is the secret that keeps yesterday's richest Addu person empty-handed today?
home for auction - His commercial vessels idle for
from Huvaas 10 August 2001
Original article in Divehi by Ismail Naseer in Hittadu,
Villa' is half way along the main street of Hittadu, and at
one time it was a house that people would only stare at from
outside. People used to hesitate to enter. It is the residence
of Mohamed Saeed, who was the closer than any other islander
to the British when they occupied Gan. Hittadu people considered
it a pleasure and a privilege just to walk past the palatial
However today this double storey residence is deserted and inhabited only
by rats and cats. Not even a single person enters the
Certificate given to Mohamed Saeed in recognition of his services
to Her Majesty's Near East Air Force. Click
here for enlargement
very recently Mohamed Saeed was the wealthiest person in his
atoll. He had money and other assets such as boats, ships, houses and vehicles, and there were many employees
on his payroll. But now his assets are gone and he is totally
destitute. His fishing boats and cargo vessels are idle and falling into disrepair.
Mohamed Saeed's house - 'Moonlight Villa' Hittadu
boat is beached on Gaf Dal (southern Huvadu) Atoll while the
other is burnt out and sunk in the sea. The house is up for
auction. I have a ship but it hasn't sailed in three years,"
said Saeed, aged 65.
was intending to go into exile with Abdullah
Afif [Didi] when he went away with the British in 1963, but something
happened and he was not able to go.
serving in very senior [Malé] government positions
I began working for Altaf. When they constructed
the resort there, I was the most senior person with them. When
I became the Commercial Director, I proposed building and leasing the Holiday
Village on Gan . I was very happy to be able to do
something worthwhile for this atoll. I put community service ahead
of profit. I got the place in 1984," said Saeed, as he began
to explain how he has become insolvent.
Mohamed Saeed with Ismail Naseer
lease agreement for the facility stated that two flights a
week would arrive, but no flights arrived.
Expenditure continued to be incurred and for a long time he waited hopefully.
"Finally I decided to bring the flights myself, privately. At that
time I had the means to do it. I travelled to New Zealand
and negotiated a deal with a private flight operator, and organised
scheduled visitor arrivals to Addu. However I failed to obtain
the necessary government authorisation [from Malé]."
Royal New Zealand Airforce transport plane landing on
Hulule airstrip on 19 October 1960. This was the first
non- amphibious aircraft to land on any Malé
government controlled air facility.
to Saeed, the main reason for the loss of his assets was not
being able to bring visitors to the Holiday Village.
'At that stage I had invested a great deal of money building
a small resort at a high standard for the time. A house was
auctioned to finance a 500,000 rufiyaa (NZ$50,000) loan for
that project from the Bank of Maldives. The outstanding amount,
including interest, on that loan is now about 5,000,000 rufiyaa
When the Holiday Village became insolvent, Saeed
said that he made losses amounting to 2.4 million rufiyaa(NZ$240,000).
that I started a project to export Napoleon fish. I was the
first person in the Maldives to work on exporting that species.
A short time after I started, the government banned
it. At that time I had stock worth US$80,000", Saeed
No one in Addu is willing to buy Mohamed Saeed's house because of the respect they have
tell me personally that because it is my house they are
reluctant to take it. The starting price of bidding is 50,000
rufiyaa (NZ$ 5000)" he said, "Perhaps
there is no one who is able to meet this limit."
said that at the height of his prosperity his income was about
400,000 to 500,000 rufiyaa a month. Now he receives only 1500
rufiyaa a month.
only receive 1500 rufiyaa that the Atoll Chief [a Malé
government-appointed official] gives me. I receive this despite having no position. It is not given to me because I have a need for
it. I do not even want it," he said.
Saeed suffered from a serious illness. As a result he has some
difficulty speaking .
months ago Saeed moved back to live on his island.
He has 11 children, 2 great-grandchildren and 7 grandchildren.
Even though some of the children have resorts and senior positions
with the [Malé] government, Saeed said that he does
not seek any help from them.
"I've never been a person who uses or expects any help from their
children," he said.
Saeed married three times, all his marriages ended in divorce. His last wife was several years younger than him.
said that even though all his assets and houses are being auctioned
off, he still has the means to fend for himself until he dies.