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15 Apr, 2013

Indonesia to Restore “Shockingly” Polluted Rivers

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Muqbil


A compilation of stories of interesting events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 15 April 2013 (04 Jumaada al-Thaani 1434). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.


World Islamic Tourism Mart to be held in Kuala Lumpur

The World Islamic Tourism Mart (WITM) and Malaysia International Tourism Exchange (WITM-MITE) 2013 jointly organised by the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) and My Events Sdn Bhd, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Tourism Malaysia, MyCeB and Islamic Tourism Centre, amongst others, will be held at the Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur from 6-9 June 2013. WITM-MITE 2013 comprises of: B2B Travel Exchange for Buyers and Sellers to network and expand their market potential, and International Conference, Date: 6-7 June 2013; and Consumer Travel Fair Date: 8-9 June 2013. MATTA is encouraging its Members to participate in WITM-MITE 2013 by taking up booths as SELLERS/EXHIBITORS in the Business-to-Business Travel Exchange and Consumer Travel Fair as well as to attend the international conference featuring world renowned speakers. Top Management from numerous countries will be at WITM-MITE 2013 as Buyers seeking opportunities to expand their business with Malaysian Inbound tourism players. For further information, please click here:

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/ or

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

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

Blog: http://blog.tourism.gov.my


Watch Islamic Travel Newswire Executive Editor Imtiaz Muqbil’s landmark TEDx lecture on “Peace through Tourism” on YouTube — the first travel industry journalist in Bangkok invited to speak at this prestigious forum. CLICK HERE.


“Weighing the Causes And Costs Of Global Wars And Conflict” and other columns gagged by the Bangkok Post

For 15 years (January 1997-July 2012), Imtiaz Muqbil penned a hard-hitting fortnightly column called “Soul-Searching” in the Bangkok Post. In July 2012, two editors (Sunday Post Editor Paul Ruffini and Managing Editor Chiratas Nivatpumin) of the so-called “newspaper you can trust” censored and muzzled it, with no explanation. In defiance against that unprecedented action, and at the behest of many upset readers, a selection of the nearly 400 columns are reproduced here, with more to be added regularly. Read this column Weighing the causes and costs of global wars and conflict, and several others, by clicking here.

Examples of some columns:

Globalisation Will Make Religion Even More Relevant

Treating the Symptoms and Not the Cause Is a Recipe for Death

Acts of God Show the Wrath of God

Those Who Send Others to Die for a Lie Are all Cut from the Same Cloth



Indonesia to Restore “Shockingly” Polluted Rivers

Jakarta (ANTARA News) April 13 2013 – Indonesia is a tropical country having at least 5,590 rivers and 65,017 tributaries with a total length of the rivers at around 94,573 km and broad river basins reaching 1,512.466 km2. Like in many other countries, river is a source of water which has a very important function for the lives and livelihoods of the Indonesian people, among other things for irrigation and drinking water.

The Indonesian Environmental Affairs Ministry last month, however, issued shocking data revealing that 52 strategic rivers in Indonesia’s 33 provinces have been polluted. “Based on the monitoring data, water pollution has occurred in 52 strategic rivers in the countrys 33 provinces. The water quality monitoring is an effort to save the water,” Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs Henry Bastaman said in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, in March 2013 when opening a national technical working meeting on river water quality in Indonesias 33 provinces.

The ministry has set up 411 monitoring spots in 52 strategic rivers. Based on the 2012 monitoring results, only 0.49 percent of rivers being monitored meet the water quality standard, while 75.25 percent seriously polluted, 22.52 moderately polluted and 1.73 percent slightly polluted.

Water pollution is a serious threat at present and in the future, he stated, adding the country`s water resources are at critical state currently. “Water scarcity has happened in various regions. Water springs are becoming rare in this tropical nation having high rain precipitation. We have to be cautious about the water issue,” he stated.

Most of the polluted rivers are located on Java Island, and the worst polluted include Ciliwung River in Jakarta and Citarum River (West Java). The Ciliwung river is one of Indonesia`s 10 major rivers that also include Cisadane, Citanduy, Bengawan Solo, Progo, Kampar, Batanghari, Musi, Barito, and Mamasa/Sadang. Citarum River is considered as one of the national strategic rivers.

However, nearly 70 percent of the rivers are polluted. Among factors contributing to river pollution are: changes in land use; population growth; lack of public awareness of river basin conservation; pollution caused by erosion of critical land, industrial waste; household waste; and agricultural waste.

In the Cisadane River, for example, almost 84 percent of pollutants in the river came from domestic waste coming from households, hotels, restaurants and vehicle workshops. “Based on a research, 84 percent of water in the Cisadane River is polluted by domestic waste,” Affandi Permana, the head of the Tangerang environmental affairs office, said late March 2013.

Industrial waste particularly coming from iron and manganese plants constituted 14 percent of the total pollutants in the river, and the remaining two percent was waste from other sources.

The Tangerang city administration has warned that it will close down a factory if it is proven to have polluted the city. Of 100 plants existing in Tangerang city, 63 have been obliged to set up good waste treatment facilities. “If they violate the regulation, they will be given a sanction,” he said.

The already-polluted Cisadane River was hit by an “environmental disaster” recently when a truck carrying 22,000 liters of used lubricating oil leaked. Due to the leakage, the waste lube oil was scattered along Tangerang highway and flowed into the river.

Almost 80 percent of the surface of the Cisadane River has been polluted by used lubricating oil, according to Deputy Mayor of Tangerang Arief R Wismansyah. “Based on our field monitoring, almost 80 percent of the surface of the Cisadane River has been covered by waste lubricating oil,” Wismansyah on April 12, 2013.

Almost all surface of the 3.2-km river has been covered by the pollutant. The Tangerang city administration will sue those polluting the river with 22,000 liters of used lubricating oil, he said.

“The pollution in the Cisadane River is categorized as a serious one because the used oil in the surface of the river has prevented oxygen from entering into the water,” he said. The Indonesian government has planned to restore 13 major rivers, including the Ciliwung River, which flows through Bogor, Depok (West Java Province) and Jakarta.

“There are 13 rivers that will be restored,” said Balthasar Kambuaya, Indonesia`s Environmental Affairs Minister, on December 3, 2012, after signing the agreement on the restoration of the Ciliwung River.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Ciliwung Restoration Project was signed by the Indonesian Environmental Affairs Ministry, the Korean Environmental Industry and Technology Institute (KEITI) and the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

The Indonesian government chose South Korea as a partner in the river restoration project because South Korea has managed to clean the Han River which was heavily polluted in the past. The Ciliwung restoration project will become a turning point for similar river restoration projects throughout the country. “We are focusing on Ciliwung first,” said the minister.

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Malaysia: Giant Panda Conservation Centre to be Ready by November

KUALA LUMPUR April 13, 2013 (Bernama) – The Giant Panda Conservation and Exhibition Centre project at Zoo Negara is expected to be completed in November 2013, said Natural Resource and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas.

Work on the 1.6 hectare exhibition centre started yesterday and will conform to the natural habitat of the pair of pandas from China complete with the cultivation of the type of bamboo they eat and temperature of 24 °Celsius which they are accustomed to, he said.

“This is not just an exhibit for animal lovers but also a way to strengthen Malaysia and China’s bilateral ties,” he said at the handing over of the project site to Damaikon Sdn Bhd, the company responsible for the construction, yesterday. Also present was People’s Republic of China Embassy, Charge d’affaires Chen Dehai.

The two countries signed an agreement on June 15, 2012 to seal the project as a symbol of their 40 years of diplomatic relations which will be celebrated in 2014. He said the centre was estimated at RM25 million of which RM15 million would be borne by 1Malaysia Development Berhad and the rest by the government.

Douglas said Malaysia had also sent a representative to China to learn about caring for the pandas and China had sent their representative to advise on the exhibit here. The giant pandas were expected to arrive in December this year and would potentially boost tourism, especially with the 2014 Visit Malaysia Year, he added.

He said the cabinet chose Zoo Negara to house the pandas following feedback from various parties. The ministry will name the pandas after evaluating the 2,324 suggestions through the national level contest which was held between June 15 and Dec 21 2012.

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Morocco’s House of Representatives blasts Israeli denial of access to Palestine

Rabat – April 09, 2013 (MAP)- The House of Representatives expressed support and solidarity with MP Mohamed Mehdi Bensaid who was denied access to the Palestinian territories by the Israeli authorities Sunday at the borders of the king Hussein’s bridge (Jordan), stressing that it is still monitoring the developments in this case in coordination with the ministry of foreign affairs and cooperation.

The House of Representatives condemns this “discriminatory and arrogant act” by the Israeli authorities against Bensaid, member of the political affairs committee and democracy of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) .

Israel refused on Sunday to let Bensaid and Ali Salem Chakef, president of the Chamber of advisors’ foreign commission enter Palestine. They were supposed to take part in Ramallah in a meeting of the sub-commission on the Middle east of the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly with Palestinian officials.

An emergency meeting of parliamentary groups presidents was held to express the legislators full solidarity with the MPs.

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Ghazni city launched as Islamic countries’ cultural center

Kabul (BNA): Aprill 11, 2013, Ghazni city will introduce as the Islamic countries’ culture and civilization center through and international seminar expected to be held in Ghazni province, in April 13, 2013.

The city has been well-known for its old history and had been mentioned in Avista as Kakhra one of the 13th Avista terrains. The subject has also been mentioned in a book called Afghanistan geographical lexicon audited by Prof. Mohammad Hussain Yamin.

Designation of Ghazni as the capital of the Islamic culture by ISESCO will provide a suitable opportunity for the Muslim countries to further strengthen their solidarity.

The Ghaznavid Empire tightened sovereignty after the city pulled out of the Abubakr power by Sabuktegin and reached its magnificence apex and found the reputation of “Arusul Falak”.

Ghazni was from the most beautiful city, where numerous find castles and high raising buildings had been constructed and splendorous townships had been established. People were engaged in different crafts, such ceramic, blacksmithing etc, in the city

But, the city then had been torched and destroyed by Alauddin Hussain, who rose to take revenge of his two brothers. The city was finally planned to be reconstructed and helped to region its revitalization, with numerous religions scholars’ tombs had been reconstructed.

Before five years, the city was decided to be introduced as the capital central for the Islamic countries cultural center by Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and the Islamic Countries Conference. The city will soon host regional and international visitors.

Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Hosseini hailed designation of Ghazni as capital of Islamic Culture. Addressing the ceremony, he said that Ghazni was the land of great personalities, poets and scholars who contributed a lot to the Islamic and global culture. The city as the cradle of science and knowledge has nurtured many great personalities to the Muslim world, he noted.

