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9 Sep, 2013

After 30 Years, International Road Transport Re-activated in Afghanistan

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 09 September 2013 (04 Dhul Qa’dah 1434). Pls click on any of the headlines to go to the story.


Registration Fee: ONLY US$100. Great Opportunity for Muslim Entrepreneurs: Attend the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Kuala Lumpur, 11-12 October

For only US$100, you can get a chance to hear some of the world’s best entrepreneurs, speakers, investors and policy-makers at the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be held in Kuala Lumpur between 11-12 October. More than 3,000 delegates from over 50 countries are projected to attend the event, originally initiated by U.S. President Barack Obama to create “the next generation of dreamers, creators and builders.” GES was launched as a global platform “to empower entrepreneurs with the skills and resources necessary to compete and thrive in the 21st century”. First held in Washington in 2010, it was subsequently held in Turkey and Dubai. This year’s Summit is organized by the Malaysian Ministry of Finance (MoF) under the patronage of the Prime Minister, with the theme “Empowering and Connecting Entrepreneurs”. Spearheading the Steering Committee is Tan Sri Mohammed Irwan Serigar Abdullah, Secretary General of the Treasury at MoF. “We are very excited about the 4th GES and the other events that will lead up to it,” he said. As Malaysia heads towards a developed and high income nation by 2020, Malaysian innovators and creators are the main components that will drive the economy towards this vision. The GES brings together expertise and experience in Businesses, Social Works, Women’s Issues, Public Policies and Education. President Obama is scheduled to deliver the keynote address and he will speak about the importance of entrepreneurship, particularly for young people, in driving economic progress. According to Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications (Digital News Asia, August 06, 2013), “Malaysia is a perfect venue for a global entrepreneurship summit. It has an economy that is growing; an economy that is an engine of growth for this region; and one that is increasingly connected to the global economy.”

For further info, pls click here: http://www.geskualalumpur2013.org/



Malaysia will host the upcoming ASEAN Tourism Forum 2014, to be held in Sarawak, Malaysia from 16 to 23 January 2014. The ATF is a cooperative regional effort to promote the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region as one tourist destination where Asian hospitality and cultural diversity are at its best. This annual event involves all the tourism industry sectors of the 10 member nations of ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Adopting the theme “ASEAN – ADVANCING TOURISM TOGETHER,” the ATF 2014 will explore the sustainable development of tourism and look at how tourism initiatives and plans can further support this decades mantra of “Tourism conserves, preserves and protects.” It will be a timely platform to think and act on implementing innovative and sustainable energy initiatives that will ensure the preservation of the natural environment for future generations. Each year, the hosting of ATF is rotated among the member countries. ATF 2014 marks the 33rd anniversary of this event since its inauguration in Malaysia in 1981. Kuching, Sarawak is all geared up to welcome over 1,600 delegates which includes some 150 ASEAN tourism ministers and officials, 800 ASEAN exhibitors, 400 international buyers, 150 international and local media as well as 100 tourism trade visitors. The ATF aims to: Project ASEAN as an attractive, multi-faceted single destination; Create and increase awareness of ASEAN as a highly competitive regional tourist destination in the Asia Pacific; Attract more tourist to ASEAN member countries; Promote intra-ASEAN travel; Strengthen cooperation among the various sectors of the ASEAB tourism industry. For the travel trade, ATF also provides a platform for the selling and buying of regional individual tourism products of ASEAN member countries, through the 3-day TRAVEX event. For further details, pls click here.

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

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.




After 30 Years, Int’l Road Transport re-activated in Afghanistan

Kabul, IRU Press Release, 4 September 2013 – After some 30 years of suspension, Afghanistan is back today as the 58th country to enjoy facilitated and secure trade by international road transport, as the TIR System has been reactivated today for transport operations to, from and across Afghanistan – an important development marked by an official ceremony, attended by high level Afghan officials, including the Minister of Finance, Hazrat Omar Zakhelwal, the Deputy Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Jarullah Mansoori, the Director General of the Afghan Customs Department, Dr Najibullah Wardak, the Head of Transport Division of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) Secretariat, Dr Ismail Tekesadat, as well as Heads of diplomatic missions from various countries.

While enabling the Afghan business community to trade with its partners in a facilitated and secure way with reduced transport times and costs, reactivating TIR in Afghanistan will also open up considerable economic opportunities for landlocked Central Asian countries that can now trade with all TIR countries by road and facilitate their access to sea.

IRU Secretary General, Umberto de Pretto, stated: “We are very pleased that yet another country has decided and successfully managed to implement this tried and tested multilateral facilitation instrument for trade by international road transport. TIR has proven beneficial in driving economic growth for more than 60 years in many regions of the world, and we can only urge other countries that have not yet done so to follow this example. We warmly congratulate the Afghan Government for taking the initiative to boost not only its economy, but that of the entire Central Asian region, in the interest of all Afghan citizens.”

True to the Public-Private Partnership that drives the TIR System, IRU member, the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) has been confirmed by Afghan competent authorities as the issuing and guaranteeing Association for TIR Carnets in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as of 4 September 2013.

TIR training was also provided to ACCI personnel, as well as Afghan Customs officers and transport operators, to ensure the smooth and efficient running of the TIR system, including the use of its main risk management, highly secure IT tools.

ACCI issued its first TIR Carnet today, to the first registered Afghan transport operator. Moreover, several foreign TIR transport operators from Iran and Tajikistan carried out road transport operations under TIR on the territory of Afghanistan, after submitting electronically and free of charge to the Afghan Customs Department their cargo information via the IRU TIR-EPD application.

“Such developments considerably help support the UN Millennium Development Goals, and are the logical follow-up to the IRU and UN Mine Action Service joint action of teaming up, in 2011, to demine major road transport corridors in Afghanistan and ensure safe and secure international road transport operations across the country. We are more than happy to welcome back Afghanistan in the global trade community!” Umberto de Pretto concluded.

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Qatar to take part in Malaysia Global Entrepreneurship Summit

The Peninsula – 29 August, 2013 – Over 3,000 Industry leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs and business incubation centres would take part at the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES 2013) to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from October 11 to 12. Qatari entrepreneurs and business leaders have confirmed their active participation in the two-day summit, Malaysian embassy officials said here yesterday.

Addressing the Doha Road Show here yesterday, Dato Ahmad Jazri bin Mohd Johar, Malaysian Ambassador said the GES4 will be attended by global leaders and high-profile international figures, including the US President Barack Obama, who launched the Summit in Washington in April 2010. The list will include Professor Chan Kim, author of the Blue Ocean Strategy and other successful entrepreneurs.

The participants of the summit will include policy-makers, regulators, entrepreneurs, small and medium enterprises, stakeholders, investors, corporate leaders, NGOs and incubators.

“GES provides an important platform for entrepreneurship to network exchange experience and knowledge, as well as to form business alliances. This is an opportunity not to be missed….. As a strong and consistent supporter of development of the economy, business in collaboration with the Islamic world and the West, Malaysia is honoured to host GES 4”, Dato’ Ahmad noted.

Malaysia places high importance to the success of GES4 and is undertaking a global road shows, campaigns and networking sessions. The Malaysian envoy assured Qatari entrepreneurs that they will find GES4 ‘most beneficial’.

Mousa Ali Abu Azab, an official from Qatar Chamber told The Peninsula a delegation from Qatar Chamber will attend the two-day summit. Representatives from the Ministry of Economy and Trade and Qatari Businesswomen Association were also present.

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will officiate at the Entrepreneurship Summit. Rami Al Sayegh, Marketing Manager, Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) said the summit would witness dedicated sessions covering innovative business models, disruptive innovation, digital entrepreneurship, innovative funding models, talent development, taking start-ups.

Emerging trends in the start-up scene with special focus on Asia will also be discussed including fostering a green economy, products for the emerging Asian middle class, low-cost scalable solutions for the ‘bottom billion’ and co-Islamic finance and financial inclusion.

Ways to develop an entrepreneurial team, crowd funding as a source of capital for SMEs, strengthening the investment climate in the community and market access will be other topics to be debated at the summit.

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More than 4.8 million tourists visit Indonesia until July

Tue, September 3 2013 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – A total of 4,872,260 foreign tourists visited Indonesia between Jan-July this year, up 6.4 percent from the same period last year, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said. “In the previous years the number of tourist arrivals fell during the fasting month but this is not the case with this year. We hope there will be a significant increase in the number of tourist arrivals at the end of this year,” she said here on Monday.

In July 2013 alone, Indonesia received 717,784 tourist arrivals, a 2.4 percent increase compared to 701,200 in the same month last year, she said. She said the number of tourist arrivals rose slightly in July which coincided with the holy month of Ramadhan.

“That is one of the factors encouraging tourists from predominantly Muslim countries such as Malaysia, several Middle Eastern countries and Singapore to reduce their overseas trips,” she said. Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) show that compared to July 2012, the number of tourist arrivals from United Arab Emirates dropped 86.2 percent, Bahrain 65.7 percent and Saudi Arabia 59.3 percent in July 2013.

