Maldives: Doing business and staying in touch
Doing Business in Maldives
Since the islands import almost everything, business potential is high, but only in 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.
Sun-Thurs 0730-1430. Friday and Saturday are official rest days.
Tourism, the Maldives' largest industry, accounts for 28% of GDP, and over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. Fishing is the second leading sector. 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 7% of GDP.
The December 2004 tsunami left more than 100 dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding US$300 million, though recovery has been steady and didn't affect the tourism industry particularly adversely by the standards of 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. There is also a plan to make Maldives the world's first carbon-neutral country by 2012.
State Trading Organisation
Boduthakurufaanu Magu, Maafannu, Malé, 20345, Republic of Maldives
Tel: 334 4333.
Universal Resorts (Information on Conferences/Conventions)
Universal Enterprises Ltd, 39 Orchid Magu, Malé, Republic of Maldives
Tel: 332 3080 or 333 2262/70/71.
US$1.37 billion (2009).
Petroleum products, ships, food, clothing, intermediate and capital goods.
Main trading partners
India, China, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.
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.
Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is decent throughout the islands, though as the country is so spead out, there are still some blindspots. 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.
Since the democratic change in the Maldives in 2008, the press has become a far freer society with a more developed civil society and media. Open debate and discussion of the governments performance is now the norm after decades of compliant and uncritical media coverage. 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
Sat-Thurs 0730-1330 and 1600-1750.