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MAHRP: Challenging age-old mindsets, championing humane workplaces



When Hussain Afeef, Ali Adam and Ahmed Ibrahim met about three years ago, they knew they had to do something at a grand scale to pass on their knowledge and experience to budding HR professionals in the country. These three passionate heavyweights in the local HR scene then set out to resurrect an old idea; to found a platform to nurture the talents and skills of their peers.

Six months to their initial chat, the Maldives Association of HR Professionals (MAHRP) was born, with Afeef as its president and Ibrahim as one of two vice presidents. And in doing so, Afeef, Adam and Ibrahim achieved what many others before them had attempted but failed; to establish the first ever professional association in Maldives, dedicated to HR and people development.

“As many developing nations, we have a tendency to focus heavily on infrastructure development. In the process, we often forget about human capital development,” Afeef, who serves as the Regional Director of Training, Development and Quality Assurance at LUX* Resorts, said.

“Although it’s a sad reality, that was our biggest motivation. We wanted to develop human capital to cater to the increasing demand created by the rapid expansion of our infrastructure. Almost every sector in Maldives is slowly becoming more and more service-oriented.”

Consistency is key

MAHRP’s mission is to serve the needs of HR professionals by providing the most current and comprehensive resources, and to advance the profession by promoting HR’s essential values, setting professional standards and providing the know-how. It is committed to linking and connecting HR professionals and practitioners locally and oversees through signature events and membership activities.

Since its inaugural meeting on February 24, 2018, MAHRP has organised exclusive training events in Maldives with world’s leading customer experience consultant Ron Kaufman and world-renowned motivational speaker Robin Banks, enabling organisations to have access to world-class trainings at discounted rates. The first National HR Convention and Expo and the first learning and development conference in Maldives were also held in 2019. Regular knowledge share events complement these activities.

“Most NGOs in Maldives that are focused on professional development are not active. MAHRP’s difference is consistency. We organise at least one event per month. All of our exco members are employed full-time at some of the biggest companies in the Maldives, but we have been able to give time and drive the association forward,” Afeef said.

Over the past two years, MAHRP has consistently been in the news. Despite initial reluctance by some organisations to participate in the association’s activities, MAHRP’s events have now captured the attention of almost every private and public enterprise in the country. Its myriad of activities are closely followed by all HR professionals throughout the archipelago.

“As the current president, I thank MAHRP exco and advisory team for their relentless support, as well as our sponsors and partners for their contributions. Without their guidance and collaboration, we won’t be where we’re today,” Afeef said.

Taking on existing mindsets

For most newly-formed organisation, the biggest challenge will perhaps be raising funds for its activities. It was a challenge for MAHRP as well. But the biggest and most important challenge the association faced was the existing mindset of some organisations.

“We had to hold several meetings with [some organisations] to make people understand the importance of capacity building and human capital development,” Afeef explained.

“At the beginning, some organisations were a bit reluctant to send their employees to our forums and events. But once these employees went back and gave their feedback, those organisations also started realising how important it was.”

Many organisations treat HR as the management of the day-to-day affairs of their workforce. They usually host a training session at the beginning and at the end of the year. That means is no organisation-wide learning taking place during 10 out of 12 months of the year!

Human capital development goes beyond the basics of managing the day-to-day affairs of the workforce. It’s about keeping each and every employee’s performance and progress consistently in check. It’s about implementing written policies, and making sure the organisation’s training department, if there is one, focuses on identifying and focusing on the skills and areas needed by the employees.

“Some development initiatives require funds. Any organisation would need a return on the money they spend on training. In each and every event we conduct, we make sure that the participating organisations get double the value of what they had paid for. That’s why we host regular follow-up sessions after each major training. For instance, our monthly ‘Great HR Share Sessions’ are follow-up sessions,” Afeef said.

“Even in an organisation, the key to a successful HR regime is to have regular follow-ups. Doing the performance appraisal of employees isn’t enough; it should be followed up appropriate steps and actions.”

