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Manta Ray Saved by a Divemaster From Bandos

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Maldives Promotion House – During a dive session at Boduhithi Thila, one of the dive sites located in North Malé Atoll, a Maldivian Divemaster for Bandos Island Resort & Spa, Abdulla Sivad, recently saved a 2.5 metre manta ray completely entangled in a gill net at a depth of about 16 metres.

The young manta male, labelled Swan, was first discovered in August 2006 and was identified as number 179 in the manta ray database. According to Manta Trust the Swan has only been seen 8 times and only in the North Malé Atoll region during 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.

“I went on the dive as a guide. A while after we went underwater, I saw the shadow of a Manta approaching us. But when I looked at it I knew something was wrong,” Sivad explained how he saved the gentle giant.

“When it came closer I realised that a net was caught on it. The manta slowly came towards me and stopped right in front of me. When I looked closer I noticed that the net had already made its way in to the flesh, inflicting wounds of about 2 inches deep. The blood was still visible,” Sivad noted.

The manta ray had been caught in a gill net which is not used in Maldives. Believe to have drifted into the Maldivian waters from another country, these nets drift on the surface with ocean currents, entangling surface feeding mantas. While fishing with unsustainable and destructive nets such as the gill net is not allowed in Maldives it is a common practice in other Asian countries.

“While diving I always carry a knife with me, just in case I need it. So I took the knife and started to cut into the net. The manta just hovered in front of me and didn’t even move. It was as if it realised that I was trying to help it,” Sivad continued.

It took about a minute for Sivad to get the net off the manta, and by the time he had finished he was 25 metres deep. Mantas need to swim to maintain their depth. After the manta was saved Sivad began taking pictures to identify the manta. Called an id shot, photos of the dark dots on the belly side of the manta are unique and are used as fingerprints to identify it.

“After I freed the manta it slowly drifted down to the bottom to rest. It was still relaxing when we concluded our dive. We are confident that the manta will recover because we have seen mantas recovering from much worse wounds such as shark bites,” he said.

Sivad was also involved in a manta research conducted in Maldives in 2005, and he has been on many scientific expeditions below the equator. However, for Abdulla Sivad this is not the first manta ray that he has saved.

In 2009 Sivad saved another manta called Atlanta. Sivad came across Atlanta and spotted a trailing net that was caught around his cephalic fins. According to Manta Trust, the goose barnacles attached to the nets prove that these nets drift long distances, born upon ocean currents before they reach the Maldives.

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CROSSROADS Maldives appoints Ibrahim Farhad as Director of Retail

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CROSSROADS Maldives has announced the appointment of Ibrahim Farhad as the new Director of Retail at the Maldives’ premier integrated multi-island leisure destination. Farhad, known for his extensive experience in both the public and private sectors, brings a wealth of expertise in sustainable tourism management to his new role. He will oversee the retail operations at The Marina at CROSSROADS Maldives, enhancing the leisure, dining, shopping, and entertainment experiences for visitors from around the world.

Farhad’s impressive background includes significant contributions to policy formulation and stakeholder engagement during his tenure as the Senior Policy Director at the Maldives Ministry of Tourism. In this role, he was pivotal in developing and implementing policies that promoted sustainable tourism. He collaborated closely with government agencies and international organizations to ensure regulatory compliance, and his expertise in research, analysis, quality assurance, and capacity building has been instrumental in shaping the tourism sector in the Maldives.

In his new role at CROSSROADS Maldives, Farhad will oversee the strategic development of retail spaces, ensuring they offer a diverse and high-quality visitor experience. He will collaborate with local and international partners to bring unique products to The Marina, aligning with the destination’s commitment to sustainability and cultural authenticity.

“As a native Maldivian coupled with his extensive experience and deep-rooted community connections, Farhad is a great addition to our team at CROSSROADS Maldives. I am excited to see the fresh perspectives and innovative strategies he will introduce at The Marina, which will further strengthen CROSSROADS Maldives’ position as the premier integrated multi-island leisure destination,” said Alexander Traeger, General Manager of CROSSROADS Marina and SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton.

CROSSROADS Maldives looks forward to the innovative and sustainable approaches Farhad will bring to the retail operations, enhancing the overall experience for all visitors.

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Utheemu Ganduvaru: Portal to Maldives’ national freedom

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The Maldives, often celebrated for its sun-kissed beaches and turquoise waters, also offers a rich tapestry of history and culture waiting to be explored. Among the islands of Haa Alif Atoll lies Utheemu Island, home to Utheemu Ganduvaru, a historical treasure that invites travellers to delve into the storied past of the archipelago.

Utheemu Ganduvaru, the ancestral home of Muhammad Thakurufaanu, stands as a poignant reminder of the Maldives’ fight for independence. Thakurufaanu, revered as a national hero, led a successful campaign against Portuguese occupation in the 16th century. His childhood home, Utheemu Ganduvaru, offers a rare glimpse into the life and times of this legendary figure.

In 1558, the Portuguese invaded the Maldives, killing the Sultan in battle and establishing their rule. Muhammad Thakurufaanu and his brothers, Ali and Hassan, left for Minicoy to prepare a campaign to liberate their country. The boat they built, Kalhuohfummi, was crucial to their efforts. Thakurufaanu and his brothers fought the Portuguese for eight years, landing on different islands under cover of night to evade capture, and departing before daybreak. Eventually, they landed in Malé and defeated the Portuguese leadership in the capital. Freed from Portuguese rule, the people chose Muhammad Thakurufaanu as their Sultan.

Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu ruled the Maldives for 12 years until his death in 1585. He is remembered as a considerate and just ruler, concerned for the well-being of even the poorest citizens. He is also credited with establishing the country’s first formal military unit.

Back at Utheemu Island, visitors are immediately struck by the island’s tranquil beauty and its lush, green landscape. The journey to Utheemu Ganduvaru is a step back in time, where the echoes of history are palpable. The residence itself, a traditional wooden palace, is meticulously preserved, showcasing the architectural ingenuity and cultural richness of the period.

As you enter Utheemu Ganduvaru, the simplicity and elegance of the structure are apparent. Built from timber, the palace is a fine example of traditional Maldivian craftsmanship. The intricate woodwork, with its detailed carvings and polished surfaces, speaks volumes about the artisanship that flourished during Thakurufaanu’s time.

The main hall, with its open layout and cool, shaded interiors, offers a sense of serenity and reflection. It was within these walls that Thakurufaanu spent his formative years, and each room tells a story of his early life and the influences that shaped his destiny. The residence includes living quarters and storage spaces, all arranged in a manner that reflects the daily life of a prominent Maldivian family in the 16th century.

One of the most compelling aspects of Utheemu Ganduvaru is its connection to the larger narrative of Maldivian resistance against foreign rule. Guides at the site often recount tales of Thakurufaanu’s daring exploits and strategic brilliance. His knowledge of the archipelago’s intricate waterways and his leadership in naval battles are celebrated as key factors in the successful expulsion of the Portuguese in 1573.

Beyond its historical significance, Utheemu Ganduvaru offers visitors a deeper understanding of Maldivian culture and heritage. The site is a testament to the resilience and unity of the Maldivian people, embodying values that continue to inspire. For travellers, a visit to Utheemu Ganduvaru is an opportunity to connect with the soul of the Maldives, experiencing the essence of its history and the spirit of its people.

While on Utheemu Island, visitors can explore other points of interest, such as the island’s beaches and vibrant local community. Engaging with the locals offers additional insights into Maldivian traditions and hospitality, enriching the overall experience.

For those seeking a journey through time, Utheemu Ganduvaru in Haa Alif Atoll is a destination that should not be missed. It is a place where the past comes alive, where the legacy of a hero continues to resonate, and where the true essence of the Maldives can be discovered. As you walk through the halls of Utheemu Ganduvaru, you are not just a visitor; you are a part of a historical journey that defines the Maldivian identity.

So, when planning your next visit to the Maldives, venture beyond the beaches and dive into the rich history of these islands. Let Utheemu Ganduvaru be the highlight of your cultural exploration, offering a meaningful and memorable connection to the heart of Maldivian heritage.

Cover photo: Andreas Faessler

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Embark on a journey of pure joy at Sirru Fen Fushi

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The newly-reimagined Sirru Fen Fushi Private Lagoon Resort, a member of the esteemed Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) collection, invites you to rediscover luxury in the Maldives. Nestled on a pristine island amidst crystal-clear lagoons, this haven of effortless elegance and contemporary allure promises an unforgettable escape.

Curated Experiences Await

From the moment guests touch down in Malé, Sirru Fen Fushi curates your journey around four pillars: Taste, Wellness, Art, and Play. Savor world-class cuisine alongside authentic Maldivian flavors at revamped restaurants. Rejuvenate with holistic wellness practices like frequency sound healing and Ayurvedic treatments. Become a steward of the environment through marine conservation initiatives, or witness turtle nesting with the resort’s marine biologist.

Unparalleled Comfort and Personalized Luxury

Unwind in the unparalleled comfort of Beach, Water, and Safari Tented Villas, each designed for an intimate escape in harmony with the breathtaking surroundings. Choose experiences based on Fire, Water, Earth, and Air themes, creating lasting memories tailored to your preferences.

Joining the Leading Hotels of the World

Sirru Fen Fushi is thrilled to be part of the prestigious LHW collection. “This exclusive hideaway promises a bespoke journey of luxury and serenity,” says Deniz Omurgonulsen, Vice President of Member Experience at LHW. “We are excited to add this private island paradise to our collection.”

Rediscovering Your Inner Child

Through the Essence of Play, reconnect with your inner child. Learn Maldivian crafts, gather around fire pits for acoustic guitar evenings, or dance under the stars at Plankton Glow Parties. Every experience ignites the soul and fosters connection.

A Celebration of Local Flavors

Tantalize your taste buds and explore local flavors through various activities. Reel in the day’s catch on a fishing excursion, or witness the theatrical spectacle of a Malafaaiy Bodu Beru feast, featuring traditional cuisine, drumming, singing, and clapping.

Holistic Wellness and Artistic Inspiration

Sirru Fen Fushi fosters rejuvenation through holistic treatments and a connection to nature. Full Moon Meditations and Pool Rituals promote a transformative journey. Art is woven into the resort’s DNA, from the underwater Coralarium museum to the Sustainability Lab, where you can create meaningful keepsakes.

Protecting Paradise

Committed to preserving the archipelago’s natural wonders, the resort offers eco-conscious initiatives. Participate in coral restoration projects, explore the neighboring Maroshi island with its mud crab delicacies and vast mangrove forests, and learn the importance of marine conservation.

Experience Sirru Fen Fushi, where unforgettable memories and a deep connection with nature await. Visit: https://sirrufenfushi.com/

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