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9 Sep, 2012

China To Host Int’l Forum For Muslim Entrepreneurs In Yinchuan

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Muqbil


A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 10 September 2012 (23 Shawwala 1433). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.



Food lovers from all over the globe descend upon Malaysia for the rich culinary adventure that is the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF). For the entire Festival month of October, thirty of Malaysia’s finest restaurants will be serving up Special Festival Menus at Special Festival prices accompanied by a host of Special Festival Offers. Into its 12th year, the annual MIGF has seen successive lineups of Festival restaurants all trying to outdo each other, year upon year, with the creativity of their Festival Menus. Food lovers can now enjoy a rich and exciting blend of local and international cuisines that is truly unique, and especially so, given all the multicultural ingredients that enhance the dining scene in Malaysia. This year’s theme, “Classical Chefs!”, represents pure and honest food, honouring the roots of a symphony of cuisines that include Malay, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, French, Italian and Lebanese, with the addition this year of delights from South Korea, Cuba and New Orleans. The Festival is an integral part of Tourism Malaysia’s “Fabulous Food 1Malaysia” initiative, which promotes the country’s unique, multicultural, food capabilities to the world. If you are lucky enough to be in Malaysia on the 28th of September, you cannot afford to miss Taste MIGF, the spectacular launch event of the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival, which takes place at the Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre. For one glorious, mouthwatering day, food lovers from the general public can, for the first time ever, enjoy Festival tastings from our very best restaurants as they all gather in one amazing location. For further information:

For more information about what makes Malaysia one of the most popular destinations in the Islamic world, as well as on planning your next holiday or MICE event in Malaysia, please click: http://www.tourism.gov.my/.

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/friendofmalaysia

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia


Back to school for world’s youngest mayor, Palestinian girl aged 16

Ramallah, 16 Shawwal 1433/ 03 September 2012 (IINA) – Like most Palestinian teens, Bashaer Othman goes back to school this week after a long summer break. But rather than hanging out with friends, this 16-year-old has spent the past two months serving as mayor of a small town in the northern West Bank.

Sitting at a large desk in front of three framed photographs of president Mahmud Abbas, prime minister Salam Fayyad and veteran nationalist leader Yasser Arafat, Othman smiles as she signs a document allowing a resident to pay his large water bill in installments. “It’s not about the title, it’s about serving the town,” says the teenager, who was just 15 when she took over from mayor Sufiyan Shadid on July 2 for a two-month stint as the top official in Allar, a town of 8,000 residents. The idea, she says, came out of a national youth parliament project run by the Sharek Youth Forum, which aims to involve youngsters in the day-to-day workings of Palestinian local government.

The project has been running across the Palestinian territories but Othman was the first to take on such a high-profile role, in a move which was “fully supported” by Shadid, she says. The teenager says she knew “nothing” about the job at first but “with the help and cooperation of council members and the mayor,” she quickly learned.

“I come to my office every morning at 8:00 am and look over many files, sign papers and meet with council members. I also have to do a lot of field visits to solve urgent matters,” she told AFP. “I was scared about taking on so much responsibility, it was a big challenge,” she said, explaining that her position was “not just a formality” and that she was given “full powers” as mayor.

But she is proud of her role. “I’m the world’s youngest mayor, it’s incredibly exciting,” she says.

After six hours at work, Othman is free to go home, where she quickly switches to a more routine teenage existence — “playing computer games,” she grins. There are 11 councillors at the town hall, six from the ruling Fatah party, and five from the Islamist Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip. All of them pitched in to support her, she says.

“I was afraid that some of the council members and employees would be against me and not help, but it turned out that everyone was supportive, which helped me do my job.” Shadid said the project has benefited everyone — both the youngsters and the council. “The aim is to encourage young people and prove that they can take responsibility when given a chance,” says Shadid, who has been the town’s mayor for 12 years. “We must always inject new blood into all Palestinian institutions with no exception so that they don’t get flabby,” he told AFP.

As part of the agreement, Othman was granted full powers as mayor, although a technical restriction with the bank meant she was only permitted to sign off on financial matters of up to 300 shekels ($75/60 euros). “Anything above that amount is governed by the bank and they need an authorized signatory, which is me,” explains Shadid.

There were a few minor gripes about why a boy wasn’t chosen over a girl, but for the most part residents have been supportive. “The fact that a girl of her age became mayor is a good thing,” says Faiza Abu Saada, a housewife. “As long as she is up for it, she should be given the chance.” Well-digger Fahmi Ammer agreed. “It is a great idea. Young people should be given more chances.”

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Malaysia Records 11.6 Mln Tourist Arrivals in Jan-June 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Aug 30 (NNN-Bernama) — A total of 11,632,483 tourists visited Malaysia for the first six months of this year, registering a growth of 2.4 per cent over the figure for the same period last year.

Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen said correspondingly, total tourist receipts for the first half of this year rose by 4 per cent, generating RM26.8 billion in revenue for the country’s revenue compared to RM25.7 billion in 2011.

She said the Asean region continued to be the largest contributor of tourist arrivals with a 73.8 per cent share of the total arrivals. The top 10 generating markets were Singapore (5,832,330), Indonesia (1,108,361), China (758,289), Thailand (638,641), Brunei (588,165), India (365,104), Australia (242,579), the Philippines (238,175), Japan (215,872) and United Kingdom (197,738).

“They accounted for 87.55 per cent of the total tourist arrivals. Among these markets, the Philippines recorded the highest growth of 45.3 per cent year-on-year followed by China (34.2%), Japan (32.5%), Indonesia (20%), India (6.9%) and United Kingdom (5.9%),” she said in a statement.

Other long-haul markets that had posted remarkable growth were Oman (33.2%), Russia (28.2%), France (20.6%), United States (18.9%), South Korea (18%), Kuwait (17.4%) and Denmark (15.7%).

Dr Ng attributed the increase to the strong support from trade partners and the increase of air connectivity to several key destinations such as Beijing, Hong Kong and Kansai.

She said key international-level events such as the Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix, 1Malaysia GP Sale and 1Malaysia International Shoe Festival also contributed to the growth. The minister said there was a 71.7 per cent increase in the Saudi Arabian tourist arrivals due to the country’s Immigration new rule which required all outgoing travellers to own individual passports.

“Prior to this ruling, children travelled on their parent’s passports. Two periods of long holidays – January to March and June to July, also contributed to the increase of Saudi Arabian travellers,” she added.

Dr Ng said the number of Australian tourists had declined by 10.4 per cent since many Australian permanent residents were nationals of other countries such as New Zealand, Europe, the Middle East, India and China. She said the decline was also due to Malaysia Airlines’ withdrawal of the Perth-Kota Kinabalu route since January.

Tourist arrivals from New Zealand, Sweden and South Africa also declined by 16.3 per cent, 22.4 per cent and 10.7 per cent respectively, she added.

