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D i s c ove r t h e b e a u t y a n d q u i r ks o f t h e i s l a n d s’ architecture p. 22
FOOD & DRINK
T h e c h e f s r e i nve n t i n g m u c h - l ove d M a l t e s e dishes p. 30
MEET THE LOCALS Meet record-breaking swimmer and activist Neil Agius p. 40
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Doing it like the locals: 10 bucket-list things to do on the Maltese islands
As the heady days of summer slowly give way to milder autumn weather, Sarah Micallef shares a bucket list of things to do on your visit.
The language of local architecture
From vernacular to baroque to modernist, Malta’s architecture is as mixed and varied as it comes. Martina Said explores what makes the exteriors of Maltese façades unique to the islands.
Merging old and new – The chefs bringing traditional concepts and ingredients to the present Sarah Micallef catches up with four well-known local chefs who, with creativity to spare, are giving quintessentially Maltese dishes a contemporary twist.
Eating & Drinking
Find the perfect place to wine and dine on the islands with our handy restaurant guide.
Riding the wave
A few months after completing an epic 100km swim from Sicily to Malta, Rebecca Anastasi chats with swimmer Neil Agius about the lead-up to the swim and the intense moments he experienced in the water.
ON THE COVER
Photography: Kurt Arrigo
Investing in Malta Guide
An in-depth look at what it takes to set up a business in Malta and the new and emerging economic sectors attracting local and international investment.
EDITOR Martina Said PUBLISHERS Content House Group ADVERTISING
Director of Sales & Business Development Matthew Spiteri
New season style with Maltaâ€™s fashion influencers
Brand Sales Manager Diane Scerri
As our lighter summer clothes get relegated to the back of our wardrobes, Sarah Micallef asks two of Maltaâ€™s best loved fashion influencers for their pick of the top trends to expect in the new season.
Operations & Client Relationship Manager Elena Dimech ART DIRECTION & DESIGN Nicholas Cutajar Senior Creative James Debono
Refining the Maltese aesthetic
Three creatives with a strong connection to Maltese culture and heritage speak to Rebecca Anastasi about their work, what inspires them, and how their creations aspire to preserve the past.
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Published since 2005, Guide Me is the largest and the leading independent guide for visitors in Malta and Gozo. This issue covers the period summer-autumn 2020. Guide Me is distributed free of charge through leading hotels around Malta and Gozo. The publication is also distributed for free from MTA offices in Malta and Gozo. It is also sold at leading newsagents in Malta and Gozo, including those at the MIA and Gozo Channel ferries.
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HOME SWEET HOME
aced with severe restrictions on all our freedoms over the past months, including an inability to travel, has pushed many of us to explore what our home countries have to offer more than ever before â€“ a tourist on your own turf, if you will, giving way to a newfound appreciation for all we typically take for granted. This introspection extends to the latest edition of Guide Me, through stories that explore and delve into Malta, Maltese identity and the remarkable achievements by local people from various fields. On page 22, we dig into the features and characteristics that make Maltese buildings distinctly and identifiably local, from the boxy balconies to sculptural stone details, while on page 40, we catch up with long-distance swimmer and environmental activist Neil Agius, who completed an epic 28-hour swim from Sicily to Malta last June to raise awareness about the pollution plaguing our seas. On page 30, four distinguished chefs each share a special dish from their restaurant menu that merges old with new, putting an exciting and contemporary spin on a quintessentially local dish, while on page 70, three creatives with a fondness and appreciation for Maltese culture reveal how their designs are partly aimed at preserving, while promoting, Maltese identity. With all this and more, we hope you enjoy this edition of Guide Me. Martina Said Editor
THINGS TO DO
Valletta Photo: viewingmalta.com
DOING IT LIKE THE LOCALS: 10 BUCKET-LIST THINGS TO DO ON THE MALTESE ISLANDS As the heady days of summer slowly give way to milder autumn weather, it’s a better time than ever to explore all the Maltese islands have to offer. Here’s SARAH MICALLEF’s bucket list of things to do on your visit.
1. COFFEE IN THE CAPITAL
The capital city of Valletta has got to be one of your first stops on the island, so head over early for a coffee and a bite to eat at one of the many cafés before setting off to explore. Nearly 500 years old, there’s a story around every corner, and it’s here where you’ll find some of Malta’s finest historical attractions, including St John’s Co-Cathedral, Fort St Elmo and Casa Rocca Piccola. Valletta is also one of Malta’s busiest commercial centres, with countless shops, restaurants, bars, cafés, theatres, galleries and boutiques dotting its narrow streets. Stay on till the evening and enjoy a cocktail as the sun sets for the full experience.
FOR A TOUR 2. FUEL OF THE PAST
The Maltese islands have been inhabited for thousands of years, with numerous civilisations leaving their fingerprints on the islands’ heritage and culture in different ways. Among the major historical sites you shouldn’t miss are the prehistoric structures at Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra in Qrendi or Ġgantija in Gozo. A trip 017
to the Domus Romana in Rabat and the city of Mdina is also a must, as is a stop at the famed Crystal Palace outside the city gates for a taste of pastizzi – a local treat of flaky pastry with a cheese or pea filling that’s as intrinsic to Maltese culture as the ancient limestone walls.
THE SLOW LIFE 3. LIVE IN GOZO
Malta’s littler sister has a character all of its own, and despite its small size, is rife with delights to discover – but do it slowly, taking in the relaxed pace of life on the island. Head over on the ferry – the crossing only takes 25 minutes – and explore all the island has to offer, from its spectacular countryside and coast to the ancient Citadel in the capital city of Rabat. While you’re there, don’t miss out on sampling a traditional Gozitan ftira from one of the local bakeries. Choose one that features ġbejniet (local cheeselets) and head over to a seaside spot like Ramla Bay for a fitting backdrop for your feast.
THINGS TO DO
4. CELEBRATE THE SEA
While summer may be fading into autumn, the weather is still largely warm on the islands, and so is the water. Charter a boat and enjoy an on-board sunset dinner along the Maltese coastline, or if you’re feeling adventurous, get in! It’s an excellent time to get involved in water sports like diving or kitesurfing. If you’re after something a little more relaxed, a leisurely stroll by the beach is always a winner, and if you’re an animal lover, why not factor in a visit to the Mediterraneo Marine Park in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, where you can swim with dolphins and visit the sea lions, exotic birds and reptiles?
5. SEAFOOD AND EAT IT
Being an island, fish and seafood form a large part of the local diet, and if you’re in the mood for fish, head to the fishing mecca of Marsaxlokk. This town is as traditional as it gets – it is located at the southernmost part of the island and boasts a picturesque harbour full of boats, from industrial-size fishing vessels to the pretty little boats known as the luzzu, which have an eye painted or carved on them to keep bad luck at bay. You can stroll along the seafront, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the fish market (if you go on a Sunday), and then settle down at one of its many excellent fish restaurants and tuck into the catch of the day.
Marsaxlokk Photo: viewingmalta.com
A GLASS (OR THREE) OF 6. ENJOY LOCAL WINE
The wine scene has been growing in popularity on the islands, and if a luxurious afternoon of wine tasting sounds like just what the doctor ordered, well, why deny yourself? Among the species of grapes grown locally, you’ll find Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Moscato, as well as the indigenous varieties, Ġellewza and Girgentina. Several wineries like Meridiana Wine Estate organise guided tours and tastings, and include the opportunity to buy a variety of vintages to take home with you.
Mdina Photo: viewingmalta.com
THINGS TO DO
7. TAKE A HIKE
Malta and Gozo are home to beautiful cliffs, valleys and country roads that beckon local and visiting hikers, trekkers and casual adventurers. Distances are relatively short, but treks are varied and diverse, and you’ll see plenty of impressive natural and historical features en route. Mellieħa, Mġiebaħ and Xemxija in the north are rugged coastal beauty spots, while Mġarr, Fomm ir-Riħ and Ġnejna Bay in the west of the island provide scenic, rural landscapes. To the south, the route from Żurrieq to Marsaxlokk through Marsaskala offers unbeatable cliffside views – just don’t forget to stop and take in the local sights and sounds as you go.
8. TEA FOR TWO
Malta has retained strong ties to its colonial past, and English-style high tea is still a popular treat for special days. Visit the gorgeous Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar and enjoy finger sandwiches served on a three-tier stand, together with delicious home-baked scones, jam and clotted cream, and a delectable selection of home-made afternoon tea cakes and pastries. It’s served within the palazzo’s splendid gardens, which look like something out of a romance novel!
9. COOL OFF WITH ICE-CREAM
The promenade from Sliema to St Julian’s will give you the chance to meander along an entire stretch of coast, with a few highlights along the way. Start your walk as the sun sets and temperatures drop, making your way from Spinola Bay, near the famous LOVE monument past Balluta Bay (look out for the beautiful Balluta Buildings across the bay – an architectural reminder of a bygone era) and onto the stretch towards Sliema. As you walk, break up your stroll with an al fresco bite to eat at one of the cafés, an ice-cream, or even a swim off the rocky shore.
10. TAKE A SLICE OF MALTA HOME
Malta has plenty of places where you can get a bit of shopping in, whether you’re up for hitting a village market to get a feel of local life or looking for a special treat to take home with you. From the luxury and highstreet outlets in Valletta and Sliema (home to shopping malls like The Plaza which are perfect on a hot day) to quirky artisan shops and traditional open-air markets, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Our recommendation though? Choose a locally made item – like a traditional piece of Maltese lace or fabulous accessory from local fashion brand Charles & Ron – for a treat you won’t be able to get anywhere else.
Pastizzi Photo: Richard Muscat Azzopardi
THE LANGUAGE OF LOCAL ARCHITECTURE A drive or walk through any street on the islands will take you past a wide array of architectural styles, from vernacular to baroque to modernist, and everything in between. While many are residential homes and can only be viewed from the street, that’s often enough to make you stop and marvel – with much to take in. MARTINA SAID catches up with architect KONRAD BUHAGIAR and founder of Malta Doors, LISA GWEN, to learn more about the individuality of Maltese façades. 022
A Maltese historian has identified the balcony built by Grand Master Cottoner at the Grand Masters’ Palace in Valletta, as the prototype.
rom the smallest rural village to the largest city, every locality in the Maltese archipelago boasts a fascinating and charming array of architecture that will stop you in your tracks. Be it the unmistakable (and unmissable) Grand Masters’ Palace in St George’s Square, Valletta, built by the Order of the Knights of St John, or the modest, quaint and quirky homes found in local towns and villages, you could easily fill your days strolling through the streets to soak it all in – which we absolutely recommend that you do.
