Several lagoons are in process of reclamation and development for luxury resorts, and whilst Maldives advocate as Champions ofEnvironment, how healthy is it to develop all lagoon in Male’ or Ari Atoll with artificial islands where tourism is already congested in such zones? What outcomes in terms of good and bad are from these developments?

PUBLISHED March 05, 2022

Abdul Latheef
Managing Director
Casa Retreat
Reclaiming lagoons by destroying marine life and building more resort islands already in congested locations will become very unhealthy. By doing that we are going to get the same result as they got in the Red Sea. Mr. George Corbin also asked us not to do that and suggested us to take tourism to far away islands and asked us to build a more efficient and cost-effective transport system. People come to Maldives because water sports in Maldives are better than Bali. Mauritius is one big island with many beach resorts and in Maldives each island is a resort of its own. Maldives offer more luxury accommodations and Hawaii is more backpacker friendly. Fiji is also good with beautiful surroundings. But couples who are not ready to compromise snorkeling experience and tranquility of the beaches find a more romantic getaway in the Maldives. Do not let go all that we have. Why destroy marine life and building so many artificial islands like in the Red Sea and congest tourist points like snorkeling, diving, and water sports etc. Maldives is a different experience for a holiday with a lot of nature.
The topic of land reclamation for any purpose is a hotly debated one. As you know the islands of Maldives are small and spread out and difficult to reach. This raises the need to reclaim land around development centers such as Ari Atoll for tourism and other purposes as well. Let's say instead of reclaiming reefs and lagoons, we try to spread out tourism development throughout the Maldives. Now comes the question, do we put power houses on all these islands? Do we use more and more vessels and aircraft to transport passengers to these islands? What would be the impact of these additional contributors to the environment? All these factors make it a complicated question to answer. But i do believe we need to maintain a delicate balance when reclaiming land for any purpose not just tourism
Major reclaimed areas in Malé Atoll are a preparation for environmental disaster towards the underwater habitats. As nature is naturally designed in its most fitting way, especially the islands. We won’t know, for example, how to design an island to look like Embudu. However, for countries such as Sri Lanka or India, they can develop the land as they do not have the lagoons. We have enough islands and don’t see how the same islands need to go through that. But there are three factors affecting these activities; social, cultural and economics managing. In managing, social and cultural aspects are looked over by the indigenous people. It is not separated with tourism or any other aspect. The indigenous people face unjust in this management process. ‘At the end, we are going to die.’ That is what Shauna said in the last COP conference. ‘My grandchildren will not be able to have a family in the Maldives.’ I believe socio-cultural people face corruption injustice. From every disaster we face, the nature is telling us a story. In the Maldives, the nature is below the surface. It is not prioritized as much as it should be. I know all the Tourism and Environment Ministers that have come to pass in my 57 years of lifetime. Most of the people going to negotiate regarding these matters are not people who are friendly around the sea. We need to go back to researches done by Maldives Marine Biologists in the late 70s and early 80s. They predicted that if we continue to keep on taking corals from the reefs, at some point it will be of scarce, and we will have to artificially produce corals. The same situation applies here. I have been living in B. Fulhadhoo for the past 5 years, and the harbor built here by the government has helped greatly to all the locals living in the island economically and socially. At times minimal damages done to the coral reefs are overlooked, as it is important to develop necessary infrastructure for the indigenous people living in inhabited islands.