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Privacy and Luxury in Paradise; Mark Atkinson Takes Us On a Trip to the Idyllic Kurumba Resort in the Maldives


Think of white powder-sand beaches lined with coconut palms and a panoramic view of the crystal clear ocean as far as the eye can see, at one of the few locations that remain unspoilt by man.
Such a place is Kurumba -- an exclusive resort in the Maldives just a ten-minute boat ride from North Male Atoll. Kurumba is the ultimate in relaxation and seclusion, while providing an unlimited choice of recreational activities.
The resort consists of 180 fully air conditioned bungalows and villas, tastefully furnished in rich natural colours, with polished wooden floors, antique-style wooden furniture and sandstone-tiled bathrooms. All rooms are equipped with a mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities, satellite TV and a high-speed Internet connection.
Private Villa -- The lap of luxury
For the ultimate in space, luxury and privacy, book yourself one of the Private Villas. After a restful night in your king size four-poster bed, throw open the French windows and walk out onto your private courtyard veranda. If you're in a particularly al fresco mood, have a change from the marble bathtub and glass-walled shower, and invigorate yourself under the 'rain shower' with its traditional outside thatched awning. While this provides a wonderful sense of space and freedom, you can be safe in the knowledge that it is also completely private and secluded for those that want their own little hideaway. Or you might prefer a dip in your own personal Jacuzzi, once again in complete privacy.
Those with a penchant for the sandy beach and gentle lapping of the waves can look out from their veranda just steps away from the ocean. Alternatively, those with a passion for flora and fauna have the choice of a magnificent view onto lush gardens. Either way, you are surrounded by paradise. It is indeed your Private Villa.
Facilities and dining
While you get away from it all, you can still rest assured that every amenity is at hand, with 24-hour airport transfers and reception, airline ticketing service, laundry and dry cleaning, baby sitting service, foreign currency exchange, sportswear and gift shop, international newspapers, and a doctor on call around the clock. And for those who need to stay in touch, conference facilities and a fully equipped business centre.
The ambiance caters for a range of different moods and tastes, from a secluded romantic dinner on the beach to an evening of live music where you can dance the night away.
Guests at Kurumba are spoilt for choice. Enjoy a seafood feast at Ocean Grill, capture the romance of Italy at Golden Cowrie, or the finest in Chinese cuisine at Ming Court. Have a pizza by the poolside at Pizza Piazza, enjoy the succulent Indian dishes at Kurumba Mahal, or a variety of table d'hote menus and themed buffets at Vihamana Restaurant. For Arabic Mezze, Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine, visit Al Qasr, or Hamakaze for Japanese Teppen-Yaki.
The Neptune Coffee Shop provides mini meals throughout the day and in-room dining is available 24 hours. Whatever your choice, the quality and renowned Maldivian hospitality are never compromised.
Leisure activities
The Maldives is one of the natural wonders of the world. An archipelago of 26 coral atolls, it is a tropical paradise of coral ecosystems and lagoons supporting a huge variety of marine life for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. With water breakers protecting the lagoon from the waves and average depths of 1-11/2 metres, it provides an excellent and safe environment for the kids to snorkel.
Or how about a trip on a glass-bottomed boat, a nighttime or early morning fishing trip on a dhoni -- traditional Maldivian boat, or the vast choice of water sports activities available?
For those who prefer terra firma there is tennis, volleyball, table tennis and a fully equipped gymnasium. Then, how about a laze around the pool or a visit to the spa?
Kurumba also offers a wide range of excursions, including a visit to a local fishing village, a barbeque on an uninhabited island, a romantic sunset cruise, or a Male shopping tour to see the traditional culture and craftsmanship of these unique atolls.
Full information about the various packages, choices of accommodation and facilities can be obtained from
www.kurumba.com. Those looking for the ultimate in relaxation and recreation in idyllic surroundings need look no further. Come and experience Kurumba, Maldives, in the luxury of your own private villa.

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She cries for days, but quits job to do more

