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Meet Mohamed ‘Kudu’ Ibrahim: man behind Maldives’ premier production coordinator Blue and White



By Shamman Zahir

A global franchise such as Star Wars is known by many. For a part of such a movie of this caliber to be shot in the Maldives is not something you see every day. Today, Maldives Insider sits down with Mohamed ‘Kudu’ Ibrahim, the man behind it all, coordinating the shoot locally.

Being an ex-musician and after working for a while came the start of Blue and White. Simply wanting to get into business, not knowing what industry or nature of work that could be done, Ibrahim recalls registering the name. The truth is, he never had any thoughts or ideas behind the name. Later it was mentioned to him that Blue is for sea and White is for beaches — smart name choice. He went along with it. Always being curious to learn how things work, he was convinced what he was doing now was worthwhile.

How did he get into this industry? There was a friend, from Cochin. He sent a person who was shooting an ad that needed help. Ibrahim simply offered his help as a favour to his friend. Afterward, he looked it up on the internet to find this is a work people do.

Fast forward, with over 15 years of experience of keeping a rapport with clients, Blue and White is the leading production coordinators in the Maldives with a production count of roughly 480 and having worked with the biggest names in the world. From two-person to 210-person productions. Every production is different in its own way.

“We make the statement that the Maldives is paradise but a logistical nightmare. It’s not the cheapest to plan production around the Maldives,” he says.

Production coordination is a seasonal work, but that’s where Ibrahim’s passion took him. He says he may be wrong on this, but based on the experience he has a feeling the Maldives will be over-filmed. In the sense, we may have unique white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters but there isn’t a lot more variety to be covered.

“It’s all about production costs at the end of the day and a recent crew we spoke to, they do their research on places to visit and areas of interest to shoot but they came to the conclusion it wasn’t worth it to shoot in multiple locations in the Maldives. In the end, they chose to get their footage from one atoll. That too is a business so their bottom line is very important. So it’s very clear we have limitations in this industry. If they can get the same thing elsewhere cheaper, they would go. For comparison, in Sri Lanka, geographically you can have different landscapes and different weather temperatures in a matter of hours of travel. That’s unfortunately not possible here,” he says.

What are some of the challenges Ibrahim has had to face moving forward with Blue and White? It’s not only crew, but it is also a lot of expensive gear as well with this kind of work. One experience of a famous crew here. There are certain specifications of what can be taken on the aircraft. So Ibrahim recalls hiring a boat to take the gear five hours each way by speedboat because there was no other way around it. You realise what it truly takes only with experience.

“We have been doing this amidst challenges, the Maldives being not a film-friendly country. It is no secret we need less talk and more action for improvement. A good example of this is the Carnet system. To those who don’t know, it is basically like a passport for your film equipment. It’s the system used around the world and we haven’t adopted such a system in the Maldives at this time but there is work being done to make it possible to my understanding,” he says.

But to our surprise, Ibrahim mentions that he is not an avid movie buff: “I wouldn’t be able to tell apart from a photo camera and a video camera or recognise famous people. A few folks maybe, but I am the sort of person to fall asleep when watching a movie but I know the work I do.”

Ibrahim has also won the national award in the area of new up and coming businesses in 2015. Here is a memorable moment from his career: “A 23-day shoot, a director who came by for a shoot post-Covid, He was very silent. I’m questioning whether I’m doing anything wrong he doesn’t seem too happy, talks nicely on the last day and leaves after the shoot is done. Another group comes soon after, one of the members, the one who contacted me has a water bottle with a name on it. It didn’t register to me at first but it seemed familiar. Then she tells me that’s your friend’s water bottle. Turns out the silent director who went is her husband and he had recommended me. So that was just his style and he was impressed by the arrangements. So, goes to show that when you do your job right, that’s enough. The simple rule I follow is that you should be the 180-degree sight when needed, they shouldn’t have to turn back to find you.”

Blue and White is well known as the company that handled Star Wars rogue one production in the Maldives. That sounds like once in a lifetime opportunity and the kind every production company dream of. Ibrahim shares with us a bit about the opportunity and experience: “Now I know they are really big players in the world of production. At the time I didn’t know them, I was just doing my job and getting things done. They too thought I was just joking and took them a moment to realise that I truly don’t know them. It was nice to see the reception of it. A friend of mine sends a picture of the company name in the credits. That’s when I realised some people stay back to watch the credits too.”

Ibrahim’s advice to those trying to break into this field of work is all about discipline: “What I have come to know down the line in the years of experience is that this is 60 percent paperwork and planning and 40 percent execution. Most people talk too much and even if they do have good ideas it is better to materialise those things with the right planning to back them up. Proper planning and discipline is crucial to success.”

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 

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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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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.

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