Corporate Maldives Magazine

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Managing Director & CEO

Akhmeem Abdul Razzaq

Director - Chief Content Officer

Mohamed Khoorsheed

Managing Editor

Nashama M.

Assistant Editor

Iyasha Arif

Marketing Manager

Raaya Abdulla

Assistant Marketing Manager

Rawha Ibrahim

Marketing Executive

Aishath Azka

Content Manager

Ma’aan Abdulla


Ali Sageef

Multimedia Journalist

Ahmed Raaif

Multimedia Journalist

Ahmed Shaif

Multimedia Journalist

Ibrahim Ameel Abdulla

Office Assistant

Mohammad Ratan

Chief Operating Officer

Ahmed Nasir

Director - Chief Digital Officer

Ibrahim Areef

Chief Design Officer

Zaya Ahmed

Art Director

Hamdhoon W.

Publisher’s Note

Greetings and welcome to the October 2023 edition of Corporate Maldives magazine. As a quarterly print publication, we are committed to providing comprehensive coverage of the Maldives’ business community.

This issue, our Corporate Maldives Spotlight is on Dhiraagu. Founded in 1988, the company now serves over half a million customers. Our team had the privilege of sitting down with Ismail Rasheed, CEO & MD of Dhiraagu, to gain insight into their operations. Additionally, along with the company’s numerous milestones over the years, we highlight Dhiraagu’s efforts in driving the digital future of the country’s tourism industry.

In this issue, we have also included interviews with the State Trading Organization’s (STO) finance team. Explore the backgrounds of four pivotal figures essential to realising STO’s financial direction.

Our news segments cover a broad range of industries and business sectors in the Maldives, including tourism, construction, banking, technology, trade, fisheries and agriculture, among others.

We hope you find this edition informative and engaging. Happy reading!

4 Corporate Maldives | October 23
Published by Email Website Address Orca Media Group Pvt. Ltd 4th Floor, Ma. Oliveena Chandhanee Magu, Male’ Republic of Maldives Copyright c 2023 Orca Media Group. All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited. Opinions expressed in the articles are of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. While the editors do their utmost to verify information published they do not accept responsibility for its absolute accuracy. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced, whether in part or in whole, without the consent of Orca Media Group.
Corporate Maldives | October 23 5 54 82 86 80 60 56 76 78 68 90 Retail Environment & Sustainability Society & Investment Utilities Health & Wellness Banking & Finance Fisheries & Agriculture Trade, Fuel & Shipping Technology & Innovation Business Directory 42 44 50 Transport & Construction Education & Training Human Resources 10 Corporate Maldives Spotlight: Dhiraagu 18 28 Government & Economy Tourism & Aviation
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10 Corporate Maldives | October 23
Corporate Maldives Spotlight: Dhiraagu
Ismail Rasheed CEO & MD of Dhiraagu

In the dynamic landscape of telecommunications, few have made as indelible a mark in the Maldives as Dhiraagu. Leading this telecom is Ismail Rasheed, its esteemed CEO & MD, whose leadership has seen Dhiraagu usher in a digital renaissance, touching every corner of the archipelago.

Following this, the major focus was on strengthening and expanding our broadband services. This required a robust international connectivity, and a digital backbone across the country with an upgraded digital backhaul to all inhabited islands and resorts.

As part of this work, the Maldives was connected to the global telecom network via a submarine cable to Sri Lanka in 2006, which removed the dependency on satellite for international connections. Along with this project, a submarine cable was established across the One and Half Degree Channel, connecting the southern islands with the digital backbone. Building on this momentum, we established the domestic submarine cable network project from north to south covering the entire length of the country which became the high-speed digital backbone to extend broadband service across the Maldives.

We have achieved notable milestones where we have successfully provided 100 per cent mobile coverage to all inhabited islands, resorts, and major industrial islands. We also marked the completion of the first nationwide coverage of mobile broadband service to all inhabited islands in 2015.

Dhiraagu was founded in 1988 as a joint venture between the government of Maldives and Cable & Wireless company of UK, at a time when the Maldives didn’t have basic telephone connectivity between islands. Our initial mandate was to provide telephone service to every island in the Maldives which we successfully completed in 1999.

Immediately after we started our operations, we introduced a host of services enabling business and personal communication. These include the introduction of international direct dialling service, telex, fax, paging which added immense value to our customers.

We launched internet service in the Maldives in 1996, shortly after its global introduction in 1991, which at the time contributed to significant improvements in communication, especially for businesses.

Today, as we celebrate 35 years, I am pleased to announce that we now have more than 90 per cent of households in the country with access to our high-speed fibre broadband service.

I would like to extend my gratitude to our customers for their continued trust and support without which these achievements would not have been possible. I am also thankful to our shareholders for their commitment to continue to invest in the development of telecommunications in the country, whose constant support and guidance have been instrumental in our success.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 11
Could you tell us a bit about Dhiraagu’s 35-year journey of enriching the lives of the people living in the Maldives?
Corporate Maldives Spotlight: Dhiraagu
As the CEO & MD of Dhiraagu, Ismail has been pivotal in guiding the company through transformative phases, ensuring its continued relevance in the Maldivian telecommunications landscape and championing its commitment to innovation.

How has Dhiraagu’s inception and growth influenced the telecommunications landscape and broader socioeconomic development in the Maldives?

Telecommunication services are essential for communities and businesses to function and thrive. It was even more crucial for the Maldives due to the isolated nature of our islands and our remoteness from the rest of the world. Expansion of the telecom network was a catalyst for the growth of other businesses, especially the tourism industry across the country.

Given the Maldives’ challenging geography –spanning 850 kilometres with islands separated by water – extending Dhiraagu’s network across the country and providing every island with access to our services in a relatively short period is recognised by many as a tremendous achievement. Our team’s strong belief in our purpose to enrich lives is the driving force behind this rapid growth.

Expanding the telecom network in the country was followed by the development of resorts across the Maldives which brought a dramatic improvement to the country’s socioeconomic progress. Reliable communication became critical for businesses, making our services pivotal for the tourism sector. In recognition of our contributions, Dhiraagu has received awards from both the Maldivian government and the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI).

The progress we made on our digital transformation journey ensured that we were able to help the country during the COVID-19 pandemic and enabled the country to quickly adapt to remote work and learning. It also made it possible for us to promptly shift our operations, including those of our call centre, to a workfrom-home model when required, providing uninterrupted service to our customers.

What have been some of the key business highlights of Dhiraagu over the past few years?

If we start from the beginning, we successfully expanded our telephone, mobile and internet service to every island, ensuring that telecommunication was the first utility to reach 100 per cent of the population, bringing people and communities closer together.

We have established nine operations centres in strategic regional locations with technical and commercial services to serve customers close to their homes. Dhiraagu was also the first to set up a 24/7 customer service call centre in the country.

Dhiraagu is a good example of a successful government joint venture with a foreign partner that has contributed to development of the country, expanded an essential service to the entire population, and delivered continued value to shareholders.

Transitioning into a public company, we embraced transparency in our operations. Shortly after this, Cable & Wireless announced the transfer of its majority shareholdings in Dhiraagu to Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) in 2013. Currently, 52% of Dhiraagu’s shares are now held by Batelco.

We are constantly introducing new technologies and are committed to our journey of innovation to bring state-of-the-art modern services which are relevant to our customers. We have digitised our channels and are constantly evolving them to offer easy access to our customers, so that they are able to do business with us, anytime, anywhere.

Business and enterprises are an important customer base for us. We work closely with them to understand their requirements and offer customised solutions to meet their individual needs. Our enterprise portfolio includes many services to deliver efficiency and enable them to provide a better experience to their end customers. We are constantly evolving these services. These include data centres hosting and hybrid cloud services, open API integration solutions, and other platform services supported by our dedicated enterprise teams.

12 Corporate Maldives | October 23
Corporate Maldives Spotlight: Dhiraagu

With our tier 3 data centre offering the highest level of resiliency and availability, customers are assured the best quality of service. We are strengthening our domestic network and backhaul and introducing edge cloud clusters to bring cloud capabilities closer to customers to ensure higher availability, resilience, and quality of service, which is especially important for our enterprise customers. Along with our sister company Beyon Cyber, we are also providing cyber security service in the Maldives which is becoming critical in an increasingly digitised world.

We are happy to be recognised by the industry as the first to launch 5G commercial service, not only in the Maldives but also in the South Asia region. We have also been awarded the ‘Maldives’ Fastest Mobile Network’ by Ookla® for two consecutive years.

The significant investment we have made to join the SMW6 consortium, to connect the Maldives to the global super high-way SEA-ME-WE 6 submarine cable system, demonstrates our commitment to make our digital connectivity more resilient and reliable, improve service quality, and attract investors to host their services in the Maldives.

Could you shed some light on the initiatives that Dhiraagu has undertaken to bridge the digital divide within the Maldives?

Our focus is on making sure that every inhabited island has access to our services, which by and large we have achieved. Today, everyone in the country – even in the most remote islands – has access to the internet, primarily through mobile and fibre broadband. This accessibility is due to the high-speed digital network and infrastructure we have built, combined with the latest technology and innovations we have adopted.

For instance, our IPTV network, which was fully digital, allowed users to access content from any device, whether an iPad or phone. Although we no longer offer this TV service ourselves, we still facilitate access to other providers. Another service to highlight is our ‘DhiraaguPay’, a digital wallet which allows users to make digital payments and transactions using their phones.

‘Take on Tomorrow’ is our core message and promise to customers. If you are with Dhiraagu, you can be assured that you will enjoy the latest technology and remain part of the digital world. We are dedicated to bringing the most recent technologies to our customers and help them tap into the benefits of the digital transformation taking place globally.

Our first priority is to understand our customers’ needs and then design products and services to meet those needs, through the introduction of the latest technological advancements and access to the most up-to-date digital services. This approach ensures that we stay relevant to our customers and consider their digital journey in every project we undertake.

How does Dhiraagu balance the commercial needs of being a business with social responsibilities?

In any country or company, there is an inherent need to address community needs and be a responsible corporate citizen. From the outset, Dhiraagu has been committed to supporting communities, not just through our main services – which address significant societal needs and help in their development – but also through various social initiatives. We have led the way for responsible corporate governance through our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the country.

The global corporate landscape is evolving, and there is a shift from traditional CSR to being a responsibly run corporation. We are one of the first organisations in the Maldives to establish a sustainability function. Through Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) leadership, we are committed to adapting the best practices in taking care of our customers, our people, and the communities we provide services to, while ensuring that our operations are ethical, sustainable, and compliant with laws, regulations, and corporate governance.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 13
‘Take on Tomorrow’ is Dhiraagu’s brand proposition. How do you ensure that it aligns with your customer’s digital journey?
Corporate Maldives Spotlight: Dhiraagu

The telecom industry relies heavily on technology. How challenging do you find recruiting people?

As a highly technical company with specialised needs, we are proud of the fact that 99 per cent of our staff are Maldivian. This achievement stems from our focus on people development; we have actively helped individuals advance in their careers, placing them in the right positions and empowering them. I also started as a technician in Dhiraagu and over the years, I have engaged with various technological shifts, learning, and unlearning along the way.

However, recruitment remains challenging, especially in specialised technical areas, as there is global demand for the same talent. Despite this, our high retention rate indicates the high level of engagement from our teams and the conducive work environment in Dhiraagu. We encourage young people to join us, offering them the chance to progress internally.

One of our key CSR initiatives is our Dhiraagu Apprentice Programme which aims to enhance the employability of our youth. Every year, we onboard 20-30 apprentices who are given the opportunity to gain both hands-on experience and formal training across various departments, based on their interests. Many of our past apprentices have credited the experience as instrumental in their career development.

Can you share any future expansion plans for Dhiraagu, both in terms of services and geography?

We aim to introduce new innovations, products, and services to support the economic development of the country, both socially and economically. Our focus is on ensuring that all islands have access to fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), and we are aiming for 100 per cent coverage of the nation. To further enhance our international connectivity to ensure the best service quality, we are involved in a consortium and are upgrading our internal submarine cable network which will allow us to offer higher speeds and greater bandwidth to islands and introduce more digital services.

We already have a tier 3 ready data centre, offer cloud services, and are in the process of building a tier 4 cloud data centre. Additionally, several regional data centres will be set up so that digital services are readily available and closer to customers, allowing for more efficiency and a higher quality of service.

In every new task we undertake, our major focus is on ensuring that we provide the most superior service and empower our customers to ‘take on tomorrow.’ We remain committed to enriching the lives of people living in the Maldives, enabling them to thrive in the digital future.

14 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Corporate Maldives Spotlight: Dhiraagu

Dhiraagu: The Pioneers Who Ushered the Island Nation into the Digital Age

On 1 October 1988, a significant milestone in Maldivian telecommunications was marked when Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun Plc, more commonly known as Dhiraagu, began its operations. Over the past three decades, the company has been instrumental in propelling the Maldives to the forefront of digital communication, ensuring that people living in the Maldives remain connected and competitive on a global scale.

