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Aya M Rahil Naseem


Aya is a marine biologist and surfer from the Maldives. Aya co-founded the Maldives Coral Institute with Maldive’s former President, Mohamed Nasheed in 2019, and currently holds the position of Vice Chairperson. Since the establishment of the institute, Aya has developed and managed research, conservation, and advocacy projects, raising public awareness and negotiating with stakeholders, local communities, and international organisations for the preservation of coral reefs in the Maldives. 

Aya was a registered Environmental Consultant under the Environmental Protection Agency of Maldives (2011-2016) with roles including managing and conducting Environmental Impact Assessments and marine surveys. She has experience designing and conducting training programs with local communities and has worked on the implementation of a number of coral restoration projects throughout the country. She was part of the Waitt Expedition in Maldives (2020) with the Blue Prosperity Coalition under the Maldives government’s Nooraajje Program, and sits on its Marine Spatial Planning Steering Committee (2020-present). Aya has worked as a marine and environmental advisor for President Mohamed Nasheed since 2016, and for over 4 years as an aide, taking on a variety of roles over the years during the political struggles against authoritarian rule in Maldives.

Aya won the first-ever women’s category in the Maldives’ national surf competition in 2021. She advocates women’s surfing and volunteers as a surf teacher with local group, Raalhu Edhuru, teaching children across the Maldives how to surf and to care for the ocean.