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Renowned hotelier Didi, Indian billionaire Abhishek Verma announce strategic alliance to invest in Maldives

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Legendary Maldivian hotelier Ibrahim Mohammed Didi and Indian billionaire Abhishek Verma has announced a strategic alliance to invest in Maldives, especially in the island nation’s lucrative tourism industry.

The agreement signed on February 9 by Didi and Verma’s Olialia World covers five strategic investments in the Maldives, including the recently announced Olialia New Maldives concept.

The development concept includes the construction of four luxury hotels, Chariots of the Gods theme park, a shipping and container port, a Special Economic Zone with offshore banking and export zones for seafood and poultry, a freight terminal, helicopter service across the Maldives with a fleet of 10 twin engine helicopters, an 18-hole golf course, housing project for upmarket villas and chalets, a bank, two hospitals containing about 300 inpatient beds each, and monorail between the islands of the northern atolls of Maldives along with a five-kilometre connecting bridge.

“The concept would be submitted to the Maldivian authorities for approval in due course,” Olialia and Didi’s SIMDI Group said, in a joint statement.

Under the deal, the alliance will take over certain five star resorts in the Maldives owned by the Didi family, and rebrand those as Olialia Island Resorts and operate those under a management contract.

The five-point deal also includes the promotion and distribution of Olialia FMCG products such as cigarettes, cola, juices, confectionary, scented supari, herbal mouth fresheners and pan masala through the sales outlets and channel partners of SIMDI Group.

Other salient features of the strategic alliance formed by the two business moguls include the setting up of Olialia poultry and mariculture farms in existing islands owned by the Didi family, for export and domestic consumption.

The strategic alliance also includes the takeover and rebranding of the IMDC Hospital in Maldives as Olialia IMDC Hospital and to operate it under a management contract.

“Verma family company ‘Olialia Healthcare’ will extend the facilities in the hospital for high end medical tourism, cosmetic/plastic surgery, adding water villas and chalets and bringing in renowned European doctors for various faculties of the hospital,” the statement read.

Didi is a legendary hotelier who revolutionised the Maldives tourism industry by developing the iconic Kanuhura resort under the One&Only brand with hotel magnate Sir Sol Kerzner. He owns several other properties in Maldives and around the world. The trading businesses owned by him under SIMDI Group are amongst the leading companies in the Maldives, representing some of the world’s major brands.

Abhishek Verma, who serves as the Chief Evangelist of Olialia World, is a successful industrialist, owning a number of conglomerates in defence sector, FMCG and aviation industries. According to Forbes Europe, his wife Anca Verma, who is also a leading figure in the Olialia business, is the richest Romanian in the world and one of the wealthiest female billionaires of Europe.

Lately, Olialia World has been focussing on the Maldives in order to expand its operations to the beautiful archipelago in the Indian ocean.

Olialia brand’s Lithuanian co-founders — Justas Tomkus and his wife Rasa Tomkiene, and Rytis Tomkus — had initiated the Verma family in 2011 to invest in the development of Maldives. The plans culminated in success when in October 2017, Olialia India Private Limited was invited by the Maldives government to construct an international airport near a huge lagoon located far away from the island nation’s capital city of Male.

Plans are already underway to build the Olialia International Airport project, under the Build, Own and Transfer (BOT) model.

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Pulse Hotels & Resorts unveils new residential project: The Coral Residences, Kandima

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Pulse Hotels & Resorts, one of the leading innovators in Maldives tourism, has introduced The Coral Residences, Kandima. Nestled on the northern end of the lush and green three-kilometre-long Kandima Integrated Island Resort in Dhaalu Atoll, this residential development is a first of its kind and promises to redefine luxury living in the Maldives.

Designed and crafted with meticulous attention to detail, The Coral Residences, Kandima, is a unique, integrated beachfront residential community with exceptional 5-star service, situated in the shimmering blue heart of the Maldives.

The Coral Residences comprises of 40 exquisitely designed two bedroom and three bedroom apartments. All apartments feature contemporary design and chic interiors, high-end finishes, state-of-the-art appliances, and unobstructed panoramic sea views across the Indian Ocean. Residence owners will enjoy exclusive access to a host of premium facilities, including a private beachfront pool, a gourmet restaurant and bar, dedicated fitness and recreation facilities and a 24-hour concierge service.

Buyers of The Coral Residences will be able to own their apartments under the new strata title ownership program. Owners’ apartments will be part a rental program, managed by Pulse Hotels & Resorts. Residents will have the access to the full range Kandima’s 5-star resort services, including its restaurants and bars, spa, recreation, and other amenities to complement their lifestyle. With its emphasis on comfort, convenience, and community, this development offers a truly elevated living experience.