Meanwhile, the number of tourists from Singapore and Malaysia fell 2.9 percent and 13 percent respectively. However, the number of tourist arrivals from China increased 29.9 percent, Japan 0.1 percent, South Korea 4 percent, Taiwan 38.7 percent, the Netherlands 5.8 percent, France 3.7 percent, Britain 13.1 percent, India 18.7 percent, Germany 4 percent, and the Philippines 12.6 percent.

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International Student Design Competition 2013 Now Open

The physical development of built environment is a dynamic process where sustainability provides healthy environment for its biodiversity. The relationship between sustainability and design approach from the Islamic perspective is intertwined. The challenges exist at various stages of the development in achieving practical, functional, aesthetic and cost effective to achieve sustainability in architecture and the built environment for The Ummah (Mankind).

In conjunction with the International Conference of Architecture and Built Environment (ICABE) 2013, the Kulliyyah of Architecture & Environmental Design (KAED), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) is delighted to announce an International Competition to identify new ideas (breakthrough) and perspectives on the built environment that propagates sustainability and hence benefits The Ummah (Mankind).

This competition opens to all students within the discipline of architecture, planning, engineering, quantity surveying, humanities and arts as well as social science. The dynamic process of producing creative ideas (breakthrough) and solutions in architecture and the built environment requires multi-disciplinary approach such as architecture with engineering, planning with social science and etc.


  • Submission of expression of interest (Form 1) 9/9/2013 – 23/9/2013
  • Notifications of acceptance 30/9/2013
  • Final submission (Form 2 and CD/DVD) 1/10/2013 to 28/10/2013
  • Initial Jury (pre-selection) 31/10/2013
  • Final Jury 5/11/2013
  • Exhibition of Selected Entries 7/11/2013
  • Announcement of winners 8/11/2013

Please visit ISDC 2013 website for further information: http://isdc2013.blogspot.com/

Or click here to download the form.

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Tune Hotels Launches Its Fifth Hotel In Indonesia

Award-winning hotel group Tune Hotels continues to expand in Indonesia with the opening of its latest hotel in Solo, Central Java. The Tune Hotel Solo would represent the brand’s fifth property in Indonesia, following Kuta and Legian, Bali, Pasar Baru and Pekanbaru.

Tune Hotels Group CEO Mark Lankester said: “The Tune Hotel Solo represents the first hotel in Central Java, a city steeped in history with a fast growing tourism industry as well as a booming middle class offering a huge potential for rapid growth. The hotel will offer international standards of service excellence to the city with the intention to serve both tourists and business travellers. With four hotels currently operating in Indonesia, there will be an aggressive expansion of six more Tune Hotels in development which are scheduled to open over the next 18 months including Makassar, Bekasi, Surabaya, Bandung, Jakarta and Palembang.”

Welcoming its first guest last Friday, 30 August, the 159-room Tune Hotel Solo is centrally located in Jalan Sopomo, the heart of Solo, within minutes to historical and cultural attractions such as the Kasunanan and Mangkunegaran Palaces, the Danar Hadi Museum and a variety of shopping options. Known for being a batik haven, the hotel is also nearby to batik villages such as Kampoeng Batik Kauman and Kampoeng Batik Laweyan that showcases the process of batik making, as well as the production of the many forms of batik ranging from garments to handicraft souvenirs.

Solo is one of the fastest developing economic centres of Indonesia, a city that still preserves its tradition despite modernisation. A favourite tourist destination of the country, Solo is a leading educational and cultural hub of the nation. Tourists can take part in excursions to various exciting destinations or shop in the city and taste the local delicacies in the numerous restaurants and café.

“This rapid development of Tune Hotels in Indonesia reflects the growing demand for value stay accommodation for both leisure and business travel. The concept of Tune Hotels caters to the demand of providing top quality accommodation and basic necessities of comfort, cleanliness, safety and convenience with an affordable price.”

“In the coming months, the aggressive expansion plans of Tune Hotels into other top destinations in Indonesia will reflect a milestone for the hotel brand and we hope that Tune Hotels will become a house-hold name across the archipelago,” added Mark.

Tune Hotels has successfully pioneered a branded value hotel brand with the concept of pay-as-you-use that has become hugely popular amongst travellers from across the world. Under the concept, guests only pay for room rates with the option of adding on other amenities like towels & toiletries, air-conditioning, in-room Wifi and satellite TV service at selected hotels.

The group has received over five million guests since the opening of its first hotel in Downtown Kuala Lumpur in 2007. With the opening of Solo, Tune Hotels has five hotels in Indonesia, 11 in Malaysia, five in the UK, four in Thailand, five in the Philippines, and one each in India and Japan. The company is set to open another property in Australia this year while future projects are planned in the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Tune Hotels is part of Tune Group, a lifestyle business conglomerate co-founded by Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun, who are the Group CEO and Deputy Group CEO respectively of Asia’s largest low cost carrier, AirAsia.

For real-time updates and promotion alerts, guests can stay connected with Tune Hotels via Facebook at www.facebook.com/tunehotels and on Twitter via www.twitter.com/tunehotels. For booking and further information, visit www.tunehotels.com

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Perlis Intends To Develop Tourism Sector To Increase Tourist Arrivals

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Sept 2 (NNN-BERNAMA) – Perlis, a small state in northern Peninsula Malaysia, intends to develop and enhance its tourism sector, in an effort to attract tourists, to make the state as a stopover location.

Even though Perlis records about 2.5 million tourists annually, most of them only pass through the state, in order to continue their journey to Langkawi, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore.

Towards this end, Chief Minister, Azlan Man, said, Perlis planned to create attractions, so that transit tourists stop over for visits, before continuing their journey to their destinations.

“The state government plans to create tourism products, to encourage tourists to participate in at least a two-night programme here,” he told Bernama, in an exclusive interview here.

He said, Perlis has 22 kilometres of coastline and borders its neighbour, Thailand, and there were many economic activities that could be developed, including water theme park.

Besides that, the state will also make use of the Timah Tasoh Dam, by increasing its water level by 2.5 metres, in order to create various environmentally-friendly recreational centres, such as jet ski outlet.

Azlan said, the state government would also reintroduce its Snake, Reptile and Bird Park in Batu Pahat to tourists, by improving it with different types of animals and upgrade it into a mini safari.

“Accordingly, Perlis needs more three-star, four-star or five-star hotels, where investors, who come here to invest in this sector, can own 100 per cent ownership in terms of equity. “This is one of the incentives offered to them,” said the chief minister.

According to him, the number of rooms available in the state currently was less than 1,000, and Perlis was targeting to increase this to 1,500 hotel rooms around Arau and Kangar in a one-year period. The development of the tourism sector is included in the state’s strategic plan, Perlis 2012-2030, to draw RM34.5 billion in investment value into the state.

“On average, Perlis targets an investment value of RM2 billion, and this is the minimum estimate that needs to be achieved. “Last year, Perlis did not have a huge investment inflow, but this year, through the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER), we have obtained a project worth RM70.8 million,” he said.

Azlan said, the state would also receive a project of more than RM40 million, to expand its high-speed broadband (HSBB) network and cooperating with Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), to build an environmentally-friendly rubber factory in Chuping, which also involved an investment of RM40 million.

In the few months under his leadership, Azlan said the state government had brought in investments totalling RM150 million.

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Etihad Airways Launches Arabic Twitter Account

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Sept 4 (NNN-WAM) – Etihad Airways, United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) national airline, launched a new Arabic Twitter account, to engage with the Arabic-speaking community, on the popular social media platform, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

Twitter users that read Arabic can now stay up-to-date with the airline’s latest activities, by searching and following @EtihadAirwaysAR on Twitter. The new account is one of the first Twitter accounts in the airline industry, solely dedicated to tweeting in the Arabic language.

Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, Peter Baumgartner, said, “We look forward to providing Arabic-speaking fans with tailored information, consisting of latest news, exclusive offers and competitions, on our new Arabic Twitter account.

“Etihad Airways is committed to Arabic-speaking audiences across its variety of communication channels. We encourage Twitter followers to ask questions in Arabic, through the new Twitter account, where an online customer service team will offer assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The airline’s existing Arabic Facebook page has already attained nearly 60,000 global fans, making it the airline industry’s most popular Facebook page, posting updates in Arabic only.

Etihad Airways has over 714,000 fans across all its Arabic and English social media channels, consisting of Facebook, Twitter, Google , LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.

Online customer service is also being provided on these channels 24 hours a day.

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Malaysia: More Perks For Tourists With ‘One Asia Pass’

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 (NNN-Bernama) — Visitors to eight Asian cities, including Kuala Lumpur, can expect to enjoy a variety of privileges such as discounts, free gifts and other benefits with the ‘One Asia Pass’ programme launched on Wednesday.

