Ahmed Siaar – General Manager at Fushifaru Maldives

Ahmed Siaar is the General Manager of Fushifaru Maldives, a local boutique resort tucked away in the untouched Lhaviyani Atoll. Our team had a chat with Ahmed Siaar to find out more about his illustrious career, and to dig deeper into what sets Fushifaru apart from the rest.

Could you tell us a bit about your career so far?

It has been a really wonderful journey from the very beginning. I have been in the industry from the late nineties onwards, and have worked with many different brands including One & Only, Shangri-La, Anantara, as well as some local brands.

Now I’m finally here at Fushifaru, and it has been really, really fantastic. We started this beautiful little resort back in 2017, which was a great challenge. But at the end of the day, we came up with a really wonderful product. I would say the journey of my career has never been better.

Fushifaru is one of very few local resort brands in the Maldives. What sets Fushifaru apart, and how does it compete with international brands?

Fushifaru is a relatively new brand which is owned by a local company, Muni Enterprises. As a local brand, we have shaped our services around authentic Maldivian experiences that you will find on our island. When we created this brand, we looked at it from those angles, and focused on playfulness with a bit of colour to bring it life, to which we then integrated local culture. The result of this is a very fine, picturesque boutique resort in the heart of Lhaviyani Atoll.

Fushifaru is also surrounded by several attractions. We have one of the largest sandbanks in Lhaviyani Atoll, if not the entire Maldives. We have Fushifaru Thila, which is a marine protected area, where you have seasonal mantas that visit every year. This atoll is also quite famous for its marine life, namely sharks and turtles.

Apart from that, I think our employees play a huge role in setting Fushifaru apart. They have been key to the success of Fushifaru from the very beginning. As a team, we pride ourselves as custodians of the Maldivian heritage. That’s where our strengths lie. Right now, we are at a stage of the market where we’ve positioned ourselves as an authentic Maldivian service provider, and we are really proud of that.

As a Maldivian General Manager, what are your thoughts on the tourism industry’s local versus foreign ratio in senior roles? How can we improve this?

As we reach the great milestone of 50 years of tourism in the Maldives, it is safe to say that this industry has been the bread and butter for most of our population. For me personally, I believe that the role of Maldivians has to be wider in terms of driving the tourism industry forward, with the ratio of locals versus foreigners. It is, and it will be, very difficult to maintain industry growth going forward with the current ratio as it is.

What we need to do is strategize nationwide in order to develop and capitalize Maldivians. There are several ways we can do this, such as establishing institutions to train Maldivians for these roles. We can also increase awareness among locals that either work or aspire to work in the industry.

The percentage of growth of Maldivians in top hospitality positions is definitely not sufficient. Collectively, we have to work hard to ensure that locals are given opportunities to take on senior roles.

What do you consider to be your greatest personal success?

I think my whole journey has been a great success of mine. I started out as a trainee in the late nineties, and then gradually climbed the ranks to my current position. I worked hard, but I knew that I would reach this position one day. That’s where my ambition was set.

As you know, during that time, there were not that many opportunities in terms of global experiences. There were very few education and training institutions as well, so you had to put in double the effort to get ahead in your career. But even in the face of great difficulty, I never gave up. I have loved every single moment of my journey in this industry.

Another success is the friends I have made from all over the world, and the valuable lessons I’ve learned from them. Those who have worked with me have always given me the courage and inspiration to keep moving forward.

Do you have any words of advice for those looking to succeed in this industry?

Success never happens overnight. Jobs are not to be given; they are to be earned. Senior positions are to be earned. The reputations are to be earned. So, work hard for it. You never know when the right opportunity will arise.

We are really, really lucky that our tourism industry is among the most flourishing in the world. This is the best place where you can learn, and plenty of opportunities are there within our reach. My advice is to set your goals, grab opportunities as they come, and work hard to earn your place in this industry.