From its inception, Dhiraagu quickly established a reputation for innovation and excellence. They were the first to launch internet services in the island nation, a move which transformed the way Maldivians communicate, work, and entertain themselves. The introduction of the mobile phone service set a new standard in personal communication, bringing a once-distant world closer to home.

In their continuous mission for superior connectivity, Dhiraagu introduced both 3G and subsequently 4G services throughout the Maldives. An impressive feat is the company’s achievement in delivering 100% mobile coverage

to every populated island, covering resorts and significant industrial areas. This ensures that no matter where one is in the Maldives, they remain connected., Dhiraagu was also the first service provider to introduce commercial 5G service in the Maldives and in South Asia.

In order to further enhance its network resiliency and improve service quality, Dhiraagu became a member of the SEA-ME-WE 6 consortium in early 2022. This positions the Maldives as part of the latest global super-highway and significantly strengthens the country’s international connectivity by providing direct access to key internet exchange points and data centres from South Asia and Europe.

The company has been pivotal in providing internet services to a staggering 90% of national households across the country. The legacy of Dhiraagu is evident in the telecommunication and digital infrastructure they have built in the Maldives. The nation’s contemporary highspeed connectivity mirrors the company’s foresight, tenacity, and allegiance to Maldivian technological advancement.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 15 Corporate Maldives Spotlight: Dhiraagu

Dhiraagu: Driving the Digital Future of Maldives’ Tourism

As the telecommunications sector intertwines with the world of travel, Dhiraagu remains as the driver of the digital transformation of Maldivian tourism. The company’s strategic initiatives have played a key role in accelerating the evolution and broadening the horizons of the tourism industry, amplifying the Maldives’ status on the global map, as the nation’s leading telecommunications and digital service operator.

Dhiraagu’s infrastructural investments have enabled the first nationwide mobile coverage. This technological advancement has not only solidified communication between remote atolls and islands but also provided high-speed connectivity; an invaluable asset for the country, seamlessly merging traditional paradises with modern amenities.

Delving deeper into the corporate values of Dhiraagu, one identifies a clear commitment to the tourism industry through its diversified product portfolio. Tailored specifically to cater to both small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and larger corporate entities, these products signify the company’s visionary approach to integrating and streamlining operations in the tourism arena.

Last year, during the ‘50 Years of Tourism’ celebrations, Dhiraagu was honoured with prestigious accolades in recognition of their significant contributions. These awards acknowledged Dhiraagu’s pivotal role in innovating and growing the Maldivian tourism industry, stemming from its development of the nation’s telecommunication framework. Dhiraagu’s technological advancements have been foundational in elevating the Maldivian tourism industry, blending tradition with modernity and showcasing the Maldives’ esteemed position in global tourism.

16 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Corporate Maldives Spotlight: Dhiraagu

Creating Sustainable Tomorrows with Dhiraagu

Dhiraagu, has long been recognised for their impressive advancements in digital transformation, and active role in advocating for environmental and societal causes.

Acknowledging the Maldives’ vulnerability to climate change, Dhiraagu has taken significant, conscious steps to ensure sustainable tomorrows for the nation. The company places key emphasis on the protection and conservation of the natural environment. Dhiraagu stands out as one of the Maldivian companies to adopt renewable energy in their daily operations, demonstrating their dedication towards ocean conservation and reducing their carbon footprint.

Highlighting their environmental initiatives, Dhiraagu launched the ‘Care for the Ocean’ campaign, a comprehensive effort to reduce the use of single-use plastics and educate the public about its environmental consequences. Pioneering the movement, Dhiraagu, since 2016,

has been a single-use plastic-free company, becoming the first in the nation to achieve this feat.

The company’s undertakings further extend to the ‘Drones for Resilience’ project, a collaboration with UNDP Maldives, Maldivian Red Crescent (MRC), the local community, local government, and the private sector. This project, emphasising public-private partnerships, employed drone mapping to enhance the Geographical Information System (GIS) accessibility through Dhiraagu, offering invaluable insights into highrisk zones, particularly coastal areas, and provide data on gradual environmental degradation due to climate change.

Dhiraagu is also one of the first companies in the Maldives to introduce the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) function within the organisation, ensuring their wider operations and practices are environment-friendly, ethical, and sustainable.

Dhiraagu became a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) in 2012. Since then, they have annually evaluated their environmental and social contributions, issuing dedicated Corporate Social Responsibility Reports that present the Communication on Progress (COP) to the UNGC.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 17 Corporate Maldives Spotlight: Dhiraagu

MMA Ushers in a Digital Transformation with the Launch of ‘Favara’ Payment System

On 27 August, the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) launched ‘Favara’, its cutting-edge Instant Payment System, setting the stage for a transformative era in digital financial transactions.

‘Favara’ allows users to move money between domestic banks within seconds. Features such as the ‘Favara Request’ ensure secure payment requests, the ‘Favara Transfer’ accelerates fund movement across local banks, and ‘Favara ID’ offers immediate recipient verification. Further enhancing user trust, the provision to recall transfers is also embedded within the system.

In the initial two days, ‘Favara’ saw MVR 10.6 million worth of transactions. In the first

week following its introduction, the system demonstrated its potential by registering MVR 128.42 million in transactions. By the end of that week, it marked 29,773 individual transactions.

Leading financial institutions, including the Bank of Maldives (BML), Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB), and the State Bank of India (SBI), have integrated with ‘Favara’. Beyond merely refining transactional efficiency, MMA envisions ‘Favara’ as an instrument of financial inclusivity, Beyond serving regular banking customers, Favara provides those without traditional bank accounts the opportunity to transact digitally, making the most of its integrated digital wallet for payments and services.

18 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Government & Economy
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Maldives Grows its International Reach with New Visa Accords

Over the past four months, the Maldivian government has successfully secured on-arrival visa benefits for its nationals from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyz Republic and São Tomé and Príncipe.

The Arab Republic of Egypt

On July 13th, The Arab Republic of Egypt took a decisive step by granting visas on arrival, termed ‘emergency entry visas’, to Maldivian nationals. This allows Maldivian passport holders, spanning Ordinary, Diplomatic, and Official types, to enter and reside in Egypt for a maximum of 30 days at a fee of USD 25. For longer stays or for purposes such as work or business, Maldivians are required to obtain a specific visa in advance.

Saudi Arabia

On the 7th of August, Saudi Arabia unveiled visa-free travel opportunities for tourists from several countries, prominently featuring the Maldives. This list also includes nations like Sri Lanka, Alabama, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Eligible travellers can now apply for the “visitor visa” either online or upon their arrival. While this visa permits tourism, the Umrah pilgrimage, and business visits, it excludes others, notably the Hajj pilgrimage and any form of paid work.


On 19th August, the governments of the Republic of Maldives and Mongolia signed an agreement for the mutual exemption of visa requirements, allowing nationals of both countries to stay for up to 30 days without a visa. The accord was endorsed in New Delhi by the Maldivian High Commissioner to India, His Excellency Ibrahim Shaheeb, and the Mongolian Ambassador to Maldives, His Excellency Ganbold Dambajav.

20 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Government & Economy

Kyrgyz Republic

Following a visa exemption agreement on 23rd September 2022, Maldivian nationals can travel to the Kyrgyz Republic without a visa, effective from 20th August 2023. Maldivians possessing valid Diplomatic, Official, or Ordinary passports can reside in the Kyrgyz Republic for up to 30 days from their date of entry. However, for extended stays or intentions such as work, education, or business, they are required to secure the pertinent visa beforehand.

São Tomé and Príncipe

A landmark Agreement on Mutual Exemption of Visa Requirements was signed between the Republic of Maldives and the Democratic

Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe on 2nd September. Under this agreement, Maldivians holding any type of passport are entitled to travel visa-free to São Tomé and Príncipe for a duration of 90 days.

By establishing such visa agreements, the Maldives not only cements its ties with partner countries but enhances the power and versatility of the Maldivian passport. This is indicative of the Maldives’ growing stature and influence in the international community. Consequently, these developments highlight the escalating strength and prestige of the Maldivian passport on the global stage, presenting promising opportunities for business, tourism, and cultural exchanges for its holders.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 21 Government & Economy

MPL Introduces Semi-CFS Operations Service to Aid Small Traders

Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) has inaugurated a semi-CFS operations service in the Male’ Commercial Harbour intended to accommodate goods facing delays due to unforeseen complications in response to the concerns of small traders, who often combine their imports into a single container.

According to MPL’s CEO, Shahid Ali, delays in clearing even one particular item previously resulted in the entire container incurring substantial fees. “When a single package isn’t cleared, we impose a demurrage charge on the whole container. The repercussions are particularly severe for small businesses. Such a service has been a request from the business community since 2019,” Shahid remarked.

The essence of this delay also poses challenges for shipping lines, emphasising the need for a streamlined process. With the additional storage capacity, MPL aims to expedite the cargo clearance process, ensuring traders avoid hefty container fees.

Tholhath Saeed, the General Manager of MPL, provided further insights into the storage specifics. “The current capacity stands at 550 cubic metres (CBM) of goods, translating to around 16 containers,” he stated. He further elaborated on the cost benefits, pointing out the stark contrast between the container fee of USD 35 a day compared to MPL’s storage fee of MVR 26 per CBM daily. “If goods remain uncleared for a couple of days, businesses could face charges upwards of USD 150 in contrast to a mere MVR 300 within MPL’s facility,” added Mr Saeed.

In terms of capacity and future adaptability, MPL has a two-month observation plan in place. If capacity concerns arise during this period, they assure stakeholders of the availability of more space within the port.

Additionally, as the government focuses on port development at Gulhifalhu, provisions will be made for similar services. Presently, an average of 187 cargo containers are processed daily at the MPL port.

22 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Government & Economy

Finance Minister Charts Course to USD 6.9 Billion GDP

Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer expressed optimism about the Maldives’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) achieving USD 6.9 billion by the end of the current administration’s tenure.

The government began its term with a GDP of USD 5.3 billion. Ameer mentioned that without the economic setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic, this figure might have approached USD 9 billion. Notwithstanding these challenges, the GDP dipped to USD 3.7 billion. However, adept governance enabled the strengthening of the usable reserves to a commendable USD 177 million.

Revival in tourism post-pandemic and strategic financial support for citizens and businesses

are seen by Minister Ameer as significant contributors to economic recovery. In order to support these efforts, the government allocated USD 27 million to assist 22,946 individuals and earmarked USD 24 million as front-line allowances for 18,365 workers. Additionally, small and large businesses were injected with funds amounting to USD 24 million and USD 9.5 million respectively.

Looking ahead, Ameer anticipates the country’s GDP to achieve a record high by the end of the year. With plans to bolster the GDP to USD 11 billion by 2028, he highlighted the importance of air transport expansion and infrastructural enhancements across the islands in realising this ambition.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 23
Government & Economy

Asian Development Bank Grants USD 18.7 Million to the Maldives

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) granted USD 18.7 million, equivalent to MVR 288 million, in financial assistance to the Maldives.

This financial support from ADB is part of the institution’s broader initiative, the Strengthening Physical Management and Sustainability Programme, which is slated to run until 2025 in the Maldives.

Chandan Sapkota, a public management economist at ADB, stated that this grant is aimed at bolstering the Maldivian government’s initiatives to enhance debt management and governance.

Additionally, the Technical Assistance Special Fund Debt Management programme under

ADB will contribute an additional USD 1 million, equivalent to MVR 15.4 million, to the Maldives.

The assistance package includes modifications to tax legislation, the development and implementation of a medium-range income plan, and the establishment of risk management and sustainable financing frameworks.

Furthermore, ADB’s support includes efforts to streamline the disbursement of funds to those in need by formulating subsidy guidelines and renewable energy-related policies.

ADB has a long-standing history of contributing to the economic growth and governance of the Maldives since its opening in 1966.

24 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Government & Economy

STO’s Strategic Adaptation Yields MVR 303 Million Q2 Profit

The State Trading Organisation (STO) has reported a net profit of MVR 303 million for the second quarter of the current fiscal year, according to its financial statement.

STO, in its quarterly report, revealed a total revenue of MVR 3.8 billion for the second quarter, marking a 14 per cent decrease from the first quarter of the same fiscal year.

The company attributed the bulk of this revenue dip to the volatility in global crude oil prices. Consequently, STO’s oil business sector witnessed a 15 per cent decline in revenue from the previous quarter.

Moreover, when compared to the previous quarter, STO’s net profit after tax for the current

quarter was also found to be lower. The figure stood at MVR 303 million, translating to an 18 per cent decrease.

Despite the challenging circumstances, STO continues to innovate and expand its operations. The company also opened its first-ever smart store in the country in July.