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Malaysia’s first green library gets private funds

Kota Kinabalu, (Sabah Insight) – It is Malaysia’s first green library. But half of the 40m ringgit ($12.9m) of the cost of the Kota Kinabalu regional library has come from a private company, the Lahad Datu Water Supply Sendirian Berhad. It is also the first such building funded by the private sector, according to Deputy Chief Minister Yahya Hussain who launched it at a ground-breaking ceremony in Tanjung Aru.

“This is a very good cooperation between the private sector and the government,” he said. The library is expected to be ready by 2015. Like the Sabah art gallery, the library will turn to solar energy, harvest rain water and use materials that will not add to carbon dioxide emission to keep global warming in check.

Steven Tan, managing director of Lahad Datu Water Supply Sendirian Berhad, says the funding is part of his company’s corporate social responsibility.

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Malaysians Third Highest Number Of Tourists To Indonesia In July

JAKARTA, Indonesia Sept 5 (NNN-Bernama) — Tourists from Malaysia were the third highest number of foreign visitors to Indonesia in July this year, according to Statistics Indonesia, the country’s central data agency. The total of 81,974 Malaysian tourists comprised 11.69 per cent of the 701,200 tourists who visited the republic during the month.

The Detik.Com news portal reported that the number of Malaysian tourists in July this year dropped slightly compared to the corresponding month last year when 99,805 Malaysians visited Indonesia. Malaysian tourists were among the foreign tourists from five countries who made up the most number of holiday-makers in Indonesia.

Singaporeans were the biggest number of tourists who visited Indonesia in July this year, at 90,937 (12.89 per cent), followed by Australia, at 90,294 (12.88 per cent). Tourists from China comprised the fourth biggest, at 62,164 (8.97 per cent) and those from Japan came in fifth, at 41,354 (5.9 per cent).

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15th Pharaons Rally To Be Held in the Egyptian Desert

Cairo, Sep 06 2012 – Under the auspices of the Ministry of tourism, the 15th edition of the Pharaohs Rally will take place from September 29th till October 6th in the most beautiful sites in the Egyptian desert.

Over one hundred teams registered to participate in the Pharaons Rally, among the major names are Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves, the very tough Team Speedbrain Husqvarna , the Norwegian Pal Anders Ullevalseter, winner of the 2004 Pharaons race, the Danish Jes Munk, as well as the Venezuelan Team with Eraso, Cardona and Querales.

The Pharoans Rally 2012 competitors will run for almost 3,000 kms starting from the Pyramids Panoramic site to Abu Minqar then it gets back in the Capital city after six days. The Rally will be extended on six stages across the Egyptian desert showing the varied territory from the hard ground esplanades to the soft dunes, to the soft terrain.

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Jakarta to host Muslim World Biz

Kuala Lumpur, 18 Shawwal1433/ 05 September 2012 (IINA) – The 3rd Muslim World Biz 2012 Conference and Exhibition is expected to see six to seven memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed involving Malaysian companies worth up to $200mil (RM620mil).

This year’s conference and exhibition, to be held in Jakarta, are jointly hosted by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), International Business Centre Malaysia and Jakarta Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

OIC International Business Centre Malaysia Chief Executive Officer Dr. Raja Muhammad Abdullah said among companies expected to sign MoUs are Iskandar Malaysia, Melaka Halal Hub and Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA). “With almost 35 countries taking part this year, the event is a good platform for Malaysian companies to embark on bilateral trade with foreign companies as Indonesia is one of the biggest Islamic markets in the world,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

He said the event, comprising a two-day conference and four-day exhibition by 600 exhibitors, is expected to draw 350 international delegates and some 70,000 visitors to the Jakarta Convention Centre. This event is a significant initiative by OIC International Business Centre Malaysia to further strengthen and foster greater economic prosperity and unity in the Muslim world. Raja Mohamad said this year’s edition was fully supported by several ministries from Indonesia and Malaysia, including the Industry Ministry, Trade Ministry, Cooperatives and SMEs Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry. The event is crafted to facilitate businesses in the Muslim world looking to untilize their best available resources as economic opportunities to stand out on a global scale, he said.

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Cultural Tourism Favoured To Attract Tourists To Bangladesh

DHAKA, Sept 3 (NNN-BSS) — Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Faruque Khan stressed the need for development of cultural tourism in Bangladesh to make it an attractive tourist destination on the map of the world.

The country has enormous potentiality to develop tourism because of its rich cultural heritage and archeological sites, he told a sub-regional workshop on ‘Development of Cultural Tourism in the Asia and Pacific’ in the conference of BANBEIS Bhaban here.

Officials and experts from both local and international organizations attended the workshop with Education Secretary Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury in the chair. Bangladesh has ample opportunities of becoming as a tourist nation as it has rich archaeological, natural, ecological, cultural and other tourism products to attract tourists, Faruque said.

“We are trying to develop tourism status to compete in local and global markets,” he said adding the country needs to develop its human resources for improving tourism marketing among local and foreign tourists. Other speakers said cultural tourism in Bangladesh is very prospective as it has different ethnic groups with lots of variation in sub-culture, rituals and festivals.

Different ethnic groups of Bangladesh and their colourful lifestyles have significantly enriched the entire culture of Bangladesh, they added.

The speakers said tourism is considered as the world’s largest and rapid growing industry of modern business. They underscored the need for building a regional cooperation among the countries of Asia and the Pacific region for promoting tourism industry to earn more revenue.

A total of 25 participants from Bangladesh, the Maldives, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran are participating in the three- day workshop.

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Qatar Plans To Invest US$18 Billion In Egypt

CAIRO, Sept. 7 (NNN-QNA) — Qatar plans to invest USD 18 billion in Egypt over the next five years, Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani said here Thursday. He said it includes USD 8 billion to be allocated for diverse projects in East Port Said region, eastern Egypt including power plants, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants , while the remaining USD 10 billion will finance a mega tourism project in the northwestern coasts of Egypt (Marina).

Speaking at a press conference following his meeting with the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi here, Sheikh Hamad, who is the Foreign Minister said there was no ceiling for cooperation or investment in Egypt. “Qatar intends to execute several housing projects in various parts of Egypt including the Fifth Settlement, Ghardaqha and Sharm El-Sheikh.”

He said this was the first time a timetables for investments with the Egyptian government had been set, pointing out that all the agreements that had been made in the past did not set any timetables, a matter which he said underlined the seriousness of the current Egyptian government and its real desire in cooperation with the State of Qatar to build a strong investment.

He agreed with Morsi to activate all the previous agreements between the two countries and to find other agreements that pave the way for more cooperation aspects, stressing that Qatar and its people were committed to supporting Egypt unconditionally in order to go through this difficult phase, especially that it is the senior sister to all Arab countries.

Sheikh Hamad explained that there are two ways of supporting the Egyptian economy; the first is a $2-billion unconditional deposit in the Central Bank of Egypt, and the second is establishing joint projects and pumping investments in Egypt in favor of the two countries.

