Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Designer – Kandolhu

Kandolhu - designer

Maldivians are not just working in the resorts, they are building and designing them. One of the pioneers leading the way in envisioning spaces with the same aesthetic beauty that the destination has become renowned for is Mohammed Shafeeq. Part of the local Maldivian GX Associates architecture firm which have designed many top properties in the Maldives, he was introduced to us by the Kandolhu resort who were particularly proud of the award-winning work that he did in the redesign of their resort a number of years ago. I caught up with Shafeeq to learn a bit more about his background and perspectives…

  • Where are you from in the Maldives
    I am from Male’ and also brought up in Male.
  • Where did you study?
  • I studied in Maldives (in Male’) completed my A Levels and then went onto university in the UK at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne to study architecture.
  • What was the first thing you designed?
    The first thing I designed was a small island in the North of Male’ Atoll which was basically a concept sketch on art paper which was developed to be a small resort by the owners.
  • Which other resorts did you design?
    Some of the resorts we designed include Anantara Dhigu, Anantara Kihavah Villas, Anantara Veli, Baros, Coco Palm Boduhithi, Coco Palm Dhunikolhu, Constance Halaveli Resort, Four Seasons Resort, Fridays Resort, Hilton Irufushi, Huvafenfushi, Kurumba, LUX Maldives, Maafushivaru, Mudhdhoo and some of the more recent ones are the Thundi in Kuramathi and Milaidhoo.
  • How has your approach changed as you do different properties?
    The approach always follow the trends in fashion, lifestyle and technology and the tastes of the travelers and I always try to stay ahead by reviewing other competing developments in the region.
  • Have you designed any non-resort properties in the Maldives?
    Yes, I did much residential and civic work before specialising in hospitality design and they include private residences, apartment blocks, law courts, hospitals, schools and prisons even.
  • What is something they didn’t you in design school that you had to learn the hard way through experience?
    What I learned through experience is the delicacy and expertise required when you model the built environment to appease the senses of the users to make them feel totally comfortable and create an ambience that is akin to a home with a magical touch.
  • Which designer has had the greatest influence on you?
  • Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • If you were given a blank cheque and a completely free reign to design the resort of your dreams, what sorts of design element would it feature?
  • It would feature a back to basics, barefoot and eco friendly nature resort with an extremely luxurious ambiance where natural and built environment will have no boundaries.
  • What are some of the constraints or considerations to designing for a remote location in a tropical environment?
    The constraints are mostly to do with the size of the island and the requirement of the client to have a set number of villas and spaces on that island but to afford the best views and settings for each and every public building and guest villa.
  • Are there any projects you are working on that you can share with us?
    Right now we are working on two projects in Baa Atoll, One in Raa Atoll, One in Noonu Atoll and Two in Male’ Atoll.

Best of the Maldives: Soneva Jani– Youngest Training Manager

Soneva Fushi - Ashraf Adnan training manager

May 1st today is known round the world as International Workers Day. A chance to celebrate and support the workforce that drives our lives and welfares. One of the best way to lift up a work force is with education and training.

A new generation of Maldivians are on the vanguard of building the country into one of the world’s finest travel destinations. An exemplary example is Ashraf Adnan at Soneva Jani who at 26 is the Maldives’ youngest training manager.

Soneva’s acclaimed ethos of sustainability is not just about the environment but start with the very people working hard to create the finest guest experiences. Sara Ballinger, of the The Daisy Gray Partnership, was his Ashraf’s first manager at Soneva and she spoke to him about his career (with Maldives Complete adding a few of its own questions). I was particularly intrigued since Leadership and Management is my other pet interest (so leadership and management in the Maldives is double delight for me)…

Q: Where do you come from in the Maldives?
A: I come from Guraidhoo in the Kaafu Atoll.

Q: What was your first job?
A: After completing my education I got my first job at age 19 when my brother told me about a job opening at Olhuveli Beach and Spa resort as HR Administrator and Coordinator. In truth I wasn’t learning much, it wasn’t a five star resort and I was ambitious, so I took a distance learning course which I funded myself and after two years I achieved a further qualification in HR Management. That gave me the confidence to apply for a position at the 5 star ‘LUX Maldives’ resort in the South Ari Atoll as HR & Training coordinator.

