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Ibrahim Ali: moulding creative youngsters in Maldives and abroad through art

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This might come as a surprise to those of us like me who have little to no artistic skills, but everybody is an artist! That’s at least what one self-taught Maldivian artist thinks. And he has set out to prove that through his own style of art and art classes.

Ibrahim Ali started exploring his talent at a very young age, painting and creating art pieces. While going to high school in capital Male, he discovered a small art shop right in front of his school. Luckily, he got a part-time job at the shop run by a local art graduate. That gave him access to a wider range of materials and more opportunities to further explore his skills.

But right after he graduated from high school, the art shop closed and Ali had to find a job. Finding work in the field of arts was almost impossible in the Maldives where art was still not appreciated. So, like most fresh school graduates still looking to build a career, he took up a job at the Bank of Maldives’ (BML) branch at the main airport.

Ali chats with a guest during his art exhibition at LUX* South Ari Atoll. PHOTO/ LUX*

For Ali, the five years that he spent doing the boring desk job at the bank branch became the stepping stone to finding his inner calling. At the airport, he was introduced to “a family” of airport representatives from the resorts across the Maldives. Together they enjoyed coffees, cigarettes and chit chats. Soon enough, he was drawn to the hospitality industry, and started looking for a job in a resort. That search yielded in a job at the finance department of One&Only Reethi Rah resort.

“While working at the resort, I got the chance to make decorations for different occasions like Easter, Christmas and Halloween. During these chances, the resort discovered my talent and I got the chance to move to the Art Studio where I created art pieces and conducted art lessons for the guests,” Ali tells me, during a chat at LUX* South Ari Atoll resort.

“This is where everything started shining in my career. There I realised that this has always been the dream that I wanted to pursue.”

Ali conducts an art class in Japan.

When Ali joined the art studio at Reethi Rah, he was still a newbie. Pottery was a big part of the art classes offered by the studio, but he knew nothing about it. He learned a bit about the art of pottery from the resident artist and self-taught it through trial and error. But to make things worse, the resort’s resident artist Lilia left soon after, leaving the art studio at one of the most luxurious resorts in the country solely in his hands.

“I was scared because our clientele was the ultra-rich. So there was no chance for any obvious mistakes, but I was still a beginner. Lucky for me, I was able to learn pottery on my own and conduct classes. My new manager Haneef was also very helpful. And through that, I created amazing bonds with kids from around the globe which made them come to the property just to take my classes,” Ali recalls.

Those bonds remain strong to this day, as guests who had attended his art classes at Reethi Rah still visit him in Japan, where he lives with his wife and son since December 2014.

In his wife’s native Japan, Ali has discovered more opportunities to grow as an artist. After spending his initial months in Japan  without a job because of language barriers and his lack of a college degree, he landed a job as an English teacher at a newly opened language school for children. With Ali as the primary teacher, the school started with just one student in January 2015, and in a year expanded to accommodate 20 students.

At first it started as a regular English language class, but Ali was a born-artist and he knew he had to quench his thirst to instil his knowledge in arts into the young minds that came to him for guidance. So he introduced an art class at the school for the first time during the summer break. It was well-received by the parents and kids alike, as it combined art with language. Now he teaches English at several schools in Japan using the concept of art, enabling children to learn language through real situations and by creating a piece of art together. Community centres in different parts of Japan are also benefiting from his knowledge.

“I couldn’t have come this far without the help and support of my family in Japan and in the Maldives, especially my wife and son. Living in Japan is difficult and she works full-time to support the family, acting as the leader of the family in order to let me do what I love to do,” Ali says.

Ali conducts an art class at a community centre in Japan.

For his next move, Ali is looking to conduct visiting artist programmes at resorts in the Maldives.

“I would like to continue sharing my knowledge skills and creating those memories to a lot of people,” he says.

His first stop was the LUX* South Ari Atoll in mid-August. On a personal invitation of Hussain Afeef, Regional Director of Training, Development and Quality Assurance at LUX* South Ari Atoll, Ali conducted sessions for interested guests, where they learned about several forms of arts and crafts, including coconut art, marble art, shrinking paper art and accessory making. Guests who signed up for the four days of classes learned to make creative accessories and vibrant artworks from everyday materials found in the Maldives such as coconuts and shells.

Ali during a class at LUX* South Ari Atoll.

At the fresh setting of the chic beach resort, Ali also held an exhibition of his own art series, called Turquoise. The series presents the natural beauty of the Maldives, especially its turquoise blue waters, through his imagination.

“My artworks are driven by ideas about creating art using everyday materials like a fallen coconut, which people would throw away. I make sure they have a fun experience, and create a memorable painting or an art piece which they would hang back in their homes to always remember to come back to the beautiful place at LUX* South Ari Atoll,” Ali describes his first visiting artist programme.