WHEN Miss Frieda Chan returned from a week-long trip to Sri Lanka two years ago, she checked herself into a chalet on Sentosa - alone.
There, she cried for three days.
The 31-year-old is a social worker.
She was so moved by the stories of loss and grief she had heard from the victims of the tsunami disaster that she needed some time to get a grip on her emotions.
Miss Chan said: 'During the trip, I held everything in because I was there to help. I couldn't afford to break down.
'But when I came home, all the stories just hit me.'
Miss Chan, who has a social work degree from the National University of Singapore, was in Sri Lanka in early 2005 as a volunteer. She trained the locals to counsel victims of trauma.
ETCHED IN MEMORY
One story that remained etched in her memory was that of a woman who had just given birth seconds before the tsunami struck.
She recalled: 'Medical workers who attended the training recounted how they just grabbed the newborn baby and ran for their lives.
'The woman, who was undergoing a Caesarean section, had not even been stitched up when the tsunami hit.
'The medical workers had no choice but to leave her lying in the surgical theatre, still bleeding, to die. There was nothing they could do to save her.'
The tsunami, which hit the shores of Sri Lanka, parts of Thailand, Indonesia and the Maldives on 26 Dec 2004, claimed about 200,000 lives.
Miss Chan could not forget her experience in Sri Lanka. And last July, determined to do more for tsunami victims, she quit her full-time job with a private youth organisation, where she was paid $2,100 a month.
At that time, she had already set up a voluntary welfare organisation called Life Community Development (LCD), which is aimed at getting Singaporeans involved in volunteer work.
NO SALARY
She does not draw a salary from LCD, which is now a registered charity.
She said: 'Some organisations just give fish to the needy. Others teach them to fish. My hope in setting up LCD was not just to teach them to fish, but to teach them to teach others to fish.'
When LCD was first started in late 2004, MissChan spent her Saturdays volunteering at a local school, trying to work with disinterested and at-risk youths to get them to care for others and make themselves useful.
But what started as a local voluntary outreach project eventually went beyond Singapore's shores when Miss Chan's network of friends and volunteers started coming back with stories about their experiences in tsunami-hit countries.
'One of my volunteers was doing extensive work in various countries like Aceh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
'On each of her recce trips, she would come up with ideas on how we could step in to help.'
Early last year, after several recce trips, MissChan and her group of 20 volunteers decided they had the resources to match the needs of the victims in the Maldives.
The organisation then approached the Singapore Red Cross, which was administering the Tidal Waves Asia Fund, to finance their proposed projects.
They spent $31,000 to install water tanks for 136 households in the Maldives.
Since then, Miss Chan and her volunteers have also given about 34 fishing boats to some 900 fishermen in Banda Aceh. They spent $212,500.
Another $43,000 was spent on some 1,300 mango seedlings for the people of Maldives to start a plantation, as a source of income and food.
The group also spent $4,000 on library books for the children of Maldives.
In July last year, after Miss Chan quit her job at the youth centre, she was jobless and without income for two months.
LIVING ON SAVINGS
'I depleted more than half of my savings, but it was worth it because I wanted to put more energy into my volunteer work.'
Still, she had to pay her bills.
So last October, she started doing freelance training work at schools, earning $600 a month.
Then two months later, she started a franchise business, which earned her up to $3,000 a month.
'Right now, I'm doing freelance work and getting jobs with flexible working hours, but my main focus is still my volunteer work.'
Miss Chan's group of 20 volunteers include doctors, engineers, businessmen and psychiatrists. There are also social workers, teachers and university lecturers.
She said: 'My vision for the organisation is that our resources will continue to multiply themselves.
'We help 100 people, and these 100 will go on to help 300 others, and so on.
'Right now, it's great because I'm still putting my social work training to good use. I'm not just a volunteer, more like an unpaid social worker.'
Heart

WorkSource: The Electric News

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Travel warning issued

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is warning Australians of the danger of travelling to Sri Lanka after Tamil rebels forced the closure of the island's main international airport.
A departmental advisory issued yesterday said flights may be diverted to The Maldives and India.
"We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Sri Lanka at this time because of ongoing civil unrest, the volatile security situation and the very high risk of terrorist attacks," the advisory said.
"Attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in Sri Lanka.
"Australians could inadvertently become victims of violence directed at others, in particular Sri Lankan government and military targets."
Source: AAP
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Maldives anger over topless party


Sir Philip's party cost millions of dollars, reports sayA leading opposition group in the Maldives has strongly criticised a lavish party held there last week by one of Britain's top businessmen.
The party was attended by a host of celebrities, including the singers George Michael and Jennifer Lopez.
It allegedly featured topless dancers, a giant Buddha statue and copious amounts of champagne.
Critics say that such an event was incompatible with the conservative Muslim culture of the islands.
Lobster thermidor
The party was hosted at an exclusive resort by the British tycoon Sir Philip Green - one of Britain's wealthiest businessmen - to celebrate his 55th birthday. It is estimated to have cost in the region of $10m (£5m).
Guests were reportedly treated to the finest vintage Pol Roger champagne and a cabaret performance by George Michael.

George Michael was reportedly paid in excess of $500,000 to perform
At one end of one of the dance floors a solid granite statue of the Buddha, 11m-tall, had been erected as around 100 guests ate lobster thermidor.
The party was held on three stages and also featured pagodas and two smaller Buddhas.
More than 500 people were hired to deal with the construction of the party venue, with hundreds more working on catering, flower arrangements and security.
The festivities were reported to include a topless dance routine and a brilliant firework display.
'Over the top'
Critics in the Maldives say that such merry-making is out of place in a conservative Muslim country.
"This party was completely over the top," said Maldivian Democratic Party spokesman Ahmed Moosa.
"Maldives people are easily shocked and strong in their Muslim faith," he said.

Critics argue that the Buddha was incongruous in a Muslim country
"Scantily clad women and excessive drinking are not culturally acceptable."
Mr Moosa stressed that he was not making a political point in his criticisms.
"I think my views on this issue represent a wide cross-section of views across the country regardless of party affiliation," he said.
Mr Moosa said that he found it "objectionable" that many of the celebrities and wealthy guests who attended the ceremony arrived in the Maldives by private jets.
"With so much emphasis on reducing greenhouse emissions around the world, their mode of travel - like their partying - smacks of decadence," he said.
'Happiness'
The Maldivian Democratic Party has also complained that the Buddha statue brought into the country for the party was in contravention of the law, which prohibits the promotion of any faith apart from Islam.

Many stars arrived by private jet (Picture by Dhivehi Observer)
They say that thousands of migrant Sri Lankan workers are forbidden from carrying a personal Buddha in their pockets in recognition of this rule.
The Maldives government was unavailable to comment on criticisms surrounding the party, but last week President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was reported to have extended birthday greetings in a telephone call to Sir Philip.
The president was quoted by local newspapers as saying that Sir Philip's visit to the Maldives would help bolster the country's tourism industry.
He expressed his "happiness" that Sir Philip had chosen the Maldives for his birthday celebrations.
The businessman is reported to have thanked the president for his telephone call, and said that the Maldives was the most beautiful place he had ever visited.
A spokeswoman in Sir Philip's private office said that he was unaware of any regulations concerning the importation of Buddhas to the Maldives, and that the party was held at a private location.

