Tipped to be one of Male’s most stunning architectural attributes the former presidential palace of Theemuge is a national landmark in its own right. Attracting many dozens of visitors daily this breathtaking edifice in iconic blue and white is a lavish example of the country’s building heritage as well as its chequered political legacy. Built at a cost of US$ 14 million this monumental structure was completed in 1994 after construction began two years earlier. Renovated and upgraded further by its most famous occupant former leader Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom the venue served as the official residence of the Maldivian president and the workplace of his 500 strong staff members till 2008. Now used to house the offices of the country’s Supreme Court the mansion was declared too luxurious to reside in by current president Mohamed Nasheed who selected Muliaage as his official station.
Named after one of the country’s earliest ruling dynasties the hallowed title has been derived from the House of Theemuge which consisted of a family of Islamic leaders that governed the country in the early periods of Maldivian history. Historic evidence dating back to 10th century A.D suggests that the dynasty ruled over the entire archipelago and this element may have influenced the naming of the presidential palace after such an illustrious royal family.
Most Maldivians associate the ruling period of president Gayyoom with the towering structure which was used to host grand national functions and several iconic public addresses by the then leader. Renowned for the elaborate Eid celebrations that were hosted during his reign where members of the public could hob-nob with premier statesmen the locale is also synonymous with political speeches that were delivered by the former leader that were broadcast from the venue. As a Maldivian incarnation of Washington’s White House Theemuge is a source of national pride in the Maldives and among Maldivians of all statures.
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