Q: Who or what influenced you early in your career and how?
A: I spent the next 18 months in my role under the management of Mr Hussain Afeef who is the most successful learning & development professional in the Maldives in my opinion and is also Maldivian. At this point the thought of standing up in front of people terrified me. I had no interest in doing that at all, but Mr Afeef inspired me with the way he delivered. I watched him at work in the training room and in time I got up the courage to try standing up and talking to people. I wasn’t perfect from the start but with continued encouragement and coaching I built up my confidence and my skills and after a time I started to deliver some of the training myself.

Q: What brought you to Soneva Fushi?
A: One day I saw a job advertised as Assistant Training Manager at Soneva Fushi in the Baa Atoll. Soneva had a reputation as being one of the very best resorts in the Maldives and also for having a culture of responsibility for the environment and for protecting this beautiful country of ours. I heard that they also looked after local communities and were more ethical and sustainable than most luxury hospitality brands. I really wanted to work for them! I was so happy to be offered the position and really worked hard at building my skills by practice, practice, practice and watching video’s online, reading about how to deliver great training and more practice! At this time, I did not have a manager to learn from and so I did my own self development. Delivering became easier, but without a manager of my own to teach me I didn’t know whether I was doing a good job or not.

Q: How did you prepare yourself for training leadership and management?
A: Sara Ballinger joined as my manager and I really started to learn about how to deliver leadership training and how to think about training in a different way. I learned how to plan and write and read training plans, how to present the information in the sessions, how to read the audience and handle them and deal with problems when they arose. Sara gave me the opportunity to go to Thailand to work in our sister property Soneva Kiri for a month. This was great exposure and really helped me to understand how to work with different cultures and in different ways. We did so much great stuff! Learning Olympics, a brand new Induction, lots of presentations skills, train the trainer and leadership training. The reason I am now a training manager is because I learnt from my leaders

Q: What has been the key to your achievements so far?
A: Coming out of my comfort zone and taking a risk. Without trying you will never know! You ask ‘but what if I fail’ – I ask ‘what if I don’t?’ Try anyway. Also you must believe in yourself if you want others to believe in you. And self development, don’t expect others to do all the work for you – you have to take responsibility for your own learning.

Q: What are the biggest obstacles that you have faced?
A: People want experience, so breaking into the egg-shell can be hard if you have no contacts. Start somewhere, even if it’s not the job of your dreams and is a lower position, just to get a start. Then chase your dream!

Q: Soneva recently opened its new Jani property. What is different training for a new opening property compared to an established property?
A: The difference between training for a new property and established property is that in a new opening property, training programmes are designed in a way with great potential to be a part of the team and to progress rapidly within the company. From the very basics to Heath and Safety, resort policies and procedures, brand trainings etc. In any pre-opening employees will take part in all the training programme that company has to offer.

Q: What is your favorite book about leadership and management?
A: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s gives great lesson about personal change and growth.

Q: What is one of the biggest myths about training?
A: People get confused between a teacher and a trainer. 🙂

Q: If you had $1 million to invest on an a training initiative in the Maldives, what would you spend it on?
A: I would open a training institution in the Maldives specially for those youngsters who are seeking for job opportunities in the Maldives resorts. One of the main challenge youth of the Maldives faces is when they start hunting for jobs in the tourism industry, due to lack of experiences it makes very hard for them to find a job. An institution where we can train and certify them in every role there is to offer in a resort.

Q: What do you see in your future?
A: I am inspired by the people I have been working with here at Soneva. I look at my bosses’ jobs and I wonder what I can learn, how I can follow and then I will try to be them one day! I will be Director of Learning & Development one day and then Group Director of Learning & Development. I have a new manager now and I am looking forward to continuing my development with him. I have a clear view of my future and I am excited about the journey.

Q: What do you like to do when not at work?
A: I love to surf, play guitar and read, non-fiction – books which are inspirational and teach me something.

Best of the Maldives – Celebrity Selfies – Bunyamin Ahmed

Bunyamein instagram 1

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.

Bunyamein instagram 2

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Artist Exhibition – Loama Maldives at Maamigili

Loama Maldives at Maamigili - art exhibition

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.