“We are thrilled to introduce The Coral Residences, Kandima, to discerning local and international buyers,” said Sanjay Maniku, Managing Director of Pulse Hotels & Resorts. “With its unparalleled design and amenities, homeowners can take advantage of a limitless world of activities and experiences on offer at Kandima. We believe this development will set a new standard for luxury living in the Maldives, as well as bringing a new definition to the Maldives family vacation.”

The Coral Residences is realised by Pulse Hotels & Resorts, the creators behind The Nautilus Maldives, Kandima Maldives, and Nova Maldives. Known for their innovative hospitality concepts, Pulse Hotels & Resorts ensures that each property offers exceptional experiences and world-class service. The development has commenced and is expected to complete within Q3, 2025.

For more information, high-resolution images, and to schedule a private viewing, please contact Aishath Ihuma, Director of Business Development at +960 7788986 or aishath.ihuma@coralresidencesmaldives.com.

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Weixin Pay supported to boost Chinese tourists to Maldives

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On May 27, Zihuny Rasheed, Deputy Managing Director of Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC/Visit Maldives), and Etienne Ng, Weixin Pay’s Country Manager, Singapore and Regional Director, Southeast Asia, WeChat Pay, signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during ITB China 2024, pledging to support more Maldivian merchants to accept WeixinPay to provide Chinese tourists with a convenient payment experience. Visit Maldives is the Official Destination Partner for this year’s edition of ITB China.

“China is a key source of tourists for the Maldives, and we greatly value the experience of Chinese visitors,” said DMD Zihuny Rasheed. “We plan on promoting the acceptance of Weixin Pay throughout the country, offering Chinese tourists the payment option they are familiar with and prefer. I have used Weixin Pay during my visit to China via linking an international card, and I can attest to the convenience of the mobile payment option.”

Ibrahim Faisal, Minister of Tourism of the Maldives, expressed his support, “Excited that we’re introducing Weixin Pay for Chinese visitors, which is another step in establishing Maldives as their top destination. Now, it’s easier than ever for Chinese travellers to enjoy their stay, hassle-free. We look forward to further enhancing their experience,” he wrote.

According to Etienne Ng, Weixin Pay is currently being piloted at the country’s airport duty-free store, as well as in popular restaurants like Sala Thai and City Garden. Additionally, a range of hotels and resorts are participating including, JEN Maldives Malé by Shangri-La, Adaaran Select HudhuranFushi, Adaaran Club Rannalhi, Adaaran Prestige Vadoo, Adaaran Prestige Water Villas, Velaa Private Island, Cheval Blanc Randheli Private Island, Dhawa Ihuru Maldives, Ayada Maldives, Marriott Bonvoy, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island and Angsana Velavaru in Maldives with strong support from the Bank of Maldives and local merchants. Making smooth progress, the initiative is expected to have 8,000 merchants nationwide that integrate the payment option.

“Weixin Pay is committed to providing users with safe and convenient payment services. Since the visa exemption policy was implemented, more and more Weixin Pay users have chosen to travel to the island country. Through our cooperation with Visit Maldives, we aim to provide Chinese users with the same convenient experience in the travel as they experience at home,” he said.

In February 2023, an Agreement on Mutual Exemption of Visa Requirements signed between the Maldives and China took effect as China expands its visa-free policy to benefit more countries. Consequently, the Maldives has consistently ranked among the top overseas destinations for Chinese tourists during popular travel periods such as the May Day and National Day holidays.

According to data from Visit Maldives, the country welcomed over 1.8 million tourists in 2023, a new national record. The Chinese market has been a key source market for the Maldives. As of 11th May 2024, it is the number one source market with 91,073 tourist arrivals.

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Indian influencer Niki Mehra in Maldives

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Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC/ Visit Maldives) hosted a familiarisation trip with Amilla Maldives for high-end influencer, Niki Mehra, from India to experience the luxury and romantic offerings of the Maldives from 3rd – 6th May 2024.

The familiarisation trip was a great opportunity to Niki Mehra, a renowned Indian model, fashion, beauty and travel content creator and social media influencer with over half a million followers who has carved a niche in the Indian fashion industry with her unique sense of style. During her time in the Sunny Side of Life, Niki Mehra showcased luxury to romantic experiences of the destination.

The trip promoted Maldives through social media platforms of Niki Mehra while highlighting experiential itinerary offerings of the Maldives. Additionally, the influencer trip assisted MMPRC in propelling growth in the luxury travel segment and honeymoon market by showcasing the Maldives as a premier honeymoon destination for the Indian travellers.

The Indian market has been a strong market for the Maldives over the years, currently ranked number 6 with 46,970 tourists as of 13th May 2024. Additionally, MMPRC showcased the Maldives in OTM and SATTE held earlier this year. MMPRC is committed to boosting the arrivals from the market and has exciting marketing activities planned for future, including joint campaigns, familiarisation trips, participation in major events and other campaigns which provides numerous opportunities to showcase the breathtaking Maldives to the market, attracting more Indian travellers.

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