 7.

PPM Presidential candidate MP Abdulla Yameen back in May said he understood “concerns” raised by MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed regarding President Waheed’s use of state resources for campaigning.

“That is, the way [the government] is doing things, there are problems over whether we could reach free and fair elections. The Auditor General and ACC [Anti-Corruption Commission] have taken note of this,” he said at the time.

The PPM has nonetheless pledged to continue supporting President Waheed’s government up until September’s election, despite concerns about the decision to dismiss former Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed after he decided to stand as MP Yameen’s running mate.


Court releases 47 year-old arrested for molesting two minors

The island court of Thimarafushi in Thaa Atoll has released a 47 year-old man arrested on charges of molesting two minors aged 13 and 17.

Police confirmed that the man had been released by the court after he was taken to court for the extension of his detention period

The local media reports state that the 47 year-old man was the manager of the state-owned utilities company, Fenaka, on Guraidhoo in Thaa Atoll.

Newspaper ‘Sun’ Online reported police as telling the paper that the two minors had testified against the accused.


Met Office issues weather warning, advises against sea travel for next 24 hours

The Maldives Department of Meteorology (Met Office) has issued a ‘yellow warning’ advising the public against travelling by sea where possible, due to concerns about adverse weather conditions expected across the country for at least the next 24 hours.

The notice, posted on the Met Office website, stated that showers and thunderstorms were expected throughout the day – with average wind speeds of between 30 to 37 miles per hour. Stronger winds are also predicted as between Lhaviyani Atoll and Thaa Atoll, according to authorities.

With the Met Office predicting wind speeds could reach up to 55 miles per hour in parts of the country over the next 24 hours, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has urged anyone considering sea travel to notify the coastguard before embarking on their journey.

MNDF Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem today told Minivan News that authorities had not been notified of any major incidents at sea resulting from the current weather conditions. However, Colonel Raheem urged everyone travelling by boat to take precautions nonetheless.

“We would ask anyone planning on travelling to check conditions with the coast guard as the sea is rough right now,” he added.

The MNDF Coast Guard has also encouraged members of the public to contact its toll-free number by calling 191 to get more information on suitable times for their journey.

Authorities have previously requested that vessels also contact the coastguard when embarking or returning from longer distance journeys during adverse weather conditions.

Local media reported that the MNDF has asked the public to pay attention to ensure cargo ships carry lighter loads under the current conditions, while checking vessels are equipped with sufficient life jackets and drainage facilities.

Met Office spokesperson Hussein Waheed was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.


Police arrest man for sexual abuse of two minors

Police have arrested a 47 year-old on multiple charges of sexual abuse against two minors over several days on Guraidhoo in Thaa Atoll.

Police said the man was arrested last night at around 9:30pm, under an arrest warrant.

According to the police investigation, the man was alleged to have been sexually abusing two girls aged 17 and 13 years-old.


Man found dead after morning swim in Thaa Atoll

A man from Kinbidhoo Island in Thaa Atoll was found dead after he went for a morning swim today (May 9), reports local media.

The man was taken to the island’s health centre by the group of people who discovered his body.

He was identified as Abdul Kareem Dauood of Andhaasy Villa, Kinbidhoo Island.

The examining doctor determined Dauood was already deceased when he was brought to the centre, according to a police media official.

The police were notified of the incident at 12:49 and are looking into the cause of the incident, a police media official told local media.


President discusses nutrition, agricultural challenges during Thaa Atoll visit

The Maldives must step up local agricultural production in order to improve food security and nutrition standards across the nation, President Mohamed Waheed Hassan said during a visit to Thaa Atoll over the weekend.

Speaking from Veymandoo, the president claimed that the island was a positive example for how “starchy staples” and other produce could be grown in the country.

According to the President’s Office website, President Waheed used his address in Thaa Atoll to raise concerns about nutrition and wider health standards across the nation.

Dr Waheed claimed that over the past several years, considerable efforts had been taken to improve public health nationally and at island level. However, he claimed that the privitisation policies of the previous government – under which he served as vice president – had negatively affected the health sector.

Earlier this month, senior medical experts and NGOs speaking to Minivan News identified concerns about the level of malnutrition in the country, particularly amongst children and pregnant women.