Loama Maldives at Maamigili - art exhibition 2

Loama Maldives at Maamigili - art exhibition 3

Best of the Maldives: Female GM – Summer Island

Summer Island - GM

America didn’t quite go for its only female chief executive, but in a land known more for its glass floors, Mariya Shareef is breaking a few glass ceilings with her appointment as General Manager of Summer Island – the only female GM in the Maldives at present. Maldives Complete had a chance to catch up with her for an exclusive interview about her career and views on tourism in her country…

  • What was your first ever job?
    The first job I ever had was helping a friend’s mom sell school uniform badges just before the school season started – I must have been around 14 – 15 years old. As a reward for this work, we were treated to a nice meal. I took it seriously, I was always there, punctual, and I memorised the prices of all the badges. I worked alongside a friend, who remains close to me now, and we would sit and chat as we waited for clients. It was such fun!
  • What was your first job in hospitality?
    I worked in Bandos island resort as a pastry assistant. I always thought I would become a pastry chef someday, but my career has taken me into management.
  • What has been your favourite sighting on the Summer Island house reef?
    The little ‘Nemo’ clown fish and anemones near the jetty. It is the first thing you see when you arrive on the island. I never tire of looking at them – they are such pretty little ones.
  • What has been an idea (eg new dish, a new activity, a new offer) that completely failed?
    I wish I could remember a specific idea or incident. Of course, I have failed at things. Lots of ideas have been rejected, and there has always been things I wanted to do but couldn’t, or that I started and stopped midway through. Failure, I think, goes hand in hand with success. If you never make any mistakes, it probably means you are too risk averse. As long as you always learn from your mistakes, it’s an important part of growing and developing.
  • How have the guests changed over your career?
    I think the clientele who holiday in the Maldives haven’t changed that much over the years. The country still has a well-preserved image as the perfect honeymoon or romantic destination. Probably, the honeymooners have overtaken the divers now, who were the first group who started coming when tourism first began. Nowadays, we also have new groups visiting such as surfers. The market keeps expanding, especially with the introduction of new tourism offers such as guesthouses on local islands, as well as cruises and safari boats that cater to surfers. There are also more family orientated resorts. I would say the country is more open now for different segments of guests and we are better able to cater to different needs, different age groups, activities and nationalities. But the honeymoon image is still the one for which the Maldives is world famous.
  • How have the management challenges changed over your career?
    Management style differs from company to company. I have always been happy where ever I worked and have been quite blessed with good bosses. I had the privilege of working with foreign and local management. I believe things will change, and the new generation needs to bring change. I believe locally managed companies are changing for the better. As one of the only Maldivian women to hold the post of resort manager, I hope to be a good example of such change. I am not only happy for myself, but for the positive change the company has brought – it is very motivating.
  • What is your favourite dish served at Summer Island restaurants?
    I love food, so everything I eat is always good! The best food I had in Summer Island was a very yummy prawn curry. And I shouldn’t forget the satay in the snack menu, which we also sometime have on the buffet – it’s so good!
  • If you had $1 million to add one single feature to Summer Island, what would it be?
    With $1 million I would do lots small things, predominantly to the staff areas. I would redo the football pitch with astro-turf, pave the badminton court, add one more floor to the staff lounge and bring in more snooker tables, table tennis tables, and other sports; do up the cafeteria nicely, add lots of cozy areas for staff to lounge and mingle. A Million Dollars will also go along way to “comp” offer complementary experiences.
  • What’s one question I didn’t ask that you either wish I asked or were surprised that I didn’t ask (and what the answer)?
    Maybe, ‘how does it feel to be in this position now?’ and my answer would be, it feels like I am finally home. I was and have always been in love with this beautiful island and its people, including the management and the owners. They are such wonderful people. Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming – but in a very happy way. And today, when I think about all these questions, and everyone talking about me; being in the media and all that, I have never felt anything different from my people here at ‘home’. I started this new job with huge responsibilities on my shoulders but when I saw the smiles on everyone’s faces, I knew I had the support of my colleagues. I have been in this new job for about 20 days now but I know that I’m not alone and that is a great feeling. I never feel I am being treated differently because I am a woman, or because I’m young… this place simply makes me feel like I am home.