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Past & Present Liveaboards of Maldives by Reiner Schaetz

The Republic of Maldives or locally Dhivehi Raajey had awakened from its sleeping beauty hideaway onlybeginning of the 1970's, to open its marine borders for international Tourism.
Although, the very initial development of islands around Male' into Tourist Resorts in 1972 like Kurumba, Bandos and Villingili was followed soon by the establishment of the first local Safari-boats, as locally built boats are called in Maldives today, accommodating tourists for activities such as cruising,scuba diving, wave surfing, fishing and sailing.
Despite a very few small foreign Yachts catering occasionally for Tourists those days, the true pioneer of locally built Safari boats was Mr. Ahmed Adam of H. Hickery with the establishment of a converted localfishing Dhoni (boat) built entirely out of local coconutwood in 1973, the second year of Tourism in the Maldives.

The boat carried the distinctive name ALADEEN, the first of its kind. As thatboat was facilitated with one main cabin accommodating up to six foreign guests in bunk beds right below a center-elevated deck and in addition upgraded from using Latin sails to diesel powered Japanese-made Yanmar 2-T engine, such modernized version as unseen before eared itself the well deserved nickname Yacht Dhoni. The boat offered one common pump toilet, fresh water from island wells was stored in locally built cans and jerry cans carrying a maximum of 400 liters onboard with three unskilled crews operating the Yacht Dhoni. Provisions were limited to strictly Maldivian cuisine and re-provisioned while traveling from one island to another. All high-tech the boat owned those days was its diesel engine, there were no desalination plants, built-in soundproof generators, attached stylish bathrooms with hot water, no general electronics relating to the boat operation and nowadays guest comfort.The boat was steered by its traditional local Hunganu rudder and controlled by the captain's mighty foot.

Although, those days it was a locally praised Yacht Dhoni, it actually impressed by its practical simplicity, guests were synthesized with the Yacht Dhoni as they were with nature around them. Guests brought their own diving equipments, including compressors and the day to day vacationwas all about activities such as swimming, snorkeling, diving, local fishing, visiting inhabitant islands with their native population totally unexposed to foreign visitors as well as visiting and camping on deserted islands as most of those were unexplored those days. ALADEEN Yacht Dhoniserved during her first three years of operation to game fishermen using local fishing methods. ALADEEN also sailed a well-known German photographer to his first island shots, which remain published even today.




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Jennifer Lopez in the Maldives

The famous J Lo has arrived to the Maldives today in a private jet accompanied by her partner Mark Anthony for the possibly the birthday bash of the year. The 'not-so-green' party of Sir Phillip Green's 55th Birthday is hitting headlines across the world. Maldives has never seen anything like this, this is definitely good for the industry. We could spend millions to market our products but this is marketing at its best.
Commenting on this huge event, a prominent reformist businessman said "we are in deed very pleased to welcome such famous people to our country," He further added "we just hope they take note of other things here than just the blue water and sandy beaches", referring to the on-going repressive system.
Environmental campaigners are bound to comment on the excessive carbon emissions from the jets for this party. The carbon fingerprint is now a major issue in the west. It certainly is Green's party but it is not so green.
Source: Dhivehi Observer
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American star Ricky Martin joins Sir. Green's 'not-so-green' party in the Maldives


Male' - The American star Ricky Martin arrived in the Maldives this morning in his private jet to join the massive birthday 'do' of British billionaire Sir Phillip Green, scheduled for this week. According to our sources, George Michael, Kate Moss and Robert Flack also arrived in the last couple of days. Confirmed reports say that more celebrities are arriving tomorrow, including Jennifer Lopez, Mark Anthony and others.
More than 16 private jets are scheduled for tomorrow. The jets are to be parked in Gan Airport, as there is no space in Male' International Airport. These celebrity guests will be staying in Sonevafushi, Fourseasns at Kudahuraa and in Ladaagiraavaru, according our sources. Other top guests expected to join the Green's 'not-so-green' party include Michael Jackson and Sir Elton John, sources say.
According to industry experts, Maldives tourism will earn more than 20 million dollars from the events scheduled for the next 10 days, which also includes the wedding ceremony of Russian billionaire. In addition to this, Mrs. & Mr. Liz Hurley are also honeymooning in the Maldives right now.

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Bangladesh approves proposal for regional food bank

By Nazrul Islam Dhaka, Mar 18 (ANI): Bangladesh's interim government has approved a proposal for setting up of a regional food reserve, SAARC Food Bank, to meet the growing pressure on food and nutrition security of more than 150 crore people of the region. Dhaka's approval came at the regular meeting of the council of advisers to the interim administration, headed by Fakhruddin Ahmed on Saturday. Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the chief adviser's press secretary, Syed Fahim Munaim, said the foreign ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) were likely to finalise the deal towards the establishment of the food reserve during their pre-summit meeting in New Delhi early next month. The 14th SAARC summit is scheduled to be held on April 3-4 in the Indian capital, New Delhi. "The food bank will come in aid to the member states to meet the emergency situation during unexpected shortage of food due to natural calamities or any other reasons," Munaim said. Once the deal is finalised, the food bank will start initially with reserve of 241,580 tonnes of food grain, which would gradually be increased. Bangladesh committed contribution of 40,000 tonnes of food grain to the bank. According to the proposal, India will contribute the highest 153, 200 tonnes of food grains while Pakistan and Bangladesh 40,000 tonnes each, Sri Lanka and Nepal 4,000 tonnes each, Maldives 200 tonnes and Bhutan 180 tonnes. SAARC secretariat in Kathmandu will play the role of the secretariat of the Board of the food bank until it establishes an independent one. The idea of establishing regional food reserve was first mooted at the third summit in a different form. The concept paper was prepared during the 12th summit and it was formalised in the last summit held in Dhaka. The heads of the states or governments agreed to examine the proposal, piloted by India, to establish the regional food bank. The SAARC technical committee finalised its report on the proposal on March 7. (ANI)