While the second quarter of the fiscal year saw a slump in STO’s revenue, these strategic moves indicate the company’s commitment to forging ahead and strengthening its position in the market. The company’s diversification efforts and determination to navigate global market trends could potentially improve its business performance in the upcoming quarters.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 25
Government & Economy

MMA Implements Monetary Policy Reform: Caps Money Printing at MVR 2 Billion

The Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), the Central Bank of the Maldives, has implemented a restriction on the amount of money printed by the government, capping it at MVR 2 billion.

In the current year, the MMA released MVR 1.6 billion in May, and in the previous year, it issued MVR 479 million in June, following requests made by the government. Out of the money printed this year, MVR 4.2 billion has been converted into long-term bonds, which are due to the MMA for MVR 12.5 billion and have a maturity period of 10 years. The decision to limit the amount of money printed was taken considering the potential slowdown in the economy and the state’s financial situation.

To address the economic challenges, the Finance Ministry has sought approval from the parliament to overdraw the limited amount of money printed. This request comes after the parliament passed a resolution in April 2020, temporarily suspending certain provisions of the Public Expenditure Accountability Act. The suspension of these provisions, initially extended, is set to expire by the end of this year.

If the government resorts to printing more money to cover its expenditures, it may lead to an increase in the money supply within the economy. Consequently, this could result in reduced demand for foreign currency and adversely affect the exchange rate.

26 Corporate Maldives | October 23
Government & Economy

The Maldives Welcomes Four New Resort Additions

The Maldives has strengthened its positioning in the premium hospitality market with the introduction of new resorts, each tailored to cater to the refined preferences of global travellers and stakeholders.

Amari Raaya Maldives

August 2023 marked the official commencement of operations at the Amari Raaya Maldives resort. The grand opening was graced by Atul Chordia, Chairman of Panchshil Realty, amidst a backdrop of traditional Maldivian hospitality. Located to the northwest of Male, the resort boasts 200 villas, seven distinctive dining

concepts, a tranquil Maai Spa, and a dedicated kids club. This luxurious addition enhances the presence of the ONYX Hospitality Group in the Maldives.

Barceló Whale Lagoon Resort Maldives

On 15th August, Barceló Hotels & Resorts made a distinguished entrance into the Maldivian luxury scene with the inauguration of the Barceló Whale Lagoon Resort. Barceló, already a significant player with over 280 top-tier hotels across 25 countries, adds yet another feather to its cap with this launch.

28 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Tourism & Aviation

Six Senses Kanuhura Maldives

From September 1, 2023, the Maldives has witnessed a grand addition to its lavish beach destinations as Six Senses Kanuhura officially opens its doors. With 91 exquisite villas ranging from beach to family and overwater pool accommodations, the resort is nestled amidst a picturesque lagoon teeming with turtles and vibrant marine life. Recent renovations reveal enhanced dining options, including Drift and Bottega, and a lush organic garden boasting a microgreens nursery.

Joy Island by The Cocoon Collection

Joy Island by The Cocoon Collection opened on September 1st. With 150 modern suites and villas, Joy offers unparalleled luxury. The Joy Beach Suite stands out with 300m2 of opulence, featuring two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a sprawling living space. Dining is an eclectic affair with ‘The Market’ presenting global delicacies and ‘il Basilico’ offering Italian delights. The Dream Spa provides an ethereal escape, while various activities ranging from diving to tennis ensure guests are always entertained.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 29 Tourism & Aviation

Maldives Government Sells Ownership Stake in Shangri-la Villingili Resort

The Maldivian government has recently completed the sale of its 30% ownership share in Addu Investment Pvt Ltd, the operating company behind the Shangri-La Villingili Resort. This action follows the resort’s closure in response to the Covid-19 pandemic’s onset in 2020.

The Shangri-La Villingili Resort, inaugurated in 2009, ceased operations due to the pandemic and has remained inactive since then. This prolonged closure had economic consequences, resulting in job losses in the Addu region and a decline in tourism across the southernmost atoll.

Minister Mausoom emphasised that the sale of the government’s share will facilitate the reopening of the resort and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to supporting this process, which includes obtaining necessary permissions. Brice Lunot, General Manager of Shangri-La Maldives, expressed optimism about utilising the government’s decision to reinvigorate the resort and exploring potential partnerships to expedite its reopening.

The government’s divestment from ShangriLa was enabled through modifications in parliamentary regulations, entailing a payment of USD 80 million. While Minister Mausoom did not provide detailed insights into the share transfer procedure, he acknowledged that the associated costs and the evaluated value of the entire investment were pivotal considerations in reaching this conclusion.

The predominant 70% ownership retained by Addu Investments Pvt Ltd, the company that holds ownership of the resort, remains unaffected. Earlier in the year, US investment firm CBRE Group was engaged to facilitate the resort’s sale by Addu Investments. Nevertheless, the current status of this sales initiative remains uncertain.

Positioned within the Addu Atoll, the Shangri-La Villingili Resort materialised in 2009 through a collaborative effort between the Maldivian government and the Shangri-La Group. The resort occupies an expanse of 50.6 hectares, providing accommodation with a total capacity of 284 beds.

30 Corporate Maldives | October 23
Tourism & Aviation

MFMC and IASL Sign MoU to Launch a New International Airline

Maldives Fund Management Corporation (MFMC) and Island Aviation Services Limited (IASL) officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a brand-new international airline.

The signing ceremony, held on 31st August 2023 at the Ministry of Economic Development, marks the initiation of a journey to revolutionise air travel and connectivity on a global scale.

With a shared vision to interlink the Maldives with the world and contribute to the nation’s economic growth, the two entities are embarking

on an ambitious journey to establish a worldclass international airline that showcases the beauty and hospitality of the Maldives on a global stage.

The forthcoming international airline aims to leverage the combined strengths and expertise of MFMC and IASL to provide unparalleled travel experiences, seamless connectivity, and unmatched service quality. This collaboration is primed to cater to critical tourist markets, including but not limited to China, Europe, and Russia, opening doors to a new wave of sustainable tourism influx.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 31
Tourism & Aviation

TTM Maldives 2023 Successfully Concludes

The 7th edition of TTM Maldives 2023, which commenced on August 22, 2023, at the Meerumaa Conference Facility, has come to a successful close at CROSSROADS Maldives.

The event began with the TTM Connect meetings that went on from 22nd to 23rd August at Meerumaa Events Conference Facility, attracting over a 1000 travel trade professionals and over 100 hoteliers where more than 3000 pre-scheduled meetings were successfully conducted as well.

The TTM Awards & Gala of TTM Maldives 2023 was a night of celebration, recognition, and appreciation for the outstanding achievements in the hospitality industry of the Maldives. This year’s awards were expanded to encompass 20 different categories, showcasing excellence across resorts, hotels, and top producers.

The closing event of TTM Maldives 2023 proved to be a remarkable social gathering of travel

trade industry professionals where they were able to enjoy dinner, live music and networking.

TTM Maldives 2023 was made possible through the support and collaboration of esteemed partners. The Platinum Partner, Ooredoo, the Destination Partner, Visit Maldives, the Host Partner, CROSSROADS Maldives, the Transport Partner, Jalboot, and the Card Partner, Mastercard, all contributed to the event’s success. The event’s Gold Sponsors included IDeaS, Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA), Medtech, Al Shaali Marine, Dhivehi Insurance, Maldivian, and HRS Hospitality & Retail Systems. Furthermore, endorsing partners such as Print Lab and Lotus lent their support to the event.

The organisers of the event, Orca Media Group, have also revealed that the tentative dates for TTM Maldives 2024 are set for August 21st to 22nd, 2024.

32 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Tourism & Aviation

New Regulations Allow 21-Year Leasing of Uninhabited Islands

The Ministry of National Planning, Housing, and Infrastructure has sanctioned the leasing of uninhabited islands for a period of 21 years for non-economic uses.

Under the recently published regulations, islands not earmarked for activities related to fisheries, agriculture, industrialisation, or economic exploitation can now be leased for purposes outside of these domains. This allows for more diverse uses of the uninhabited territories, although the precise nature of these potential uses has not been specifically outlined.

The new rules place a cap of 21 years on the lease period for non-economic activities. However, there are provisions for an extension of up to 50 years, provided the leaseholder meets certain stipulated criteria. These include the project remaining on track, with at least 75% of the proposed development reaching completion within the given timeline.

Another facet of these regulations is the potential for subleasing or mortgaging the leased island, which again is contingent on certain criteria being fulfilled.

The oversight of these leases falls on local councils. In situations where islands fall outside of their jurisdiction, the approval for leasing can still be obtained from the President, subject to the recommendations from cabinet ministers.

The newly instituted regulations have provisions for penalties in case of any violations. An infringement of the usage restrictions on the islands or the sale of the investment or subleasing to a second party by the original leaseholder could result in a fine amounting to USD 65,000.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 33
Tourism & Aviation

Urbanco Signs with Tourism Ministry to Develop a Designated Tourist Beach

Urbanco has partnered with the Ministry of Tourism to develop a designated tourist beach in the Hulhumale’ Phase I.

Permanent Secretary Fathimath Nilfa represented the Ministry in signing the accord, while Urbanco’s Managing Director, Ahmed Athif, affixed his signature on the company’s behalf during a formal ceremony held at the Ministry of Tourism.

Highlighting the importance of this initiative, Tourism Minister Abdulla Mausoom stated that Hulhumale’ was in urgent need of a touristexclusive beach. He noted that throughout the planning phase, feedback was actively sought from the Ministry’s team, Urbanco, and industry stakeholders to ensure a holistic design approach.

Hulhumale’ is already equipped with a number of tourist amenities, and as Mausoom remarked, “While furthering our tourism developments, our primary focus is on fostering a safe and

serene environment for both Maldivians and tourists. Both the Guesthouse Association and the Boating Association have emphasised the essentiality of a dedicated tourist beach. We are now on the journey to bring this vision to life.”

Speaking to the current situation, Urbanco’s Managing Director Athif shed light on the increased usage of Hulhumale’ beach by the populace from the Male’ region. He underscored the industry’s concerns, as expressed by guest houses and safari boats operating in the vicinity, particularly regarding the lack of a distinct tourist beach. This absence, Athif revealed, has led to some booking cancellations.

The tourist beach will be all-inclusive, ensuring accessibility for those with disabilities. Amenities will comprise benches, lifeguard stations, toilets, and seating areas, according to Urbanco. Moreover, the beach will feature kiosks, changing facilities, lockers, and shower spaces.

34 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Tourism & Aviation

Beond Earns CAMO Approval Ahead of 2023 Launch

Beond, the world’s first premium leisure airline, has received Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation (CAMO) approval by the Maldives Civil Aviation Authority (MCAA). The airline received approval under the recentlyenacted MCAR-CAMO regulations.

“We are pleased to have received approval from the MCAA for our CAMO,” said Nantha Lenin, Chief Operations Officer at Beond, and Accountable Manager.

“Our team undertook a thorough setup audit internally, which was then followed by rigorous MCAA audits. The cooperation between Beond and MCAA is exemplary and we thank the entire MCAA team for their support. The receipt of the certificate is a key step towards receiving our Air Operators Certificate in the Maldives, which is the next step on our path to the launch of our commercial operations.”

Beond recently announced the successful completion of over US$17M Seed Round from a group of esteemed investors. The round was oversubscribed, reflecting the strong confidence and belief in Beond’s vision and potential.

Beond will begin operations in the fall of 2023, with Maldives as its first hub, pending regulatory approval. The airline intends to fly a fleet of state-of-the-art Airbus A320-family aircraft in a unique luxury, lay-flat configuration, bringing passengers to Maldives from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific.

“Our team undertook a thorough setup audit internally, which was then followed by rigorous MCAA audits. The cooperation between Beond and MCAA is exemplary and we thank the entire MCAA team for their support. The receipt of the certificate is a key step towards receiving our Air Operators Certificate in the Maldives, which is the next step on our path to the launch of our commercial operations.”

Corporate Maldives | October 23 35 Tourism & Aviation

Batik Air’s KL Hub: Uniting Travelers with 50 Destinations Across 17 Countries

Batik Air, a prominent airline known for its quality services and extensive network, is now connecting travellers to an impressive 50 destinations spread across 17 countries, all from its strategic hub in Kuala Lumpur. With a strong presence in the Southeast Asian region and beyond, Batik Air is opening up new travel horizons for both business and leisure passengers.

Indonesia – The Heart of Batik Air’s Network

Batik Air’s hub in Kuala Lumpur provides excellent connections to multiple destinations in Indonesia, with flights covering eight major cities, including the bustling cities of Medan, Bali, and Jakarta. This enhances the travel experience for tourists, businesspeople, and Indonesian expatriates, offering seamless journeys to their desired destinations.

China – A Booming Market for Trade and Tourism

The airline also caters to the growing demand from Chinese passengers, with major cities such as Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Zhengzhou being part of their connectivity network. These routes are particularly attractive for Maldivian traders, offering them convenient access to crucial Chinese markets. Hong Kong is another significant destination, providing a gateway to the bustling metropolis and its vibrant culture.