While there’s a never-ending list of sites worth visiting from the inside – St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta’s jewel and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a clear case of an austere, mannerist façade that harbours a lavish, baroque interior – there’s plenty to learn about Maltese architecture by observing buildings from the outside. You may have noticed tall wooden doors ensconced by sculptural stone entryways, wrought iron gates and fanlights in decorative patterns and, impossible to miss, the protruding timber balcony that adds charm in bucketloads to many Maltese streets and alleys. Shedding light on the origins, or at least what is known of them, of the traditional timber balcony found on the façades of many local limestone houses, palazzos and stately buildings, is Konrad Buhagiar, Executive Director at architecture firm AP Valletta, who says that although the origins of the Maltese balcony are not well known, in spite of similar examples that exist in the Mediterranean basin, including the north African ‘muxarabija’, it can be said that the covered Maltese balcony started featuring extensively locally during the second half of the 17th century. “A Maltese historian has identified the balcony built by Grand Master Cottoner at the Grand Masters’ Palace in Valletta, as the prototype. The wooden structure, superimposed on the
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Our architecture has so much charm and quirk, and it often goes unnoticed. LISA GWEN
Lisa Gwen Photo: Ritty Tacsum
original open stone balconies was soon copied by the wealthier Maltese families and eventually by the whole population of the town,” he explains. Whatever the origins of the balcony, this element that projects onto the street and provided the resident with a sheltered external space that allowed them to participate in the activities of the street became an indispensable element of Maltese domestic architecture, he explains. “In fact, all throughout the 19th century, the traveller arriving in Malta was invariably impressed by the profusion and variety of Maltese balconies that characterised the town and this presence was always one of the main protagonists in their descriptions of the Maltese townscape,” says the architect. If he had to pick an element of the Maltese façade that is the most representative of Maltese architecture, Konrad says it would have to be the cornice. “Not that the projecting cornice is unique to architecture in the Maltese islands. It is a typical element borrowed from the vocabulary of classical architecture that, everywhere in the world, concludes the composition of the façade by creating a strong horizontal shadow separating the building from the sky; mineral from aerial,” he explains.
“I mention the cornice because every visitor to the islands in the past, very often stopping over on their way to the Orient, when describing the city and harbour of Valletta, admired first and foremost the clear definition of the roofline and how it cuts the clear blue sky in a straight line,” says Konrad. “Most of these travellers hailed from cities and towns in Europe where the skyline was broken by the presence of sloping roofs, clerestory windows, chimney stacks and weather vanes, and could not but admire the nobility of the Maltese urban landscape composed of buildings standing out calmly against the backdrop of a bright Mediterranean sky, whose walls, floors and roofs were built of the same material, the local limestone, giving the impression that the town was hewn out of the rock, ‘ex uno lapide’, all of one piece rather than a composition of individual parts.” From an ornamental perspective, the façades of many Maltese buildings capture the imagination with their colourful doors, intricate ironwork, woodwork and stonework, and the overall composition that the apertures present to the outsider. One person on a tireless trip to document the beauty, individuality and oftentimes quirkiness of Maltese buildings as seen from the street is Lisa Gwen, a writer, curator, and founder of Malta Doors, a visual blog and Instagram page dedicated solely to this purpose. “My first love, if I can call it that, was not doors or façades. I was first drawn to abandoned places and had started taking photos of anything which fell under, what I had then named 024
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‘Abandonment Issues’,” says Lisa. “With the large amount of vacant units on the island, I often ended up taking photos of crumbling builds, which I always found fascinating because of the weathering, the textures, the layers of paint.” At a point, she realised she had amassed so many images of doors and façades, that Lisa decided to create a second Instagram account dedicated solely to the subject. This was four years ago, and her interest hasn’t waned one bit. Although the focus has changed over the years, the subject, she says, has not. “I now look for the light more than anything else, and I ‘use’ the subject matter as a means of highlighting Malta’s unique architecture, in the hopes of generating awareness and appreciation for our builds, whether traditional townhouses, palazzini, or simple beach houses,” says Lisa. “Our architecture has so much charm and quirk, and it often goes unnoticed. Even more than that, it is not (always) safeguarded. Our architectural Photo: Malta Doors
heritage is a very large component of Malta’s colourful identity, and we have yet to give it the importance it deserves.”
Photo: Malta Doors
After too many outdoor expeditions to count, Lisa says she feels like a sniffer or hunting dog and has almost developed a sense for where to go to find buildings that capture her imagination – leading her down alleys and tiny roads onto her next exciting discovery, and she’s hardly ever disappointed by what she finds. While it is the whole composition of a building that really intrigues her, Lisa shares that she’s most fond of the colour pink, geometrical wrought ironwork patterns, and modernist builds. She’s also drawn to quirky house names and the religious motifs that are part and parcel of many Maltese and Gozitan homes. “Then there are the plants and the creepers which often make a façade incredibly suggestive. I do appreciate the more daring homeowners who don’t shy away from colour or enhancing the timber and stone details of their apertures or façade,” she explains. “The wrought ironwork though nearly always captures my attention, even more so when there are several patterns on any one façade – the door, fanlight, gate, or even on the windows.”
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After having documented several buildings, doors and façades over the years, Lisa says that each and every town in Malta and Gozo has its charm, but if pressed to pick a favourite, the top contenders are the Three Villages – made up of Attard, Lija and Balzan at the centre of the island – Żurrieq, parts of Sliema, and her beloved hometown, Ħamrun, which “will always come out on top”. However, if you’re tempted to discover the beauty of Maltese buildings for yourself, Lisa says she wouldn’t recommend any one place to wander around. “Now that I’ve documented at least parts of all 68 localities in Malta and Gozo, I can say that each possesses charm and has abundant quirks. What I would recommend instead is to pick a spot and allow oneself to get lost in the narrow roads of a town or village. There is always much to see and even more to discover.”
Photo: Malta Doors
As you do so, you’ll notice how varied and vivid Maltese architecture truly is, with an abundance of details to soak in on every street. Among the more traditional builds, it will be impossible not to notice the vibrant colours of residential doors and windows, embellished with heavy brass door knockers in different motifs, namely animals and Maltese symbolism, including the George Cross. The coloured doors, besides their aesthetic appeal, also serve a practical function, Konrad explains, which is to simply protect the material that the apertures of a building are made of, typically timber, which is susceptible to deterioration due to the damaging effects of the elements. “Paint is therefore a sacrificial layer that takes the blows of time and the weather, requiring constant renewal for the underlying wooden element to remain well preserved and integral,” says the architect. “Add to this a colour element, and the windows and door transcend their function to become decorative elements in the whole composition of the façade.” Traditionally, the architect explains that paints for timber apertures were lead-based, to which a natural colour was added that was derived from crushed minerals. “Maltese houses sported mostly pastel coloured apertures. However, during the British period, these locally made paints were superseded by more developed chemical compositions imported from mainland Europe. It was at this time that the deep reds, greens and blues typical of British domestic architecture began to insert themselves on the Maltese façades.” 026
Sharing his favourite street on the island, Konrad singles out Stella Maris Street in Sliema; “a narrow street where my grandmother lived and where my mother was brought up, so it has some nostalgic value for me,” he explains. “The houses that form the street date from the early 19th century to the immediate post-war period and are mostly Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian, typical of the British terrace urban plans of the period,” says the architect. “While displaying a uniform set of compositional rules, the details of the houses, from the sculptures decorating the stone corbels and keystones to the mouldings surrounding doors and windows, are all different and intriguing, and are testimony to the delight experienced by northerners who have settled in a land where the skies are clear and blue, and where the Mediterranean Sea is all around.”
FOOD & DRINK
MERGING OLD AND NEW
THE CHEFS BRINGING TRADITIONAL CONCEPTS AND INGREDIENTS TO THE PRESENT
FTIRA BAJD U LAHAM
The Maltese islands have a strong food culture, with several traditional dishes celebrating the islands’ history and produce. But, while the old favourites will always remain, a number of talented chefs are putting an exciting personal spin on them, merging the old with the new. SARAH MICALLEF discovers four incredible contemporary adaptations of quintessentially local dishes and ingredients, and chats with the chefs behind them.
THE DE MONDION RESTAURANT
Having recently been awarded a coveted Michelin Star, The De Mondion Restaurant within The Xara Palace Relais & Châteaux in Mdina is widely acknowledged as one of the top restaurants in Malta, and its menu reads like a celebration of local culinary delights. Among them is a contemporary twist on a favourite snack: ftira, bajd u laħam (a sandwich featuring meat and egg). De Mondion’s Ftira Bajd u Laħam is a decidedly elevated version of the popular local snack, which came about as a result of the restaurant staff’s preferred choice of lunch, reveals Chef de Cuisine Kevin Bonello. 030
The egg is replaced with a Hollandaise sauce flavoured with mustard, and we also add a fricassee of turnip, mushroom and spinach.
“The dish is composed of a mini crispy ftira (flatbread) which is freshly baked, cut in half and toasted (soft side only) in clarified butter. The meat is replaced with tender sous vide beef cheeks which are trimmed to fit the ftira. The egg is replaced with a Hollandaise sauce flavoured with mustard, and we also add a fricassee of turnip, mushroom and spinach. The final twist is a turnip and mushroom espuma to give the right balance and creaminess to the dish,” the chef explains, adding that the idea evolved from the kitchen staff. “Every now and then they all buy this kind of ftira from various take-outs on the island. One day, whilst three of us chefs were having this ftira, the idea came to mind, and within a couple of hours we crafted the dish, and launched it the following week!” Speaking about how their version celebrates the original, the chef maintains that the idea behind dishes such as this is to keep Maltese heritage and cuisine alive whilst giving it a twist that makes it suitable to be served at Michelin star level. “It also allows us to show and explain to our tourists where and how these kinds of dishes originated from. The revisited recipe gives a more refined presentation, and it is a lighter and more balanced version of the original,” he reflects. Admitting that he is hard pressed to choose a personal favourite traditional Maltese dish, the chef points to pastizzi (savoury pastries), snails and braġjoli (beef olives), but shares that “nothing beats fresh crusty bread with good olive oil, mint, tomato and capers.” As for a traditional local dish he’d like to put his spin on in the future, the chef teases at quite a few ideas in the pipeline, revealing that “in the very near future we should be launching a spin on our typical pastizzi, but that’s all I can say for now!” 031
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TE FIT-TAZZA NONI
Another Michelin Star recipient, Noni, located in a stylishly refurbished former jazz bar in Valletta, is headed by chef Jonathan Brincat, who has a talent for reinterpreting traditional Maltese dishes while adding a touch of French cuisine flair. One of the most iconic is a dessert known as te fit-tazza, which reimagines the local way of drinking tea in a tumbler. While Noni’s version of te fit-tazza may be food, the inspiration behind it comes from a beverage, reveals Head Chef Jonathan Brincat, going on to explain the process behind the restaurant’s popular dessert dish. “First, we make a black tea and condensed milk pannacotta, which took us quite some time to find the exact ratios between the sweetness of the milk and bitterness of the black tea. Three other garnishes are preserved lemon ricotta (the idea for which comes from
Photos: Brian Grech
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kannoli) to cut through the tartness of the pannacotta, crumble (the idea coming from morning coffee biscuits which are usually dipped in tea) and finally, lemon foam, to represent the froth you usually get in a glass of tea,” he explains. Its inspiration dates back to the Head Chef’s childhood. “As a kid, there was a Boċċi Club (traditional boules club) in front of our house, and I spent most of my free time around there. Whilst working abroad, it was something I’d look forward to return to and ground myself, even just for a glass of tea,” the chef reveals. Pointing out that the te fit-tazza is commonly found in every corner of the island, the chef affirms “we elevated it to the fine dining scene whilst telling a story about our culture.”