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First SAARC car rally flagged off

The first ever SAARC car rally was flagged off Thursday by Bangladesh's Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed from Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh.The first cross-border caravan aimed at forging closer ties among the South Asian nations-would take a break in New Delhi during the 14th SAARC summit next month. The rally also marks the end of Bangladesh's tenure as the SAARC chair that will now move to India.Ahmed spoke of closer cultural ties, tourism and more of sports activities and youth development of the region, Star Online said.He also put emphasis on upholding the South Asian identity as part of the larger international community."The SAARC promoted people to people contacts, by facilitating travels between the countries of the region," the chief adviser said. "Other initiatives by SAARC included youth exchanges in culture and sports fostering linkages between professional bodies."Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had mooted the idea of a car rally during the last summit in Bangladesh.Thirty Tata Safari vehicles, carrying about 120 participants of the SAARC countries would travel through more than 8,000 km across varying terrains of India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 30 days.It is scheduled to conclude on April 14 in Male, the capital of the Maldives.The convoy is expected to stay in New Delhi on April 3 when SAARC leaders will assemble in the Indian capital Delhi for the 14th summit of the forum.Tata Motors is the vehicle sponsors for the event. The India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) is also supporting it, besdes Indian public-sector oil-marketing companies.
--- IANSSource: New Kerela
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Today's catch


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Today's ctach

FLICKR Photographer and my friend Muha
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Sir Philip throws £6m birthday party

The 55th birthday party of one of the world's richest men was always destined to be a lavish affair.But Sir Philip Green's five-day celebration on a private island in the Indian Ocean will perhaps go down in history as among the most extravagant of all time.The culmination of the all-expenses-paid extravaganza was a private concert last night by George Michael and the Latino stars Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin.The billionaire retailer has spent an estimated £6 million on the event, flying some 200 of his closest friends to a luxury spa resort in the Maldives. They had been given a "travel wallet" containing instructions to pack shorts and to be prepared for a long flight.The bill for securing George Michael to perform for an hour on Thursday night was said to be several hundred thousands of pounds.Guests were believed to have included Allan Leighton, the chairman of the Royal Mail Group, Richard Desmond, the owner of Express Newspapers, and Bill Kenwright, the theatre impresario.The revellers were also serenaded by Roberta Flack, best-known for her 1973 hit Killing Me Softly, the American soul singer James Ingram, and the jazz singer Patti Austin.Jilly Johnson, the former Page 3 girl, Eddie Jordan, the Formula 1 boss, and Charles Dunstone, the Carphone Warehouse owner, who were pictured at Stansted airport, were also thought to be amongst the guests.The location was kept a tightly-guarded secret, but Sir Philip is thought to have hired out Soneva Fushi, a resort on the island of Kunfunadhoo, where prices range from £600 a night to £2,000 for a suite.Yesterday evening on the island was declared "White Night" and guests were instructed to wear no other colour. One guest said: "It's amazing, how elegant and beautiful the party has been."The resort, where the motto is "no news, no shoes", offers an award-winning spa, a private beach for each guest and a variety of water sports.Much of the decor is made from recycled products and there is an organic vegetable garden where residents can pick ingredients for their evening meal.It is part of a chain founded by Sonu Shivdasani, an Old Etonian friend of David Cameron's, and his Swedish wife Eva, a former model.Other facilities include a vintage wine cellar, a private cinema showing Hollywood classics, and the opportunity to be dropped off on an uninhabited island with nothing but a picnic.Sir Philip has never been shy of exuberant displays of wealth and generosity to his friends.He flew 200 revellers to Cyprus for his 50th birthday, where they were treated to private performances by Sir Tom Jones and Rod Stewart. At a toga party on the final day, he appeared dressed as the Emperor Nero, and his wife, Tina, gave him a solid gold Monopoly set featuring his own acquisitions. Three years later, he spent £4 million on his 13-year-old son's bar mitzvah in the south of France.The retailer, who has his own Learjet and a yacht, was fifth on the Sunday Times Rich List of 2005, which estimated his wealth at just short of £5 billion. Sir Philip, largely credited with the recent success of the Arcadia Group, recently signed a deal with Kate Moss, whose fashion collection for Top Shop will be launched in May."We ran into each other and she says, 'I'm a Croydon girl and you're a fella from Croydon, we should do business'," he told the latest edition of Vogue.Sir Philip struck gold when he was 33, making several million pounds profit from the sale of the Jean Jeanie denim chain. He bought Arcadia, which includes the high street chains Top Shop and Dorothy Perkins and Bhs, in 2002.

