In a significant political move, the President of Maldives, Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, declared a travel ban on Israeli passport holders following a cabinet recommendation. 

The announcement was made on Sunday by the presidential office of the Maldives, a nation famed for its pristine beaches and luxury resorts.

Maldives President Announces Solidarity Rally, Bans Israeli Visitors

(Photo : Oneindia News on YouTube)

Maldives Acts Decisively Amid Gaza Conflict

The decision comes in the wake of escalating conflict in Gaza. President Muizzu stated that the Maldivian government would amend its laws to enforce the ban. Additionally, a subcommittee will be established to monitor the implementation of these changes. 

This development aligns with the Maldives' recent efforts to express solidarity with Palestine, including plans for a national rally and a fundraising campaign to support Palestinian people.

According to CNN, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has responded by advising Israeli citizens to reconsider travel to the Maldives. They highlighted potential difficulties in providing assistance to Israelis who might face emergencies in the Maldives.

Moreover, President Muizzu has taken proactive steps to support Palestine on other fronts. He plans to appoint a special envoy to assess Palestinian needs and has organized a fundraiser with UNRWA to aid Palestinian residents. 

The slogan for the nationwide rally, "Falastheenaa Eku Dhivehin," translates to "Maldivians in Solidarity with Palestine," further emphasizing the nation's support.

The Maldives' firm stance follows President Muizzu's condemnation of an Israeli airstrike on a displaced camp in Rafah, which resulted in significant casualties. 

In a recent statement, President Muizzu called for an immediate ceasefire and stressed the need for unhindered humanitarian access to alleviate the suffering of affected populations. 

This series of actions highlights the Maldives' active role in international humanitarian advocacy and its solidarity with Palestine during ongoing conflicts.

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Maldives Boosts Sri Lanka's Tourism Numbers

Sri Lanka has seen a significant increase in tourists from the Maldives, making it the second-largest source of tourists for the country in May. This boost comes amid ongoing controversies involving the visa processing contractor VFS Global, which has been accused of imposing undue fees.

In the first 30 days of May, Sri Lanka welcomed 108,656 tourists, marking a 30 percent increase from the same period last year. However, this was a decrease from the 148,867 tourists recorded in April. The Maldives contributed 7,984 visitors, surpassing the number of tourists from the UK.

The Economy Next revealed that the rise in tourism from the Maldives occurs alongside a dispute over visa fees charged by VFS Global. This issue has raised concerns about the bilateral visa exemption deal between Sri Lanka and the Maldives. 

Currently, Maldivian visitors are charged fees by VFS Global, a move that contradicts the existing visa-free agreement. Sri Lankans fear similar charges could be applied to them under the VFS system, even though Maldives only requires them to fill out online disembarkation forms.

Despite these challenges, Sri Lanka's tourism sector continues to grow, with total arrivals topping 200,000 in the first quarter of the year. 

Nonetheless, officials suggest that issues like the problematic VFS-managed website and mandatory minimum room rates might be hindering further growth in tourist arrivals.

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