He added that these investments are profitable to both Qatar and Egypt and generate employment opportunities for Egyptians, expressing confidence in the future of cooperation between Egypt and Qatar, especially since the Egyptian economy is on its way to recovery and that ample investment opportunities in Egypt are on the rise.

He also praised the Egyptian president’s two speeches before the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit and the Arab League Council, where Morsi stressed the necessity to reach a peaceful solution quickly to the crisis Syrian without foreign intervention.

He said Morsi’s speeches was an indication of Egypt’s return to its leading role that Arab countries expect.

For his part, Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil said that an agreement was reached with Qatar on the investment of more than $8 billion in various activities in Egypt, notably a project for the production of iron and electric power in east Port Said, which will be completed within five years, and the establishment of a $10 billion Mediterranean marina to attract tourism, in addition to increasing flights between the two countries and facilitating travel procedures.

“The Qatari government is committed to the $2-billion sum of financial support that it assigned for Egypt, with half a billion already paid during the month of Ramadan, and the rest is set to be paid over this month, and the next two months in three batches, each batch of them is worth half a billion dollars,” said Qandil.

He added that it was agreed upon to solve all the problems of Qatari investors, whom investments are mainly in real estate, stressing that Egypt needs to raise the investment rate in the private sector to 170 billion pounds, and in the public sector to 100 billion pounds.

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Moroccan Economy Continues To Show Solid Performance: World Bank

RABAT, Sept 7 (NNN-MAP) — The Moroccan economy continues to show a solid and good performance despite the global economic crisis, says the Vice-President of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Inger Andersen.

“Considering the difficult economic situation that many countries are going through, particularly the crisis in the eurozone, the Moroccan economy is still showing solid performance,” Anderson told journalists after a meeting here Thursday with Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane.

At a time when the world is experiencing a financial and economic crisis, “Morocco has achieved a growth rate of nearly 5.0 per cent in 2011, which is a very big achievement” in an unfavourable global environment, she added.

She welcomed the government’s National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), which she said could be a model to be followed by other countries in the region which could learn from the Moroccan experience in sustainable development.

Last June, the World Bank approved a loan of 300 million USD for Morocco to support the second phase of the INDH, which aims to provide improved services and economic opportunities for disadvantaged communities in urban and rural areas of the Kingdom.

Anderson said she had discussed with the prime minister the government reforms underway in Morocco in various fields, including those relating to the Subsidy Fund, strengthening transparency and the promotion of the business climate.

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UAE, Bahrain to establish Islamic bank in Iraq

Gulf Today – 02 September, 2012 – Investors from the UAE and Bahrain have applied for a licence to establish an Islamic bank in Iraq with a paid up capital of $ 240 million. “We have applied to the Central Bank of Iraq and expect the approval to be given within six months,” Abdulsalam M Juwaied, Vice President of the Iraqi Islamic Bank for Investment and Development, said.

He added that the bank will primarily focus on finance for small and medium enterprises, and fund the establishment of schools, hospitals and care homes. Foreign Islamic banks have been eying Iraq’s potential since the Government seemed bent on nurturing a Shari’ah-compliant industry.

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International University of Peace and Sufism inaugurated

Centralasiaonline.com 2012-09-05 HYDERABAD – As the first international Sufi university opened in Sindh Province, Pakistan, its founders said they hope the school will help eradicate extremism by promoting peace.

The International University of Peace and Sufism (IUPS) is in Bhit Shah town, Mitiari District, home to a shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai.

“The IUPS has been established in such a situation when we daily read the news of attacks on Shia buses … and news of Hindus’ migration from various parts of Sindh,” said Sindh University Vice-Chancellor Dr Nazir A. Mughal. “This happens only during intolerance, terrorism and extremism.”

“It was the need of the hour to establish such an institution of higher education from which we might be able to educate our youth so that they may select the path of the Sufis, who always chose the way of love, tolerance, harmony and brotherhood,” Mughal said at the August 29 inauguration ceremony.

The IUPS is the first Sufi higher educational institution in Asia to earn the status of university, Mughal said. The first class of students will start their studies October 1, said Nadir Mugheri, spokesperson of Sindh University, adding that it will initially offer only diploma courses, but master’s-degree studies will start next year.

“The students at the IUPS will be taught job-oriented courses and degrees, and … (to value) brotherhood and religious tolerance,” Mugheri told Central Asia Online. Students will later be able pursue masters’ degrees in any field related to Sufism like meditation, interfaith harmony, and Bhitai’s poetic works focusing on religious harmony, he said.

The university will have three major wings: Sufi thought and practice; mystic poetry and literature; and South Asian arts (fine arts, folk music, performing arts and architecture). It will follow admission quotas for all provinces to ensure a geographically diverse student body.

Educators, writers, peace activists and other have praised the founding of Sufi University, saying it will help curb extremism and promote tolerance. “The menace of terrorism and militancy could be eliminated from the country by promoting the teachings of Sufi saints, and the setting up of the IUPS is a part of efforts the government is making in this regard,” said Pakistani Senator Aajiz Dhamrah, who added that IUPS is being established according to a directive from President Asif Ali Zardari.

Sufi religious leaders and poets like Bhitai, Rehman Baba and Bhulay Shah command the respect of the local population, said Muhammad Arshad Khan, a Karachi-based artist and a leader of the Pashtun Thinkers Forum.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government should also try to establish a Sufi university in that province as Sufism had had a deep impact on Pashtun society and Sufi shrines dot the landscape, he suggested.

Sufism has a deep influence on the sub-continental societies and a large number of Sufi shrines dot the landscape of Pakistan and Afghanistan, said Sufi leaders. But Taliban militants have frequently targeted Sufi shrines in Pakistan, especially those in the Pashtun regions.

Such attacks are linked to the arrival of al-Qaeda-linked Arab militants in Afghanistan, said Abdul Majid Baqi, a Lahore-based Sufi researcher, adding that such extremists often are ingrained with a philosophy that conflicts with Sufi Islam.

The militants justify their attacks on shrines and other cultural symbols as attempts at constructing a new culture and a new identity, Baqi said. More than 25 shrines across the country have been attacked since 2005 and more than 200 devotees have been killed, Baqi said.

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Travelex Oman launches new tourism ambassador awards to boost sector

Saudi Gazette – 02 September, 2012 – Travelex Oman has launched exciting new tourism ambassador awards that will reward individuals and businesses for outstanding achievements in the promotion of tourism in Oman – providing prizes for those who are often the “unsung” heroes of the Omani tourism industry and have gone above an beyond in delivering first class service and tourism products.

Individuals and companies will be invited to nominate and demonstrate their achievements to win one of a ten awards that will be presented at a ceremony to be held in November 2012.

An independent panel of judges from leading organizations in the tourism industry in Oman, including a senior representative from the Ministry of Tourism itself, will decide on the winners of these awards that Travelex Oman plans to become an annual event.

Among the attributes that judges will be looking for when deciding on the winners of the “Tourism Ambassador” awards will be personal initiative to enhance visitor experiences, outstanding service, a winning smile and personality, delivering on promises and how the individual or company is able to promote Oman and their individual region. The awards are open to any individual or business that is currently operating within the tourism industry in Oman.

