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MALE, Oct 30 (HNS) – Farmers are ending their romance with chili, and wooing cucumber instead, the agrarian island of Thoddoo in North Ari atoll said.

Chili cultivation is proving to be too hot to handle through an economic point of view, Island Chief Ibrahim Waheed said.


It all started with the price of chili falling in the Male market as Thoddoo’s supply of the spice increased, he said.


“Some people are selling a kilogram of chili for just about Rf40 or Rf50,” Waheed said.


He elaborated that the cost of cultivating chili is expensive, while the return is low.


Hence, farmers are resorting to cucumber cultivation instead, and some chili fields have now been converted to cucumber farms, Waheed said.


Though earlier Thoddoo-produced cucumber received a cool welcome from Male’s consumers, who are more used to hot dishes, people are now warming up to the cold vegetable, the Island Chief said.


There is one trader in Male, capital to some 70,000 people, who is now committed to selling Thoddoo cucumbers to Male customers, Waheed said.


Though cucumber is a newcomer to the scene, Thoddoo farmers’ first and foremost love is watermelon, the sweet, watery fruit for which the island is famed for.

MALE, Oct 20 (HNS) – The second national bodyboarding championship started on Friday at “Lonuziyaaraiy Kolhu,” the eastern coast of Male.

Eighteen participants take part in this year’s bodyboarding championship, titled “Varunulaa Challenge,” which is organized by Maldives Surfing Association (MSA) and sponsored by Western Union Financial Service. The event will conclude on Oct 25.


At Friday’s inaugural ceremony, Sports Ministry’s Director Hamid Abdul Ghafoor officially inaugurated MSA’s website, MaldiveSurf.org.mv.


The first Bodyboarding National Championship was held in August last year. It was judged by Matt Wilson from Association of Surfing Professionals from Coolangatta, Australia..


At last year’s event, which was participated by 21 competitors, the first place was won by Ahmed “Brutus” Mujthaba, with Mohamed Mustafa coming in second place, and Ahmed Fauzan Abbas in third place.


MSA was set up in October 2000 to “recognize that (surfing and related water sports such as bodyboarding) are becoming a central part of sport and leisure in Maldives,” MSA said on its website.


“Many sports are exclusively competition sports. Surfing's attraction goes much further than competition. It is a mix of adventure, sport and cultural experience.


“For many people it is a lifelong passion. Our ocean and island environment is ideal for a surfing lifestyle. Surfing brings us into close contact with nature,” MSA elaborated.


MSA has successfully hosted many surfing events well received by the public and contributed in large part to the new awareness and pride in Maldives’ “ocean heritage.”


In February 2001 MSA organized the “Raalhugandu” (Surf Festival) to launch the association and to raise funds. The success of the event led to the organization to decide to hold the event annually; this year, the Raalhugandu Festival was successfully held from 28 to 29 March.


The first year in the life of MSA saw its organizing of the National Championships for surfers and bodyboarders. The organization also played a key role in the international World Qualifying Series competition, O'Neill Deep Blue Open, held in North Male atoll.


MSA surfers have taken part in three international contests. The first was the Ocean & Earth -Hot Buttered Pro- Junior in Australia followed by Sri Lankan Airlines Pro Surf in Sri Lanka and the Annual Quicksilver Pro in Thailand. At the Quicksilver Pro, Hussein Areef (Ibu) won first prize and Mohamed Fayaz won the third place.


MSA is already affiliated with the International Surfing Association (ISA).


“Many talented surfers are emerging and opportunities to compete in the international arena, both to display their talent and gain recognition for their country, are needed,” MSA said.

MALE, Oct 19 (HNS) – Maldives on Friday “strongly condemned” the bomb blasts in Bali, Indonesia, which killed and injured many. “The government and the people of Maldives strongly condemn the terrorist attack,” Gayoom said in a message of sympathy to Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Many Australians were among the victims of the attacks in Bali. Gayoom expressed “firm resolve to stand together in the fight against terrorism,” his office said in a press release. He extended deep sympathies of the government and people of Maldives and of his own to Howard, and the government and people of Australia. President Gayoom also conveyed condolences to the members of the bereaved families. Earlier Saturday the Indonesian foreign ministry revised its presumed death toll from 114 to 103, the second time in two days the figure has been lowered as people reported missing made contact with authorities.

MALE, Oct 13 (HNS) ? Hollywood megastar couple Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are headed to Maldives to spend the New Year holidays, a British tabloid reported.

Pitt and Aniston have hired the entire Kanuhura resort island for ₤175,000 (Rf3.5 million) to throw an exclusive -- and secluded -- New Year party, according to the tabloid Daily Express.

However, the resort management has declined to comment or confirm the report, the Daily Express said.

