Nations mourns passing of state dignitary Zahir Naseer

Nations mourns passing of state dignitary Zahir Naseer
May 25 19:02 2016

Mohamed Zahir Naseer, “father of sports in the Maldives” and honorary chairman of the Maldives Olympic Committee, passed away at the age of 87 in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

President Abdulla Yameen has declared that the national flag at the Republic Square will be flown at half-mast tomorrow in observance of national mourning.

Yameen also spoke with Zahir’s family by phone and extended his condolences, according to the president’s office.

“Of significant note is that Honorable Mohamed Zahir Naseer contributed to sports not only as a Government official but also in his personal capacity; at times personally funding efforts to develop athletes,” the president’s office said.

Family members reportedly took Zahir to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Malé when his body ceased movement. He was pronounced dead on arrival. Zahir had been battling an illness for some weeks.

A beloved public figure, Zahir served as chairman of the Maldives Olympic Committee from its inception to 2008. He also worked as a public servant for 48 years, serving as foreign secretary and special secretary to the minister of health and advisor on youth welfare and recreation.

The Maldives first participated in an international Olympic event under his leadership.

Zahir also represented the Maldives as the President of the Asian Olympic Federation and the Treasurer of the International Carom Federation.

In July 2011, former President Mohamed Nasheed conferred Zahir with the second highest civilian honour in the Maldives, “Nishan Izzudeenge Izzai’theri Veriyaa,” in recognition of his invaluable contribution for more than a half a century to the development of various sports in the Maldives.

Zahir also received the National Award of Honour in 1992 for “Exceptional Contributions to the Development of Sports in the Maldives.”

Earlier this month, Zahir was presented a special “journalism personality” award by the Maldives Media Council in recognition of his services in the field. He was the editor of the ‘Morning Sun,’ the first English newspaper in the Maldives.

Born in 1927, Zahir was amongst the first batch of Maldivian students sent to Sri Lanka for higher studies. He was also the first person to ever donate blood in the Maldives.

Zahir was buried at the Aasahara cemetery in Malé after Asr prayers this afternoon. Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom led the funeral prayers at the Islamic centre.