Ali’s paintings on display at LUX* South Ari Atoll. PHOTO/ LUX*

For now, Ali is back in Japan, moulding young students with his unique blend of language and arts. He also has grand plans for next year, including more visiting artist programmes at LUX* South Ari Atoll and other popular resorts in the Maldives, and to represent his home country at Setouchi Triennale, one of the biggest art festivals in Japan.

But as he improves his own artistic skills and discovers more techniques of art and creativity everyday, he is determined to share his knowledge and experience with his countrymen and those that come to the beautiful islands of the Maldives for a glimpse of paradise.

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Experience All the Magic of Easter Candyland at Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi

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As the spring sunshine sparkles on the gentle waves of the Indian Ocean, Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi invites couples seeking the ultimate escapism and families looking to spend moments of togetherness this Easter break. Nestled in the picturesque Shaviyani Atoll, the private island retreat will transform into an Easter Candyland filled with sweet delights and confectionary creations. Whimsical and full of vibrancy, the extraordinary lineup of experiences promises guests of every generation an unforgettable escape, from indulgent feasts under the stars and colorful egg hunts to chocolate-infused treatments at Fairmont Spa. 

From 24 March to 12 April, the resort presents an immersive calendar of events and activities where guests can celebrate special moments in elevated luxury, savor exquisite culinary journeys, embark on new adventures, and make memories that will last for a lifetime. 

“Easter is a time of renewal and joyful reconnection, and our team has curated a program of experiences that celebrates the joy of Easter and the spirit of togetherness,” says Steven Stefaniuk, General Manager at Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi.

Dining is a sensational experience in this idyllic island paradise. Guests can savor local and global flavors at the beachfront Raha Market, indulge in Asian favorites at Kata, enjoy a spectacular by-the-sea dining experience at Azure, and taste a range of creative cocktails at Onu Onu. On 31 March, the island will host an extravagant Easter-themed lunch and pool party featuring a range of global Easter favorites and mouth-watering desserts, complete with fun activities, live music, and entertainment.

2 Fairmont Maldives Kids Club


Parents can watch in delight as their little ones spark their curiosity and imagination at the Kids’ Club and discover various Candyland-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, cupcake and cookie decorating, and egg and face painting. Furthermore, budding eco-warriors can participate in repurposing plastic waste into bespoke souvenirs at the Sustainability Lab and join ocean life conservation activities with the Marine Biology team. 

Guests can restore their inner balance and achieve renewed energy with the offerings of award-winning Fairmont Spa, including nature-inspired wellbeing sessions and the ‘Chocolate Indulgence’ treatment that soothes the body in smooth and revitalizing sensations. Moreover, active travelers can participate in sunrise yoga, beach game challenges, water sports, and interactive coaching with LUX Tennis. 

In the mood for adventure? Dive into one of the flourishing dive sites in Shaviyani Atoll with the resort’s dive partner, Sub Oceanic, snorkel the 9-km-long house reef to discover over 250 species of marine life, or join a sunset cruise in search of dozens of playful dolphins that love to leap out from the sea.

Timeless Family Fun Package – Children Under 12 Stay and Dine for Free 

The resort presents the ‘Timeless Family Fun’ package with a complimentary meal plan upgrade, Easter treats and amenities, and delightful dining experiences for the whole family. Book a 4-night stay or more in one of the resort’s spacious pool villas, offering the perfect blend of privacy and togetherness, and enjoy:

  • Complimentary upgrade from Bed & Breakfast to Half-Board package
  • Children below 12 years of age stay and dine for free    
  • Easter Sunday Lunch and Egg Hunt activity
  • Floating breakfast once during the stay  
  • Family-style beach dinner once during the stay
  • Guided tour of the Sustainability Lab and underwater Coralarium
  • 25% discount on spa treatments 

To renew and reconnect this Easter, please visit their website or email reservations.maldives@fairmont.com

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Celebrate Earth Week with Nature’s Embrace at Oaga Art Resort

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Join Oaga Art Resort from March 21st to 27th, 2024, for a week dedicated to connecting with the beauty and wonder of our planet. Immerse yourself in a program filled with creative activities, meaningful experiences, and a deep appreciation for Earth’s magic.

Unwind with Earth-inspired creativity:

March 21st, as the world celebrates Poetry Day, start your day with a poetic breakfast, followed by a lunchtime fusion of traditional Maldivian Boduberu beats and poetry called ‘Farihi’. In the evening, enjoy some poetry reading and a captivating performance by local duo “Something Lovely”.

On March 22nd, tap your feet to the lively rhythms of a Boduberu jam session at lunch. As the stars emerge, witness the artistry of a sand artist create their magic on the Raa Baa deck.