Southeast Asia – A World of Opportunities

Batik Air aims to make travel within Southeast Asia a breeze, with good connections and competitive fares to a host of popular destinations such as Bangkok, Singapore, Vietnam, and Korea. Whether it’s for business or leisure, these routes are designed to meet the diverse needs of travellers from the region and beyond.

36 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Tourism & Aviation

Japan – Discover the Land of the Rising Sun

For those yearning to explore Japan’s rich cultural heritage, Batik Air offers multiple connections to some of Japan’s most enchanting cities, including Tokyo, Osaka, Okinawa and Nagoya. These routes are expected to appeal to travellers seeking a blend of tradition and modernity, making Japan an ideal destination for tourism and business alike.

Bangladesh – Strengthening Ties with Dhaka

Batik Air recognizes the significance of fostering stronger ties with Bangladesh, and as such, it offers excellent connections to Dhaka, the capital city. This opens up new avenues for economic collaboration and cultural exchange between the two nations.

New Zealand and Australia –Gateway to the Pacific

For those with an adventurous spirit looking to explore the Pacific region, Batik Air’s network encompasses multiple cities in New Zealand

and Australia. Whether it’s the picturesque landscapes of New Zealand or the vibrant cities of Australia, travellers can now easily access these destinations via Kuala Lumpur.

Batik Air’s focus on customer-centric services and a wide-ranging network has solidified its reputation as a preferred airline for travellers seeking convenience, competitive fares, and excellent connectivity. With the Kuala Lumpur hub as its central node, the airline aims to continue expanding its network to connect people across the globe.

Batik Air is a leading Malaysian-based airline operating out of KLIA Main Terminal. With its extensive network and seamless connectivity, Batik Air offers flights to popular destinations in the Asia Pacific region, including Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, ASEAN, and key Malaysian destinations.

For bookings and enquiries, please contact Concierge Group Maldives – GSA for Batik Air at +960 7377787 or email

Corporate Maldives | October 23 37 Tourism & Aviation

CROSSROADS Maldives Celebrates 4th-Year Anniversary

38 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Tourism & Aviation

CROSSROADS Maldives, the leading leisure and entertainment destination in the Maldives, recently celebrated its 4th-year anniversary with grandeur. In honour of this significant milestone, CROSSROADS Maldives showered its esteemed guests with a series of thrilling giveaways and exclusive discounts.

Having established itself as a benchmark for luxury, leisure, and memorable experiences in the Maldives, CROSSROADS Maldives has, over the past four years, continually offered outstanding hospitality, entertainment, and culinary delights to guests from across the globe. The 4th-year anniversary was marked by a splendid celebration replete with prizes, surprises, and discounts.

The crowning jewel of the anniversary festivities was the “4 Mega Giveaways.” Fortunate guests revelled in complimentary 1-night stays at three distinguished resorts:

Hard Rock Hotel Maldives

An exquisite amalgamation of music, entertainment, and opulence.


An oasis of style and sophistication nestled in the Maldivian paradise.

SAii Lagoon Maldives

A tropical sanctuary seamlessly merging natural allure with contemporary comforts.

Furthermore, guests had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Maldives’ untouched beauty with a complimentary 24-seater return transfer to Bodu Hithi Sandbank, courtesy of Jalboot Maldives.

Adding to the “4 Mega Giveaways”, the celebrations were elevated with:

Lucky Draws for Dining and Facilities

An added touch of excitement, as CROSSROADS Maldives introduced lucky draws offering enticing restaurant and facility discounts.

Exclusive Service Discounts

In a nod to their appreciation, the resort extended special discounts on an array of services, further enhancing the guest experience.

In reflection, the anniversary celebrations at CROSSROADS Maldives emerged as a radiant beacon of joy, exhilaration, and gratitude, setting an even higher benchmark for years to come.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 39 Tourism & Aviation

How MMPRC Charted Maldives’ Remarkable Tourism Revival

Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation (MMPRC) led the industry’s recovery, transitioning swiftly to a digital-driven strategy titled “React, Rethink, Recover”. This approach tapped into the power of virtual connectivity, offering immersive virtual tours and utilising social media to keep the Maldives alive in the minds of potential visitors. Their pivotal “Stay Safe Now & Visit Maldives Later” campaign and the “Maldives, the sun will shine again” Facebook event displayed the nation’s allure even in challenging times.

Preparing for a Comeback

As part of the relaunch strategy, the “Rediscover Maldives…the sunny side of life” campaign was launched, successfully capturing global

attention. The Maldives’ unique one-island-oneresort concept positioned it as a secure haven, further enhanced by the achievement of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Safe Travels Stamp in September 2020.

Adapting to Market Shifts

With unpredictable global situations such as China’s travel restrictions and geopolitical disturbances, MMPRC adeptly refocused its marketing towards booming regions like the GCC and South East Asia. By 2022, key markets, including India, Russia, the UK, and Germany, rebounded to pre-pandemic arrival figures.

40 Corporate Maldives | October 23
Tourism & Aviation

Remarkable Milestones and Accolades

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced in December 2022 that the Maldivian economy had fully rebounded. A significant achievement was reaching 1.6 million tourist arrivals by the close of 2022. The year 2023 promises even more, with direct flights from China resuming and the highly successful Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023 recently concluded.

The Maldives consistently claimed the title of “World’s Leading Destination” from 2020 to 2022 at the World Travel Awards. MMPRC’s stellar work also saw them crowned as the “World’s Leading Tourist Board” in 2022.

Beyond Borders: A Global Model

The Maldives’ successful navigation through the pandemic is now studied worldwide in international universities, celebrating its

adaptability, innovation, and astute crisis management. The nation’s strategies also served as guidance for international tour operators and airlines, preventing significant industry collapses.

Looking Forward: Continued Growth and Innovation

The Maldives is keen on diversifying its offerings, tapping into emerging markets, and ensuring long-term sustainability. This island nation’s recovery journey is evidence of the enduring spirit of its people, their resilience, and the collaborative efforts of entities like MMPRC. As the Maldives continues its trajectory of growth, it remains an inspiration for other tourismreliant economies worldwide.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 41
Tourism & Aviation

MTCC Launches Raajje Transport Link Ferry Service in Southern Atolls

The Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) initiated the Raajje Transport Link (RTL) ferry service in Zone 6 (Gn. & S. Atoll), introducing two new routes to facilitate crucial transportation connections between Zone 6 and Zone 5.

These newly established routes are set to significantly enhance the convenience of travel for residents across these four atolls, serving various purposes.

During a week-long trial period, MTCC offered free-of-charge travel along these two new routes, aiming to promote customer awareness and foster familiarity with the newly launched service.

Operated seven days a week, the RTL Ferry Services will provide accessible schedules through the RTL travel app and the RTL website.

The RTL ferry routes in Zones 5 and 6 will be served by two-speed ferries operating under the RTL brand. These routes include:

• Fuvahmulah to Vaadhoo and from Vaadhoo to Fuvahmulah.

• From Fuvahmulah to Hulhumeedhoo / From Hulhumedhoo to Feydhoo and from Feydhoo to Hulhumeedhoo / From Hulhumedhoo to Fuvahmulah.

42 Corporate Maldives | October 23
Transport & Construction

MNACI Introduces Inaugural Construction Industry Forum

The Maldives National Association of Construction Industry (MNACI) introduces the Construction Industry Forum (CIF), a platform aimed at fostering discourse on critical infrastructure and special projects.

Organised by Medium Event Private Limited and endorsed by MNACI, the Construction Industry Forum emerges as an essential arena for tackling the pressing issues besieging the Maldives’ construction sector. The event’s primary objective is to collaboratively strategise solutions to these

challenges and pave the way for their effective resolution.

The Construction Industry Forum zeroes in on key facets such as infrastructure development, housing initiatives, and the intricacies of procuring construction materials. The event, which saw participation from over 80 stakeholders hailing from both government and private sectors, as well as international counterparts, signals a collaborative stride towards advancing the construction domain.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 43 Transport & Construction

COENCIO Signs Strategic Partnership with The Colombo Leadership Academy

The Colombo Leadership Academy, CLA Coaching – specialists for executive education and leadership coaching, has expanded its activities to the Republic of Maldives through a strategic partnership with the Maldivian company COENCIO.

Coencio LLP is an entity specialising in business advisory and consultancy services providing risk intelligence, governance and culture audits, HR audits and internal audits. Coencio’s affiliated companies Quaero, Mind Haven and Enlighten a Mindful Community (EMC) provide wellness coaching and mentoring services, learning, growth & development programmes, counselling, guidance and mental health, social and emotional coaching sessions to enhance personal and professional progress of clients.

The practice includes diversified approaches and techniques from certified licensed professionals of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Social and Emotional Intelligence, Life Coaching and Mental Health.

CLA Coaching Director and Chief Executive Officer

Riaz Hassen said that “We are delighted to enter into the partnership with Coencio Group offering a wider spectrum of coaching and leadership development certifications and solutions and the CLA Great Managers awards programme.

Reema Rasheed of Coencio said “We are excited to sign up with CLA Coaching and will also act as the strategic partner for CLA Great Managers awarding programme in Maldives. Our businesses complement each other well and this would give a boost to our service quality”.

The CLA Great Managers awarding programme is now open for companies in Maldives to participate. The award identifies, assesses, and recognises Companies with Great Managers.

The CLA Great Managers programme continues to focus on advancing the domains of managerial and leadership effectiveness of all nominated managers by offering thorough feedback and comments through the deep-dive analytics model DACTI – 5X.

The key takeaway is to recognise managers who are improving their desire to drive results through people-based skills with holistic knowledge of what the organisation is trying to achieve.

The CLA Great Manager awards provide an opportunity for each organisation to examine its own managerial and leadership quotient and compare it to the best in the nation, finding overall strengths and potential improvement areas for the company’s managerial pool benchmarking industry best practices.

The programme helps to develop higher levels of engagement by fostering the development of stronger managers and the industry’s manager community. The awards also serve the larger objective of evaluating the ecosystem that fosters excellent managers and best practices among a broader spectrum of organisations across the Maldives.

44 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Education & Training

MACL Conducts Internship Programme for Children with Disabilities

Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) concluded its internship programme for children with disabilities, held from 1 May to 31 July 2023 in collaboration with the Care Society.

During this time, four students from the Care Society were offered an opportunity to undergo training and gain work experience at Velana International Airport. This initiative is a component of MACL’s social responsibility efforts.

A ceremony was held at the airport, where the Managing Director and CEO of MACL, Mahjoob Shujau, handed over completion certificates to the interns. This event was attended by heads from various MACL departments and the Care Society.

Participants in the three-month programme received a monthly allowance and were assigned

tasks across different sections of MACL, ranging from daily administrative duties to customer service. Supervisors provided oversight, ensuring that the interns had an informative work experience.

Speaking at the ceremony, Hassan Areef, the General Manager of Corporate Communications at MACL, stated, “This programme embodies our company’s dedication to empower and consistently support the disabled within our community. Beyond offering practical work experience, we aim to pave the way for these young individuals to confidently step into the workforce.”

Looking forward, the company is fervently planning more community-centric projects, with an emphasis on sustainable development, for the forthcoming year.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 45 Education & Training

BCC Publishes SME Handbook to Guide Small Businesses

Business Center Corporation (BCC) has published the first volume of an SME Handbook, a project initiated by the Ministry of Economic Development.

This project is developed in partnership with UNDP and with the backing of the Government of Japan. The handbook is crafted to address various aspects of SME operations, providing entrepreneurs with practical insights and information.

The SME Handbook includes an introduction that defines SMEs and explores their classifications within the specific context of the Maldives.

The handbook also includes a chapter on business and SME registration, emphasising the significance of proper registration procedures for ensuring legal and operational compliance. From the initial steps of creating an eFaas account to providing the necessary documentation, this section offers practical insights into the process.

Another chapter in the SME Handbook focuses on laying a business foundation. This chapter covers tasks such as setting up a company account, developing a mission and vision statement, creating achievable goals, crafting an impactful company profile, and formulating a comprehensive business plan.

The handbook also includes a chapter dedicated to financing options. It explores various financing needs, from acquiring assets to managing working capital and trade financing. The chapter delves into different financing alternatives, including Islamic, debt, and equity financing. Additionally, it provides insights into local banks offering MSME funding, discusses financing facilities, outlines required documentation for business loans, explores credit reports, and examines taxation implications.

46 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Education & Training

Dhiraagu and Sparkhub Concludes Lean Startup Maldives 2023

Dhiraagu and Sparkhub have announced the successful completion of the Lean Startup Maldives 2023, with the programme seeing the participation of 50 individuals eager to learn and embrace lean principles to foster innovation and entrepreneurial growth in the Maldives.

At the boot camp, participants were immersed in lean methodologies, gaining insights into how these principles can be applied to their processes and startups. The programme provided a unique platform for attendees to explore their ideas through customer validation and experimentation, helping them to understand the importance of iterative development and rapid prototyping. Participants were also introduced to cutting-edge tools and techniques that would enable them to build prototypes faster and help accelerate their path from idea to product.

