Remarks by Excellency Dr Mohamed Waheed at the Inauguration Ceremony of Food Court Area at INIA
08 July 2013, Ref: PRO/RMW/2013/92

بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم


Thank you Bill. It is a very exciting day for all of us. I have been dreaming to have Burger King in the Maldives.

Now, thank you very much. It is a real special pleasure for us to work with you and I am particularly proud today, because I can now see that this airport is going to be a world class airport. I can see that this airport is going to be one of the most beautiful airports in this region and in the world. Just like the hotels and just like the resorts, I think this airport is going to be one we can be proud of.

All this is happening under the leadership of our Maldivian colleagues. I am really happy that the airport management leadership is now being led by Mr Mohamed Umar Manik and also Mr Bandhu Ibrahim Saleem. I think these are two very capable, very experienced people who I have full confidence in. I know they will make this airport the dream airport that we have always wanted.

This is the first step in a way, since the new management has taken over the Airports Company. This is the first big project in a series of many projects that would lead to our final destination.

But I am really happy that the airport has been working closely with Minor International Group, under the leadership of Bill Heinecke. Thank you so much for taking this initiative to work with us and to help us change this airport to a modern airport where you have the world famous and well known food chain brands. Swensen's first, and then now Thai express, Burger King and the Coffee Club. I am hoping that there will be more to follow. So, this is something that we are very happy about, and we are very grateful for your trust in working with us.

I am particularly happy today that many young Maldivians are going to be able to find work and employment in these new outlets. Particularly it is that you will be starting a new initiative where you will be welcoming students to work here part time or full time. Because a lot of our students come from other islands. They don’t even have families in Malé sometimes. They work really hard to go to school and to take care of themselves.

I think like in most developed countries, we now have an opportunity for students to actually do some work and earn a pocket money. When I was a student I used to work also. But we didn’t have places like burger king at that time, clearly. So we always try to teach somebody else the little that we knew. We called it giving tuition. That was the term we used, basically what it meant was we were tutoring. We were tutoring younger students and getting some money to take care of ourselves. So, I went through high school working. Because my parents could not afford to give me a regular allowance. I know there are many students now who need similar support, and I know there are many students who are doing exactly the same thing that I did about 30 years ago.

So, I think this is going to be a tremendous help for young students who want to stand on their own feet and thinking to be independent. I really welcome that programme. I am really excited about this. I hope it starts soon. We have many students here who are I am sure quite interested in it. Believe me I have seen where ever I went in the United States, and I have lived there for a long time, most of the Burger Kings and MacDonald’s used to be actually run by students. So it’s not something new and I hope our students find it challenging and rewarding at the same time.

Just to say that I am really excited today. I can see that this airport is going to become the dream airport that we wanted it to be. Insha Allah, very soon there will be major investments here. There will be a new runway. Insha Allah soon we will be able to get the financing for it and start this project. The infrastructure here is going to change and we will be able to accommodate more flights, more passengers and expand our services. I am really confident about it. I think now we also have the dream management and so it can be done. Thank you very much for inviting me to this exciting event. I wish you all the best. I hope the prices would come down a little bit, when there is more volume. Maybe we can also have the Burger King in the Male, not too far in the future.

So thank you so much. Bill, you’ve been a good friend of Maldives. I hope you continue to work with us and invest in the Maldives. Bandhu, thank you for taking this initiative and in a very short time showing very good results. Please convey my best regards also to MU for his visionary leadership for our airport.

I also thank all the members of the Board of Directors and the staff of the airport for your hard work, your cooperation and your determination to make your airport one of the best in the world.

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