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Maldives: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Maldives

Since the islands import almost everything, business potential is high, but mostly in the capital Malé. Most business takes place during the morning. An informal attitude prevails. Appointments should be made well in advance. For business meetings, men normally wear a short-sleeved shirt and tie with formal but lightweight trousers. Women wear a lightweight suit or equivalent. Handshaking is the customary form of greeting. Business cards are expected.

Office Hours

Sun-Thurs 0900-1700. Friday and Saturday are official rest days.


Tourism, the Maldives' largest industry, accounts for 23% of GDP, and over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. Fishing is the second leading sector. Transportation and communication account for 13.2 %. Agriculture and manufacturing play almost no role in the economy, constrained by limited cultivable land and the shortage of domestic labour. Most staple foods must be imported. Industry, which consists mainly of garment production, boat building and handicrafts, accounts for about 9.1% of GDP.

The December 2004 tsunami left more than 80 dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding US$300 million. Recovery, however, has been steady and the tourism industry has not been particularly affected, compared to other tsunami-afflicted countries.

Diversifying beyond tourism and fishing is the major challenge facing the government. The new government is seeking to diversify the tourism market by introducing hotels on inhabited islands and creating a national transport network - both two things that in the past have kept independent travellers away. Traditionally, the Maldives has held a ‘one island, one resort policy’ and restricted tourism to resorts on uninhabited islands. However, the emergence of locally owned guesthouses has created alternative options for tourists. Many of the islands in the atolls now offer guesthouse accommodation on inhabited islands.


US$5.327 billion (2018).

Main exports


Main imports

Petroleum products, broadcasting equipment, iron, food, tobacco products and medicines.

Main trading partners

Sri Lanka, China, Singapore, India, Malaysia, USA, France, Germany and the UK.

Keeping in Touch in Maldives


The easiest way to call home is via a computer or a mobile phone. To avoid roaming charges, people at home can call your room in your resort.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is decent throughout the islands, though as the country is so spread out, there are still some blind spots. It’s possible to buy a local SIM card in Malé to make cheap local calls.


The Internet can be accessed from most areas of the Maldives. Malé, the capital, has a lack of Internet cafés, but Wi-Fi is available in many other cafés. Almost all resorts have Internet connections via terminals for guest use or wireless, though these are rarely free.


Although the press has become freer since the democratic change in 2008, journalists continue to be under threat of prosecution by political parties. Most media is in Divehi only, though there are several online English-language newspapers. European and American newspapers are sometimes available in international editions.


Airmail to Western Europe takes about one week.

Post Office hours

Can vary depending on the post office but usually Sat-Thurs 0800-1600.

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