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Ooredoo donates over $161k to help Maldives fight coronavirus

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Telecom giant Ooredoo has announced a donation of MVR 2.5 million ($161,332) to help the Maldives fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Ooredoo Maldives chief executive Najib Khan made the announcement during a telephone call with Maldivian president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih Sunday afternoon.

“Ooredoo has always remained a close partner to the people of Maldives, and today we reaffirm our strong commitment towards supporting local communities overcome the challenges being faced due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Khan said.

“It is our sincere hope that our contribution will assist the strong actions being taken by the government to limit the human and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Maldives.”

The Qatari telecom company, which entered the Maldives market in 2005, said it had been closely collaborating with government agencies including the President’s Office, the National Emergency Operations Centre and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to provide key measures of support for the national response to the pandemic.

This includes critical connectivity support, mass awareness on Covid-19 prevention and relief, as well as digital solutions which enable online education, health services and enterprise, it added.

The coronavirus outbreak has hit the Maldivian economy hard, as travel restrictions and other preventive measures affect the country’s lucrative tourism industry, which contributes the bulk of the island nation’s state revenue and foreign reserves.

Before the pandemic, the government had been bullish about tourism prospects, targeting two million, high-spending holidaymakers this year after last year’s record 1.7 million.

However, tourist arrivals saw a year-over-year decline of 22.8 per cent in the first 10 days of March. Officials say the number of tourist arrivals to the Maldives could drop by half in 2020.

All international airlines have suspended scheduled operations to the Maldives, as the island nation enforced a blanket suspension of on-arrival visa in late March in a bid to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Even before the visa suspension, the Maldives had closed its borders to arrivals from some of the worst-hit countries, including mainland China, Italy, Bangladesh, Iran, Spain, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Visitors from three regions of Germany (Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg), two regions of France (Île-de-France and Grand Est) and two regions of South Korea were also banned from entering the country.

All direct flights to and from China, Italy, South Korea and Iran were also cancelled.

Cruise ships and foreign yachts were also banned from docking at any of the country’s ports.

With arrival numbers falling and the visa suspension in effect, several resorts across the Maldives had been closed.

Tourism has been the bedrock of the Maldives’ economic success. The $5 billion-dollar economy grew by 6.7 per cent in 2018 with tourism generating 60 per cent of foreign income.

However, the government is at present projecting a possible 13 per cent economic contraction this year — an estimated $778 million hit.

The government had announced plans to shave MVR 5 billion ($324 million) off state expenditure and reduce the total state expenditure for the year to MVR 30 billion ($1.944 billion) from the approved MVR 38.7 billion ($2.5 billion).

Austerity measures include a 20 per cent cut on salaries and allowances of all political appointees, 25-35 per cent cuts on salaries and allowances of public sector employees, and 30-70 per cent cuts across travel, training, renovations and capital equipment budgets.

The Maldives is also looking to borrow $233.37 million from international lenders to plug the gap in balance of payments stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Funds already pledged by international lenders include $28.9 million from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), $20 million from the OPEC Fund for International Development, $17.3 million from the World Bank, and $3.28 million from the European Union.

In the meantime, the government will borrow MVR 4.2 billion ($272 million) under an overdraft facility at the central bank to cover state expenses and maintain public services amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 8, Maldives reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus, as two hotel employees tested positive for Covid-19 at a luxury resort in the archipelago.

Eighteen more cases — all foreigners working or staying resorts and liveaboard vessels except five Maldivians who had returned from abroad — were later identified.

A six-case cluster of locals, detected in capital Male on April 15, confirmed community transmission of the coronavirus. Several more clusters have since been identified, bringing the total number of confirmed case in the Maldives to 1,083.

Four deaths have been reported and 59 have made full recoveries. Five remain in intensive care.

The Maldives announced a state of public health emergency on March 12, the first such declaration under a recent public health protection law.

The public health emergency declaration has allowed the government to introduce a series of unprecedented restrictive and social distancing measures, including stay-at-home orders in capital Male and its suburbs, a ban on inter-island transport and public gatherings across the country, and a nationwide closing of government offices, schools, colleges and universities.

Non-essential services and public places in the capital such as gyms, cinemas and parks have also been shut.

Restaurants and cafes in the capital have been asked to stop dine-in service and switch to takeaway and delivery.

A nationwide shutdown of all guesthouses, city hotels and spa facilities located on inhabited islands is also in effect.

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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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