Best of the Maldives: HR Leadership – LUX South Ari Atoll

LUX South Ari Atoll - Hussein Afeef

May Day today is a time to celebrate the workers of the world and their contributions to society. A fine time to commend LUX South Ari Atoll and their work every day of the year to enhance the work and personal lives of the staff as recognized with the recent commendation of their Director of Training, Development and Quality Assurance…

“The resort is proud to share that Director of Training, Development and Quality Assurance, Mr. Hussein Afeef has been recognized as one of the ‘100 most influential Global HR Professionals’ at the 3rd Global Training Conference which was held in Mumbai, India on February 15 2016. On the same day Afeef was also awarded with the ‘Global Training and Development Leadership Award’ handed over by one of the founders of World HRD Congress 2016, Dr. R. L. Bhatia.”

Actually, I find pretty much most of the resorts to have a very staff-centric ethos which makes sense as their entire business is about people. That is, Maldivian people hosting people from around the world to share a bit of their paradise. Maldives Complete was able to secure an interview with Hussein Afeef to get a more in depth look at his award-winning perspectives…

• What was your education?

I completed a Bachelors Degree in Hospitality Management in Malaysia and Masters of Business Administration in British School of Commerce awarded by London School of Commerce. PHD research is set to start from June 2016.

• What was your first job at a resort?

My first job at Resort was HR Administration for three resorts Bandos Island Resorts, Four Seasons and Cocoa Island-based mainly at Male’ and often visited all three resorts. I also had three internships at Bangkok, Singapore, and Malaysia before taking a full-time resort based role at One&Only Reethi Rah.

What is one of the most common intra-staff conflicts and how do your resolve it?

The biggest challenge we face is miscommunication and cultural diversity understandings within colleagues. However we have learned over the years, the success and best way to resolve it to provide enough service and culture related education to Team Members and to create transparency between all departments and Team Members especially when it comes to sharing information.

• What is one of the most common staff personal issues and how do your support them to resolve it?

Mostly conflicts between Team Members around taking personal responsibility for getting things done. Here at LUX* we have created a service culture that empowers Team Members to be proactive and take personal responsibility. Therefore, I don’t see such an issue right now at our work environment.

• What skill set is the hardest to find?

Good Leadership skills and how to be great leaders. Time Management, being a constant role model, sharing and living by positive attitudes are some of the hardest soft skills to find within Team Members. That’s why we continually educate and teach our colleagues and results has been fantastic.

• What has been the most popular training you have provided?

Service Culture Programs designed by UP Your Service, FISH! Philosophy, Leadership Programs from John Maxwell are some of the most popular programs are deliver and customize to our Team needs.

• What is the least popular training (e.g., difficulty, tedium)?

To be honest, I don’t have a particular topic like that. It depends on the trainer, even Health, and Safety, Fire Awareness or Hygiene training sessions are popular here as we try our best to bring the best-outsourced instructors. When teachers are incredible, regardless of the topic, course will be well received by Team Members

• Have you introduced any policies that provide greater flexibility for the staff and how they do their jobs?

We have many policies and procedures that assist our Team Members do to and deliver what they do best. Our Managers are regularly coached regarding empowerment and flexibility of work, thus same filters through all levels.

• What is the most popular perk to being on staff at LUX South Ari Atoll?

Regular welfare and employee relation activities, Competitive Compensation package in terms of monetary value, world-class training and development programs, opportunities and Team Members being able to have their freedom at work and are open to creativity and innovative ideas. I consider these as benefits that other organizations may lack.

Best of the Maldives: Sand Painting – JA Manafara

JA Manafaru - sand painting Figi

While the glitterati use sand to paint themselves, artist Ahmed Shahid of JA Manafaru uses paint to adorn sand. When he is not working in the resort boutique, he creates a variety of sand compositions, but his specialty is football motifs. The resort reports “He works at the boutique. He is a very good self taught artist who makes these designs. They are made for guests, when we are aware of a football team that they support.” His proudest moment was when one of his favourite players, Luis Figo, posed with one of his creations when visiting the resort (see above).