We elevated [te fittazza] to the fine dining scene whilst telling a story about our culture. 033
Admitting that his own favourite traditional Maltese dishes are pulpetti tal-corned beef (corned beef patties) and ħobż biżżejt (local bread with a mixture featuring tomatoes and oil), the chef reveals that the Noni team are currently working on their versions of aljotta (fish soup) and timpana (pasta pie) “which are both very hearty and heavy dishes, so it will take quite a bit of refining before we are happy to serve them.”
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We have developed this dish to make a warm weather version using summer vegetables and keeping some of the original flavours.
HAMMETT’S KUSKSU HAMMETT’S MACINA RESTAURANT
Hammett’s Macina Restaurant within the luxurious Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour Hotel in Senglea recently received a Michelin Plate award, and its incredible menu of sharing dishes created by restaurateur Chris Hammett and Head Chef Jorge Lugo features a modern representation of traditional Mediterranean culinary influences that date back to Phoenician times. Among them is an updated version of a hearty favourite: kusksu (a traditional Maltese soup made primarily from broad beans, pasta beads, and local cheeselets). “This traditional Maltese dish, usually eaten in spring and Easter time when broad beans are very much in season, is a fond memory for the Maltese remembering the ful season with nostalgia of grandmothers peeling them in the kitchen,” the chefs explain, adding that kusksu, which are tiny pasta pearls or beads, can be found at
FOOD & DRINK
most grocery stores and supermarkets, and are also known as Israeli couscous. “Maltese kusksu is not to be confused with the North Africa couscous. We have developed this dish to make a warm weather version using summer vegetables and keeping some of the original flavours,” they reveal, explaining that Hammett’s version of kusksu is served as a kind of salad with dried tomatoes, olives, parsley, garlic and olive oil. All the inspiration for their dishes comes from Malta’s rich history and language, the chefs maintain, adding that they emphasise traditional Maltese and ethnic Mediterranean ingredients while trying to
keep everything seasonal and local. “Rather than improving the original, it is more about celebrating Maltese heritage, ingredients and traditions, and adapting to the modern kitchen,” they say of the kusksu dish. The chefs’ personal favourite Maltese dish, meanwhile is fwied moqli fil-mindil (liver fried in caul), but a traditional dish that they’ve earmarked to reinterpret at the restaurant, they reveal, is kirxa (known in English as tripe). “This has been a bit of a lost local tradition. You used to find it even as an appetizer or a snack in the local village bar, but now it is practically completely gone. We would like to bring this back with, of course, a modern twist.”
FOOD & DRINK
TORTA TAL-HASSU BRIJU
A relative newcomer to the local restaurant scene, Briju in Gżira is the brainchild of Chef Rafel Sammut, whose emphasis is on fresh, seasonal and typical ingredients that bely his love and respect for Malta and its produce. Another recipient of Michelin’s Plate award, the menu here presents several standout dishes, including Torta tal-Ħassu, a tart featuring the best of locally harvested tomatoes served in a short crust pastry and topped with creamy pecorino, basil and pine nuts. “The dish is basically dedicated to a local tomato variety,” explains Briju Owner and Chef Rafel Sammut, recalling, “the first time I tasted them at the farmers market last year, the idea of some sort of tart instantly came to mind.”
The first time I tasted this local tomato variety at the farmers market last year, the idea of some sort of tart instantly came to mind.
While the dish isn’t necessarily an adaptation of a traditional recipe, it comes across as a celebration of this Maltese tomato variety, featuring baked tomato on a savoury short crust base, topped with marinated tomato and finished with a mousse of local pecorino, fresh basil and pine nuts. It is then plated on a carpaccio of another local tomato. “I remember seeing a world-renowned chef that I used to follow closely make something similar a few years ago, and this is why I originally developed the dish,” the chef says, admitting that it was another of Briju’s team of chefs who was behind the re-thinking of the tart. The chef identifies his favourite Maltese dish as kusksu, in particular the way his father makes it. “It can change any dull day into the brightest one,” he asserts, revealing that he’d love to put his personal spin on it at Briju. “It’s not an easy one to recreate because often, the beauty of it lies in its simplicity, however it is something we have been discussing in recent months and hope to have on our menu over the coming winter.” 036
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Find the perfect place to wine and dine on the islands with our handy restaurant guide.
Luna – The Restaurant at Palazzo Parisio The Luna Restaurant combines a variety of culinary concepts set in one of Malta’s finest privatelyowned stately homes. Every corner assures you luxury, grace, elegance and a taste of history by the mouthful, offering breakfast, snacks, lunch, traditional English afternoon tea or dinner. Choose between the sublime interiors and the beautifully shaded tables on the garden terrace basking beside fragrant orange blossom and flamboyant bougainvillea. Luna, in all its forms, offers relaxation and understated luxury in an incredible and refined ambience. We are open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, aperitivo and dinner. Get in touch, or visit our Facebook page for opening hours.
Vista Lobby Lounge
Authentic Maltese food located in the heart of Marsaxlokk, it’s easy to spot Ta’ Victor in the main square of this fishing village, right in front of the local parish church. Well renowned among locals for authentic and seasonal Maltese dishes, Ta’ Victor is also widely known for its Maltese hospitality, warmth and friendliness. The chef and owner, Victor, has even been asked to represent Malta overseas with his traditional dishes! Choose from a mouth-watering menu that includes a variety of local seasonal fish, as well as the traditional dishes of beef olives and rabbit.
Indulge yourself in Vista Lobby Lounge’s Afternoon Tea. With three Afternoon Tea specials to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Go traditional with The Classic, local with The Maltese, or opt for The Gin & Afternoon Tea if it takes your fancy. Each option features a unique selection of items that go beyond the traditional afternoon tea – have you ever had Maltese bread at afternoon tea? Or brie and grape jam sandwiches coupled with your favourite gin and tonic?
36, Madonna Ta’ Pompei Square, Marsaxlokk. M: 9947 4249.
29, Victory Square, Naxxar. Book your table on T: 2141 2461; M: 9971 3779; E: email@example.com; www.palazzoparisio.com
Afternoon Tea is served daily at Vista Lobby Lounge, Hilton Malta, between 1pm and 5pm. Call on T: 2138 3383 to book.
Photos: Inigo Taylor
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Photo: Kurt Arrigo
RIDING THE WAVE Two years after setting up Wave of Change with two friends, swimmer NEIL AGIUS embarked on a test of fortitude – a 100km swim from Sicily to Malta – with the aim of inspiring the nation to reduce their waste impact on the marine environment. And, in June he became the first person in recorded history to make the journey. Here, he speaks to REBECCA ANASTASI about the lead-up to the swim and the intense moments he experienced in the water.
wimmer Neil Agius has always felt at home in Malta’s waters, connected to the island’s seas on a spiritual level. “I always feel very protected when I am swimming in the sea. I feel at home, I connect with the spirit of the ocean and I feel she protects me when I’m in the water,” he says, just a few weeks after his mammoth 100km swim from Sicily to Malta in aid of Wave of Change.
wrapped around my face, it gave me a fright. And, I felt that the sea was telling me I had to do something. I felt it was a message telling me ‘we need your help’.” Wave of Change kicked off with smaller activities to raise awareness – including a swim around Gozo, and several clean-ups – and a campaign urging people to pick up three pieces of trash whenever they were out and hashtag #waveofchange. The feedback from the
Photo: Kurt Arrigo
This feeling of belonging may have something to do with the fact that Neil has practically been raised in and around the water, having started swimming – like most Maltese – when he was a very young boy. “I took swimming lessons from a young age and I was good at it, and like all kids, when you’re good at something, you enjoy it,” he laughs. That joy translated into action, when he joined Malta’s national swimming team and, later – as an adult – when he opened a swimming school, hoping to inspire the same love in the new, younger generation. Today, his days revolve around the water, he continues, “so respecting the sea is a big part of my life.”
Neil’s recommended swimming spots: “I train in Mellieħa or Riviera, but I have done a swim around Comino and that’s right up there, in terms of the quality of the water. But it’s difficult to pinpoint just one location. Luckily, Malta is an island, so it’s easy to have access to all of them. Just try and find a quiet spot, away from the crowds.”
In 2018, Neil teamed up with two friends, Gilbert Bartolo and Richard Zerafa, to set up Wave of Change, which is in the process of becoming a NGO, that aims to motivate people to change their habits when it comes to waste disposal, and hence, inspiring them to reduce their impact on the marine environment. “At the time, we were training to swim around Malta, and we were looking at the bottom of the sea for hours, and we realised just how much rubbish there was! We’re talking about plastic, tyres and even fridges and cookers!”
How visitors can make a change: “Come to the island with a sustainable agency and opt for low emission options when choosing how to travel between the island,” he says. And, don’t forget to pick up three pieces of plastic and hashtag #waveofchange.
But, the last straw came one night in April of that year, when, during a night swim, Neil swam into a plastic bag. “At night, you cannot see anything so when it 041
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The next swim is going to be longer, for sure. Photo: Kurt Arrigo
public was immediate. “The attention we gained was incredible, and the feedback kept getting stronger, and more positive. We’re a household name now, and we know we want to inspire people to make a change in their own lives, and that will be transformational,” Neil says. After two years, Neil and the gang decided to take their campaign to the next level – by planning a record, first-ever 100km swim from Sicily to Malta to create more awareness of Wave of Change and its mission. This was the first time anyone attempted the challenge – in 1985, Nicky Farrugia completed the trip from Sicily to Gozo for the first time. “Actually, the plan wasn’t for me to do this swim, but to swim around Malta. But, once I had done that, something clicked inside me and I wanted to see to what limit I could push myself. That motivation, together with my love for Wave
of Change and the environment, pushed me to attempt this,” he explains. The run-up to the swim involved a lot of physical and mental prep, which kicked into gear in January this year. “The physical preparation can push you to give 100 per cent of yourself, but when it comes to the mental groundwork, that can take you to many places, both dark and happy,” he recalls. A trip to Brazil, to live with an indigenous tribe for two weeks, initiated his training. “That was an eye opener – I saw how they lived, and how they don’t need anything to be happy. I also saw how much love they have for each other, and I experienced the way they respect the planet, which gives them all that they need, including food and medicine. That showed me what I wanted from Wave of Change,” he explains, saying he also meditated as part of his mental training.
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I always feel very protected when I am swimming in the sea. I feel at home, I connect with the spirit of the ocean and I feel she protects me when I’m in the water.
On the physical front, he swam seven times a week, using Malta’s seas – not a swimming pool – as his training ground, due to the pandemic. “I would do short sessions five times a week – maybe of two hours each – and then two longer sessions at the weekend. Usually I would have gone to the pool during the week, but these were closed, so I did everything in the sea on my own.” In the meantime, the logistics were planned: the itinerary was set; a team was put together; and the vessels – three sailing boats and a RHIB – were lined-up. “I had a team of 20, including the race umpire, a doctor and motivators, and I also had food specifically prepared for me,” Neil describes, recalling the network of support which accompanied him on the trip.