The Hollywood glamour couple is also to invite international pop star Madonna and her British film director husband Guy Ritchie (?Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,? ?Snatch?) along with Aniston?s ?Friends? co-star Courtney Cox and her actor husband David Arquette (?Scream,? ?Eight Legged Freaks?).

The exclusive Kanuhura resort island has been a favorite among such international celebrities as Australian songstress Kylie Minogue, ex-Spice Girl Mel B, ?Titanic? star Kate Winslet and her boyfriend, British director Sam Mendes of ?Road to Perdition? and ?American Beauty? fame.

Pitt (?Legends of the Fall,? ?Seven,? ?Fight Club?) and Aniston (?The Good Girl?) who got married in 2000, however, face stiff competition when it comes to extravagant celebrity parties. In 1998, British pop singer Elton John spent ₤150,000 (Rf3 million) for his birthday party; he wore a ₤50,000 (Rf1 million) Louis XIV-style outfit to the party.

The same year, Microsoft co-founder billionaire Paul Allen spent ₤6 million (Rf120.6 million) on a holiday cruise in Alaska; his guests included model Jerry Hall and Carrie Fisher.

Aniston reportedly earns a million US dollars (Rf12.85 million) per episode for Season 9 of the 24-episode ?Friends? television sitcom series.

MALE, Oct 12 (HNS) – Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has thanked President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for the friendly and warm hospitality extended to the PM and his delegation during his recent state visit to Maldives.

In a letter of appreciation to Gayoom, Vajpayee said that he was very satisfied with the outcome of the visit and that India remained committed to the speedy implementation of the various bilateral cooperation projects discussed between Maldives and India.


He expressed his confidence that the bilateral relations between the two countries will continue to intensify and diversify as a model of good neighborly relations.


Vajpayee also said that he was deeply impressed by the achievements of Maldives, especially in the area of developing environmentally friendly tourist resorts.

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom today appointed Dr. Mohamed Latheef, who had been serving as the Minister of Education, to the post of the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the UN. At a ceremony held at the President’s Office at mid-day today, the letter of appointment was handed over to the new Permanent Representative by the President.

The ceremony was also attended by the Minister at the Presidents Office, Mr. Abdulla Jameel.


Dr. Mohamed Latheef was appointed as the new Permanent Representative at the UN at ministerial rank. In a letter sent by the President to Dr. Mohamed Latheef today, the President thanked him for his valuable services he had rendered as Minister of Education since 11 November 1993. The President also thanked him for his important contribution as a member of the cabinet over the last nine years.

Emirates' Economy Class has been voted the best by readers of the UK's Business Traveller magazine.

The airline scooped the number one spot in the Economy Class category for the first time and the Best Medium Haul Airline title for the third year running at this year's Business Traveller Awards.


Emirates, the Dubai based international airline, has scooped two awards in Business Traveller magazine's 2002 reader poll. The carrier won Best Economy Class, the first time it has won an award in this category from Business Traveller magazine, and Best Medium Haul Airline, an award it has won for three years running.


The awards were presented to Don Foster, Emirates' Director Service Delivery, by the magazine's editor Nick Perryand guest speaker Lord Attenborough, the veteran British actor/director, famed for films such as Ghandi, at a lunch attended by senior figures from the world’s leading travel companies.


Emirates jumped from third place in last year's poll to become the clear winner in the Economy Class category, ahead of Singapore Airlines and last year’s winner Virgin Atlantic. In the Medium Haul category, which covers business flights between five and 10 hours, British Airways came second with Singapore Airlines third.


Maurice Flanagan, Emirates, Group Managing Director, said; "We are delighted to be recognised in this way and to have won these two extremely prestigious awards. We are particularly pleased to have won the Best Economy Class award for the first time, which demonstrates that Emirates’ customers endorse our efforts to continually enhance and redefine the quality of the service we offer."


Emirates operates the most frequent service from the UK to Dubai, with seven daily flights - three from Heathrow, two from Gatwick and one each from Manchester and Birmingham.

Students from the Thusumeikan Keiso High School of Japan have conducted a tree-planting program in Hulhumale’ yesterday.

The students visited Maldives under a Japanese environmental program, and they planted more than 70 trees in Hulhumale’ after obtaining information regarding the Hulhumale project. They planted palm trees and “Dhigga” Trees.


During their visit to Hulhumale’ yesterday they also gathered information about future plans for Hulhumale’ in addition to the current status of the project. The information was given to them by concerned Government Officials.


Traditional Maldivian household items and dresses were also demonstrated to the Japanese students.


The cultural items were demonstrated by the students of EPSS. The Maldivian company in charge of the students, InnerMaldives, said they would be concluding their visit and leaving for Japan today.


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