ISESCO, affiliated to the Jeddah-based Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, is specialized in promoting cooperation in education, science, culture and communications among the member states.

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AirAsia Offers Rs3,000 Promo Fare To Kuala Lumpur From Trichy

NEW DELHI, April 12 (NNN-Bernama) — After its mega sale of cheap tickets, Malaysia’s low cost airline, AirAsia Bhd, is now offering promo fares on its flights to Kuala Lumpur from Tiruchirapalli as it increases the number of the flights from this South Indian city to 14 from 11.

The airline will offer tickets for Rs3,000 (RM167) (one-way only) to the Malaysian capital which sees good number of passengers, especially during the vacation period, The Economic Times reported.

The low fares however will be available only on the increased frequencies that fly out on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, the airline said. The price includes airport taxes and surcharges and is subjective to availability, AirAsia said. The offer to buy the cheap tickets started yesterday till April 17 and is for travel dates between May 26 and Sept 30, 2013, AirAsia said.

AirAsia said that adding more flights would give immense benefits to Indian nationals working and living in Malaysia and across the region.

“The airline’s low fares, extensive route network and enhanced flight timings will make it convenient to connect from Trichy to Kuala Lumpur and vice- versa,” the airline said in a statement.

AirAsia also said that if passengers took advantage of the pre-booking facility for the check-in-baggage online along with flight bookings (on its website), they will be able to save up to 66 per cent as compared to checking-in their bags over the airport counter.

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Kazakhstan’s Almaty Airport sets 20-year Master Plan

Source: Airport World. 08 April 2013 – Kazakhstan’s Almaty International Airport has laid out its master plan to accommodate passenger growth for the next 20 years.

Lufthansa Consulting and the airport have finalised their comprehensive master plan development project, which “will put Kazakhstan’s largest international airport on the right track to face the future challenges in its market environment and meets international safety standards”.

In a statement, Lufthansa Consulting added: “Almaty International Airport will be able to accommodate future growth in terms of passengers, cargo and aircraft movements.”

The master plan project started in November 2011 and allocates space to the airport and airfield areas, such as the existing and new passenger terminal, cargo and maintenance facilities as well as the runway system.

The master plan has been developed in line with international accepted planning and operational performance as well as with safety and security requirements according to international ICAO and IATA standards.

Aibol Bekmukhambetov, president of Almaty International Airport, said: “Thanks to the fruitful collaboration with experts from Lufthansa Consulting, Almaty International Airport now has settled a road map for the development of both the airfield and terminal infrastructure, which will be consistently implemented. “Our airport will make every effort to meet the growing demands and needs of carriers and their passengers.”

Almaty International Airport currently services more than 50,000 flights annually, handles more than four million passengers every year, and cooperates with 40 airlines.

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New scheme to bolster Tourism Training in Gulf region

Gulf Daily News – 11 April, 2013 – A pan-Arab scheme to train government employees in tourism statistics could soon be launched in a bid to develop the sector. Delegates at the first Arab Conference on Tourism Statistics also agreed to create dedicated departments in concerned government bodies to produce tourism figures and support decision-makers in introducing new schemes.

They passed seven main recommendations yesterday as the three-day event concluded. It was attended by representatives from Arab League secretariats, the Arab Tourism Organisation, Arab ministries of tourism and statistics as well as experts and investors. It was organised by the Central Informatics Organisation (CIO) in co-operation with the Arab League.

“Other recommendations include; all Arab countries should turn their attention to developing their tourism statistical production and that is to answer the need for policy-makers to be provided information on the status of tourism to pave way for improvements,” read official documents. “Raising awareness on the importance of tourism statistics to officials and the need to ensure it comes in line with country’s plans and scheme. Establish regular reports on such statistics following agreed-on strategies.”

Experts also agreed on developing specifications and details necessary to establish tourism statistics. CIO president Dr Mohammed Al Amer earlier said lack of updated statistics was hindering the development of tourism in the region. Such information could help increase the sector’s contribution to Bahrain’s economy, which currently stands at around seven per cent of gross domestic product.

During the event, delegates discussed the possibility of recruiting experts in the field of statistical updates to the tourism sector, organising workshops to develop employees’ abilities in the tourism sectors of the Arab states as well as holding visits to Arab and other countries which had successful tourism experiences.

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Egypt takes part in Travel & Tourism Market in Beijing

Saturday, 13 April 2013 – Egypt’s Deputy Ambassador to China Ihab Abdel-Hamid, tourism advisor Abu El-Maati Sharwai as well as the director of EgyptAir office in Beijing attended the opening of the Egyptian pavilion at the exhibition. In statements to MENA, Media Advisor at the Egyptian embassy in Beijing Ahmed Salam said Egypt is seeking to attract Chinese tourists to the country, noting that Chinese top the ranking of the world’s top tourism spenders that was compiled annually by the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

COTTM is the only dedicated business-to-business outbound travel and tourism exhibition in China. It provides a platform for international tourism boards and travel services to meet with China’s key outbound tour operators.

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Moroccan King Inaugurates Handicraft Complex In Fez

FEZ, April 12 (NNN-MAP) — Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has inaugurated the Ain Nokbi handicraft complex in Fez, giving a strong impetus to the projects aimed at restructuring the handicraft sector and preserving the civilizational, authentic character of the city, which boast the world’s largest urban car-free area.

The new handicraft complex is meant in particular to resettle craftsmen of the Lalla Yeddouna Square in the ancient medina, a world heritage site. It also aims to protect the Sebbou River here against polluting discharges of handicraft activities, upgrade and restructure the copper ware and tanning professions, improve the quality of craft products, increase investment and promote employment.

The 332.53 million dirham (about 39 million USD) project, with 139.82 million dirhams of the amount contributed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States, is expected to generate more than 6,650 jobs.

The complex includes 235 copper ware production units, three areas with 272 workshops dedicated to sub-contractor craftsmen, including 78 workshops for craftsmen of the Lalla Yeddouna Square who area beneficiaries of the relocation. As part of the project, a market for raw leather and hides and a traditional tannery were built.

The King Thursday handed over keys of the workshops to the beneficiaries of the resettlement programme and visited an exhibition of handicraft products.

In addition to the handicrafts sector, the royal interest in the medina of Fez has also materialized through the restoration of several historic sites and monuments, including Chemmayine, Sbitriyine, Staouniyine and El Barka fondouks, considered as landmarks in the history of Morocco and the city.

The rehabilitation of these four foundouks required a total investment of about 83.94 million dirhams, 77.62 million dirhams of which were funded by the MCC. The project will benefit more than 1,250 people.

The preservation of the historical and cultural heritage of the medina of Fez is also the objective of the development and rehabilitation of Lalla Yeddouna Square, implemented for 281 million dirhams.

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New Makkah projects to cater for greater numbers of pilgrims

Arab News – 12 April, 2013 – Private companies and institutions in Saudi Arabia are vying to get a share of the expansion projects of the Two Holy Mosques. Sadco Holding is among the leading companies investing in hotel sector. The company is also involved in the development of Elaf Bakkah project in Makkah, which seeks to create a friendly housing and commercial environment for pilgrims.

“The Elaf Bakkah project is one of the most important scheme in Makkah and it represents a major development in terms of hotel construction,” said Khalid Jamjoum, CEO of Sadco.

Jamjoum said that the project is one of the most important monuments of Mahbas Al-Jinn and is an example for experts working on other hotel projects. He added that his company has worked hard with its engineering capabilities throughout all the stages of the project to ensure quality and efficiency.

Describing the capacity of the hotel, Jamjoum said the building will consist of 24 stories, three parking areas with the capacity to withstand 170 cars, 810 rooms and suites, and a large landing terminal for helicopters. The project will be completed by the second half of this year.

The increased demand for hotels along with the ongoing expansion of the Grand Mosque of Makkah will create more opportunities to boost investment in the hotel industry. This will enable the city to receive greater numbers of pilgrims and ensure their comfort, he said.

A number of towers are under construction in Makkah and more than 2,500 new hotel rooms will be available soon, he added.

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Two levels of mataf at Haram Mosque in Makkah to be ready by Ramadan

Makkah, Wednesday, 29 Jamad Al-Awwal 1434/10 April 2013 (IINA) – The ground and the first floors of the Haram Mosque will be opened for the tawaf (the ritual of circumambulating) this Ramadan while the rooftop will be opened for the upcoming Haj season, said Muhammad Al-Khuzaim, deputy head of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.

An engineering group has been assigned by the Presidency to oversee the expansion project of the holy mosque, which is aimed to increase the capacity of the mataf (the circumambulating area around the Holy Ka’aba), he added. The first phase of the project will be completed 15 days before the holy month of Ramadan allowing 105,000 Muslims to perform tawaf in one hour.

In a related development, the Ministry of Finance is considering financing four projects with total costs of SR12.6 billion. One of the projects is a tunnel connecting the western side of Al-Jamarat Bridge with the new expansion of the Grand Mosque at a cost of SR800 million.

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Tourism facilities at Oman’s Wadi Bani Khalid

Oman Daily Observer – 10 April, 2013 – The second last stage of restoration of Al Adfain Castle in the Wilayat of Wadi Bani Khalid concluded in Al Sharqiyah North Governorate. Renovation works were carried out using local raw material, with the roof being made of palm trunks and walls constructed and painted with Omani cement known as sarooj. Work on Al Adfain Castle’s restoration began in 2011 under the supervision of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture. The fortress is one of the tourist attractions in Al Sharqiyah.

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Turkey’s Ports need overhaul to ‘boost cruise tourism’

Istanbul, turkishpress.com April/13/2013 – Turkey possesses a great potential for cruise tourism thanks to its regional advantages but its ports are failing to accommodate a rising number of ships because they were not designed for cruise ships, a sector player has said.

“Ships have begun to come (to Turkey), but the ports are insufficient as they weren’t built considering cruise tourism,” MSC Cruises Turkey General Manager Necla Tuncel told Anatolia news agency.

Vessels using Greek and Croatian ports might stop by Turkey as well, she said, “but in order to be able to take a share from this tourism, the ports need an urgent overhaul.”

Last year, over 2 million tourists came to 22 Turkish ports carried by 1,517 ships, according to figures provided by Tuncel.

The rehabilitation is not necessary for only Istanbul ports, which are the most popular ones, as İzmir, Marmaris and Kuşadası’s ports should also be overhauled, she said.

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Indonesia needs 30 years to become green again

Jakarta April 11 2013 (ANTARA News) – Indonesian Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan has reiterated the country`s commitment to continuing the implementation of moratorium of new licenses logging concessions for primary forests and peat lands.

Minister Hasan expressed the commitment when speaking in the tenth United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) held in Istanbul, Turkey, April 8-9, 2013, the forestry ministry said in a statement here on Thursday.

