I love pint sized versions of things. One of my favourite websites is Minimus.biz (at one point I was going to open up a European branch of Minimus). The Maldives itself is pretty much made up of pint-sized versions of islands. And, since the outset, I’ve always felt that the appeal of the destination for families with children was always unsung.
I was especially enchanted by Canareef’s mini climbing wall for the smallest tykes t the kids club. Too often the “big” kids get all the cool, adventure toys, while the little ones are stuck with colouring books. This wall is just right for the tiniest alpinists. And at over a meter high (!), they can boast having scaled the highest point on the island.
Every arrival at a resort typically includes some special welcome treat. Anything from a fruit basket to gourmet delicacies, a bottle of wine to useful gifts or a ready-to-go cocktail. At Four Seasons Kuda Huraa, the younger set get just as colourfully and creatively constructed welcomes as the parents complete with custom chocolate name plate. Mind you, it might take hours of swimming to burn off the sugar rush!
Double day today – Chinese New Year and international Lego Day! Time to head to Soneva Fushi’s special Lego Room at its “The Den” kids club (more like kids “country club”). Suitably equipped to build the Lego construction below to mark the occasion.
Happy Australia Day, mate! While being only 12th in term of numbers of visitors to the Maldives, Australia is the 4th highest country in the fashionista database. Despite all its own sunshine and beach and even spectacular reefs (Great Barrier), the Maldives is still a distinctive beauty backdrop for the glitterati down under. Or maybe the depiction below of Australia’s own local offerings explains a bit of the exodus.
- “At Gili Lankanfushi resort in the Maldives, we are rehabilitating the coral reef by nursing coral on ropes (lines) (Levy et al., 2010) and later transplanting them onto degraded reef areas (Lindahl, 2003). Every rope is initially planted with 50 small, living coral fragments. We nurse the corals in the lagoon for 1 year and later transplant the ropes to the One Palm Island reef. Overtime we expect the corals get stronger, grow bigger and improve the health of the One Palm Island Reef. Our project is a research study on the subject of coral reef rehabilitation science, and 75% of the proceeds from every Coral Line donated will go to our Gili SEAS (Social & Environmental Awareness and Sustainability) fund, allowing our property to do more for the locals and more for the environment.”
Australia’s own reefs are suffering the stresses of the rise in ocean temperatures with extensive reports of bleaching. I expect Australia and the Maldives will eco-allies in preserving their distinctive ecological heritages with initiatives like Gili’s
Yesterday’s National Day celebrates Maldives independence from foreigner control, but one countryman – Bunyamin Ahmed (known to many as “Benjo”) – has become a one-man photographic greeter of famous foreign guests to the Maldives. His Instagram feed is a must-follow for celebrity spotters. Especially if you can’t even recognise them. He has an uncanny eye for the glitterati who flood into this paradise destination as apparently an unmatchable charm to get selfies with them. He’s snapped singers and models, but his true forte is the footie.
Men post to blogs and Instagram about 10 times less frequently than women. But Ahmed is one feed which redresses that gender balance catching some of the only pictures of the superstars blokes who visit.
Male’s Velana International Airport (MLE) is arguably the best celebrity spotting place on the planet. The fabulous and famous are drawn to the country’s postcard perfect islands and all pass through its small single room arrival hall. Every visit we spot some well known personality loitering by the baggage claim next to us.
Maldives Complete caught up with Ahmed for another exclusive interview about his luminary lens…
1. Where are you from in the Maldives? – I’m from Male’ City, the capital of Maldives.
2. What is your job? – My celebrity hunting began back in 2006, when I joined Island Aviation as a Customer Services Assistant. Left the job in 2012 and in early 2016 joined Srilankan Airlines as a station assistant. That’s my current job.