The eight cities are members of the Council for Promotion of Tourism in Asia (CPTA). Besides Kuala Lumpur, the other CPTA member cities are Seoul, Tokyo, Hanoi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Taipei and New Delhi.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) director-general Datuk Salleh Yusup said that with this special pass, tourists who visited the cities would enjoy a variety of special promotional offers from a wide range of tourism product and service providers.

“These benefits will include discounts for tourist attractions, shopping and dining as well as some freebies when making purchases,” he told reporters after launching the initiative here. He said it was part of the ‘Welcome to Asia’ campaign that aimed to cross-sell and encourage longer visits to more member cities.

Salleh said this effort would hopefully lure more Westerners to visit this part of the world as well as encourage more travel among Asians themselves. He said the programme had the potential to increase the number of tourist arrivals from outside Asia to Malaysia, generating economic growth through the tourism sector.

To enjoy the benefits of One Asia Pass, visit www.welcometoasia.jp and sign up for the programme online. A flight code is needed because touring the cities is a requirement for application.

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Sarawak Hosting Another Music Adventure

MIRI – Asia Music Festival, another celebration of music is set to take centre stage in Miri, Sarawak from 4-5 October with almost full line-up for the said event already confirmed. The whole host of electrifying eclectic mix of live music will spread over two days, where the event will run at Eastwood Valley Golf & Country Club, 5km from Miri city centre.

The event is set to become another iconic music festival for Sarawak after the success of Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) held in Kuching city and Borneo Jazz held in Miri. Sarawak Tourism Board will bring together several key musicians from India, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Korea, Brunei as well as Malaysia to this inaugural event.

“This is another event the Board has created to attract visitors to the resort city of Miri. With this we hope that visitors from our neighbouring countries, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and our fellow Malaysians will come for 2 days of fun and music.” said Dato’ Rashid Khan, CEO, Sarawak Tourism Board.

The Board looks forward to introduce this new event with its objective of attracting the Asian expatriate community working in neighbouring country like Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and the region to come and celebrate the music while visiting the destination. The atmosphere is planned to be that of a carnival as apart from the night shows, there will also be a fun event starting in the afternoon with lots of food, fun and games.

The Board is also proud to continue its successful internship and volunteer program, which was initiated in past events like the Rainforest World Music Festival. Through this program, the Board will provide a unique learning experience for the volunteers and interns whilst at the same time being exposed to the product experiences of Sarawak’s culture, nature and adventure.

STB will also continue to collaborate with Universities and Colleges as part of an industry advisory platform and to undertake this initiative as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program.

Asia Music Festival promises an extraordinary weekend of fun, music and more, within the greeneries and fresh air of the countryside at the brand new musical venue, Eastwood Valley Golf & Country Club. “This is an inspiring opportunity for everyone to come together and experience the adventure of yet another music festival” reiterated Dato’ Rashid Khan.

Mixture of live music will be featured throughout two days event and will include a mix-genre of music from national, regional and local talent. The initial line-up of performers initiated by Sarawak Tourism Board includes Antoney Dassan Yen Party (India), The Foxy Girls (Indonesia), Bembol Rockers (Philippines), V.Star Band (Korea), Boy Thai Band (Thailand), Soesah Tidoer (Indonesia), Fakhrul Razi (Brunei) and several Malaysian bands.

Based on the success of the Rainforest World Music Festival and the Borneo Jazz, Sarawak Tourism Board is confident that the inaugural Asia Music Festival will thrill the crowds when it makes its debut next month.

Entry tickets are priced at RM30 for adults and RM15 for children/students aged 3-18 (ID required during entry). Tickets available from all STB’s office and Visitors Information Centre located at Old Court House, Kuching (+6 082-423600), Jalan Melayu, Miri (+6 085-434180) and Jalan Tukang Besi, Sibu (+6 084-340980) from Monday September 9th. For enquiries, contact Sarawak Tourism Board at leisure@sarawaktourism.com or +6 082-239171 or log on to www.asiamusicfestival.net and www.facebook.com/SarawakTravel for more updates.

Asia Music Festival (AMF) is a 2-day musical event featuring artist and musicians from Asian countries namely from India, Korea, Indonesia, Brunei Philippines and Malaysia. AMF promotes music, art and culture of Asian countries. AMF has a vision to become the iconic musical event for Sarawak and the region. It is organized by Sarawak Tourism Board, supported by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and Ministry of Tourism Sarawak and endorsed by Tourism Malaysia.

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Borneo International Guitar Festival to debut in October

Kota Kinabalu, September 4, 2013, Insight Sabah – The Borneo International Guitar Festival or “BIG Festival” will make its debut on the local music scene on the 4th till the 6th of October this year. This was announced recently by the festival’s organizing committee CEO Peter Chua at Novotel Hotel, 1Borneo. The community driven project aims at creating a learning opportunity for musically inclined youths in Sabah with acclaimed professional players through master classes, guitar competition and workshops, and at the same time providing an avenue for the young to show what creative talents they have.

Internationally well-known guitar performers from five countries will take centre stage at the BIG Concert over the three-day period at the state’s JKKN (National Department for Culture and Arts) Auditorium.

Amongst them is Sheikh Hady Masmeih El Manso, Malaysia Youth Unity Association’s role model for 2011. Popularly known as Hady Afro from Kuala Lumpur this guitarist will share the stage with Australia’s chart-topping guitar maestro Peter Dickson and fast-fingered Tom Ward.

Also lined up for the BIG concert is University Teknologi MARA’s Classical Guitar Senior Lecturer Nathan Fisher. Originally from the United States, Nathan is currently researching the adaptation of traditional Malaysian music to guitar and the traditional Malaysian gambus.

Coming over from Japan is Yuta Tanaka, a guitarist capable of playing complex bass lines, harmony and melody simultaneously. With him on the show is compatriot Pukichi, another highly versatile award winning guitarist.

Joining these guitar virtuosos will be Baihana, a jazz trio consisting of vocalists Krina Cayabyab, Mel Torre and Anna Achacoso from Philippines.

Chua said he is confident that BIG Festival will have a lasting impact in Sabah. He said the performers’ willingness to come and help the organizers develop the festival without charging any fees is a positive indication that they fully support the Festival. It will be held in conjunction with the head of state’s birthday programme each year, he added.

On its home turf the BIG Festival was initiated by the Sabah Musical-Theatre Society and is jointly organized by the Music Teachers’ Training College, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, World Youth Putra Jaya Malaysia and JKKN. The festival is also fully supported by its patron Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Kota Kinabalu City Hall as well as the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry.

The one-day pass to the concert is sold at RM80 and the all-access three-day daily pass is sold at RM150. These passes can be purchased from Kota Kinabalu’s Music Mart and online at www.tix.my.

Novotel Hotel is also offering access to all activities, including the concert and workshops, held throughout the festival for guests staying for a minimum of three nights.

The concert will start at 6pm to 9pm daily and a matinee will be held on October 5th at 3pm to 5pm. For more details about the BIG Festival please visit www.borneointernationalguitarfestival.com.

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Chinese President proposes Silk Road economic belt

ASTANA 2013-09-07 (Xinhua) – Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed here Saturday that China and Central Asia join hands to build a Silk Road economic belt to boost cooperation.

In a speech delivered at Nazarbayev University, Xi suggested that relevant countries enhance communication and green-light regional economic integration in terms of both policy and law.

He proposed that China and Central Asian countries compare notes on their respective economic development strategy and work together to formulate plans and measures for regional cooperation.

Xi also said that they should work to improve traffic connectivity so as to open the strategic regional thoroughfare from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea, and gradually move toward the set-up of a network of transportation that connects Eastern, Western and Southern Asia.

On the topic of trade, Xi said all parties should explore ways to facilitate trade and investment, and make proper arrangements.

The Chinese president also urged the regional members to promote local-currency settlement so as to improve their immunity to financial risks and their global competitiveness.

Calling for strengthening friendly people-to-people exchanges, Xi proposed that mutual understanding and traditional friendship be promoted among the countries in the region.

The Silk Road boasts a 3-billion population and a market that is unparalleled both in scale and potential, said Xi, urging relevant parties to facilitate trade and investment and remove barriers.

The Chinese president also said that China respects the development paths and policies chosen by the peoples of regional countries, and will never interfere in the domestic affairs of Central Asian nations.

China will never seek a dominant role in regional affairs, nor try to nurture a sphere of influence, he added, saying that China and Central Asian nations should be genuine friends of mutual support and trust.

He also called on all sides to support each other on issues concerning sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and other core interests, and jointly crack down on the “three evil forces” of terrorism, extremism and separatism, as well as drug-trafficking and transnational organized crimes.

While answering a student’s question on environmental protection during the Q&A session, the Chinese president said China shall always highlight the importance of environmental conservation, and will not seek economic progress at the cost of destroying the environment.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who accompanied Xi to the university, told the audience in his remarks that Kazakhstan and China are good neighbors, friends and partners.

He believed that Xi’s visit will greatly promote bilateral cooperation of mutual benefit and will take Kazakhstan-China comprehensive strategic partnership to new levels.

Nazarbayev also agreed with Xi on building the Silk Road economic belt, and would like to work with China to enhance economic cooperation, traffic connectivity, as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

President Xi arrived in Astana on Friday for a state visit to Kazakhstan after attending a Group of 20 (G20) summit in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.

After his Kazakhstan trip, Xi is also scheduled to pay state visits to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Before the G20 summit, he visited Turkmenistan.

He will attend the 13th meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Kyrgyzstan.

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OIC chief visits Mozambique

Maputo, Sunday, 03 Dhul Qaada 1434/ 08 September 2013 (IINA) – The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu concluded on Thursday official visit to the Republic of Mozambique. He is the first OIC Secretary General to visit the southern African OIC Member State within last twenty years since the country got its OIC membership in 1994.

Ihsanoglu was received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique Oldemiro Baloi at his office to exchange views on various issues of national and international importance. The leaders discussed ways and means to strengthen cooperation between Mozambique and the OIC. They also reviewed the situation in the southern African region, the Middle East, besides the economic and social projects that OCI has initiated in Mozambique.

During the visit, Ihsanoglu had a meeting with the leaders of the local Muslim community, who briefed him on how the community is integrated in the Mozambican society, although facing financial challenges to implement initiatives that would benefit the society in general and Muslims in particular.

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IMF approves $6.7 billion loan for Pakistan

Washington, Thursday, 29 Shawwal 1434/ 05 September 2013 (IINA) – The International Monetary Fund’s board has approved a $6.7 billion loan package for Pakistan to help Pakistan revive its ailing economy.

In a statement, the IMF said the three-year program should help Pakistan rebuild its reserves and prevent a crisis in the balance of payments. IMF loans generally come with conditions for economic reform and should encourage other donors to step in with more funds. Two top finance ministry officials in Pakistan announced the Fund’s approval of a package in August, pending the board’s decision and Pakistan’s progress on fiscal reforms. The new loan will arrive just in time. As of August, the central bank had only about $5 billion left in foreign currency reserves, enough to cover less than five weeks of imports.

The Asian Development Bank, one of Pakistan’s major lenders, estimates that Pakistan needs $6 billion to $9 billion to meet its obligations, including about $5 billion in outstanding debt on an earlier $11 billion IMF loan package. Pakistan averted a balance of payments crisis in 2008 by securing the $11 billion IMF loan. This was suspended two years ago after economic and reform targets were missed. This time around, the government had to fulfill certain conditions set by the IMF before the loan could be approved, including slashing costly subsidies on electricity and sending out notices to 10,000 delinquent taxpayers.

Pakistan has one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world. The IMF wants it to do more to tackle rampant tax evasion by the wealthy elite.

Pakistan gets $540 million immediately, and the rest will be disbursed after regular reviews of the program, the Fund said. The IMF also said Pakistan should boost its tax-to-GDP ratio by reducing special tax deductions and exemptions. It praised Pakistan’s reform efforts so far, but warned that the road ahead would not be easy, given the country’s dire finances. “Much effort is needed to boost confidence in order to attract foreign direct investment in line with Pakistan’s long-term growth potential,” it said.

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Mideast carriers lead global uptick in passenger traffic

Times of Oman – 05 September, 2013 – Middle East carriers experienced the highest growth rate in passenger traffic for any region, with July traffic up by 7.8 per cent compared to a year ago.

While this is a fall-off from even higher year-over-year growth in June (12.1 per cent), part of the decline can be attributed to the timing of Ramadan, which has a dampening effect on demand, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) yesterday.

“In 2013, Ramadan spanned most of July whereas in 2012, it occurred mostly in August.

Capacity growth of 10.5 per cent sent load factors down two percentage points to 78.3 per cent,” the report added.

The IATA said that demand for air travel across the world recorded another solid month of growth in July. Overall revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) were up 5 per cent compared to July 2012. All regions were up year-on-year, with emerging markets recording the strongest growth. Capacity rose 5.5 per cent on the previous July, ahead of demand, and industry load factor dropped 0.4 percentage points to 82.4 per cent.

Although July’s 5 per cent performance was not as strong as June’s (6.1 per cent), this likely reflects both a market correction in line with prevailing economic conditions as well as the impact of reduced travel in markets observing the Ramadan period.

“Passenger demand continues to be strong. But the story of emerging markets driving growth as developed economies stagnate could be shifting. We are still expecting growth of 5 per cent this year. How that growth is achieved, however, appears to be at a turning point,” said Tony Tyler, IATA director-general and the chief executive.

“The emergence of the eurozone from an 18-month recession provided the biggest boost to traffic over recent months.” In contrast, the deceleration of the Chinese economy has been a dampener on air travel, with weakness showing up throughout emerging Asian markets.

International passenger traffic in July climbed 5.1 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Capacity rose slightly faster at 5.4 per cent, causing load factor to slip 0.2 percentage points to 82.7 per cent. Performance across all regions was positive.

Asia-Pacific carriers’ July traffic was up 6.3 per cent on a year ago. Capacity rose 6.6 per cent and load factor dipped 0.2 points to 79.5 per cent. The support for growth at this rate is weakening.

The region’s largest economy — China — continued to decelerate in the second quarter. With trade volumes in emerging Asian markets shrinking by almost 5 per cent over the first half of the year, the softness is not isolated to China. In particular, India’s near term growth prospects are looking bleak.

European carriers recorded a 3.7 per cent increase in demand compared to July 2012, in line with year-to-date growth.

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UNAA: Plans To Ease Investing In Uganda

KAMPALA, Setp. 2 (NNN-NEWVISION) –Uganda’s State minister for economic monitoring, Henry Banyenzaki has announced government initiatives to reduce trade and investment licensing processes from 40 to four and will soon launch online applications for investments in Uganda.

“The cabinet is discussing these initiatives to ensure such procedures are implemented in the shortest time possible,” he said.

Addressing the Trade and Investment Forum at the 25th anniversary of the annual Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) convention in Dallas, Banyenzaki called for joint efforts by government and Ugandans in the Diaspora to get organized and work together so that Ugandans abroad become the country’s trade missions to attract investments.

The minister is part of a government delegation to UNAA’s silver jubilee celebrations under the theme “Harnessing the power of the Diaspora”. Vice President Edward Ssekandi is leading the delegation. Others are health minister Ruhakana Rugunda, John Nasasira for ICT, State ministers of state for higher education Dr JC Muyingo, in vice president’s office Vincent Nyanzi, works and transport John Byabagambi, of northern Uganda Rebecca Otengo, foreign affairs Asuman Kiyingi and media centre boss Ofwono Opondo.

Kiyingi also launched a booklet titled “Home, the compendium of Diaspora: Investment & Business Opportunities” produced by Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) containing all information about investment processes and opportunities in Uganda.

Speaking on the topic “Setting the stage for harnessing the power of the Diaspora”, Banyenzaki said corruption is one of the key obstacles that must be gotten rid of through reducing bureaucracy. “Why should one meet the president or a minister before getting an investment license? We want investors to apply online and get approval in one day, then we shall see who asks for a bribe,” he said, drawing applause from his listeners.

He went on to remind participants that he was an anti-corruption crusader himself.

One of the major challenges of the new generation of young leaders, he said, is to get rid of corruption just as Museveni’s leadership cleansed Uganda of Idi Amin’s negative image.

“Museveni has achieved a lot, but since he is not immortal he will have to leave and we the young leaders should tackle corruption,” he pledged.

He challenged Ugandan foreign missions to work with the Diaspora community to develop a database for all Ugandans to ease communication and mobilization of resources for investment. The remittances from the Diaspora are estimated at US$800m and only second to direct foreign investment (DFI).

UNAA board of trustees’ chairperson Dr. Muniini Mulera called for replacement of braindrain with what he called a “brain transplant” involving taking back to Uganda and Africa experts now working in the Diaspora by paying them adequately.

“No expert will go to Uganda to work for US$500 a month. Let us ask the US government to divert foreign aid which is often stolen to resettling experts back home,” he said.

Agreeing with what Mulera the point Mulera put across, Gulu University vice chancellor Prof. Nyeko P’mogi said there are more Ugandans in the Diaspora with PhDs and senior professors than those living in Uganda.

His take is that such highly educated Ugandans should return home and supervise research and do academic mentoring in public and private universities.

Dr. P’mogi further suggested that this wonderful cadre of learned Ugandans based in the Diaspora could also be utilized by establishing an online resource for supervising masters and PhD students back home.

Bunyore MP Emmanuel Dombo who represented the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, said parliament is ready to pass laws that will protect investors in Uganda and those in the Diaspora from being ripped off.

Kampala central division MP, Muhammad Nsereko, also in attendance, proposed that new investments should be targeted in virgin areas like water and sand which exist in abundance in the great-lakes region and only rivaled by the US and Canada.

On his part, deputy head of mission at the Ugandan embassy in Washington DC, Alfred Nnam said the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) will end in September 2015 and needs to mobilize the Diaspora and members of the East African Community countries to lobby the US to renew the AGOA arrangement.

However, an international business consultant, Dennis Matanda cautioned delegates not to treat AGOA as a treaty but as a US program from which African governments have to take the initiative to make better. He said the question was no longer about opening up the US market but on whether Uganda has the capacity to supply enough quantities, for instance, ‘Can Uganda supply enough corn to feed only cows in a single small American state of Iowa?

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Vast Investment Opportunities In Pakistan, Says Penang Chamber

GEORGETOWN, Penang, Malaysia, Sept 2 (NNN-BERNAMA) – The Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC), sees various investment opportunities in Pakistan, amid its huge population and untapped market. Its President, Datuk Seri Choot Ewe Seng, said, Pakistan is an interesting market for PCCC members, to tap into garments and textile, agriculture, food and ingredients, as well as in the property sectors.

“There are opportunities in Pakistan, following the bilateral trade between Malaysia and Pakistan. We see rising opportunities amid its huge population of 190 million people and the new government, promoting pro-business policies.

“PCCC will encourage its members to invest in Pakistan’s property market, amid big shortage of houses. It is understood that there is a shortage of more than a million homes in Pakistan,” he told reporters, after receiving a courtesy call from Pakistan High Commissioner to Malaysia, Shahid M.G. Kiani.

Choot was also briefed on investment opportunities in Pakistan. He also said that doing business in Pakistan would be efficient and manageable, as the flight duration from Kuala Lumpur to Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, is about five hours.

Meanwhile, Kiani urged Malaysian businessmen and companies to participate in the Expo Pakistan, from Sept 26 to 29, organised by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan. He said the expo is the biggest trade fair in Pakistan, and also the government’s efforts in promoting its products and services, attract investments and strengthen business ties with foreign and Malaysian firms.

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Uganda: Farmers To Receive 100m Coffee Seedlings To Boost Incomes

KAMPALA, Sept 4 (NNN-NEW VISION) — The Ugandan Government plans to distribute 100 million coffee seedlings to farmers across the country as one of its interventions for boosting household incomes.

Henry Ngabirano the Uganda Coffee Development Authority executive director, appearing before the agriculture committee with the ministers for agriculture and other ministry officials, said they started distributing these seedlings a few days ago.

He explained to the MPs that although they had requested the finance ministry to give them money for 100 million seedlings, the money that has been availed so far can only enable them to districute 41 million seedlings.

The committee chairman Mathias Kasamba said they would compel the Government to avail the sh7b shortfall needed for the remaining seedlings. Ngabirano said the funding is justified since coffee is the leading foreign exchange earner for the country generating $422.4m every year. The second leading foreign exchange earner is fish at $117m.

The committee resolved that in their report they would include a recommendation asking government to avail the required money. The MPs also said the agriculture ministry was allocated a small portion of the budget yet it is among the country’s priority sectors.

The minister for agriculture, animal industry and fisheries, Tress Bucyanayandi, said his ministry got only 3% (382.5b) of the total 2013/2014 budget. “The Government had planned to increase the budget for agriculture to 7%. Instead it reduced from 4.5% to 2.9%. This is the sector that feeds and employs majority of Ugandans,” said Buikwe woman MP, Christine Mpiima.

In the Maputo declaration, African governments in 2003 committed themselves to allocate at least 10% of their national budgets to agriculture. However, 10 years later, Uganda is still far below that minimum.

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Malaysia Aims To Become Islamic Wealth Management Centre

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 (NNN-Bernama) — The Securities Commission (SC) aims to position Malaysia as an Islamic wealth management centre, a target that is highly feasible because of the country’s high savings rate. Chairman Ranjit Ajit Singh said to this end, steps were being taken to create a certain number of intermediaries in the area.

“This is the effort that we are collectively pursuing now. The strategy is that we are getting some firms to come in,” he said at a public lecture. The lecture, titled “Positioning Malaysia as an Islamic Wealth Management Marketplace — A Regulator’s Perspective”, is organised by BNP Paribas Malaysia Bhd and the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance. Ranjit said this in response to a question on how Malaysia could be an Islamic wealth management centre.

As of July 2013, there were 19 licensed Islamic fund management companies in Malaysia, according to SC’s website. Ranjit said currently, the Islamic fund management companies enjoyed tax incentives. He said players should look into innovative solutions that could be offered to their clients.

Ranjit said Malaysia’s assets under management of Islamic funds were expected to hit RM322 billion by 2020 from RM80 billion end-2012. He said the RM80 billion represented about 60 per cent of total industry assets, thus there was strong demand for the local Islamic funds.

“As a result, Malaysia has emerged as the world’s largest sukuk market, accounting for almost 70 per cent of global sukuk outstanding. “Malaysia is also home to the world’s largest unit trust industry with 169 syariah-compliant funds,” he said.

Following this, he said, there was a significant scope for Malaysia to continue innovating and expanding the Islamic market place by generating broader approach with regional countries.

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200 copies of Braille Qur’an distributed

Madinah, 27 Shawwal 1434/ 03 September 2013 (IINA) – The Ebsar Charitable Organization and Association for Visual Impairment has distributed 200 copies of Braille Qur’an in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries with the cooperation of King Fahd Qur’an Printing Complex in Madinah.

Mohammed Tawfiq Bellow, secretary-general of the association, said that this was the second phase of distribution of Braille Qur’an to the blind and visually-impaired. The first phase of distribution of Braille Qur’an was held toward the end of 2012.

Bellow said: “Most of the people can read Qur’an from Braille, but they don’t have copies, and 20 percent of the copies have been distributed among schools both within and outside the kingdom.” According to a study conducted by the association, almost 27 percent of beneficiaries of the current phase showed that they can read and write in Braille and that of these; nearly 60 percent are excellent and professional, while another 25 percent are considered weak.

Bellow said that the majority of visually-impaired individuals need copies of Braille Qur’an. However, only a small number of Braille Qur’an copies are published and need to be organized for their distribution.

He said that printing technology should include other mechanisms such as methods of printing, braille handwriting, provisions of intonation and diacritical marks and installation, without which reading properly becomes a difficulty. He also said that Esbar will continue with the distribution of Braille Qur’an, as they are reference for many associations for the visually impaired in the Arab and Islamic world.

The copy of Braille Qur’an has six volumes. Each folder contains 991 pages and is divided into five parts.

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Sarawak Orchids Set To Blossom As New Export Product

KUCHING, Sept 5 (NNN-Bernama) — Orchids could be Sarawak’s latest large-scale export product as 127 species were found in the state, said Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. He said the success of Kuching North City Hall (DBKU) in producing hybrid orchid was quite good, thus heralding the beginning of an industry with wide commercial value.

Launching the four-day, 2nd International Orchid Show 2013 at the Orchid Garden DBKU in Petra Jaya, Abdul Taib said currently, Orchid Garden DBKU had 80,000 orchids comprising 80 genera and 700 varieties. He believed the number would increase because of ongoing efforts by DBKU in producing new hybrid orchids.

DBKU has plans to further enhance the orchid park and make it into a full-fledged park with plenty of attractions and facilities for city folks, visitors and tourists. Fourteen countries are participating in the international orchid show, themed ‘The Wonders of Orchids’. They include Japan, Laos, Ecuador, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brunei and China.

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Zanzibar: Pres Shein Calls For Research On Islamic Civilisation

ZANZIBAR, Sept 4 (NNN-DAILYNEWS) — President Ali Mohammed Shein of Zanzibar has opened a Symposium on the History of Islamic Civilization with a call for establishing a centre for research. “Zanzibar is rich in history and different cultures, including lifestyles – dressing, eating and the Kiswahili language. More research is needed on the Islamic civilization,” he said at the opening of the three-day symposium which is being held north of Unguja town.

He asked Islamic scholars, researchers and students to share the knowledge about Islamic civilization, “with the focus on unity and promoting the Islamic culture which include proper child caring, leadership, marriage, Sharia laws (Kadhi courts) and arts in construction.”

The symposium, whose theme is ‘History of Islamic civilization in East Africa,’ has been organized by Oman’s National Records and Archives Authority (NRAA) in collaboration with the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA).

Dr Hamad bin Mohammed al-Dhoyani, NRAA’s chairman, said researchers will highlight major manifestations of the Islamic civilization in various fields. Dr al-Dhoyani added that the symposium will shed light on the impact of the Islamic civilization in construction and craft industries, in addition to reviewing the geographic aspects that contributed to spreading Islamic civilization.

Papers to be presented include reviewing viewpoints related to the impact of the Islamic civilization in Asia and East Africa through the historical and Islamic civilization dimensions, in addition to the Arab and Islamic migrations and their impact on rapprochement of Islamic creeds.

The opening of the symposium was also attended by Second Vice-President, Seif Ali Iddi, retired President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Minister for Information and Culture, Said Ali Mbarouk and Chief Justice, Mr Omar Othman Makungu.

Others were Oman Information Minister Dr Abdul Muneium Al-Hasni, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), Dr Emeleddin Ihsan and the Muftis of Zanzibar and Oman.