The closing date for applications is Oct. 31, 2012. Judging will take place in November and the awards are planned to be presented to the winners at a ceremony later in November of this year.

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Gulf Air launches promotion for new Iran, Iraq flights

Saudi Gazette – 01 September, 2012 – Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air is launching a special promotion with up to 30 percent off on its return airfares to Iran and Iraq from all destinations across its network, to mark the three-week countdown to the resumption of its services.

During this promotion, which starts on September 1, passengers can book their travel from any of the airline’s 48 destinations to Baghdad, Erbil and Najaf in Iraq and Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz in Iran and enjoy a 25 percent discount on Economy class and 30 percent on Falcon Gold fares.

The special fares are available on bookings made between Sept. 1-14 for travel between Sept. 20 and Oct.15, 2012.

All travel must be completed by Oct. 15, 2012.

Gulf Air Chief Commercial Officer Karim Makhlouf said “with three weeks to go until we resume our operations to Iran and Iraq, we are pleased to be able to offer customers this special promotion. For a limited time, passengers wishing to travel to Iran and Iraq and enjoy Gulf Air’s award-winning on-board service can do so at a reduced cost.”

Flights to Baghdad, Erbil, Najaf and Basra in Iraq and Tehran, Mashhad, Shiraz and Isfahan in Iran will begin progressively from Sept. 20. The flights will be operated by a combination of Embraer and Airbus fleet.

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Demand for Islamic savings products in UAE set to grow

Gulf Times – 03 September, 2012 – Shariah compliance is the key factor driving savings decisions by UAE nationals, where an ageing population is expected to boost demand for Islamic savings products, the chief executive of Dubai-based National Bonds Corp said.

“Shariah compliance has been the number one driver of choice of savings instruments among Emiratis and Arab expats,” Mohamed Qasim al-Ali said in an interview late last week. “We are seeing a definite increase in product demand.”

The company, wholly owned by the Investment Corp of Dubai, the investment arm of the Dubai government, offers a variety of savings products including a mudaraba fund which now has 4.6bn dirhams ($ 1.25bn) in assets under management.

Mudaraba is an investment management partnership, where profits are shared on a pre-agreed basis between parties but losses are borne by the provider of the capital. The company aims to develop a range of savings products to cater to savings demand, Ali said, but declined to give a time frame for future launches.

“We are looking into all kinds of diversified products to launch and probing the market for potential strategic partnerships,” he said. “Some plans are more long-term than others.” The industry also needs to encourage a stronger savings culture in the UAE, in particular among the youth, he added.

“There is still a culture of spending, consumerism and a demand for luxury goods amongst the Emirati population, both young and old. If we can ensure that our youth are driven towards more responsible spending, then we are hitting the root cause of the problem.”

The company’s UAE savings index, which tracks consumer sentiment through an annual survey of behaviour and attitudes, highlights this concern.

The survey, released yesterday, shows 87% of respondents don’t believe their savings are adequate, said Suhail Shaikh, research director at YouGov, a market research firm that conducts the survey on behalf of National Bonds. The data suggests UAE citizens have not been putting nearly enough effort into managing their savings, Ali said.

This is a challenge because the UAE’s population is expected to age. Local citizens were about 20% of a population of 4.1mn in 2005, according to the last census by the National Bureau of Statistics. The country is among the world’s wealthiest with the fifth-highest gross domestic product per capita, estimated by the International Monetary Fund at $ 69,798 in 2012.

People over the age of 65 in 2005 represented only 1.1% of the total UAE population. That age group is expected to grow to 26.4% by 2050, according to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, with similar trends forecast for other Gulf countries.

Such a demographic shift would put pressure on government retirement schemes, suggesting the need for private products. “The ideal scenario would be a combination of governmental regulation and support, and private sector implementation,” Ali said. “It is up to both parties to work together to come up with solutions.”

He added: “As the general public in the UAE become more financially aware and savings-oriented over the coming years, we expect the importance placed on financial returns to increase further.”

Investment Corp of Dubai took full ownership of National Bonds Corp last year, replacing the firm’s board of directors with five new members. Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the company had invested heavily in real estate projects, a sector that was hit hard by the 2008-2010 global financial crisis.

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Oman explores Europe market

Oman Daily Observer – 05 September, 2012 – Tourism Under-Secretary Maitha bint Saif al Mahrouqiya has said that the selection of Oman to host a tourism forum organised by Travco Travel company in co-operation with the tourism organisation TUI Swiss and a number of Swiss tourism companies represented by about 160 European agents and offices indicates that the Sultanate has implemented all the standards required for such an event, thanks to active promotion by Oman offices in European in general and in Switzerland in particular.

The forum is being covered by a large number of European press personnel and people keen on tourism activities.

In her statement after opening the workshop yesterday, Maitha said that the event coincides with the operation of flights to Zurich by national carrier Oman Air, and this in itself is considered as a form of promotion for the Sultanate which will place the country in the global tourism map.

“The European market in general and the Swiss market in particular assume great significance for Oman due to the large number of parties that represent them,” said Maitha, adding that the current meeting is an evidence of such European interest in Oman.

Maitha explained that Swiss tourists take keen interest in Omani beaches, health clubs and hotels and they operate trips to mountainous areas and safaris to desert camps and other tourism attractions in the Sultanate.

Maitha pointed out that Oman-bound flights from Switzerland up by 118 per cent in 2012 as compared to 2011 figures. Also, 84 per cent of “beyond Oman” flights use Oman Air as the Sultanate is considered an important stopover for international flights and a highly promising market, said Maitha.

Maitha said that German-speaking tourists comprise an important target group which comes in second place among tourists visiting the Sultanate (after Arabic-speaking tourists), making TUI a high-value partner with whom the Sultanate built relations over a number of years, with a continuously expanded rate of maritime and air businesses.

Oman constitutes an exotic destination highly appreciated by TUI and cited in The National Geographic and Lonely Planet magazines among the best “must-see destinations 2012”, said Maitha.

In addition to the opening of new tourism resorts, marinas and hotels adding a thousand rooms, a 2015-2016 tourism development plan includes the opening of Oman Centre for Conferences and Exhibitions, a 3,000-seat international facility which will immensely enhance the Sultanate’s reputation as a tourism hub, said Maitha.

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Saudi Ports Authority signs $4.8b development contracts

Saudi Gazette – 06 September, 2012 – The President of Saudi Ports Authority Eng. Abdulaziz Al-Tuwaijri has signed two contracts to develop the master plans for Saudi ports.

The first contract is for King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam and Jubail Commercial Port with W.S. Atkins & Partners Overseas Engineering Investments, with a total amount of $ 2,495,693. The second contract is for Jazan, Dhiba and Yanbu commercial ports with German Agency for International Cooperation – GIZ, with a total amount of $ 2,300,266.

