Connect with us

An Insider

Millzero Nishan: photographer-cum-artist on a social mission



When Ali Nishan — known by his pet name of Millzero — joined the mandatory military service after his O-Levels in the late 1990s, he straight away applied to be placed in the photography division of the Maldives armed forces. But after three months of initial military training, his superiors rejected his offer and instead assigned him to the communications department. They did not see him creative enough!

But even then, Nishan knew he did not belong there. Ever since he got exposed to a friend’s camera — a one-megapixel shooter — during his school days, he had not been able to let go of his new found passion for photography. So, with the salary from his first month of service in the National Security Service (NSS) — now known as Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) — Nishan bought his very first camera; an entry-level two-megapixel Olympus camera.

A photo taken by Nishan shows a man cruising a stretch of crystal clear waters of a Maldivian lagoon on a traditional Dhoni.

Armed with a camera of his own, Nishan went on to take photos of almost everything that he came across in his free time and as his primary hobby. From the extraordinary transformation of capital Male from an island to an urban population centre and the lifestyle changes that came along became the subject of his photos.

“I did my A-Levels privately while still working at NSS. But after three years, I resigned and joined the Environment Research Centre as a Research Assistant. While working there, I got a scholarship to pursue higher education in biotechnology in India. But I had to come back to Male after a few months in India because there were some issues with the scholarship,” explains Nishan.

He resumed his work at the Environment Research Centre, travelling to islands across the archipelago to document the Maldives’ terrestrial biodiversity such as the insects, birds, animals and plants that form part of the country’s identity. The unspoilt natural beauty he discovered in the islands was a contrast from the radically transforming capital city and it soon became his inspiration. His passion and inspiration kept him going, but he was not paid after he returned from India because he was still considered a scholarship student.

“I was running short on cash and I had no income except the little I earned from the few projects I took on in my free time. That’s when I started taking up wedding shoots,” says Nishan.

From a wedding shoot done by Nishan.

The self-taught photographer has over the past 10 years established himself as the go-to-guy for wedding and portrait photography. Locals and visitors alike avail the services of his own wedding photography service, Island Cupids. He is known for the unique personal touch he applies to every photograph he takes — a feature he proudly attributes to the personal relationship he forms with each and every client. As he puts it, every couple that he works with is a subject of study.

But even when he started his wedding photography career, Nishan had a grand vision. He knew he was destined to be not just a photographer, but more of a storyteller. And so he joined Haveeru Daily, the country’s longest serving newspaper and largest private media organisation, as a photojournalist in 2006.

Nishan’s photojournalism work at Haveeru Daily was the catalyst that launched him on the local and international media scene. With the most experienced team of writers and journalists in the country, Nishan documented a wide range of events; from breaking news events such as protests, fires and unusual deaths to music concerts attended by local and international celebrities.

A portrait of local actress Mariyam Azza done by Nishan.

Many of his photos have been featured in exhibitions held in the Maldives, including the 2009 Hay Festival, a 2011 biodiversity expo and a 2012 Japan-Maldives contemporary art festival, and in high-end resorts such as JA Manafaru (formerly Waldorf Astoria – The Beach House at Manafaru Maldives) and Bandos Maldives. They have also crossed the shores of Maldives, reaching far corners of the world through his association with Thomson Reuters, the Associated Press and various UN agencies. From New Delhi to Tokyo to Copenhagen to New Haven, Nishan’s work has come to signify the many environmental and social challenges facing the Maldives.

“My biggest accomplishment is the trust everyone in this community has in me. I think it’s because of the integrity I have maintained over the years. I don’t take my work lightly. That’s why I have taken copyright issues with international organisations as well and won many of them. I take pride in it,” he says.

“If I take up a project, I make sure that I deliver. I have failed several times. I have had several hardships. But I took lessons from each of those experiences and made myself better. That’s my strength.”

A photo taken by Nishan shows a defining characteristic of Maldivian lifestyle; travelling by boat on rough seas.

There certainly is no photographer in the Maldives more revered and trusted than Nishan. But he does not identify himself as a photographer anymore. He is, as he describes himself, an artist with a social mission.

True to that identity, Nishan has already sprung into action. He has launched a Facebook page in collaboration with a group of friends to create public awareness about health and medical issues, and has taken several projects — commercial and voluntary — to create visual materials, including photos and video spots, aimed at increasing public awareness about health issues and the importance of staying fit and healthy.

Despite being trained in photography, when it comes to his social mission, Nishan does not care if it is photography or videography. Be it a photo, a video spot, a graphic or even a much complicated and complex art installation, he employs his creative skills to create a compelling piece of art that speaks volumes and helps in better conveying the intended message to the target audience — a vital characteristic of any good marketing or social campaign.

“About two years back, I had the chance to travel to an island with a team from SHE [Society for Health Education; a non-profit that promotes health awareness] on an awareness mission. That and several subsequent work with such people have exposed me to healthy habits and also to other modern concepts like gender equality,” Nishan recalls his inspiration for social work, which has led him to participate and conduct workshops and training programmes on photography in metro and rural communities, promoting it as an important tool of communication amongst isolated island communities.