JA Manafaru - sand painting Man City

JA Manafaru - sand painting 2

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Beauty – Coco Bodu Hithi

Coco Bodu Hithi - Raudha Aathif - advert

Athif Raudha is literally the face of the Maldives. She displays the classic sun-kissed, delicate features of the Maldivians, except for one extremely striking exception. While most Maldivians have dark brown eyes, hers are an iridescent blue more like the cerulean sea that surrounds the country. Even her Facebook handle is “Wild Blue Lustre

Her captivating look has drawn her into modelling for a number of years now including Coco Bodu Hithi’s recent campaign (see above). She is also a favourite subject of artistic fashion photographer Alexey Vladimir (in fact, her red hooded portrait featured in yesterdays Christmas Red post is Alexey’s Facebook Profile picture).

Raudha agreed to do a first-ever, exclusive interview with Maldives Complete to share some insights into this intriguing poster child for Maldivian beauty (thanks Paola)…

  • How were you “discovered”, ie. how did you get started?

It was always a hobby, because I grew up posing for pictures. But it wasn’t until I did a few shoots with Sotti (a professional photographer) that things really kicked off. I started getting offers for ads, and I always had people advise me not to take any of them until something good came up. And that worked out quite well.

  • What was your first modelling gig?

If I remember correctly, it was something like a PSA, for national TV, encouraging people to stop using plastic bags, and choose eco-friendly stuff. I was 14 years old, and quite the environmentalist, so, naturally very happy to be a part of it.

  • Do you have an agent?

I don’t. Anyone’s free to contact me directly, regarding any business.

  • Where did you get your distinctive eyes from (do other members of your parents families have similar eyes)?

My paternal grandfather, his eyes were a sort of dark hazel. And my beautiful great grandmother had a greyish blue.

  • What types of work would you like to do in the future?

Contrary to popular belief, modelling isn’t all I want to do with my life. I’d like to work as a doctor, in many places all over the world. I’m leaving to Bangladesh to study for a Bachelor s of Medicine next month. And that, becoming a doctor, has been my dream, and primary interest, since I was 5, maybe.

  • Is there a model whose look/work you most admire?

I can’t possibly name just one. Adriana Lima, Cara Delevingne, Angelina Jolie. And I can never leave out Deepika Padukone. These women are beautiful, inspiring, and I love them for the things they stand for.

  • What’s been your most lucrative modelling gig?

That would definitely be working for Sotti in his “Maldives” series.

  • What’s been your most enjoyable modelling gig?

A collaboration shoot with Alexey Vladimir, where I got the chance to entertain my inner daredevil. I had to make my way to the middle of the reef. Beyond an area called Usfasgandu in Male’ where there’s a destroyed, unused platform-like bit covered with seaweedy things. Between land and the platform, we had steep, slippery tetrahedral rocks to climb down, then the reef, with more rocks and sharp corals. Strong waves too, because it was a rainy day. Had I slipped or fallen over, or lost my balance with an incoming or outgoing wave, my face would be in coral hell. And then I didn’t fall. And it was all done with me in a full length dress. I LOVED it. The result was a beautiful picture titled “The Night”. Everyone lived happily ever after.

  • Are any particular pressures you face doing modelling?

Well, before a shoot, there’s almost always pressure. A weird, unspecific kind. Ha ha. I suppose it’s natural, wanting to do well, feeling nervous for how it’s going to turn out. But once it starts, it’s always fun and an amazing experience. I’ve been lucky to work with great people.

  • Any pet peeves when you are working modelling?

I think the only thing would be, when people fail to communicate very well. Maybe my friends think otherwise, and I don’t express this very often. But, I actually have very little tolerance for rude or bossy people.

  • What are your favourite pastimes?

Modelling IS a pastime for me! Ha ha. Okay seriously though? I have phases. All in all, I love learning new things. And a lot of that happened while I worked at the military hospital and then IGMH, for a year and a half.

Besides that, I’ve also had my time with yoga, painting, dancing. At school in India, I played the congas – that was fun. And also failed quite terribly at singing. When I want to laze around, there’s always a good book to get lost in. Most recently, I’ve taken up open water diving and trying to play the piano. New things are excitingly endless, you know.