Both contract durations are for 8 months. Their signing comes as part of the planning process for Saudi ports to fulfill the future needs and achieve the objectives of the Saudi ports.

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Dubai to explore new trade links with Kazakhstan

Gulf Today – 05 September, 2012 – Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) in association with the Consulate General of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kaznex Invest, the Kazakhstan National Agency for Export and Investments, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kazakhstan, is organising Kazakhstan, the Country Focus Briefing, at the Chamber premises on Sept.11.

With its aim of providing access while enhancing the competitiveness of Dubai Chamber members in emerging markets, the briefing will explore new trade links with Kazakhstan, which is one of Central Asia’s largest economies.

The briefing session will be presided over by Hamad Buamim, Director General, Dubai Chamber, with high profile guests including Askar Mussinov, Kazakhstan Ambassador to the UAE and Sabr Yessimbekov, President Kazakhstan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and will be attended by a number of businessmen and investors from Dubai and Kazakhstan.

The meeting will explore investment opportunities in Kazakhstan, especially in the areas of energy resources, construction, financial, logistics and transport sectors and will also have an introductory presentation on the investment opportunities in Kazakhstan by the National Agency for Export and Investments of Kazakhstan.

Launched in 2010, the Dubai Chamber initiative of the Country Focus Briefing is organised in association with embassies, consulates, business councils, trade centres and representative offices of target countries. The main objective is to introduce business opportunities in one chosen market to Dubai’s business community so as to empower them to explore emerging export destinations, develop relationships with relevant trade bodies as well as enhance their competitiveness in the global business arena.

So far, the initiative has brought into focus new markets like Chile, Switzerland, Japan, Turkey Brazil, Ethiopia, Australia and the Netherlands. Meanwhile Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry-led trade mission will leave today (Wednesday) for Hamburg to participate in the 25th edition of the Shipbuilding, Machinery and Marine Technology (SMM 2012 Expo).

The event is being held in Germany from Sept.4 to 7. The mission is led by Hisham Al Shirawi, 2nd Vice Chairman, Dubai Chamber. With over 2,000 exhibitors and more than 50,000 trade visitors from all over the world, the SMM International Trade Fair is the leading event for the international maritime industry and is an ideal platform to see innovations in the maritime sector.

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Etihad and RAK Airways Sign Code-Share Deal

Khaleej Times – 06 September, 2012 – Etihad Airways and RAK Airways have signed an agreement to codeshare on five flight sectors including, for the first time, domestic flights in the UAE. The agreement, the first ever between two UAE carriers, will see Etihad Airways place its ‘EY’ code on the RAK Airways flight between Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi.

In return, RAK Airways will place its ‘RT’ code on Etihad Airways routes, which initially includes flights between Abu Dhabi and London Heathrow, Manchester, Dublin, Bangkok and Geneva. RAK Airways operation between Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi will commence on October 3.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “We are proud to welcome RAK Airways, a fellow UAE airline, as a codeshare partner. This is the first time Etihad Airways will have its ‘EY’ code on a domestic UAE flight which is an exciting milestone for us. “We look forward to welcoming air travellers through Abu Dhabi and onto international flights across the Etihad Airways network.”

John Brayford, RAK Airways’ chief executive officer, said: “We are delighted to announce our code share agreement with Etihad Airways, which has followed many months of consultation and collaboration between our two companies.

“For an airline of the quality and prestige of Etihad Airways to choose RAK Airways as a code share partner shows how far RAK Airways has advanced since its re-launch in 2010 and is testament to the hard work of all our staff and the loyalty of our customers.

“At RAK Airways, we believe in putting the customer at the centre of everything we do and, with this exciting partnership, we are able to offer residents of Ras Al Khaimah and the Northern Emirates a much wider choice of destinations and also, for the first time, a direct link to the capital city Abu Dhabi.”

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Jakarta to have free Wi-Fi connections

August 29 2012 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Jakarta citizens will soon be able to enjoy a free Wi-Fi connection to be provided by the citys regional government next September. The free internet access will be enjoyed by citizens who are passing or driving through the citys main roads of Sudirman to Thamrin, S Parman and MT Haryono.

“The city government did not spend any money for this free internet connection services. The Wi-Fi installation is part of the compensation of provided by the third party installing the fiber optic networks in the two roads,” Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo told reporters.

The governor said that the free internet network services can be enjoyed by people who happened to be passing on the capital`s roads, either by those riding on the Trans-Jakarta buses or those who were being there in the areas covered by the Wi-Fi networks.

Fauzi claimed that the permit for this Wi-Fi installation had been issued a long time ago, but it would be realized early in September 2012.

Currently, Wi-Fi networks have also been installed in a number of places including in the National Monument (Monas) area, Menteng Park, Ayodya Park, Harmoni and Dukuhatas Busway stop, and the City Hall building.

“The presence of the new Wi-Fi network will reinforced the existing free networks already installed earlier. It is installed for the development and progress of Jakarta as a metropolitan city,” he said.

The municipal city spokesperson, Sugiyanta added that the free internet service would be evenly distributed throughout the capital region in the next five years. Hopefully every Kelurahan, the lowest city administration level, can enjoy the free internet in the near future.

“Compensation is obtained from three companies, who each provide their two canals to be used by the city government,” Sugiyanta added.

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Indonesia to speed up development of SEZ infrastructure

September 4 2012 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The government will speed up development of infrastructure for two special economic zones of Sei Mangke in North Sumatra and Tanjung Lesung in Banten. “I ask for acceleration,” chief economics minister Hatta Rajasa said after a meeting on the special economic zones here on Tuesday.

Hatta said the process in the development of the Sei Mengke special economic zone has been hampered over problem in land clearing slowing the progress of work in its infrastructure. “The problem has been sorted out and we hope no more problem concerning land clearing,” he stated. “Road construction has been progressing as expected. Everything has been on the track carried out by the public works ministry,” he said.

He said development of Sei Mengke could be integrated with development of nearby ports such as Dumai and Belawan ports. The special industrial area is also expected to boost development of downstream mineral and palm oil industries, he said.

North Sumatra and neighboring province of Riau are the country`s largest producer of palm oil. The burden of Dumai and Belawan would be reduced in exporting bulky raw materials such as crude palm oil and minerals from the two regions.

Hatta said there have been private investors ready to take over development of the Tanjung Lesung tourism area. He said investors have been ready to build a toll road and and airport with the government contributing to widen the national roads in that area.

“Sei Mangke will be built by state company with support from the government and Tanjung Lesung is to be built by the private sector to be backed up by the government,” he said.

The government`s part of the job of building and widening roads is being carried out by the public works ministry to be completed in 2012-2013, he said. The economics minister also discussed 13 proposals for new special economic zones and plan to build two special economic zones this year.

The two zones to be built this year are Palu and Bitung both in the economic corridor of Sulawesi in the Master Plan of Acceleration and Expansion of the Indonesian Economic Development (MP3EI). “The National Council of Special Economic Zone is studying preparation in 2012 and a team propose Palu and Bitung both in Sulawesi,” he said.