Grand plans

MAHRP’s line-up of events for 2020 include the second National HR Convention and EXPO, second Learning and Development Conference, as well as trainings with world-renowned thought leaders like Marshall Goldsmith, Robin Banks and Ron Kaufman. The first speakers convention in Maldives, aimed at developing great public speakers, will also take place this year. As always, regular HR best practice share sessions will complement those events.

The challenge of the country’s geography leads to a dispersed population across many small islands, which makes service delivery difficult and can limit opportunities for job creation and economic diversification. But MAHRP is determined to take its events to all major populations centres in the country. In fact, reaching all corners of the nation is one of the priorities of the association for 2020.

This year, MAHRP also seeks to establish greater links with organisations to identify the underlying issues in their HR policies and propose solutions.

Rewarding organisations that showcase exceptional performance taking care of their employees features high on MAHRP’s agenda. The association is in the process of introducing a National People Excellence Award, which covers different aspects of HR policies and practices. Modelled after the now-defunct Presidents of Maldives Award for Human Resource Development in the Tourism Industry, MAHRP’s awards will serve as a national-level recognition for excellence in human resource development not just in the tourism industry but across a broad range of service sectors.

MAHRP has an ongoing research partnership with Villa College and collaborates with the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) on raising public awareness about tourism sector jobs and opportunities. But MAHRP is determined to take its training initiatives to the next level; the association will establish its own training institute and position it as a certifying body for globally-recognised courses offered by Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

“Our vision is to be the leading authority in Maldives in human capital development. What that means is that in five years there will be HR professionals certified by MAHRP and organisations endorsed by MAHRP for excellence in HR practices,” Afeef said.

MAHRP sees itself as a value addition to the society.

“It’s important to know the big picture and incorporate your vision into the big picture. In our case, it’s all about aligning human capital development initiatives with the government’s plans. MAHRP’s events for the coming three years will serve as value additions to the human capital development initiatives outlined in the government’s Strategic Action Plan,” Afeef explained.

“Everything — private training institutes, public institutes and organisations like MAHRP — needs to link up with the big picture. The lack of connection is a major issue. Connecting the dots — this needs to happen.”

MAHRP’s vision and mission revolves around creating a more humane workplace. Deeply enshrined in the association’s philosophy is the belief of its founders that people are the most important part of any organisation, public or private. In everything MAHRP does, the universal quality of empathy stands out. In a workplace championed by MAHRP, paying employees for their work isn’t enough or sending them to training sessions isn’t enough; there has to be a mindset change for the better, in how the organisation sees its employees.

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.

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Fan Club

A remarkable tale of wanderlust: Naito Takashi’s 103rd journey to the Maldives



The azure waters of the Maldives have long been a magnet for travelers seeking paradise on Earth. Among these wanderers, one name stands out – Naito Takashi, a Japanese tourist whose boundless enthusiasm for the Maldives has led him to visit this tropical haven a staggering 103 times. His unwavering love for this island nation, coupled with its mesmerizing beauty, has turned his visits into a remarkable testament to the allure of the Maldives.

For the past 24 years, Naito Takashi has visited Maldives between three to five times annually, embarking on a journey that has spanned more than two decades. His tale is one of dedication, passion, and a deep-rooted connection with the captivating landscapes that the Maldives offers. Each visit is not just a vacation; it’s a renewal of his profound relationship with the natural wonders that have captured his heart.

Naito Takashi’s 103rd arrival to the Maldives was met with a warm and heartfelt welcome from none other than the Tourism Minister himself, Dr. Abdulla Mausoom. This gesture symbolizes the deep appreciation the Maldivian people have for their loyal and devoted visitors. The ceremony held aboard the M/V Blue of the Fun Azul Fleet was a fitting tribute to a traveler who has become an honorary ambassador of the Maldives.

The M/V Blue, Fun Azul Fleet, holds special significance for Naito Takashi. As an avid diver, he has found his perfect companion in this cruise boat specialized in diving charters. The vessel offers schedules tailored to explore the best dive spots around the Maldives’ islands, making it an ideal partner for a diving enthusiast like Naito Takashi. The crystal-clear waters of the Maldives have witnessed countless underwater escapades orchestrated by this intrepid traveler.

The Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism has lauded Naito Takashi’s enduring passion for the nation’s beauty. Their tweet acknowledging his multiple visits serves as a testament to his unique and cherished relationship with the country. He has witnessed the ever-changing landscape of the Maldives, from its pristine beaches to its vibrant marine life, and has undoubtedly contributed to the thriving tourism industry.

Naito Takashi’s story also reflects the profound impact that travel can have on an individual’s life. His unwavering commitment to exploring the Maldives has not only enriched his own experiences but has also brought attention to the natural wonders of Maldives. It stands as a reminder that the act of traveling is not just about ticking off destinations from a bucket list; it’s about forming connections, fostering appreciation, and creating lasting memories.

As Naito Takashi continues his journey through the Maldives, his story resonates as an inspiration to fellow travelers and a tribute to the unyielding allure of this island paradise. His 103rd visit is not just a numerical milestone; it’s a celebration of an extraordinary bond between a traveler and a destination, a bond that has grown stronger with each passing year and promises to endure for years to come.

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Amari Raaya Maldives opens its gates to paradise



In a grand celebration of luxury and nature’s wonders, Amari Raaya Maldives resort has officially opened its doors, welcoming its first guests to experience a slice of paradise in the Maldives. The exclusive event was attended by the resort’s management team, as well as Atul Chordia, Chairman of Panchshil Realty, the developer behind this magnificent project.

Nestled on a pristine natural island in the heart of the Maldives’ Raa Atoll, Amari Raaya promises to be a sanctuary for travelers seeking an unforgettable escape amidst the archipelago’s breathtaking beauty. From the moment guests arrived via Manta Air seaplane, they were greeted with warm hospitality and a taste of Maldivian culture, as they were presented with traditional cultural items and treated to mesmerizing Maldivian dances.

Atul Chordia, the visionary behind Panchshil Realty, and Yuthachai Charanachitta ONYX Hospitality Group’s CEO marked the official opening of the resort by cutting the ribbon, signifying the culmination of a labor of love and dedication to creating a unique haven for luxury travelers.

With 187 villas offering a variety of luxurious experiences, Amari Raaya ensures that every guest’s stay is truly exceptional. Visitors can choose from an array of accommodation options, including the Beach Villas, Beach Pool Villas, and interconnecting Family Beach Villas, perfect for creating cherished memories with loved ones.

For those seeking unparalleled luxury and seclusion, the Ocean Villas and Ocean Pool Villas provide panoramic views of the azure waters teeming with marine life. Sunset enthusiasts can revel in the breathtaking beauty of the Maldivian dusk from the privacy of their villas, opting for the Sunset Ocean Villas or Sunset Ocean Pool Villas, promising an unforgettable experience.

Amari Raaya Maldives goes beyond offering captivating villas; it has curated an extraordinary culinary journey for its guests. With eight distinct dining options, visitors can embark on a gastronomic adventure that caters to every palate. From the signature Amaya Food Gallery, serving famous street food and hawker delights, to the rooftop bar Ampers&nd, where guests can savor sunset snacks and cocktails, the resort promises to delight all epicureans. Poolside Italian favorites, freshly caught seafood infused with Maldivian and Asian flavors, and the fun and playful experience of enjoying mobile snacks and drinks served from a bus all add to the culinary magic of the resort.

In the evenings, guests can find a sense of community and immerse themselves in the local culture through live music, traditional Boduberu nights, and regular cultural events and festivities, making every moment at Amari Raaya Maldives an enriching and memorable one.

Amari Raaya Maldives is developed by Panchshil Realty, a name synonymous with excellence in luxury real estate in India. The resort is managed by Onyx Hospitality, renowned for its exceptional and personalized hospitality experiences.

With its official opening, Amari Raaya Maldives invites travelers from around the world to discover the allure of the Maldives in unparalleled comfort and style. As guests arrive at this oasis of luxury and natural splendor, they are sure to find themselves enchanted by the timeless beauty of the islands and immersed in an experience that will linger in their hearts forever.

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