Aaaveee – creating an island mythology




This project was developed in collaboration with Emmenge, in particular, “Emmenge Vaahaka” as part of their storymaking workshop, “Suva” at Aaaveee, Dhaal Atoll, Dhoores Island. Emmenge Vaahaka is a unique initiative, whereby group of artists work individually and collaboratively within a fixed period to create, and document stories related to specific space or situation. The objective of this particular project was to spend 7 days in the newly developed Island of Aaaveee, to document and create stories related to the Island, in order that these stories identify a unique selling proposition which can be used to differentiate the island, and enable the island to gain a sustainable competitive advantage. My particular objective within the workshop was to spend the last  day of the workshop, consolidating the stories created by the artists to develop a unique brand identity for the island.

What attracted me personally to this project, was the challenge of developing a brand identity for a product, in a wholly unconventional process. The idea of a linear brand development process of research followed by concept development, and then implementation is turned over its head, making way for a more spontaneous method, whereby within a short period, a brand is conceptualised within the actual process of doing the research, and exposed to large audience in realtime or immediately after, through blogs, and social media.

Day 1 – Artist presentations – 2nd stage #suva_aaaveee #emmenge #artists at Dh. #dhoores

A photo posted by Emmenge (@emmenge_ig) on


Below is the story I proposed:

Video time – lapse from a section of the presentation



The island is developed by Vermillion, who are recent entrance to resort development industry, but who has extensive experience and knowledge in tourism. They are a young team, who want to change preconceptions and existing notions of resort tourism, the “one island one resort” model. They believe that the Maldives as a tourist destination as its exist now, represents an idea or notion of what the West perceive the island experience to be, modelled on a foreign gaze and what they conceive as island or paradise to be like.

Aaaveee at Dhoores is designed and developed by an all-Maldivian team, who lived there throughout the duration of construction, and used their own instincts, and the dynamic nature of the island itself, to bring out the characteristics that were truly unique to the space, and which gives the island its own identity. The island doesn’t follow any convention regarding how it was built, or what it built, as they believed there was no benchmark set for the experience they sort to offer their guests.

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The idiosyncratic aspects of the island natural landscape as well as man-made elements, became the basis for the development a brand narrative, in the form of an island mythology, which can be relatable as well relevant to a wholly different type of target group. A traveller, who is looking for more than the generic Sun, Sea and Sand experience which Maldives currently offers, but is attracted to the idea of discovery and wonder of self and space i.e. “wanderlust“.

The Concept

The island uniqueness lies in the fact that it is developed in a way which empathise with the dynamic nature of the islands natural elements and nature itself. It epitomises paradise, in its most purest and virginal form. It’s purity and the fact that its untouched makes the island somewhat mysterious and enigmatic, making the voyeur of us all, and seducing us to explore and discover its secret.

The brand concept is built on understanding how the island space physically changes, through time, and how these changes affects every aspect of the island, and its surrounding. The island is continually renewing itself, and thus this energy is transferred to the visitor during his/her stay, enabling them to become one with the island and rejuvenate their mind, body and spirit.

model 4-01

conceptual diagram development


The island is built on a natural order, and this order is depicted and embedded in every aspect of the resort service, and experience. The natural order is depicted in the diagram below:




The above diagram depicts the island at its core, and the shift in time represented as a circular calendar, day, week, month and Nakaiy (an indigenous Calendar system). The shift in time, affects the island and it is believed its relationship with the elements of nature, i.e. fire, water, earth and air. These elements are also believed to have correlation to each of our senses respectively.

4 senses/ 4 elements/ 4 moon phases, and 4 directions.

4 is a recurring number in human trying to find order in nature.

The other aspect is 4 x 7 (number of days between each moon phase) = 28 (lunar month), and number of original Nakaiy as in (nakshathra). These numbers are represented in nature, and in the above diagram, as the cosmology of the island.

For the design it was important to take references from existing cosmological charts, more specifically similar charts and diagrams used locally.

suVa sihuru (2)-01

diagrams provided by Farhad Mohamed

We also proposed that all 28 rooms on the island, to have corresponding name of the 28 Nakaiy, hence giving each room its unique identity, thereby adding value and creating a unique selling proposition not just for the overall island, but for each room respectively.

In the end the intention is to create a mythical space, which gives character and purpose to different tangible features within the island, so that it becomes a memorable and significant experience to the visitor, who would want to form a more sustainable relationship with the product and brand.


Print Businesscard-02

Above are some proposed marketing communication materials concepts proposed to reflect the story.


The brand proposition proposed was, “Aaaveee – the living island”, signifying the dynamic nature of the island as a living and breathing, and sensing being, which has its own personality and character within time and space. Unfortunately this is as far as the brand concept came to be conceived, as the client felt the idea wasn’t consistent with their original vision for the resort.

If you want to know more about the artists who took part in the “Suva-aaaveee” workshop please view the link: Suva-aaaveee

If you want to view some of the work created by these artists during the workshop please view the link  Emmenge youtube channel


  1. what a shame that the client abandoned this concept…it was a beginning of such a wonderful and alternate story to Maldives tourism. what better way to own our own story than to create our own myths by ourselves rather than by some externally imposed ideas of who we are… makes sense? yes no? happy to talk more. 🙂

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