Hatta expressed disappointment with case in Sei Mengke that such big investor like Unilever reconsidered plan to invest there only on land dispute. “It should not necessary be a problem with good preparation,” he said, adding the experience in Sei Mangke should happen again.”

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Egypt to have first bank specialising in SMEs

Ahram Online, Thursday 6 Sep 2012 – Egypt could see its first bank specialising in loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) within six years, Tariq Amer, chairperson of the National Bank of Egypt (NBE), said in an exclusive interview with Ahram Online.

The bank would have capital of LE50 billion ($8.3 billion), he added. The bank will be part of the NBE and only deal with SMEs developing projects in Egypt.

“The NBE’s SME portfolio was around LE8.6 billion as of 2010/11, with a delinquency rate of 0.5 per cent,” Amer told Ahram Online.

China Development Bank recently made a $200 million commercial loan to the National Bank of Egypt to support SMEs. In August the World Bank approved a $200 million loan to fund Egyptian SMEs through the Social Development Fund.

In June the Federation of Egyptian Banks (FEB) put forward a plan to identify major obstacles faced by SMEs and make recommendations to remove such obstacles.

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Egypt sees 33% rise in German tourists; to boost visa issuance for Chinese

Ahram Online, Saturday 1 Sep 2012 – German tourists travelling to Egypt have reached 500,000 this year, rising 33.6 per cent during the first half of 2012 compared to the same period last year, stated Hisham Zazou, Egyptian minister of tourism, Saturday.

At the opening ceremony of the workshop of German tourism agents in El-Gouna (around 400 kilometres southeast of Cairo), Zazou added that the first six months of 2012 saw 6.7 million overnight hotel stays, a rise of 40 per cent compared to the first half of 2011.

There are around a billion tourists worldwide, which affirms that tourism is one of the country’s top priorities, as it is a key source of foreign currencies, while building job opportunities, according to Zazou.

On the visit of President Mohamed Morsi to China, Zazou commented that Egypt hopes to attract 160,000 Chinese tourists in 2013 compared to 110,000 tourists last year, and this will happen through increasing flights between the two countries and easing visa restrictions for Chinese travellers.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt in the first half of 2012 grew by 23 per cent to reach 5.08 million, according to data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics released in August. Tourism revenue plunged 30 per cent to $9 billion in 2011, against $12.5 billion in 2010.

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The Fertile Crescent: Female artists from Middle East take on New Jersey

Ahram Online, Monday 3 Sep 2012 – Organised by the Rutgers University’s Institute for Women and Art, a centre which aims to harness gender equality and more exposure for female artists, The Fertile Crescent showcases 12 art exhibitions and a series of, lectures, films, musical events by contemporary Middle Eastern artists from mid-August to mid-January.

Artwork from Egypt, Israel, Kuwait, Iran, Syria and Lebanon, among others, present perspectives from the Middle East to an American audience through a range of different mediums. Exhibited in the shadows of the spotlight-demanding Arab Spring, the artwork does not solely revolve around politics; it presents gender tensions, religion, the question of heritage and tradition through diverse artists from contrasting backgrounds.

“Through painting, video, photography, sculpture, film, and multi-media, these artists explore issues of gender, homeland, geopolitics, theology, transnationalism and the interaction between East and West,” reads the press release.

“The work challenges Western stereotypes of Middle East women as oppressed, the sexual objects of men, with their bodies disappearing under veils, while acknowledging existing social and theological restrictions that have caused many of them to leave their homelands.”

All events will take place around New Brunswick and Princeton, New Jersey in Mason Gross Galleries Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; Princeton University Art Museum and Bernstein Gallery, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University; Arts Council of Princeton.

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First Iranian Oscar winner to screen in Egypt

Ahram Online, Sunday 2 Sep 2012 – A Separation (2011) has picked up a Golden Globe award for best foreign language film, a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, and an Oscar for best foreign film at the 2012 Academy Awards. Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian domestic drama tackles traditions, relationships and divorce in modern-day Iran. Starring Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, and Sarina Farhadi, the film was a major hit across the globe, earning much respect and shedding light on Iranian cinema.

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Culture Palace of Banha to be inaugurated in Egypt

Ahram Online, Tuesday 28 Aug 2012 – Minister of Culture Saber Arab along with Governor of Qalioubiya Adel Zayed and head of the General Authority of Culture Palaces poet Saad Abdul-Rahman are to inaugurate the Culture Palace of Banha and the Children’s Palace on Thursday 30 August, after the completion of renovation on both the culture ministry announced.

According to Ahram Arabic, the Culture Palace of Benha and the Children’s Palace are both located on 2,225 square metres and have been renovated at a cost of LE 27 million.

The Culture Palace of Banha is located in Banha, the capital of the governorate of Qalioubiya in the north of Cairo on the Nile Delta. It consists of three floors. Its first floor has a reception area, visitors’ centre, a hall of fine arts, and a theatre.

On its second floor the focus is on Egyptian folklore and cultural heritage; here visitors will find training and workshops rooms for folk art, music. There is a women’s club and information technology club for young people serving the Banha community. The third floor includes a public library and a number of rooms for film screenings and seminars.

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Iranian artist Reza Derakshani holds solo exhibit in New York

Ahram Online, Saturday 1 Sep 2012 – Reza Derakshani is a multifaceted artist; a musician, a visual and an installation artist. He was born in Sangsar in the northeast of Iran and studied visual arts in Tehran and the United States. His art career took him to New York and Italy, but his art traveled to exhibitions and festivals throughout the world.

Through his work he portrays his cultural roots, the influence of global art movements and his movement across the globe. His artwork – best know for its large scale and experimental use of materials, including glitter, soil, sand, tar, gold and silver leaf among others – is a reflection of his multi-layered identity as an artist and a citizen of the world.

“Silence of the Night marks a significant turn for Derakshani. Rather than highlighting land and culture by using vibrant colours, lyrical imagery and words, the artist now employs a strict palette of mostly black and white, and applies limited mediums of sand, soil and enamel,” reads the exhibit’s press release.

“This new body of work acts as a memorial to the transience of nationhood and home. Persian iconography…rendered in black sand, act as an embodiment of mourning and as a commemoration of a land and culture that once was.”

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Plan to set up ‘Bangladesh-Japan Friendship Economic Zone’

DHAKA, Aug 30,2012 (BSS) – Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Lt Col (retd) Faruk Khan today mooted an idea to set up ‘Bangladesh-Japan Friendship Economic Zone’ in a joint venture manner to boost Dhaka-Tokyo trade and tourism. “We can jointly set up such economic zone, which could be a model of friendship for Bangladeshi and Japanese people,” Khan said when a Japanese business delegation met him at his Secretariat office.

Kazuhisa Matsuoka, Chairman of Japan International Cooperation Centre (JICE), led the eight-member Japanese business delegation. The main objective of the visit of Japanese entrepreneurs is to explore business opportunities in Bangladesh especially in tourism, aviation, education and health sectors.