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Topshop billionaire's £20m 'garden party'


Billionaire Sir Philip Green, the stunning party venue and guest J-lo
The two great deities sat facing one another, each a colossus, gazing serenely down at the mortals in their midst. At one end was a solid granite statue of the Buddha, 35ft-tall, smiling benignly over the party guests as they drank vintage Pol Roger champagne and helped themselves to lobster thermidor.
At the other end was Sir Philip Green, resplendent in a crisp white linen Thai tunic trimmed with silver brocade. If the Buddha was serene and mysterious, Sir Philip was rather more ebullient.
The billionaire tycoon was in fine fettle hosting his most jaw-droppingly showy party yet - a five-day extravaganza on a tropical island which he has taken over in the Maldives for himself and 100 friends to celebrate his 55th birthday. It is impossible to say just how much it has cost, but £20 million cannot be an outlandish estimate.
Some 500 cases of vintage champagne - that's 3,000 bottles, 30 per guest - caviar, lobster; dancers flown in from around the world; fireworks shooting upwards to form the shape of palm trees before melting into the night sky; supercharged searchlights which seemed to touch the stars.
The star turn is George Michael, who is believed to have received £750,000 to go on stage. And, if the rumours are to be believed, the American singer and actress, Jennifer Lopez.
The birthday boy surpassed himself this time, and it wasn't even a major milestone.
But while the guests guzzled champagne and danced the night away in paradise without a care in the world, the Maldivian islanders were not quite so taken with the spectacle.
The construction of the Buddha, in particular, has troubled the locals, who are devout Muslims.
"The islanders are obviously used to tourists, and Christianity as well, but they are not used to such overt signs of Buddhism and this has unsettled them," said one local source.
"The blocks of granite were shipped over from somewhere and the locals had to construct the Buddha with their own hands, which they were not at all happy about, but they didn't want to complain."
It does make you wonder: if you want to have a Thai-themed evening with Thai attire, pad Thai noodles and a giant Buddha on display, why not have the party in Thailand? But that would probably be cheaper than this lavish playground of the rich, and you certainly can't accuse Sir Philip of hanging on to his pennies.
As well as the controversy over the Buddha, there has also been consternation among the locals at the more decadent displays over the past few days, in particular a troupe of topless dancers.
For while going topless isn't banned in the Maldives, it is frowned upon by the Muslim community and all tourist literature asks holidaymakers to refrain from removing their tops.
A source said: "The staff were told before the party that they might see things that might shock them but they must not take offence.
"The women who drive the buggies around the island were told that if they came across any of these topless women, they must avert their eyes to protect their modesty, turn the buggy around and go in the opposite direction."
There are dark mutterings among the deeply suspicious Maldivians all over Baa Atoll (there are 19 atolls stretching across 800km) that Sir Philip's birthday party has brought a curse to the region north of the capital, Male, where the Soneva Fushi Resort stands on the island of Kunfunadhoo.
But Sir Philip, who owns the Arcadia fashion group comprising Topshop, Bhs and Miss Selfridge among others, and employs 38,000 staff, is oblivious to such talk. Having received a £1.2 billion dividend in 2005 - adding to the £4.85billion fortune he was estimated to have before the windfall - he wanted to make sure this party was even more monumental than his 50th.
On that occasion he flew out 200 friends to an exclusive resort in Cyprus for a £5 million toga party. Green was dressed as the Roman Emperor Nero in an embroidered toga and gold laurel leaves. Rod Stewart - £1 million for a 45-minute set - and Tom Jones provided the entertainment.
As a surprise, his wife Tina, 57, hired Michael Aspel who appeared with his red This Is Your Life book to look back at the entrepreneur's life. Her present to him was a solid gold Monopoly board, made by Asprey's to represent all his real High Street assets.
There was even a follow up-party in Monaco to watch the video of the Cyprus beano.
There have been other flash dos, such as the barmitzvah he threw for his son Brandon on his 13th birthday in 2005, which reportedly cost £4million, and was held in one of the swankiest hotels in the Cote d'Azur. The family had their own synagogue built in the grounds.
Sir Philip and his wife Tina, who were married in 1990, definitely enjoy the finer things in life. They own an £8 million villa in Monaco overlooking their £7 million yacht (being resident in Monaco cuts down the tax bill considerably, of course).
They have a private jet and 'his and hers' Bentleys. His office is a beige and black penthouse in the West End where he works from 6am to 10pm weekdays. His weekends are spent in Monaco often playing tennis with Prince Albert.
And besides, there was another cause (or excuse) for celebration this week - the knighthood he received last year. If you've earned all this money by old-fashioned graft - and Sir Philip is a workaholic - why not spend it?
So it was that Green, who was raised in Croydon and North London by his electrical retailer father, Simon, and mother, Alma - who owned and ran a launderette chain - decided to take over Soneva Fushi.
Villas cost up to £2,000 per night, and Green has hired the entire resort for five days. The resort motto is: 'No news or shoes - you're here to chill out.'
But over the past week, things have been frenetic on the island. More than 500 people were brought in to deal with the construction of Buddhas, pagodas and three stages. Hundreds more have been working on the catering, flowers flown especially into the Maldives, security and fireworks.
Sir Philip wanted the location to be a surprise for his guests and told them simply to pack their beachwear and go to Stansted Airport on Tuesday evening.
There has been much speculation as to who was on the guest list. Kate Moss, Simon Cowell and Jemima Khan were mentioned, but did not show up.
Elizabeth Hurley and her husband, Arun Nayar, are believed to be honeymooning in the Maldives after their own marathon wedding celebrations, but there was no sign of them, either.
The actress Jenny Seagrove and her theatre producer partner, Bill Kenwright, are among the guests along with former model Jilly Johnson. The Scottish millionaire Sir Tom Hunter is here; Formula One boss Eddie Jordan is also believed to be on the list of attendees.
But if A-list celebrities were invited, they appear not to have been tempted by the freebie to beat all freebies.
For when the three private jets carrying the guests arrived at Male airport on Wednesday morning, there were hardly any famous faces to be seen. The 'VIPs' - most of them pushing Louis Vuitton luggage - were then taken by seaplane to the resort.
That night, Sir Philip treated his guests to a pre-party bash with a performance by a group of Indonesian dancers flown in especially, as well as traditional Maldivian dancing by performers from another island.
On Thursday, as Sir Philip's guests sunbathed on the terraces of their luxurious villas, the final preparations began. Checks were made on the three concert stages - yes, three - on the northern and southern tips of the island, and in the middle of the resort.
At a right angle to the side of the main stage stood the largest Buddha, on either side of which were two pagodas. Two smaller Buddhas were erected nearby.
Vases filled with exotic flowers flown in from some far-flung destination were placed all over the island. Meanwhile, teams of chefs were busy in the kitchen. There was one team for the seafood buffet, another for the Thai buffet.
A separate team put the final touches to Sir Philip's 8ft by 4ft dark and white chocolate and cream birthday cake, thought to have been inscribed simply: 'Philip Green 55'.
More guests arrived by seaplane including a group of men in white linen suits. A fevered rumour began circulating that Britney Spears was on the island, but this was not confirmed.
According to one source, J-Lo was seen wandering around the resort surrounded by her burly entourage. It's thought she was planning to give a performance last night.
Moored a little way out were two 100ft sailing yachts and a 150ft motor yacht. You could smell the money.
It is one of those strange paradoxes that a man determined to stage one of the most ostentatious spectacles on the planet should be seemingly obsessed that the details remain a secret.
Thirty security cameras were installed around the island on Thursday; three security boats patrolled the island.
Aboard one of them was a high profile police chief, a sort of Sir Ian Blair in shades and funky T-shirt.
The staff on the island were also tightly controlled. The stage crew and security staff all wore T-shirts with a 55 logo, and staff were told they must not reveal a thing, and to switch their mobiles off so no contact could be made with the outside world.
The main party of the week began at 8pm on Thursday, when spotlights - powered by generators shipped in for the occasion - were turned on, stretching up and out for miles across the Indian Ocean.
All the guests - men included - wore the same white linen Thai tunics, embossed with the 55 logo. The number 55 was also emblazoned across the stage.
You would have to have been really dim - or the worse of all that champagne - to forget which birthday Sir Philip was celebrating.
There were more dancers - including the topless ones who had affronted the modesty of the locals - more Pol Roger bubbly, caviar, lobster any which way you could choose. Also on the bill was heartthrob singer Ricky Martin.
George Michael came on last of all, singing old favourites such as Careless Whisper and, finally, Freedom, which seemed to go down very well with the mostly 30 and 40-something guests.
Sir Philip is said to have issued strict instructions that George wanted to leave the island as soon as he came off stage, but then these days he is a bit of a recluse.
After George's performance, Stevie Wonder's Happy Birthday To You came blaring through the speakers and Sir Philip's enormous birthday cake was wheeled to the front of the stage.
Shy and retiring are not words in this man's vocabulary. Once he had cut the cake, the fireworks began, launched from two barges anchored a couple of hundred yards from the shore, and greeted with gasps of admiration.
Then it was time for the disco and, loosened up by all the free booze, most of the guests took to the dance floor and partied until well after 4am.
The following day the revellers stayed in bed till late, emerging around lunchtime to get ready for Sir Philip's bikini party in the afternoon.
Again, the bikini dress code is felt to be in bad taste by the locals - due to their Muslim beliefs. Happily for them, Sir Philip and his pals are due to fly back to Britain tomorrow.
What they and everyone else would now like to know is: what on earth is he going to do with his giant granite Buddha? Not even his office is big enough to accommodate this.
Source:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/femail/article.html?in_article_id=442805&in_page_id=1879
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Maldives eyes expansion of tourism sector

