Maldives and UAE sign customs agreement

The Maldives has signed a customs agreement with its largest trade partner, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which will result in enhanced bilateral cooperation.

The MoU signed yesterday will involve the exchange of data and expertise on consignments, customs policies, and general capacity building as well as cooperation to ensure the security of international supply chains.

The Commissioner General of Maldives Customs Service, Ahmed Mohamed, signed the agreement with Acting Director-General of Federal Customs Authority (FCA), Khalid Ali Al Bustani in Dubai.

Ahmed Mohamed expressed his confidence that the MOU will enable Maldives customs to translate the experience of its UAE counterparts for valuable use as the Maldives works to modernise its operations both in trade facilitation and customs enforcement.

29 percent of the Maldives imports came from the UAE in 2013, making the country the Maldives’ largest source of goods.

UAE authorities reported that two-way trade between the Maldives and the UAE reached AED943 (US$256 million) between 2009 and 2013 – 1.7 percent of which represented exports from the Maldives to the emirates.

The Maldives spends 30 percent of its GDP on importing fossil fuels – with make up around 90 percent of the UAE’s trade – with US$486 million on oil imports in 2012.

The figure is estimated to increase to US$ 700 million by 2020, although the current government is seeking foreign investors for the resumption of oil exploration projects in the Maldives.

As an island nation heavily dependent on imports, the Maldives Monetary Authority’s latest balance of payments projections estimate that the country’s current account deficit will widen to US$562.5 million in 2014, which is equal to 22 percent of GDP.

During the visit to Dubai, the commissioner general along with the accompanying delegates is scheduled to visit Rashed Port, Airport of Dubai, and Jebel Ali Port to witness and learn from the best practices of the UAE, said a Maldives Customs Service press release.


UAE group to launch first resort in Maldives

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Dutco Group of Companies reported on Sunday that it had acquired a high-end resort in the Maldives.

The new resort – which will be the group’s first outside of Dubai – will be relaunched later in the year as JA Manafaru, reported

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb was reported to have expressed his hope that Dutco’s investment will be the first of many from the UAE.

“The investment does not just end with the purchase of the Resort as JA Resorts & Hotels have also earmarked several million dollars to making several upgrades and soft refurbishments to the resort to ensure it is able to compete with the very best that the Maldives has to offer when it is relaunched later in the year as JA Manafaru,” the company told gulfnews.

Tareq Baker, the chief executive of the Dutco Group of Companies told the site that the investment in the Maldives is “a part of the company’s larger expansion plan of high-end properties both within the UAE and in other markets outside of the Middle East.”


President Waheed proposes ambassadorial appointments for EU, United Arab Emirates

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has forwarded two ambassadorial appointments to the People’s Majlis for approval.

According to the President’s Office, Dr Mohamed Asim as been put forward as Ambassador of Maldives to European Union, while Dr Aishath Shehenaz Adam was proposed as the Maldives Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

Dr Asim had previously held positions as the Maldives High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, as well as to the United Kingdom.

Dr Shehenaz is presently the Maldives High Commissioner to Pakistan, the President’s Office website has stated.


Maldives’ Ambassador to the UAE resigns

The Maldives’ first Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Ahmed Rasheed, has resigned for what the President’s Office has said are “personal reasons”.

President’s Office Spokesman Abbas Adil Riza explained that Rasheed had been appointed to the mission at the start of the year under the Nasheed government, after having previously been Chief of Protocol for the Foreign Ministry.

Abbas said that Rasheed’s family were strong supporters of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), adding that Rasheed was related by marriage to former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Dr Farahanaz Faisal.

Dr Faisal resigned from her post shortly after the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed in February, as did the Maldives’ Ambassador to the United Nations Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed – then the country’s most senior diplomat.


Former President Nasheed returns to Male’ after participating in jury for Zyed Future Energy Prize

Former President Mohamed Nasheed returned to Male’ on Friday afternoon after a visit to the United Arab Emirates to participate in the jury panel to select winners of the annual Zyed Future Energy Prize, an international award to recognise innovation, leadership and impact in renewable energy and sustainability.

This year’s winners will be announced at a ceremony on January 15, 2013.