During the 2009-2013 period, Indonesia has managed to reach averaged economic growth rate at 6.3 percent annually, despite the implementation of the moratorium.

Indonesia has also managed to cut the deforestation rate from the average of 3.5 million hectares during the 1999-2002 period to 450 ha during 2010-2011, through various forestry policies such as the movement of One Billion Indonesian Trees for the World.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed the Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011 on Moratorium on New Logging Concessions for Primary Forests and Peat lands in May 2011. On the sidelines of the UNFF, the Indonesian ministry held meetings among others with the US deputy secretary of state to discuss the bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and the US.

Minister Hasan also met WRI Director Nigel Sizer on April 9, 2013 during the launch of Global Forest Watch. The UNFF meeting was officially opened by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and participated in by 250 ministers from 197 nations.

In October 2000, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), in its Resolution 2000/35 established the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), a subsidiary body with the main objective to promote “the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests and to strengthen long-term political commitment to this end” based on the Rio Declaration, the Forest Principles, Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 and the outcome of the IPF/IFF Processes and other key milestones of international forest policy.

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Elaf sustains support for Saudi tourism undertakings

Saudi Gazette – 10 April, 2013 – KSA-based travel agencies participating in this year’s edition of the Al Jenadriyah Heritage and Cultural Festival have expressed their strong support for the country’s move to promote the traditional culture and crafts of Saudi Arabia.

During the festival, the Elaf Group of Companies, a leader in Saudi travel, tourism and hospitality, successfully sponsored a Makkah Pavilion that utilized the latest technologies and modern designs to provide visitors with a firsthand experience of Saudi Arabia’s rich and diverse national heritage and culture.

Ziyad Bin Mahfouz, President of Elaf Group, said: “Elaf Group of Companies strives to implement our government’s policies and directives, and always seeks to contribute to the development of the tourism sector.”

“The Elaf Group of Companies continues to support and promote the tourism sector in line with its role in the society and as part of its efforts toward helping achieve the goals of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities,” he added.

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Exposition to Promote Omani products opens

Oman Daily Observer – 11 April, 2013 – Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, officially kicked off preparations for the second edition of the highly-anticipated Omani Products Trade Exhibition which will be held in Doha in November.

Organised by the Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (PAIPED) in partnership with the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) and the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE), the Exhibition aims to foster enhanced trade relations and open-up new commercial opportunities for domestic manufacturers.

During the special OCCI ceremony, Dr Al Sunaidy honoured participants of the Omani Products Trade Exhibition held in Riyadh in December 2012.

In attendance were Ahmed bin Hassan al Dheeb, Under-Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Khalil al Khonji, Chairman, OCCI and Hilal bin Hamad al Hasani, CEO, PEIE, along with PAIPED Board Members and representatives from both private and 1365608822168984600 public sector companies.

Strategies for improving market presence and gaining both short and long-term returns were also highlighted during the ceremony.

The overwhelming response and participation of more than 60 Omani companies in Riyadh in December, prompted the Organising Committee to maintain its successful track record in creating high-profile business initiatives.

The four-day, Qatar trade show is designed to help domestic firms make stronger inroads into the GCC markets. Doha was selected as the venue given the city’s growing global reputation.

Companies interested in participating in the November Omani Products trade fair are encouraged to contact the Organising Committee to learn more about the registration process and details pertaining to the event.

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Etihad plans new ‘Silk Road’

Khaleej Times – 11 April, 2013 – The Etihad Airways strategy will continue to build a new ‘Silk Road’ that connects markets via the Abu Dhabi hub, said Etihad Airways president and CEO, James Hogan.

Speaking at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit, Hogan said: “The airline’s strategy was to focus on growth markets and the global air travel map is being redrawn as new markets evolve, traditional markets decline and the airline industry reshapes itself to accommodate changing conditions.”

Speaking to more than 800 senior travel executives, the chief executive said that legacy airlines were unlikely to progress unless they radically changed the way in which they did business. In addition to the ongoing challenges of economic instability and uncertainty surrounding fuel prices and supply, Hogan said the rapid growth of air travel in markets such as India, Africa and the Middle East meant airlines would need to reshape their networks to accommodate changing traffic flows.

The CEO said one of the fastest-growing regions was the Mideast, where major new hubs including Abu Dhabi were developing to support rapid economic growth in the Gulf region and to connect both new and traditional markets.

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Jeddah Travel Exchange 2013 attracts 25,000 visitors

Arab News – 11 April, 2013 – The 3rd Jeddah Tourism and Travel exhibition (JTTX) attracted more than 25,000 visitors this year. Organized by the Supreme Commission of Tourism and Antiquities, as well as the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), the JTTX aims to promote the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia.

Adnan Hasan Mandora, secretary general at JCCI, revealed that more than 200 exhibitors from major international and local tourism companies have participated this year, highlighting the latest developments and trends in the tourism sector.

“This exhibition is a great opportunity for travel and tourism companies to promote their businesses and exchange experiences and ideas with one another. In addition, this event is a powerful medium in which we can share with international representative our travel promotion programs and highlight the provisions of our tourism industry,” he added.

The secretary general stressed the importance of the JTTX in providing an engaging forum for representatives from different countries and companies to discuss issues related to the industry.

“It is very important to develop bridges of communication with all employees across the travel and tourism sectors in order to achieve a thriving and vibrant domestic tourism industry. Different attractive offers will be discussed with major travel companies to connect them with local companies, thereby enhancing this sector and contributing to the Saudi economy,” he explained.

Mandora also highlighted how tourism is a vital economic resource, which contributes effectively in increasing the GDP of many countries around the world and creates job opportunities.

He also took advantage of the occasion to thank Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal and Prince Mishaal bin Majed for their continued support in developing the Kingdom’s tourism industry and improving domestic tourism.

Maya Bint Hassan Halfawi, director of the exhibition’s organizing committee, said the participation of a number of companies covering all sectors of tourism, reflects the importance of the commercial and touristic city of Jeddah.

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Iran, Tajikistan Sign MoU To Complete Anzob Tunnel

TEHRAN, April 11 (NNN-FNA) — Iran and Tajikistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to complete a strategic tunnel in the Central Asian country.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the spokesperson for the lower house of Tajikistan’s parliament Muhammadato Sultanov said the $3bln agreement was signed by the two countries to complete the project also known as Istiqlol (independence) tunnel.

He added that the Tajik minister of transport, Nizom Hakimov, has briefed the Tajik lawmakers about the project and presented them with the relevant documents.

The Anzob Tunnel is a five km long tunnel located 80 km Northwest of Tajikistan’s capital city of Dushanbe.

The tunnel connects the Tajik capital to the country’s second largest city, Khujand, travel to which, prior to the tunnel’s construction, required travelers to cross the border into Uzbekistan in order to travel between the two cities.

It is also a transit route between Dushanbe and Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent. Prior to construction of the tunnel, especially during winter, the threat of year-round avalanches led to periodic disruptions of commerce.

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Iran’s Free Zones To Hold Expo In Georgia

TEHRAN, April 11 (NNN-MNA) — An exhibition of potentials of Iran’s free zones will be held during April 17-20 in Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia.

Thirty pavilions of Iranian free zones in the fields of products, tourism, and academic potentials will be introduced in the exhibition.

Currently, six free zones are in operation across Iran. Chabahar, Qeshm, Kish, and Arvand free zones in south, and Aras and Anzali free zones in north of the country.

On Jan 9, Georgian ambassador to Iran, George Janjgava, said that abolition of the visa regime between Georgia and Iran has increased the number of tourists up to 90,000 and there is a growth of trade turnover up to 100 million dollars.

Janjgava noted that Iran is Georgia’s big neighbor, and there have been political, economic, cultural and social relations between the states not only over the past 20 years, but also before.

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AFDB: Cote D’ivoire Under Favourable Economic Recovery

ABIDJAN, April 12 (NNN-AfDB) — After a decade of stagnation, the Ivoirian economy is picking up. The signs are obvious here and there, and especially in Abidjan, the economic capital.

They are the construction of high roads and the setting up of improved health and sanitation services systems undertaken by the government both in Abidjan and in the hinterland, as well as property development engineered by the private sector.

The most visible signs are those of construction works in Abidjan, which include the building of the 3rd bridge in Abidjan, the rehabilitation of the University of Abidjan, the motorway intersections in Riviera 2 and Marcory.

Today, the city of Abidjan is a large building site, as observed by the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Donald Kaberuka, during the Boards of Directors meeting held in February 2013 in Abidjan.

The crisis exit efforts undertaken by the government, with the support of development partners including the AfDB are in terms of economic recovery remarkable. From 3% in 2010, the growth rate fell in 2011 to -4.7%.

Beginning 2012, this spectacular recovery stands today at 9.8% with inflation levels kept low at 1.3 %. In view of the noteworthy progress made, the government received the congratulations of the AfDB, the World Bank and the IMF during their joint mission in March 2013.

Already in 2012, the country launched an economic recovery drive. It had reached at the time, the completion point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. This enabled the government to reduce about 2/3 of its debt. From a stock of about 6.500 billion CFA Francs, the overall reduction today stands at nearly 4.300 billion CFA Francs.

It is thus within this framework that the AfDB is preparing its return scheduled for 2014. The first sign of the Bank’s return was the holding of the Board of Directors meeting in February 2013, the first meeting held in Abidjan since relocation to Tunisia in 2003.

This meeting was preceded by a consultation mission of Directors of the Board to look into the progress made in projects financed by the AfDB, as well as the country’s overall economic revival.

This mission offered the AfDB an occasion to remind the authorities of its commitment to help the country in its post-conflict reconstruction efforts. In this light, the AfDB will make a contribution of 1 billion dollar – out of the sum of 8.75 billion pledged by the donors at the Consultative Group Meeting held in Paris in December 2012 – to support the country’s 2012-2015 National Development Plan.

During its stay, the AfDB delegation held several meetings with the authorities. President Donald Kaberuka was received by the President of Côte d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, and they discussed matters of regional integration and development in the Sahel region. Other meetings with development partners, the World Bank, IMF, European Union and the UNDP were also organized.

The AfDB delegation also conferred with private sector partners and civil society organizations. The objective was to seek the opinions of these groups and so give AfDB interventions a major impact on the ground.

These meetings were interspersed with visits to various working sites, the ongoing rehabilitation of the AfDB head office and projects funded by the Bank.

Among these were the headquarters, the CCIA building under renovation that should host part of the members of staff, the Integrated Management of the Gourou Basin project, Henri Konan Bédié Bridge, called the 3rd bridge and the Azito thermal power plant.

The reported return of the Bank and these missions to Côte d’Ivoire are a gleam of hope for the population and the government, following several years of strife.