The Lean Startup Maldives 2023 boot camp was an intensive and hands-on experience for the participants. Working in teams, attendees had the opportunity to test and refine their ideas through various experimentation techniques. Additionally, it emphasised the significance of effective customer communication to ensure

products and services are designed with the end-users in mind.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, Aishath Adnan, COO of Sparkhub stated “We are thrilled to witness the overwhelming response and the remarkable growth witnessed during the Lean Startup Maldives Workshop. Our mission has always been to create an environment that nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship in the Maldives. Seeing the passion and dedication of the participants reaffirms our commitment to fostering a vibrant startup ecosystem”.

“We will continue to support the development of entrepreneurship skills and empower the local startup culture. We hope that you will continue to apply the learnings in your startups and businesses. We are here to support you and together, let’s embrace the possibilities” stated Ali Riyaz, CCO, Dhiraagu.

Participants of the Lean Startup Maldives Workshop expressed how the workshop opened their eyes to the importance of innovating faster and adopting a customer-centric approach to product and service design.

The boot camp concluded with participants gaining valuable insights into the entrepreneurial journey, applying lean principles, utilising the Javelin’s experiment board, best practices for customer interviews, solution validation, and engaging in expert-ed sessions and interactive exercises. Dhiraagu and Sparkhub have been closely collaborating together in helping to build entrepreneurial skills to foster the local startup culture.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 47 Education & Training

Villa Foundation Initiates Loan and Scholarship Waiver Procedures

Beneficiaries of the Villa Foundation Scholarship and Loan Scheme are requested to submit their pertinent administrative details following the recent announcement by Chairman Qasim Ibrahim to waive the amount owed to the foundation.

Villa College offers a range of financial aid options to assist students in pursuing their academic aspirations. One facet of this assistance is the provision of flexible payment plans, allowing students to pay course fees in monthly instalments throughout the duration of the programme, and extending beyond for certain programmes.

To reward and promote academic excellence, the College presents scholarship schemes from

various organisations, including Villa College, Villa Foundations, the Nursing Association, Athama Foundation, Tree Top Hospital, and Discover Hospitality. Furthermore, the institution introduces discount schemes, encompassing family, alumni, and corporate discounts, making education more financially attainable.

In addition, Villa College facilitates access to Government Grant Schemes and provides support for the socially disadvantaged. Through these financial initiatives, the College endeavours to enhance the accessibility of education and inspire students to realise their academic and vocational ambitions.

48 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Education & Training

Financial Luminaries of STO: Crafting a Legacy of Fiscal Excellence

The heart of any esteemed organisation’s financial framework is pivotal to its success and longevity. This is evident in revered companies like the State Trading Organization (STO), where fiscal responsibility and economic strategy unite to carve a path of growth and stability.

Within STO, the finance department stands out as the critical linchpin, driven by a cadre of devoted professionals. With their distinctive backgrounds and expertise, they collectively define STO’s financial path, consolidating its stature as a toptier trading entity. Delve into the profiles of four key players who play an integral role in reaching the company’s financial direction.

Hassan Hameedh, Credit Controller

Hassan Hameedh has been serving at STO Finance Department since 2013. Within this role, his primary responsibilities centre around managing and monitoring the debt of STO, a crucial task to ensure the company maintains a steady and healthy cash flow.

Hassan’s introduction to finance and accountancy was rooted in his academic choices. “I found myself gravitating towards the business stream and particularly accounts from the time I made my O-level choices,” he shared. Interestingly, his early experience in giving tuition to students between grades 8 to 10 further cemented his interest in numbers and finance. After a decade-long tenure in national accounts within the realm of statistics, he made the pivotal decision to become an accountant, a role that eventually brought him to the finance department of STO.

When reflecting on the personal attributes that have bolstered his performance within the finance department, Hassan cites a combination of qualities. “Patience and calmness are essential, especially when dealing with the nuances of credit control,” he mentioned. Additionally, he emphasised the importance of honesty, an openminded approach, and a strong work ethic in his daily operations. These characteristics not only define his work but also contribute to his effectiveness in the role of Credit Controller at STO.

50 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Human Resources

Maha Adam, Financial Accountant

Maha Adam, a Financial Accountant at STO, has charted a dynamic journey within the company’s finance department, garnering diverse experiences across its various sections. In her current role, she shoulders the responsibility of updating payables, streamlining the procedures of payables, and further improving the whole operational process of payables to ensure that the daily tasks are going smoothly.

From her childhood days, numbers resonated deeply with Maha. “Since childhood, I’ve had a strong passion for mathematics,” she shared. This early bond with maths set the stage for her ensuing professional path. “When contemplating a career, finance was the immediate choice.” As her dedication to the world of finance grew, Maha saw STO as the logical progression. “Given STO’s stature as one of the largest companies in the Maldives, it offered the perfect platform for my aspirations,” she elaborated.

Maha’s tenure at STO’s finance department showcases a blend of dedication, continuous improvement, and collaborative spirit. “I’ve always been dedicated to giving my absolute best in everything I do and pushing my limits to achieve my goals,” she conveyed. Beyond sticking to established norms, she remains proactive in seeking enhancements. “While I tend to adhere to established procedures, I’m always searching for ways to refine processes,” she added. At the heart of her professional ethos is a firm belief in the power of teamwork. “Engaging productively with individuals from diverse backgrounds is key

to any team’s success,” she emphasised. These principles, combined with her expertise, have played a pivotal role in her successful journey within STO’s finance division.

Aminath Niusha Khaleel, Chief Accountant

Aminath Niusha Khaleel has been working at STO Finance Department since 2nd August 2010. In this capacity, her core duties involve the review and reporting of the STO Group and Company financial statements. Additionally, she ensures compliance with the prevailing financial accounting standards.

While many might assume Niusha always had a clear vision for a finance career, her initial leanings were actually towards Economics. “After my A levels, I began working as a secretary to the Chief Financial Officer at STO,” she noted. “STO’s offer of a scholarship in Accounting and Finance changed my career direction.” It was during her time in the general ledger section, where her responsibilities included the preparation of financial statements, that her appreciation for the finance domain grew.

When asked about the personal qualities that have supported her in her role, Niusha highlighted the importance of technical know-how and commitment. “Gaining the knowledge of preparing Company and Group financials is critical,” she mentioned. Her determination ensures that tasks are completed as per set timelines. These attributes have been foundational to her role within the finance department at STO.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 51 Human Resources

Hassan Arif, Financial Accountant

Hassan Arif, has been working at STO Finance Department since 17th November 2014. His inclination towards numbers was evident from a young age. “With a background in the business stream, the avenues directly related to mathematics in the Maldives were limited,” he explained. This pushed him towards Accounting and Finance, a domain that provides the ability to “measure performance and predict an organisation’s direction through numbers.”

Before joining STO, Hassan’s professional environment was quite contrasting. “I was part of an organisation that lacked structured policies and procedures, which limited my opportunities for both personal and professional growth,” he shared. Additionally, the previous organisation’s focus on a singular industry narrowed his scope of knowledge. STO, known for its diverse industrial engagements, seemed like the ideal platform for Hassan to expand his horizons. “STO’s reputation for professionalism and multi-industry approach appealed to me,” he noted. However, Hassan candidly added, “I never thought I would secure the job or even be considered for it.”

When reflecting on the personal attributes that aid him in his role, Hassan points to a blend of enthusiasm and interpersonal skills. “My eagerness to learn, paired with an outgoing nature may have contributed to my effectiveness within the finance department,” he said. These qualities, apart from bolstering his individual performance, also complement the collaborative ethos of STO’s finance team.

52 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Human Resources

SIMDI Group Opens “SIMDI Recrea” Outlet in Hulhumale

SIMDI Group unveiled its first-ever one-stop shopping experience, “SIMDI Recrea,” in Hulhumale. This outlet offers you a remarkable collection of our products from world-renowned brands in one place.

“SIMDI Recrea” was officially opened by Mr Yooshau Saeed, General Manager of SIMDI Group. The outlet’s location is Hulhumale, Lot 10141, Nirolhu Magu.

In a joint statement, Mr Mishal Ibrahim Mohamed Didi, Managing Director of SIMDI Group, and Mr Yooshau Saeed, General Manager, expressed their enthusiasm for the new outlet:

“Our valued customers in Hulhumale can now enjoy the simplicity of shopping for SIMDI Group products at ‘SIMDI Recrea.’ From everyday

essentials to home appliances and cuttingedge gadgets, everything is now conveniently accessible under one roof. ‘SIMDI Recrea’ is a testament to our dedication to customer convenience, and we are confident that it will offer an unparalleled shopping experience.”

The product selection at “SIMDI Recrea” encompasses a diverse array of household brands, including Dunar Rice, Garofalo Pasta, Noor Sunflower Oil & Mayonnaise, Santan Coconut Milk, Dilmah Tea, Bon café coffee beverages, Monin Gourmet Syrup, Canon Printers, JBL Speakers, Godox Lights, Illy Coffee Beans, Capsules & Machines, and Electrolux brand Irons, Refrigerators, Vacuum Cleaners, Washing Machines, and Kitchen Appliances, among others. The outlet will be catering to both wholesale and retail customers.

54 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Retail

STO Breaks New Ground with the Launch of Maldives’ First Smart Store

The State Trading Organization (STO) has inaugurated ‘STO Smart Store’ in Hulhumale’ Phase I, operating without traditional cashiers or sales personnel, and has become the first of its kind in the Maldives.

Customers can shop using the dedicated ‘STO Smart Store’ mobile application, available for download on both Android and Apple Play Stores. To begin their shopping journey, customers need to register their bank card on the app. Once registered, they can enter the store by scanning a QR code produced by the app, select their desired products, and leave without queuing at a cashier’s desk.

The store employs cutting-edge AI technology to oversee operations and security. Advanced AI cameras are tactically positioned throughout the venue to oversee stock levels and monitor customer activities, guaranteeing a safe and efficiently managed shopping atmosphere without the need for conventional staff.

During its initial week, visitors typically spent just over five minutes or around 317 seconds

exploring the premises. The store permits a maximum of six shoppers simultaneously, ensuring a private and tailored shopping session. Transactions were impressively quick, averaging a mere three seconds for payment deductions.

Over the week, the ‘STO Smart Store’ app witnessed a remarkable demand, accumulating 2,700 downloads. Out of these users, a notable 1,937 ventured to the physical store. An insightful indicator of the store’s immediate appeal is that 24% of visitors during the first week were returnees. Out of the 1,937 distinct visitors, the store logged 22 customer grievances.

This innovative approach provides substantial time efficiency by sidestepping traditional checkout procedures. With the launch of the ‘STO Smart Store’, STO has revolutionised the retail landscape, offering a swifter, more accessible, and streamlined shopping experience for Maldivians.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 55 Retail

BML Extends Home Purchase Loan Repayment Period to 25 Years

Bank of Maldives (BML) announced an extension to the repayment period for new home buyers’ loans and financing. Now, homebuyers will have the option to repay their loans over a 25-year period, an increase from the previous 20-year term.

The decision to extend the repayment period comes as part of BML’s effort to provide more flexibility to homebuyers and ease the burden of loan repayment. Moreover, the Bank has reduced the interest rate on home loans and financing to 9 per cent, the lowest rate in the country, down from the previous rate of 10 per cent in 2021.

Carl Stumka, the CEO and Managing Director of BML, highlighted that the extension of the grace period will be particularly advantageous for

homebuyers. The new grace period extension is set at 24 months, offering borrowers additional time to manage their finances before starting their loan repayments.

The eligibility criteria for the home purchase loan are inclusive, targeting individuals between the ages of 18 and 60 with a stable income. Applicants also have the option to apply for the loan individually or jointly with a co-applicant.

BML’s home purchase loan and Islamic home purchase financing options are available at a competitive interest rate of 9 per cent, with a requirement of 20 per cent equity. Additionally, existing homeowners can also benefit from this facility by using it to purchase additional properties.

56 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Banking & Finance

The Role of Financial Institutions in Empowering MSMEs

Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of any thriving economy, contributing significantly to employment generation, innovation, and economic growth. In the Maldives, like in many other countries, these small businesses play a pivotal role in the socioeconomic landscape. However, for MSMEs to reach their full potential, they often require access to financial resources and support. This is where the role of financial institutions becomes paramount.

Unlocking MSMEs’ Potential through Financial Institutions

Financial institutions, such as banks and nonbanking financial corporations, have the capacity to empower MSMEs by providing them with muchneeded financial tools and services. The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Finance Corporation (SDFC) in the Maldives is one such institution that has been making significant strides in fostering MSME growth.

Facilitating Digital Transformation and Financial Inclusion

Financial institutions play a crucial role in facilitating the digital transformation of MSMEs. Through online banking services, mobile apps, and digital payment solutions, financial

institutions can enable MSMEs to streamline operations, access new markets, and enhance their competitiveness.

