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Ahmed Niam: Mastering Maldivian cuisine at Sun Siyam Iru Veli

Ahmed Niam is the Executive Sous Chef at Sun Siyam Iru Veli, a 5-star luxury resort in Maldives that offers sleek and spacious accommodation with ultimate tropical retreat. He is also a culinary consultant who has worked with various hotels and resorts in Maldives, helping them to create and improve their menus and dishes. He is passionate about Maldivian cuisine, which is based on three main ingredients: coconuts, fish and starches.

Niam started his culinary journey at the age of 18, when he joined Sun Island Resort & Spa as a kitchen assistant. There, he learned the basics of cooking and developed an interest in Thai fusion cuisine. He then moved to Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, where he worked as a demi chef de partie and honed his skills in cold and hot kitchens. He also gained exposure to international cuisines such as Indian, Italian, Japanese, Thai and Asian fusion or fine dining, and grill and steak.

“I always loved cooking and learning new things. I was inspired by the chefs I worked with, who taught me a lot and encouraged me to pursue my career. I also enjoyed the challenge of creating dishes that satisfied the guests’ expectations and preferences,” Niam said.

After working at Taj Exotica for two years, Niam joined Angsana Velavaru as a demi chef partie, where he was in charge of the buffet, in-villa dining and private dinners. He then moved to Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, where he became a chef de partie and oversaw the operation of two outlets and two sections. He also participated in several culinary competitions and won several awards.

“I think competitions are a great way to showcase your talent and creativity. They also help you to improve your skills and learn from other chefs,” Niam said.

Niam’s career progressed further when he became a sous chef at Sun Siyam Olhuveli, where he managed the operation of three outlets. He then moved to Sun Siyam Vilu Reef, where he continued his role as a sous chef and also introduced a Maldivian night, where he cooked traditional dishes for the guests. He then joined Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, where he was responsible for the overall operations of three outlets.

“I think being a sous chef is a very challenging and rewarding position. You have to supervise the staff, ensure the quality and consistency of the food, plan the menus, control the costs, and handle the guest feedback. You also have to be creative and innovative, and keep up with the latest trends and techniques,” Niam said.

Niam’s next destination was Vakkaru Maldives, where he worked as a sous chef for two years and handled the overall operation of five outlets. He then became a culinary consultant and worked with several hotels and restaurants in Maldives, such as Beehive Hotels, Ocean Dream, Rio and Kuramathi. He helped them to design and execute their menus, train their staff, and improve their standards and services.

In November 2023, Niam joined Sun Siyam Iru Veli as the Executive Sous Chef, where he is focusing on Maldivian cuisine. He aims to provide the guests with a memorable and authentic dining experience, using fresh and local ingredients.


“I think Maldivian cuisine is very unique and diverse, and it reflects the history and culture of the country. It is influenced by the cuisines of India, Sri Lanka, Arabia and Southeast Asia, but it also has its own identity and flavour. I want to showcase the best of Maldivian cuisine, and also to create new dishes that are inspired by the local produce and traditions,” Niam said. “I think cooking is an art and a science, and it requires passion and dedication. I always try to improve myself and to learn new things. I also try to inspire and motivate my team, and to create a positive and productive work environment. I believe that teamwork is the key to success.”

At Sun Siyam Iru Veli, Niam is expressing his vision and style of cooking. He also wants to write a cookbook, where he can share his recipes and stories. He hopes to become a role model and a mentor for the young and aspiring chefs in Maldives.

“I think cooking is a way of life, and it gives me happiness and satisfaction. I am very grateful for the opportunities and experiences that I have had, and for the support and guidance that I have received from my family, friends and colleagues. I also want to give back to the community and to the industry, and to contribute to the development and promotion of Maldivian cuisine,” Niam said.


One of the ways that Niam promotes Maldivian cuisine to the guests of Sun Siyam Iru Veli is by organising a Maldivian Night every Friday at the main restaurant. This is a buffet-style dinner that features a variety of dishes from different regions of the country, such as boshi mashuni (banana flower salad), kulhi boakibaa (spicy fish cake), kandu kukulhu (barracuda curry), and bondibaiy (rice pudding). The guests can also enjoy live music and cultural performances, such as bodu beru and traditional dances.

“I think Maldivian Night is a great way to introduce the guests to the rich and diverse culture and cuisine of Maldives. It is also a fun and interactive way to engage with them and to share our stories and traditions. I always get positive feedback from the guests, who appreciate the authenticity and quality of the food and the entertainment,” Niam said.

Another way that Niam showcases Maldivian cuisine to the guests is by offering them cooking classes, where they can learn how to prepare some of his signature dishes. The guests can also visit a local island, where they can see and buy some of the fresh ingredients that are used in Maldivian cooking. Niam also gives them tips and tricks on how to use the spices and herbs that are essential for Maldivian cuisine.

“I always enjoy seeing the guests’ enthusiasm and curiosity, and their satisfaction and pride when they taste authentic Maldivian flavours,” Niam said.

Niam believes that Sun Siyam Iru Veli is at another level among Maldivian resorts when it comes to promoting local cuisine. He says that the resort has a strong commitment and vision to support and celebrate the local culture and cuisine, and to provide the guests with an unforgettable and authentic Maldivian experience.

“I think Sun Siyam Iru Veli is a leader and an innovator in promoting local cuisine. The resort has a high standard and a diverse range of food and beverage outlets, where the guests can enjoy different cuisines from around the world, as well as Maldivian cuisine. We have a dedicated and talented team of chefs and staff, who are passionate and proud of their work and their culture. We also support and collaborate with the local community and the local suppliers, who provide us with the best and the freshest ingredients,” Niam said. “I think Sun Siyam Iru Veli is a perfect example of how a resort can balance and blend the local and the global, and create a unique and memorable experience for the guests.”

Ali Naafiz
Ali Naafiz is a media and PR professional, an entrepreneur, and a journalist with a passion for science, media, and arts and technology. He co-founded Next Media Group, a media company that creates immersive and interactive content, and CIAO Advertising, an advertising agency that offers creative and innovative solutions. He is also the editor of Hotelier Maldives, a magazine for the hospitality industry, and the director of storytelling for Maldives Promotion House, a media and marketing company. He has worked for various media outlets in Maldives and Sri Lanka, and has been involved in editorial and communications projects for international organisations. He has a diploma in development journalism and a diploma in journalism, and has received several awards for his work.