Haalu kihineh a haren nakee The Maldives,
We’ve just arrived in The Maldives but already Linda is declaring it the best holiday she’s ever had. “But you haven’t even been here for 24 hours, dear!” I ventured. “Yes, but it’s perfect,” she retorted.
The Maldives are a group of more than a thousand islands in the Indian Ocean. (Maybe this is the origin of Thousand Island dressing?) They are in amongst 27 atolls of varying size and age. We are staying at a resort called Vakarufalhi in the Ari Atoll. To say it’s a tropical paradise is actually an understatement. This has to be one of the most naturally stunning landscapes in the world.
marketing, distribution and operation
The Maldives are living proof that Muslim countries aren’t necessarily Third World countries. The nation is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary of independence this year and is clearly doing extremely well. They are blessed with a unique natural asset. They also know that this is the era when western tourist cash is flowing freely and they’re positioning themselves adroitly to capitalise on both. These guys have the tourism trade under firm control. This includes the marketing, the distribution and the service on site.
The connection between development and the decline in religion seems to be fairly axiomatic for most historians. The major developments in science, medicine and transport have stemmed from individuals who have stepped away from religious explanations of the world. By contrast, the Muslims are apparently a bit more devout and less inclined to protest the status quo or question the general prevailing orthodoxy. As a result, they tend to live in economies that catch up – with a long lag – rather than act as a forerunner to change. Many countries dominated by Muslims are also Third World countries. The Maldives are a spectacular exception.
Here, the local people are well-educated and relatively well-paid. They speak English fluently and understand the market they are tapping. Best of all, they are not servile. They have their own national pride and share in the success of the nation. They are one of the smallest nations on earth, at about 350,000 inhabitants. Most of these people crowd into one island, where the capital city Male squeezes onto every available skerrick of land.
We reached our little section of paradise by seaplane, after a 30-minute ride with two barefooted pilots. Their bare feet didn’t exactly inspire confidence but the rest of their uniform and attitude were absolutely exemplary. One of the co-pilots put his hand on my shoulder, smiling broadly, and asked if it was good landing. “Couldn’t improve on it,” I answered. “It was my first, ” he joked. We transferred to the island on a launch with Shifna, who promised us a good week in a beautiful place. We have no reason to believe she’ll be astray with her prediction. So far, so beautiful!
Here in The Maldives, the rising sea levels are going to cause irrevocable trouble to this economy, which of course has done nothing to cause the problem in the first place. It’s already possible to see how rising sea levels are encroaching farther and farther up the white beaches. It’s a perfect example of a business’s external environment being beyond their control. Of course, most of the guests are westerners who talk about the contradiction all the time. (Hmmmmmm )
Anyway, here’s to the people of The Maldives. We can drink a Piña Colada to that. It is indeed a beautiful place. I’m predicting that it might be verging on impossible to prise Linda from the deck chair at the end of a week!