Maldives Culture

If you’re planning a trip to the Maldives, it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with the Maldivian culture. The Maldives is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world! The local culture is rich and diverse, shaped by the country’s unique geography, history, and Islamic traditions. From delicious food to traditional dress and customs, there’s so much to learn and experience. In this guide, we’ll take you through the basics of Maldivian culture, so you can travel with confidence and respect.

The Maldives is a country with a rich and unique culture that is heavily influenced by its geography, history, and Islamic traditions. As a Muslim country, religion plays a significant role in everyday life, with prayer times and customs observed throughout the day.

The Maldives is also known for its traditional arts and crafts, including intricate hand-woven mats and baskets made from coconut fronds, and lacquer work known as “liyelaa jehun”. Traditional music, dance, and storytelling are also important parts of Maldivian culture, with vibrant performances often taking place at special events and celebrations.

Fishing has long been a central part of the Maldivian way of life, with many island communities relying on the ocean for their livelihood. The Maldives is also renowned for its cuisine, which features a wide variety of fresh seafood dishes and spicy curries, often served with rice and accompanied by tropical fruits and coconut.

Hospitality and friendliness are also key components of the local culture, with visitors welcomed with warm hospitality and treated as honoured guests. Local customs and traditions are valued and respected, and visitors are encouraged to learn more about the local culture during their stay. 

Role of Islam in The Local Culture

As Islam plays a role in the everyday lives of the locals, it is important to be aware of local practices when visiting, especially to the local community islands.

Alcohol for example is prohibited and is not available on local community islands. It is worth noting that any consumables containing alcohol will be confiscated by customs upon arrival at Velana International Airport.

Ramadan — or “Ramazan” as they call it in the Maldives — is an important part of Maldivian culture and is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion throughout the country. Visitors are advised to refrain from consuming any food and drinks and smoking in public during the daylight as a form of respect to the local community that will be fasting during Ramazan. Be aware that only selected cafes and restaurants will be open during the day for visitors!

How To Dress Maldivian Style

As religion plays an important role in everyday life, it is important to be respectful of local customs and traditions when it comes to clothing. While the Maldives is a popular tourist destination with a relaxed beach culture, it is still important to dress modestly, especially when visiting local communities or religious sites.

In general, it is recommended to wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. It is also important to cover the shoulders and knees and avoid wearing revealing or tight-fitting clothing. Swimwear is acceptable on the beaches and resort islands, but it is recommended to cover up when leaving the beach area.

Men are recommended to wear a shirt and shorts whenever in public places whereas for women, short-sleeved tops and shorts are acceptable. The rules are stricter for women as the tops cannot be see-through or too large that it exposes the body. The shorts must not be too small and tight, and you cannot wear bikinis in public only when you are on a dive boat. Bikinis can only be worn when in a wetsuit or under a shirt and shorts when on Fuvahmulah Island.

Faiymini Boduberu Group

Useful Everyday Greetings and Simple Phrases

To fully immerse yourself in the local culture, it is worth knowing a few greetings or simple phrases that will help you. Here are five commonly used greetings and phrases used:

  1. Assalaamu alaikum” – This is the most common local greeting used, and means “peace be upon you”. It is used as a general greeting between friends, family, and acquaintances.
  2. Kihineh?” – This means “How are you?” and is a common greeting used between friends and acquaintances.
  3. Shukuriyaa” – This means “Thank you” and is a polite way to express gratitude.
  4. Marubahaa” – This means “Welcome” and is usually used to greet visitors.
  5. Kon Nameh Tha Kiyanee” – This means “What is your name?”.
  6. Meethi Varah Reethi” – This means “This is beautiful” and can be used to describe things.

Take Me To The Maldives!

Understanding and respecting Maldivian culture is essential for any traveller visiting this beautiful island nation. By following the do’s and don’ts outlined in this guide, you can ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip and show respect for local customs and traditions. From trying the delicious local cuisine to learning a few common phrases, there are many ways to immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture. Start your Maldives adventure today!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Does Maldivian culture allow tourists to drink alcohol?

Yes, Maldivian culture allows tourists to drink alcohol. However, it is important to note that tourists are not permitted to bring alcohol into the country. Products containing alcohol will be confiscated at customs checkpoint and returned upon departure at Velana International Airport. Although alcohol is offered at hotels and resorts, please be reminded that alcohol is not available at local community islands.

  1. Do females need to be totally covered up in Maldivian culture?

Maldivian females do cover their bodies from head to toe in traditional Maldivian culture and as tourists to an Islamic country, tourists are encouraged to respect the local culture. Female tourists visiting a local community island are recommended to bring clothing that are not too short or revealing. In general, thighs and shoulders need to be covered and bikinis are not permitted at the beach or other public areas. Swimwear is allowed however, females need to cover up when they are not in the water.

  1. What do locals eat in Maldivian culture?

In Maldivian culture, the staple dishes consist of tuna and a variety of carbohydrates such as rice, roshi (thin flat bread) boiled yam, banana, breadfruit and sweet potato. Tuna is usually prepared as mas riha (tuna curry), kulhimas (dry tuna curry), mashuni (flaked tuna with freshly grated coconut), garudhiya (fish soup) and rihaakuru (thick fish sauce).

  1. Is pork allowed in Maldivian culture?

Pork is not permitted in Maldivian culture as an Islamic country. Tourists are not permitted to bring in any pork products. Pork products will be confiscated at customs checkpoint and returned upon departure at Velana International Airport.

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