This will bring back the country to its rightful place at the international scene and provide stronger support to economic recovery, job creation, economic revival and the financing of new projects that would contribute to an improved standard of living for the population.

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Guyana: Taxi Services To Undergo Training For Better Code Of Ethics

GEORGETOWN, April 7 (NNN-GINA) — Guyana’s Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce in collaboration with the Taxi Association has signed an agreement which aims to improve the code of ethics of taxi drivers in the country.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Irfaan Ali said that many countries moving forward with a vibrant tourism sector, have ensured that all mechanisms surrounding the functioning of the sector are well regulated and supervised.

“In the context of safety and security, the Taxi Association and the Government decided to come together to set out a code of conduct as it relates to the way in which taxi services and drivers operate. It goes beyond ensuring courtesies to customers and mannerisms,” he said.

With regards the code of conduct, during a three-month period, the Ministry will establish a hotline website where customers travelling with taxis can post their comments on the ethics of the drivers. The website, according to the Minister, will also provide tourism information.

Ali encouraged the police to be part of this new system to enable a level of safety as they ensure the code of conduct is observed. He said that this system will not only aid in hospitality or tourism, but also in security.

A copy of the code of conduct will be laminated and placed at the back of the driver’s seat where passengers can see and read it and understand what their rights are. Drivers are also to be dressed properly when on duty.

If the code is breached then drivers will be suspended from driving their taxi. The Tourism Ministry will collaborate with the Ministry of Home Affairs to work on stronger penalties for persons who breach the code.

Vice President of the Taxi Association, Sunil Persaud pointed out that the taxi association is working to ensure that every hire car becomes a part of the yellow taxi initiative and not the taxi services alone.

Persaud expressed gratitude to the Ministry for always taking time to help improve the Association. He added that help from Government will see importation of new cars which is a considered a plus to the association.

President of the Taxi Association Hemwantie Khan said there are 50 taxi services on board from 94 taxi services in the country to undergo training from not only Georgetown but also Linden, Berbice and the West Coast of Demerara.

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Uganda: Government Teams-Up With World Bank To Build US$1.5b Road Projects

KAMPALA, April 10 (NNN-ALLAFRICA) – In a move geared at fast-tracking the construction of four multibillion road projects under a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), the government has sourced technical support from the World Bank.

As a result, the finance ministry has allowed the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) to engage the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank to be its transaction advisor for the expressway projects.

In a meeting held on March 25, IFC agreed, in principle, to support UNRA’s preparation for PPP projects, says Eng. David Luyimbazi, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) director of planning.

“Trademark East Africa is also going to provide oversight support to UNRA in the management of PPP preparation, procurement and implementation,” he says. “All these arrangements will be tied-up in three months and we will be good to go.”

In what will comprise the most expensive cluster of road projects in Uganda’s history, the government plans to follow-up construction of the $476m Kampala- Entebbe expressway, launched by President Yoweri Museveni in November 2012, with four projects valued at over $1.5b (about sh3.983 trillions). They are;

• The Kampala- Jinja expressway project

Estimated at $600m- $800m (sh1.6 trillion- sh2.13 trillion), the new road intendedto decongest the old and dilapidated Kampala- Jinja road that forms part of the Trans-African highway, is top priority.

Dan Alinange, the UNRA publicist, notes that Government of Uganda (GoU) will foot compensation bills to create a right-of-way for the contractor to commence works.

“We have the preliminary map and we know where the road will pass,” he says. “The detailed and final design for the road will be completed by June 2013. After that, we will start educating people about the compensation process.”

Construction of the 80km state-of-the-art road is expected to commence in 2015. Sh200b has been earmarked for compensation of Project Affected Persons (PAPs).

The new road will avoid the old Kampala- Jinja highway, starting from Kampala to Bweyogerere before taking a right direction off the existing road and Mukono town on the right.

Upon completion over a four-year construction period, the road will be only the second of its kind in Uganda, after the ultra-modern 51.4km Kampala- Entebbe expressway where motorists will utilise on a pay-per-use basis (toll).

However, unlike the new Kampala- Entebbe road whose works were funded through a concessional loan from the Chinese Government, the Kampala- Jinja expressway will be financed through a PPP involving a consortium of financier (s), contractor (s) and insurance companies, while the Government of Uganda (GoU) funds compensation costs, notes Luyimbazi.

“It (consortium) will be an investment club,” he notes “The investor will recover the money through tolling over a 20- 25-year concessional period. The design of the road will be finished in the next three months.”

Through PPPs, the government intends to depart from funding of expensive priority road projects off the consolidated fund, a practice blamed for Uganda’s poor road network, with only about 4, 000kms out of 21, 000kms of national roads under tarmac.

Upon completion, the road will encompass eight lanes between Nakawa- Kyambogo, Kyambogo- Lugazi (six-lanes) and Lugazi- Jinja (four-lanes) and feed into the Kampala- Entebbe expressway via the southern bypass.

• The Kampala Southern bypass

The 18km bypass currently under design, will link the Kampala- Jinja expressway through an interchange at Bweyogere and join the Kampala- Entebbe expressway off a spur at Munyonyo, creating a ‘ring-road’.

Upon completion of the projects over a 10-year period, a motorist will be able to drive through the Kampala northern bypass, connect to the Kampala- Jinja expressway through to the Kampala- Entebbe expressway and back to the Kampala northern bypass.

“We (UNRA) have agreed on the alignment of the bypass. We are trying to gazette the right-of-way to freeze anymore development in the corridor,” says Luyimbazi.

The bypass will be constructed concurrently with the Kampala- Jinja expressway. The finance ministry, he says, has promised to advance funds for compensation well in advance so that the contractor finds unencumbered right-of-way.

Construction of the bypass is estimated at $250m (about sh663.75b). “It will be funded under a PPP, with the government financing compensation for the right-of-way,” says Alinange. “We hope to start the process of resettlement and land acquisition next 2013-14 FY.”

However, with Uganda lacking an enabling law on PPP, the projects may not kick-start in the estimated period. For example, UNRA has not yet started on procuring contractors, among others.

This, Alinange says, will not stop UNRA from starting the process of land acquisition.

• The Kampala-Mpigi expressway

Another road project to be constructed under a PPP is the 40km Kampala- Mpigi expressway, estimated to cost between $300m- $350m (sh796.5b- sh929.3b).

The road will lock into the Kampala- Entebbe expressway through a junction near Busega. “We are still discussing with the ministry of finance on when its construction should start,” says Luyimbazi. “We are preparing the compensation figures, but it cost about sh70b.”

The detailed design for the road will be finalised by the end of this 2012-13 FY before sourcing for funds commences.

• The Kampala- Bombo expressway

This completes the list of four multibillion road projects intended to ease mobility and trade around the central Uganda axis.

Through international bidding, UNRA is seeking to procure a consultant to prepare a design for the Kampala- Bombo expressway, says Luyimbazi.

“We plan to hire a consultant to begin its design by October 2013,” he says. “It is still too early to estimate the construction and compensation costs.”

Like the Kampala- Jinja expressway, Southern bypass and the Kampala- Mpigi expressway, the Kampala- Bombo expressway will also be financed through a PPP.

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Kyrgyzstan promotes entrepreneurship

Centralasiaonline.com 2013-04-03 BISHKEK – Kyrgyzstan is working to create a business environment favourable to entrepreneurship.

Businesses suffered after the ethnic riots in the south in the summer of 2010, making it more important to support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), Askat Seitbekov, economist for the Kyrgyz government’s Secretariat of the Council for Development of Business and Investments (SSRBI), told Central Asia Online.

“The private sector is an inalienable part of economic policy,” Seitbekov said. “The government is developing a strategy for private sector development strategy up to 2014,” he said, adding that it formed a committee of specialists from its own agencies, the World Bank and the SSRBI in 2012. That committee is working with incoming suggestions now, he added.

The purpose of the committee’s economic “roadmap” is to prepare suggestions from provincial SMEs for inclusion in the private sector strategy that the government is working on and to take steps to advance those suggestions, he said.

Kyrgyzstan has 270,000 entrepreneurs, a number that analysts predict will grow as an increasing number of young Kyrgyz are joining the private sector, Bishkek Business Club (BBC) spokesman Vitaly Konovalov told Central Asia Online.

“Entrepreneurship in Kyrgyzstan has become very fashionable among young people,” he said, adding that they are gradually realising that they can earn money by creating something with their own hands. “This is, in no small measure, a result of the years of work carried out by the BBC to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

The young now constitute almost half of all entrepreneurs, up from 20% just two years ago, according to the National Statistics Committee. The number of all entrepreneurs has increased by almost 10% in the past two years.

An important part of business development is doing business legally, said Konovalov.

“We endeavour to teach our project participants to conduct business legally and pay taxes,” he said. “This is an essential component of our programmes. In doing so, we provide the country with new taxpayers, whose money goes to supporting the infrastructure of the state and the needy.”

Therefore, the private sector development strategy must offer solutions to problems that have challenged the country in the past, Seitbekov said. Based on feedback from entrepreneurs, corruption, a flawed tax system, licensing problems, and an excessive number of inspections are among barriers they hope the new plan will address.

Though the government has reduced the number of inspection agencies and the overall number of inspections, reports of continuing “illegal inspections” that entrepreneurs consider “proof of corruption” are still surfacing, Seitbekov said.

A way to eliminate such annoying inspections is to implement a checklist that sets boundaries for inspections, BBC Executive Director and entrepreneur Uluk Kydyrbaev told Central Asia Online.

“Business owners will have the checklist on hand,” he explained. “The law on inspections needs to be amended; otherwise, entrepreneurs will be endlessly fined (for imaginary violations).”

Many entrepreneurs, especially those engaged in agro-processing, also complain about the severity of the tax burden, according to Seitbekov.

“The Chui, Osh, Naryn, Talas and Batken oblasts, which have business relations with neighbouring countries, complain about problems in cross-border trade, the need to refine the customs and visa systems, the absence or small number of customs terminals and the poorly trained customs officers,” he said. “All those (factors) lead to a significant loss of time and money, especially when importing or exporting perishable farm produce.”

Another area where entrepreneurs could use support is in marketing their goods and services, Seitbekov said. “The government intends to assist entrepreneurs by creating an export promotion agency, which will promote local products in foreign markets. … Authorities are working hard to create the right environment for SMEs to participate in international exhibitions, fairs and business forums. They’re also trying to create trade and logistics centres, especially in border zones.”

Freeing up capital is necessary to enable business development, Seitbekov said. Business owners have limited access to financial resources, and one reason is the high cost of credit.

Taking the above issues and more into account, the government is now drawing up a private sector development strategy, Seitbekov said. With suggestions on changes to legislation, policies and procedures, the cabinet and parliament will discuss the committee’s roadmap.