BERLIN (eTN) - The Maldivian government has announced plans to build five new airports as part of an expansion of tourism to remote islands in the Indian Ocean। Speaking at world travel fair ITB Berlin, Tourism Minister Mahamood Sougee said 2006 had been a very good year for the Maldives and 2007 would be a further landmark year.“We want the benefits of tourism to go to all Maldivian people, particularly women and they need easy access to their home islands. We have put out tenders for five new domestic airports to supplement the two main international hubs, the capital Male and a new international airport to be opened later this year on the island of Gan in the south of the country.“Confidence in the Maldives is very strong and people are ready to invest. 35 new resort islands are being developed and each of the new airports will have a resort associated with it. This will make it easier to travel to all resorts. Along with this, we a developing a transport grid for the whole country, bringing resorts closer to the people, creating jobs and encouraging interaction between tourists and Maldivian people.Minister Sougee said the expansion of tourism services was part of a new five-year master-plan, due to be unveiled in full later this year. He said the Maldives had recovered well from the effects of the Indian Ocean tsunami and resorts attracted over 600,000 visitors last year, a better result than expected. Even outside the main seasons, resorts were experiencing over 90 percent occupancy which indicated that there was potential for expansion.Maldives’ main source markets are Italy, Great Britain, Japan and Russia, with an increasing amount of interest from China. “Maldives was built originally for Europeans and we are celebrating 35 years of tourism” the tourism minister said. “We are proud of our homeland and have 800 uninhabited islands still. We do not intend to develop them all, of course. Development must be sustainable. All our resorts are green, environmentally friendly, and we offer a wide range of products including water sports, diving, cruising and live-aboard yachts. We are seeing an increasing interest from the MICE market, for meetings and conferences to be held in Maldives resorts,” he said.Answering questions from journalists at ITB Berlin, Minister Sougee said inter-island boat travel in the Maldives was not sufficient and the government would be working with the private sector to develop scheduled services that would allow island-hopping and more efficient transport for tourists and workers. Phase one is under way in Addu Attol, at the southern tip of the Maldives archipelago, which is being developed as a new tourist zone. This is the site of the former British air force base, Gan, which is being transformed into Maldives’ second international airport, scheduled to open in November.“Tourism in Maldives is very resilient. The tsunami was a shock but its impact on tourism was very limited. We recovered very quickly. Our safety measures and emergency plans worked well. We hope nothing like this ever happens again, but we must be prepared.”
Source: Travel Video, By David Browne

