Maldivian intellectuals, particularly those of the commercial kind, rarely foray into social issues. So this time when a group of architects, civil engineers and lawyers submitted a petition against the proposed 5 star hotel in Lonuziyaaraykolhu it was something of a surprise. The question is, why did they think this so important that they broke up years of near total silence? Is the project so flawed that it deserves instant condemnation?
The answer appears to be an emphatic 'no'. In fact, it appears that the intellectuals simply signed somebody's petition without actually verifying the facts. For example, the document got the site of the hotel wrong. While it says the hotel is to be located in the public park to the east of Dharubaaruge, actually only a part of the park was to be used for the hotel. Most of the land was to come from the premises of Dharubaaruge.
The arguments against the hotel were also rather vague and had little relevance to the hotel project. While the petition talks about congestion in the island of Male, it is rather obvious that the hotel would add very little to the existing congestion. Male already has 100,000 locals and about 40,000 expatriate laborers living here. It is difficult to understand how an additional 500 to 600 hotel guests could add anything significant to the existing congestion in Male.
The intellectuals also fail to understand that a bustling capital like Male needs a 5-star hotel to accommodate the numerous business and diplomatic visitors. Keeping them in nearby resorts is not a solution to the issue. Not everybody will be happy with a launch ride back to their hotel room every night especially in inclement weather.