Conversation with Salah Shihab

In conversation with our Managing Director and Co-Founder Salah Shihab…

1.What are the most profound moments in the history of Voyages for you?

There are so many, however the most significant was getting the opportunity to owning a safari boat, the partnerships we embarked on with Francorosso and British Airways as our first tour operator and Airline respectively, and our partnership with Kuoni in 1984. The best news is that these partnerships remain till date over the decades. The next big moment was the successful bidding and attaining the leasehold for Athuruga.

The big challenges were perhaps the first Gulf War, when Airlines were unable to fly directly to the Maldives from Europe when we had to really rethink how we maybe able to manage.

Global warming the warming of our seas and the coral dying, and the beautiful image of Maldives as a dive destination, that compelled us to really look at family holidays and various other types of vacations other than just simply dive and sea-based vacations.

I guess every time, the world went into a recession would be a major significant moment, some of the political ups and downs of the Maldives on our continuing path to democracy and of course ending with this global pandemic.

2. What lessons have your own travels taught you?

My own travels have set very high standards for our team, to look after our customers that come in our care to the Maldives. I hope that the service we are providing to our guests is second to none. I certainly have not enjoyed that level of service in any of my travels to any other destinations, including the level of support we have from locals, the friendly way in which people treat each other is second to no one. So, I think my travels have taught me that the Maldives product is a very good one and the standards we have set is very high and most of our team know what we are doing and how we are competing, and by and large I am satisfied.


3.What are some of your own life rules and personal motto?

My life rules are some of which I have not always followed, but they are rules. Don’t put on your plate more than you can eat, so we maybe small in size but we try to do a decent job. We are definitely not the biggest travel agency in the country, we may not be the largest aircraft handling service provider at the Airport. It is always trying to give the best value for our customers for what they are ready to pay.

We have sometimes expanded beyond our capacity and whenever we do that we try and sit back and consolidate what we have, simply put trying to do what we do as well as we can and satisfying our customers as best we could.

I may not have a specific personal motto, but to treat everyone with respect and by intent I try really never to discriminate.

 4. What will be the future of travel and what is next for Voyages?

It is a bad time to really say anything conclusive or predict anything about the future, anything and everything is possible, but I firmly believe that travel as we know it is going to be back with us at least in the foreseeable future, and I don’t think that it is going to change that much, and that is what I really believe and hope.

I think for Voyages, it is really looking at good partnerships, meaning who value us as much as we value them. Really doing a fantastic job in marketing the lovely resorts that we have in this country and the partially traditional safari boats.

5. What are some causes you care about?

The well-being of every child is something that I am really very concerned about, discrimination of any type is something that really disgusts me and strongly care about. I believe it is our duty to try and get the best opportunities for everyone who wants to excel. I am very keen to support all NGOs and any other parties who are working to support the well-being of children.