“SMEs in the provinces will soon be informed about the progress of their proposals,” he said.

In the next phase, officials will hold meetings and organise public-private sector dialogues where participants may discuss implementation of the private sector development strategy, he said. The barriers hindering entrepreneurs will be the subject of regular TV or radio programmes, he added.

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TV Talk show unites Pakistan, Afghanistan

Centralasiaonline.com 2013-04-04 ISLAMABAD – Pakistan and Afghanistan always talk about each other in the media, but they rarely talk with each other. But now, a new television talk show aims to change that.

Sarhad ke Uss Paar (Across the Border) – the first joint programme between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which aired for the first time March 17 – provides a live link between Islamabad and Kabul for politicians, security officials, and civil society members to discuss pressing issues in hopes of understanding, collaboration and lasting peace, programming executives, participants and observers told Central Asia Online.

The interactive talk show is a collaboration between Pakistani channel Express News and Afghan channel TOLO TV. The channels agreed to air four episodes of the weekly programme in both countries and then to assess the situation.

“It’s a step to encourage more interactivity between the two countries,” Lotfullah Najafizada, head of Current Affairs at TOLO, said after the programme launch. “Afghanistan and Pakistan should no longer wait for other countries to bring them together. They simply cannot afford it anymore.”

“When I came to Islamabad for talks with Express (channel) colleagues a couple of months ago, I realised the two countries were in desperate need of interaction,” Najafizada told Central Asia Online. “Media seem the best tool to use, as the government-to-government efforts are not producing fruitful outcomes.”

His Express News counterpart, Mazhar Abbas, agreed. “A good proposal came. And keeping the importance of Afghanistan in the changing political scenario and eye on 2014, we decided to give (it) a try,” he said.

In the pilot episode, panellists Pakistani Senator Haji Adeel of the Awami National Party (ANP), former federal minister Sheikh Rashid and former Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Asad Durrani discussed issues with former Afghan interior minister Hanif Atmar and ex-Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief Amrullah Saleh.

“We intentionally started with a tough topic,” Najafizada said. “I knew (it would be tough) in the first show to bring both panels to mutual ground.”

But in the end, the pilot was deemed a success as both sides reached the consensus to “move forward.”

Observers see good prospects for the show’s influence.

“These kinds of initiatives help in trust-building (and) can play a key role to bring together opinion leaders,” Muhammad Amir Rana, head of the Islamabad-based security think tank Pak Institute for Peace Studies, told Central Asia Online.

And programme host Munizae Jehangir said, “The debate will allow Afghanistan and Pakistan to address perhaps the most important issues that plague the region today.”

With common issues such as terrorism, she expressed hope that Pakistan and Afghanistan would realise how high the stakes are and come together in “candid and meaningful discussions to address the concerns of our two nations.”

“It is very good start, and I think there is need for more political, cultural and people-to-people debate between Afghans and Pakistanis,” freelance Afghan journalist Sami Yousafzai told Central Asia Online.

The panellists agreed that the pilot episode went well and they said they appreciated the opportunity to come together in such a forum.

Roots of the show

Sarhad ke Uss Paar first aired only weeks after a research report blamed media for fanning Afghan-Pakistani tensions.

A study by the Islamabad-based media development organisation Intermedia said that “83% of Pakistani journalists and 86% of Afghan journalists find the coverage inadequate” and that an online survey concluded that many journalists feel that about 70% of coverage is “negative.”

But such efforts could improve those impressions by offering viewers a different perspective and providing a platform for the two countries to move forward.

TOLO is still awaiting reaction from Afghan viewers, while Express reports receiving praise and criticism from its viewers. Because ratings will affect the programme’s future, the stations will need to work to attract viewers, Mazhar told Central Asia Online.

As foreign channels are rarely popular in either country, he said, “If we get an average rating, I will be a satisfied person.”

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Kyrgyz exhibition shows tradition of inter-ethnic harmony

Centralasiaonline.com 2013-04-05 OSH – A photo exhibition at the Suleiman Too Museum Complex in Osh is celebrating 140 years of tolerance and peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians in Kyrgyzstan. “Islam and Orthodoxy: 140 Years Together on Kyrgyz Soil” is co-sponsored by the Yedinstvo (Unity) Foundation, the Central State Archives of Cinema and Photo Documents, the State Historical Museum and the Suleiman Too National History and Archaeology Museum. The exhibit will be on display March 27-April 27, and admission is free.

More than 200 modern and historical photographs depict spiritual life dating back to the 19th century, reflecting peaceful interaction between Muslims and Christians, sacred shrines, religious icons, clerics in action and believers taking part in ordinary life as well as in Orthodox and Muslim rituals, among other subjects.

“The goal of the exhibit is to show that Islam and Orthodoxy have peacefully co-existed in Kyrgyzstan for a long time,” Suleiman Too Museum researcher Baktygul Midinova told Central Asia Online. “Also, the exhibition aims to affirm the long experience of neighbourly relations among the worshippers of two world religions and to highlight their common work for the good of state and society.”

“The exhibition shows moments of the two religions’ interaction and reflects their fundamental ideals, such as the need to live in peace and seek to help each other,” Unity Foundation photographer Mikhail Rogozhin said. “Problems between Islam and Orthodoxy don’t exist and can’t exist because (they have a great prophet in common).”

“I saw the exhibit, and many of the photos delighted me,” Archpriest Viktor Reimgen, deacon of the Osh Temple of the Archangel Michael and rural deacon of the Osh (Orthodox) District, told Central Asia Online. “They are so positive and bring joy and light, because God is love and God is light.”

“Faith enlightens, and whenever one converses about faith, the conversation is unavoidably positive (because faith is so virtuous),” he said.

Events like this photo exhibit highlight the brightest and most positive and joyous moments in the lives of Muslim and Orthodox believers over the past 100-odd years, he said, adding, “In the more than 140 years … on Kyrgyz soil … there haven’t been, nor are there, any inter-faith conflicts or problems between Orthodoxy and Islam.”

Of the more than 5.5m residents of Kyrgyzstan, 80-85% are ethnic Muslim and 10-15% are Christian, according to Kadyr Malikov, director of the independent think tank Religion, Law and Politics.

“Both Islam and Christianity have preserved their roles in society despite the Soviet-era period of repression,” Osh sociologist Munozhat Tashbayeva said. “Moreover, ever since Kyrgyzstan obtained independence (in 1991) – and especially in the past decade – the number of both Muslim and Orthodox believers has grown, with no inter-faith problems ever occurring between the two groups.”

Kyrgyzstan provides all the conditions Christians need to practice their faith, the Archpriest Reimgen, said, adding that events such as this photo exhibition “are useful, because they bring joy to adherents of both faiths.”

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Turkmenistan develops environmental strategy

Centralasiaonline.com 2013-04-08 ASHGABAT – In efforts to bring its environmental policies in line with international obligations and to try to solve a number of on-going problems, Turkmenistan has announced new environmental initiatives after holding meetings on the subject in February and March, officials said.

First and foremost is the government decision to allocate 20% more funding to protect the environment, they told Central Asia Online.

“This is the right move,” Batyr Ballyyev, chief of environmental protection at the Ministry of Nature Protection, said, pointing to lack of funding as a main obstacle to progress. “Now we have the opportunity to deal with the environmental problems that have accumulated over time.”

Funding would renew interest in Turkmen environmental science, Badkhyz Nature Reserve researcher Amanberdi Sylabov told Central Asia Online.

“Over the years, many top-quality specialists and scientists have left the country,” he said. “We are finding it very difficult to work without them.”

Sylabov called for the biology department at Magtymguly Turkmen State University to admit more students and for the government to encourage Turkmen scholars living abroad to come home.

Compulsory eco-insurance announced

In March, President Gurganbuly Berdymukhamedov issued a decree requiring individuals or companies performing potentially environmentally hazardous activities to retain ecological insurance policies.

The collected premiums would not only help pay for any accidents but would also help fund other initiatives that would improve the overall environmental situation, State Insurance Organisation specialist Yazgul Piriyeva told Central Asia Online.

Ballyyev did not rule out the possibility of using the environmental insurance funds for “creating safe working conditions in hazardous plants in order to prevent man-made disasters, as well as to reduce harmful emissions and production of industrial waste.”

The chemical industry, fuel and energy sector, and agriculture are among the industries required to retain coverage by June 1, Piriyeva said. The Ministry of Nature Protection will control the allocation of funds.

Another effort has begun, a public awareness campaign to convince Turkmens to stop chopping down saksaul trees for heating fuel and to use natural gas instead.

“Natural gas is (now) used by the entire Turkmen population, and the villagers no longer cut down saksaul, saltwort and other desert shrubs to heat their homes,” a Dashoguz-based nature protection inspector, also named Gayypnazar, said.

The return of saksaul groves to the Karakum Desert is “creating fantastic conditions for wild desert animals to breed and propagate,” he said.

“The work done up to now is only a small part of what needs to be done,” he said, adding that he hopes that worthy initiatives will continue and that the money from new subsidies and insurance premiums will indeed go into environmental endeavours.

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Training on Small Businesses For Women in Niger

Rabat, Thursday, 01 Jamad Al-Thani 1434/11 April 2013 (IINA) – The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), in cooperation with the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), will hold a training session on small income-generating project management for 50 women in Diffa and Dosso in the Republic of Niger, from 15 to 21 April, according to an ISESCO statement.

The objective is to highlight the importance of small projects as a means of reducing poverty and stimulating national economy growth, by enhancing poor women’s employability and improving their living standards. The workshop will feature onsite visits to view economic projects in operation, as part of the socio-economic project for the empowerment of 200 African women with regard to small income-generating project management. ISESCO will be represented in this activity by Dr Seydou Cissé, Expert at the Education Directorate.

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Swedish mosque gets green light for prayer calls

Stockholm, Saturday, 03 Jamad Al-Thani 1434/13 April 2013 (IINA) – Fittja mosque in the suburbs of Stockholm has been given the green light to issue Friday prayer calls from its minaret, the first mosque to do so in Sweden, police said Thursday.

“I’m really happy and grateful,” Ismail Okur, the head of the Islamic Association in the Botkyrka municipality, told Swedish news agency TT. The association had sought permission to issue Friday prayer calls from its mosque in the suburb of Fittja, part of the Botkyrka municipality. Police said the Fittja mosque would be allowed to issue calls lasting three to five minutes between 12 noon and 1:00 p m. on Fridays, though strict regulations would govern the placement of the speakers. Information must also be provided to nearby residents, police said. The mosque was built in 2007.

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Libya plans to build new sports stadium by 2017

2013-04-09, (Agencies) – Libya pxlans to build a new 60,000 seater stadium for the hosting of the 2017 African Nations Cup finals, sports minister Abdussalam Guaila told local media at the weekend. A second stadium for the tournament, seating 23,000 spectators, is planned for Misrata. Matches would also be held in Benghazi, the Libya news agency reported.

The announcement follows fast on the heels of a decision last month by the Confederation of African Football to again allow continental club competition matches to be hosted in the north African country, which has been beset by civil strife since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Libyan club Al Nasr were allowed to host Friday’s African Confederation Cup tie against Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces at home in Benghazi in the first competitive international match in the country for two years.

This followed an inspection by a three-man CAF delegation in March.

Previously Libyan clubs used neutral venues to host their matches while the Libyan national side has played both ‘home’ World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers in Mali, Egypt and Tunisia over the last 24 months.

Last month, Libya said it would use all its resources to ensure that it kept the right to host the 2017 finals.

The country had originally been scheduled to host the 2013 Nations Cup but the uncertain security situation in the country saw it swap with South Africa, who had been down for the 2017 event.

Hosting the Nations Cup would allow Libya to demonstrate that life has returned to normal in the country and encourage investors, Guaila told reporters.

“It’s not only a sports event but an opportunity to move on from revolution to reconstruction of the state,” the news agency quoted him as saying.

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Tunisia: New air service to Burkina Faso from April 14

National flag carrier Tunisair has announced the opening of a new air service to Burkina Faso from April 14, 2013, according to a company statement. The opening of this service will be celebrated with an inaugural flight of prestige, to be operated from April 14 to 17 in Ouagadougou. CEO of Tunisair, Rabah Jerad, invited a large number of Tunisian transport and tourism officials, businessmen and journalists.

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Art lovers get ready for All Arts fair in Istanbul

April 13, 2013, TurkishPress.com – Istanbul will welcome a landmark art event next week with the arrival of All Arts, a four-day celebration of traditional and classical Turkish, Islamic and Ottoman arts and antiques.

Taking place at the Istanbul Congress Center, All Arts Istanbul will offer a comprehensive range of art work with approximately 140 participants. Visitors will have a chance to become involved as numerous artists and local artisan workers will be onsite during the event to demonstrate traditional artistic techniques such as calligraphy, marble painting and block printing.

The event will start April 18 and run through April 22. The fair will feature a number of sections; the first section, Classical Turkish Arts, will offer traditional works of art including calligraphy, miniatures, gilding, kat’I (Ottoman-era paper cutting), marbling, binding and tiles. In all, the section will welcome 92 artists in 12 different categories. The second section, antiques, will showcase painting, china, ephemera, jewelry, carpets, and numismatic objects. In the third section, participants including Galeri Selvin, Galeri Baraz and Galeri Artist, will display modern and contemporary art.

Another section of the fair will be dedicated to exhibiting renowned collectors including the Oner Kocabeyoglu/PAPKO Collection (Modern Turkish Art and Sculpture Collection), Remzi Gur (Collection of Sultans’ Edicts) and Yusuf Iyilik (Classical Turkish Art Selection). The event will also include a conference series which will include talks by prominent Turkish art historians and Ottoman and traditional art experts, including Professor Ugur Derman, Professor Gul Irepoglu, and Professor Husamettin Kocan, as well as many other academics, experts and intellectuals.

The talks will focus on topics such as “An Overview of Applied Classic and Original Calligraphy,” “Ottomans in World Fairs and their Effects on Orientalism,” “Female Calligraphers throughout History” and “Divan Literature.”

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Kazakhstan Fashion Week Goes Online

ALMATY. April 13. Kazinform — This year all fashionistas will be able to follow Kazakhstan Fashion Week (KFW) via Internet. KFW is set to be held on 15-17 April.

Kuralai Nurkadilova, Sayat Dossybayev, Saltanat Baimukhamedova, Aida Kaumenova and others are going to present their collections and vision of the new season in Almaty.

All Kazakhstanis can watch the runway shows at hushhush.kz. Moreover, the viewers will get a chance not only to see the latest collections, but also to order the pieces at the website.

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Astana-Bishkek schedule flight starts from April 23

ASTANA. April 12. KAZINFORM – On April 23 the flight “Astana-Bishkek” starts. This has been infrormed by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan Erlan Abdyldayev after the meeting with his Kazakh counterpart.

“I would like to say that on April 23 there will be the first flight ” Astana-Bishkek ” by “Air Astana ” company with a frequency of four times a week. It is also an achievement and that will facilitate the development of our relations, and human contacts, ” he told the reporters at the briefing in the Foreign Ministry.

Erlan Abdyldayev also noted that last year the mandate of the two presidents to bring the level of our trade to reach $ 1 billion has been fulfilled.

“But this is not the limit, and we believe that once higher goals are set, we need to increase our trade level. Kazakhstan is one of the largest investors in Kyrgyzstan. Investment of Kazakhstan into our country is attached great importance and we are inviting Kazakh investors, and our colleagues to expand their presence, ” he added.

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Foreign house buyers to earn one-year residency in Turkey

ISTANBUL turkishpress.com April/13/2013 – The government extends the residence permit from three months to one year for house buyers from oversees with a law change, aiming to eliminate obstacles in front of the foreign buyers.

Residence permits for foreigners that buy real estate in Turkey will be extended from three months to one year, according to an announcement in the Official Gazette.

Foreigners who buy real estate in Turkey are allowed to obtain residence permits of one year at most, according to new legislation on the Law of Foreigners and International Protection.

Residence permits have been the main hurdle for foreign buyers who plan to buy property in Turkey. According to previous regulations, foreigners can stay in the country for a maximum of three months on a tourist visa, after which time they must leave the country for another three months before returning. The process to obtain a residence permit can also be exhaustingly long.

The sector has witnessed an increase in foreign real estate acquisitions since the enactment of a bill last year that removed the condition of reciprocity and eased restrictions on the sale of land and real estate to foreign citizens and firms. The reciprocity law had meant that a foreign citizen or firm was only allowed to obtain property in a country if citizens or firms from that country can do the same in the buyer’s country of origin.

Foreigners from different countries have bought almost 11,000 properties across Turkey since the reciprocity law came into effect nine months ago, according to data from the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry. In May alone, foreign real estate acquisitions in Turkey reached $1.1 billion, four times the total amount in 2011.Germans ranked first among foreign citizens purchasing real estate in Turkey, with 2,557 sales.

The government aims to boost foreign investments in the real estate sector further by backing the reciprocity law and expanding the period of staying in Turkey with a tourist visa as well as easing the procedures for a residence permit.

This new regulation should be promoted to foreigners, said Yusuf Hızarcıoğlu, the Turkey representative of the ninth International Property Show that will be held in Dubai between April 30 and May 2. Hızarcıoğlu said they would notify participants about the change in residence permits to participants looking to purchase real estate in Turkey.

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Iran ready to develop ties with Vietnam

Tehran, April 13, IRNA – Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, in a meeting with visiting Vietnam Deputy Foreign Minister in Asia and African Affairs Negoavn Fung Nega, expressed Tehran’s readiness to develop ties with Vietnam.

In the meeting here on Saturday, Salehi exchanged views on ways to develop relations and promote cooperation between the two countries with Negovan Fung Nega.

Referring to large market of the region, Salehi called for facilitating regulations to promote bilateral trade relations.

He called joint investment projects in direction of interests of both countries and expressed hope that by holding joint economic commission in future, the two countries witness growth of ties.

Expressing satisfaction with bilateral political relations, Salehi called for cooperation of the two countries in international circles and appreciated Vietnam positive stances concerning Iran in the field of human rights.

Ms. Negovan Fung Nega, who is here to attend political consultation committee of Iran and Vietnam, by referring to trade ties and existing capabilities of both sides, called for development of ties.

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OIC Urges Stat Com to Implement Quick-Win Programmes

13/04/2013 – The Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu in his message to the opening session of the Third Meeting of the OIC Statistical Commission (OIC-StatCom), which started today in Ankara, Turkey has urged the meeting to come up with immediately implementable actions towards developing national capacities of OIC member states as a prelude to a comprehensive harmonization of all OIC activities in the domain of statistics.

He also hailed the Commission for its efforts at working out relevant modalities to enhance planning efficiency in OIC member states, and for actualizing the Strategic Vision of the OIC-StatCom and underscored the need to translate all its resolutions into effective actions in the interest of OIC member states and their peoples.

The OIC-StatCom is reviewing the activities of its three Working Groups on list of indicators specific to OIC countries; OIC-StatCom Strategic Vision Document; and Terms of Reference for the Accreditation of Statisticians in OIC countries. In addition, the meeting will be briefed on the activities undertaken by the five Technical Committees of Experts on Islamic Banking and Finance Statistics; Implementation of the OIC-StatCom Strategic Vision; Accreditation Programme for Statistical Professionals in OIC member states; Gender Related Issues; and Population Census Experiences and Practices of OIC member states.

The Ankara Meeting will also discuss the issues relating to developing a comprehensive system of labour statistics and labour productivity index, as well as building capacity of the relevant institutions in OIC member states.

Hitherto, the OIC-StatCom has succeeded in creating awareness among OIC member states on the various activities relating to production of high-quality statistics, use of information technology in data collection, dissemination and communication of data to end users, indicator systems, international initiatives and strategies in the area of statistics, among others. The Commission has also increased intra-OIC cooperation in this critical sector.

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Bahrain announces easier visa privileges for F1 Grand Prix April 19 To 21

MANAMA, Bahrain, Apr 12 (NNN-BNA) – The Formula 1 event in Bahrain will be held between Apr 19 and 21, 2013. Foreigners can use limited visa for entry into Bahrain between Apr 7 and 21, 2013 inclusive.

The F1 visa is valid for 2 weeks from the date of first entry and is a multiple re-entry visa. This visa has no physical evidence in the passport. A printout of the visa approval or a letter of invitation from the guarantor may be carried by the passenger.

Passengers can obtain the F1 visa on arrival, or pre-arrange the visa through the internet (www.evisa.gov.bh) or NPRA (Nationality, Passports & Residence Affairs) Headquarters, depending on their nationality and GCC expat residence status.

Visas can be obtained on arrival by the following countries (G37 group): Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong SAR, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom United States of America, Vatican City and South Korea.

(Additional nationalities that can obtain a visa on arrival are Brazil, Chile, Cyprus, Hungary, Panama, South Africa, Taiwan, Venezuela & India). GCC expat residents can also obtain an F1 visa on arrival. These nationalities can also obtain a pre-arranged F1 visa over the internet. In order to make the process at the border smoother, all the above listed countries should utilise the online service to obtain their visas prior to arrival via the website (www.evisa.gov.bh)

All nationalities, except for the above listed nationalities and GCC expat residents, must have a guarantor to obtain a pre-arranged F1 visa. The guarantor can be a Bahraini commercial entity or a Bahraini individual. Pre-arranged F1 visas can be obtained by the guarantor at NPRA Headquarters in Manama. Therefore, companies that are marketing the tickets for the event, whose clients are outside Bahrain and are not part of the above listed nationalities or GCC expat residents, must have a Bahraini guarantor to arrange an F1 visa on their behalf.

NPRA would like to encourage all Bahraini commercial entities that are involved with the Formula 1 event, whether for ticket sales or providing accommodation facilities, to register online and make use of the internet services offered by NPRA.

Arrival procedures for F1 visitors:

All F1 visitors must fill out Arrival cards before proceeding to the designated immigration counters.

NPRA has set up several fast-track lanes at the airport solely dedicated for passports & immigration procedures related to F1.

The Arrival cards will be distributed to the airlines and are available at the information desk before the immigration counters.

A special entry stamp shall be stamped by the Immigration officer into the passport and on the Arrival card.

Conditions for all applicants for F1 visas are:

•Passengers must produce a valid F1 ticket, proof of purchase or identification showing the passenger is officially associated with the F1 event in Bahrain.

• Passport must be valid for length of stay in Bahrain.

• Passenger must have a valid confirmed onward travel ticket to leave Bahrain.

• The visa holder must not violate the security and national welfare of Bahrain.

• The visa holder must not take any type of employment when in Bahrain.

• The applicant must be outside Bahrain, and must apply via guarantor or internet unless eligible for visa on arrival.

• All visa holders must be able to support themselves and any dependants while in Bahrain.

• This visa is not available for applicants with endorsees.

• This visa cannot be extended.

• F1 visas will be issued free of charge

For further info:  telephone 17530902, fax 17534490 or email evisa@gdnpr.gov.bh

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Lecture On Islamic Finance New Realities, Challenges And Opportunities

KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 (Bernama) — INCEIF today partnered with Bank Indonesia (Indonesia’s central bank) to jointly hold a public lecture in Jakarta, the first in INCEIF’s series of public lecture to be held abroad.

The lecture, “Islamic Finance: New realities, challenges and opportunities” was delivered by INCEIF’s Chief Academic Officer Datuk Prof Dr Syed Othman Alhabshi. Nasirwan (Deputi Direktur, Kepala Divisi, Divisi Penelitian, Departemen Perbankan Syariah, Bank Indonesia) delivered the welcoming remarks at the lecture which was held at Bank Indonesia.

Over 60 people from the local financial services fraternity, universities and staff of Bank Indonesia attended the lecture. INCEIF online students and alumni who are based in Jakarta and neighbouring city of Bandung also attended. They took the opportunity to catch up on INCEIF news with Datuk Syed Othman and each other.

In his lecture, Datuk Syed Othman said despite the unprecedented successes of Islamic finance globally, in reality there are numerous challenges that it still faces.

According to him the, the biggest challenge for Islamic finance is the competition it faces from the huge asset size, efficient and continuous innovations that have come with increasing product varieties and complexities of the dominant conventional finance.

Conventional interest-based finance has centuries-old history compared to Islamic finance which only received global acceptance in the1990s. Until now the Islamic financial assets constitute not more than two per cent of the total assets of the conventional sector.

Yet, Datuk Syed Othman pointed out that as a relatively young sector of the financial industry, Islamic finance has consistently demonstrated that it can face the challenges of the volatility of the conventional financial sector.

“This is very true in the light of various financial and economic meltdowns that have plagued different parts of the world in the last couple of decades or so. We know that Islamic finance has been in practice for more than three decades. It simply shows how resilient Islamic Finance is. Whilst huge corporations such as Enron Corporation, WorldCom Corporation, Arthur Anderson, Lehman Brothers and ninety others have been taken to court for some misconduct or other.,” he added.

The second important challenge is the strict application of Shariah and its ramifications that govern and define the philosophy, concept and operations of Islamic banking and finance which call for a more exact match between the real and monetary sectors of the economy. The debate on risk sharing versus risk transfer, financial inclusion and poverty alleviation are some of the emerging interests among scholars who are motivated by the need to bring Islamic finance to the next level.

“Shariah principles should be applied in full. It is not only the form of the contract that must be fulfilled, more importantly all the Shariah requirements including the implications must be considered so that all the specificities of the principle or contract are being met,” said Datuk Syed Othman.

He added that there has been growing concern among both scholars and economists that the present practices of Islamic financial institutions do not seem to answer the requirements of the true objectives of Shariah or the maqasid.

“The usual question raised is whether Islamic financial institutions provide the needs of everyone in society. What has been argued is that the objectives of Shariah are to provide benefits to society (masalih) and protect society from harm (mafsadah). Whatever is good and beneficial to society is considered as masalih and whatever is bad and harmful is considered as mafsadah. This is a very broad objective and clearly requires gigantic tasks to fulfil for all members of society,” said Datuk Syed Othman.

Following the lecture, a Q&A session was held where members of the audience discussed the topic, from the Indonesian perspective, as well as the Malaysian experience as one of the pioneers in successful implementation of the Islamic financial services industry.

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Malaysia-Sri Lanka Business Council Revived

KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 (NNN-Bernama) — The Malaysia-Sri Lanka Business Council has been revived after being defunct for several years, says the Sri Lanka High Commission. The decision was made following a meeting on Tuesday which was coordinated by Acting High Commissioner Major General S.W.L. Daulagala with representatives of core business organisations.

“The business council will serve as a driving force to strengthen business and investment ties between private sector stakeholders, entrepreneurs and investors in Sri Lanka and Malaysia,” Daulagala said in a statement. He thanked members of the council for their interest to resuscitate the Malaysia-Sri Lanka Business Council.

Axiata Group Director and Dialog Bhd Chairman Azzat Kamaluddin was appointed council chairman. The meeting discussed details to execute an action plan to strengthen business contacts with Malaysian and Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and investors, as well as, enhance relations with business chambers.

The business council will soon invite Malaysian business organisations to become members of the council, the statement added.

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Afghanistan: 20 Year Master Plan For Electricity Drafted

Kabul (BNA), April 13, 2013 – The ministry of power and water has drafted a 20 years Master plan to provide electricity for the country. According to BNA, the plan drafted at a cost of 1.5 million US dollars provided by the Asian Development Bank and with the partnership of Fishner of Germany. Elaborating the master plan, minister for power and water Mohammad Ismael Khan said that the plan was drafted in 1355 but was renewed after eight years keeping in mind the necessities and the need of economic development.

The minister said that with the implementation of the master plan, Afghanistan would become self-sufficient in the field of having electricity within the next 22 years, saying construction of power generating dams on Kunar and Kokcha rivers is part of the plan.

Afghanistan with having huge water resources can produce 23,000 megawatts power, he added.

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Young Entrepreneur Competition opened in RAK

Ras al-Khaimah, Apr 11th, 2013 (WAM)–Sheikh Sultan bin Jamal bin Saqr Al Qasimi, director for the citizens’ affairs at RAK Emiri Court inaugurated on Wednesday evening the 9th edition of Young Entrepreneur Competition 2013, organised by The Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development. The four-day long event draws 120 students from schools and universities in RAK, Umm al Qaiwain and Fujairah. They will feature about 60 projects. Touring the exhibition, Sheikh Sultan urged for more competition among the participants so as to develop more innovative ideas, especially in the areas of small and medium enterprises.

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Etihad cargo broadens network east and west

Abu Dhabi, Apr 11th, 2013 (WAM) — Etihad Cargo, the fast growing cargo division of UAE flag carrier Etihad Airways, has added Washington D.C. to its global cargo network, in addition to boosting frequency to Hong Kong courtesy of strategic partner Air Seychelles. The US capital is Etihad Cargo’s fifth destination in North America, while Hong Kong is already part of the carrier’s five-destination Greater China cargo network.

The news follows the launch of passenger services from Abu Dhabi to both cities in recent weeks. Etihad Airways started direct services to Washington D.C. on March 31, and Air Seychelles, in which Etihad Airways owns a 40 per cent stake, initiated services to Hong Kong via Abu Dhabi on March 24.

Kevin Knight, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer at Etihad Airways, said: “Our cargo network continues to expand and with the addition of bellyhold capacity to Washington D.C. and an overall increase in cargo capacity to Hong Kong, we believe these new operations will strengthen cargo services both east and west for our customers.” Etihad Airways has deployed an Airbus A340-500 aircraft to operate the daily Abu Dhabi-Washington D.C. route, while Air Seychelles has scheduled its Airbus A330-200 aircraft to fly the three times a week service between the Indian ocean archipelago and Hong Kong.

Etihad Cargo already offers daily belly hold cargo capacity from Chicago and New York to Abu Dhabi, and three times a week from Toronto to Abu Dhabi. In addition, Etihad Cargo offers a twice-weekly freighter service from Houston to the UAE capital.

At present Etihad Cargo offers both belly hold and full freighter capacity to Beijing and Shanghai, bellyhold capacity to Chengdu, and a freighter operation to Guangzhou.

Etihad Cargo serves 86 destinations internationally and operates a fleet of two Boeing B777F, one Boeing 747-400ERF, one Boeing 747-400F, two Airbus A330-200F and one Airbus A300-600F. To ensure capacity stays ahead of demand, Etihad Cargo will take delivery of three additional freighters in 2013 and 2014, comprising one Boeing B777F, and two Airbus A330-200F.

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Etihad Airways posts Q1 2013 passenger revenues of US$900 million

Abu Dhabi, Apr 07th, 2013 (WAM)–Etihad Airways, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary of operations, has recorded its strongest ever passenger and cargo results for a first quarter. The Abu Dhabi-based airline posted Q1 2013 passenger revenues of US$900 million (2012: US$758 million), an increase of 19 per cent; and cargo revenues of US$193 million (2012: US$165 million), an increase of 17 per cent.

Passenger numbers in Q1 2013 grew by 18 per cent, rising from 2.3 million to a record 2.8 million. The average seat factor was 80.5 per cent, four percentage points higher than the previous year (2012: 76.5 per cent), despite a 12 per cent increase in capacity. The seat factor is above IATA’s current global average of 77.1 per cent.

Etihad Cargo also had its strongest first quarter, with tonnage up 20 per cent from 85,152 to 101,776 tonnes. James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “Our Q1 2013 results have again outstripped global trends, with our strongest ever first quarter results for passenger revenue. This performance demonstrates that Etihad Airways’ strategy of organic growth, wide-ranging partnerships, and strategic equity investments is delivering for us and our partners,” he said.