3. Who was your first photo? – Gianluca Zambrotta, Ex- Italian National team defender. 10 days in to my job, back in 2006. I got so excited. Since I’ve been seeing these people in video games and on TV. I wanted to make a huge collection of all the famous people I get to meet. Still gets star struck every single time I meet someone famous. Still gets the shaky feeling when I click pics for others too.
4. Do you have a standard way to approach celebrities passing through and ask for their picture? – Yeah of course, I just don’t ask them out of manners or respect. Always look to give the respect they deserve. Normally I approach them right away or while they are at the baggage belt waiting for bags (that’s how I approach if I’m to meet them on arrival to Maldives). If I meet them on departure, I try to give them the space they need to finish check-in first, or other times depending on the personality or the particular celebrity’s mood I ask for autographs while they are at the check-in counter (subject to the check-in queue of that particular flight he or she is travelling on) and then if nice, start a conversation and ask for pics. Rejection doesn’t faze me. Not trying or not having the guts to ask does. Because if they agree it’s a massive success and if they don’t there’s nothing to lose. Whatever you get is a bonus.
5. Which celebrity were you most pleased to meet? – One of the best days was when I got to meet my fav club Manchester United’s boss Jose Mourinho. Also getting to meet one of my fav model Devon Windsor and today I met my fav all time singer Frankie Bridge (1/5 of British girl band The Saturdays). Those are few great days.
6. Who would you most like to meet? – I’ve got so many names for that question. Two big names I’ve met but no pics, since they are big big football stars. Guess who they are – David Beckham (my all time fav footballer) and Cristiano Ronaldo 😉 . Would love to meet Sir Alex Ferguson one day and pics with both Cristiano and Beckham too. To be honest, my ‘dream list’ is very long. Every Man United squad player is a dream (lucky enough have met some of them). Also big pop stars such as Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Ariana are few names. Some big names among Victoria’s Secret models are also in my list, like Candice, Behatii, Adriana. So many I don’t know where to stop.
7. They don’t appear to be selfies, so who takes the pictures? – Good question. That’s right. Not selfies but I got selfies some of them too, but that’s after taking a proper pic. Since I worked as a Customer Services Assistant at Airport Company before, I still got friends working there. So those friends, namely Nadheem, Evan and Mazin knows how my pics has to be, coz I don’t settle for just anything. Quality has to be super good. Cheeky part is sometimes the celeb partner take pics for me too. Remember Italian soccer star Francesco Totti’s wife taking the pic for me. And most recently today Wayne Bridge (ex-England defender ) took the pic of his wife Frankie Bridge for me. Frankie and Wayne who I met this morning are by far the most amazing, down to earth people of all [see photo above].
8. Do you have any tips for other celebrity spotters on how to ask for a picture? – Indeed. I’m pleased with my very own success rate. I believe my technique is the key (just kidding) . I don’t want a pic with a celebrity at any cost (except for very big names :p ) Since I’m not a paparazzi, I want them to willingly pose for a pic with me, which doubles my happiness. Actually you need to ask with respect. I always use the first name when addressing to celebrities. I’ve got likes from many celebs on Instagram for their pics with me. So I advise not to feel them disturbed or annoyed. Just make them feel comfortable.
Maldives National Day today. Celebrating its independence from the Portuguese. Unfortunately, the country is still dependent on the rest of the world taking action on climate change. The very aspect which makes the Maldives to alluring, also makes it the most vulnerable. The country lies right on the edge of sea-level. Like the classic plot of sand with a palm tree. Nearly all of the Maldives wonder takes place a meter below (snorkelling) and a meter above (max elevation of the country) sea-level. As a result, changes in sea level have a profound impact on the country even existing at all (or just eventually becoming on big underwater reef).
Furthermore, one of its great attractions is it colourful reefs, but now these are being threatened by warmer sea waters in which the vibrant coral cannot survive. It is no surprise then that the entire country has become one of the most environmentally progressive on the planet. You start to appreciate your planet under your feet more intently when you only have a tiny patch of it to stand on.
