Maldives Alumni Stories

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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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Aminath Shiyama - Maldives

Aminath Shiyama was awarded an AusAID scholarship in 2000/2001 after receiving the Dux award from the National Diploma of Secondary Teaching program at the Institute of Teacher Education (currently Faculty of Education of Maldives College of Higher Education). She enrolled in a four-year combined degree at the University of Western Australia, from where she graduated with a double degree in 2004.

On returning to Maldives, Aminath Shiyama joined an all boys’ public secondary school teaching GCE O Level Chemistry, using the knowledge and the teaching from her degree. It provided her with enthusiasm, courage and self-confidence to manage her students. The educational structure and the curriculum framework in Australia had opened her eyes to many options to motivate her students, cater for their specific needs and help them strive for academic excellence.

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