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Maldives Country Report

Country Risk Level

Medium

Overview

Executive Summary

A smooth transfer of the presidency from Abdulla Yameen to Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in September 2018 significantly reduced the likelihood of a repeated state of emergency, particularly in Malé. Solih’s presidency will probably remain stable, given widespread voter support and that of former president Mohamed Nasheed, who now serves as the speaker of parliament. The Maldives imposed sweeping movement restrictions to mitigate a potential coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus outbreak in March 2020, but tourism operations have reopened since 15 July and are expected to be fully operational by the third quarter of 2020. Amid a global negative impact on tourism, the country’s income from tourism, which directly accounts for about 25% of GDP, will almost certainly be affected. However, given the importance of tourism for other areas such as real estate and transportation, a far larger proportion of the economy will be severely affected. IHS Markit estimates that about 90% of the government’s tax revenues come from the tourism sector.IHS Markit expects average Maldivian GDP growth to fall within the low 4% range over the next two years. The outlook remains affected by risk-negative factors: as a small economy, the Maldives is unavoidably vulnerable to external shocks, developments in the domestic political environment, and natural disasters. These downside risks to the country’s economy are concurrent with slower global growth and domestic political uncertainties.The Islamic State claimed its first attack in the Maldives in April 2020, which marks an escalation – as it is the first directly claimed attack, and involved arson – following a recent moderate occurrence of Islamist terrorism. In the one-year outlook, attacks will likely remain small-scale and involve the use of knives, small-arms, and probably arson. These attacks are also likely against tourist operations for potentially not adhering to religious conservatism.

Operational Outlook

Small strikes affecting resorts less than a week are likely due to disputes, most often over failure to follow salary agreements. The tourism sector, which accounts for nearly one-third of the Maldivian economy, is excluded from the 2008 Employment Act, limiting workers' means of recourse. Following lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, renewed tourism activity, as is expected since July 2020, reduces the risk of union protests and strikes among thousands of workers required to take unpaid leave since April. Bribe demands are likely to remain common at all levels of the state on populated islands but are less likely to affect foreign businesses that operate tourist resorts.

Terrorism

In April 2020, the Islamic State claimed its first attack in Maldives when five boats and two dinghies on Mahibadhoo island were set on fire by unidentified individuals. The attack marks an escalation following a recent moderate occurrence of Islamist terrorism, which involved small arms. In February, three men were stabbed in Hulhumale, in an attack claimed by a domestic jihadist group, Al Mustaqim Media, affiliated with the Islamic State. This also underscored the risk posed by militant returnees from Iraq and Syria. Future attacks are likely to target government assets and Maldivians who hold liberal views. The government has adopted strong preventive measures towards threats to ease tourist fears.

Crime

Crime rates in the Maldives are low. Foreign visitors are rarely targeted in incidents of violent crime, which tend to involve local residents. The main risks are opportunistic petty crime such as pickpocketing, with tourist resorts (mainly located on their own atolls) unlikely to be targeted or affected. Rates of drug use and incidents of drug smuggling have been increasing in recent years. In December 2018, Hong Kong police arrested three Hong Kong citizens for attempting to smuggle 7 kg of cocaine from the Maldives into Hong Kong International Airport.

Social Stability

High

After the peaceful conclusion of elections in the Maldives in 2018–19, the risk of civil society- or opposition-led protests has decreased significantly in the capital Malé. Protests led by the current opposition are likely only if allegations against the incumbent government emerge regarding corruption, or of failing to fulfil demands in its manifesto. In any case, resorts and tourism operations in atolls away from Malé are highly unlikely to be affected. Criminal gangs are infrequently involved in rallies, increasing the risk of violence.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over one year of age.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Japanese Encephalitis: For stays of longer than one month in a rural zone during the rainy season (for children over the age of one). The vaccine is administered in a local medical facility.

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

Monsoon season hits the northeast of the Maldives from November to April and the southwest from May to October, during which flooding and transport disruptions are to be expected.

Due to the poor maintenance of much of the country's infrastructure (surface and rainwater drainage), it is common for heavy rainfall to cause widespread flooding in the capital that may impact traffic.

The Maldives was hit by a tsunami in 2004 that devastated the region. Since then, the country has rebuilt and modernized the vast majority of its tourism infrastructure (e.g. hotels).

Practical Information

Climate

Days in the Maldives tend to be sunny, although regular (but brief) showers are not uncommon during the two rainy seasons. The northeast monsoon brings rain from December to March and the southwest monsoon from May to October. Rain is the heaviest during the second monsoon season, with a peak of rainfall observed between June and July. Temperatures rarely fall below 25°C and the average ocean temperature is 28°C.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +960
Police: 119

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal