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3 Jun, 2013

Philippines Declares Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque Historical Landmark

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Muqbil

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 03 June 2013 (24 Rajab 1434). Pls click on any of the headlines to go to the story.



Malaysia Organises Aeromeet 2013 To Boost Arrivals From Americas, Europe & Oceania

A group of 67 outbound travel agents and 23 media representatives from the Americas, Europe and Oceania attended AEROMEET 2013, a special event organised by Tourism Malaysia to introduce Malaysia’s tourism products and attractions. “Last year’s EUROMEET 2012 focused only on the European market. This year, in line with the celebration of Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) in 2014, we aim to boost tourist arrivals from Americas, Europe and Oceania markets in order to achieve our target of 28 million tourists next year,” said Director General of Tourism Malaysia Dato’ Mirza Mohammad Taiyab. AEROMEET 2013 comprised of tours and product updates, a travel mart and a travel seminar. The participants, from the USA, Canada, Russia & CIS, Italy, UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Scandinavia & Baltic, Turkey, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, visited the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery, the Royal Selangor Pewter, KLCC, and Batu Caves. They also attended Malaysia’s cultural extravaganza, Colours of 1Malaysia, before proceeding to pre-tours to Taman Negara, Terengganu or Sarawak. On 29 May, the Chairman of Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) Tan Sri Khalid Ramli officially opened the event, followed by a welcome dinner at the Westin Langkawi Beach & Spa Resort. A total of 75 Malaysian sellers, comprising state tourism authorities, inbound tour operators, hotels and airline, participated in the travel mart with AEROMEET buyers. Aeromeet 2013 was supported by the Sarawak Tourism Board, Langkawi Development Authority (LADA), The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur, Mutiara Taman Negara, Tanjong Jara Resort, Grand Margherita Hotel, Air Asia X, Berjaya Hotels & Resorts, and Westin Hotel.

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:

Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus: How to Alleviate Poverty and Insecurity

Call for Israeli Apology to Palestinians As a Prelude To Peace

Asia Must Influence New World Order, Not Be Influenced by It

“War on Terror” is a War Without End

Surin Pitsuwan to Civil Society: “Hold ASEAN to Account”

No Sign of A Pursuit of Accountability for the Global Financial Crisis

Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus: How to Alleviate Poverty and Insecurity




First Int’l Islamic Banking & Development Conf in Mozambique

Cairo, Egypt, June 1, 2013 – (ACN Newswire) – The Government of Mozambique and the Arab African Council on Socioeconomic Development (AACSED), invited Institutions and delegates will participate in the historic launch of the Islamic American Banking Association (IABA) and join the historic “Maputo Declaration” on conventional and Islamic banking partnership in the developing world.

More than 600 banks, financial institutions, government officials and experts will attend this historic conference which will enhance participation in the billions of dollars pouring into Islamic banking products and projects across the developing world and in particular, showcase the impact of Islamic banking on Infrastructure in developing countries.

Delegates will take advantage of real partnership opportunities, networking, and gain understanding from expert speakers, about how both conventional and Islamic banking have found ways to work together today better than ever, drawing on compliance education, and knowledge of technical solutions, which open the way forward for real cooperation and expansion.

In addition to banks and financial institutions, the conference will have the attendance of dozens of exhibitors and infrastructure development professionals, contractors and experts speakers, government representatives, and international organization representatives, offering a truly historic gathering of decision makers and professionals, creating unparalleled networking opportunities.

Islamic banking institutions will have the opportunity for partnership and networking with “conventional” banking institutions, and to learn how compliance and administration can work to the benefit of both banking models, to create real partnerships and opportunities for growth and expansion.

Experts will provide instruction on setting up Islamic banking units in conventional banks, and solutions for the best ways to expand market penetration for existing Islamic banking operations through partnerships, innovative compliance, and technical systems, in addition to training resources.

All banks and finance companies will have the opportunity to join the newly formed Islamic American Banking Association (IABA) upon its official launch during the conference, and nominees will be chosen for its board of governors.

The Islamic American Banking Association (IABA) will become the premier platform for global cooperation between conventional and Islamic banking markets cooperating with international organizations, rating agencies and others, to guarantee growth and expansion in the field of Islamic banking and conventional partnerships.

Days two and three will continue the development portion of the event showcasing Projects, Experts, Company Exhibitors, and other Stakeholders to the Banking Community participants, in an excellent networking workshop environment for selected companies and projects.

The conference will be inaugurated on the 12th of July, 2013 at the Joaquin Chissano International Convention Center, in Maputo – Mozambique, hosted by H.E. Armando Guebuza, President of the Republic of Mozambique, H.E. Salvatore Namburete Minister of Energy, H.E. Manuel Chang, Minister of Finance, H.E. Ernesto Gove, Governor of The Central Bank of Mozambique, H. E. Dr. Mohamed Zayed, Chairman of Arab African Council on Socioeconomic Development (AACSED), H. E. Sh. Ya-Qub Sibindy, Special Adviser to the Government of Mozambique, the CPI, CTA, Banco Unico Chairman, Joao Figueiredo, Major Western Bank Chairmen, Islamic Banking Experts, International Organization Chairmen, and many others.

Awards and nominations will be presented to delegates at the event Gala Dinner.

Official Website: http://www.intl-banking-conference-mozambique.net

Email: info@intl-banking-conference-mozambique.net

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US$6 Million To Build Farah Airport, Afghanistan

Kabul (BNA) May 28, 2013 – The construction work of Farah airport will start nearly with the cost of six million dollars. Abdulrahman Zhowandoi governor spokesperson of Farah Said BNA, with the construction of the airport most of the problems of the citizens will be solved. He added the central government has accepted to pay the cost of the project.

According to him the construction work of the airport will be started very soon according to the international standards.

Governor spokesperson reported from the completions of the other projects in this province and said asphalting the roads of Qala Kah, Khake-Safayed and capital of Farah province, construction of higher teacher training college, healthy water supply system, and dozens other projects in the near future will be completed.

He explained that the building and implementation of the projects need dozens of millions dollars that will be paid by the central government.

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Philippines Declares Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque Historical Landmark

MANILA, May 31 (NNN-PNA) — President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared the Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque, considered as one of Philippines’s oldest existing Muslim Houses of Prayer or Mosques located in Tawi-tawi, as a national historical landmark.

The Chief Executive signed on May 24 the Republic Act No. 10573 otherwise known as “An Act Declaring the Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque, considered as the site of one of the oldest existing Muslim houses of prayer or mosques in the Philippines, at Tubig Indangan, Simunul, province of Tawi-Tawi, as a National Historical Landmark and for other purposes.”

The Act, which originated in the House of Representatives, was finally passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on March 23, 2011 and February 4, 2013, respectively.

President Aquino said it is the policy of the State to preserve historical sites, monuments and other relics that represent the Filipino heritage and culture and should therefore be under the protection of the State.

Consistent with the constitutional mandate to conserve, promote and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage, President Aquino declared the Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque located at Tubig Indangam, Simunul, province of Tawi-Tawi a national historical landmark to underscore the immense contribution of the Islamic faith to the enrichment, vibrance and diversity of our culture and civilization.

The newly-declared national historical landmark Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque was constructed in 1380 A.D.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) shall exercise supervision over the preservation of the site and shall issue the necessary rules and regulations to fulfill its functions, the President noted.

The President tasked the chairman of the NHCP to immediately include in the Commission’s program the operationalization of the Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque as a national historical landmark, the funding of which shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.

In order to afford the people an opportunity to participate in financing the preservation, reconstruction and/or rehabilitation of the shrine, President Aquino authorized the NHCP to organize and undertake a national fund campaign for the purpose of raising funds from private sources.

The Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its complete publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation. — NNN-PNA

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Spectacular pictures of Indonesia Islamic Fashion Fair

Click here to see the pictures: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/photo/2013-05/31/c1324216762.htm

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Scandinavian Debut For Award-Winning 1001Inventions.Com Exhibition

Karlstad: The award-winning blockbuster exhibition, 1001 Inventions, about the achievements of Muslim Civilisation in science and technology, will be making its Scandinavian debut with a five month residency at the prestigious Värmland’s Museum in Karlstad at the end of August 2013, it was announced today.

Recognised as the world’s best touring exhibition by the Museum and Heritage Excellence Awards in London, the ground-breaking 1001 Inventions show has already received more than three million visitors during record-breaking residencies in London, Istanbul, New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC and the Middle East.

The Scandinavian debut of 1001 Inventions will be a dual language (English & Swedish) exhibition and countrywide campaign produced in partnership with Värmland’s Museum and their headline sponsor, Svenska Postkodlotteriet (Swedish Post Code Lottery).

Värmland Museum is a foundation that was established in 1980 by the Värmland County Council, City of Karlstad and Värmland Ancient Memorial and Museum Society (now Värmland Museum Society).

Värmland Museum has a range of permanent exhibitions, first class coffee shop, beautiful auditorium and a large hall for temporary exhibitions. Carl Nyren was the architect behind this beautiful seven-angular house style museum. Today Värmland Museum is one of the most visited museums in Sweden, welcoming more than 250,000 visitors in 2012.

Speaking on behalf of 1001 Inventions, Producer and Director Mr. Ahmed Salim commented: “We are delighted that our award-winning 1001 Inventions show will be enjoying its Scandinavian debut here in Sweden. The scientific golden age of Muslim Civilisation was fueled by a diverse world of men and women of different faiths, cultures and ethnicities.”

He continued: “1001 Inventions brings to life pioneering men and women from the history of science whose achievements have had a huge, but hidden influence on the way we live our lives today. These role models serve as an inspiration for young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics thanks to the modern, engaging and highly interactive 1001 Inventions experience. We’re excited to be working with Värmland Museum to bring this ground-breaking dual language exhibition to Sweden.”

The 1001 Inventions initiative has received recognition from industry leaders, statesmen and academics from around the world including public messages of support from HRH Prince Charles (UK), Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

1001 Inventions is a family-friendly educational brand supported by an international network of academic experts, which ensure that the content of 1001 Inventions productions is of the highest possible academic standard.

The content of all 1001 Inventions productions has been researched by academic experts and then peer reviewed by a network of specialist academics from respected Universities and Museums around the world. In addition, the Science Museum in London employed a panel of renowned experts to review and verify the content of the 1001 Inventions exhibition prior to its six-month residency there.

The Swedish version of the exhibition will feature more than sixty exhibits providing visitors of all ages with a hands-on, interactive and state-of-the-art family-friendly experience. Different zones dedicated to Engineering, Medicine, Astronomy, Mathematics, Geography and Agriculture will highlight the many ways in which Muslim Civilisation helped lay the foundations for the European Renaissance and has had a profound impact on the modern world.

1001 Inventions is a leading and award-winning international science and cultural heritage brand reaching over 50 million people around the world.

1001 Inventions uncovers a thousand years of scientific and cultural achievements from Muslim Civilisation from the 7th century onwards, and how those contributions helped create the foundations of our modern world.

Through its award-winning educational programmes, books, blockbuster exhibitions, live shows, films and learning products, 1001 Inventions showcases the contributions of inspirational men and women of different faiths and cultures in a civilization that spread from Spain to China.

1001 Inventions has produced a world-class range of exciting and engaging educational experiences, productions, products and resources that are all extensively researched by academics and experts from the UK-based Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation.

Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI) is the global strategic partner for the 1001 Inventions brand. ALJCI is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of the ALJ Group, which is a Toyota automobiles distributor in 13 different countries. ALJCI plans and operates numerous global programs, such as poverty-alleviation initiatives, artistic and educational projects and technology innovation grants.

For further information about Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives visit www.aljci.org

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Abu Dhabi Fund Grants $5 mln to update Socotra Airport, Yemen

SOCOTRA, May 30 (Saba) – Director General of Socotra International Airport met here on Thursday with a delegation of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) headed by Saad al-Katabi. They discussed the arrangements and measures for a grant of $5 million provided by the ADFD to modernize the Socotra International Airport. The two officials reviewed the role the airport modernization will play in raising the airport performance.

Director General of Hedibo district in Socotra Archipelago Salem Dahiq and ADFD delegation’s head Saad al-Katabi inaugurated Thursday an ice factory in the district. The factory costs $545,000 funded by the ADFD and produces up to 10 tons of ice per day.

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Salalah – Perfume Capital Of Arabia – Becomes Qatar Airways Newest Point In Oman

26 May 2013 – Salalah, Sultanate Of Oman – Qatar Airways has commenced services to Salalah, joining Muscat as the airline’s second destination in the Sultanate of Oman. Salalah, south of the Arabian Peninsula, becomes the Doha-based airline’s fifth new route of the year taking the carrier’s global reach to 127 destinations.

With the Omani capital Muscat already served 31-times-a-week and the new four-a-week services to Salalah, Qatar Airways now flies a total of 35 services to the Sultanate each week. The latest destination also heralds the first of three new Middle East routes to be launched by the carrier over the next few weeks with two Iraqi cities joining the network.

“As one of the most beautiful places in the Gulf, affectionately known as the Perfume Capital of Arabia, Salalah has tremendous appeal for visitors across the Gulf, Europe, the United States and many other countries, steeped in history, culture and natural beauty.

Qatar Airways Senior Vice President of GCC, Levant, Iran, Iraq & Indian Sub-Continent, Fathi Al Shehab hosted a gathering of distinguished guests and local media at Salalah Airport ahead of the airline’s first departure flight to Doha.

“The inauguration of this key route opens the way for an expansion of tourism to Dhofar and southern Oman that will bring more travellers from all over the world to experience the beauty of this spectacular region and indeed make business easier in this commercial hub of Southern Arabia,” said Al Shehab.

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Malaysian Trade Organization hosts first business trip to Astana

ASTANA. May 28. KAZINFORM – Organized for the first time in Astana by Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), the Malaysia Services Exhibition 2013 (MSE 2013) will be held as a solo country exhibition at KORME Expo Centre, Astana, Kazakhstan from 4 – 6 June 2013, Trade section of the Embassy of Malaysia in Russian Federation reports.

Kazakhstan offers trade and investment opportunities for companies seeking new openings in one of the most dynamic emerging markets. The capital city, Astana is evolving rapidly as an administrative and business centre and it was chosen because of its vision to become a modern and diversified economy with high value-added and high-tech industries. The participation of Malaysian companies at this event is aimed to further forge stronger business partnerships and joint ventures with local businesses, as well as enhancing the visibility of Malaysian service providers.

MSE Objectives

· To promote and brand Malaysian services and its complementary products by showcasing Malaysian achievements in the international arena.

· To establish Malaysian companies’ presence and develop new contacts including assessment of business collaborations through strategic alliances with clients.

· To gain and further enhance the visibility of Malaysia Services Exhibition (MSE) through the promotion of Malaysian capabilities and expertise in Astana.

MSE Astana 2013 will showcase the expertise and capabilities of Malaysian services companies under seven clusters, namely: Construction and its Related Services; Logistics and Freight Forwarding; Information and Communication Technology (ICT); Education; Healthcare Services; Franchise; and Business Services.

A total of 31 companies with 54 representatives will be participating at this event. The Malaysian exhibitors in the construction cluster will be showcasing architectural, engineering and construction services, manufacturers of park equipments, and interior and exterior lighting services.

In addition to the exhibition, there will also be concurrent events including seminars and business meetings for the participants. A total of 582 business meetings have been pre-arranged for the participants.

The inaugural MSE was held in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates in 2008, where MATRADE showcased 11 services sectors with a total of 168 participants. To date, MATRADE had successfully organized 11 MSE programmes.

The Malaysia External trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) is Malaysia’s national trade promotion agency. Established in March 1993, MATRADE’s primary role is to assist Malaysian exporters to develop and expand their export markets. Assisted by a network of 40 overseas offices located in major commercial cities around the world, MATRADE provides a wide range of assistance to both Malaysian exporters and foreign buyers of Malaysian product and services who are sourcing for trade-related information.

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More Omanis Opt to Study in Malaysia

Dubai – “ASWAQ” – 30 May 2013 – Oman is among the countries that have the highest number of students studying in Malaysia, and the number is expected to increase gradually, according to the Malaysian Embassy.

“More than 500 students from Oman go to Malaysia for education each year. It is becoming a preferred education destination due to its multi-cultural diversity and the free way of life. We hope the number will increase as we are intensifying the promotional programmes,” Mohd Norhisyam bin Mohd Yusof, Charge d’Affaires at the Malaysian Embassy, told Muscat Daily.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a two-day exhibition aimed at promoting educational services in Malaysia that began on Tuesday. “Right now, we are focusing on promoting postgraduate and research programmes, and by 2020, Malaysia hopes to become the educational hub of the region. This can be attributed to affordability, and also to the fact that the quality of education is at par with British and Australian universities. Education in Malaysian institutions costs at least 60% less, when compared to these countries.”

Organized by Dome Higher Education Services Oman, a part of GlobalEdu, an overseas education consultancy, the exhibition attracted ten colleges from Malaysia, as well as a large number of students and parents who browsed through the programmes on offer.

Asha Lily Thomas, chief academic advisor, Higher Education Services Oman, said that Malaysia offers a wide range of study options at affordable rates. “The quality of education in Malaysia conforms to international standards and is monitored by the Ministry of Higher Education in Malaysia through quality control authorities. “The low cost of education in Malaysia, coupled with the availability of internationally-recognized qualifications, is another reason many Omanis choose to go there.”

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Saudi Fund for Development loans $150m for Tunisia Housing Project

An agreement on a loan of 150 million dollars, or 230 million Tunisian dinars, was signed Wednesday between the Saudi Fund for Development and Tunisia.

This loan, which will be repaid over 20 years with a grace period of 5 years, will fund the construction of social housing project that will provide 20,000 housing units for the benefit of low-income population.

The loan agreement was signed by Minister of Development and International Cooperation, Lamine Doghri and Managing Director of the Saudi Fund for Development Ibrahim Bin Youssef.

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Turkish mega-projects encourage local tourism investments

ISTANBUL, Hürriyet Daily News, May 31 2013, – Giant infrastructure projects adds to the value of Istanbul, watering the mouths of real estate and tourism investors in Turkey, sectors’ professionals say during a prominent tourism organization Top real estate and tourism sector figures discuss the issue and trends in tourism sector during CATHIC.

Turkey’s giant transportation projects and urban renewal plans are giving a further boost to the tourism sector, which is already growing at around 300 percent every year, a sector player said during the Turkey and Neighbors Hotel Investment Conference (CATHIC).

The huge cost and huge effort spent on transportation and infrastructure projects that are occupying Turkey’s agenda were also under the spotlight of tourism and real estate sector players during the two-day conference held in Istanbul.

“As the tourism sector’s development has become the locomotive of the economy, it has also paved the way for an improvement in real estate investments.

Within the framework of giant projects, around a $400 billion investment is now expected in the real estate sector,” the deputy chairman of Turkey’s Association of Real Estate Investment Companies, Özlem Gökçe, said May 29, the first day of the event.

According to Gökçe, tourism sector investments are no longer regarded as a showcase of prestige for investors but are now attracting “serious” investments thanks to developments in recent years.

“The tourism sector is growing 300 percent every year, so we expect to see 60 million tourists in 2013,” she said. The targets voiced by Başaran Ulusoy, chairman of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), were no less ambitious than Gökçe’s.

“We want to contribute $40 billion to our economy by having 35 million Turks travel within Turkey and abroad,” he said, noting the current momentum was already heading in this direction with the rise in cultural tourism in Turkey that is partly explained by the 26 percent rise in museum entrances.

The conference also hosted a significant moment for the Turkish tourism sector as world’s largest hotel chain, Wyndham, and Turkey’s İlbak Holding signed a contract yesterday to officially mark the Super 8 hotel chain’s entry into Turkey. Super 8 hotels will be operated by the Turkish partner of the group, which aims to benefit from a mid-market hotel gap in the country.

“The target is to open 20 hotels in 10 years, starting with opening three or four hotels in Istanbul,” İlbak Holding Chairman Mustafa İlbak said. He did not specify the value of the investment but noted that the cost of one room was around $35,000 and that the planned hotels would have between 80 and 200 rooms each.

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Almaty to host Eurasian Tourism Conference

29.05.2013, Kazinform – The city of Almaty has witnessed the ratification of the memorandum on hosting the Eurasian Conference as part of which over 300 specialists in the field of tourism will discuss the state of affairs of both global and Kazakh markets of tourism services. Statistical data announced by the city officials shows that last year Almaty welcomed 190 thousand tourists, including 140 thousand from neighbouring countries and 50 thousand from other foreign states. Three thousand tourists out of the latter 50 thousand are eco tourists. At present, the city council is paying special attention to the development of tourism infrastructure. In the near future it is expected to purchase special buses for tours and all routes for these tours have already been developed.

Said Bakitzhan Zhulamanov, Head, Almaty Tourism Department: Almaty is going to purchase 3 buses. We would like to organize tours in May. We are going to show the city to tourists. This tour will cost from two to five thousand tenge. At present the Almaty department of tourism is undertaking unprecedented steps in order to popularize cultural and historical places of the city. For example, during holidays the department organizes one-time free tours and both tourists and local residents can participate in such tours. On City Day, people had a chance to enjoy a discount for a trip to Almaty.

All hotels, supermarkets and restaurants, which participated in this campaign offered a 70% discount for their services. For example, it is possible to stay in a hotel with a 70% discount or purchase something. Last year such a campaign lasted for a week and this year we have decided to organize it again in order to attract more tourists to Almaty.

Moreover, the city has developed the project of the tourist orienting system, which is correspondent to ISO international standards of graphic symbols. The project will be launched in the next few months. In addition, Almaty saw the opening of A Tourist Information Centre, which is dealing with the collection, synthesis and distribution of information about tourist, cultural and historical as well as social and economic resources of the city and the information about the best tourist offers in Kazakhstan. It has also been decided to establish a national qualification system. Apart from the establishment of professional standards, Almaty will launch schools for the training of staff for hotel and restaurants. Official statistics has shown that in 2012 the market of tourism services was presented by 1,037 enterprises, which provided services for about 810 thousand people.

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Kazakhstan third largest recipient of Chinese foreign investments

29.05.2013, Kazinform – The CA-NEWS has reported that in the interview to the correspondent of the Global Times, the counselor on trade and economic relations of the embassy of China to Kazakhstan, Yang Xiumin has announced that Kazakhstan has become the third largest recipient of Chinese investments.

The Chinese customs statistics has shown that in 2012 the bilateral trade turnover between Kazakhstan and China was estimated at 25.7 billion US dollars, including 11 billion of Chinese export and 14.7 billion US dollars’ worth of import. Beijing has already become the largest trade partner of Almaty. At present, the direct investment of China to Kazakhstan already exceeded 20 billion US dollars and Chinese loans given to the Kazakh side exceeded 30 billion US dollars. Moreover, there are more than 3,000 Chinese enterprises operating in Kazakhstan.

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Kuwaiti wins best music composition award at Arab Song Festival

TUNIS, May 31 (KUNA) — Kuwait earned the award for best music composition at the 16th Arab Song Festival kicked off in Tunis, May 28. Kuwaiti composer Mohammad Al-Ruwaishid took the award home for a song that was written by Yagoub Al-Subai’e, mixed and mastered by Mohammad Al-Baijan and performed by Jassim Abdulemam.

At the conclusion of the festival, late Thursday, Al-Ruwaishid told KUNA that the Kuwaiti participation was considered an encouragement to all artists to preserve and shine in all realms of arts and music.

On his part, head of the Kuwaiti delegation to the event and senior official at Kuwait Television Mishary Al-Baijan noted that the two-day cultural event featured various artists from 13 different Arab countries. “This versatility provided a fertile ground to exchange cultural, artistic, and musical expertise.” Meanwhile, the golden microphone award went to Jordan, the jury award won by Iraq, best performance award seized by Tunisia, best lyrics award was taken by Sudan and best mixing and mastering award went to Morocco.

The Arab Song Festival is organized by the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) once every two years at its headquarters, in Tunis. It aims to contribute to the development of Arab television song production and to upgrading its quality, as to meet the aspirations of member corporations. It provides an opportunity to contribute to the development of programming, artistic and cultural exchange over the satellite network.

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GCC to spend $60 billion on gas projects

31 May 2013 – GCC states, particularly the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, plan to award contracts worth over $68 billion during the next five years to raise gas production, according to a report. Gas will overtake oil in demand in the Middle East after 2025, with 50 per cent of all energy demand coming for gas in 2040, said a white paper released by Deloitte titled ‘Middle East Energy and Resources: Managing scarcity for the future’.

Most National Oil Companies (NOCs) in the Middle East already have multi-billion dollar investment plans for gas exploration and production, it said.

Meanwhile, despite a growing focus on renewable and alternative forms of energy, oil and gas will account for about 60 percent of global energy demand in 2040, up from 55 percent in 2010, it said.

Although oil is still projected to remain the primary fuel, significant advancements in technology will cause natural gas to overtake coal as the number two fuel source, according to Deloitte’s white paper.

“Although the share of demand for oil and gas is set to rise, it is important to note that alternative energy sources such as nuclear, wind, solar and biofuel will also take on an increasingly significant role in meeting the world’s energy needs in the future,” said Kenneth McKellar, energy and resources leader at Deloitte in the Middle East.

With the nature of oil and gas production diversifying, strategies shifting to the unconventional, and an unprecedented rise of energy demand globally, research and development (R&D) will play a crucial role in the longevity of the industry. This is especially significant to the Middle East, where capacity building in local knowledge capital is critical to the development of the socio-economic fabric of the region, the paper said.

Deloitte’s white paper also explores the challenges facing the energy industry, which include the serious issue of skills shortages. This is a global problem but even more pronounced in the Middle East where students across the region are choosing to pursue business careers outside of technology, physical sciences and technical process industries. These trends are stimulating high demand for a powerful combination of technology and talent in the Middle East. The restructuring of the existing talent pool, with preference for local hires rather than expensive expatriates, is yet another obstacle to bringing in the required skills in the short run, it said.

In addition to skills shortages, substantial organizational change across the major NOCs, in the form of human resources transformation, strategic change and workforce planning among other areas, is leading to further delays in the decision-making process and project approvals. R&D centres may also face significant challenges from political instability in the region, which may result in domestic strategies shifting and government funding being swayed to other areas, as national security and other domains take priority. Hence, Middle East oil and gas markets may remain volatile for the foreseeable future, the paper added.

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Egypt top destination for Mideast travellers

31 May 2013, Africa Manager – Regional travellers ranked Egypt as their top destination, while global cross-border tourism is showing good growth, according to a new study.

The Global Travel Intentions Study 2013 by Visa found that travellers will increase budgets for their next trip by an average of five percent with some holidaymakers even suggesting that they would more than double what they spent on their previous trip.

The regular barometer of travel trends for Visa indicates budgets are no longer among the top three reasons behind why travelers choose their holiday destination. The pull of attractions, scenery and rich culture are stronger reasons for travel, it said.

The study found that Egyptians plan to travel more than the global average of respondents along with Saudi Arabians, Brazilians, and Chinese.

According to the survey, top choices for intended travel destinations among Middle East and African respondents were Egypt, Turkey, Spain and France.

“17 percent of travelers from the Middle East and Africa say Egypt was their top choice destination, making it the highest ranked destination for that market,” said Tarek Elhousseiny, general manager for Visa North and Francophone Africa. “It’s very encouraging to see that Egypt still ranks among the top destinations in the region following political unrest.

“The study also showed us that the majority of travellers who visit Egypt prefer to arrange packaged tours (48 percent) as opposed to booking their own arrangements. Further, according to the survey, 55 percent of Egyptians travelling abroad would prefer to pay extra for someone to arrange their holidays for them.”

According to the study, which surveyed 12,631 travellers from 25 countries, the average global travel budget of $2,390 per trip is set to increase to $2,501.

Top spenders abroad in the past were the Saudi Arabians, spending an average of $6,666 per trip, while Australian ($4,118) and Chinese travelers ($3,824) were not far behind.

Future travel budget increases are especially high amongst Asian markets with a predicted increase of 46 percent – travelers from Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong all plan to at least double the budget of their last trip in the future, it said.

Elhousseiny said: “Visa has been running the Travel Intentions Study since 2006 and is committed to using the results to identify changes and developments to better understand the travel and tourism environment, contributing to the level of information the industry can use to make informed decisions which benefit the traveler and the industry at large.”

Ross Jackson, head of cross-border in Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa at Visa, said: “Global economic woes have been well-documented over the past few years but our Visa Global Travel Intentions Study 2013 hints at a change in both the financial landscape and consumer mindset, suggesting either economic recovery or a growing appetite for larger travel budgets. Both provide excellent news for everyone involved in the global travel and tourism industry.”

Visa’s study revealed that the US ranked as the most popular destination choice for global travellers, both for trips taken in the past two years (17 percent) and for intended travel in 2013 (10 percent).

Other top destinations in 2011 and 2012 included the United Kingdom (12 percent), France (12 percent) and China, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong (all 10 percent).

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Facebook users in Arab World triple to 45m

31 May 2013, Africa Manager – Facebook usage in the Arab world has almost tripled in the last two years to reach over 45 million as of end June 2012 – about 50 per cent higher than the 37.4 million recorded six months earlier, a report said.

The figures point to a widening adoption rate of social media technology among young people, said Jamil Ezzo, director general of International Computer Driving License (ICDL) GCC, part of the global computer literacy initiative.

Users, who are often not aware of the security or privacy setting of various social networking sites, are more prone to fall victim to cyber-attacks, he added.

Out of the countries surveyed across Mena, those in the GCC posted the highest Facebook population in the region, added the Arab Social Media Report published by the Dubai School of Government.

The report also noted that youth (those between the ages of 15 and 29) represent the majority or 70 per cent of Facebook users in the region, a number that has been holding steady since April 2011.

While social media has revolutionised human interaction in less than two decades, people must continue to exercise caution in sharing personal information online so as to avert cyber threats, Ezzo said.

The need to address online safety in using social networking is particularly significant in the Gulf where smartphone and Internet penetration rates are high, and children have access to mobile devices, he added.

“Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tumblr are social media tools that have now become household names and their influence as a communication channel continues to increase,” said Ezzo.

“In the Mena region, we recently saw how social networking sites can bridge communication gap. However, we must remember that despite being effective vehicles of social interaction, social media can also be abused and exploited by people with malicious intent.”

“Facebook has undoubtedly been a major game-changer in the social networking sphere. Globally it is reported to have over one billion users. According to an independent survey, if Facebook was a country, it would have the world’s third largest population, more than twice the size of the US,” Ezzo explained.

“This gives us an idea of how vast the social media community is growing and how potentially dangerous it can be for young users. However, parents can help their children use social websites more safely by first talking to them about why they have to be cautious online, and how they can protect themselves from cyber predators.”

Oftentimes, according to Ezzo, many children find it difficult to distinguish between real life and virtual life. However they use social media – whether to play games, interact with friends and family or post videos and photos – they should understand that the Internet is full of billions of people who can access their personal and private information with just a click of a button.”

In a bid to protect children from cyber threats such as addiction, bullying and exploitation, ICDL GCC Foundation has partnered with law enforcement agencies as well as educational and other concerned government organizations across the GCC countries, to visit schools as part of a campaign to raise awareness on the subject amongst teachers and parents.

“We encourage parents to talk to their children about social networking. They can even make this a family affair. By being their children’s ‘friends’ online, parents can monitor their activities and list of friends while networking,” he said.

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Works Ministry To Seek Funding To Develop Sarawak’s Infrastructure

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 (Bernama) — The Works Ministry will seek funding from the federal government to develop Sarawak’s infrastructure, particularly road transportation connectivity, in the highly-challenging hilly terrain of Belaga and Kapit.

Its Minister, Datuk Fadillah Yusof said the budget, likely to come under the 11th Malaysia Plan, would be utilised to connect the two areas to major centres like Bintulu and lessen the community’s dependence on water transportation.

He said the cost of road infrastructure development for Belaga and Kapit would come up to more than RM300 million.

The areas are at present connected by badly maintained roads, mainly used by timber lorries. The area around Kapit and Belaga is very challenging due to the hilly terrain and with a large river. “At present, Kanowit, which is not far from Kapit, is already linked to Sibu,” he told Bernama in an interview today.

He said the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, with the Malaysian Armed Forces under the latter’s “Jiwa Murni” programme, had joined hands to improve the Belaga and Sungai Asap areas.

“At present, the roads linking these two areas are logging roads, which are not well maintained,” he added. When the plan is eventually put in place, he said the road network from Belaga to Sibu will be a reality.

During the 2013 budget speech, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said rural areas will continue to be developed to reduce the urban-rural disparity, with RM4.5 billion being allocated to implement various rural infrastructure development projects.

Some of the projects include providing RM1.2 billion to develop 441 kilometres of rural roads and roads to link villages, RM1.6 billion for rural utility infrastructure projects involving water and electricity supply, as well as RM100 million to supply 40,000 water tanks for rainwater harvesting, particularly in the interior of Sabah and Sarawak.

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Grozny Plans To Open Kazakhstan – Azerbaijan Bus Service

ASTANA-GROZNY. May 30. KAZINFORM – The Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Chechnya has been working on opening international bus service with Kazakhstan’s Atyrau and the capital of Azerbaijan – Baku city. This has been announced today by the press-service of the Head of the Chechen Republic.

According to the head of the transport department Ramzan Cherhigova, currently there are negotiations on opening inter-regional bus routes. In addition, the bus service is also planned to start with the St. Petersburg and Kazan (Russia).

“Today, the buses are running from Grozny to Moscow, Yaroslavl, Volgograd, Saratov, Samara, Rostov, Krasnodar, Stavropol, Kislovodsk and other cities. In March of this year, there started to operate one international bus route “Grozny – Bonn – Aachen”, ” said R.Cherhigov.

The head of the transport department said that special attention in trends of transport development Chechnya has given to the quality of vehicles, passenger service and safety.

To do this, the minister said, it is necessary to regularly update the bus fleet, to build a new bus station, bus stations, to create high-tech control centers and other modern technological means.

R. Cherhigov noted that the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Czech Republic bought and utilized at various routes 100 comfortable buses of “Ford Transit”.

“In addition, four buses MAN-LYON have been purchased, which are recognized as the best in Europe, two buses NICER and 227 units of bus PAZ – 32054. In April of this year, the region’s fleet has increased at the expense of the republican budget with another 28 buses of small class “B” – 222702 on the basis of “Ford Transit”, said R. Cherhigov.

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Sabah Tourism Minister: Spread the word about beautiful Babagon

May 29, 2013, – Insight Sabah – The pristine and natural beauty of the Babagon River which courses through Kampung Babagon, could be very attractive to visitors said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Speaking to members of the social media during his recent visit to Kampung Babagon, Masidi described the Babagon River as one of Sabah’s most beautiful rivers.

“The Babagon River has its own charm which holds the potential to offer an attractive eco-adventure destination to tourists,” he said

Masidi said that Kampung Babagon which practices the “tagal” system of fish harvesting is already a popular destination among foreign tourists although it is less known locally.

The tagal system is a unique fishery resource management method practiced by many riparian communities throughout Sabah. Tagal ensures fish-rehabilitation and controlled harvesting. The system is managed by villagers living along the river who have direct interest in the conservation and protection of the river environment to ensure that their fish stock will not be depleted through over fishing.

With the support from the Department of Fisheries, the number of tagal zones has multiplied to more than 200 involving 107 rivers in 11 districts. In terms of enforcement, the villagers elect their own committees entrusted with the responsibility to ensure the security and protection of the riverine fish-stocks in tagal designated areas. Native customary law prohibits the illegal harvesting of fish in tagal areas and the law is enforced through the Native Court.

Masidi expressed confidence that visitors from around Sabah will come to Kampung Babagon to have a picnic. He urged the local community to popularise the place as a local attraction through social media websites such as twitter and Facebook.

Kampung Babagon’s riverside picnic ground has a a mini-hall, food stalls and toilet facilities. Presently, the location is a popular place for anglers who go there to fish for pelian on a catch-and-release basis, for which they pay the local organisers a fee. –Insight Sabah

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Big Harvest Festival do in Tenom

May 29, 2013 -Insight Sabah – Fostering mutual understanding and dialogue among different communities is essential to ensure peace and harmony in the country.

Speaking at the subdistrict-level Kaamatan Celebration 2013 at Sri Ontoros Hall last Saturday, Tenom Member of Parliament, Datuk Raimie Unggi said Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures reflected through the various cultural festivals celebrated by all in the spirit of togetherness.

“Owing to Malaysia’s unique intercultural heritage, all cultural festivities are celebrated together irrespective of race and religion, ” he said.

Raimie pointed out that the Harvest festival celebration is also an opportunity to promote the rich cultural heritage of the indigenous Kadazan and Murut communities throughout the country.

During the celebration the visitors were entertained by much singing, traditional dances as well as the local Unduk Ngadau Sugandoi beauty contest.

The sub-district level Unduk Ngadau contest for Kemabong was won by 18-year-old Sofeviadick Benedek, and the runner-up was Van Precila Sarag, 22. 18-year-old Natasha Mathew took the 3rd place while the Miss Popular title was won by Amanda Ng Fui Ne,19.

The Unduk Ngadau was crowned by Datuk Raimie’s wife, Datin Nuriah Hj. Ibrahim. Among those who attended the event were Sabah Rural Development Minister, Datuk Radin Malleh, Assistant Sub-district officer for Kemabong, Fredian Gan and other government officials and local community leaders.

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Rector Of Kazakhstan Art University Outlines Plans & Projects

ASTANA. May 31. KAZINFORM – Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Kazakh President, pays great attention to the development of culture and arts in our country. One of the most significant projects undertaken at the initiative and with the support of the Head of the State has been the creation of the Kazakh National Academy of Music.

Aiman Musakhodjaeva, the Rector of the Kazakhstan National Art University (KNAU), Honored Artist of Kazakhstan, Artist of the World, the world-famous “Queen of violin”, is telling about the KNAU work and its plans for future.

Q. This year Kazakh National University of Arts is celebrating its 15th anniversary. What achievements does KNAU greet its birthday with?

A. In 1998, with the support of the Head of State there was created National Academy of Music and this year we started our count. In 2009 our academy received a new status and now it is called the Kazakh National University of Arts.

Of course, in accordance with our new higher status we are expanding the list of specialties which are taught at the university. Over the past three years there have been invented new specialties such as film and television, ballet, choreography, visual arts – painters and sculptors, design, pop and theater. Academy of Music conducted training only in “performance art” – vocals, folk instruments, classical, brass, choral singing. It allows us to prepare new products, For example, the reporting of the concert in honor of the 15th anniversary of the University the students have prepared the “Polovtsian Dances” from Borodin’s opera “Prince Igor.” There have been engaged an orchestra, chorus, soloists and choreography. In addition, the animation on the screen was prepared by students of film and television department. The play involved theatergoers – directors, actors. Our students for the first time in Kazakhstan have performed choral presentation of “Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff.

The university is located in Astana and it was set up with the support of Nursultan Nazarbayev, and now it operates under his patronage for staffing art institutions of Astana and the republic as a whole. A lot of things have been done over the years as we needed to create the opera house, concert hall to strengthen the Kazakh and Russian theaters. All these institutions, all orchestras in Astana, the Orchestra of the Ministry of Defense and the Presidential orchestra are provided with KNAU graduates.

Q. Nowadays we often have a variety of shows. Do you prepare such specialists?

A. Yes, of course. Time demands new forms of art. Show business is actively developing and it requires personnel for organizing all kinds of festive events and concerts.

Q. Does KNAU cooperate with foreign universities?

A. Yes, it has. We have signed agreements and MoUs with the most renowned institutions of art – such as Moscow and St. Petersburg Conservatory, Belarus and Kiev Academy of Music, the Vienna Academy of Music, London Royal Academy of Music, the Roman Academy of Santa Cecilia, the Milan Conservatory, the Cologne Conservatory, and many others. As part of the academic mobility we send our students to the above mentioned institutions for one semester training. Last year, for instance, 16 of KNAU students were enrolled in the conservatory of Italian city of Matera.

Q. What are your plans for the upcoming holiday – Day of the Capital?

A. Our musical bands will take part in the general concerts. We are also participating in the “Astana Keshtery” (Astana evenings) festival. In general, the holiday events will involve all our artists.

Speaking specifically, we plan to perform some of the concert items, for example, “Polovtsian Dances” and “Carmina Burana”. In general, we have big plans for this year. In early June the University will have a concert in honor of the Chairman of the European Union.

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Turkey to establish first Kurdish-language university

Diyarbakir – The formation of Mesopotamia Foundation, which will establish Turkey’s first Kurdish-language university, was approved. Founders of the university include Kurdish artist Sivan Perwer, human rights activists, academics and businessmen.

The university to be founded in Diyarbakir, a Kurdish populated province in eastern Turkey, will also give education in English, Armenian and Assyrian languages in the future.

Head of Board of Trustees of Mesopotamia Foundation Selim Olcer said, most probably the university will be named as “Amed”- name given to Diyarbakir in Kurdish, and added, “We aim contributing in Kurdish language and give education in mother tongue.”

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Erekat: Tenders for 1,000 Units in Jewish Settlements a Blow to Peace Efforts

JERICHO, May 30, 2013 (WAFA) – The Israeli government decision to offer tenders for the construction of 1000 new housing units in the Israeli settlements in occupied Jerusalem is a blow to peace efforts, Saeb Erekat, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, said Thursday.

He said that the decision “will practically and officially destroy” efforts by United State Secretary of State John Kerry to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. “The Israeli government is a government of settlers, for settlers and by settlers, and all it does is a strategy to destroy efforts by Secretary Kerry and the two-state solution.”

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World Bank Transfers $31.6M in Budget Support to Palestinian Authority

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2013 (WAFA) – The World Bank transferred Wednesday $31.6 million to the Palestinian Authority from the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan Trust Fund (PRDP-MDTF), a multi-donor budget support mechanism administered by the Bank, according to a World Bank press release.

The funds contributed by the governments of Australia, the United Kingdom and Japan will help support the urgent budget needs of the Palestinian Authority, providing interalia support for education, health care and other vital social services for the Palestinian people and for the economic reforms currently underway, it said.

The World Bank PRDP Trust Fund was established on April 10, 2008, through an agreement signed between the World Bank and the Palestinian Authority during the 2008 World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. It is a central component of a World Bank’s effort to support the ongoing Palestinian Reform and Development Plan.

Currently, the PRDP-MDTF donors are the governments of Australia, France, Kuwait, Norway, the United Kingdom, and Japan. With the new tranche release, the PRDP-MDTF will have disbursed about $1 billion.

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Ujung Kulon to hold Javan Rhino festival in June

Pandeglang, Banten (ANTARA News) June 1 2013 – The Ujung Kulon National Park Agency (TNUK) will hold a Festival of Javan Rhinoceros in June to promote the preservation of the critically endangered one-horned species in the region. The festival will be conducted from June 17 through 22, spokesperson of TNUK Indra said on Friday.

“The Government in 2010 had declared 21 June as a national`s Javan Rhinoceros Day. However, the campaign was less introduced to the society that we here need to get it socialized,” Indra said. The festival will be initiated by declaration ceremonies of Javan Rhinoceros Day in local junior and senior high schools.

The declaration was expected to have the Javan Rhinoceros Day familiarized and to be commemorated annually in the next years.

The Agency and the local administration would also hold a carnival participated in by local kindergarten and elementary school students, wearing rhino-themed costumes, in June 22 in the Pandeglang City`s Square. “Through this festival, we hope the society are more aware and involved in the preservation and the rescue of Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) as its population has been shrinking,” Indra said.

Data from the TNUK showed that only 51 Javan rhinoceros, eight of them were rhino cubs, remained in the Ujung Kulon National Park.

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Tourism entrepreneurs laud garbage-management policy in Bunaken

Manado, North Sulawesi (ANTARA News) May 28 2013 – Tourism entrepreneurs in Manado, North Sulawesi, support the local government strategy to handle the garbage littering in the Bunaken National Marine Park, Manado Mayor Vicky Lumentut said.

“During a meeting with us, the tourism entrepreneurs expressed their support to handle the garbage that has been threatening the underwater beauty of Bunaken marine park,” Lumentut said here on Tuesday. According to the owners of Manado tourist resorts, the garbage littering the water of Bunaken came not only from Manado city but also from outside.

“They even said that the garbage come from Bangka Island in North Minahasa,” according to Lumentut. The Manado mayor noted that the tourism entrepreneurs in the city wanted to support the local government in handling the garbage because it directly and indirectly disturbed their business.

Meanwhile, Siladen Resort and Spa General Manager Daniele Marianelli said she was ready to help the local government handle the garbage that was frequently complained by tourists who came to enjoy the underwater beauty of Bunaken.

“We hope Manado city government can also coordinate with other district and city governments to clean up Bunaken water from garbage,” she said.

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Baku hosts 2nd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue

Baku 31/05/2013 – As part of Baku 2nd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), jointly with the Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture and Tourism, today held a roundtable on “Science and Faith”.

The routable, opened by ISESCO Director, was attended by Elshad Iskandarov, Chairman of State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and a host of scholars and experts on issues pertaining to science, religions and faith.

On that occasion, the Director General made an address in which he explained that the roundtable is aimed at underlining the crucial role modern science is required to play in promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue, explaining that the realm of religion extends far beyond the mere perimeter of faith as to include learning and work. Islam values learning and knowledge acquisition and is accordingly not in conflict with science, he argued.

At the close of his address, Dr Altwaijri gave a brief insight into the study titled “Islamic perspectives on modern science: introduction to debates between religion and science”, launched by ISESCO on the occasion of the Forum.

The document, which was discussed at the roundtable, is an attempt by a team of Muslim scholars specializing in very specific scientific disciplines to reflect on the relationship between faith and modern scientific research.

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Bill Gates wants to meet India’s iconic actor/activist Aamir Khan

NEW DELHI, June 1, 2013 (BSS) – Microsoft chairman Bill Gates took to his blog to express his desire to meet Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan.

Gates wrote, “I’m also looking forward to meeting Aamir Khan,the Bollywood star and activist. I want to hear about his work as a UNICEF ambassador for child nutrition. I also want to hear about his TV show, Satyamev Jayate (Truth Alone Prevails), which is shining a light on some critical issues facing India. And maybe, if I’m lucky, he’ll show me a few dance moves.”

Aamir Khan’s debut TV show “Satyamev Jayate” which was launched last year marked the emergence of Aamir Khan as a social activist. The actor raised a number of social issues—-female foeticide, dowry, child abuse, etc. The actor’s show inspired a number of people and also forced politicians to take a note of the issues highlighted by him.

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Bangladesh Experts urge innovative marketing strategy for tourism

SEOUL, June 1, 2013 (BSS) – Bangladesh has the potential to turn tourism and hospitality industry into a multi-billion dollar one after the Readymade Garment (RMG)riding on the aggressive campaign, experts said here today. They insist on the government to come up with strategic plan and innovative marketing strategy to reach the goal.

“We’ve very risky package of export basket as garment is the main export item. Tourism is now the ready product that can backup RMG industry if the latter faces any problem,” Taufiq Rahman, Chief Adviser of Tour Operators’ Association of Bangladesh (TOAB), told BSS today on the sidelines of the Korea World Travel Fair (KOTFA- 2013) which began in the Korean capital on May 30.

Bangladesh Tourism Board, the National Tourism Organization (NTO) under the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism opened a pavilion in the fair with the aim to present Bangladesh as an attractive tourist destination in the world. Seven tour operators — Journey Plus, Escape Bangladesh Ltd,Blue Sky Holidays , Riverain Tours, ANNEX Travel and Consulting Group, Creative Tours and Travels and Autarky Tours Bangladesh – are participating in the show at Coex Exhibition Centre.

Taufiq, also Chief Executive Office of Journey Plus, lauded the government for formation of Bangladesh Tourism Board and suggested that there should be more representation of private sector in the board.

He said tourism industry is such a potential industry that can contribute 40-50 per cent to the national economy in the next 20 years if the government comes forward to provide the sector with facilities required.

Referring to the statistics of UN World Tourism Organization (WTO), he said last year the world witnessed 6.6 trillion US dollars earning and more than one billion tourists traveling across the world.

One million tourists travelled Pakistan alone last year and the same number of tourists visited Myanmar, he said adding that only 2.5 lakh tourists travelled Bangladesh during that period.

Syed Mahbubul Islam Bulu, Director (legal) of TOAB, said tourism is a lone sector that keeps 100 per cent foreign currencies which no other industries including RMG industry can do.

Foreign currencies come from the tourism industry are being disbursed in various sectors of Bangladesh, he said.

Bulu, also Chief executive officer of Riverain Tours suggested that the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should work hand in hand for the flourishment of tourism industry. Besides, he said, ministry of cultural affairs should be linked with the tourism ministry, he observed.

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Turkey Aims To Become Financial Capital Of The Middle East

ISTANBUL, May 31 (NNN-GULFTIMES) –Serving as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East due to its strategic geopolitical positioning, Turkey construction giants in partnership with the Turkish government are seeking to become a major financial capital of the Middle East, according to Hasan Rahvali, CEO to Agaoglu, which is the single largest construction company in Turkey.

“Agaoglu opened an office in Dubai last year in response to the demand and attention at Cityscape Dubai 2012. Recent decrees by the Turkish government such as the Reciprocity Law now allow foreigners to acquire real estate in Turkey and if they do, they automatically obtain residency,” Rahvali told Gulf Times at his company’s stand at the recently concluded Cityscape Qatar 2013.

\Competitive prices, climate, the parallel cultures and attractions have already resulted in Middle Eastern businesses setting up international offices in Istanbul. “One of our major projects – the Istanbul Finance Centre – aims to host all of Turkey’s financial institutions including big banks and auditors, the Treasury, and the stock exchange.”

According to Ali Agaoglu, Chairman and Founder of Agaoglu Group, the real estate investments concentrate on the Istanbul area, and mostly come from the Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.

“The Gulf countries represent a huge potential for the residential sector in that regard,” he said, pointing out that foreign sales of Agaoglu properties have exceeded $800mn following the Reciprocity Law.

“Our goal is to make an annual contribution of $5bn to the national economy.”

Rahvali said that the group’s presence at the Cityscape Exhibition was not to attract retail investment, but make the Middle Eastern and international markets aware of the brand and its operations.

He added that the two major Agaoglu projects currently underway, the Maslak 1453 and the Instanbul Financial Centre, to be completed in 2015 and 2016 respectively, focus on businesses and their operators currently established in Turkey.

“Our main target is residents but we aim to attract Middle Eastern people as well. Based on our projection, 70% of the property will be occupied by Turkey’s residents and 30% by Middle Eastern and foreign investors. So far, 65% of the Maslak 1453 project has been sold.”

The Maslak 1453, numbered after the year in which the Ottomans captured Istanbul, is a mixed use project, “currently one of the largest in Europe” which will showcase 4,800 residential units with 210,000 square metres for commercial use and 53,000 square metres for offices and composed of 24 towers between 21 and 55 floors.

The blueprints also include fashion centres, in and outdoor swimming pools, and a ground-level bazaar which will make Maslak 1453 a “small town”, according to Rihvali.

The Istanbul Finance Centre covers a 3.2 million square metre construction area and 850,000 square metre special project area.

Currently, it is in its excavation phase which has completed 2mn cubic metres of the 8.5 cubic metres needed to be cleared for the foundations.

“We aren’t in a hurry to advertise it just yet. But sales will commence for the international market next March. It’s the largest in Turkish construction history. Digging should be done by the end of the year,” Rihvali said confidently.

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Etihad Airways Launches Daily Services Minsk, Codeshare with Belavia

ABU DHABI, May 31th, 2013 (WAM)–Etihad Airways will increase its Abu Dhabi-Minsk service from three flights per week to a daily schedule from June 15, 2013. The carrier will also offer onward connections from Minsk to the cities of Kiev, Moscow and Saint Petersburg through a new codeshare agreement with Belavia, Belarus’ national airline.

The codeshare agreement will in turn see Belavia placing its B2 flight code on Etihad Airways’ flights from Minsk to Abu Dhabi, and onwards to Ho Chi Minh City, Melbourne and Sydney.

The direct daily services, combined with codeshare connectivity, supports the growth in demand from business and leisure travellers, cementing the already strong ties between Belarus and the UAE.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “As demand continues to grow, as we continue to take delivery of more aircraft, and as we announce our codeshare agreement with Belavia, moving Minsk-Abu Dhabi to a daily return service is a logical next step.

“The route is an important one in Etihad Airways’ expanding global network, and partnering with Belavia is an important catalyst for further strengthening business and leisure traffic between Abu Dhabi and Belarus, and also to destinations over our combined Abu Dhabi and Minsk hubs.”

The UAE is one of Belarus’ main trading partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council. In 2012 Belarus’ exports to the UAE reached US$21 million, 122 per cent up on 2011, and imports from the UAE to Belarus amounted to US$17 million, up over 202 per cent on 2011.

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Azerbaijan’s Gobustan named “European Museum of the Year”

Baku, May 21 (AzerTAc). Azerbaijan`s Gobustan National Historical-Artistic Preserve has become winner of the European Museum of the Year competition for 2013.

According to the Azerbaijan Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Gobustan National Historical-Artistic Preserve was awarded with the title in the competition that brought together 41 candidates.

The European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA) was founded in 1977 under the auspices of the Council of Europe, with the aim of recognizing excellence in the European museum scene and encouraging innovative processes in a museum world which still took the more traditional view to focus exclusively on collections rather than on their use for the benefit of society.

This award goes to a museum which contributes most directly to attracting audiences and satisfying its visitors with unique atmosphere, imaginative interpretation and presentation, a creative approach to education and social responsibility.

The EMF Judging Panel is looking for enterprise and innovation that enhances the public quality of the museum. The judges seek to identify new developments which are likely to have a significant influence in the national and international museum field.

The Gobustan National Historical-Artistic Preserve was inaugurated by President Ilham Aliyev in 2011. Azerbaijan`s museum was awarded for presenting history and increasing the interest for the primitive communal system by enlightening local community via innovative technologies.

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First toll road opened in Kazakhstan

31.05.2013 – The Astana to Schuchinsk Highway is now a toll road. French engineers have already installed machines which will receive payment. Over one billion Tenge are allotted annually to the maintenance of this road. The one way toll tariff for car drivers will be 200 Tenge.

Said Zamir Saginov, Chairman Of Motor Roads Committee, Kazakh Ministry Of Transport And Communications: We are planning to increase the tariff in the future. There will be no indexation according to the monthly calculation index. It is planned that over one billion Tenge will be raised per year. To prevent money from going to the budget a national company-operator has been established which will accept payments and spend this money on the maintenance of this road.

There are alternative free roads through Stepnogorsk or Atbassar. But such a detour will take twice as long. On the toll road local residents will have a 50% discount and free drive within the region. The whole highway has been divided into five zones. Special equipment has been installed and the total amount will consist of tariffs paid in each zone. The condition of the road and even the weather in the area are always being monitored.

Said Zhanibek Amanzholov, Operator: – We have online broadcasting and can see everything that is happening on the roads. Our tasks are the collection of money and monitoring.

The tariff in Kazakhstan is the lowest in the world. This is connected with the fact that in the calculation of the tariff, only annual maintenance and repair are taken into consideration, while road construction costs were not included.

Meanwhile other significant routes are on the way, such as West Europe – West China, and Astana – Temirtau highways. Plans for next year include the construction of the Astana – Pavlodar and Almaty – Kapshagai roads.

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Iran inaugurates several development projects

Shahr-e Kord, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Prov, June 1, IRNA – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated a powdered milk producing complex in this southwestern province Saturday to meet domestic needs as well as those of neighboring states. The project has created 240 job opportunities in this province, a provincial official said.

Rahman Karami, head of the provincial industry, mine and trade organization, said the project has cost some 600 billion rials. Karami noted that the Shahr-e Kord powdered milk factory is capable of annually producing 10,000 tons of powdered milk that would save 40 million euros for the country a year.

Meanwhile, the President opened 17,650 residential units here. President Ahmadinejad also inaugurated a 1,375-long tunnel between Isfahan, capital city of central province of Isfahan, and Shahr-e Kord. The President arrived here Saturday morning to open 20 industrial and development projects.

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Tehran to host 30th Intˈl Qur’an competition

Tehran, May 31, IRNA – 30th International Competitions of the Holy Qur’an is to open at Summit Conference Hall in Iranˈs capital city, Tehran, on Friday afternoon. Several participants from over 70 countries will participate in several Qur’anic categories in this event.

Hashem Soltannezhad and Vahid Vakili have been named to represent Iran in the memorization and recitation categories at the upcoming event. This year’s competition is slated to host a seminar on Qur’anic research that will be held on the sidelines of the international contest. The 30th International Qur’an Competitions will end on June 7, 2013.

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Iran, Indonesia ink trade agreement

TEHRAN, May 30 (MNA) – Iran and Indonesia signed a trade agreement on Wednesday in a bid to boost bilateral trade. The Iranian Deputy Industry, Mine and Trade Minister Hamid Safdel and the Indonesian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Thamrin as the representative of Indonesia Exports Development Center’s chairman signed the agreement.

The head of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran (TPOI) put Iran-Indonesia trade value at over one billion dollars over the recent years. This agreement will promote bilateral trade between Iran and Indonesia by exchanging trade delegations and information, holding exhibitions and signing preferential trade agreement thereafter, Safdel noted.

In February, Indonesian Ambassador to Tehran Dian Wirengjurit has said Jakarta pays no attention to sanctions imposed on the Iranian oil sector, saying it will have no effect on Indonesia’s oil purchase from Iran. He said Iran is a developed country in terms of infrastructure to the extent that there is potable water, electricity and gas in most parts of the country. The Indonesian ambassador also called on Iranians to invest in his country.

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Tehran exhibit to promote Quranic lifestyle

TEHRAN, May 31 (MNA) – The Quranic way of life has become the main focus of the 21st edition of the International Holy Quran Exhibition, which will be at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Mosalla beginning July 5, a few days before the holy month of Ramadan. Speaking in a press conference on Tuesday, Deputy Culture Minister for Quranic Affairs Hojjatoleslam Hamid Mohammadi said that a variety of programs have been arranged for this year’s edition.

This year’s exhibit has been organized in over 40 sections, several of which are new, he added. A number of Quranic periodicals, which are being published in the country will be put on display in a new section. In addition, groups of clerics and experts on Quranic issues have been assigned to hold discussions and also to provide consultations for visitors during the month-long event.

A new section, which has been organized in collaboration with the Sports and Youth Ministry, will highlight the Quran’s viewpoints on sports.

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Dubai’s beauty products external trade records Dhs16bn

Dubai, 27th May 2013 (WAM) — The rapidly substantial expansion in the development of cosmetics market has created an increased stature in Dubai’s external trading in perfumery and beauty products with a total value of Dhs16bn in 2012 increasing from Dhs11bn in 2009 to record Dhs12bn in 2010 reaching Dhs15bn in 2011.

Dubai Customs statistics pacing with Beauty world Middle East Trade Exhibition set to be held in Dubai during the period from 28 to 30 May, showed that Dubai’s perfumes and cosmetic products imports amounted to 10 Dhsbn, whereas the imports and re-exports of such products reached Dhs6bn reflecting existence of an active cosmetic products market within the emirate, supporting trading in such products through which it takes place towards regional and international markets.

France tops the countries from which Dubai imports perfumery and beauty products, with imports recording Dhs2.6bn in 2012, a 27% of the total imports, followed by the US with a total value of Dhs1bn with a share of 11%.

Germany follows with imports valued at Dhs935m with a share of 10%. The contribution of these three countries which are considered the largest, most prominent perfumery and beauty products importing market in the world, to Dubai totals 47% of the overall imports of these products.

In the domain of exportation and re-exportation, Saudi Arabia ranked first with a share of 18% equivalent to Dhs1bn, followed by Kuwait recording a share of 7% equivalent to Dhs440m and the USA with a total value of Dhs367m at 6%. The total share of these countries is 31% of the overall exports and re-exports in the cosmetics sector.

Perfumery is at the top of Dubai’s external beauty products trade, representing 22% of total imports with a value of Dhs2.15bn, and 26% of exports and re-exports with a value of Dhs1.6bn.

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Traders Hotel Opens In Johor, Malaysia, Offers Launch Rates

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts will debut its third Traders hotel in Malaysia with the opening of the 283-room Traders Hotel, Puteri Harbour, Johor, Malaysia on 1 June 2013. The hotel’s four-storey towers and landscaped walkways are fronted by Puteri Harbour and completes the Little Red Cube that houses the Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park, alfresco restaurants on the promenade of a marina, and retail outlets.

The development, set in the state of Johor (Malay for jewel) on the southern tip of the Malaysia peninsula, is a scenic 20-minute car ride from downtown Singapore via “The Causeway” and within hours on the North-South highway from Kuala Lumpur. It is also easily accessible by air or sea from Malaysia’s other regions and Indonesia via the Senai International Airport and a passenger ferry terminal respectively, which are near the hotel.

Holidaymakers can arrive geared for golf, a fishing adventure, water sport activities or a boat cruise. Alternatively, they can find family entertainment at LEGOLAND® Malaysia, the indoor Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park featuring the Sanrio Hello Kitty Town and the Little Big Club – home to characters such as Thomas and Friends, Barney and Bob the Builder – as well as at interactive and family-themed LAT’s Place. For an informative or cultural stay, visitors can tour Kota Iskandar, Johor state’s new administrative centre, to watch parliament debates at the State Legislative Assembly Hall – infused with distinctive Moorish-Andalusian elements in its architecture – and admire the surrounding waterscapes and lush gardens.

“With the state administration centre and two theme parks practically at the hotel’s doorstep, we’re set to be the new business and leisure hub in Johor,” said Sigi Bierbaumer, general manager of Traders Hotel, Puteri Harbour, Johor, Malaysia.

As an opening promotion, Traders Hotel, Puteri Harbour, Johor, Malaysia is offering an overnight stay in a Deluxe Room at MYR380, which is subject to prevailing tax and service charge and includes breakfast buffet for two people. Reservations can be made at telephone number (+607) 560 8888 or via e-mail thph@tradershotels.com.

Traders Hotel, Puteri Harbour, Johor, Malaysia’s stylish guestrooms and suites range from 33 to 96 square metres, and are outfitted with a spacious bathroom, 40-inch television and a mini-bar, among other practical features. A stay on the Traders Club floor ensures the needs of savvy travellers are cared for, and provides use of a private lounge with breakfast, refreshments and evening cocktails; personalised check-in and check-out; meeting areas and a Club concierge.

Other conveniences include free Internet access throughout the hotel, a rooftop infinity pool, a health club that provides massage services, a landscaped rooftop garden and a business centre in addition to basement parking spaces, and a complimentary shuttle service to LEGOLAND® Malaysia.

For functionality, the 515-square-metre Iskandar Ballroom and its reception area accommodates up to 600 guests while smaller groups can gather in five other meeting halls with bird’s-eye views of the hotel areas.

Contemporary offerings by Executive Chef Alan Wong and his brigade are served at the all-day Harbour Café restaurant, rooftop SkyBar, the Lobby Lounge and On-the-Go, a takeaway outlet. Room service is catered for 24 hours a day.

Traders Hotel, Puteri Harbour, Johor, Malaysia is owned and developed by Destination Resorts and Hotels (DRH) and managed by Shangri-La International Hotel Management Limited. DRH is a strategic owner and developer of world class premier destinations of Malaysia’s luxury leisure and tourism sector. Its current key investment portfolio comprises of Desaru Coast, the region’s first integrated luxury destination located at Johor’s Desaru coastline, Little Red Cube and Traders Hotel at Puteri Harbour and LEGOLAND® Hotel Malaysia in Nusajaya, along with Teluk Datai, Langkawi, a luxury eco-tourism destination including the award-winning The Datai Langkawi. For more information on DRH and its developments, please visit www.drh.com.my.

Traders Hotels are located in Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Changzhou, Dubai, Hong Kong, Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Male, Manila, Penang, Shenyang, Singapore, Yangon and Brisbane, with a scheduled opening in Doha, Qatar. The group has a substantial development pipeline with upcoming projects in mainland China, India, Mongolia, Philippines, Qatar, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom. For more information and reservations, please contact a travel professional or access the website at www.tradershotels.com.

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Tourism now the second largest employer of Saudis — SCTA chief

JEDDAH, Arab News, 26 May 2013 – Tourism has become the second largest employer of Saudis, according to Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA). The recent decisions taken by the Cabinet would have a big impact on boosting domestic tourism, he said, adding,“The delay in national tourism development has given us the opportunity to build partnerships, set out rules and regulations and implement a number of projects.”

Prince Sultan made this comment after laying the foundation for a new building of the College of Tourism and Hotel Management at King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh yesterday.

“The new building will contribute greatly to the development of the college in terms of enhancing facilities for studies,” he said while commending the efforts being made by KSU authorities to develop the college.

He emphasized the important role being played by the tourism sector in boosting the national economy. “Higher education will have a big impact on the Kingdom,” Prince Sultan said while praising the government’s efforts to send Saudis for higher studies in reputable universities on King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship.

He praised late Prince Sultan for establishing a college for tourism. He thanked Higher Education Minister Khaled Al-Anqari for his support to tourism colleges. “This will be an exceptional year for SCTA. The government has realized the importance of tourism in strengthening the economy and creating jobs,” he said.

He expected a large number of Saudis would get employed in the tourism sector this year. He said that there is a plan to establish five colleges under Technical and Vocational Training Corporation to train Saudis in tourism and hotel management. The first college will be established in Riyadh in August. The second will be established in Madinah in December. In addition, two will be established in Taif and Al-Ahsa next year.

Badran Al-Amr, president of KSU, said the increasing desire among Saudis to join the tourism sector has doubled his college’s responsibilities. About 550 students will graduate from the college this year.

KSU college has three departments, namely the department for tourism and department for hotel management, a department for antiquities and a department for the management of heritage resources and tourism guidance.

There are two more tourism colleges in Jeddah and Abha, in addition to tourism departments at the universities of Hail, Taif and Jazan. There is an institute of hospitality and hotel management that belongs to Al-Hokair Group, the tourism institute at King Abdul Aziz University and an international academy for tourism and hotel management.

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Pakistan students find new solution to end loadshedding

Karachi, DAWN.COM – Two students from Islamabad have bagged silver medal in the world finals of the International Computer Projects Competition held recently in Romania by giving solution to end loadshedding and resolve issue of energy theft. Shahbaz Khattak and Abdul Muizz Lodhi of PakTurk School Islamabad have designed a GSM-based Automatic Meter Reader (AMR) which was presented in the Infomatrix Romania where their project won silver medal in the category of Hardware Control.

AMR can collect consumption data from power, gas and water meters without involvement of meter readers. It transmits data to central database of service providing company for billing, troubleshooting, and analysis.

AMR saves utility providers the expense of visiting every location to read a meter, its billing is based on actual consumption rather than estimates, past or predicted consumption. Moreover timely information can help utility providers and customers’ better control usage and production.

It provides accurate data, track usage, improve energy management, detect tempering and cut operational costs by discouraging wastage to boost profit. It can be used for security and fire alarm systems.

Khattak and Lodhi said that metre reading will no more remain a time consuming and labour intensive manual process if gas, power and water utilities employ ARM which will also settle the issues of complaints by consumers and increasing energy theft presently estimated at Rs250 billion annually.

Also, some modification can enable power companies to switch off air conditioners and other home appliances drawing extreme amounts of energy remotely which will end the need of loadshedding in Pakistan where over 5000MW is consumed by A/Cs in summer, the students said.

Commenting on the development PakTurk officials Kamil Ture and Turgut Puyan said that participation in global competitions and winning prizes has become a regular feature for Pakistani students which reflect their talent. Educational institutions should encourage young to apply their imagination, passion, and creativity to make a difference.

The competitions are not just about promoting professional excellence; it also serves to promote intercultural dialogue and cooperation, said Ture.

Hundreds of students from many countries including United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Russian Federation, Macedonia, Belgium, Romania, Poland, Hong Kong, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Vietnam, Hungary, Mexico, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ecuador, Thailand, Indonesia, Turkey, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Laos, Colombia, Kenya, Albania, Iraq, and Malaysia participated in the event and presented projects covering a wide variety of topics.

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Qatar Airways Seeks to Hire More Locals

28 May 2013 – Doha, QATAR – Qatar Airways hosted the 64th Annual Conference of Airline Personnel Directors’ Council (APDC) in the capital city of Doha. The two-day conference brought together over 40 senior human resource management delegates from airlines around the world to discuss issues and challenges facing HR practices in their respective businesses, as well as those that affect the industry collectively.

With the airline industry in the State of Qatar young and flourishing at a phenomenal rate, hosting the event gave Qatar Airways the opportunity to share the successful business model that has been built during the 16 years it has been in operation with airlines from around the world. The Doha-based carrier shared its experiences and challenges with some of the legacy carriers that have been around for 60 years or more.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker officially opened the event, hosted by the airline for the second time in six years. He talked about the airline’s dramatic growth and the State of Qatar’s dynamism in undertaking scores of infrastructure projects.

With Qatar Airways being an economic vehicle for the country’s growth – a nation that is investing over US$150 billion in numerous infrastructure projects such as a new metro system, new hotels and the 2022 FIFA World Cup – recruitment opportunities are endless, said Al Baker.

“We are not retrenching, but recruiting on an unprecedented scale. It’s not about being the biggest airline or taking market share, it’s about being the best at what we do in all areas to attract customers and employees alike.”

As part of its recruitment drive, Qatar Airways is hiring Qatari nationals to train and develop them as future leaders. The Qatar Airways Nationalisation Programme has focused on designing development programmes to create distinctive experiences for Qatari students, graduates and professionals to make them proud of Qatar Airways’ success story.

The drive to hire more Qataris – both graduates and scholarship students – to join the organisation, is in line with the country’s 2030 vision for a sustainable future. The solid foundation that has been built by Qatar Airways since 1997 with a workforce drawn from aviation experts from around the world, has well positioned the airline well for further aggressive growth.

With a global group workforce of over 28,000 employees – 16,000 of which being airline staff – Qatar Airways’ staggering rise has not been unnoticed by industry peers.

Al Baker highlighted some of the HR challenges faced by the Doha-based airline that comes with growth and recruitment. “Our workforce of over 150 nationalities work in different disciplines within the airline and our subsidiaries,” said Al Baker.

“English is a second or third language for the majority of Qatar Airways’ workforce, so undoubtedly proving a challenge as English is the working language across the industry, Qatar Airways HR department works hard to address these challenges because as a Qatari organisation that proudly preserves its Arabic culture and heritage, Qatar Airways is ultimately a global network airline.”

With a total order of over 250 aircraft woth more than US$50 billion and a staggering route network growing by more than 12 new destinations each year, the job opportunities are enormous, added Al Baker.

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Qatar Airways increases capacity to North Africa

31 May 2013 – Qatar Airways announced an increase in capacity between Qatar and North Africa with its flights to Tripoli and Casablanca going non-stop. Effective 1 June, scheduled services to the Libyan capital Tripoli will be de-linked from the Egyptian city of Alexandria offering additional seats to both cities.

On the same day, Casablanca will have direct non-stop services from the airline’s Doha hub. Currently the route is served via the Tunisian capital of Tunis. With the de-linking and re-introduction of non-stop flights, Qatar Airways is giving passengers travelling to the four North African cities with more choice and flexibility when planning their travels.

Passengers from the Asia Pacific, South Asia and Middle East and can now take advantage of a seamless one-stop connection to Tripoli and Casablanca via Doha. Travellers also have easier access through Doha to more than 100 destinations worldwide, including popular cities such as Beijing, Hong Kong, Jeddah, Manila, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Cochin, Dubai, Mumbai, Delhi and Singapore.

Qatar Airways reintroduced scheduled services between Doha and Tripoli in February 2012 after temporarily suspending operations to the city due to the unstable political situation in Libya. Initially, the route was served three-times-a-week, via Alexandria, and due to popular demand increased to daily services in August 2012.

Qatar Airways also serves Libya’s second largest city Benghazi with four flights each week directly from Doha. The airline currently serves Tripoli with an Airbus A320, featuring 12 seats in Business Class and up to 132 seats in Economy.

The Casablanca route is operated with an Airbus A330 in a two-class configuration of up to 248 seats in Economy and up to 36 seats in Business Class.

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Emirates resumes services to Libya

29 May 2013 – Emirates will restart passenger flights to Tripoli from 1st September 2013, illustrating Libya’s importance in Emirates’ global network and the airline’s commitment to the country. Emirates’ three-weekly flights to Tripoli, served by a Boeing 777-200ER in a 3-class configuration, will make a quick stop in Malta.

In June 2012, Emirates underlined its commitment to Libya with the reopening of its Tripoli town office enabling customers in Tripoli to book travel on Emirates services outside of Libya including flights commencing from Tunis. The one-stop travel hub has been designed to make business and leisure travel easier and more convenient, with ticketing and reservation counters for general enquiries and dedicated counters for premium passengers, Emirates Holidays customers and travel agents.

Supporting the thriving trade between Tripoli and the rest of the world, Emirates has introduced a dedicated cargo service into Tripoli in May 2012.

The re-launch of Emirates flights will enable SkyCargo to even better serve Libyan importers by offering a weekly capacity of 40 tonnes every week enabling them greater capacity and more frequent connections with their supplier markets.

Tripoli has been part of Emirates’ route network since March 2001, when services were launched with 4 flights a week. Over the next six months, Emirates will launch a further four destinations: Haneda on 3 June, Stockholm on 4 September, Clark on 1 October, and Milan-New York on 1 October 2013.

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Etihad Airways ups frequencies to key regional destinations

30 May 2013 – Etihad Airways will increase frequencies on services to Amman, Cairo, Islamabad and Muscat from June 15, 2013.

The new frequencies support Etihad Airways’ pledge to provide a seamless travel experience for passengers from across the region who can take advantage of Abu Dhabi’s position as a leading global hub, and the airline’s expanding network of long and ultra long haul flights.

Services to Muscat will increase from 20 to 23 weekly flights, better linking the Omani capital with Etihad Airways’ North Asian network and some key world destinations, such as Japan, China and South Korea.

In addition, Etihad Airways is adding four overnight flights per week to its existing double-daily operations to and from Amman, providing seamless connectivity to destinations in South East Asia and Australia.

Flights to Cairo will increase from the current 18 weekly services to three times a day, leveraging the important point-to-point market with enhanced flow traffic onto Etihad Airways’ global network.

Pakistan’s capital city, Islamabad, will see flights increase from seven to nine per week, enhancing connectivity over the airline’s Abu Dhabi hub to destinations across the Middle East and Europe.

The Middle East and Indian subcontinent are growing markets for Etihad Airways, as passenger demand, connectivity choice, and frequency enhancements continue to drive business and leisure traffic onto the airline’s expanding global network.

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Gulf Air codeshare with Royal Jordanian boosts passenger numbers

30 May 2013 – Gulf Air and Royal Jordanian announced that the number of passengers transported by Gulf Air between Bahrain and Amman surged by 216% after a year of signing a codeshare partnership between the two carriers.

In a joint press statement, Gulf Air and Royal Jordanian expressed satisfaction with the successful agreement, whereby flights between Jordan and Bahrain are operated by Gulf Air but marketed by both carriers. Royal Jordanian’s relationship with Gulf Air dates back to 2004 – when the two carriers signed the first codeshare partnership – later modified in 2012.

Gulf Air transferred all its departing and arriving flights to Amman in Jordan to the new terminal at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport effective in March 2013. Gulf Air first started flying to the country in 1976 and today operates double daily flights between Bahrain and Amman.

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Malaysia Airlines Adds Flights to Phuket

Subang, 31 May 2013: Malaysia Airlines is increasing its weekly frequency from Kuala Lumpur into Phuket to 26 times weekly with the introduction of one new daily service. This service will begin on 1 June 2013.

In conjunction with the introduction of this new frequency, Malaysia Airlines is offering all-in return economy class promotional fares of only RM222 for travel from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket. Booking for these fares are from now till 10th June 2013, valid for travel from 1 June 2013 – 31 July 2013. This promotional fare is valid on MH798, MH799 and MH794 only.

The additional service, MH798 will depart daily from Kuala Lumpur at 4.55am and arrive Phuket at 5.10am while the return flight MH799 will depart Phuket at 6.15am and arrive Kuala Lumpur at 8.45am. This addition was incorporated following greater demand from the market.

Meanwhile, the existing MH794 depart from Kuala Lumpur at 1.05pm and arrive Phuket at 1.20pm.

A two-class configured Boeing 737-800 aircraft with 144 economy class seats and 16 business class seats will be used for this service.

Malaysia Airlines Senior Regional Vice President, Malaysia, Muzammil Mohamad said, “Phuket is a great tourist attraction and it is one of the few places where there is always something to do, rain or shine. Malaysians have always had Phuket in their must go places. The beautiful islands, the unique blend of colonial and Chinese architecture and the beautiful temples such as Wat Chalong are all a definite crowd puller, he added.

Book your travels on Malaysia Airlines through all distribution channels mainly www.malaysiaairlines.com, Malaysia Airlines 24 hours toll free number 1-300-88-3000,Malaysia Airlines ticket offices and appointed agents throughout Malaysia.

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Malaysia Airlines Halves Operating Loss in Q1 2013

29 May 2013: Kuala Lumpur – National carrier Malaysia Airlines registered a significant improvement in its operations by reducing operating loss by 46% to RM165 million for the first three months ended 31 March 2013 compared with RM307 million in the same quarter in 2012.

The improved performance was delivered in the face of poor economic conditions in which the airline delivered 17% increase in passenger traffic, 14% increase in revenue, and a higher seat load factor of 76.6%. This performance demonstrates that the continued focus to improve revenue and passenger loads is working. For the first quarter of 2013, the Group increased available seat capacity by 11% and increased flight frequencies by 9%.

Malaysia Airlines registered a RM147 million positive cash balance from its operating activities in the first three months of 2013, compared to a negative cash position of RM202 million in the previous corresponding period. This is the third consecutive quarter of positive cash contribution from operating activities.

“Our operating statistics are strong and recording encouraging traction to build up our passenger numbers and growth. These have enabled our Group to generate positive cash balance, and essentially stop the bleeding. However we still have a lot of work to do to align costs to revenue, to increase productivity and efficiency, and improve yields”, said Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer.

“The conclusion of the Rights Issue is a milestone for Malaysia Airlines. With the cash injection and capital restructuring, our balance sheet is now on a very strong footing. This gives us wider options to implement a growth strategy for this challenging business environment”, added Ahmad Jauhari.

Malaysia Airlines’ recent Rights Issue exercise to raise RM3.1 billion from shareholders received an over-subscription of 41% valid acceptance and excess applications for the 13.36 billion new shares on offer. The Rights Issue is part of efforts to ‘reset, reboot and rebuild’ Malaysia Airlines which includes redefining business strategies, rebuilding its balance sheet strength to regain and build up its market position.

Traditionally the first half of the year sees weaker performance for airlines. Coupled with increased pressure on yields from intensifying competition and higher costs, Malaysia Airlines group registered a Net Loss after Tax was RM279 million for the first quarter of 2013 compared to a loss of RM172 million previously. This was mainly attributed to an unrealized forex loss of RM21 million in Q1 2013 compared to a forex gain of RM200 million in the previous year. Higher financing costs for its fleet renewal programme also contributed to the overall net loss.

“The continued high jet fuel prices, added capacity in the market and increased competition, put pressure on our yields. The business environment is tough, but Malaysia Airlines is now able to respond faster to changes in the market”, added Ahmad Jauhari.

Malaysia Airlines group revenue for Q1 2013 rose 14% to RM3.55 billion from RM3.11 billion previously. Expenditure for Q1 2013 was RM3.71 billion, 8% higher than the previous corresponding period, mainly attributed to high jet fuel costs, handling and landing costs, flight-related and leasing expenses.

Depreciation also rose with the arrival of 6 A380s, 7 A330s and 8 B738s into its fleet over the last 12 months.

Jet fuel prices remained high at an average USD135 per barrel in the first quarter of 2013 compared to USD130 per barrel in the corresponding period last year. The Group’s fuel bill was 37% of total expenditure.

The Group carried 3.6 million passengers in Q1 2013, an improvement of 16% quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q). For the airline itself, passenger revenue was up 11% to RM2.47 billion, however yield decreased 5% to 24.2 sen per RPK.

Externally, the aviation environment saw strong growth in the first quarter of 2013 with both the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) reporting improvements in monthly passenger traffic in tandem with better business conditions.

The Asia Pacific region is expected to be the future growth centre of aviation demand, and Malaysia Airlines is well-positioned to tap this future growth. In addition to strengthening its footprint in Asia Pacific with increased frequencies to more business and leisure regional destinations, Malaysia Airlines now offers a wider international network with its membership of oneworld which it joined on 1 February 2013.

Whilst it is still early days to quantify the benefits, the carrier saw interline revenue jump 40% in the period February to March. “We expect interline revenue to increase further as more guests get to know about Malaysia Airlines through oneworld. Joining the alliance is a good platform to widen our reach and brand”, added Ahmad Jauhari.

In other operational matters, On Time Performance (OTP) was maintained at 85.1% for the first quarter of 2013.

Its fleet renewal programme is on-going. By end March 2013, all 6 A380s ordered had been delivered. By flying twice daily Kuala Lumpur-London, and once daily Kuala Lumpur-Paris and Kuala Lumpur-Hong Kong, Malaysia Airlines is optimizing aircraft utilization to average 17 hours daily. This is the said to be the highest, if not one of the highest in the world, A380 aircraft utilization.

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Putrajaya Youth Tourism Fair held in Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA, 25 MAY 2013 – Get ready to be excited as the Ministry of Tourism & Culture’s Putrajaya Youth Tourism Fair returns again this year, in conjunction with the Putrajaya Youth Festival 2013 organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

The four-day tourism fair began on Thursday, 23 May, and will end tomorrow, 26 May. It is located at Precinct 2 Putrajaya, (in front of the Ministry of Finance), and will feature plenty of performances, exhibitions, and various tour packages on sale. The Secretary General of Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Y.Bhg Dato’ Dr. Ong Hong Peng, officiated at the opening.

A total of 52 participants under the Ministry of Tourism & Culture and Tourism Malaysia, consisting of tour agencies and operators, hotels & resorts, as well as the Malaysian Youth Hostel Association are taking part in this year’s Youth Tourism Fair.

Some of the tour packages on sale include the “2 Day 1 Night Tawau Seafood Tour” and the “3 Days 2 Nights Semporna Island Package” by Inter-Orient Travel & Tours Sdn. Bhd., while Melaka Wonderland is offering a “Family Day Package” and “Corporate Day Package” for all day entries into the Water and Dinosaur Parks.

Not to be missed also are the various exhibitions on tourism products, programmes and campaigns where the public can learn about Malaysia’s award-winning homestay programme, art tourism, tourism volunteering opportunities, career prospects in the spa industry and Malaysia’s efforts to promote green tourism.

Various cultural performances and exhibitions such as the Cak Lempong dance, a Percusi Greta performance, as well as a Bale-Bale performance are scheduled to take place on 24, 25 and 26 May respectively.

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