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Qatar Airways Hosting Arab Air Carriers’ AGM For The Second Time

DOHA, Qatar, Aug 26 (NNN-QNA) – Qatar Airways will host the 46th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO), from Nov 5 to 7 in the capital city of Doha. This is the second time that Qatar Airways will host a similar meeting, with the first AGM held in 2001, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

The carrier said, hosting the next AACO’s annual general meeting is part of Qatar Airways’ commitment to the advancement of the global aviation industry and Arab aviation industry in particular.

Qatar Airways chief executive officer, Akbar Al Baker, who will chair the proceedings of the 46th AACO AGM, said, “We are delighted that Qatar Airways is hosting the AACO AGM for the second time. “This reflects the pivotal role of the State of Qatar in the global and regional aviation industry and also reinforces Qatar Airways commitment in developing and strengthening the Arab aviation sector.”

AACO is a non-profit organisation formed in 1965 by the Arab League of States, headquartered in Beirut and groups 30 Arab member airlines aimed at promoting cooperation, quality and safety standards among its carriers.

AACO also works to enhance air transport human resources through various training courses provided by AACO’s regional training centre based in Amman, with a branch in Cairo.

The organisation coordinates at various levels with global air transport associations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

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Soekarno Hatta airport railway to be operational in 2015

September 4 2013 Medan, North Sumatra (ANTARA News)- Railway company PT.Railink said railway link between Jakarta`s Manggarai station and Soekarno Hatta airport will be operational in 2015. The airport railway will have 10 trains or 60 carriages, M.N.Fadhila, the Railink president said.

State-owned railway manufacturer PT Industri Kereta Api (INKA) will cooperate with German locomotive maker, Bombardier Transportation AG, which will provide engine components, Fadhila said here on Wednesday.

Fadhila was in Medan to attend a ceremony marking the operation of new railway locomotives ordered by Railink from South Korea to serve the route between Medan and the new airport Kualanamu built to replace the old Polonia airport of Medan. In producing electric trains, INKA has always imported engine components, he said.

Railink is a joint venture between PT.Kereta Api Indonesia, the state railway company, and PT.Angkasa Pura II, a state airport operator. “Kualanamu railway is Railink`s first airport railway project,” he said. INKA president Agus H Purnomo has said the 10 trains of 60 carriages of the the Soekarno-Hatta airport railway project would cost around Rp800 billion.

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$18 billion Pak-China rail link planned

ISLAMABAD, Sep 1 (APP): The modern road and rail link between Pakistan and China will not only boost trade and industrial activity in the region but also promote tourism in the country, especially in Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and coastal areas of Makran. The two countries have recently agreed to establish an economic corridor between Kashgar, China, and Gwadar, Pakistan.

The $ 18 billion joint venture will include road and rail links passing through the mighty Karakorum and Himalayas in the Northern Pakistan.

Elaborating the importance of this link for boosting fragile tourism industry in the country, President Sustainable Tourism Foundation Aftab Rana told APP that the road and rail route would pass through the most spectacular mountain ranges, which housed renowned high mountain peaks, glaciers and beautiful valleys.

He said the improved accessibility through the modern road and rail network would attract a large number of tourists from across the globe, especially from China, which already had a number one position in the outbound tourism market in the world with over 70 million Chinese travelling abroad each year.

Aftab Rana said the rail route along the Karakorum Highway had great potential to become one of the top 10 rail journeys in the world because of the incredible landscape value of the region. Similarly the railway link between Kashgar and Gwadar passing through the mighty Karakuram will definitely attract millions of tourists, foreign as well as domestic, he added.

He ephasasized that while planning this rail link, the government should pay special attention to developing areas along the route with the tourism point of view. “With the development of tourism industry due to the rail link, other businesses such as hotels, restaurants, transport, handicrafts, shopping malls, local recreational resorts and local entrepreneurs will also get boost with thousands of new jobs and income generating opportunities for common people,” he said.

He suggested that the tourist destinations in Gilgit-Baltistan should be specially focused in the near future. This railway network will not only play a key role in the economic uplift of the country but will also open doors of prosperity for the people of remote mountainous areas, he added.

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Kiswet Al-Kaaba house officially one of Egypt’s archaeological sites

Al-Ahram – Wednesday 4 Sep 2013 – On Monday, the Ministry of State for Antiquities decided to put the Kiswet Al-Kaaba house on Egypt’s heritage list for Islamic and Coptic antiquities. The kiswa is a special cloth that is used once a year to cover the Kaaba, a building in Mecca sacred to Muslims.

Antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim explained that the building, located in Gamaliya in Cairo, was put on Egypt’s heritage list because of its historical importance and spiritual significance. The Kiswet Al-Kaaba house was constructed in 1816 as a residence for a Mameluk prince, but when Mohamed Ali conquered Egypt, he turned it into a workshop to fabricate the kiswa, which Egyptian monarchs customarily sent every year to Mecca.

Secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Amin said that the building still contains equipment used in the fabrication of cotton, silk and other textiles. The kiswa is embroidered with calligraphy in gold and silver thread depicting Quranic verses.

It was manufactured in Egypt from the 12th century CE until 1927.

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Uganda: Cashless Tourism Here

The Independent – 30 August 2013 – A new electronic cashless system has been introduced in Uganda to enable visitors to Uganda’s national parks to be able to make payments centrally, through a carefully monitored and controlled system. The payments are credited to the Wildlife Card, which visitors can then use as a cash debit card to pay park fees and related expenses for special park services or guide support.

The item is a plastic card about the size of a credit card, with an embedded microchip that is used by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to load the Gorilla tracking details and electronic cash payments for other tourism activities in the five National Parks of Lake Mburo, Bwindi Impenetrable, Queen Elizabeth, Kibale, and Murchison Falls.

Most importantly, it also helps to collect key data, which transfers automatically to a central database to generate statistics and reports. It can also be used to buy branded UWA gift items, souvenirs, curios, park maps and guide books from UWA-managed shops.

It is hoped that the initiative would improve on the security of the tourists and tour operators, who will no longer need to carry large amounts of cash. Also, it will help to bolster the security of the gate clerks who have been keeping a lot of cash at the gates, which was prone to robbery and misappropriation. UWA therefore hopes that it will help reduce to leakage at fee collection and handling points, and help reduce leakage at revenue collection points.

Also, it is hoped that the details of tourists captured by the system would enhance customer service delivery and improve customer relationship management. The card was unveiled by United States Ambassador to Uganda Scott DeLisi at the occasion to commemorate 50th Anniversary of the Kidepo Valley National Park on August 22.

The cashless payment system has already proven successful in several other East Africa countries. The idea is that the system will improve the revenue management capability and ultimately increase the availability of funds to support biodiversity conservation in Uganda.

However, some tour operators said they are keeping their fingers crossed about the effectiveness of the card system. Rashid Kiyemba, the managing director of Brovad Tours and Travel Uganda, said, “We don’t know because we haven’t tried it yet, we just hope that it is practical,” he said.

Corne Schalkwyk, the general manager Premier Safaris, was however a little pessimistic saying a similar card system has failed to work in Kenya and has now been withdrawn after numerous complaints.

“Even if UWA has learned from the mistakes in Kenya and is planning to implement an improved system where you can load at the gate, the system will only be as good as the connection, software and its IT assistance,” she said.

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Azerbaijan to work on tourism development jointly with CIS states

02 September 2013 – AzerNews – Azerbaijan jointly with CIS countries will prepare proposals on the development of tourism, Azerbaijan Tourism Association (AzTA) chairman’s advisor Muzaffar Agakerimov said on August 31. According to Agakerimov, Azerbaijan should develop tourism with CIS countries. Relevant proposals will be presented by AzTA to the Culture and Tourism Ministry after they are developed.

Agakerimov said Azerbaijan is close to the CIS countries both in terms of distance and in terms of the absence of a language barrier.

“We should try to attract more tourists from the CIS countries to Azerbaijan. Most of these tourists go to Turkey and Dubai (United Arab Emirates). If we direct a part of these tourists to Azerbaijan, we will significantly facilitate the development of tourism and economy in the country,” Agakerimov said.

Agakerimov noted that railway tourism should be created in Azerbaijan as well. He believes it is possible to create separate tourist carriages.

“For example, three-day tourist trains to Tbilisi may operate. Many tourists go from Azerbaijan to Batumi from where they travel to Turkey. It is possible to open a route in this direction,” Agakerimov said.

Work on the project will be carried out in cooperation with Georgia. Azerbaijani tourists mostly prefer to visit Turkey, especially Antalya, Kusadasi, and the Mediterranean coast, Agakerimov said. They also like to visit Russia, Georgia, the resort cities of Ukraine, and the UAE.

Agakerimov cited an increase of the number of tourists visiting Eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Montenegro. Azerbaijani tourists mainly visit the famous spa town of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic and a resort in Bulgaria.

With the opening of inexpensive Budapest-Baku flights from June, the number of tourists interested in Hungary increased this year. Furthermore, an increase has been observed in the tourists’ interest in Thailand this year.

