Red carpet welcome from 'homeland' for the Atoll Sailor's Gabbe


It had been forever and a day since veteran sailor Abdul Ghafoor last visited his birth island of Feydhoo in Shaviyani atoll, but when the long awaited moment finally arrived late Monday afternoon, he went ashore with pride to be greeted with a heartfelt red carpet welcome.

It was clear the people of Feydhoo had put great time and effort to prepare a grand welcome for a son of Feydhoo, whose name is going down in history as the first person to sail solo around the Maldives in a Catamaran to document the archipelago’s natural beauty, heritage and its people. 

The red carpet was accentuated by numerous national flags decorating Feydhoo’s shore. The beach was also reminiscent of olden times with joalifathi(traditional seats made of wood and rope) and holhuashi (small beach huts akin to gazebos) dotting the sands. Nearly all the residents of the island had turned out to welcome Ghafoor, with the children attired in the national colours of red, green and white.

Overhead hung a white banner with red lettering that read “Welcome to Homeland” and, in local language Dhivehi, “Saabahey Magey Dhariyaa” (Kudos, my son!). 

A troupe of youths serenaded Ghafoor with a song dedicated to him after he came ashore and the ensuing welcome reception took nearly an hour and a half, though Ghafoor never lost his smile as he heartily shook hands and posed for pictures with his people. Afterwards, he visited his home, walking beneath national flags that decorated the route from the beach all the way to Ghafoor’s family house.

Ghafoor had departed for Feydhoo from the island of Kulhuduffushi in Haa Dhaal atoll on Monday. He had made a quick detour to Kurinbi island in the same atoll en route, where the people of Kurinbi had also warmly welcomed him despite his very brief stay. People of all ages had lined up to meet him and take pictures, while a group of men had performed the traditional dance of dhandi jehun to a song dedicated to Ghafoor.

After spending the night in his home island, Ghafoor will take to sea Tuesday, heading for the island of Funadhoo in the same atoll.

Sailing Around Maldives has garnered great support and love from people all across the nation for Ghafoor, who has been received with great congregations including traditional performances and feasts at all the islands he had stopped by.

Organised by Atoll Sailor and the tourism ministry, Sailing Around Maldives is sponsored by Alia Investments, while its online partners are Haveeru Media Group and Public Service Media.

Live updates of his route and speed are provided by local telecom company Dhiraagu on their website.


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