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Uniting Raa Atoll: Cora Cora Maldives spearheads sustainability, cultural heritage through #ReconnectinRAA challenge

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It’s Freedom Time! Cora Cora Maldives, a multi-award-winning, five-star luxury Maldivian resort located in the pristine Raa Atoll, has announced the launch of the #ReconnectinRAA challenge in a groundbreaking display of unity and commitment to sustainability and cultural heritage, set to take place in 2nd to 8th of August 2023 as part of the celebration for Fifty Two years of tourism in the Maldives.

The campaign, an ambitious 186km stand-up paddling circumnavigation of Raa Atoll by the resorts’ General Manager, Justin Swart, himself and Director of Human Resources, Muiz Mohamed, aims to inspire a passion for environmental conservation and cultural heritage, creating a ripple effect of positive change both locally and globally. This transformative initiative has united 18 resorts, 15 inhabited islands councils, environmental organisations, and the Ministry of Tourism, bringing the entire Raa Atoll together.

By fostering a shared vision, this campaign is breaking barriers and reconnecting the entire Raa Atoll using the threads and fibers woven by its rich culture and sustainable environment. “Through #ReconnectinRAA Challenge, Cora Cora Maldives has succeeded in uniting Raa Atoll into one powerful force, committed to preserving the natural beauty and cultural heritage of this magnificent country,” said Justin Swart, General Manager of Cora Cora Maldives. “Our goal is to create a lasting impact, not just within the atoll but also by inspiring similar initiatives worldwide through our Freedom Footprints Sustainability Programme.”

Cora Cora Maldives is taking its commitment to sustainability beyond the resort’s borders. The #ReconnectinRAA campaign serves as a testament to their dedication, extending the Freedom Footprints Program to encompass the entire Raa Atoll and serving as an inspiration for similar endeavours worldwide. Bringing together 18 resorts and 15 inhabited islands, the campaign aims to conduct the largest-ever beach clean-up in the atoll’s history, setting a powerful precedent for collective environmental action. Through Cora Cora Maldives’ initiative and with the support of partners and resorts, Raa Atoll becomes the first in the region to pledge the ban of single-use plastic shopping bags. Eco-friendly alternatives, such as reusable eco bags, will be distributed throughout the atoll, eliminating plastic waste, and setting an example for other communities.

The theme of the #ReconnectinRAA campaign, “Empowering Freedom Footprints of Change,” encapsulates the essence of this transformative movement. By reconnecting with nature, embracing cultural heritage, and standing together as a united community, Raa Atoll is poised to carve a path towards a greener, culturally rich future.

The #ReconnectinRAA campaign revolves around three essential aspects:

  • Reconnect with Nature: By promoting sustainable practices and raising awareness about environmental conservation, participants will forge a deeper bond with nature and recognize their crucial role in protecting it.
  • Reconnect with Culture: By celebrating and preserving local traditions, music, dance, and artistic expressions, participants will connect with the rich tapestry of Maldivian heritage within Raa Atoll.
  • Reconnect with the World: The event encourages participants to broaden their horizons and connect with the global community. Through the Zen Adventure of a Lifetime Campaign, people from around the world can participate, matching the distance covered during the challenge in their own communities. This global movement fosters a sense of interconnectedness and collective responsibility, inspiring individuals to make sustainable choices and contribute to positive change on a global scale. Upon completion, participants will receive Blue Tiki Coins, which will be used to plant Mangroves.

As part of the campaign, participants and stakeholders are encouraged to act and raise awareness on critical sustainability issues pledging to #BeatPlasticPollution, #SavetheOcean, and #Protect30x30.

Cora Cora Maldives offers its guests a one-of-a-kind immersive Maldivian cultural, experiential, and culinary experience while advocating for sustainability and environmental preservation. Comprising of 100 villas, four restaurants, two bars, MOKSHA Spa and Wellbeing Centre, water sports & diving centre, gym, overwater yoga pavilion, outdoor cinema, CoRa kids Club, and the Dutch Onion Museum. Cora Cora Maldives is 45-minutes by seaplane from Velana International Airport or 30 minutes by domestic flight followed by a 20-minute speedboat journey. Cora Cora Maldives is the ultimate idyllic, island escape.

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Anantara Kihavah launches initiative to bring Maldivian culture to life for guests

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Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas has announced the launch of “Journey Through Maldivian Heritage,” an immersive cultural experience that aims to introduce the luxury resort’s guests to a variety of local customs and artisanal activities designed to celebrate the heritage and traditions of the Maldives.

Available every Thursday, this all-day initiative offers guests the opportunity to immerse themselves fully in local heritage by making a genuine connection to the Maldivian people and their culture. From the moment guests wake up, they are treated to a wide selection of authentic Maldivian specialities at breakfast. Then as they stroll around the island, guests will see the team proudly dressed in traditional Maldivian attire. With guidance from the resort’s dedicated team and local artisans, guests will experience traditional corals, local cuisine, and cultural activities throughout the day.

