I was unsurprised to hear that a Lithuanian company constructing a luxury resort in the Maldives, has faced legal trouble over its plans to staff the resort with attractive blonde women.
The resort, which is meant to open in 2015 on a man-made island shaped like a high-heeled shoe, was hoping to lure wealthy men with its all-blonde staff.
But Maldivian law requires that at least half of the staff be hired from the local, not-very-blonde population.
Resort officials said they will follow the law and staff who are not blonde will have to “wear a blonde wig”.
Having visited a Maldivian island last year, observed the culture and spoken with the employees, whose homes and families they have left behind in the main city, I was quite angered to hear about this.
Most of the employees on the Meeru island resort depended on their incomes to send money back to their families and to afford to visit them once or twice a year – they were not there because of a matter of choice.
Our designated waiter for the duration of our stay, Ahmed, was a polite, short smiley middle-aged man. Everyday he would greet us with utmost sincerity, and he would chat with us like we weren’t strangers, even though we’d just met.
They worked incredibly hard, even in the evenings, putting on performances, and entertaining, but never did they show anything less than enthusiasm about what they were doing.
The predominantly Muslim workers all lived on the island for months at a time – obviously they couldn’t take an hour long, expensive boat ride home to the city each night. They had their own staff quarters on the island, complete with their own football pitch. In their free time they would be out playing – it was great to see. And it was warming to see that island owners were taking care of them.
Many of the female staff wore headscarves and the workers on the island adopted mild Muslim law – few of them would drink alcohol and at certain times in the day they could be heard praying.
The island also only served halal meat.
What made the experience on the island complete was its staff – and trying to imagine these dark-skinned individuals wearing blonde wigs, especially those who would wear them on top of headscarves – is simply insulting.
The prospects for this new island appear to be highly artificial, focused on artificial attributes such as blonde hair. I can see the company building the island clashing a lot more with the Muslim law adopted by the islands.
Their aims are disrespectful and ignorant of the values of the staff who will make the island what it is and I am sickened to hear of what they are trying to do.