Moreover, financial institutions contribute to financial inclusion by reaching out to underserved and marginalised MSMEs. By extending financial services to remote regions and economically disadvantaged communities, these institutions can uplift local economies and create a more equitable business environment.

Addressing Challenges and the Way Forward

While financial institutions have made significant strides in empowering MSMEs, challenges remain to be addressed. Access to credit remains a major concern for many small businesses, especially those lacking sufficient collateral or credit history. Additionally, streamlining bureaucratic processes and reducing the burden of paperwork can further expedite MSMEs’ access to financial support.

Collaboration between financial institutions, governmental bodies, and private organisations can pave the way for more holistic support systems for MSMEs. By pooling resources, expertise, and knowledge, these stakeholders can create an ecosystem that fosters entrepreneurship, innovation, and sustainable growth.

58 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Banking & Finance

MIRA Marks its 13th Anniversary, Paving the Way for the Digital Age in Tax Administration

Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) celebrates its 13th anniversary, symbolising a transformative journey towards modernisation and digitalisation of tax administration in the Maldives. This milestone comes amidst an endorsement of these forward-looking initiatives by the Commissioner General of Taxation, Fathuhulla Jameel.

Jameel acknowledged the significant progress that the country has made in shaping a modern taxation system. One of the milestones in this progression is the unveiling of MIRA’s official website and mobile application, indicative of the strides made in digital tax administration.

In a statement released to mark the anniversary, MIRA expressed profound gratitude to all its stakeholders. The dedicated staff were singled out for their dedication and hard work.

This year’s anniversary theme, “Embracing the Digital Age”, clearly captures MIRA’s direction, reflecting a shift from traditional methods to contemporary digital solutions.

MIRA has enhanced its digital platforms and introduced a range of new features, as part of a wider strategy to streamline the tax administration process.

MIRA’s mandate includes enforcing the Taxation Acts, implementing taxation policies, and ensuring that all taxes imposed by the state are collected as per the law. They remain committed to respecting the rights of taxpayers, offering complete information on taxation acts and regulations, and striving to minimise the costs for taxpayers in making tax payments.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 59 Banking & Finance

STO Secures Exclusive Distribution Rights for AstraZeneca Products in the Maldives

The State Trading Organization (STO) received the exclusive distribution rights for AstraZeneca, a renowned UK-based pharmaceutical company, during a formal event at Kurumba Maldives.

The ceremony was graced by the presence of Minister of State for Health, Ahmed Adil. Abdulla Saeed, STO’s CEO and Managing Director, was also in attendance, joined by AstraZeneca Business Manager Abhishek Kaushik and several eminent figures from the healthcare community.

This collaboration with AstraZeneca seeks to boost the Maldivian government’s ongoing initiatives, ensuring that essential medications for chronic diseases are both cost-effectively imported and continuously available. The strategic alignment with a premier entity like AstraZeneca undoubtedly enhances public trust in the quality of medicines sourced by STO.

A highlight of this partnership is the registration of 14 AstraZeneca medicines under Aasandha, with the portfolio also including treatments for cancer, gastric issues, and diabetes.

This move is in line with STO’s overarching objective to ensure an unobstructed supply chain, directly from pharmaceutical manufacturers, bypassing intermediaries. Such an approach allows physicians greater confidence in prescribing toptier medications, thereby fostering quicker and more effective patient recoveries. Consequently, this is expected to significantly benefit the health and well-being of the Maldivian populace.

Reflecting on this development, Abdulla Saeed remarked, “AstraZeneca has solidified its position as a household name, especially during Covid. Furthermore, STO has successfully forged ties with 26 companies to streamline the import of indispensable medicines and health-related commodities into the Maldives. Such progress is emblematic of the significant strides being made in our nation’s healthcare domain. This ensures that the Maldivian public will have access to improved medical quality, while also addressing potential medicinal shortages.”

60 Corporate Maldives | October 23
Health & Wellness

The Wellness Club: Leading Corporate Wellness in the Modern Era

The Wellness Club (TWC), borne from the strategic alliance between ADK Hospitals and HEAT Health & Fitness, is setting a new benchmark for corporate wellness. For corporations ardently seeking a comprehensive approach to foster a healthconscious workforce, TWC’s Corporate Wellness Package offers an exhaustive blueprint. Here’s an in-depth look:

Corporate Wellness – Why is it important?

Employees, integral to a company’s success, significantly benefit from corporate wellness initiatives. These programs enhance their physical and mental well-being, leading to heightened

productivity and reduced absenteeism. Companies that adopt such wellness strategies not only witness improved employee morale but also successfully attract and retain top talent, cultivating a culture of self-care and team cohesion.

Health Screenings and Assessments

TWC provides methodical health screenings, demographic analyses, and detailed questionnaires to map out the health profiles of employees. Such structured evaluations facilitate better awareness and proactive health management.

62 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Health & Wellness

Group Fitness Classes

The GX Studio at TWC is a hub of structured fitness activities. With a diverse range of classes on offer, from the strength-focused LESMILLS BODYPUMP to the rhythm-centric ZUMBA, participants have a plethora of options to enhance their fitness regimen.

Personal Training

Personal training at TWC is not just about physical workouts; it’s about holistic development. Options like the bespoke Gold Package, the cooperative DUOFit, or group-oriented packages such as Bronze, Steel, or Fit Tribe are tailored to suit various needs, ensuring optimal results.

Nutritional Guidance

Understanding the importance of diet in wellness, TWC extends customised nutritional guidance. This approach guarantees that the wellness journey is optimally balanced between physical activity and dietary intake.

Personalised Wellness Plans

TWC believes in a customised approach. Their wellness plans, crafted after comprehensive

evaluations, are tailored to individual requirements, ensuring a strategic and goaloriented progression.

State-of-the-Art Facilities

TWC distinguishes itself in the corporate wellness sector with its spacious, state-of-the-art facilities. The gym offers a comprehensive range of cardio equipment, including treadmills, rowing machines, and more, complemented by both free and pin-loaded weights in the weight areas.

The club’s functional gym incorporates tools for natural movement patterns, while the GX Studio is equipped with advanced features like LED lighting, surround sound, and an immersive screen, all designed to provide an engaging workout experience. The overall ambience is warm and welcoming, reflecting the commitment of its highly qualified staff to support members in their fitness journeys.

The Wellness Club is revolutionising the standards of corporate health and productivity. With an ethos deeply rooted in comprehensive wellness, TWC conveys a potent message to the corporate realm: investing in holistic health directly correlates to heightened workforce productivity.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 63 Health & Wellness

Salon Maldives Wraps Up a Successful Debut Event Showcasing Prestigious Beauty Brands

Salon Maldives has successfully concluded their debut event on 9th August 2023. The Salon Maldives Event was an exclusive showcase of world renowned brands represented by Salon Maldives locally. The event floor featured a curated selection of products and services; each representing the pinnacle of quality and innovation in the beauty industry worldwide.

The event unfolded across two distinct sessions. The first of which featured illuminating presentations by the brand ambassadors. The audience received valuable insights into the brands, their products and practices. Given the diligences Salon Maldives pay to working with brands that prioritise sustainability, this was a key highlight of the presentations. Salon Maldives’s current portfolio includes global brands like Biologique Recherche of France, Nora Bode of Germany, Davines of Italy, and Lycon of Australia. The inaugural sessions of the event were attended by spa directors, general managers and purchasing managers from resorts across the Maldives, and local salon owners from all around the country as well.

The CEO and Founder of Salon Maldives, Nada Fathimath highlighted the company’s mission — to bring together the beauty and wellness industry across the country to work together to elevate the industry to new heights and stay ahead of the

curve of the ever-evolving beauty landscape. Salon Maldives aims to be your partner in the industry; by forging new partnerships with local salons and luxury resorts helping them deliver truly exceptional experiences to their clients and guests. Ms. Nada also revealed plans to inaugurate the Maldives Beauty and Wellness Awards, a platform designed to honour and celebrate outstanding individuals and establishments within the industry. Additionally, there’s an ambitious endeavour on the horizon: the establishment of an institute dedicated to nurturing and developing the unique talents of our community within the Beauty and Wellness sector.

Post-presentation, attendees had the privilege of exploring individual stalls dedicated to each showcased brand. This immersive experience allowed for a deeper connection with the brands, featuring live demonstrations and interactive product testing.

The event’s success seamlessly flowed into its second session, which provided an engaging evening for Nada Salon and Nada Clinic’s esteemed clientele. Both establishments fall under the umbrella of Salon Maldives. This interactive segment not only heightened brand awareness among consumers and the general public, but also treated visitors to an evening immersed in beauty and luxury, courtesy of Salon Maldives.

64 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Health & Wellness

Maldivian Wellness Brand ‘Devi’ Takes a Digital Leap with Website Launch

Maldivian wellness brand, Devi, known for its handcrafted botanical products and a reputation for promoting mindfulness and a connection with nature, has launched its website —

The company has been operating as a small business for two years, curating small-batch wellness products, and has now entered its digital journey to enhance the reach and accessibility of its brand story and product range.

Devi products, crafted meticulously in their Male’ studio, have previously been available locally at retail outlets such as Island Bazaar and Authentic Maldives. The brand has also partnered with several resorts, supplying their boutiques and spas, and creating customised gifts for their partners.

The new website aims to serve as a comprehensive platform, encapsulating the brand’s story, ethos, values, and detailed product information. The site is designed to offer customers an immersive experience of the Devi journey and the inspirations behind the unique botanical blends.

Devi’s products are inspired by nature and handcrafted with purposeful intention, using the natural world as an instrument for spiritual connection through self-care. A core aspect of the brand’s offerings is the incorporation of aromatherapy with the practice of mindful movement. Recognising the therapeutic potential of aroma, and its role in enhancing mindfulness, Devi has curated a range of products designed to aid in the journey towards peace and tranquillity.

Moreover, the brand places a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability. All of Devi’s blends come in eco-friendly glass bottles and are formulated using responsibly sourced ingredients devoid of parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, or additives. This green commitment extends to their business partnerships as well, with Devi aligning with distributors and suppliers who share the company’s eco-conscious values.

With the launch of the Devi website, the wellness brand has extended a digital invitation to individuals seeking to explore the realm of mindful living, backed by the healing and restorative powers of nature.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 65 Health & Wellness

IGMH Oncology Ward Inaugurated With the Support of BML

The oncology ward at IGMH established with the support of the Bank of Maldives has been inaugurated in a special ceremony at IGMH.

The Oncology ward was inaugurated by Vice President Honourable Faisal Naseem. Minister at the President’s Office, Ali Shiyam, BML CEO and Managing Director Karl Stumke, IGMH CEO Ibrahim Saleem and officials from IGMH and BML Board members were in attendance.

The Bank provided MVR 3.5 million in financing for this project. This support is part of a series of 12 high-impact monthly community initiatives to celebrate the Bank’s 40th anniversary.

BML CEO and Managing Director Karl Stumke stated “The projects initiated as part of our 40th anniversary have focused on a number of important sectors in the country. The oncology ward opened today will support filling a critical need in IGMH and as well as the health sector. We hope this ward will enhance access to safe and high-quality oncology services to those in need.”

The oncology ward established in IGMH has 8 cubicles which can cater for 8 patients simultaneously.

66 Corporate Maldives | October 23
Health & Wellness

Maldives Pension Office Develops Technological Innovations for Enhanced Efficiency

Since its establishment in 2009 as an independent legal entity under the Maldives Pension Act, the Maldives Pension Office has been entrusted with the responsibility of administering both the oldage basic pension scheme and the Maldives Retirement Pension Scheme. By embracing technological advancements, the Pension Office has achieved significant milestones and transformed public service delivery in the Maldives.

Streamlining Services through Technology

Recognising the need for seamless services, the Pension Office has been at the forefront of exploring technology and innovation. In 2010, the introduction of the Koshaaru System revolutionised public service interactions by enabling individuals to submit documents online, eliminating the need for lengthy queues and saving

valuable time and resources. This early success propelled the Pension Office to further embrace information and communication technology (ICT) and launch several transformative projects.

Embracing Digital Transformation

The Pension Office’s commitment to digital transformation has yielded remarkable outcomes. It has transitioned toward a paperless office environment, migrated its IT infrastructure to the Google Cloud platform, obtained Information Security Management System certification, and relaunched Koshaaru as the country’s first fully digital customer service portal. As a result, almost all services provided by the Pension Office are now accessible online 24/7, enabling individuals to manage their pension affairs conveniently and efficiently.

68 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Technology & Innovation

Efficiency and Empowerment

Through its digital initiatives, the Pension Office has eliminated the need for cumbersome processes and traditional office setups. Users can now access a range of services online, including submission of enquiries, contribution statements, application forms, service requests, and monitoring retirement savings accounts. These advancements have significantly reduced delays, clutter, and chaos associated with physical document management. Furthermore, the implementation of internal applications has enhanced the productivity and independence of the office’s teams.