Was he afraid of anything, and what were his thoughts the night before the swim? “There weren’t really any fears, though there were some worries since there are elements you have no control over. But, the night before, there was a great atmosphere on the boat, and everyone came with their best self. I was a little nervous, but I was there to get the job done,” he smiles.
Photo: Kurt Arrigo
Taking off from Punta Braccetto in Ragusa, Neil was “mostly in good spirits, having a laugh with the team,” but a few hours in, as night fell, things became a bit rocky. “I love swimming at night, since it’s very quiet and you get to meditate properly. But this was the first time I had swum at night after 14 hours, so this was new territory, and by 3am it was super cold – a cold which penetrates your bones,” he recalls. As the hours went by, he started to get bitten by jellyfish, and the sea was also a little bit rougher than he had thought it would be. He also started to feel disoriented when the navigational boat shifted slightly to the side, and when there was a change of shift of the crew in the RHIB. “I couldn’t even see who was on the boat, and there were no lights on any of the boats. At one point, I started going the wrong way. I heard everyone shouting at me, but thought they were egging me on. But, when I stopped to tell them to quieten down, they told me I was heading back to Sicily!”
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At no point however did Neil even consider stopping. “It was getting very intense, what with the cold, the jellyfish, the darkness and sense of disorientation, and at one point I started crying. But I didn’t want to let my team know so I kept the goggles on,” he recalls, saying that, at that point, he was still 30km away from Malta – approximately eight or nine hours out from land. “But once the sun started to rise, something shifted, and that was it. The sun gave me a lot of energy. You’re in the dark for so long, and, slowly, you start to see the sky change colours, and, when the sun is up in the sky, it becomes super bright – it’s a pretty awesome experience,” he describes, emotion in his voice. The light from the sun gave the swimmer energy to continue, making him stronger and stronger. I tell him it’s ironic he started to feel this way at the tail end of his journey. “Maybe it means I can push myself more,” he says, adding that “the next swim is going to be longer, for sure.” When he got onto shore in Malta, he was overwhelmed with the support he got from the crowd which had amassed to see him in. “It’s hard to put into words. I had to jump back into the sea, I was so overwhelmed with the energy on the land! I also wanted to make sure to pick up the three pieces of plastic and show everyone that you can always make a difference,” he adds.
Photo: Kurt Arrigo
It was getting very intense, what with the cold, the jellyfish, the darkness and sense of disorientation, and at one point I started crying. But I didn’t want to let my team know so I kept the goggles on. 045
And, following the swim – which was highly publicised, with Neil even recently receiving a special commendation by Queen Elizabeth II – many were left impressed and wanting to be part of the Wave of Change. “It surpassed all expectations, and everyone wants to be a part of it,” Neil smiles. “We wanted people to start changing their attitudes, and we are also working with other NGOs, collaboratively, to make sure we reduce the negative impact on our environment,” he says. So, what’s next for the record-breaking swimmer? “There will be more events through the year, and we’re planning something for December, which we hope to get children also involved in. It will involve a clean-up but it will be something fun over Christmas,” he explains. In the meantime, he and his team continue to spread the word to “pick up three pieces of trash and hashtag #waveofchange”, while also taking a little bit of a well-deserved break.
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MALTA ? R EAD O N
I N V E S T I N G I N M A LTA G U I D E
WELCOME TO MALTA – YOUR NEW HOME
alta has welcomed people from all four corners of the globe for thousands of years, and in the 21st century, it is now a transcontinental hub for trade, a popular tourism destination and a high performer when it comes to hi-tech industries such as financial services and iGaming, blockchain, cryptocurrency and Artificial Intelligence. Over the past two decades, an influx of expats has made the social and economic landscape truly exciting, diverse and cosmopolitan – could you be the next to join?
Whether you’re searching for a fresh start in life, or simply looking to grow your business, Malta could be the steppingstone you’ve been waiting for. But before you make the move, here are some things you need to know.
educated and highly motivated workforce, Malta can be a very attractive place for a foreigner to set up a business. Doing business in Malta does not only mean access to trade in the EU, but also gaining access to Africa and the Middle East, as Malta has developed healthy business ties and beneficial fiscal agreements with various countries in these two regions too. For those who wish to start a business in Malta, there are seven stages to keep in mind:
ALL ABOUT SETTING UP A BUSINESS IN MALTA
BETWEEN SELF-EMPLOYMENT 1. DECIDING AND SETTING UP A LIMITED LIABILITY
With a well established regulatory environment based on EU law, a favourable tax regime, attractive government incentives and a well-
A limited liability company gives your business a more trusted face and protects you as a shareholder in case of defective products or lawsuits. On the other hand, there are more bureaucratic steps to follow when creating such a company (as opposed to starting a business as a selfemployed person), such as undergoing an annual audit, so make sure your business is viable before registering it as LTD. You need to be at least two shareholders to register a company.
ABOUT MALTA Population:
Real GDP Growth
As at end of 2019 according to the National Statistics Office
(projected figure for the
316 km2 Currency
4.4 per cent
2. PREPARING FOR REGISTRATION
If you are going to proceed with a limited liability company, then you need to draft the company’s memorandum and articles of association. These documents are important for registration, but they also detail what the company, its shareholders and its directors can and cannot do. It is important to identify the right legal firm, accountancy and audit firms, as well as business consultants to guide you during this stage.
whole of 2019)
4.2 per cent
As at July 2020 according to the National Statistics Office
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GETTING A VAT NUMBER AND PE
You also need to register with the VAT Department to obtain a VAT number. Furthermore, if you have a limited liability company and you intend on hiring personnel, you also need to register as an employer and obtain a PE number. Both steps are free of charge and can be done online.
7. REGISTERING WITH JOBSPLUS
Jobsplus is responsible for all employment registration in Malta. You need to fill in a form for each employee upon registration, and again upon termination of each employee. The process is quick and free of charge. Government department Business First can help you with all of these steps, and can be easily reached through their website, www.businessfirst.com.mt, or over email.
THE MINIMUM SHARE 3. DEPOSITING CAPITAL
Every company needs some capital to start off, however small. As a new business owner, you need to open a bank account in the company’s name and inform the bank teller that you are depositing your share capital. The money will go into a holding account until the company is properly registered. The receipt issued will need to be presented in the next stage.
DOCUMENTATION TO 4. PRESENTING THE MALTA BUSINESS REGISTRY
The filled-in company registration form, together with the memorandum and articles of association and the share capital deposit slip need to be presented to the Malta Business Registry. Registration is done within two to three days and the registration fee depends on the size of the company.
LICENCES AND A TAX 5. OBTAINING IDENTIFICATION NUMBER
Once the trade name is approved and the memorandum and articles of association are filed with the Malta Business Registry, the company is almost ready to start operating. However, before that, one must also check if any special licences are required. Furthermore, each business in Malta must have a tax identification number. While this is free of charge, once a year you will need to fill in a tax return form. This is another step where the assistance of a trusted accountant, audit or legal firm is invaluable.
SPOTLIGHT ON EMERGING ECONOMIC SECTORS In recent years, Malta has positioned itself as a prime destination for several tech companies looking for a secure, reliable and reputable jurisdiction to base themselves, drawing companies from a wide spectrum of digital and innovative sectors, ranging from blockchain to FinTech to Artificial Intelligence. Speaking of blockchain, Malta was dubbed as the ‘Blockchain Island’ in 2018, being the first country in the world to issue a comprehensive set of regulations and guidelines on blockchain, Initial Coin Offerings, technology arrangements and financial assets. Today, it is reaping the results of this proactive stance through applications for FinTech and crypto companies to operate from the island, while also widening its scope to attract companies that operate in all corners of the digital space. Three bills were passed into law in 2018 which set up the Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA) Act, the Innovative Technology Arrangements and Services Act (ITASA) and the Virtual Financial Asset (VFA) Act. The MDIA acts as a communicator between key national bodies such as the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), other relevant Government regulators such as the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and operators. It also regulates new and emerging technologies. The ITASA is geared towards regulating technology service providers, while the VFA Act regulates Virtual Financial Assets. Such laws limit the scope for fraudulent activity, provide certainty to investors and also provide a legitimate legal framework in which operators can do business. 049
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Another economic niche creating significant buzz on the islands is Artificial Intelligence, backed by Government’s vision to put Malta on the map with a National Strategy for AI. This includes discussions on the subject with stakeholders to identify policy, regulatory and fiscal measures aimed at strengthening Malta’s appeal as a hub for foreign investment in this sector. In fact, Government’s strategy has been ranked 10th among 54 countries in the Global AI Index by Tortoise Media, surpassing countries such as Estonia, Sweden and Austria in its drive to adapt and embrace the rapid developments presented by these technologies.
attractive option for investors. And with an exciting enough project, it should not be difficult to find skilled workers to fill the roles.
To date, the MDIA has certified five Systems Auditors (SA), the roles of whom are to audit the Innovative Technology Arrangements that an applicant proposes, including those concerning Artificial Intelligence.
Tying all this together is the Maltese Government’s plan and commitment to transform the country’s economy into a digital one in the coming years, enhancing ICT policy development and implementation that is intended to meet the expectations of citizens, civil society and businesses – and its efforts are paying off.
With the global Esports industry projected to grow to a value of €1 billion by 2020, it’s no surprise that Malta has opened its doors to Esports companies just as it did with gaming. While still a budding industry locally, Government’s commitment through ‘Malta’s Vision for Video Games Development and Esports’ will help propel this sector forward, with plans to grow it from 0.1 per cent to 1 per cent of the islands’ GDP in 10 years.
Meanwhile, local businesses are starting to make use of AI to trim costs, such as having a chatbot as the first point of contact for customer queries. If you’ve got a healthy risk appetite, investing in AI in Malta in these early stages could ultimately yield excellent results, before competition begins to grow. If you would like to get a better feel for the industry and the network of people within it, keep an eye out for conferences and events on AI that typically take place in Malta between September and November.
In the EU’s 2020 Digital Economy and Society Index (a composite index that summarises relevant indicators on Europe’s digital performance and tracks the evolution of EU member states in digital competitiveness), published last July, Malta ranked fifth among 28 countries for its digital performance, which includes connectivity, human capital, use of internet, integration of digital technology and digital public services. Placing ahead of Ireland, Estonia, UK, Belgium and Luxemburg among many others, Malta is wellpositioned to achieve its target of becoming a leader in the digital economy, creating a robust foundation for digital sectors to reap fruit.
A regulatory push for all-things digital makes Esports another niche area with interesting investment options. The number of skilled software developers, graphic designers and IT proficient workers makes Malta an
Photo: Delta Summit
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MAKING MALTA A DIGITAL BASTION As Government lays the foundations for Malta’s tech and digital sector to compete on the international stage, GuideMe catches up with Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services and Digital Economy, CLAYTON BARTOLO, to find out where we stand.
conomic diversification is key for survival, and this couldn’t be more accurate in the current climate, as Malta, and the rest of the world, strive to push through the global crisis that is the coronavirus pandemic. Amid all the uncertainty and upheaval, the Maltese Government has set its sights on making Malta a digital bastion, where international tech companies can view this Mediterranean island as their pathway for success. “The road to a Digital Malta entails formulating a knowledge-based economy founded on a diverse portfolio that is complemented by emerging technology industries,” says Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services and Digital Economy, Clayton Bartolo. “The financial services, tourism and gaming sectors play a vital role in the Maltese economy. However, Malta is open for business to all companies in blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, quantum and cloud, among others, who are evaluating the set-up of their operations.”
tech companies can come and make use of our shores for testing their pilot projects within a controlled and focused environment,” says Mr Bartolo. One of the key attractions that makes Malta a competitive choice for investors is its strong Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) programme, which is open to businesses interested in setting up or expanding their operations here.