According to Agakerimov, Azerbaijani tourists are more experienced this year; they are visiting countries neighboring the states they go to. The number of foreign nationals who visited Azerbaijan in the first half of 2013 increased by 9.9 percent or 108,130 people compared to the same period of 2012 and amounted to 1,196,953.

Most of the foreigners are citizens of Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Iran, and European countries. Most of the tourists came to Azerbaijan to visit the north-eastern region. Launching of the Shahdag winter and summer tourism complex in Gusar increased the interest of tourists to the region.

The second most visited region in Azerbaijan is the northwestern region, including Gakh, Zagatala, Ismayilli, and Gabala. The southern part of the country is in third place among the popular destinations.

Tourists visiting Azerbaijan stay here on average for 15-20 days. Some 90-95 percent of the tourists come to Azerbaijan through travel agencies. The number of hotels in Azerbaijan has been on the rise recently. However, only 260 of the 514 operating hotels have obtained licenses. 221 licensed travel agencies operate in the country as well.

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Baku to host nine more exhibitions by late 2013

02 September 2013 – TODAY.AZ – Iteca Caspian and its partner, ITE Group plc, have nine exhibitions planned for this autumn, Iteca Caspian reported. A distinctive feature of this season’s exhibitions is steady growth (20%) across all events. This growth has been aided by the favourable economic situation in Azerbaijan and the unique format of the exhibitions organised by Iteca Caspian, as well as the strong network of international offices and agents that contribute to the participation of international companies in the exhibitions.

The success of the exhibitions is due to the fact that all exhibitions are supported by government agencies. Over the past six years a number of the major autumn exhibitions, including BIHE, BakuBuild and Bakutel, have been approved by UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry. This approval is a widely recognised mark of quality for exhibition events and confirmation of the statistics provided by the organisers. SafeLife is the official security partner of all events held by Iteca Caspian in 2013; Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel and Qafqaz Point Hotel are the official hotels; and Greenwich Travel Club is the official tour operator.

The 7th Azerbaijan International Education and Career exhibition will be held from 4 to 6 October at the JW Marriott Absheron and will open the exhibition season.

The long-awaited and most extensive exhibition event in the region – Caspian Construction Week – will take place from 23 to 26 October. The 5th International Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Water Supply, Sanitary, Environmental Technology, Swimming Pools & Renewable Energy Exhibition, Aqua-Therm Baku 2013, will be held on the same date.

The 6th Caspian International Protection, Security and Rescue Exhibition, CIPS Caspian 2013, will also be held on the same date, from 23 to 26 October. The annual BIHE exhibitions – Beauty Azerbaijan and Stomatology Azerbaijan – will be held from 31 October to 2 November.

The 8th Azerbaijan International Stomatology Exhibition and the 7th Azerbaijan International Beauty and Aesthetic Medicine Exhibition, Beauty Azerbaijan 2013, will be held in parallel with BIHE.

The 4th International Caspian: Technologies for the Environment Exhibition, CTE 2013, which is dedicated to the field of environmental protection, will be held from 20 to 22 November.

The 19th Azerbaijan International Telecommunication and Information Technology Exhibition, Bakutel 2013, which will be held in Baku Expo Centre from 2 to 5 December, will close the autumn 2013 exhibition season.

These exhibitions in Azerbaijan will once again become reliable venues for investors and entrepreneurs. The constant entry of new materials and technologies to the market means that these exhibitions provide a unique opportunity for experts to keep abreast of the latest trends in order to maximise the quality of their work and stay on the crest of success. Online registration for all autumn exhibitions is now open. Invitations will be sent to all regular participants in the exhibitions. All those wishing to visit the exhibition will be offered comfortable, free shuttle bus transport between the N. Narimanov Metro Station and Baku Expo Centre.

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Makkah Governor to launch Haj awareness campaign

Makkah, Saturday, 24 Shawwal 1434/ 31 August 2013 (IINA) – Makkah Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, who is also chairman of the Central Haj Committee, will launch the sixth national campaign for Haj awareness tomorrow.

The Makkah governorate has prepared the necessary plans and programs to ensure proper execution of the campaign, which targets citizens and encourages them to be patient with pilgrims and deal with them in a kind manner. Through educating citizens on the importance of serving pilgrims, the campaign also seeks the support of citizens in offering a high level of services to Haj and Umrah pilgrims. The campaign will stress respect of holy places and the pilgrimage, fellow Muslims, and rules and regulations.

The campaign will be executed with the collaboration and cooperation of more than 30 government and private bodies. Participating bodies include the ministries of Haj, culture and information, municipal and rural affairs, health, Islamic affairs, education, and commerce and industry, public security, the Civil Defense, the Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques Affairs, the municipalities, Makkah city council, communication companies, Saudi Arabian Airlines, the Saudi Red Crescent and Tawafa organizations. Abdulaziz Al-Khedairi, undersecretary at the Makkah governorate, expressed his gratitude to the emir for his continued efforts to facilitate better services for Haj and Umrah pilgrims.

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Saudi Arabia approves $200 million fund for Palestinian cities

Makkah, 26 Shawwal 1434/ 02 September 2013 (IINA) –King Abdullah has issued directives to allocate $200 million to help Palestinian cities resist infringements on their territories.

The funding will cover all Palestinian cities and municipalities that are members of the Organization of Islamic Capitals and Cities, said Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs Prince Mansour Bin Miteb Monday. Prince Mansour, addressing the inauguration ceremony of the Organization of Islamic Cities and Capitals’ 13th general conference, said the funding was to help Palestinian cities resist infringements such as the construction of settlements. It will also help them to carry out maintenance and renovation work; expand drinking water, power generating and sanitary drainage treatment facilities; develop and expand hospitals; and maintain health, education and social service centers.

The prince expressed thanks to King Abdullah for approving the scheme. Prince Mansour said the three-day conference, hosted by the holy city’s municipality at the Makkah Clock Royal Tower Fairmont Hotel, demonstrates the King’s support for the organization’s work so that it is able to carry out its role in achieving sustainable development in Islamic capitals and cities, safeguarding their identity and boosting and developing programs to build the capabilities of Islamic capitals and cities.

The aim is to keep pace with the cities’ developments and benefit their populations. He said the conference would deal with sustainable development, stress the importance of agriculture and acquaint people with the basic needs and primary issues in dealing with the environment. It will also facilitate the exchange of expertise and demonstrate the best practices and experiments in environmental protection.

Meanwhile, conference chairman Ahmad Muhammad Al-Sayyid, also director of the Doha Municipality, said the conference comes at an important stage in the history of Islamic capitals and cities, which he said are in dire need of protecting their identity and Islamic heritage given their current challenges. In his speech, Makkah Mayor Osama Al-Bar said the holy city first held the organization’s inaugural conference in 1980. He said this year’s event was an opportunity to review and reconsider the organization’s course and direction and how far it has achieved the goals on which it was founded.

The organization’s Secretary General Omar Abdullah Qadhi said 50 personalities representing 30 Islamic and international organizations and institutions are participating in the conference. Prince Mansour honored the mayors of Makkah as well as those of Islamic capitals and cities from 1925 until 2013. Qadhi signed two memorandums of cooperation with the Heritage Studies Center in Cairo University and the International Alliance Organization.

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Ihsanoglu chosen for Honorary Fellow of Islamic World Academy of Sciences

Jeddah, Wednesday, 28 Shawwal 1434/ 04 September 2013 (IINA) – The Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS) has awarded its membership as an Honorary Fellow to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. This was in recognition to his outstanding contributions in the fields of Science and Technology for the development and welfare of the Islamic World and the entire humanity.

The Certificate of Honorary Fellowship was presented by Dr. Abdel Salam Majali, President of the Executive Council of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences (ex-Prime Minister of Jordan), in a ceremony held at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah yesterday. Dr. Majali was accompanied by the IAS Director General Dr. Moneef Zou’bi. OIC Assistant Secretary General for Science and Technology Ambassador Abdul Moiz Bokhari and Adviser to the Secretary General Ahmed Lajami received the certificate on behalf of the Secretary General.

Dr. Majali underscored the crucial role of science and technology for the socio-economic development of the OIC member states and addressing the contemporary challenges of development, poverty eradication, environment, climate change, human health, energy and water resources. He appreciated the OIC secretary general’s efforts for providing impetus to the OIC activities and programmes in the fields of science, technology and higher education which have manifested themselves in terms of tangible results and encouraging progress in the OIC countries in these fields.

Ambassador Abdul Moiz Bokhari praised the constructive role of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences, an affiliated institution of the OIC, for the promotion of science and technology in the Islamic world and also expressed appreciation for the steps taken by Jordan for the promotion of science, technology and innovation and the development of the national education system at all levels. More active participation of IAS and the educational institutions of Jordan in the OIC Educational Exchange Programme also came under discussion. Dr. Majali lauded the role of the OIC Educational Exchange Programme for promoting higher education cooperation among the OIC member states.

