Ibrahim Hussein Zaki

Ibrahim Hussein Zaki is a politician of the Maldives. He is currently the special envoy to the President of the Maldives.

Zaki is a former Cabinet Minister of the Maldives government. He also served as the Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Ibrahim Hussain Zaki hails from a respectable family of Male’ the Capital, with a long tradition of public service. Born in the Maldives in 1947, he was educated initially in the Maldives, and later in India, Australia and the United States. Having studied and worked both in the Maldives and Overseas, Zaki maintains a cosmopolitan outlook based on his familiarity with various cultures and intellectual traditions.

Zaki sacked off as Minister of Planning and National Development in 2003, He had previously served as the Minister of Tourism (1993–98), as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (1991–1992) and as Foreign Secretary since 1979. He had begun his public service in the Foreign Office, including serving at the Embassy of the Maldives in Colombo. Ever so versatile, Mr. Zaki served between 1975 and 1979 in several key Ministries of the Government, rapidly earning promotions before taking up his assignment as Foreign Secretary in 1979.

During his tenure as Deputy Foreign Minister and Foreign Secretary, Zaki was very closely involved with the development of regional co-operation in South Asia from the inception of the idea in 1980. He spearheaded the participation of the Maldives at the working level in the emerging process of regional co-operation that led to the formation of SAARC. When the Maldives hosted the SAARC Summit in 1990, which was no mean feat to a small country, Zaki, in his capacity as Foreign Secretary, took on the roles of both the Chief co-ordinator and Conference Secretary. His deep knowledge of South Asian Affairs and his competence in the SAARC process were epitomized by his appointment to serve from 1992–93, as the Secretary-General of SAARC, the highest ranking International civil servant ever to come from the Maldives.

His standing within SAARC was reaffirmed when he was appointed as the Chairman of the SAARC Eminent Persons Group, to report to the Summit the following year on a comprehensive appraisal of SAARC. His interest in regional co-operation is reflected in his participation at a leadership level in numerous regional non-governmental organizations that include the participation of former heads of government and other illustrious figures from South Asia. Zaki is a man of eminent International standing, not only within the region but also in the world. In 1989, Zaki successfully steered to victory the Maldives initiative at the UN on seeking the passage of a resolution highlighting the concerns and interests of small states in promoting their security and protection. The resolution was introduced by the Maldives in the aftermath of the attack on the country by mercenaries in November 1988.

Having served as Foreign Secretary for a good many years, Zaki is well traveled and has covered numerous international conferences and bilateral negotiations. He is particularly familiar with the UN, the Commonwealth, SAARC, the Non - Aligned Movement, the ESCAP and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. His bilateral travels include South Asia, South East Asia, the Far East, Africa and the Middle East, Western Europe and North America. He is also well known in the world of tourism, both amongst International and Regional Organizations that deal with the subject, and also among business corporations in the travel and tourism sector. Zaki also served as the Governor of the Maldives to the Common Fund for Commodities. A man of great energy, dynamism, charisma and talent, Zaki had left his imprint wherever he has served. As Foreign Secretary, he was responsible for the development of a professional cadre of officers through the diligent recruitment, focused training and meticulous organization, despite the human resources constraints of the country. His tenure as the SAARC Secretary- General oversaw the transition of SAARC from social areas of co-operation to core areas of economic co-operation, and successfully undertook numerous initiatives to raise the international profile of SAARC. During his service in the Maldives as Tourism Minister, the Maldives compiled the Second Ten Year Tourism Master Plan, went through a major phase of expansion of bed capacity, adopted new marketing techniques and forged a very close alliance between the government and the industry. He also increased the profile of Maldives tourism internationally by working very closely with the industry in marketing and also by playing an active role within the World Tourism Organization. Since his appointment as Minister for Planning and National Development, Zaki has supervised the process of formulating the Maldives Vision 2020 and has presided over the extensive national consultation process that lead to the identification of various sectoral strategies and priorities to achieve the goals of the Vision. Also, with National Development Plan for 2001–2005, for the first time, the span of planning has increased from three to five years, focusing on policy and strategy rather than projects, and the formulation of the plan has depended solely on the expertise of Maldivians. Zaki finally retired from the public service on 11 November 2003. He continues to be active in academic, intellectual, NGO Networks and associates himself in the private sector of the Maldives. Zaki entered politics in 1994, being elected to the Parliament from the constituency of alif dhaal Atoll. He was re-elected to the same seat for the second five-year term from 1999–2003. As a Member of Parliament and a Member of Special Majlis (Constituent Assembly), Zaki was incarcerated in solitary confinement for almost 2 months in 2004 as a consequence of his participation in a peaceful demonstration to express the displeasures and protest against the human right abuses undertaken by President Gayoom’s regime and Mr. Zaki’s walkout from the First Session of the Special Majlis in order to protest the violation by the Speaker of the Special Majlis the constitutional rights of the Members.

Zaki is also the informal Dean of Academia in the country, especially in areas of national security and regional diplomacy. He is a founder member of the Maldives International Centre, South Asia Centre for Policy Studies, South Asia Foundation and is also closely associated with other regional think tanks. He maintains an active interest in the second track diplomacy in the regional cooperation and on peace research, and nurtures close links with the regional media. Zaki has published his essays on regional co-operation and presented many papers to various conferences on themes related to economic development, environment, diplomacy and security. He has recently completed his first monograph on national security called, “Security of Small States Dilemma: Maldivian Perceptions in the New International Order”. Zaki is currently the Acting President and elected Vice President of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the shadow cabinet. He is also a member of the National Executive Council and the National Executive Committee of the Maldivian Democratic Party. Mr. Zaki is married with four sons; Moosa Imran Zaki, Mohamed Hamdan Zaki, Hussein Irfan Zaki and Ahmed Salman Zaki. His interests include academic research and international travel. Formerly an athletic sportsman who played professional Soccer and Hockey with an elite club in the Maldives, Zaki now prefers less strenuous recreation such as Badminton, Angling and Swimming.

In November 2006, Zakik, then acting President of the MDP, was arrested for "inciting enmity against the lawful government.

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