Suitable for guests of all ages, the many engaging artisanal activities on offer include a Palm Leaf Weaving Workshop, where guests can learn traditional weaving techniques and create their own beautiful palm leaf corals such as ornaments, baskets, hats, and more. For those seeking a musical experience, the Bodu Beru Drum Class offers guests an opportunity to immerse themselves in the rhythm and movement of traditional Maldivian drumming and dance. Culinary explorers can participate in a hands-on Maldivian Cooking Class with a local master chef as he reveals the secrets of Maldivian cuisine.

As part of the fully immersive adventure, the Local Island Visit encourages guests to explore a nearby island and experience the local way of life up close. The Traditional Maldivian Sunset Fishing activity provides guests with an opportunity to try their hand at fishing using traditional methods against the backdrop of a stunning sunset. The Fishing Net Making Class, led by local experts, teaches the skill of making fishing nets that has been handed down across multiple generations. For the more active fun seekers, there is an unmissable opportunity to join in a Bashi Game, a traditional Maldivian sport which is similar to volleyball.

As the sun sets, the team and guests will gather for the mesmerising Bodu Beru Sundowner Ritual. Celebrating the end of the day, the ceremony begins with the lighting of torches before the rhythmic beats of a Maldivian bodu beru performance by the team combine to create an enchanting and unforgettable experience.

Anantara Kihavah is committed to offering guests an authentic and immersive experience that captures the heart and soul of the Maldives. Through these cultural activities, the resort aims to create lasting memories and a deeper appreciation for Maldivian heritage.

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Palace for the prince: Muleeage’s century-long journey through history

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It was ‘honeymoon season’ in Suez. Sultan Haji Imadudeen was reigning on a throne of love in Egypt. But back home, those were darker times, as Maldives continued to borrow from Bohra merchants of Mumbai. After all, the wedding expenses of the monarch had to be paid by the state.

Imadudeen has appointed his younger brother, Dhoshee Manippulhu of Maandhooge, as the regent to take care of the state’s affairs, but it was Prince Ibrahim Dhoshimeynakilegefaan of Athireege who ruled. Prince Ibrahim’s son, Abdul Majeed Didi of Athireege, took charge of stabilising the nation.

Backed by the British masters and business elites in Male’, Abdul Majeed Didi began hatching a secret plan. Finally, by the early hours of March 10, 1910, onlookers could understand that something was happening in Muleege. Beeru Mohamed Fulhu, who was at the Friday Mosque, saw the door being opened and Mohamed Shamsudeen being escorted out by his brother-in-law Abdul Majeed Didi and Sayyid Kilegefaanu, also known as Khatheeb Seedhi. The two men accompanied Shamshudeen to Boduganduvaru, the royal palace, and placed him on the throne as Sultan Shamsudeen Iskandhar, Al-Salitc. As Shamsudeen was the brother-in-law of both men, the aim behind the plan could mean more than just stabilising the nation; there might have been personal motives and interests.

After appointing Shamsudeen the sultan, Khatheeb Seedhi told him that no one was ever going to challenge his reign. He said that Shamshudeen was not going to leave the throne unless he wished to do so.

Khatheeb Sidi’s saying became true, as Shamsudeen remained in power for the next 31 years, six months and 28 days. That was until he left behind all the privileges of a king for the sake of his beloved son Hassan Izzuddeen, for whom he built Henveyru Ganduvaru or Muleeage from where he started his journey to become the sultan at one midnight. As the famous public speaker and poet Ibrahim Shihab later said, the sultan abdicated for the only son he ever had.

Muleeage, the presidential palace which is now 105 years old, was originally built for Shamsudeen’s son and the then Crown Prince Hassan Izzudeen. The palace was originally named as Henveyru Ganduvaru. It was a symbol of the king’s love for his son.

The origin of this address goes back to the era of the heroic Sultan Hassan Izzudeen, also known as Dhonbandaarain. This plot of land was first used to build a thatch hut when Muhammad Manik of Mulee shifted his family to the capital city. The house was later inherited by Dhonbandaarain and then by Ibrahim Noorahdeen and then by his son Shamsudeen. Hassan Izzudeen was born to Shamsudeen and Sithi Didi, daughter of Bodu Sidi of Kalhuhurage.

When Izzudeen was studying in Ceylon, Shamsudeen decided to build the house before his son returned home. Shamsudeen decided to build it as a palace for the crown prince.

Fully funded by state coffers, the project was commissioned in 1914. Ahmed Dhoshimeyna Kiligefaanu of Athireege was assigned as the project manager. Architects and builders were brought from Ceylon. Architecture and the design was that of the Victorian era with a touch of colonial architectural design. Furniture too was imported from Ceylon. Few transoms were designed by Easa Mohamed Fulhu from the island of Kela in Haa Alif Atoll.

The palace was opened on December 7, 1919, with a special Mauloodh, a cultural prayer.

