A direct container shipping service between India and Maldives was launched at the Tuticorin port (V.O. Chidambaranar Port).
An Indian state minister for ports, shipping and waterways flagged off the M.V. MSS Galena vessel at a ceremony. The direct service to improve connectivity and trade was agreed upon during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Maldives in 2019.
“India is the 3rd largest business partner of Maldives and with the induction of this vessel, direct and dependable transport link will further the international trade and business,” said the port authority’s chairman.
Bulk cargo bound to the Maldives from Tuticorin was previously carried on barges and ships routed through Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The Bank of Maldives launched a year-long destination campaign in partnership with American Express.
The ‘Experience Maldives’ campaign “offers a variety of experiences for American Express Cardmembers with special privileges and discount offers at several resorts, guesthouses, and merchants across the country,” including free night stays, free data from local network providers and 10 to 25% discount on activities, spa treatments and restaurant meals.
“Maldives welcomed over half a million tourists within the first four months of this year and as the national bank of the country, we are pleased to contribute to reach the 2023 target arrival of 1.8 million tourists,” BML CEO Karl Stumke said.
The campaign was endorsed by the tourism ministry as well as the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI), Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Company (MMPRC) and National Boating Associating of Maldives (NBAM). It was launched by Vice President Faisal Naseem at a special ceremony held at the Kurumba resort. In his remarks, the vice president praised the “impressive” outreach of the campaign as it targets a potential audience of over 100 million American Express customers.
The government’s SME Development Finance Corporation relaunched its upgraded online portal and invited loan applications. Customers can use the portal to check for updates and request for information or appointments.
Financing options for micro, small and medium-sized businesses include loans for startups, business expansion and operating costs.
As of March, the SME Bank approved 1,387 loans worth MVR1.67 billion (US$108 million).
Local telco Dhiraagu’s revenue and net profit decreased in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the last quarter of 2022.
Total revenue of MVR653 million (US$42 million) was down 6% and profit after tax of MVR218.8 million was down 11%, according to the Q1 report.
The company – which provides high-speed internet to 87% of households – attributed the fall to the discontinuation of DhiraaguTV in January.
The cable television service was forced to shut down after the Maldives Broadcasting Commission enacted regulations with a requirement for 100% Maldivian ownership, prohibiting companies with foreign shareholders from providing rebroadcasting services. Bahrain’s Batelco owns a majority stake of Dhiraagu with 41% of shares held by the Maldives government.
Dhiraagu made arrangements to provide its IPTV/OTT network as a service to SS Network, a newly licensed rebroadcaster owned by the Sun Siyam Media company.
“We changed the business model by offering our state-of-the-art network as a service to carry their signals with quality, reliability, and resilience, to reach customers across the country,” Dhiraagu said.
During the first quarter, a full year dividend of MVR7.33 per share for 2022 was approved by shareholders at Dhiraagu’s Annual General Meeting.
The Universal Foundation – a charity funded by the local resort operator – launched a scholarship in memory of the late Dr Ibrahim Umar Manik, the first Maldivian anesthesiologist who was also a tourism pioneer.
Manik founded the Palm Tree Resorts in 1987 and played an essential role in bringing international joint ventures to the local industry.
“The scholarship is open to Maldivian nationals who wish to study at any medical university in the UK, with the aim of equipping Maldivian doctors with specialized skillsets in areas that are in high demand in the Maldives,” according to the foundation.
The Bank of Maldives earned a net profit of MVR504.2 million (US$32.6 million) in the first quarter of 2022.
“Total assets grew by MVR1.4 billion, while customer deposits grew by over MVR800 million. Operating profits closed at MVR670mn, 9% up on the same quarter last year,” the national bank noted.
“PAT amounted to MVR504 million. We continued our lending to Maldives businesses and individuals with new lending of over MVR1 billion during the quarter. Capital and liquidity ratios remain very strong and above the regulatory requirements.”
The State Trading Organisation reduced the price of diesel and petrol. With effect on Monday, the price of diesel was brought down from MVR16.32 (US$1.05) per litre to MVR15.70 per litre. The price of petrol decreased from MVR15.97 per litre to MVR15.14 per litre.
Reflecting elevated global oil prices, STO hiked fuel prices four times in early 2022 but reduced prices later in the year.
Dubai-based FAM Holding Group announced plans to develop a luxury resort in the Maldives at a reported cost of US$218 million.
The company’s first real estate project outside the UAE, the Al Mahra Maldives resort is to be developed on a 100,000-square metre island with 150 villas with private pools, including 100 water villas, 40 beach villas and 10 villas reserved for VIPs. The resort will also feature three restaurants, a spa and a gym.
Construction will commence in three months with the project completion scheduled for mid-2025, according to an announcement made ahead of the Arabian Travel Market 2023, which took place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 1 to 4 May.
“Through Al Mahra Maldives touristic resort project, FAM Holding Group aims to expand in the real estate investment outside the UAE for the first time, and strives to tap into the Maldives, particularly that this archipelago currently witnesses a remarkable growth, as it became the bucket list destination for many travel and tourism lovers all over the world, to bask in its pristine beaches, virgin nature, serene lifestyle, and smiling faces of the locals, a matter which makes it an ideal oasis for tranquility and relaxation,” said Dr Faisal Ali Mousa, the Chairman of FAM Holding Group.
The fisheries ministry enlisted the Fenaka Corporation to build ice plants on five islands (Haa Alif Dhidhdhoo, Gaaf Dhaal Rathafandhoo, Alif Alif Rasdhoo, Dhaal Meedhoo and Laamu Maamendhoo). The plants can produce 25 metric tons of ice with storage capacity for 50 tons.
The eight-month project is financed by the Saudi Fund for Development. It was awarded to the state utility after interested private parties failed to submit an appropriate bid despite two public tenders, the fisheries ministry said.
In September, 13 of 22 ice plants managed by Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company were handed over to Fenaka, which expected to spend MVR20 million (US$1.2 million) on repairing factories that were not operational.
MIFCO produced over 800 tonnes of ice a day but faced challenges due to rising oil prices as fuel accounts for 70% of the production cost.
Fenaka is the electricity provider for most inhabited islands outside the Greater Malé region.
The State Trading Organisation posted a net profit of MVR368 million (US$23.8 million) for the first quarter of 2023, up 37% from the previous quarter as operational costs were reduced by 5%.
STO earned a record operating profit of MVR1 billion (US$64.8 million) for 2022. Record-breaking revenues of MVR18 billion for the year were up 79% from 2021. The annual profit of MVR789 million also represented a 52% increase from the previous year.
The state-owned behemoth is the country’s primary wholesaler, responsible for importing the vast majority of basic foodstuffs such as rice, flour, and sugar. STO subsidiaries also trade in petroleum, cooking gas, construction materials, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, electronics, supermarket products and insurance.