He quickly asserts, however, that Malta is no newcomer to the digital industry. “Back in 2004, we were among the first countries to formulate a regulatory programme that made us a world-renowned jurisdiction for iGaming. In fact, the iGaming industry amounts to 13 per cent of Malta’s Gross Domestic Product.” Additionally, Government embodies within it authorities such as MITA (Malta Information Technology Agency), MDIA (Malta Digital Innovation Authority) and Tech.mt, who together formulate strategies aimed at piloting programmes to attract emerging technologies.
“Also, through Identity Malta, the Key Employee Initiative helps fast-track procedures for persons working in the tech industry when applying for a dual residency/ employment permit. There are also tax incentives for tech specialists should they choose to base their operations locally – therefore Malta offers a spectrum of opportunities for tech and IT companies, with plans to continue improving this open ecosystem.”
“Moreover, in the past years, Malta has experienced a mix of international household names with a local presence alongside home-grown tech companies. Malta has also become a destination where foreign
The backbone of attracting investment to Malta is the country’s digital readiness and friendliness, both of which Malta is on track to achieve. In the latest European Commission report, the Digital Economy and Society 052
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“Alongside this, we are investing in human resources. Recently, together with the MDIA and University of Malta, we launched €100,000 worth of scholarships in the field of Artificial Intelligence. This will be available across the academic spectrum, showing Government’s commitment to creating a digital society in the years to come.” Index (DESI) 2020, Malta classified fifth among 28 EU member states. Maltese businesses rank first on the use of big data and the overall level of business digitisation is relatively high. The Parliamentary Secretary adds that good results were achieved on broadband connectivity, as well as positive scores on human capital, which reflect the large number of ICT specialists and graduates on the island. Additionally, findings showed that the involvement of women in the digital sector is gradually increasing. Among the many lessons learnt, and yet to be learned, from the COVID-19 crisis is the importance of a digitalised economy. “Hindsight has shown us that the pandemic has served as a catalyst for the emergence of e-commerce and e-business. Local businesses launched online capabilities within a few weeks, while consumer tastes and trends also shifted, as practicality and convenience topped everyone’s priorities,” says Mr Bartolo.
Following the toughest imaginable start to the year, what lies ahead for the remainder of 2020? Mr Bartolo shares, “the past few months have been challenging times. We cannot deny that,” however, Malta is no stranger to challenges, and what matters is “what we made of it. Therefore, faced by fear and uncertainty, we must nurture hope, determination and enlightenment.” The Parliamentary Secretary adds that while “we want to be the Blockchain Island, I also want us to attract more investment in iGaming, Artificial Intelligence, quantum, cryptocurrency, high performance computing, and cloud. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious,” he asserts. “I have always been a goal-driven person and will not shy away from doing my very best to achieve our targets. Our country may be the smallest in Europe, but it’s rich in talent and determination. I believe that Malta can be a digital hub on the international stage.”
There are also tax incentives for tech specialists should they choose to base their operations locally – therefore Malta offers a spectrum of opportunities for tech and IT companies, with plans to continue improving this open ecosystem.
While medium-to-large enterprises have been capable of making this shift in a short timeframe, he asserts, “we are aware there are smaller companies which have been marginalised due to barriers to entry and a lack of understanding of taking their business online. We are currently working with industry stakeholders to develop a post-COVID-19 strategy that would include a digital economic mindset for every local enterprise. Additionally, through the E-Biznify programme, we are providing the necessary training to ensure that small enterprises can keep up with consumer demand.” Underpinning the achievability of all this, as well as the fulfilment of Malta’s vision to be a leading digital hub, is the need for a strong digital infrastructure complemented by a robust local workforce that can sustain demands for the economy of tomorrow. Throughout the pandemic, the local Government announced a regeneration economic plan that, apart from short-term initiatives aimed at safeguarding the economy, injected a €400 million investment directed at the construction of another life sciences park and incubation centres, among others. 053
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“The importance of diversifying our economic portfolio was further highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought several sectors, such as tourism and construction – which are key contributors to our GDP – to an abrupt halt,” says Mr Bruno, who is also an advisor to Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services and Digital Economy, Clayton Bartolo. During this time, the Parliamentary Secretariat committed to introducing and putting in place a framework that delves into and discusses new ways on how to consolidate the digital economy sector in Malta, spurring the formation and launch of a specialised Think Tank. “The modus operandi of both the Ministry and the Think Tank is to lay the necessary groundwork, which will pave the way for the successful implementation of measures that are yet to be announced,” says Mr Bruno. “Such a prudent approach will ensure that a number of unforeseen limitations are anticipated and addressed before the full implementation and rolling out of the strategic vision.”
A THINK TANK FOR THE FUTURE KEARON BRUNO, Chairman of Malta’s first Digital Economy Think Tank launched last June, chats to GuideMe about its mission, its achievements so far, and how Malta can rise above its limitations to exploit the potential the tech industry has to offer.
rom iGaming to financial services to blockchain, Malta is considered a success story in several niche sectors, which, combined, have come to form a significant part of the country’s GDP. But, as Malta plans to cast the net even wider and position itself as a prime hub for all tech sectors, consolidation has become key, giving rise to the recently launched Digital Economy Think Tank. Kearon Bruno, Chairman of the Think Tank and an economist by profession, explains that, over the years, well-renowned economists in Malta have highlighted the importance for the country to diversify its economic portfolio, to ensure further consolidation of Malta’s buoyant economic growth and to be in a favourable position to mitigate asymmetric risks. 054
The main priority of the Think Tank is to analyse and discuss ways to further consolidate sectors that are already established in Malta, Mr Bruno explains. “The iGaming industry remains a key component and pillar of Malta’s economy and it is in our best interest to ensure that it continues to thrive,” he asserts. “Following a Think Tank meeting with a number of key stakeholders in the industry, we discussed the high number of vacancies in the sector, mainly arising from a limited supply of talent; the fast-tracking of visas when it comes to the importation of foreign talent; the very high level of compliance within the industry; educational opportunities; and the introduction of an international school, among others.” The Think Tank will also focus on attracting new niche economic areas and evaluate how emerging technologies can complement other sectors and fit into the Digital Malta strategy. “Among the new emerging technologies we are looking into are the Internet of Things, quantum computing, high performance computing, cloud and big data. Additionally, the Parliamentary Secretariat
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The MDIA recently issued a public consultation on the introduction of an Innovative Technology Arrangements and Services (ITAS) sandbox, which will solely focus on blockchain technology.
“This transition underlined the importance of the digital sector, but also showed that those companies that undertook the necessary investment in tele-working systems prior to the pandemic fared better at the worst of it than those who didn’t,” he asserts. “Also, due to imposed restrictions, shops recognised the importance of taking their business online to reach a wider audience.”
is also working on the new Digital Strategy for Malta as the current strategy expires at the end of 2020,” says Mr Bruno. “A steering committee will also be launched, comprised of all the CEOs falling under the Secretariat’s remit to strengthen dialogue and discussions sparked at Think Tank level.”
The Think Tank’s strategic vision requires crucial ongoing consultation with both private stakeholders and the entities that fall under the remit of the Parliamentary Secretariat for Financial Services and Digital Economy, in order for it to reap fruit.
The new Digital Strategy for Malta 2021-2024 will include several key recommendations put forward by the Think Tank. “Given the ever-changing technology and digital industries, it is imperative that the strategy is updated regularly to include and cater for new and emerging technologies,” says Mr Bruno. “Moreover, the Think Tank will be extending an invitation to other key stakeholders from different industries to analyse and discuss possible ways of collaboration. This approach will help widen the remit of the Think Tank while helping the industry to flourish.”
“An example of a proactive approach is the Malta Digital Innovation Authority’s (MDIA) commitment to widen its remit and extend certification to Artificial Intelligence, Cyber Security and Critical Systems. Additionally, the MDIA recently issued a public consultation on the introduction of an Innovative Technology Arrangements and Services (ITAS) sandbox, which will solely focus on blockchain technology,” explains Mr Bruno.
In view of all this, Mr Bruno is confident that, in the digital space, Malta can thrive and compete with the bigger international players. “The limitations Malta faces in terms of the size of its economy, especially compared to other EU economies, and issues arising from insularity, disappear in the digital field. As a country, we need to further exploit the full benefit and potential the industry has to offer.”
The collaborative effort by all stakeholders involved, including the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), Gaming Malta, the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA), the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST), Finance Malta and the Malta Communications Authority (MCA), under the leadership of Hon. Clayton Bartolo, “will ensure a stronger digital sector, and therefore a more resilient and sustainable economy. The Think Tank will help guarantee first-mover advantage in certain fields, proving Government’s commitment to prepare for tomorrow’s future, today.”
The launch of the Think Tank coincided with a time during which Malta was dealing with the instability and uncertainty that arose from the COVID-19 crisis. But, as Mr Bruno points out, the pandemic highlighted the importance of a company’s need to have a sound digital infrastructure, as many companies were forced to work from home at the height of the pandemic. 055
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PUTTING MALTA AT THE FOREFRONT OF DIGITAL INNOVATION Spearheading Malta’s efforts to embrace, promote and achieve digitalisation, as well as attracting foreign direct investment to our shores, CEO of Tech.mt, DANA FARRUGIA, is on a mission to secure Malta’s place on the technological map. MARTINA SAID learns about the foundation’s plans, prospects and projections for the months ahead.
n recent years, this tiny archipelago in the middle of the Med has become the home of several high-tech sectors, not least iGaming and FinTech, proving to be an attractive base for international business. But the pursuit for excellence hasn’t stopped there, and since 2019, a newly-established entity created by the Maltese Government and the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, has sought to enhance the potential of the tech industry in Malta, one trade mission at a time. Dana Farrugia, CEO at Tech.mt, says its mission revolves around the fundamental principles of enhancing Malta’s attractiveness for foreign direct investment (FDI), as well as facilitating international business development and innovation to the local industry. “One of the main aims of Tech.mt is to promote itself locally and create a dialogue and understanding of the current posture of tech companies and start-ups in Malta, and the type of assistance they may require for funding or other resources to take their innovations further and expand their potential on an international platform,” says the CEO. Tech.mt’s team of professionals provides client relationship management through personalised advisory services, guiding businesses to understand the first steps of internationalisation,
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Malta has consistently strived to be ahead of the curve, where technology and innovation are concerned, with tech sector growth approaching 4 per cent in the second quarter of 2020.