The Vision for the Future

While the Pension Office has made great strides in digitising its services, its commitment to continuous improvement remains steadfast. The Strategic Plan for 2022 to 2024 outlines ambitious goals aimed at leveraging modern technology and innovation to further enhance the efficiency

and reliability of the Pension Office’s services. These goals include developing microservices to replace complex features, utilising artificial intelligence and machine learning for enhanced customer support and compliance processes, adopting international best practices for system security, investing in employee development, and establishing software development as a service.

Building an Innovation-Centric Culture

Beyond its service offerings, the Pension Office is dedicated to fostering an innovation-centric culture within the organisation. By supporting the community and making a positive impact on people’s lives, the office aims to deliver not only efficient services but also programs that contribute to societal well-being. With a commitment to embracing technology, upskilling employees, and tailoring solutions for its teams and clients, the Pension Office is poised to continue its journey toward even greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 69
Technology & Innovation

Environment Ministry Secures USTDA Grant for Cloud-Based Government Services

The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology has signed an agreement with the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to facilitate the development of cloudbased government digital services platforms. This venture is anticipated to augment the public sector’s data management capacities, fortify security, curtail expenses, and ensure continuous operation even during calamities.

The prime focus is to craft a resilient government technology stack that is not only secure but also fosters open data computing systems. The grant facilitates a comprehensive assessment of current operations, identifies hurdles in law implementation and procurement processes, and aids in crafting standards for data classification. Additionally, the grant aims to assist with designs for data centres and platform architectures, whilst developing a strategy to build capacity in the sector. To better comprehend and prepare for financial and project implementation challenges, gathering significant data is of utmost importance.

A collaborative effort between the public and private sectors with cloud service providers and

other tech vendors is on the cards. This initiative will oversee the establishment of a Cloud Center of Excellence, designed to impart training and extend expertise on global best practices pertinent to public sector cloud adoption.

Minister Aminath Shauna, representing the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology, expressed the importance of ICT sector development and the digital interconnection of Maldivian islands. She also emphasised that the accord would pave the way for a robust national cloud. This infrastructure will underpin the nation’s digital services, ensuring safety and stability. Moreover, such a partnership will expedite Maldives’ digital advancement endeavours through continuous engagement with global cloud service providers.

His Excellency Hugo Yon, the U.S. Ambassador to the Maldives, endorsed the agreement for the US Trade and Development Agency. Minister Aminath Shauna ratified the accord for the Maldives. As part of the agreement, a grant of £895,000 has been pledged by the U.S. government to finance the project.

70 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Technology & Innovation

Ooredoo Maldives Celebrate 18 Years of Connectivity with Exciting Offers

Ooredoo Maldives celebrated its 18th Anniversary, a momentous milestone in their journey of connecting lives and empowering communities with seamless internet connectivity and digital solutions.

As the company marks this special occasion, Ooredoo extends their heartfelt gratitude to their valued customers and esteemed partners for their unwavering support and trust throughout the years.

“As we mark our successful journey of 18 years in the Maldives, our growth has been fuelled by the trust and love of our customers and partners. We are immensely grateful for your unwavering support, which has been the driving force of our growth and success throughout our 18 years of journey in the Maldives. We reassure our commitment and remain steadfast

in building a Digital Maldives, connecting to new opportunities to enrich the lives of our communities across the nation. Once again, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to our customers and partners for their continuous support and as a community-focused company we will keep our promise to keep our customers smiling”. Ooredoo Maldives Managing Director and CEO, Khalid Al Hamadi.

To commemorate this special occasion, a special Press Conference was held at Meerumaa, where the Ooredoo Maldives Managing Director and CEO, Khalid Al-Hamadi, Chief Commercial Officer, Hussain Niyaz and Head of Brand & Marcomms, Noora Ibrahim Zahir shared strategic updates of the company, unveiling a range of exciting offers to elevate the digital experience of their customers.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 71 Technology & Innovation

Urbanco Introduces ‘Private Housing’ Portal

Urbanco has launched its ‘Private Housing’ portal, this online platform offers a detailed overview of properties developed by private entities, showcasing units that are up for sale and tracking the development progress.

The platform was unveiled during an event marking the handover of keys for The Vinares flats in Hulhumale’ Phase II.

The platform allows users to view specifics, including the number of flats available for sale by private parties, listing prices, and the inventory of unsold units. Moreover, it keeps visitors informed about ongoing developments in the projects.

Ahmed Athif, the Managing Director of Urbanco, emphasised the significance of the portal. He remarked, “Our aim with this portal is to ensure accurate data about our collaborative ventures is readily accessible to potential buyers,”

Athif also highlighted the challenges faced by buyers due to incomplete information about properties, noting that this lack of knowledge can cause significant setbacks. “Through this portal, we aim to address such concerns,” he added.

In alignment with this, Urbanco requires that private participants in their property projects share vital data on the Private Housing portal.

72 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Technology & Innovation

Maldives Joins Global Fibre Cable Network

The Maldives successfully connected to the international fibre cable system, this development was marked by the inauguration of the Ocean Connect Maldives-India Asia Express (OCM-IAX)

Submarine Cable System in Hulhumalé.

For the first time, the nation is now linked directly to the global submarine cable network. This connection, as noted by President Solih, symbolises the dawn of a new digital era for the Maldivian people, bridging the gap between the East and West in terms of technology and trade.

The connection is anticipated to bring manifold advantages for internet service providers in the country. Enhanced connectivity promises not only to make internet access swifter and smoother for consumers but also to potentially reduce the costs associated with these services.

Building on the President’s remarks, beyond the immediate digital benefits, the cable connection could also significantly elevate the delivery of high-quality healthcare services and support the operation of satellite schools. The embrace of such advanced digital technology is, furthermore, seen as a step towards bolstering environmental conservation measures.

Driven by the Ministry of Economic Development, this venture marks a transformative moment for the Maldives in terms of technological and socioeconomic progress. The system’s robust design promises over eight times the present capacity, positioning it to cater to the nation’s digital demands for the forthcoming two decades. This strategic initiative aims to diversify the Maldivian economy and anchors the nation as a pivotal communications hub in South Asia.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 73
Technology & Innovation

Maldives Approves Licensing for Starlink Satellite Internet Service by Elon Musk’s SpaceX

The Maldives has granted a licensing agreement to Starlink, the satellite-based communications service founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk.

This licence authorises Starlink to offer satellite internet communication solutions within the Maldives, which holds the distinction of being the world’s most widely distributed nation in terms of its geographical spread. The formal issuance of the Internet Service Provider (ISP) licence took place during a special ceremony at the National Centre for Information Technology. Starlink Services Maldives, the local subsidiary established by Starlink, received the licence. The honour of receiving the licence was bestowed upon Ryan Goodnight, SpaceX Senior Director of Global Licensing and Activation, by Minister Aminath Shauna.

The conferred licence holds substantial promise for the Maldives, as it will enable pervasive access to high-speed internet services across every corner of the country, including maritime vessels traversing its waters.

The Ministry of Technology released an official statement underscoring the transformative

impact of the Starlink internet service. The statement asserts that this initiative aligns with the Communication Authority of Maldives’ strategic endeavour to cultivate an ecosystem wherein individuals can avail of top-tier communication services at affordable rates. This aspiration is to be realised through a competitive framework that incorporates cutting-edge technologies to enhance accessibility and quality.

A highlight of this project, under Elon Musk’s leadership is to deploy an extensive constellation of Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO). Presently, the company has already launched around 5,000 Starlink satellites, with plans to deploy a total of 12,000 satellites approved. Beyond this, SpaceX is pursuing regulatory clearance from international authorities to loft an additional 30,000 satellites atop the existing count. This expansive constellation is poised to significantly bolster the global reach and impact of the Starlink service, which has already been instrumental in providing connectivity in over 30 countries, especially in regions grappling with disasters and conflicts.

74 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Technology & Innovation

Women in Tech to Facilitate Maldives to Compete in FIRST Global Challenge 2023

Women in Tech Maldives has announced that they are facilitating the participation of a team from Maldives in the renowned FIRST Global Challenge 2023, to be held in Singapore from the 7th to the 10th of October 2023.

This international robotics competition is conducted in various countries each year, following an Olympics-style format. FIRST Global extends invitations to nations worldwide to assemble and programme robots for competitive purposes. These teams collaborate on tasks aligned with significant global challenges, including the 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering. The overarching aim is to promote mutual understanding and cooperation among the global youth as they employ their skills to address pressing global issues.

This year, Team Maldives will comprise nine students hailing from Hira School Addu City. This dedicated group includes five exceptional students and their two mentors, who will represent the Maldives at the First Global Challenge 2023 in Singapore. Their participation will revolve around addressing global challenges within the theme of “Innovating for a Sustainable Future.” Additional team members will offer support from their base in Addu City.

Team Maldives is unveiling their innovative robotics project, named “Project KalhuOhFummi,” which is designed to excel in the dynamic FIRST Global Challenge 2023, centred on the theme “Hydrogen Horizons.” This ambitious

project exemplifies Team Maldives’ steadfast commitment to innovation and problem-solving on a global scale. At the heart of the challenge, KalhuOhFummi’s robot adeptly handles the collection and placement of hydrogen and oxygen balls into designated tanks while aligning them beneath an accumulator. This complex operation takes place within an intense final 30-second countdown, where every robot strives to push the boundaries of technology. KalhuOhFummi truly encapsulates the essence of “Innovating for a Sustainable Future,” underscoring Team Maldives’ dedication to addressing global challenges.

The team selection process commenced in June 2023 when the challenge was officially announced. Hira School’s team earned their position based on the impressive response they provided to Women in Tech Maldives’ call for applications. Subsequently, their application was presented to and accepted by the First Global team. Consequently, Team Hira from Hira School, Addu, is prepared to represent the Maldives on this esteemed platform.

This year, Team Maldives will benefit from mentoring provided by Women in Tech Maldives Mentor, Robotics teacher Aishath Naura Naseem, and Hiraa School STEM Teacher Fathimath Afaaf Hussain.

The Maldives team has received financial support from First Global. Locally, the State Trading Organisation and the Allied Insurance Company of the Maldives have also provided their support.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 75
Technology & Innovation

Implementation of RSW Systems in Vessels Progressing: MIFCO

The Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company Limited (MIFCO) has stated that Refrigerated Sea Water (RSW) systems are being installed on fishing vessels as part of the Kandu Falhuge Nafaa Programme.

During an interview with a local news outlet, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MIFCO Ismail Fauzee, discussed the benefits of installing RSW systems on fishing vessels. He said the government is prioritising the installation of these systems to help fishermen get better prices for their catch. MIFCO engineers will assess each boat’s capacity before installing high-quality RSW systems. Additionally, MIFCO will address any warranty concerns and provide service centres for maintenance.

The aim of implementing RSW systems is to aid fishermen facing difficulties in accessing ice from far-off ice plants. This will cut down their costs and facilitate the preservation of their catch, enabling them to spend extended durations at sea. Presently, the government is actively engaged in the installation of these systems on fishing vessels to furnish a refrigeration mechanism. Additionally, the government is providing loans to support the installation process. The necessary funds for installation will be directly credited to the fishing boat owner’s account.

76 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Fisheries & Agriculture

MIFCO Sees Rise in Fish Exports and Procurements in 2023

2022 (Total: 63,579)

2023 (Total: 44,642)

In recent data released by MIFCO, there has been a marked increase in both the volume of fish exported and purchased in 2023 when compared to the previous year.

The figures reveal that up until August this year, exports reached 38,249 metric tonnes, a significant rise from the 31,132 metric tonnes exported during the same period in 2022.

Alongside whole fish exports, the data further highlights growth in related products. MIFCO exported 1,74,812 cases of fish and 1,191 metric tonnes of fish meals till August 2023. This reflects an uptick from 1,41,939 fish cases and 980 metric tonnes of fish meals recorded in the corresponding period last year.

The company’s procurement data also shows a favourable trend. MIFCO has purchased 44,647 metric tonnes of fish until August this year, compared to 35,643 metric tonnes over the same period in 2022. In terms of monetary value, the company valued its fish purchases at MVR 7,40,843,677 as of August 2023. For comparison, the figure stood at MVR 5,72,355,325 for August the previous year.

The government has revised the purchase price of fish to MVR 25 per unit, aiming to enhance the earnings of local fishermen.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 77 Fisheries & Agriculture

STO Partners with Qatari Company on Ihavandhippolhu Bunkering Facility

State Trading Organization (STO) sealed a partnership with one of the Middle East’s leading trading entities, Urbacon Trading and Contracting of Qatar, to pave the way for a bunkering facility in Ihavandhippolhu. This initiative is a crucial component of the anticipated port city venture in the area.

At the heart of the proposed port city in Ihavandhippolhu is the objective to establish a national strategic reserve for oil and kickstart international bunkering services. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on the 10th of August sketches a collaborative effort between STO and Urbacon, with the aim of conducting feasibility studies for both the bunkering initiative and the national oil reserves.

