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The Maldives is auctioning off its private islands, here’s how you can participate

The Maldives is known for having some of the most beautiful islands in Asia, and you can now call them your own

Prepare your cheque books. If you’ve ever wanted your own private island, now’s the time. The Maldivian government is auctioning 50-year leases to 16 islands, and island clusters, scattered throughout its atolls. But don’t expect to be able to build a holiday home for you and your family – these shards of paradise are being auctioned off with the express condition that successful bidders must commit to building a resort of some kind on the land they’ve purchased.

It’s a canny move, aimed at helping the nation rebound after the pandemic’s severe impact on its tourism-driven economy. Successful bidders have 36 months to start construction on any project. Invest at least US$250,000 (S$340,000) and you’re eligible for a five-year resident visa, which means you can work from paradise long-term.

Tender alert

Bids will be assessed not solely on raw dollars, but also on other aspects of any proposal, including the gender parity of staffing and carbon impact of the development. Any resort must also be sensitive to its surroundings, per Ali Shinan, the director of the planning section of the Ministry of Tourism. “No buildings can be built above tree height, and the built-up area [on any atoll] is capped at 30 per cent,” he told Robb Report. Trees can’t be felled during the build-out without written permission from his department – and if one is, two must be planted in its place. Infrastructure must be built five meters inward from the vegetation line to preserve the existing environment.

If you’re tempted to place a bid, you have until 6 June to obtain the relevant documents by emailing the Ministry of Tourism. International bidders must pay a non-refundable fee of US$3,250 (S$4,302), and must place bids on their favoured locations by 6pm on 10 June.

Each island listed comes with a minimum number of beds for any resultant resort, plus an indication of whether land reclamation is possible – a common technique in this island nation, which often expands its footprint by draining coastal areas to turn the seabed into livable land. There’s no minimum bid for any given site, but certain islands are expected to fetch the higher prices. Among them, look at the cluster in the Thaa atoll, one of the larger parcels at nearly 17 hectares (nearly the size of 42 football fields), and Laamu, another group where each of the islands comes with land reclamation rights. Meemu atoll is also premium, as it’s close to the capital city of Malé, where the international airport is located.

If you’re an underbidder on this batch, though, don’t worry. The country has plans to auction off another dozen or so islands soon.

This was first published on Robb Report US.