while recommending the best existing market opportunities and reducing the challenges involved in moving and establishing local contacts. As digital hubs across the world compete to attract investment and business to their shores, Malta is up against some major players, but the country’s economic growth momentum over the past years provides a solid track record – and the outlook so far still shows signs of growth, with the European Commission forecasting Malta’s economy to register 4.1 per cent growth in 2021. “Credit rating agencies keep upgrading Malta’s rankings, making it the strongest and most stable economy in Europe, while the European Innovation Scoreboard 2020 ranks Malta as one of the countries with the highest score in innovation systems. Our high-skilled resources are deemed as the most attractive in Europe with a high calibre of professionals and a superior workforce,” says Ms Farrugia. “Furthermore, Malta has also been described as one of the top emerging ecosystems in the Global Start-up Ecosystem, as an innovationdriven economy by the World Economic Forum, and as one of the strongest economies in Europe with minimal unemployment levels by Moody’s, S&P and Fitch.” Adding to the list of recognitions is the 2020 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), which ranked Malta fifth among 28 countries for its advancement in the digital economy. “Malta’s geographical barrier has been counterbalanced with its digital capability and readiness together with its humancentred approach to digitalisation,” she states. “Couple Malta’s excellence in the digital field with its pro-business legal and regulatory framework, and its aggressively incentivised FDI mechanisms to attract investors in ICT and other technology segments, and the result is a reputable and global hotspot for the integration of digital technologies.” On a European level, Malta has also recently secured the biggest allocation of EU funds in its history, a mammoth package worth €2.25 billion for the financial period of 2021-2027. “Malta has consistently strived to be ahead of the curve, where technology and innovation are concerned, with tech sector growth approaching 4 per cent in the second quarter of 2020,” says Ms Farrugia. “Malta’s foreign policy seeks to be a catalyst in the creation and in
the furthering of business opportunities to draw foreign direct investment to Malta and to provide the private sector with more opportunities for business networking and for export of goods and services.” A persistent challenge which practically all companies have or will face at some point or other is that of a skills shortage. Locally, this was cited as a major obstacle by tech-driven companies based on the island in recent years, but the phenomenon is not limited to Malta. As Ms Farrugia explains, attracting talent is a key factor for the success of tech companies, and it is a challenge to find and retain such talent worldwide. “The scarcity of available talent and the challenge of retaining it is a recognisable feat that one has to tackle head-on. Tech. mt in fact identifies a few tactics it can use to bridge the human resource skills gap and aid growth in the technology sector. Tech.mt plans to partner with education institutions to position Malta as a vibrant location for tech talent and in turn attract human capital to our shores,” says the CEO. “Furthermore, Tech.mt is working closely with academic institutions to better understand how the local STEM and IT curricula can be made more attractive to be chosen as the basis for a career in technology. We also need to consider 057
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Tech.mt has firmly pledged its commitment to ensuring that those left behind receive opportunities that enable them to cope with the digital transformation COVID-19 has brought to bear.
new areas of specialisation revolving around digital and creative technology, possibly even partnering with academic institutions abroad.” Switching the focus to the current reality, as Malta, along with the rest of the world continues to deal with the presence of COVID-19 and the economic and social impacts it has had on the country, Ms Farrugia asserts that, from a tech standpoint, while Maltese households have one of the highest rates of internet access in Europe, a small but significant fragment of society has been left behind. “When speaking about narrowing the digital divide, Tech.mt also believes in limiting the divergence between tech-savvy businesses and small businesses which struggle to cope with offering their services online,” says Ms Farrugia. “To this end, Tech.mt has proactively encouraged businesses from all sectors of the economy to adopt the process of digitisation by organising informative webinars and providing advice and support to all businesses. It is evident that as the economy continues to reboot, we will see a more digital economy and society. As Tech.mt, we yearn to see such transformations but also pledge to drive such transformations in the most inclusive and resilient manner possible.”
“Unreliable and unaffordable access to internet or the inability to utilise digital platforms make it almost impossible for the underprivileged or disadvantaged tiers of society to stay abreast during the pandemic. Tech.mt has firmly pledged its commitment to ensuring that those left behind receive opportunities that enable them to cope with the digital transformation COVID-19 has brought to bear.” To this end, Tech.mt has several initiatives in the pipeline while ensuring that economic recovery and digital transformation are based on inclusivity. Undoubtedly, local businesses have suffered too as a direct result of the pandemic, and one of the lessons learnt from the crisis is the dire need for businesses to go digital and offer e-commerce solutions for consumers.
As CEO of Tech.mt, at a time when uncertainty across all areas prevails, Ms Farrugia acknowledges that certain sub-sectors in the tech industry are struggling, namely wholesalers, hardware
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providers and even service providers. “With prolonged economic recession topping the list of predicted effects of the pandemic, these are uncertain times for governments, businesses and societies. But with uncertainty comes opportunity. In fact, I believe that among all this insecurity lies a unique but prominent window of opportunity to shape a more resilient economy.” While many conferences and large gatherings have been cancelled due to COVID-19, nurturing local growth and attracting FDI remained top of the agenda for Tech. mt through regular participation in online conferences, summits and webinars, giving local tech companies the opportunity to showcase their work and provide them with a platform to celebrate their successes. “This also presented us with a unique opportunity to emphasise our mission of promoting Malta as the investmentfriendly and tech-savvy jurisdiction, whilst virtually connecting with hundreds of investors and innovators.”
Ms Farrugia adds that it is inevitable that the integration of technology in Malta’s economy will eventually become an essential component of ensuring a healthy recovery from the pandemic. “It is up to us to explore technology’s full potential,” she concludes. “The circumstances are uncertain but on the positive side, this is the golden opportunity to restore faith in technology and prove that it can enhance or replace activities that normal life, for the next few months at least, cannot. Perhaps this is the silver lining for businesses in the age of COVID-19.” Email: Techmt.Contact@tech.mt Facebook: Tech.mtMalta Instagram: @tech.mtmalta Linkedin: @tech-mt Twitter: TechmtMalta
When speaking about narrowing the digital divide, Tech.mt also believes in limiting the divergence between techsavvy businesses and small businesses which struggle to cope with offering their services online.
The CEO adds that the pandemic has been a wake-up call that highlighted the need to transition to a more digital economy. “If we truly want to have a resilient and effective recovery, we need to bring all stakeholders from all levels at the table with Government to design the kind of future we want for our country, our economy and our people. And without any doubt, the future Tech.mt envisages is digital.”
Sarah Zerafa Photo: Kris Micallef
NEW SEASON STYLE WITH MALTA’S FASHION INFLUENCERS As our lighter summer clothes get relegated to the back of our wardrobes, the excitement of a new season, and all the exiting trends and outfit opportunities it brings with it, begins to kick in! Looking ahead at autumn and winter trends, SARAH MICALLEF talks to two of Malta’s best loved fashion influencers to discover what they think will be all the rage this season.
ith social media becoming more popular than ever, there’s hardly any doubt that we’re in the age of the ‘influencer’. From lifestyle tips to the latest trends, these social media stars dedicate themselves to staying ahead of the curve to bring their followers the next big thing, and as the advent of a new fashion season approaches, we consult two of Malta’s best loved Instagram stars for their take on what’s hot.
SARAH ZERAFA Popular fashion influencer and Instagram star Sarah Zerafa shares fashion tips and outfit inspiration with her 234k followers through her account @sosazerafa on a daily basis, so it’s safe to say that she knows a thing or two about the latest trends!
Highlighting her obsession with “huge puffy sleeves” over the summer months, the Instagram star predicts their continued popularity throughout autumn season, pointing to layering as another top trend to look out for. “I'm definitely going to be layering flowy dresses over cute turtlenecks,”
she says, adding that as the global pandemic rages on, she’ll also be factoring matching face masks into her outfits. As for other accessories she’s expecting, it’ll come as no surprise to fans that Sarah looks forward to sporting new season headwear. “I'm a huge hat lover and that definitely won't change! I'll take my hat obsession with me through each season, but I'll try to focus more on fedora hats and berets throughout autumn and winter. Apart from hats, I'm really eager to start wearing more headbands and headscarves. There are some pretty cool options at the moment which I have no doubt will be super trendy this season.” Moving on to shoes, the sneaker lover admits that “chunky platform trainers are always a must in my wardrobe”, and as for heels, “I'm seeing a lot of kitten heels, square toe heels and ankle boots. Speaking of which, I'm definitely going to style up some cowboy boots too!” As for Sarah’s favourite thing about autumn and winter dressing, it’s got to
“Personally, I’ve always loved autumn fashion trends,” Sarah, who favours neutral colours, browns and oranges, reveals, adding “it’s the season where I can experiment the most with my favourite colour combos.”
Charles & Ron
be layering. “Layers can turn your plain outfit into a super cool and trendy look! I love cropped jackets too, which I'm sure I'm going to be wearing a lot of. They accentuate your waist and complete the look perfectly!”
FA S H I O N
Jade Zammit Stevens
FA S H I O N
JADE ZAMMIT STEVENS Fashion and beauty influencer Jade Zammit Stevens showcases an incredible variety of makeup and fashion looks via ‘As told by Jade’ (@jadezammitstevens) and isn’t afraid to experiment while showcasing the latest trends to perfection. Jade’s prediction for top autumn and winter trends includes monochromatic and neutral outfits, which the Instagrammer describes as a staple for the season. “I think combining varying shades of neutral tones can make simple items of clothing look chic and put together,” she reveals.
As for accessories, jewellery-loving Jade doesn’t disappoint, highlighting “gold chains and hoops” as a sure-fire trend for the upcoming season, affirming that “these classic jewellery options are timeless and can work with any outfit” – and who doesn’t want to look timeless, right? Agreeing with Sarah, Jade’s top shoes to look out for this season are boots. “Personally, I’m a big fan of ankle boots, and like to combine them with both casual and dressier outfits,” she maintains. Meanwhile, the fashion and beauty blogger outlines her favourite thing about autumn/ winter dressing as its versatility. “I really love the way you can be super stylish but comfortable at the same time – like wearing a classic black polo neck with jeans and a pair of boots.”
JADE’S TOP FASHION TIP “Less is more! A simple look with fun accessories is all you need for a stylish outfit.”
CHARLES & RON FALL IN LOVE WITH TIMELESS COLLECTIONS
NEW FALL SEASON
In true Charles & Ron style, the new fall/winter collection draws inspiration from their home country, Malta, and for this season, the designers put their focus on the traditional Maltese clock, known locally as arloġġ tal-lira. Launched during New York Fashion Week last February, the collection will be available in all C&R stores and online on www.charlesandron.com
Key items in the range are Maltainspired luxury scarves, leather bags and jewellery. The handbags are made from the finest Italian leather and are handcrafted in Malta.
“Malta has always been of enormous inspiration to our work, and throughout the years we have always enjoyed designing from a Mediterranean point of view,” say designer duo Charles and Ron. “For us, it’s important to incorporate certain aspects of culture, architecture and tradition, and show them in a different and unexpected way. From the beginning we always incorporated these references as they define us as a brand, and it’s important to embrace and appreciate your heritage.”
Last year, Charles & Ron introduced menswear to their range with a standalone shop at Minus Three, The Point Shopping Mall, Sliema.
The designers have dressed many international celebrities, including Paula Abdul, Adam Huber, Lauryn Hill, Paris Brosnan, En Vogue, Jessie J, Kelly Rowland, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ashanti, Ally Brooke and Michelle Williams. Their work has also been featured on many international publications.