Revenue from codeshare and equity partners jumped by 34 per cent from US$136 million to US$182 million in the first three months of the year and represented 20 per cent of total revenue in the quarter. “As well as increasing top-line revenue, our equity partnerships will improve bottom-line results, through cost savings delivered by operational synergies,” Hogan said.

Etihad Airways’ equity alliance comprises airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia, and Aer Lingus. Each airline announced profitable results during the first quarter of 2013, which demonstrates the success of this new alliance model for all the member airlines.

In February 2013, Etihad Airways announced a US$42 million profit for 2012 with revenues of US$4.8 billion and passenger numbers breaking 10 million for the first time.

Etihad Airways’ available seat kilometres (ASKs) rose 12 per cent in Q1 2013 to 15.9 billion, (2012: 14.3 billion) as the fleet grew to 73 passenger and cargo aircraft (2012: 66 aircraft). Revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 17 per cent to 12.9 billion (2012: 10.9 billion) sharply out performing capacity growth.

During Q1 2013 Etihad Airways’ achievements included: “Big Switch” to new SabreSonic passenger sales system, website, and check-in system; Launch of daily flights to Washington D.C., on 31 March 2013 and the opening of the new premium lounge at Dulles International Airport; Announcement of daily flights to Amsterdam from 15 May 2013; Opening of US$8 million first class and business class lounge in Paris; Launch of its critically acclaimed multi-million dollar television commercial campaign, “The World Is Our Home, You Are Our Guest”; Graduation of more than 200 staff from the airline’s Emiratisation program; Appointment of 34 Emirati employees to key roles across the airline’s global network.

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TransAD launches Exclusive Taxi Services at Abu Dhabi Int’l Airport

Abu Dhabi, 08 April 2013 (WAM) – In a move that is set to extensively raise services and prestige on par with international standards, the Centre for Regulation of Transport by Hire Cars in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (TransAD) has announced a major augmentation of taxis operating from Abu Dhabi International Airport, by introducing a fleet of new luxury cars to serve travellers. Expected to commence operations during the last quarter of this year, this welcome initiative has been undertaken in line with the overall progress that Abu Dhabi is witnessing and the Government’s Vision for Abu Dhabi 2030.

TransAD’s new airport fleet will comprise 200 luxury taxis, with Mercedes Vito models serving terminal 1 and 3 and Toyota Camry at terminal 2. Equipped with modern features, the objective is to provide an unparalleled experience for travelers at all times. New facilities will include amenities for the elderly and special needs passengers, navigation system in the taxi, speed control, as well as digital roof lights.

Commenting on the announcement of the new service, Mr. Mohamed Al Qamzi, General Manager of TransAD, said, “We are about to launch a unique service in the Emirate as part of our strategic plan to provide the highest international standards of taxi service in the Capital – and to keep our services in line with the rapid growth the Emirate is witnessing.” He added, “The center partnered with Emirates Transport Corporation -has won the tender -in order to exceed public needs and expectations and to provide a more convenient service. He stressed on the centers’ vigilance to provide Emirates Transport Corporation with the full support to offer the finest services to the public and expressed contentment with this successful cooperation with a leading, federal institution such as Emirates Transport, a company that provides integrated transportation facilities in the country.

Mr. Mohammed Abdullah Al Jarman, General Manager of Emirates Transport commented, “We are more than pleased with the responsibilities given by TransAD to Emirates Transport. We are keen to provide a high level of service on par with global standards, which is in line with the Vision of our Government to be the preferred choice for the public due to excellent and efficient transportation offerings.” Mr. Al Jarman added “We are confident of our ability to comply with all specifications of service in all technical, financial, operational and administrative aspects, to reflect the modern and prestigious image of the UAE in general and Abu Dhabi in particular, in the provision of various services, particularly transportation.” WAM/TF

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Abu Dhabi International Sports Exhibition “ADISE 2013” Kicks Off Tomorrow

Abu Dhabi, 08 April 2013 (WAM) — The Abu Dhabi International Sports Exhibition ” ADISE 2013″ begins here tomorrow at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). Organised by the UAE Jiu Jitsu Federation and supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the second edition of ADISE combines the exclusive educational and recreational activities along with the most important international and regional sports brands.

Christophe Hamel will make his first appearance in the Arab World, bringing his extreme trampoline performance to the exhibition along with the world famous, French CrazyDunkers, the acrobatic slam dunk team who appeared at the last Olympic Games and Football World Cup. The exclusive sports event will offer a variety of sports activities including boxing, football freestyle, martial arts performances as well as bicycle performances during the four day event.

ADISE’s committee has dedicated an area of approximately 5000 sq. metres that will also include several sports activities such as bungee jumping, wall climbing, a mountain bike track, paddle tennis, miniature cricket stadium, skateboarding and street ball tournaments with more than 70 teams and around 300 athletes from different sporting backgrounds expected to compete.

The event will bring together more than 100 local and international exhibitors, including sports federations, clubs, government departments, sports equipment manufacturers, sponsors, event organisers, sports marketing agencies in different domains such as motorsports, watersports, outdoor and adventure sports, fitness and indoor sports, as well as sports products and equipment outlets.

ADISE 2013 will witness a four day conference with around 15 discussion panels featuring 35 speakers coming from around the world to discuss various sports topics. Thus, some of the speakers will include H.H. Sheikha Shamsa Al Maktoum, Women’s Volleyball Groups Supervisor; Nada Zeidan, First Female GCC Rally Driver and Archer in Asian games; Dr Saf Naqvi, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre; Dr Bulent Elbasan, PT,PhD, Gazi University, School of Physiotherapy; Dr Murat Dalkilinc, PT, PhD, UAE Armed Forces.

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ISESCO to hold workshop on R&D and innovation, Abidjan

Rabat 12/04/2013 – The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) is joining up with the African Observatory for Science Technology and Innovation (AOSTI) in Malbo, Equatorial Guinea, to hold a workshop in Abidjan, Côte D’Ivoire, from 15 through 17 April 2013, to reinforce national systems for research and development (R&D) and innovation in African states. The workshop is intended to assist African states in their efforts to revamp R&D and innovation plans, build up capacities within national R&D and innovation systems, and best mobilize scientific resources to achieve MDGs. ISESCO will be represented in this activity by Dr. Aicha Bamoun, Expert from the Science Directorate.

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Bangladesh: Rajshahi Central Park and Zoo starts getting a new look

RAJSHAHI, April 13, 2013 (BSS)- Shaheed AHM Kamaruzzaman Central Park and Zoo, the only big amusement place of Rajshahi metropolis, has started getting a new look. Various beautification and development works like lake renovation, approach road, attractive boundary wall and two modern bridges on the lake have already been completed.

In addition to the modernization work, effective measures were taken to procure more new beasts and animals. The park had been established on 36.76 acres of land in 1972 with wholehearted effort of AHM Kamaruzzaman, one of the four national leaders.

AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, Mayor of Rajshahi City Corporation, stated this while inaugurating the tiles setting works on footpath of the park here today. He said construction of colourful boundary wall, widened walkway and sitting place, concretization of Lake Embankment and modernization of picnic corners are nearing completion.

Two 29- meter long and three-meter wide curve bridges were constructed at a cost of Taka 1.36 crore making the park more attractive. Apart from this, every section of the park-cum-zoo was rearranged with the main thrust of drawing attention of more visitors.

Mayor Liton told BSS that the park will be connected with the city protection embankment (T-groin) with a foot-over bridge as early as possible. Besides beautification, he said more new birds and beasts will be procured and a wildlife -friendly environment will be created for them.

Speaking on the occasion, Mayor Liton asked the concerned officials to discharge their duties with utmost sincerity and honesty for successful implementation of the scheme so that the park could be an attractive place for the city dwellers.

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Protest against plans to relax rules on foreign universities in Bangladesh

DHAKA, April 13, 2013 (BSS)-The Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh (APUB) today sought revision of a government plan to relax rules relating to foreign universities fearing that such a move could encourage letterhead-based foreign academies to choose the country merely for their business purposes.

The government has enacted ‘the Private University Act 2010′ for governing and guiding the private universities in the country, but formulation of the new rule on ”Foreign Higher Education Operation in Bangladesh 2012’ violating the mother law will create a deadlock in higher education system in Bangladesh.

The APUB leaders made the comments in a roundtable organized at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) here. Under the Private University Act, they said the higher education under the private universities is being treated as ‘non-profitable’ business organizations, but education at foreign institutions is flexible and the organizations will take tuition fees in foreign currency.

Prof. Dr Mujibur Rahman Khan of College of Agricultural Science under the International University of Bangladesh Agricultural Technology (IUBAT) read out the keynote paper at the function.

Under the Private University Act, a private university would conduct higher education course with four faculties and 25,000 square feet area while under the new rule, the foreign institutions are allowed to run with 15,000 square feet area and only 30 students.

Regarding the permission to run the higher education programme by the foreign universities, Dr Shamsul Haque, vice- chancellor (VC) of the Northern University, told the roundtable that they were not opposing the education programme of the foreign universities in Bangladesh, but it should be in line the existing law otherwise the institutions would become commercial firms.

At present, Bangladesh has 70 private universities to offer higher education but unabated permission to the foreign universities by the government would hamper the quality of education in the country, said Dr Arifur Rahman, Pro-VC of IBAIS University.

The APUB representatives including vice-chancellor of Eastern University Dr Nurul Islam, Prof Abul Quashem Haider, vice- chancellor of World University Prof Dr Abdul Mannan Chowdhury, vice-chancellor of the Millennium University Prof AAM Baker, director of Gazipur University Dr Sohel Al Beruni, among others, spoke on the occasion.

After the enactment of the Private University Act in 1992, the private universities started operating in the country. The number of students at the universities now stood about three lakh.

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Another major Cruise Ship Calls at Salalah Port

Salalah, Apr 13 (ONA)— Salalah Port today received the cruise ship “Seabourn Odyssey” with (778) passengers on its board including (432) tourists from various nationalities as part of its tourist programme to a number of ports around the world.

The tourist programme of the cruise ships, which came from Safaja Port in Egypt and heading to Sur Port in the Governorate of South A’Sharqiyah, included tours to the major archeological and historic landmarks renowned in the Governorate of Dhofar, such as sites of frankincense trees, Al Mughsail Beach, Al Baleed Archeological Park, Frankincense Land Museum, Taqah Castle, Samahram Archeological Site, besides visiting traditional markets in the Wilayat of Salalah.

Salalah Port yesterday received the cruise ship “Seabourn Quest, which came from Port Sultan Qaboos in the Governorate of Muscat and heading to Safaja Port in Egypt with (711) passengers on its board including (366) tourists.

It is worth mentioning that Salalah Port witnessed visit of (15) cruise ships with (12,521) passengers on their board since the beginning of 2013.

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