We have all heard the phrase, “a photograph speaks a thousand words.” Isn’t it possible, then, to present a a kind of message that gets ignored almost always within those one thousand words? Nishan took on that challenge and made it his life’s work. With several ideas to expand and diversify his social work from health awareness to include cultural preservation and revival, this is a young artist who is on a mission with photography as his tool.

An Insider

Oriana Migliaccio: The Marine Guardian Transforming Conservation in the Maldives



At the heart of Anantara’s commitment to tailored luxury and authentic experiences lies the passionate work of Oriana Migliaccio, a marine biologist whose devotion to oceanic preservation resonates deeply in the sky-blue waters of the Maldives. Oriana, a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer with a PhD in Life and Biomolecular Sciences, embodies the spirit of discovery and conservation at Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, Anantara Veli Maldives Resort, and Naladhu Private Island Maldives.

Raised on the sun-kissed shores of Naples, Italy, Oriana’s early years were steeped in the wonders of the Mediterranean Sea, a rich biodiversity hotspot. She frequently spent winter breaks at the aquarium. “It is this deep love for the marine world that got me interested from an early age in pursuing a career in marine biology,” she reflects. Following her passion, Oriana earned her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Marine Biology in Italy. Her journey then took her to the Maldives for an additional master’s in Tropical Marine Biology, where the allure of tropical environments steered her focus towards specialising in coral reef biology and conservation. This newfound dedication culminated in earning her PhD in the United Kingdom, solidifying her commitment to preserving marine ecosystems.

Oriana’s expertise, honed in the jungles of Borneo as a Conservation Manager and Dive Leader, now flourishes in the Maldives. Her initiatives span coral reef restoration, sea turtle protection, and sustainable practices, all pivotal to the region’s marine ecosystem. A crowning achievement is her creation of the “Reef Hero” PADI specialty, a course designed to educate divers on coral conservation, nurturing a new wave of ocean stewards.

“I created the ‘Reef Hero’ course during my time as a marine biologist and dive instructor in Malaysian Borneo. This course, focusing on coral reef restoration and rehabilitation, was inspired by my diving students’ desire to positively impact the oceans they love exploring. Witnessing the adverse effects of marine issues like debris, over-fishing, pollution, and global warming, this inspired me to create guidelines that can be used by recreational divers to save coral reefs around the world.” – Oriana Migliaccio

In April 2023, Oriana joined Anantara, where her role transcends traditional boundaries, as she immerses guests in a world of marine wonders through various interactive initiatives:

  • Marine Talk on Coral Reef & Marine Life: Weekly educational sessions that spotlight the vital role of coral reefs and the importance of responsible diving.
  • Discovering Marine Biology for Kids: Fun, interactive lessons that spark young minds’ curiosity about the underwater world.
  • Workshop on Repurposing Ghost Nets: Transforming abandoned fishing nets into bracelets, raising awareness about their impact on marine life.
  • Marine Biologist Corner: An open forum for guests to engage with Oriana, deepening their understanding of marine conservation.
  • Visit the Coral Nursery: Snorkeling adventures to coral nurseries, where guests explore coral species and participate in the resort’s coral restoration efforts.
  • Coral Adoption: Encouraging guests to play an active role in coral restoration, either by planting corals or sponsoring a coral rope, and tracking their growth.

“In the Maldives, a country faced with pressing environmental challenges, sustainability and environmental conservation are not just trends. They are a necessity,” Oriana emphasises, outlining the long-term goals for sustainability and marine conservation at Anantara’s Maldives resorts. “The survival of this tropical paradise is intertwined with adopting sustainable practices and reducing the anthropogenic impact on the environment.”

Following the devastating coral bleaching event of 2016, Oriana has been instrumental in Anantara’s HARP initiative (Holistic Approach to Reef Protection), aimed at rehabilitating damaged coral reefs. With over 10,000 corals grown and planted since 2017, the project is on course to double this number, enhancing marine biodiversity. Guests are invited to become coral gardeners, contributing to the project’s success while receiving progress updates on their adopted “baby corals”.

Collaborating with esteemed organisations like the Olive Ridley Project, Manta Trust, and the Maldives Whale Shark Research Program, Oriana’s work includes a photo-ID programme for studying sea turtles, manta rays, and whale sharks. She invites guests to join as citizen scientists, aiding in data collection during their underwater explorations.

Oriana Migliaccio’s contributions reflect the essence of Anantara’s luxury experience — unique, immersive, and deeply connected to the local environment. Her passion and dedication are not just preserving the ocean’s beauty but also inspiring guests to become active participants in its conservation, ensuring its wonder endures for generations to come.

For more information on Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, please visit 

Continue Reading

An Insider

Abdulla Wisam: A journey of excellence and growth in the Maldivian hospitality industry



In the heart of the stunning Maldives, where luxury resorts and crystal-clear waters come together to create a paradise on Earth, there are individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that every guest’s experience is nothing short of exceptional. One such individual is Abdulla Wisam, whose remarkable journey in the hospitality industry is a testament to his dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to providing the best possible service to guests.