Connect with nature in a mindful way:

March 23rd, as part of Earth Hour, join a peaceful candlelit Earth Meditation and sound healing session. Later, light your own candle and take part in an art installation under the moonlight. Savour a delicious Earth-conscious buffet and enjoy unplugged music around a bonfire.

On the same day, a special coral planting cocktail is to take place during sunset at the beach. Witness firsthand the wonders of coral restoration as you help plant 60+ coral frames in Oaga’s reef nursery. This project, in partnership with Coralive, aims to completely restore the house reef by 2028. Savour refreshing cocktails and learn about the crucial role coral reefs play in our ecosystem while contributing to a sustainable future.

Celebrate Holi traditions with an eco-twist:

March 25th, witness the creation of a stunning sand mandala and participate in the traditional Full Moon ritual. Dance the night away at a vibrant Holi Full moon party with minimal lighting and glow-in-the-dark paint.

Reflect and reminisce under the stars:

March 26th, cuddle up for a captivating movie night featuring nature documentaries under the starlit sky.

A grand finale on World Theatre Day:

On March 27th, engage your children in a fun puppet show and enjoy a live performance by the energetic band Sky Rock. The week culminates with a special Earth-themed solo performance at the Kaa Kada dinner in celebration of World Theatre Day.

Beyond these highlights, Earth Week weaves its theme throughout Oaga’s daily activities. Whether it is to explore nature-inspired percussion in Take Notes sessions or to let your kids unleash their creativity with eco-friendly crafts in the Fiyoh Kid’s Club, there is something engaging for everyone.

Join Oaga and embark on a journey that reconnects you with nature, celebrates our planet, and leaves you feeling empowered to make a positive difference.

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Hurawalhi Island Resort’s Exemplary Commitment to Marine Conservation Shines in the Maldives

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Hurawalhi Island Resort, nestled amidst the stunning landscapes of the Maldives, proudly reaffirms  its steadfast dedication to marine conservation through pioneering initiatives aimed at  safeguarding the region’s diverse marine ecosystems. 

Saoirse Macklin, the esteemed Resident Marine Biologist at Hurawalhi Island Resort, emphasizes  the Maldives’ distinguished status as one of the world’s most biodiverse marine environments. “At  Hurawalhi, we prioritize the dissemination of knowledge and wonder about our marine world,”  states Macklin. “As a Marine Biologist, it’s been a privilege to inspire and educate guests about the  remarkable marine life surrounding our island.” 

Hurawalhi’s commitment to marine conservation materializes through a range of educational  experiences offered to guests. From immersive Turtle Tours, shedding light on the pivotal role of  seagrass in sustaining turtle populations, to awe-inspiring Manta Search excursions, each journey  represents an enlightening voyage of discovery. 

During these excursions, science and education take precedence, ensuring guests acquire profound  insights into the intricate ecosystems enveloping the island. As the resident Marine Biologist,  Macklin spearheads efforts to monitor and safeguard turtle and manta populations, employing  cutting-edge photo identification techniques to meticulously track and document individual  specimens during every expedition. 

Hurawalhi extends a warm invitation to guests to partake in Marine Biologist-guided reef  snorkeling experiences, providing an unparalleled opportunity to explore coral reef and seagrass  ecosystems while championing their preservation. Participants not only revel in the splendor of the  house reef but also actively engage in efforts to protect these delicate habitats. 

Furthermore, Hurawalhi’s commitment to marine conservation is evident in its ongoing projects.  The resort’s diligent monitoring and maintenance of its artificial reef program adjacent to the  iconic 5.8 Underwater Restaurant aim to rejuvenate and revitalize reef systems. In 2021, a total of  114 artificial reef frames were transplanted, laying the groundwork for reef regeneration. 

Recent initiatives include the creation of “festive frames,” crafted by guests during the holiday  season, with regular updates fostering continued guest involvement in conservation endeavors.  Annual monitoring of benthic habitats and species abundance by the Marine Biologist team is  pivotal, collecting data to track changes in habitats and biodiversity over time. This scientific  endeavor provides valuable insights into the health of Hurawalhi’s marine life and serves as a  cornerstone for future conservation efforts. 

The data collected holds immense potential, serving as a catalyst for initiatives aimed at securing  protected status for Hurawalhi and its surrounding waters. Through collaboration with  government-led conservation programs and local stakeholders, the resort aspires to designate  Hurawalhi as a protected area, ensuring its continued vitality and resilience.

In the face of unprecedented challenges to ocean conservation, Hurawalhi remains resolute in its  mission to preserve and protect the marine marvels of the Maldives. Through collective  understanding and concerted action, the resort endeavors to safeguard these invaluable ecosystems  for generations to come. 

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