Welcoming the idea, Matsuoka said such an economic zone could be built for the next generations in Bangladesh and Japan.Faruk Khan said Bangladesh always favour Japanese investment for three reasons – investment is good, protected and state-of- the- art technology.

He said there are areas available on riversides outside Dhaka and those could be utilized for setting up economic zone. He suggested that a small committee could be formed to select the area for the planned economic zone or new tourism town to attract tourists. “Lack of facilities hinders arrival of more Japanese tourists in Bangladesh,” he added.

Terming Chittagong port city as lifeline of country’s economy, the minister said steps are underway to expand the runway of Cox’s Bazar airport from 6,000 feet to 10,000 feet and it would be done by the next three years. Various issues including investment in tourism and aviation, simplification of visa procedure for Japanese entrepreneurs came up for discussion during the meeting.

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Bangladesh plans to build railway bridge over Jamuna river

DHAKA, Sept 1, 2012 (BSS) – The government has decided to construct a railway bridge involving Taka 8,200 crore over the mighty river Jamuna aimed at meeting the regional traffic growth and improving the flow of goods and passengers.

Railway officials said they proposed construction of the dual gauge double-track bridge for completing the structure by 2017 beside the existing Bangabandhu Multipurpose Bridge to establish a strategic railway link between the eastern and western parts of the country.

They said once implemented, the project will ensure lower transport cost and quicker travel time beside meeting the increasing regional traffic growth which will ultimately contribute to the national economy.

“A railway bridge over the mighty river Jamuna is very much

required at the moment due to increase in number of passengers and flow of goods,” Bangladesh Railway Director General Mohammad Abu Taher told BSS today.

He said the existing railway bridge attached to the Bangabandhu Multipurpose Bridge could not take heavy load and a small number of trains are running over the bridge with only 15- km speed. Improving the flow of goods and passengers and connecting infrastructure from one side of the country to the other are imperative to enhance economic activities, Taher said.

Another official of the Railwar Ministry said the railway bridge project will establish link with trans-Asia highway and rail, facilitating movement of goods from Nepal, Bhutan and Northeastern India to and through Bangladesh.

He said the Terms of Reference (ToR) and Feasibility Study of the project have been sent to the Public Private Partnership (PPP) office regulated by the Prime Minister’s Office after a decision on 16 May 2012.

Ministry officials said the meeting held at the PPP office on 21 June took decision to send the project to the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) for approval of the project in principle. Describing the importance of constructing a railway bridge over the Jamuna River communication expert Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury said the government should urgently construct the rail bridge parallel to the Bangabandhu Multipurpose Bridge due to increasing traffic demand.

Moreover, it will be a cost effective project as it (project) doesn’t require river training and land acquisition cost, he said, adding the project is possible to complete within the stipulated time frame.

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UAE to feature at Morocco Arab culture show

Abu Dhabi, 13 Shawwal1433/ 01 September 2012 (IINA) – The United Arab Emirates set to participate in an Arab cultural event in Marrakech from September 13 to 16. Moroccan artist Abdul Latif Zain, supervisor of the Arab Salon of Contemporary Art, said the UAE’s participation confirms its support for cultural and artistic expression.

Zain said his meetings with senior UAE officials overseeing culture and fine arts initiatives had made him aware of their great interest in Arab artistic expression. “The UAE’s efforts in promoting the show’s success are appreciated,” he said. The Marrakech art show aims to provide an arena for cultural openness, communication and exchange between artists of different affiliations and artistic expressions. The technical committee of the event includes Emirati artists Dr Najat Makki and Abdul Kader Al Rais besides experts from several other countries.

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Kuveyt Turk to open first Islamic bank in Germany

Cairo, 15 Shawwal1433/ 02 September 2012 (IINA) – Istanbul-based Turkish financial institute – Kuveyt Turk investment fund – plans to open the first Islamic bank of its kind in Germany in October, amid hopes of overcoming the bad effects of the ongoing euro crisis and get a share of the successful Islamic banking pie.

“The idea of an Islamic bank is that it adheres to Islamic investment guidelines and principles,” Zaid el-Mogaddedi, founder and director of the Institute for Islamic Banking and Finance (IFIBAF) in Frankfurt, told Deutsche Welle yesterday.

The bank was introduced as many Europeans hope to sign on to a banking institute that offers only transactions backed by tangible assets rather than highly speculative financial management which caused the ongoing euro crisis. “You have to see that it in the Islamic financial system are also mechanisms that mimic the interest rate effect – though it is not the same,” said Martin Schulte, an Islamic banking expert at the Association of Foreign Banks in Germany.

“Money is fruitless, that is to say that simply transferring money does not create economic value,” he said. “It is a medium of exchange, which itself has no economic power.” Conventional banking, however, is partly based on the concept that lending money is a service in itself that is worthy of compensation.

“But in the Islamic understanding it is possible to develop products that are economically useful and complement the conventional banking business from a macro perspective very well.” Islam forbids Muslims from usury, receiving or paying interest on loans. Islamic banks and finance institutions cannot receive or provide funds for anything involving alcohol, gambling, pornography, tobacco, weapons or pork. Shariah-compliant financing deals resemble lease-to-own arrangements, layaway plans, joint purchase and sale agreements, or partnerships.

Investors have a right to know how their funds are being used, and the sector is overseen by dedicated supervisory boards as well as the usual national regulatory authorities. Introduced years ago in different European countries, experts hope German new Islamic funds to be more successful than that of UK and France.

“The decisive point will be whether the Islamic banks offer an attractive product portfolio and good services,” El-Mogaddedi from the Institute for Islamic Banking and Finance, said. Also “whether the communication is clear enough to bring Muslims and non-Muslims to the bank as an attractive alternative,” he added.

A study published in 2012 by the Stresemann Institute found that “Islamic finance” had failed in European countries because Muslim customers had lower income levels and thus little investment potential. But El-Mogaddedi said the failure of Islamic financial products in Europe came down to bad marketing.

Staying reluctant for years to taste the booming industry, an Islam-conform investment fund was established in Germany in May 2012 by the Malaysian asset manager CIMB Principal. The fund was approved by the German Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin). Germany has between 3.8 and 4.3 million Muslims, making up some five percent of the total 82 million population, according to government-commissioned studies.

The new Islamic finance targets Germany’s roughly 4 million Muslim residents, along non-Muslims. Islamic banking is one of the fastest growing financial sectors in the world. Islamic financial products got their first major boost after the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Many Arabs withdrew their money from the US at the time, and some of those funds, according to Abdullah, ended up in Malaysia and the Gulf states.

A second boost came during the international financial crisis, when Islamic financial products actually showed profits. The Dow Jones Islamic Market Titans Index, which tracks the 100 biggest Islam-compliant businesses in Europe, the US and Asia, has nearly doubled over the last five years. The Shariah-compliant system is now being practiced in 50 countries worldwide, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the global financial industry. Currently, there are nearly 300 Islamic banks and financial institutions worldwide whose assets amounting to $1.6 trillion (1.2 trillion euros).

