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Historical sites at Kothaifaru to be conserved despite resort development

Minister of Tourism, Ali Waheed speaks at a press conference on June 24, 2019. (Sun Photo)

Tourism Ministry has provided assurance that the resort development project at R. Kothaifaru will proceed with the conservation of the historical sites and artefacts found at the island.

Speaking during a press conference this Monday, Tourism Minister Ali Waheed noted that a large number of historical sites and artefacts were discovered during the resort development project in Kothaifaru.

“Some of the most ancient sites in the Maldives were found in Kothaifaru,” said Ali Waheed.

He announced that the solution has been reached through negotiations between the Heritage Ministry and the resort’s developer.

Historical sites and artefacts found in Kothaifaru includes slabs from two separate mosques, a communal bath, gravestones with designs which have never before been seen in the Maldives, two cemeteries, two shrines and other signs of civilization.

Heritage Ministry reports it’s likely the gravestones found from Kothaifaru dates back to the pre-Islamic era in the Maldives.

Kothaifaru was originally leased by Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) for resort development to Orient Rose. Orient Rose later sold the lease to Momentum.

A Tourism Ministry official has confirmed Momentum is the current leaseholder and developer of the Kothaifaru project.

Speaking at this Monday’s press conference, Minister Ali Waheed said the resort development project at Kothaifaru will proceed by conserving the historical sites and artefacts found in Kothaifaru.

He said the Tourism Ministry will not allow the project to proceed any other way.

A Heritage Ministry official who took part in the press conference said the historical sites and artefacts were found from two locations at the island.

The official said the resort at Kothaifaru will be developed by integrating the two locations along with a heritage centre.

UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, Karima Bennoune, who paid a recent visit to the Maldives, commended the Maldivian administration’s decision to intervene as soon as the historical sites and artefacts were found from Kothaifaru.

She expressed alarm over research which suggests that 80 percent of historical and archaeological sites in the Maldives have been destroyed due to the construction of resorts and other development projects, and recommended that the Maldivian administration run a cultural impact assessment before awarding islands for resort development.

She also expressed concern over the lack of proper documentation, conservation and research of historical sites and artefacts in the Maldives.

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