Good morning the General Manager of Kuda Hura Four Seasons, all the graduates, parents and everyone present here:

Tourism has been flourishing in this country for the last, almost 40 years. In fact, just yesterday while I was going through with Dr. Sawad on a pile of very old documents, this document went all the way back Gentleman from the United Sates was writing to the sultan of Maldives asking the sultan to set up a tourism department in the Maldives. Now this was back in the 1950’s. Of course, tourism came to this country in its full force in the 1970’s.

Up until today we still lack so much tools, mediums and facilities to develop this industry and to actually take the full benefit of its trade. We need trained people. So often we hear complains from many employees that their conditions, that their wages and the manner in which that they have to perform their duties differ from others. We have to bear in mind that these differences very often arise because of the differences in the level of technical knowledge and education.

We have to be more trained; we have to be more educated in this trade if we are to get the full benefit, as I said, of this trade. Now of course it indeed is a pleasure and it is an excellent program run by Four Seasons. This apprenticeship program where they have already trained more than 148 students and this is a commendable achievement. I on behalf the government of Maldives thank the Four Seasons for continuing this program.

We would like to but also see that more girls, females take part in this program. We do not see a single female today. And I am sure there are many girls all the way from H.A atoll and all the way form Noon atoll or anywhere that you have also come from who are interested. And I am sure that the management would make special effort to bring females into this trade.

In my travels once in the atolls, I met a mother who told me that her child is been trained to be nice in Kuda Hura. This is how I heard about the program. I met a middle aged woman and I asked her where her family was and in the process of explaining where everyone was and she mentioned to me that her child was been trained to be nice. Now for her this was quite impossible to comprehend how do you train someone to be nice. In her mind she has, of course, got the idea of hospitality industry. and she is of course trying to fathom how you may be trained to be nice. To be nice of course you have to be armed with so many skills, in washing a dish or making a bed or doing whatever that you so excellently do in being nice.

Maldivians are by nature, I like to believe, hospitable people. And therefore it would take not so much for us to move from our natural instincts, to develop a very skilled labour force in this specific industry.

Realising and understanding the work of the private sector in developing the labour force of this industry, this government has come out with a public private partnership program in many of these issues. We would like to invite Four Seasons and Kuda Hura to join up with the government in whatever way they may feel comfortable. Join up with the government in providing skilled labour or training skills to our youth and our coming population. The government would be very willing to grant a number of concessions for this. The government would be very willing to for instance grant land concessions in Hura after consultation of course with the people of Hura. So I am sure that we can develop this model to coincide or to fit into this government’s grand idea of developing skilled labour and many other utilities and facilities to the people. So we would like to have in-depth discussions with Four Seasons on how we maybe able to develop this model and proceed from there on.

We do realise and I hope that the management of Kuda Hura and all the other resorts do understand that we are going through a fairly and a slightly turbulent period in terms of labour relations. We have adopted a new constitution recently. I stand here as the first democratically elected leader of this country. So in this process there is lot of understanding that has to take place on both sides of the fence.

I would like to stress this to the students to all those who are graduating today that education is the best means, medium through which you can get best deal or a better deal. This is the best medium. Of course, labour or industrial activity is necessary to secure your positions, but more importantly you have to be able to stand on a better footing for you to be able to understand the intricacies of labour relations and labour laws. Very often, a number of demands made by resort workers are not necessarily so reasonable. Also quite frequently the manner in which the management understands labour relations are not also exactly that fitting. So we need to synthesise this. We need to understand that we are in transitions and it’s going to be little bit bumpy during this period. But of course excellent labour relations conducted by chains like Four Seasons have paid off and they have good relations. This is how you develop it. This is how you maintain it. And I am confident that Four Seasons would be the standard bearer of training people, working with Maldivian labour or working with an international labour force. We are quite happy in the manner that you are proceeding and therefore, the government would just simply like to invite you if to explore the possibilities of partnership with the government.

The weather of course is very good. We needed this now. We have been waiting for the winds and the rain. This is not a surprise. It is not a climatic aberration. This time of the year and we have to have this weather for us to have a beautiful summer or a beautiful monsoon to come. And I hope that the weather would clear and it would clear to give us that beautiful monsoon and calmer days.

In the meanwhile we cannot ever forget about the delicate position that we the Maldives stand upon as a low lying island nation. We the government has a priority of trying to become carbon neutral not because we think that by Maldives becoming carbon neutral we can save the world. No, we do not emit any carbon for that matter. But it’s just that you know we would be satisfied ourselves to say that we have done the right thing. And we think that this is economically so possible as well.

Politician like us have a tendency of going on and on and on when we have a mike in front of us. Then again your apprentice, the student or the former student who came here might as well you know as I mentioned before he might seeking election next time in parliament. He had good delivery skills.

I would like to thank everyone. I am very happy to be here. I am sorry I can’t make it for lunch, would have like to, and a swim after that. But have to get back. And again I would like to congratulate all the students who have worked very hard. And who have been able to complete their apprenticeship program, and face this happy day to day.