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Commercial hub Istanbul to host ‘halal’ conventions

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News – The city will host a large halal food fair and an Islamic fashion fair, along with a number of similar events. Turkey is filing a gap left by Syria in clothes, an organizer says. Istanbul is preparing to host two large “halal” conventions in a row, as well as a series of smaller ones, as the Islamic world’s interest in Turkey expands beyond trade and tourism.

Halal is commonly considered to be a food code, but the Tesettür Fair, an international modest clothing event kicks off Sept. 13, with the Iran Halal Research Council as a media sponsor.

Turkey’s innovative modest clothing sector shines with an increasing potential to export goods to the Middle East and Muslim-majority countries, organizers said in a written statement. The event will match buyers and sellers from a dozen countries from the region.

The unrest in the Middle East has affected the market negatively, but Turkey’s position is still good, a fair organizer said in a phone interview yesterday. “Syria’s was also good, but no goods come out of there now because of the turmoil. Turkey is replacing it.”

Shukr Clothing, one of the global trendsetters in Islamic dress, is among the guests attending the fair, as well as Iranian designer Soheil Abbasi.

The Iranian state will have a separate pavilion at the event, in a bid to promote the country. “Considering that there are around 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, one can see the volume of the market,” said organizer Demos Fuarcılık’s general manager, Hüseyin Aslan.

“If you think that only 250 million of these people dress according to an Islamic code, you can calculate that the Islamic-clothing market is about 10 times larger than the Turkish textile market.”

Turkey’s geographical position and the recent lifting of visa requirements for other Middle Eastern countries helps the fair grow rapidly every year, Aslan also said.

Another large upcoming event is the “Halal and Healthy Products Fair,” a four-day event which starts on Oct. 11. A separate international fair and a business forum by the Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD) will be held simultaneously with the fair, which, according to organizers, will create a unique synergy.

The size of the Islamic-products market is 15 times larger than Turkey’s overall exports, the organizers said in a written note. Some 150 companies are expected to participate in the event, with buyers expected from 24 countries.

Turkey’s Small and Medium Industry Development Organization (KOSGEB) is providing 50 percent grants for the fees of small and medium sized companies participating in the event.

Gimdes, Turkey’s halal-licensing authority, and the World Halal Council (WHC) support the fair, along with KOSGEB. Gimdes also holds an international conference on Sept. 1, gathering representatives from a wide range of countries, including from the U.S., Russia and South Africa.

Halal products to be promoted at the fair include food and drinks, cosmetics, cleaning materials, textiles and fashion products, pilgrimage equipment, and medical products. The buyers hosted at the fair are from Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Syria, India, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Finland, Canada, Philippines, Brazil, Belgium, England and France.

The Islamic Cultures Expo in Istanbul, a rather smallevent compared with the two fairs above, kicks off tomorrow. A group of Muslims from China have arrived in Turkey at the start of the week to attend the event, Anatolia news agency reported.

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Japanese to get a taste for Turkey’s ‘şalgam’

Sadi Özdemir ISTANBUL / Hürriyet – Turkish beverage producer Doğanay, which established its first şalgam suyu, or beet juice, factory in Adana in 1996, expects to see $60 million Turkish Liras in turnover this year, and plans to enter the Japanese market in October. Şalgam juice is a traditional drink from the region of Adana in southern Turkey.

Şalgam juice exports began to pick up in 2001, and Doğanay produced 66 million liters of the beet juice last year. The company already exports to Europe, and had 2.5 million liras in exports last year, said Rafet Doğanay, one of the two Doğanay brothers who run the company. Now Doğanay has its sights set on Japan, and will begin exporting to the country next month.

In 2011, the company brought in 42 million liras in revenue, and this number is expected to grow to 60 million liras in 2012 and 100 million liras in 2013, Doğanay said.

“In addition to şalgam, we produce lemon juice, lemonade, and vinegar, but 65 percent of our production is still şalgam juice,” said Doğanay. The company employs 225 people and has invested 30 million euros to date, on infrastructure such as refrigerated storage units. Doğanay produces 66 million liters of şalgam juice per year and 40-45 million liters of other products.

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World’s largest dates festival opens in Buraidah

Buraidah, 17 Shawwal1433/ 04 September 2012 (IINA) – The world’s largest dates festival opened in Saudi Arabia’s Buraida on Sunday with farmers and venders presenting a variety of products worth millions of riyals. Sales during the 90-day event are expected to cross SR 1 billion.

Qassim Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar, who inaugurated the festival as well as the Date Palm Center in Buraidah, thanked the government for its generous support to date farmers and companies in the province. “I am very happy to see the tremendous progress achieved by the Buraidah Dates Festival over the years. It helps marketing this vital product not only in the Kingdom but all over the world,” the governor said.

Prince Faisal said his governorate would do everything possible for the development of date palm farming in the region and conducting research on date palms. “We’ll make it a major source of economy,” he added. The governor distributed prizes to winners of the best farm; outstanding service to dates and date palms; and the best scientific work on dates and date palms.

He also honored the festival’s sponsors and prominent participants. During the 90-day festival around 300,000 tons of dates will be sold, reaching a combined sales figure of more than SR 1 billion. Last year the festival saw sales reaching SR 800 million. “This is the peak season for dates and more than 2,000 vehicles are coming to Buraidah daily to sell thousands of tons of dates,” said Khaled Al-Naqeedan, CEO of Buraidah Dates Festival.

Sukkari is the most popular variety of dates being sold in the market, accounting for 80 percent of total sales. Good quality white and red Sukkari dates are sold from SR 50 per box. The prices will go up to SR 270, based on quality. Other types of dates include Hashishi, Aseela, Rothana and Al-Khalas. Saudi Arabia has the highest number of palm trees in the world with more than 23 million accounting for 20 percent of world production. There are more than 6 million date palms in Qassim province alone.

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China To Host Int’l Forum For Muslim Entrepreneurs In Yinchuan

Yinchuan, China, Sept 5 (Nnn-Xinhua) — An international forum for Muslim entrepreneurs will be held next week in Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region in northwestern China. More than 500 Muslim entrepreneurs and experts from the United States, Britain, Russia and various Islamic countries will attend the three-day forum beginning next Tuesday, said Yang Youxian, the deputy mayor of the city.

Topics regarding Muslim culture, the halal industry, tourism exchanges and economic co-operation will be discussed at the forum, said Yang. The forum is part of the 3rd China-Arab States Economic and Trade Forum, which is scheduled to be held from Sept 12 to 16 in Yinchuan.

Boosted by the forum, trade between the city and Middle East countries surged 30 per cent year on year to reach 120 million USD in 2011, statistics show.

This year’s forum will feature United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Trade Minister Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al-Qassimi as guest of honour. The minister will be accompanied by a 60-member delegation, as well as the country’s national women’s soccer team. Ningxia is home to the Hui, China’s largest Muslim ethnic group.

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