Charles & Ron 58D, Republic Street, Valletta T: 2124 0184 Minus Three, The Point Shopping Mall, Sliema Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa, Attard www.charlesandron.com
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DIVE INTO HISTORY
B24 Liberator Photos: Heritage Malta
coast of Marsaskala, the Ju88 most likely met its demise during aerial combat with Allied aircraft, suggested by damage to the tail section of the aircraft.
iving enthusiasts and underwater photographers now have access to three new underwater aircraft wrecks, two of which were casualties of the ferocious Second World War, ‘Siege of Malta’ and another, the subject of the first documented helicopter rescue in the Mediterranean. The subaquatic museum sites, 15 in all, are being managed by UCHU, the Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit, within Heritage Malta, the national agency for cultural heritage.
Underwater photographers have an added incentive to reach these depths. Heritage Malta has recently launched a two-pronged photographic competition that focuses on historic wrecks and another on the interaction between marine wildlife and these wrecks.
During an intense air raid over Reggio Calabria in early May 1943, the American B24 Liberator encountered engine trouble. Jettisoning its bomb load, the 10-member crew decided to fly back to Malta but following a series of failed landing attempts they were forced to ditch the plane in the sea. The wreck lies approximately 1.5km south-west of Marsaxlokk at a depth of 56 metres on a sandy seabed .
These sites may only be accessed through Heritage Malta Approved Dive Schools and a ticket fee applies. For more information visit www.heritagemalta.org/underwater-culturalheritage-unit
A single-seat attack aircraft, the Douglas A-1 SkyRaider, was one of four aircraft tasked with mail duties between the Ħal Far airfield on Malta and the aircraft carrier USS Midway. After suffering a total engine failure in 1947, only minutes after taking off from Ħal Far, its pilot, Lt Robert HL Reeb, was rescued by a Sikorsky HO3S Dragonfly Helicopter. The wreck lies off the coast of Birżebbuġa in the south of Malta at a maximum depth of 96 metres. A German aircraft operated by the Luftwaffe, the Junkers Ju88 was extensively deployed from nearby Sicily in sustained bombings on Malta. Sitting upright on a sandy seabed at a depth of 106 metres north-west off the
Douglas A-1 SkyRaider
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REFINING THE MALTESE AESTHETIC The texture of Malta’s vistas, and deep colours of her seas, have been an inspiration to artists for centuries. And, today, many of the island’s youngest entrepreneurs are being galvanized to adapt its colours, tone, patterns and symmetries to create standout work which reflects the spirit of these Mediterranean shores. Here, REBECCA ANASTASI speaks to three such creatives who are making their mark.
alta is an island of hard edges and soft hearts. Its people can be brash and loud – startingly so, on first encounter – but there’s much warmth in the kind approach of older ladies, as they shuffle around their village; of barmen and servers in traditional locals who prepare
the ever-popular ftira u Kinnie; and of its globe-trotting younger generations, whose return to Malta is often accompanied by a critical eye. Yet, many don’t have to leave, and come back, to start seeing their home – with all its textures, vivid tones and shapes – anew. “There is something about Maltese floor tiles that wow me when I look at them. For a few seconds, I completely forget about the outside world and just spend time looking at the colours, analysing the shapes and how they were drawn. They’re so beautiful!” says Kimberly Micallef, the Director of Maduma, an organic clothing brand whose designs are inspired by the intricacies of the traditional Maltese tile. “Since I design floor patterns, my inspiration mostly comes from traditional Maltese tiles that I encounter when I visit old local shops or have the pleasure to experience when I walk into an old traditional house. Since I grew up in Malta, and I’m Maltese, I share a certain love and appreciation for Maltese culture, specifically the trade of making floor tiles,” she explains.
Kimberly Micallef Photo: Naomi Gradel
My inspiration mostly comes from traditional Maltese tiles that I encounter when I visit old local shops or have the pleasure to experience when I walk into an old traditional house. KIMBERLY MICALLEF, MADUMA
But, the designs on display on Maduma’s wares do not simply replicate the past – they rework, and adapt Maltese cultural elements, by, palimpsestically, writing the island’s heritage onto modern clothing. “I love fashion, so I thought I would combine something old with something new,” Kimberly says, explaining how she came up with the idea of adding these printed designs onto T-shirts – a concept which came to her in 2017, as she was establishing herself as a graphic designer. “I think the idea started to originate when I was doing my thesis about dying local trades. One of the trades I mentioned was tile making – I studied how it was done and, as part of my thesis, I had to digitally draw the pattern,” she recalls, saying that at the time, her investment in the practice “stopped there”, while she turned her focus to other endeavours. But, “the thought of digitally drawing patterned tiles” kept spinning in her head, and she decided to create and release her first spate of work – using
organic material. “I released 100 per cent organic cotton T-shirts in five different patterns. At that time, there was less knowledge about organic materials, but as an environmentally conscious person, I decided to opt for this. I want the best for our environment and, of course, for the customer, since organic cotton is sustainable and beneficial for the skin,” she smiles. And, the response has been overwhelming, she continues, with her new stationery range – released while the country was in soft lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic – sold out within the first two weeks of launching. “Our stationery is loved, and students buy it for motivational purposes because it’s very pretty,” she says, adding that the brand’s most popular items are the Ikħal Journal and the Roza Sleeveless Top. Looking ahead, Kimberly has some new products ready to be rolled out, including wedding invitations, which could help set the theme for any couple’s special day. But, the popularity of the products – across the range – is ultimately down to the exquisite detail and cheery tones, which brighten the day. “People just love the quality of our products and the vibrant colours that the patterns bring with them – they find them very uplifting,” she attests. 071
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Finely detailed designs – evoking the “visual experience of growing up in Malta” – is also what inspires the founder of Maltatype, Matthew Demarco, who says that the showcase of traditional Maltese typography is inspired by “all sensory forms – whether through photography, interior design, poetry, printmaking, writing or music.” Yet, the many corners, and shop fronts flaunting the art-deco lines of the Maltese typeface – which has become synonymous with the island’s visual flare – are particularly evocative. And, it was an appreciation of this heritage which pushed him to create Maltatype, Matthew – who is also the founder of a brand and design studio – explains. “Spending so much time focusing on creating brands and using typefaces, to get a certain feel across to an audience, means that I’m constantly surrounding myself with different type forms. I love the idea of creating identities of local brands, built on visual cues which have elements stolen from their surroundings,” he says. Moreover, “this is an element of the Maltese urban fabric which isn’t focused on by anyone, so my main focus with Maltatype is to build up an archive, a repository, where typography found in the Maltese public domain may be stored and accessed for use as a form of building block. It is also to raise some form of awareness about its existence and give people the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the type in our streets and to go out and find it for themselves before it’s all lost,” he says. Protecting what may be lost for future generations is, in fact, the cornerstone of such an endeavour, and it has been welcomed as such, too. “The response has always been very positive. People have often commented that there isn’t 072
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My main focus with Maltatype is to build up an archive, a repository, where typography found in the Maltese public domain may be stored and accessed. MATTHEW DEMARCO, MALTATYPE
much focus on the Maltese alphabet and specifically Maltese characters. The only reason for this is that Maltatype is all about documenting existing resources for now, and there isn’t much out there which represents characters from the Maltese alphabet,” Matthew explains. And, in the near future, Matthew plans on continuing to work on digital illustrations, which will be placed for sale online, and an exhibition – which will “increase the appreciation of the craft involved in creating typography and type-related signage” – is being lined-up, to ensure the appreciation for Maltese type, language and heritage remains at the forefront. 073
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Craig Macdonald Photo: Ed Muscat Azzopardi
For, safeguarding the island’s cultural history is intimately tied to those memories of childhood treasured by Malta’s creatives. Indeed, Craig MacDonald, one of the founders of Te fit-Tazza, an enterprise rolling out stylised prints which evoke Malta’s idiosyncratic scenes underlines this as a motivation. “For sure, the main inspiration for Te fit-Tazza is drawn from our surroundings, our childhood, and the ever-present fear that what makes up the Maltese culture is somehow not being cherished enough, and runs the risk of being slowly faded away,” says Craig. And this growing realisation – that the island is changing rapidly – is at the heart of the brand’s identity. “A lot of what we remember about Malta while growing up, is slowly being lost. So, the idea with Te fit-Tazza is to always highlight what is beautiful and what is familiar about the local culture, with the aim of instilling a sense of pride – before it is too late,” Craig continues.
Photo: Ed Muscat Azzopardi
The project kicked off in 2015, when Craig, together with his good friend, Andrew Farrugia, started to bounce off ideas for visuals in response to a question which had plagued them: what does it really mean to be Maltese? “By 2016, once the first 30 prints were done, we decided to exhibit the works and so we launched to the public. Straight away we had a very positive response, with our
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By presenting beautiful locations, nostalgic items and celebrating what is considered to be a Maltese aesthetic, we can start to understand more about what the Maltese aesthetic actually is. CRAIG MACDONALD, TE FIT-TAZZA
launch exhibition being quite a successful one, and we were being featured in various media outlets,” he explains, saying that things started to gain traction and before they knew it they had “created a platform whereby we could celebrate and explore Maltese identity.”
Forging ahead, the trio plan to remain true to the imperatives which motivated their project in the first place – the exploration of Maltese identity. “For us, the future now is all about exploring what the Maltese aesthetic is and continuing to celebrate examples of Maltese culture that resonate with us personally,” Craig says. “We have so much on these islands that is magical. Hopefully by presenting beautiful locations, nostalgic items and celebrating what is considered to be a Maltese aesthetic, we can start to understand more about what the Maltese aesthetic actually is.” Maduma’s products can be found online on maduma. com.mt; Maltatype have some prints for sale on their shop section at Maltatype.com, while Te fit-Tazza products can be found online, on shop.tefittazza.com, and from Souvenirs That Don’t Suck in Manwel Dimech Street, Sliema and St John’s Square, Valletta. 075
Photo: Ed Muscat Azzopardi
The following year also saw the iconic Splendid Hotel in Valletta transformed into ‘A Te fit-Tazza Exhibition’, and in 2018, together with their new partner, Simon Buhagiar, Craig and Andrew took over the souvenir brand ‘Souvenirs That Don’t Suck’ allowing them to have “a brick and mortar outlet to exhibit Te fit-Tazza”. Thus they were able to have a “permanent space where we could meet with our audience, host events, launches and always have our work on display.” This has since also been encouraged through their Valletta outlet, dedicated to helping the local creative community, collaborate and research.