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Russian Billionaire Prokhorov Quits as General Director of Nickel Giant

General director of the world’s largest nickel producer Norilsk Nickel Mikhail Prokhorov decided to quit his position at the company. Prokhorov came to media attention in January after he was detained in French Courchavel as part of investigation into international prostitution ring. Detention led to a split between Prokhorov and his long-time partner, one of Russia’s richest men Vladimir Potanin. Potanin and Prokhorov decided to split their assets, with Prokhorov establishing a new energy company.Prokhorov was quoted by the nickel miner’s press service as saying: “In the process of creation of a new company on the basis of Norilsk Nickel’s energy assets, it became clear that it’s impossible to simultaneously serve as Norilsk Nickel’s executive and form a new business. There is a natural conflict of interests. Since the work to create my new business has already started and is actively taking place, I made a decision to resign from my positions in Norilsk Nickel ahead of time.” Mikhail Prokhorov said that “it is very important that such solution would provide for a calm and reliable operations of the many thousands of Norilsk Nickel’s workers”. He also stressed that he will see all of the projects he’s been doing at the company to the end.Mikhail Prokhorov presented the candidacy of his deputy Denis Morozov as the new general director. The governing board of Norilsk Nickel recommended Morozov for approval of the board of directors.In addition to the Courchavel detention, Mikhail Prokhorov has lately been in the news in connection with his marriage bet. Russian media has been reporting widely that Prokhorov, who is going to turn 42 in the first days of May, made a bet that he will get married before that date. Since no suitable candidate was found to fill position of the billionaire’s wife for life, Prokhorov decided to find someone and to marry her for 5 days only in order to fulfill the debt. Russian media reported that the businessman plans to spend $10 million on wedding festivities to be held at private islands at Maldives.
सोर्स http://mosnews.com/

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Flickr Explore पिक्टुरेस लास्ट 7days


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Maldives 1st National NGO award holder - Velidhoo Youth Development Society (VYDS)


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Maldives Youth day 2007 at R. Atoll ugoofaru

Celebrating Youth ship 2007 near R. atoll ugoofaaru

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Maldives Youth day 2007 - R Atoll Ugoofaaru


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THUG SNOOP DOGG ARRESTED IN SWEDEN

Snoop Dogg Smokes A Blunt !

Snoop Dogg, who was banned from entering the UK ever again, was arrested in Sweden on suspicion of minor drug offenses, and released pending the results of drug tests. He was pulled over at around 1:30 a.m. Monday while driving from a concert at a Stockholm Globe Arena with P Diddy, to a party. Snoop Dogg, real name Calvin Broadus, was "deemed to be under the influence of narcotics." He was subsequently arrested together with his "female companion.""He is said to have behaved appropriately. Now the prosecutor can proceed with this. It's usually a fine," a police spokesman said to UPI. The fine for a minor offense is reportedly usually based on an individual's earnings."He underwent some tests that will now be sent away for analysis," said police spokesman Matts Brannlund to AP. "In two to three weeks, we'll know if he was on something." Snoop Dogg was released shortly after 5 a.m. but could face a fine if his drug test comes back positive, Brannlund said. Babyshambles' front dopehead Pete Doherty and Axl Rose had both problems with the Swedish police, in June 2006. Rapper Calvin Broadus, aka Snoop Dogg, pleaded not guilty in January in an Orange County, Calif., court to a felony charge of knowingly possessing a dangerous weapon. He was caught trying to bring a collapsible baton on an airplane in his laptop case. Security personnel discovered the baton in his bag as he went through a security checkpoint at John Wayne International Airport in Orange County, California on September 27. Snoopy has a dark history of violence in airports. In May 2006, Snoop Dogg and five members of his entourage spent the night in a London prison after a fight in the Heathrow British Airways business lounge left seven police officers injured. The Snoop Dogg group started the fight after they were barred from entering the lounge. The rapper has now been banned from travelling with BA. Snoop was also banned from entering the UK ever again. According to reports, he has now been told his criminal record in his native America - which includes drug and gun offences - bars him from returning to Britain. Snoop was a member of a local Crips gang in Long Beach, the Rollin' 20 Crips. Goldie Loc of Tha Eastsidaz is also a former member of this gang, as are Warren G and Nate Dogg. Convicted for a 1990 cocaine trafficking arrest, he is forbidden from possessing firearms for the rest of his life. The Los Angeles District Attorney's office also is considering whether to file charges against him for two arrests involving weapons and drugs: Broadus was arrested Oct. 26 at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank for investigation of being a felon in possession of a gun and transportation of marijuana. On Nov. 28, he was arrested outside NBC Studios in Burbank for investigation.

