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Mega Maldives Airlines to start flights to Saudi Arabia

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Maldives.net.mv – With an eye on the ever-growing Gulf and Middle East market, Mega Maldives Airlines is set to launch its services to Saudi Arabia.

“In fact, we are getting ready and will launch our maiden flights to the Kingdom very soon,” said George Weinmann, CEO of Mega Maldives Airlines in a recent interview with Arab News.

“We have observed that the interest is very strong during our visit to Saudi Arabia. So, we are very excited about offering our services to the Kingdom,” Weinmann told Arab News.

“Jeddah will be our first choice, but we will also hope to provide services to Riyadh, followed by Madinah and possibly Dammam,” said Weinmann, who was in Saudi Arabia to initiate formalities for launching the flights.

The airline is initially planning to operate its 6-hour nonstop flights three to four times a week to Saudi Arabia.

The carrier now has a fleet of four aircraft. Within the next few months two more planes — Boeing 767 and Boeing 757 — will be added, raising the number of aircraft to six.

Explaining the carrier’s choice of B757 aircraft, he said that the decision was made in the context of its superior range performance. He said: “The Maldives is in the middle of the Indian Ocean from where major markets like Saudi Arabia or China are 6 hours or more away by air. In the Maldives, the nearest alternate (diversion) airport is about an hour away. Smaller aircraft like A320s don’t have a range to cover the six-hour flights. So, you have to fly larger aircraft like the 757. The 757 is designed to fly up to 8 hours so by choosing this aircraft we can enter new markets and develop these markets with very comfortable and very reliable aircraft, and then switch to bigger, wider aircraft as the market grows larger. But people like to have frequency, and the 757 helps us offer more choice without compromising on performance or service.”

Weinmann said: “At present, we are flying to some Chinese destinations, but we see opportunities in new markets. Just like the Chinese market, the globally recognized fast growing and attractive new outbound markets are basically in the Middle East-Gulf region. In the region, we see Saudi Arabia is underserved by international destinations. That is why we have chosen to focus on the Middle East and that is why we are here in Jeddah.”

He said the carrier is also planning to extend its network into Southeast Asia — to Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and other cities in that region as well as to Australia.

He said many Saudi nationals have been visiting the Maldives. “Last year, about 10,000 Saudis visited the island. In 2009, there were only about 3,000 or so Saudis toured the islands. So the number has grown very fast. We hope to see 15,000 to 20,000 Saudi visitors in the Maldives, and we hope direct flights will support this.” he said.

“Saudi Arabia is not as big a country as China, but we see a lot of opportunities here,” said the CEO. Weinmann said: “We expect to have very good business coming from the Maldives to Saudi Arabia also. Maldivians like to travel abroad and the Kingdom is expected to be a popular choice. And through our hub in Male, we are very well positioned to connect Southeast Asia and the Kingdom as well.”

He said the air services agreement between the Maldives and Saudi Arabia allows for regular Umrah and Haj flights.

Muhammad Najmi, general manager for Nudra Aviation, owned by Abdul Aziz Gabel, says the company is working with Mega Maldives Airlines to promote the carrier in Saudi Arabia.

Weinmann said Maldivian airlines had been granted access to all the main international airports in Saudi Arabia. The Maldives Civil Aviation Authority signed the agreement with the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) recently.

Awards

Hilton earns top honors as World’s Best Workplace and Great Place to Work

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For the first time ever, Hilton has been named the  No.1 World’s Best Workplace by Fortune magazine and Great Place to Work. This recognition  – the culmination of eight consecutive appearances on the “World’s Best” list – also marks the  first time a hospitality company has achieved the top honor in this best-in-class program.  

In another first, Hilton was certified as a Great Place to Work in the Maldives earlier this year,  celebrating a workplace culture where team members are encouraged to pursue their  passions, draw upon their unique experiences, and be their authentic selves at work as they  deliver exceptional stays for all guests.  

These awards are a testament to Hilton’s continuous efforts to build an inclusive, purpose driven workplace culture that provides growth opportunities and robust support for team  members to achieve their potential and thrive.  

Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa continues to foster an environment for local talent to  flourish, empowering Maldivian professionals who have developed within the group to  progress along their career paths.  

Key figures at the resort include Director of Operations Ahmed Anees, who is the first  Maldivian professional to be elevated to this role within Hilton’s portfolio of brands in the  country; Bars and Beverage Manager Ali Hamdan, and sommelier Gasim Ibrahim. 

Anees’ 18 years of experience encompass a variety of roles, such managing transport,  housekeeping and front office operations for both Conrad Maldives Rangali Island and Waldorf  Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. His years of overseeing housekeeping also led him to co-found  the Maldives Housekeepers Association, the country’s largest and sole nationally recognized  association, where he advocates for training and development, and provides professional  support.  

Ali Hamdan joined Conrad Maldives as a bar attendant and was promoted to bartender within  three years. His growth as a mixologist was enhanced by plentiful opportunities to train in  various locations, from a Singaporean brewery to a Japanese sake house and the great  Champagne houses of France. He is the first Maldivian mixologist certified by the International  Bartenders Association.  

Like Hamdan, Gasim Ibrahim began his Conrad Maldives stint as an F&B attendant, and it  was there that he came under the tutelage of the head sommelier and began his education in  earnest. Over a decade later, he is now one of the rare Maldivian sommeliers working in the  industry and is currently completing his WSET Level 3 certification.  

