Maldives Alumni Stories

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Profile: Saeeda Umar

Making a mark in the Maldives’ male dominated financial sector

Saeeda Umar, Australia Awards alumnae, was recently appointed as the Chair of the Bank of Maldives, the leading financial public limited company with majority ownership held by the Government of the Maldives.

Saeeda, the second woman to hold this position at the Bank of Maldives, provides her expertise to a large proportion of Maldivians and the corporate sector across the country. Her role is mainly to oversee the overall strategic direction of the Bank and ensure that the governance framework of the Bank remains robust and effective.

Apart from the career progressions since completing her Australia Awards Scholarship, Saeeda considers her biggest achievement to be her contributions to nation-building work for the Maldives, to impact on peoples’ lives positively.

Along with her responsibilities as the Chair of Bank of Maldives, she is a Policy Consultant to the Ministry of Economic Development, where she provides her professional opinion and advice, with extensive contributions to the implementation of trade development projects steered by the Government. In this regard, Saeeda has been extremely active in: trade negotiations, resource mobilisation for trade sector development, and the implementation of programs to improve the overall trade facilitation environment in the country.

Since her entry into the workforce in 1997, Saeeda has been working in both the private and public sectors. She began working for the Ministry of Economic Development as a national consultant to support trade sector development in 2009.

In 2013, Saeeda shifted her focus more onto the development field, starting work with the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) Country Office in the Maldives to work in both the Poverty Reduction and Governance portfolios.

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Profile: Jumailath

Reaching all corners of the country to promote healthy living and lifestyle

Jumailath, Australia Awards alumnae and a Senior Gynecologist at Medica Hospital in the Maldives, has found a new passion in her volunteer work to promote healthy lifestyles and raise awareness about cancer by providing specialist care through  health outreach camps in the atolls.

Jumaila completed her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Tasmania in Australia, following which she completed an MD (Doctor of Medicine) in Obstetrics and Gynecology from Tribhuvan University / Katmandu, Nepal. Though the bulk of her practice is her work as the Senior Gynecologist in Medica Hospital, as an obstetrician and a gynecologist by profession, she also provides antenatal consultations. As she continues to provide clinical care for her patients, Jumaila aspires to engage in teaching activities to empower the young doctors to further their clinical work.

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Profile: Shaana Farooq

Bridging the gender gap in the Maldives’ construction industry

Shaana Farooq

After her Australia Awards Scholarship, Shaana Farooq from the Maldives started overseeing all of her country’s most significant infrastructure projects.

Shaana Farooq, Australia Awards alumna, is currently overseeing the first ever bridge construction project for the Maldives.

As a leading woman in the Maldives’ male-dominated construction industry, Shaana inspires young women to work in the field of construction. She is not only breaking through gender norms, but also leading on pioneering construction projects contributing to and influencing her home country’s development.

Through an Australia Awards Scholarship, Shaana undertook a Master of Construction Law at Melbourne Law School. Now, as the Director General of the Infrastructure Department at the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure in the Maldives, Shanna leads a team of multidisciplinary professionals, formulating and implementing major infrastructure development projects.

In addition to overseeing the development of roads, causeways and now bridges, Shaana takes responsibility for leading on reclamation and shore protection, local access harbour construction and social housing. These projects under her portfolio account for more than USD100 million in the national budget each year and are worth more than USD300 million in the form of loans or grant aid from international funding agencies.

Before undertaking her Australia Awards Scholarship, Shaana received a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Construction Management and held numerous roles at the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure. Shaana joined the construction field in 2001 as a young enthusiast of the industry. She initially worked as a Project Officer Trainee assisting in the administration of national tender procurement of development projects, and had a passion to learn more.

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Australia Awards alumnus Ibrahim Naeem protects the Maldives’ fragile marine environment


On World Oceans Day 2016, Australia Awards celebrates alumnus Ibrahim Naeem of the Maldives, whose job is to make his country’s first marine park and Biosphere Reserve a success.

Naeem is the Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Maldives.

After completing a Masters in Environmental Management at the University of Queensland as an Australia Awards scholar, he returned home with the goal of preserving his country’s fragile and beautiful marine environment.

One of his most important tasks is to manage the Maldives first Biosphere Reserve and marine park on Baa Atoll. Baa Atoll was declared a Biosphere Reserve in June 2011 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

"I think the Maldives is a country where we have a very beautiful environment, and it’s really a very fragile environment. If we don’t care for our environment we will not be safe here, because it’s the environment which protects us. And our economic pillars like the tourism or the fisheries both depend on the quality of the environment," Naeem said.

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Ibrahim Zuhuree - Maldives

Ibrahim Zuhuree graduated from Maldives College of Higher Education with an advance Diploma in Secondary Teaching, and went on to teach Mathematics and Physics at an Island Community School. While teaching, he realized that he needed to improve his skills and knowledge, and subsequently applied for an Australian Development Scholarship. He firmly believes that he was awarded the scholarship for his hard work and commitment to serve his island community.

In 2004, Ibrahim finished his undergraduate Studies from the University of Western Australia (UWA) with Majors in Applied Mathematics and Physics. During his studies in Perth, he also participated in one academic and one industry-based project. After obtaining his BSc degree, he returned to Maldives and began to work as a physics teacher. During this period, he became interested in policy formulation, development and analysis. In 2006, he received a sponsorship offer from AusAID to study Public Policy and Management at the Adelaide Campus of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). As part of this program, he worked with various nonprofit organizations in South Australia.

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  1. Aminath Shiyama - Maldives