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My adventure arround the world - Part 3











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Bill Gates, Saudi Prince to Buy Four Seasons for $3.7 Billion



Luxury Hotel chain Four Seasons Hotel Inc. (NYSE: FS), said Monday it had agreed to be bought for $3.37 billion by a group of private investors which include Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, and Saudi Prince Alawaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud. The deal will pay Four Seasons shareholders $82 per share, a 28 percent premium over the company's share price the day before the offer announcement in November. The buyout group includes Gates' Cascade Investment LLC and Kingdom Hotels international. A third investor is a holding company owned by Four Seasons CEO and Chairman Isadore Sharp. Under the deal, Sharp would receive $289 million, the company said in a released statement. The Four Seasons board unanimously approved the deal and is recommending that shareholders approve it at special meeting in April. The deal is also subject to regulatory approval.

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Interview with Lubna Zahir Hussain, Maldives

Interviewer: Leena Rikkilä, IDEA Programme Manager for Asia
What is your background and involvement in the constitution building process in the Maldives?
I am a member of the Constituent Assembly (CA) since 2004, and elected Member of Parliament since 2004, as well as elected President of Youth Council of DRP (Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party) since 2006. Constitution making is currently on-going in the Maldives and we are about half way through the process. I am also the member of the constitution drafting committee of the CA, and lawyer by profession.
What are main constitution related issues in your own country at the moment?
The main issue that is currently debated is the system of governance and that will be decided by the people through a referendum on 16 September 2006. This is a very historical moment as it is only the second time in the history of Maldives that people can have their say through a referendum. Media campaigns started on 1 August. Our current system is often described as a presidential system but actually it is not a proper presidential system. In my view the three powers; executive, legislative and judiciary, should be clearly separated, and therefore I am advocating for a presidential system where these powers are separated. So the system of governance is the biggest constitutional issue at this very moment.
What did you find most useful in this course in terms of your own process?
In the course of this training, the difficulties and real challenges of the constitution making have become clearer. My own task as a member of the drafting committee and CA delegate has become much more clear, and my vision is crystal clear now: I can actually see the road ahead and what should be done! And I can see where the Maldivian process has been defaulting.
The sessions on participatory constitution making were very interesting: it was good to understand what a genuinely participatory process really means. It would be very useful to have a detailed training on the participatory process for CA delegates as well as for the civil society representatives in Maldives. Also, the theme of system of governance was very relevant for me. What was very helpful was to have all these materials in our folders: this type of material is very difficult to trace.
I was the only one from my political party to participate in this course and there are lots of other who would benefit from such a training. I believe training could really serve as an eye opener; how the constitution making is first and foremost a national rather than a party political endeavor.
We have 113 delegates, the work is on-going and we all need some expert advice regarding the technicalities and options for solutions. We could customize and tailor this training to CA delegates and it should take place before end of the year.
How will you share the outcomes of this seminar in your country?
I will share the handouts and materials with my political party and with the CA delegates. I will approach the media and talk to the journalists about how to get them more engaged with the process. In Maldives, it is very difficult to find any literature or books on this subject.
Bangkok, Thailand – during the training seminar on “Constitution Making in Asia”, 24 July - 4 August 2006


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British billionaire's birthday party believed to be taking place in the Maldives

George Michael To Earn Big Bucks For B-Day Party Performance.George Michael will earn £750,000 for performing at a British billionaire's birthday party.The 'Careless Whisper' singer will earn around £12,500 a minute for the hour-long show at TopShop boss Philip Green's 55th birthday next Tuesday (13.03.07).A source told Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper: "Philip wanted someone with real wow-factor. He knows George will keep everyone more than entertained." Green - worth an estimated £3.6 billion - has also asked Ricky Martin to perform and it has been rumoured Michael Jackson will make a guest appearance.Barry Manilow was reportedly asked to sing, but turned the offer down due to his busy schedule.The billionaire has told 100 friends to meet at London's Stansted Airport and prepare for a long-haul flight next week. The celebrations are believed to be taking place in the Maldives.

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Raffles extends its presence to Maldives

The management of the luxury resort, Raffles Resort Konottaa, the first venture in of the hotel operator in the Maldives is now in the hands of the Raffles Hotels & Resorts. The resort, owned and developed by Platinum Capital HoldingsPvt Ltd, is located in the southern part of the Maldives and is scheduled to open in Spring 2008,“This is another milestone for the Group, as we extend the Raffles presence to one of the premier travel destinations of the world,” commented Mrs Diana Ee Tan, Managing Director of Raffles Hotels & Resorts.“The Southern Gaafu Alifu atoll, with its pristine waters and untouched surroundings is certain to be a haven for the discerning traveler in search of paradise and luxury. We are extremely gratified that Platinum Capital Holdings has entrusted Raffles to manage this luxury jewel.”Mr Mohammed Shaweed, President & Chief Executive Officer, Platinum Capital Holdings Pvt Ltd, said, “We are delighted with our partnership with Raffles Hotels & Resorts. The name Raffles represents a promise to provide the best. Its uncompromising standards in products and service are well renowned and legendary. We believe that the Raffles difference will set a new benchmark in the Maldives.”

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My journey arround the world -Part2 - Australia







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My journey arround the world - Malaysia





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