Maldives Complete has been covering the many eco-sustainability initiatives by the various resorts for years now. Here is a top ten list of their ecological initiatives…
- EDUCATION– Kuramathi [ABOVE]
- RECYCLING – Kurumba
- REEFSCAPING – Kandooma, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Four Seasons Kuda Huraa, Kurumba
- SOLAR POWER – Club Med Finolhu Villas
- REEF RE-GENERAT-ION – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru
- LOCAL SOURCING – Jumeirah Vittaveli
- VOLUNTOURISM – Soneva Fushi
- WASTE REDUCTION – Soneva Fushi
- MANTA RESEARCH – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
- TURTLE RESEARCH – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
Artistic touches can be found in the most mundane items. One of my favourite parts of exploring the various Maldives resorts in person is finding those distinctive bits of flair applied to everyday items. Even the lowly trash bin gets the luxury treatment at Athuruga where rooms include delftware inspired receptacle. Furthermore, it comes complete with a lid to hide your debris. One man’s trash bin is another man’s treasure.
The Maldives is an aquatic tapestry of every colour blue you could imagine punctuated by bits of shining sunshine gold and lush vibrant greens. The most stunning beauties in the Maldives are the vistas from above, below or even right on the water. These artistic Instagrammers have produced their own portfolio of aesthetic masterpieces which all share this mosaic quality of colourful patterns. Including the first one above captured by yours truly, here are my top ten utopian tableaux…
- Blue Brigade by Maldives Complete [ABOVE]
- Fusiller Platoon by Meeru
- Reefer Radness by Felix Bonnert
- Convict Tangs by Warren Baverstock
- Blue Lagoon by Sun Siyam Irufushi
- Sprat School by Sidey The Shark
- Male Cityscape by A Life of Saturdays
- Coral Condos by Ender Çiçek
- Moreish Moorish by Joshua Strydom
- Paradise Parfait Palette by Lavender Ribbon
From the extremes of primitive to avant garde, Maldivian artists also excel at classic art forms like oils and etchings. Not surprisingly, that home of the arts, Loama Maldives at Maamigili is an opportune place to sample these masterpieces…
“Loama Art Gallery is affiliated with the National Art Gallery, Maldives, and shows contemporary art from the Maldives. It offers a valuable platform for artists to exhibit and sell their work to a local and international audience. Contemporary art in Maldives has seen significant changes in themes and style over the last few decades. On the Path of a Dream brings together the work of contemporary artists whose diverse and surprising themes examine their innate senses borne while living in the Maldives. These artists have works that span decades and explores their subjects in-depth, visiting and revisiting ideas that form the identity of people inhabiting these islands. Loama Art Gallery aims to hold four exhibitions annually and the current exhibition at the overwater art gallery features five Maldivian artists who we are proud to present”
- Afzal Shafiu Hassan (directly below) – “although he works mostly with oil water colors. In 1994, at the age of 18, Afu began his professional career as a postages stamp designer at Maldives Post.”
- Eagan Badheeu (above) – “Impressionist landscapes and seascapes depicting the culture and lifestyle of the Maldives are his signature subjects…He earned initial recognition in the year 2000 when his works were exhibited in ‘Funoas’ (the beginning of southwest monsoon) Art exhibition held at Esjehi Gallery in Malé.”
- Aminath Hilmy (bottom) – “As a young girl her playground was sea hibiscus groves by the beach on Thinadhoo, Gaaf Dhaal Atoll. Her mother, Fathimath Hussain, was a Kasabu (embroidery) maker and a tailor. These skills were induced to young Aminath Hilmly and is reminiscent in her style of work…Aminath Hilmy has shown her work in Esjehi Gallery and National Art Gallery in Male.”
An this esteemed group is not alone so I have added the new category Tag “Maldivian Artist” to the blog today so you can peruse a virtual exhibition of local mastery.
A summary of the exhibit can be found here.