Situated strategically on both the eastern and western maritime pathways, the Ihavandhippolhu Atoll stands as a significant nautical junction in the Indian Ocean. With a daily traffic of over 300 substantial cargo ships, and with the global bunkering industry

appraised at $150 billion, a primary goal of this endeavour is to debut bunkering services in this crucial region.

This initiative is set to cascade benefits not just to STO but to the wider nation. This venture promises to significantly amplify the nation’s maritime sector, enveloping facets such as shipping agency tasks, crew shifts, vessel transitions, repairs, and parts provision.

In preparation for this venture, draft regulations have been diligently shaped with insights from international technical advisors. This move seeks to create a comprehensive regulatory framework for emerging bunkering services.

Integral to the project’s implementation are rigorous studies to shield the fragile Maldivian environment. Active dialogues with the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) are also ongoing to ensure the procurement and deployment of all essential protective measures and apparatus.

78 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Trade, Fuel & Shipping

MWSC Inaugurates New Water Supply System in AA. Mathiveri

The Male’ Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC) officially inaugurated a state-of-the-art water supply system at AA. Mathiveri. The ceremony, overseen by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, marked the successful completion.

Dignitaries in attendance included the company’s Deputy Managing Director, Mohamed Shareef, several state ministers, and notable figures from MWSC. The event saw participation from both the staff and the island’s residents.

As part of the project, a facility was built in Mathiveri to house the water plant. The primary

water network has been set up, ensuring water connections to the local residences. The system includes new water plants, boreholes, and reject lines. For storage, water tanks have been strategically placed. The project also consists of equipment vital for water testing, ensuring the safety and purity of the supply.

The water project was awarded to MWSC by the Ministry of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure. The project carries a total investment of MVR 38.82 million.

80 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Utilities

Ministry of Tourism Launches the First Climate Change Action Plan in Collaboration with USAID

The Ministry of Tourism of the Maldives has partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to introduce a significant Climate Change Action Plan. This plan is designed to bring about substantial changes within the country’s tourism sector.

Maldives Tourism Climate Action Plan

The Maldives Tourism Climate Action Plan has been meticulously developed to align with the goals set out in the 5th Tourism Master Plan. This strategic plan seamlessly integrates the unique climatic advantages of the Maldives with its flourishing tourism industry. The aim is to create a harmonious blend that establishes

new standards for sustainable practices within the tourism sector.

Supporting Businesses in the Face of Climate Change

The action plan recognises the vital role that tourism enterprises play in addressing and adapting to the challenges posed by climate change. Through a comprehensive survey, specific requirements identified by businesses have been highlighted for effective climate adaptation. These include tailored industry guidance, insights into climate adaptation investments, understanding regulatory frameworks, enhancing collaboration among stakeholders, and recognising the business benefits associated with climate adaptation.

82 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Environment & Sustainability

Strategic Objectives

The report outlines Five Strategic Objectives, the result of consultations with over 60 tourism establishments across the Maldives. These consultations aimed to comprehend the climate adaptation challenges faced by these enterprises. They also sought to identify innovative pathways and adaptations that could be scaled more effectively.

Ministerial Vision and Urgency

The Minister of Tourism emphasises the transformative potential of tourism in the economy. It has the capability to drive positive changes, protect cultural heritage, and preserve the environment for future generations. Acknowledging the impending threat posed by climate change to the industry, the Minister underscores the urgency of adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Tourism Climate Action Roadmap

The comprehensive action plan lays out a detailed roadmap for promoting robust and sustainable tourism. This roadmap

encompasses a range of strategic actions, including bolstering destination resilience, reducing carbon emissions, engaging local communities, initiating educational programs, raising awareness, promoting research and innovation, and fostering collaborative partnerships. These calculated actions aim to strike a balance between economic growth, environmental conservation, and societal wellbeing.

Moving Forward

The introduction of the Action Plan and the Maldives Climate Smart Tourism Program marks the start of further engagement with the tourism sector in the upcoming year. While the Maldives is set to face numerous climaterelated challenges in the coming decades, the ongoing innovations within the tourism sector, both domestically and internationally, provide a source of optimism for the future. The Maldives has the capacity to become a beacon of climate leadership, inspiring other island nations and emerging economies to embrace the potential of adaptation.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 83 Environment & Sustainability

Soneva Namoona Hosts Leaders of the Ocean Camp

Soneva Namoona, in partnership with the Maldives Swimming and Life Saving Skills Training School, conducted the “Leaders of the Ocean” camp, a tenday training programme on B. Kihaadhoo.

This initiative aimed to provide training for swimming instructors and empower individuals to become responsible stewards of the ocean.

A total of 18 participants from 11 different islands, including Noonu (Holhudhoo, Magoodhoo, Maafaru, Kudafari), Baa (Kendhoo, Kamadhoo, Kudarikilu, Kihaadhoo, Dharavandhoo, and Maalhos), and Haa Dhaalu (Makunudhoo), took part in the camp.

Notably, the camp offered attendees the opportunity to obtain a National Level 2 Swimming and Water Aerobics Instructor License.

The curriculum of the Leaders of the Ocean Camp was designed to blend experiential learning with a strong emphasis on leadership development. Participants engaged in a diverse range of activities, encompassing leadership workshops, education on zero waste practices, survival skills training, fire safety awareness, water aerobics, and programme development.

During the camp, participants had the chance to complete the requisite examinations for the Swimming and Water Aerobics license. To attain their certification, they will need to accumulate 45 hours of practical experience upon returning to their respective islands.

The Leaders of the Ocean Camp represents the latest endeavour led by Soneva Namoona in local islands, with a specific focus on enhancing technical skills and instilling a sense of ocean stewardship in young individuals.

Over the past two years, this programme has facilitated the improvement of water confidence for 700 young people, thanks to the training of 22 Swimming and Water Rescue Instructors.

Commenting on the programme’s impact, Azhoora Ahmed, Soneva Namoona INSPIRE Manager, expressed, “We are immensely proud to witness the personal growth of all the participants of the Leaders of the Ocean Camp. We believe that the knowledge and values imparted during this camp will contribute to a greener and more sustainable future for our island communities.”

84 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Environment & Sustainability

Maldives Rakes USD 34 Million in Green Tax Revenue During Half-Year Period

According to the Ministry of Finance, the Maldives received over USD 34.1 million in Green Tax revenue within the initial six months of 2023.

The report also elucidates the progressive inflow of resources into the Green Fund, recording an influx of USD 6.5 million in January, USD 5.9 million in February, USD 6.8 million in March, USD 6.1 million in April, USD 5.3 million in May, and USD 3.2 million in June.

The inception of the Green Fund dates back to 2016, aligning with the objectives set forth by

the Maldives’ Tourism Act to address ecological concerns. The mechanism entails a Green Tax of USD 6 imposed on each tourist per day spent at a resort or hotel within the Maldives, while a fee of USD 3 is levied for each day’s stay at a guesthouse.

The revenue generated from this initiative is strategically allocated towards pivotal projects encompassing coastal safeguarding, water provisioning, waste management, and sewage infrastructure development across diverse regions of the nation.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 85 Environment & Sustainability

Investing in Every Age Begins at Childbirth

In the Maldives, we stand at an intriguing demographic juncture, experiencing a demographic transition where our labour force cohort is larger than the number of young and elderly dependents. Yet, we see signs of an impending shift towards an ageing population.

Our latest population census, conducted in 2022, offers valuable insights into our country’s demographics, social conditions and economic landscape. With a population of 515,122, out of which 132,371 are foreign nationals, urban living predominates, and we find 41% of our populace concentrated in the Greater Male’ region.

Despite boasting a high literacy rate of 98.4% among individuals over the age of 10, unemployment poses a challenge, particularly among our youth. The tourism sector, our largest economic contributor, primarily employs foreign workers, with Maldivian residents making up only 30% of the workforce. A gender disparity is evident with women consisting of a mere 3% of the tourism workforce and only 49% participating in the labour force.

Amidst these numbers, stories of resilience stand out. Women like Shadhy are leveraging skill development opportunities to build financial independence. Nashima, a bus driver, is challenging gender norms, inspiring more women to break barriers and explore diverse opportunities. Their narratives point towards the importance of economic empowerment and gender equality.

However, the demographic pattern of the Maldives also reveals significant gender imbalances. In V. Thinadhoo, for instance, there are 295 Maldivian men for every 100 Maldivian women. This contrast is indicative of how internal and international migration can feminise or masculinise certain islands.

The current situation raises the question of how policies in smaller island nations can alleviate the care burden on women while ensuring opportunities for young and elderly dependents. This question becomes even more critical considering the total fertility rate in the Maldives stands at 1.7, prompting us to ask: Does everyone have the right to choose the number and spacing of their children?

86 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Society & Investment

Proper policies can enable individuals, families and societies to navigate challenges and seize the benefits of population ageing. Empowering women is vital in this process, as it positively impacts whole families and future generations. When women are empowered, whole families benefit, creating a ripple effect that extends to future generations. By investing in every stage of life, from childbirth to adolescence to adulthood, we can foster healthy and active ageing, benefitting not only women but entire countries.

Let’s challenge ourselves to ask new questions about population data – questions that revolve around inequality, rights, and choices. Who has these rights, and who doesn’t?

The population is about people. Evidence shows that individuals and societies flourish when they

are provided with opportunities, good health, education, and the ability to exercise their rights. The stories shared here may not be common narratives, but they represent the stories we hope to make the norm.

In our rapidly evolving world, where work commitments often overshadow personal lives, we recognise the need to rebalance and prioritise our overall well-being. Celebrating this year’s World Population Day, let us embrace the infinite possibilities that lie within each and every individual, regardless of their gender, age or background. Let us reflect on the importance of investing in every age, beginning at childbirth.

Editor’s note: This article is in partnership with UNFPA.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 87
Society & Investment

Empowering Communities – MSMEs as Catalysts for Economic Development in the Maldives

Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) play a pivotal role in driving economic development, especially in countries like the Maldives, where they are essential for fostering inclusive growth and uplifting communities.

The Maldives, known for its stunning island resorts and tourism-driven economy, has recognised the significance of MSMEs in diversifying the economic landscape and reducing vulnerabilities. However, the sector faced significant challenges, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 80% of MSMEs in the Maldives closing their doors in 2020 due to the pandemic’s adverse impact and pre-existing issues. To address these issues and boost MSMEs, various initiatives and projects have been undertaken, focusing on business support, access to finance, and technology integration.

Read below as we delve into the measures being taken to empower communities through the growth and sustenance of MSMEs in the Maldives.

Government Support and Initiatives

Recognising the importance of MSMEs in stimulating economic growth, the Maldives government has undertaken various reforms and policy measures to strengthen and sustain the sector. One such crucial initiative is the “Inclusive Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprise Development Project” supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). This project, aimed at creating a more inclusive MSME sector, has provided substantial benefits to the Maldivian economy where these enterprises have the potential to generate employment and income opportunities.

88 Corporate Maldives | October 23 Society & Investment

The Maldives, known for its stunning island resorts and tourism-driven economy, has recognised the significance of MSMEs in diversifying the economic landscape and reducing vulnerabilities. However, the sector faced significant challenges, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 80% of MSMEs in the Maldives closing their doors in 2020 due to the pandemic’s adverse impact and pre-existing issues.

The Role of Financial Institutions

Access to finance has always been a critical challenge for MSMEs. However, the Maldives has taken significant steps to address this issue through institutions like the SME Development Finance Corporation (SDFC). SDFC offers loans to MSMEs without the need for collateral, providing essential financial support to these businesses during times of economic uncertainty, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The availability of credit facilities has proved instrumental in nurturing small businesses, encouraging entrepreneurship, and boosting economic growth.

Technology and Innovation Integration

The integration of technology and innovation is crucial for the sustainable growth of MSMEs in the Maldives. ADB’s credit facility project has played a significant role in supporting the adoption of technology among MSMEs, making them more efficient and competitive in both local and international markets. Embracing technology has not only improved productivity but has

also opened up new opportunities for MSMEs in various sectors beyond the traditional tourism and fisheries industries.

Despite the positive strides, challenges remain in fostering the growth of MSMEs in the Maldives. The country’s tourism-dependent economy, while recovering to pre-pandemic levels, still faces vulnerabilities and fiscal challenges. Limited diversification and the high current account deficit necessitate further reforms for fiscal stability and sustainable economic growth. Additionally, continuous support and proactive government policies are crucial to ensuring that MSMEs have a conducive environment to thrive and contribute significantly to the nation’s economic development.

Government support, initiatives from financial institutions, and technology integration have all contributed to empowering MSMEs in the country. As the Maldives navigates through economic challenges and works towards sustainable growth, it must continue to prioritise and invest in MSMEs, recognising their vital role in creating a more resilient and diversified economy.

Corporate Maldives | October 23 89 Society & Investment

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