Izzudeen came back from Ceylon after his education to live in the palace as “Henveyru Ganduvaru Manippulhu”. He lived with privileges that don’t match with that of any other prince. As he was a highly-skilled musician, the palace became a theatre for music. Izzudeen sang with his beautiful voice whilst also playing harmonium. Boys of his dance group, widely known as “Nashaa Party” danced to his music, dressed as ladies. Boduberu too was part of the fun at the palace. It was full on partying till midnight on most days. It is said that the novel, Dhonthuhkalaage Gellunu Furaavaru (lost teenage of Dhonthuhkala), written by Muhammad Ismail Didi of Meerubahuruge, was based on an incident that happened at the palace.

The elite of Athireege took all that as inappropriate for a crown prince. Their disapproval grew and Izzudeen was considered as someone who is ineligible for the throne. The first written constitution in the history of Maldives was passed as a result. It was written in that constitution that the sultanate will only go to a grandson of Dhonbandarain, effectively removing Izzudeen from the royal inheritance path.

But the constitution was later received by the people as a burden, as new laws were introduced to a population that was not aware of such rules. It made their life miserable.

“We can’t bear this anymore,” they said, as they gathered at the Gulhakulhey Fasgandu, an open area just next to the headquarters of the army, and tore apart the document. They even attempted to bring out some ministers to be dealt with by the mob.

The country then saw increased hostile actions against the government from Izzudeen who tried to take over.

Prime Minister Hassan Fareed issued orders to arrest Izzudeen’s allies. Izzudeen went to Bodubandeyrige, then headquarters of security forces, in person to try save his allies. Shamsudeen left the throne to follow.

The prime minister, who was paving way for the change in government, used this as an opportunity to overthrow Shamsudeen. The latter was banished to Fuvahmulah, in the far south, together with his son Izzudeen.

Izzudeen died on the island after a short ailment, whilst Shamsudeen was brought back to Male’ as his health deteriorated. He died shortly thereafter. Henveyru Ganduvaru was deserted after that.

All the palaces except that of the sultan were later downgraded and Henveyru Ganduvaru became Muleeage, taking the name of the first house built at the address.

Muleeage was used for several purposes for the next 80 years before becoming the presidential palace in 1953. From 1942 to 1947, it was used to house the ministries of home affairs and defence, and the office of the head of intelligence. It also served as the headquarters of the first newspaper in the country, Sarukaaruge Khabaru.

With the first republic that came into being in 1953, Muleeage became the presidential palace, serving as the official residence of Mohamed Ameen Didi, the first president.

As the monarchy was reinstated after overthrowing Ameen and abolishing the republic in a coup, Muleeage became the office of the prime minister. Ibrahim Famuladeyrikiligefaan and Ibrahim Nasir were prime ministers who used the office. At one point during their administrations, Muleeage also housed the ministry of defence.

Presidential palace and several ministries at some point, Muleeage has been in use ever since.

Apart from this, several high profile guests of the state stayed there during their visits. Late Queen Elizabeth and her late husband, The Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philips were amongst those.

Although Ibrahim Nasir, as the first president of the second republic, declared Muleeage as the presidential palace again in 1970, he didn’t use it as such. His successor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was the first president to formally use it as his official residence. He stayed there from 1988 to 1994, before moving to Theemuge, a newly built presidential palace which later became the Supreme Court.

The first Supreme Court, which was the result of the present day constitution, was temporarily housed in Muleeage in 2008. Then came President Mohamed Nasheed who chose to make it the presidential palace yet again. It was also used as the offices of a national inquiry commission, which was setup to investigate the events surrounding Nasheed’s early departure in 2012, before becoming the presidential palace again.

In the century that has passed since Muleeage was built in its current design, it has witnessed numerous historical events in the country. It witnessed the declaration of the first republic and the reinstating of the monarchy. It hosted heads of states as well as ministers from different parts of the world. Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandi was one amongst them to be remembered.

Been a place for all that, the status of Muleeage is much more important in our history; it was the childhood home of Hassan Izzudeen, Dhonbandaarain, the heroic sultan who freed Maldives from the short-lived rule of the Malabari invaders, also known as “Holhin”. This was the place from where he came out for his battle with the flag of freedom flying over his head.

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Bandos Maldives offers exclusive Eid Al-Adha offers, celebrations

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This Eid Al-Adha, Bandos Maldives invites guests to create unforgettable family memories in a stunning tropical paradise.

Enjoy an exclusive offer with benefits including free stay and meals for up to two children, a free sunset dolphin cruise, and complimentary use of Clubhouse facilities, snorkeling gear, a glass-bottom boat experience, and non-motorised water sports. Additional perks include complimentary laundry services, early check-in and late checkout, and a 20% discount on spa treatments and food & beverages.

Celebrate Eid with a delightful breakfast spread featuring local and international cuisines, participate in thrilling aqua races, and enjoy an enchanting performance of Dhafi Negun accompanied by Maali & Bodumas. Indulge in a special buffet dinner showcasing local culinary delights and experience the vibrant culture of the Maldives with rhythmic drumming and cultural dances.

Join the team at Bandos Maldives for a memorable Eid Al-Adha celebration. Book now to enjoy these exclusive benefits and make the most of your holiday.

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