Coco Bodu Hithi - Raudha Aathif portrait

Best of the Maldives: Boat Captain – Kurumba

Kurumba - boat captain

International Women’s Day today celebrates the inspirational achievements of women around the world. One such woman is Aishath Rizuna “Rizu”, the Maldive’s first female boat captain trained and appointed by Kurumba

Rizu herself comes from a line of strong and active women. Her mother and grandmother are very practical and very sporty. Her mother fixes electrical issues and out swam all the boys while her grandmother still climbs trees…

“From her background, Rizu was born and raised in Funadhoo, Shariyani Atoll. Her father is a fisherman so Rizu has sweet memories about the time when her father taught her how to swim, snorkel and fish in a traditional Dhoni boat. At the very young age of four, Rizu’s father taught her how to drive a small boat, and by the time she was a teenager she was selling small boats in the lagoon of Funadhoo. Rizu’s father (Mohamed Nazim) curiously also worked in Kurumba at a young age thirty years ago and has been a great support to Rizu’s evolving career. We are delighted with the support of our twelve male Captains, who certainly gave her all the necessary help needed for her practical training as well as her theory course. Rizu is still developing her skills and knowledge of the Maldivian oceans, which will take some time. Whilst she will continue her role as Majaa Recreation Supervisor, these additional skills can be used in the future from time to time when guests are looking for a female crew.”

Maldives Complete had the opportunity for an exclusive interview with Rizu. Special thanks to good friend and fellow blogger Eileen Brown who helped with the questions. Eileen herself was the first female to be employed as a Deck Cadet in shell Tankers (UK) Ltd and is currently one of the leading promoters of women in the UK technology sector

  • What is the best aspect of your job? – It’s always been a dream to travel around, being a boat captain allows me to fulfil my dream and that’s the most enjoyable part in my job.
  • What were your biggest challenges as you trained to become a boat captain? – The biggest challenge I had was that every single part in the boats were so new to me. I felt like I was back in school, where I had to learn everything from A to Z, but with the help of all the people around me I overcame all challenges and I am so thankful to everyone.
  • Were there any physical obstacles that you needed to overcome? – I would say it’s more mental challenges that I had to overcome more than physical ones.
  • Did your lack of physical strength hinder you much? – The thought “I am a woman and I can’t do that” never even crossed my mind and most importantly everyone around me never tried to put it in my head either.
  • What were the attitudes of your classmates as you progressed through your training? – Very helpful and positive comments from the start, from the moment I told them that I am going to take the training as a boat captain. These comments pushed me forward and it’s always great to know how much people appreciate your hard work.
  • Did you have anyone that championed and supported you? If so, was it a big advantage? – Honestly and to be fair I have to say everyone, but I am particularly thankful for the support of my Family, the Kurumba Management team including our Fleet Manager Mohamed Shameem and the whole Kurumba team for being with me.
  • Did you encounter anyone that was very against you progressing in your career? – No! Only positive feedback.
  • Now you are a captain, what are your plans to encourage other women to follow your path? – Well, it’s a choice. This opportunity came to my doorstep, why would I wait? My dream is waiting out there. There’s always one thing I would like to say now and I will always say it: “follow your dream until you reach it, never give up and take your chances”.
  • What next for you in your career after your captain job? – It’s a bit too early to decide anything right now. I am enjoying driving the boats around and working towards my dream, which is visiting each and every island in the country.

Aye, aye, Kurumba!

#PaintItPurple

 

Kurumba - Rizu childhood

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Therapy – Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu

Coco Palm Dhuni Kholu Maldivian therapy

Maldives resorts offer spa treatments from all over the world – Thai, Swedish, Balinese. A number of resort spas do offer Maldives treatments which are often variants of Ayurvedic practices from India. Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu offers a very traditional Maldives treatment by a Maldivian practitioner…

“Having been practised in the Maldives as a traditional form of healing for many years, the roots of Maldivian alternative medicine also known as ‘Dhivehi beys verikan’, are slowly fading. As a result and in order to revive the tradition and culture of the local community, Coco Collection has invited a Maldivian alternative medicine man – Dhivehi beys veriya – to visit Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu once a week. Mr. Ahmed Mohamed has experience of ‘Dhivehi beys verikan’ for over 20 years and will only be using locally grown and tested concoctions. Available therapies will include the treatment for asthma, joint and muscle pain, sunburn and many more. All of the treatments are personalised to the needs of the guests.”

Hashi himeynkan dhivehi.