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ocated in Maltaâ€™s capital city, Valletta, within what was once the Sacra Infermeria of the Knights of Malta, is The Malta Experience. This audio-visual spectacular is one of the largest attractions in Europe in terms of duration, system and language commentaries. The 45-minute presentation can be listened to in one of 17 languages. In a purposely-built auditorium with a panoramic screen, sensational vision and a gripping commentary, The Malta Experience brings 7,000 years of history back to life. Shows
are every hour on the hour, and after each show, one can also enjoy a tour of the Sacra Infermeria. Today, this beautiful building is known as the Mediterranean Conference Centre, but you can still step back in time and visualise its revolutionary past on a guided tour, and visit the longest hospital ward in Europe, measuring 155 metres in length and holding 247 beds. The Malta Experience, St Elmo Bastions, Mediterranean Street, Valletta. www.themaltaexperience.com
Photo: St Andrew’s Divers Cove
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YOUR IDEAL PLAYGROUND FOR OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
s Gozo worth visiting? You bet it is. Despite being a tiny island, Gozo offers a variety of outdoor activities and things to do so you'll never get bored, making it more than just a day trip destination.
For lovers of water activities, Gozo is an absolute paradise. For starters, it is probably the best place in Europe for scuba diving, with jaw-dropping sites suitable for everyone, from novice to expert. The best snorkelling sites include San Dimitri Point in western Gozo, Wied il-Għasri in northern Gozo and the famous Blue Hole at Dwejra, a 25-metre deep hole that connects with the sea eight metres down through a submerged arch. For colourful sea life, try Reqqa Point in northern Gozo or Xatt L-Aħmar in southern Gozo.
A full-day jeep safari offers one of the best-rated tours in Gozo and allows you to explore the hidden gems of the island stress-free. On these all-day tours, you will be picked up and led by a guide, and lunch is usually included in the price. There are many other tour options; whether it’s with a segway or a quad bike, you’re guaranteed a fun time. However, if you don’t enjoy such tours, you might want to get walking instead. In Gozo, a good walk is never far, and the views are often spectacular. The 50km Gozo coastal walk takes you around the entire island by a route that is interesting, safe, varied and enjoyable. The walk can be done by any reasonably fit person and a pair of walking shoes is adequate in all but the worst of weather. For something different, horse riding is an exhilarating, fun and different way to experience the unspoilt Gozo countryside. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced rider, the main horse-riding stables in Qala and Xagħra can provide you with a suitable horse and a beautiful day out.
Kayaking, boat rides and stand-up paddle boarding also offer superb ways to see and appreciate the beautiful Gozo coast. The island also has a lot to offer the cyclist. Mountain biking is at its best in Gozo from October to May, when temperatures are mild and the island is a lush green carpet of wildflowers and scented herbs. Rock climbing and abseiling are also popular sports in Gozo. From stunning sea cliffs to shady inland crags, you’ll find a climb that best suits your experience. 077
Whatever activity you choose to experience, Gozo will provide the perfect stage to enjoy an adventure you’ll never forget.
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WHAT TO DO AT MEDITERRANEO MARINE PARK THIS SUMMER
ummer in Malta was made for fun! And what better way to make your summer great than with a visit to Mediterraneo Marine Park? The park is open throughout the summer and can provide the most enjoyable and educational highlight of your summer; not to mention the unbeatable experience of interacting with some of nature’s most beautiful creatures, taken care of at Mediterraneo. A visit to Mediterraneo will usually take you through the Marine Park where you can see a variety of exotic animals such as blue and gold macaws, orange winged amazons and green winged macaws. The aviary, full of budgies, cockatiels and love birds can also be met up close during bird feeding sessions that can be booked upon arrival. Other animals you can expect to engage with during the summer months include the reptiles and amphibians found in the Marine Park, including snakes, lizards and frogs. The highlight of a Mediterraneo Marine Park visit is the Emotions Package, a swim with the dolphins, where the park’s magnificent dolphins can be met up close and personal! Enjoy a dry session with the dolphins and even two South American sea lions, where you can touch the animals, capture your memories with the help of professional photographers on site and even learn about how to care for these animals with the park’s Animal Carer For A Day experience. If you’re looking for something more, why not book the most rewarding activity in the Emotions Packages, where a 079
guided in-water experience with the dolphins will open your eyes to the wonder and spectacle of the highly intelligent bottlenose dolphins in the Park? Meet Ninu and Cha for an interactive swim, where you’ll be able to watch the dolphins in their full glory – learn instructions to communicate with the dolphins that are trained with positive reinforcement, where treats and physical engagement encourage them to interact in a safe and entertaining manner. Your connection with the dolphins will let you in on the magical experience the park’s carers experience every day, and you’re guaranteed to fall in love with them! Throughout your visit, you will be given educational information through presentations and learn how to best care for the exotic animals at the park, which also focuses on sustainability and highlights earth-saving tips that relate to the animals’ welfare in the wild. Visiting Mediterraneo Marine Park this summer will not be a one-time event. The general entrance experience will draw you back time and time again! Make it extra-special with a bucket-list opportunity while you engage with dolphins, meet sea lions and coatis, and even learn more about the birds and reptiles at Mediterraneo Marine Park. Give yourself and your family something to look forward to this summer – book your Mediterraneo experience today! www.mediterraneopark.com
52 56 181 20 1
Ħaġar Qim L-Imnajdra Temples (Mnajdra Temples)
71 73 74
6 88, 22
Ħal Għaxaq Il-Gudja
8 0 ,8
302 303 323 306
312 322 303 322 323 303 322
302 303 305 306 307 308 310 311 312 313 323 330
1 2 3 4 13 13A 14 15 16 21 22 24 25 31 32 35 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 56 58 58A 61 62 63 64 71 72 73 74 80 81 82 83 84 85 88 91 92 93 94 122 130 133 238 250 260 X4 Malta International Airport 117 119 135 201 X1 X2 X3 X4 2 3 4 124 213 Il-Birgu 80 81 119 210 X4 Birżebbuġa 71 201 Blue Grotto 31 45 48 186 203 212 221 223 Buġibba / Il-Qawra 280 X3 221 222 250 X1 X1A 41 42 101 201 Ċirkewwa Ferry 56 186 202 201 Ta’ Qali 52 56 181 201 Ħad-Dingli 223 225 44 101 201 Golden Bay 1 124 213 L-Isla 213 N3 3 201 Il-Kalkara 91 92 93 119 124 135 201 204 N91 Marsaskala 81 85 119 210 Marsaxlokk 22 31 32 109 110 117 120 121 Mater Dei Hospital 122 135 181 182 204 206 201 201 209 233 238 213 218 226 201 201 210 201 50 51 52 53 56 109 181 182 L-Imdina 186 201 202 250 X3 221 222 250 41 42 49 101 201 Il-Mellieħa X1 X1A 201 44 101 213 L-Imġarr 14 120 Paceville 50 51 52 53 56 109 181 182 Ir-Rabat 186 201 202 250 X3 13 14 15 16 21 201 202 204 Tas-Sliema 201 201 222 225 201 233 X3 212 81 82 201 206 Ħal Tarxien 71 73 74 117 201 218 Iż-Żurrieq
MALTA - Index of places served
L-Għarb Marsalforn L-Imġarr In-Nadur Il-Qala Ir-Ramla Ta’ Sannat Santa Luċija / Ta’ Kerċem Ta’ Pinu Church / L-Għasri Ix-Xagħra Ix-Xlendi Iż-Żebbuġ Ix-Xewkija Il-Munxar
Kemmunett Id-Dwejra (Cominotto)
301 309 311 308 310 301 302 303 302 305 313 308 307 306 309 301 305
KEMMUNA GOZO - Index of places served (COMINO)
322 323 301 303
St Thomas Bay
91 92 93 119 124 135 204 93
Date: 19th April 2017 © FREYTAG-BERNDT & ARTARIA KG, VIENNA
206 Marsaskala 84 Iż-Żejtun (Wied il-Għajn) 84, 20
94 120 121
213 1 Il-Fgura 90,91 92,93,94
302 , 303
30 2, 32 2
Ta’ Kola Windmill Il-Ġgantija (Ġgantija Temples)
IL-BAĦAR MEDITERRAN (MEDITERRANEAN SEA)
Raħal Ġdid 120,121 (Paola) 204 Tarxien Temples Ħal Tarxien
1 124 213
Tas-Sliema , 11
Ir-Rabat (Victoria) 30 2 32 3
Il-Munxar Ta’ Sannat
30 8 31 ,31 1 2
15 21 202 203 6 212 222 225
Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum
Il-Ħnejja (Blue Grotto)
56 5 Tal-Pietà 8A
X1 X2 X3 119 201 117 Malta Int. Airport 218 72 L-Imqabba
San Ġwann 32
St George’s Bay San Ġiljan (St Julian’s)
22 Il-Balluta 21
University Mater Dei Hospital
X1 X2 X3 X4 61 62 63 64 74 110 120 121 135 204 206 209 210 218 226
Ix-Xlendi Xlendi Bay
233 16 25 35 2 2
Ħal Balzan Birkirkara
13A 14 103 110 120 121
41-49 203, 25 0,260 280 4 5
In-Naxxar Mosta Dome Il-Mosta
,5 50,52,5 3
53 186 201 202
Ta' Qali National Stadium
21 2 , 22 2, 2 25 X 1, X1A
X1 X1A X2 22 25 31 32 106 110 117 120 122 135 181 182 204 206 209 210 213 218 226 233 238 260 280
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44, 2 3
San Pawl il-Baħar (St Paul’s Bay)
X3 31 45 48 186 203 212 221 223 280
Selmunett (St Paul’s Islands)
Bus routes Bus routes only summer Number of bus route Place of departure/arrival Key bus stop Sales and information ofﬁce Bus interchange Tourist information Heritage site Place of interest Airport Hospital Ferry Beach
1 44, 10
44 223 225
Popeye Village Il-Prajjet (Anchor Bay)
IL-BAĦAR MEDITERRAN (MEDITERRANEAN SEA)
X1 X1A 41 42 101 221 222 250
2 20 1,
L-Armier (Armier Bay)
80,82 , 85
5,48,186, X3 ,42,4 ,41 31 203,250,280 120
0 ,25 103
2 22 , 260 81,8
ġa Im L-
41,42 X1 303
rr y Fe
32 e Ferr y to Ċirk
VA L L E T TA M A P PLACES OF INTEREST
De Robertis Rooftop Restaurant
The Malta Experience
St John’s Co-Cathedral
The Lascaris War Rooms
Auberge de Castille ST JOSEPH STREET
ST FREDERICK STREET
F AR WH Y ST RE ET
ST PAUL STREET
ST AN TH ON
OLD MINT STREET
3 Upper Barrakka Gardens
WIN DMIL L STRE ET
EE Y STR
ER B AT T
ST ZACHARY STREET
ST JOHN STREET
ST MARK STREET MELITA STREET
ST URSULA STREET
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ST LUCIA STREET
OLD BAKERY STREET
Fort St Elmo
OLD THEATRE STREET
Lower Barrakka Gardens
ST CHRISTOPHER STREET
ST RE ET
Charles & Ron
ST DOMINIC STREET
M XE TT
Grandmaster’s Palace & Armoury
ST CHRISTOPHER STREET
M AR SA
St George’s Square
ST NICHOLAS STREET
St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral
OLD HOSPITAL STREET
St Paul’s Shipwreck Church
EB ST S
National Museum of Archaeology
Pjazza Teatru Rjal
Our Lady of Victory Church
Spazju Kreattiv M
E ST RE ET
ST PATR IC K
Palazzo Preca Restaurant
ST G EO RG
Experience Malta & Gozo