Upon arrival in Male’, the former President was greeted at the jetty by supporters and members of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Former President Nasheed was granted permission to travel by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, which had earlier ordered his passport be held until conclusion of Nasheed’s trial over the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

According to the Emirates News Agency, Nasheed along with other jury members Olaf Ragnar Grimsson, the President of Iceland, and Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, Minister of Energy for South Africa, toured Shams 1 – the 100 megawatt Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) facility in the Western region of Abu Dhabi.

President Nasheed was also named in the jury for the Zyed Future Energy Prize in 2011 along with Leonardo Dicaprio, Oscar-winning actor; Andre Agassi, Grand Slam tennis champion; Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister; and Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, South African Minister of Energy.

The annual Zayed Future Energy Prize is open to individuals, large companies, entrepreneurs, small- to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and NGOs in the field of renewable energy and sustainability. Award category and prizes are: SMEs/NGOs: $1.5 million (winner), $1m (first runner-up), and $500,000 (second runner-up); Lifetime Achievement — Individual: $500,000; large corporations: Recognition Award.


Khalifa Foundation to create Maldives Distance Medical Services

Deputy Chairman of UAE’s Khalifa Foundation, Ahmed Juma Al-Zaabi, signed an agreement with State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Naseem, to grant the Maldives Distance Medical Services, reports Miadhu.

The foundation has many humanitarian initiatives around the world, aiming to fund sustainable projects that create jobs and raise standards of basic services like health and education in aid recipient countries.

The Khalifa bin Zayed Distance Medical Services project will include a network of 35 sites across the Maldives. The nursing department at the faculty of medicine will be named after Sheikh Khalifa.

The project will have a central base and several outposts. Doctors at the main centre will overlook reports made by nurses in the outposts and prescribe treatment. It is expected the service will provide medical attention to over 350,000 persons a year, according to Miadhu.

The grant will train local doctors, technicians and biotechnology specialists.

Chairman of the foundation, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, said the project fits well with the foundation’s strategy to not only assist but build infrastructure which will improve living standards and create jobs.

He added the different outposts would ease the logistics in health care for distant islands.

Minister Naseem said the grant would improve living conditions for thousands of people living in the islands and remote regions of the country which are difficult to access.

It would also train hundreds of medical and nursing staff, Naseem added.


President bids for renewable energy investment at summit

President Mohamed Nasheed has opened the Maldives as a place “to test the latest renewable technologies in energy, waste, water, housing and transport.”

Speaking at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Nasheed invited assembled government ministers and energy company representatives “to come to the Maldives and share the best of your technologies.”

“The Maldives is open for business. To my mind, the smart money is green,” he said, predicting the introduction of a carbon market would eventually drive up the price of fossil alternatives.

“Renewables are becoming more efficient and affordable. While fossil fuels may [now] appear cheaper, sooner or later polluters will be forced to pay for the damage their products cause. When they do, market failures will be corrected and carbon pollution will be properly penalised.”

During the three day Summit, Abu Dhabi’s General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced the emirate will invest US$15 billion in alternative energy projects, including Masdar City, the world’s first carbon and waste-free city.

“Abu Dhabi has reliably provided the world with energy for several decades,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “Global demand for energy continues to increase ever rapidly. As an energy provider, we have the responsibility to continue to meet that demand.”

Nasheed said he hoped Abu Dhabi’s “pioneering work in renewable energy and carbon neutrality” could be utilised in the Maldives to help fulfil the country’s ambitions of becoming carbon neutral in 10 years.

“I am here today because, in many ways, Abu Dhabi represents the future,” he said.

“I am here because this enlightened country is jettisoning the past and embracing change. Abu Dhabi is investing the proceeds of yesterday’s resources to build the green economy of tomorrow.”

Abu Dhabi is a cosmopolitan metropolis that sits on nine per cent of the world’s oil reserves and generates 15% of the GDP of the United Arab Emirates. Much of the emirate’s wealth stems from the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company which produces 2.7 million barrels of oil a day, a figure the company has previously said it hopes to push to four billion during 2010.

“Some nations choose to take a back seat in this green revolution,” Nasheed said, “but others, such as Abu Dhabi, are playing a major role in the greatest transformation since the start of the Industrial Age. With the leadership being shown here, I am certain we can tackle the climate crisis.”