Abdulla Wisam’s journey in the hospitality industry began right after completing his schooling. In 2003, he embarked on his professional career by joining Dhoveli Beach Resort & Spa, where he gained his first taste of the world of hospitality. It was here that he discovered his passion for creating memorable guest experiences and building relationships with visitors from around the world.

After his initial foray into the industry, Wisam’s career path continued to evolve. His dedication and hard work caught the attention of industry leaders, leading him to take on roles of increasing responsibility. His time at Meeru Island Resort saw him as an Outlet Cashier and Night Auditor, roles that allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the operational aspects of a resort.

Wisam’s determination and eagerness to learn led him to the iconic Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, where he started as a Recreation Attendant. Over time, he showcased his exceptional skills in guest relations and management, and he was promoted to the position of Front Office Supervisor. His journey with Four Seasons served as a stepping stone for what was to come next.

In 2014, Wisam joined the W Maldives, a resort known for its luxurious offerings and unparalleled guest experiences. Starting as a Welcome Team Leader, he quickly rose through the ranks due to his impeccable guest service skills and innate leadership abilities. His promotion to Guest Experience Manager was a testament to his ability to not only meet but exceed guest expectations. He was then transferred to The St. Regis Maldives as the Assistant Front Office Manager with the pre-opening team.

As his career trajectory continued its upward trajectory, Wisam took on the role of Front Office Manager at prestigious resorts such as Milaidhoo Island, Raffles Maldives, and The Standard Maldives. These roles allowed him to refine his management style, hone his problem-solving skills, and contribute to the overall success of each resort.

Wisam’s journey eventually led him to COMO Cocoa Island, a resort renowned for its unparalleled luxury and exquisite attention to detail. Joining as the Front Office Manager, he embraced the challenges and responsibilities that came with the position. His dedication, combined with his innate ability to create genuine connections with guests, led to his promotion as the Director of Rooms.

Wisam’s journey in the Maldivian hospitality industry is a remarkable tale of perseverance, growth, and a genuine passion for creating exceptional guest experiences. His diverse roles, spanning from recreation to guest experience management, have equipped him with a holistic understanding of the industry. His commitment to continuous improvement and dedication to delivering top-tier service have not only benefited the resorts he’s been a part of but have also contributed to elevating the reputation of Maldives as a premier luxury travel destination.

As Wisam continues to shape the guest experience landscape at COMO Cocoa Island, one can only imagine the heights he will reach and the impact he will make on the ever-evolving hospitality industry of the Maldives. His journey stands as an inspiration to aspiring hoteliers and a testament to the boundless opportunities that await those who are truly passionate about their craft.

Continue Reading

An Insider

Hamzath Ameen: Elevating human resources



In the fast-paced and thriving hospitality industry of the Maldives, where exceptional service and guest satisfaction are paramount, there are individuals who stand out for their dedication, expertise, and leadership qualities. Hamzath Ameen is making his mark as a proficient human resources professional in island resorts of the Maldives. With an impressive career trajectory and a passion for excellence, Hamzath has become a respected figure in the industry.

Hamzath Ameen was born and raised in Addu Atoll, a region known for its stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture. Following his schooling, he pursued his higher education at Cyryx College in Male’, where he successfully completed an Advanced Diploma in Business Management. This academic foundation laid the groundwork for his future career in the dynamic world of hospitality.

Hamzath embarked on his professional journey at Dhonveli Beach Resort, where he assumed the role of Accounts Officer. This initial foray into the hospitality industry allowed him to gain valuable insights into the financial aspects of resort operations and the importance of maintaining accurate records and efficient systems.

Eager to expand his horizons and broaden his skill set, Hamzath sought opportunities at various reputable companies and resorts throughout the Maldives. His determination and exceptional work ethic caught the attention of industry professionals, leading to his appointment as the Human Resources Officer at Furaveri Island Resort. Recognizing his potential, Ameen quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to the position of Assistant Manager, and subsequently, Human Resources Manager.

During his tenure at Furaveri Island Resort, Hamzath made significant contributions to the establishment’s human resources department. He spearheaded various initiatives to enhance employee engagement, streamline recruitment processes, and foster a positive work culture. Under his leadership, the resort witnessed an increase in employee satisfaction and a notable reduction in turnover rates, solidifying Hamzath’s reputation as a skilled people manager.

In 2022, Hamzath accepted an exciting new opportunity and joined Rihiveli Maldives Resort as the Human Resources Manager. With his wealth of experience and proven track record, he assumed a pivotal role in overseeing the resort’s human resources functions, including recruitment, training and development, performance management, and employee relations. Hamzath’s strategic approach and ability to build strong relationships with staff and management alike have made him an invaluable asset to the resort.

Hamzath Ameen’s journey from an Accounts Officer to a respected Human Resources Manager exemplifies his commitment to personal growth and professional excellence. Through his hard work, dedication, and leadership abilities, he has successfully carved a niche for himself in the competitive Maldivian hospitality industry. Hamzath’s passion for nurturing talent, fostering positive work environments, and delivering exceptional guest experiences continues to make a lasting impact on the resorts he has served.

Continue Reading


Copyright all rights reserved by Maldives Promotion House 2023.