While at Conrad Maldives, both Hamdan and Gasim competed with distinction at the Hilton  South East Asia Food & Beverage (SEA F&B) Masters, an annual series of rigorous  competitions designed to showcase the best F&B talent across Hilton properties in the region  on an international level. 

Another valuable benefit of working with Hilton is career mobility. This facilitates the seamless  exchange of skills and brings a diverse range of perspectives and expertise to the  organization, which is evident in the team make-up. 

Other team members such as Executive Housekeeper Hussain Visham, Front Office Manager Ali Shunaiz and Purchasing Manager Adam Ali, all of whom were previously from Waldorf  Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, brought their invaluable experience to Hilton Maldives Amingiri  Resort & Spa, and are fundamental to the smooth operations at the resort.  

Similarly, HR Manager Nani Rasheed, IT Manager Naji Mohamed, Restaurant Manager  Mohamed Niyaz, and Laundry Manager Abdulla Shareef all came from Conrad Maldives, and  other team members, like Duty Manager Sajid Bushry, joined from overseas Hilton properties  and contributed a wealth of multicultural perspectives. 

Resort leaders are actively involved in nurturing young professionals. Anees mentors fellow  Maldivian and Hilton SEA Management Trainee Hassan Visam throughout an 18-month  program designed to develop him for the Duty Manager role.  

Regular career workshops are a staple feature of resort activities, as are networking and  coaching sessions through the Women Team Members Resource Group. Team members are  also able to access specialist certifications, such as the childcare certification from Worldwide  Kids that was recently awarded to the Krakengiri Kids’ Club team.  

Community Collaborations 

Hilton continues to build purposeful relationships within the community, empowering team  members to pursue meaningful initiatives that lead to a lasting positive impact.  

IT Manager Naji Mohamed champions Hilton’s Travel with Purpose initiatives. These include a recent visit to Maafushi School in North Male Atoll where Team Members distributed educational children’s literature to the students and water dispensers for the school. 

The resort also partnered with Maldives National University to provide internship and career opportunities for the next generation of young hospitality leaders. The first intake culminated  in an intern’s successful integration as a regular member of the culinary team.  

Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa is part of Hilton Honors®, the award-winning guest-loyalty  program for Hilton’s 22 distinct hotel brands. Members who book directly on the hotel’s website  will have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to  choose nearly any combination of points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount,  free standard Wi-Fi and the Hilton Honors app.  

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Food

Chef David Hemmerle at InterContinental Maldives’ The Lighthouse this festive season

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Chef David Hemmerle, a leading chef originally from France and now based in Moscow, will be visiting InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort and taking over The Lighthouse restaurant in December.

The Lighthouse has a 360-degree view of the resort and the sparkling Indian Ocean below, offering the finest seasonal ingredients and seafood.

The collaboration with Chef Hemmerle promises to elevate the resort’s culinary experience, providing guests with a diverse range of carefully crafted and delectable dishes that showcase Hemmerle’s culinary skills.

Known for his work in Michelin-rated restaurants in Europe and Asia, Hemmerle has over 30 years of experience in fine dining at the likes of the Four Seasons in Moscow and the Cristal Room Baccarat (Mercury Group), all of which has helped develop a deep understanding of the tastes of metropolitan gourmet cuisine, combined with a rich experience in Michelin-rated restaurants.

Chef Hemmerle will bring the flair and refinement of his homeland’s cuisine to the resort this winter, cooking with creativity & complex techniques and the finest local ingredients.

Rates start from USD 952++ per night in a Water Pool Villa including breakfast for two. For more information, please visit www.maldives.intercontinental.com or email reservations.icmaldives@ihg.com.

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JA Resorts & Hotels welcomes Khumar Askerova as Director of Sales and Marketing for the Indian Ocean

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JA Resorts & Hotels has announced the appointment of Khumar Askerova as the new Director of Sales and Marketing for the Indian Ocean region. Khumar brings with her an impressive 25 years of experience in sales and marketing within the hospitality industry, and a key appointment to the regional team.

The appointment will see Khumar overseeing sales for the company’s Indian Ocean flagship property JA Manafaru in the Maldives and two properties in the Seychelles, the boutique JA Enchanted Island and luxury villa residencies at JA Enchanted Waterfront.

Khumar is a seasoned sales specialist with a diverse background in the hospitality sector. Fluent in English, native in Russian and Azerbaijani, with a good command of Portuguese and Turkish, Khumar’s multilingual skills underscore her ability to connect with a global audience.

Khumar’s most recent role as the Regional Director of Sales & Marketing at COMO Hotels saw her successfully manage a portfolio of key partners, and her expertise extends to new hotel openings, where she has played pivotal roles in the launch and success of four upper-scale Marriott hotels.

Additional Maldivian experience was gained whilst Khumar was Group Director of Sales & Marketing at Lily Beach Hotels also in the Maldives, where she led a cluster team, overseeing sales, reservations, marketing, and revenue for two islands in the Maldives.

Robert El Khoury, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at JA Resorts & Hotels comments, “We are confident that Khumar’s wealth of experience, strategic vision, and leadership qualities will contribute to the ongoing success and growth of our unique properties in the Indian Ocean. We warmly welcome her to our team and look forward to further developing our international presence with Khumar’s global expertise.”

Khumar holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management from Baku State University. She has also obtained certificates in Executive Revenue Management & Strategic Pricing from the Institute of Hotel Management and eCornell Hotel Revenue Management Certificate.

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