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Wind brings money to Turkey’s slow city Akyaka

MUĞLA – Anadolu Agency – The town of Akyaka town, which is Turkey’s member of the International Slow City Association (Cittaslow), is popular among Turkish and foreign sportspeople for its wind and kite surfing area. As well as tourism revenues, the municipality earns money thanks to the wind of the town, which is valued for the opportunities is gives for water and wind sports.

Akyaka Mayor Ahmet Çalca said the 3,500 meter-long beach, which is a first degree protected site, was registered as a surfing area, and infrastructure works were therefore ongoing because they applied for a blue flag for the kite surfing area.

Çalca said Akyaka was a windy town throughout the year according to wind observations of the last 20 years. “With the latest arrangements in the region, the town began drawing interest, particularly from foreigners. This place is very good for wind and kite surfing thanks to regional winds. This is why nearly 10,000 people come to the town for wind and kite surfing and to take education.”

The mayor said each visitor in the town stayed there at least for one week. “It shows that Akyaka is one of the most popular tourism centers.” He said that many people began staying in close districts and villages as they could not find hotels in the town because of the increasing number of visitors. “Thanks to this, house boarding developed in villages and districts.”

Wind and kiteboard trainer Özgür Ceylan said Akyaka was one of the world’s most important centers in terms of surfing and the Gökova Gulf was Europe’s best sports areas thanks to its temperate climate and wind. “Because of its magnificent nature and convenient weather conditions, many famous sportspeople come here to practice. Gökova began to be known in the world thanks to its wind. Guests who want to make this sport finish their basic training in three days. Everyone who can swim can easily do it.”

Ceylan said that mostly British, German, French, Dutch and Turkish visitors tried to learn this sport. “200 people can make kiteboard at the same time,” he added. Ceylan said Akyaka would host the Kiteboard Turkey Championship between Sept. 18 and 22. “The Turkish Sailing Federation organizes the event. The best sportsmen of Turkey will create a visual festival. Akyaka wants to be shown as a sustainable tourism and sports events location,” he said.

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Turkish State Theaters to focus on national, historical plays

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency – Turkish State Theaters (DT) are preparing to open the curtain on the new season with 150 works, most of which will be staged for the first time. This year, national and historical works will be highlighted to draw people of every age to theaters.

Speaking about the 2013-2014 season, DT General Director Mustafa Kurt said that with more than 150 plays, 100 of which will be staged for the first time, DT would open the curtain in 58 theaters in 23 cities. He said that they would draw everyone to theaters with many national works from Yaşar Kemal to Necip Fazıl and from Reşat Nuri Güntekin to Orhan Kemal, adding that they would set more place for national works in the new season.

Kurt said that both national and historical works would be highlighted in the season, adding, “We want to come to get involved with our history. We have succeeded with many magnificent works in previous seasons but I think that historical plays have been neglected for long years. It is necessary to make them more visible.”

He said that they would also stage works that had been in the DT repertoire for long years, and continued, “Every play should be renewed every 10 years because we want children to grow up by seeing historical plays. We have a very rich historical play repertoire and we want to show it to people as far as possible. For example, we had ‘Hürrem Sultan’ last year. We have works like ‘Kösem Sultan,’ ‘Tohum’ and ‘Toprak.’ Historical works will also be staged in the next season but there are less historical play writers. We will do our best to stage more historical plays in the next seasons.”

Kurt said that they had sensitivity to some issues just like society, and as a director, he had to take them into consideration. “Let people see Necip Fazıl’s plays and Yaşar Kemal’s plays, too, as well as Orhan Kemal and Selahattin Eyyubi. We did not discriminate against them. We have many plays that make us laugh and make us worry at the same time. This is why I want everyone to come to see all of our plays.”

“If there is someone who does not know about theater in Turkey, this is our fault. We will bring theater to them or make them come and see our plays somehow,” said Kurt, adding that they had selected plays appealing to those who had never been to a theater before.

He said that the repertoire included youth plays, historical plays, periodical works and classical works. “Besides national works, works from the world known writers such as William Shakespeare, Carlo Goldoni, Anton Çehov and George Orwell will also meet theater goers. We don’t only open the season of DT but the season of all Turkey. We have a repertoire appealing to all sections. Everyone will like it.

We had writers whose works have not been staged for long years; such as Necip Fazıl. We will stage for the first a play of him, which he gave to DT 40 years ago.”

Kurt said that they would also make a first in their history by organizing a scriptwriting competition. He said that theater had difficulty finding scriptwriters and they would pave the way for new scriptwriters with the competition. “It is DT’s mission to bring new works to Turkish theater and introduce Turkish writers to the world. By considering this, we plan to organize a scriptwriting competition under the headlines such as the Çanakkale victory; Ottomans going to war; Sarıkamış battle; Ottoman in the Caucasian front; our women in the World War etc. If we are efficient, we will include the first three plays in the 2014-2015 repertoire and stage them. We have chosen historical topics because we are a nation that loves history. We want to confront our history and discuss it. I believe that qualified works will be submitted to the competition.”

Kurt said that they had been working on new projects and would organize play weeks. “Shakespeare and Chekov weeks will revive the capital. Ankara DT will perform Macbeth, and the Merchant of Venice; Antalya DT will perform Othello; İzmir DT will perform Romeo and Juliet; and Istanbul DT will perform Hamlet.”

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Turkish film ‘The Butterfly’s Dream’ to vie for Oscars

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet – Yılmaz Erdoğan’s critically acclaimed movie “Kelebeğin Rüyası” (The Butterfly’s Dream) will represent Turkey for the 2014 Oscars. The movie, which features a talented cast including Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ and Belçim Bilgin, will compete for a candidate spot for the best foreign-language film at the Academy Awards next year. Its selection was announced by Culture Minister Ömer Çelik on Twitter.

The movie tells the story of two unknown poets, Rüştü Onur and Muzaffer Tayyip Uslu – played by Mert Fırat and Tatlıtuğ, respectively – living in World War II-era Zonguldak, on the western Black Sea coast. It tells the story of the young poets’ love for an aristocrat’s daughter, expressed by each of them through their poems. “The Butterfly’s Dream” achieved considerable box office success, after premiering in London, Los Angeles and Dubai.

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Uzbekistan to develop alternative energy

Centralasiaonline.com 2013-09-03 TASHKENT – Uzbekistan, which has used alternative energy on a fairly large scale since the Soviet era, intends to actively promote the use of alternative energy sources as a business model. “Using solar and other alternative energy is the most promising thing to do in terms of environmental cleanliness and availability of resources,” Rustam Makhmudov, deputy director of the Uzbek Centre for Political Studies, told Central Asia Online. “Traditional fuels have grown more expensive from year to year, so using alternative energy is an urgent matter.”

And since the March 1 publication of the presidential decree “On measures to further develop alternative energy sources,” private entrepreneurs and inventors have emerged, eager to support the government efforts there. Boosting the industry will help avoid the kinds of international conflicts that flare up today in this region over access to energy sources,” Makhmudov said.

Developing the sector is important both economically and politically, observers say, and both small and large businesses will benefit from the renewed emphasis. “Since it (the presidential decree) envisages not only a variety of research projects but also efforts to stimulate producers and users of solar and bio-gas energy, those businesspeople, in addition to the tax benefits and preferences promised to them, will also be offered small loans (up to US $10,000 (21.5m UZS)) if they need them,” UzbekEnergo spokeswoman Makhkuma Bayeva said.

The government in July started discussing a bill “On alternative energy sources” that would outline the benefits and preferences to which producers will be entitled, she said.

The Tashkent-based company Uzelektroapparat-Elektroshchit in June began producing new portable photo-electric power stations.

“The station consists of a large metal container with a solar panel that converts solar energy to electricity, accumulating it in the battery,” company technician Elyer Fatkhullayev said. “The station is convenient to use where there’s no stationary power supply.”

“A factory will begin operating in the Navoi free economic zone in October to manufacture 100MW photo-electric panels on the basis of the latest technology,” Bayeva said, adding that another 100MW private solar photo-electric station is slated to start up in Samarkand Oblast.

Also pending are a number of projects devoted to low-capacity hot-water and heating plants, photo-electric and thermo-dynamic transformations to produce electricity, the use of solar energy in synthesising special materials, and thermal treatment of materials and structures.

And Samarkand businessman Ishkashim Usmonov plans to start a project this autumn using wind power. “I’m sure such a project will help many people,” he said. “If the authorities provide support, that’ll be great.” Businessmen praised the benefits of having more energy options.

“These (alternative energy) systems are essential where blackouts are frequent,” Asror Maksudov, the owner of a chain of grocery stores, said. Ever since he set up his stores to use solar energy, the cash registers and refrigerators in his shops have worked without interruption.

Dilmurod Irgashev, owner of a private clinic in Tashkent, is using solar energy too, noting that his clinic now remains operational during periodic blackouts. He is also able to save on traditional kinds of energy, such as gas and electricity.

Uzbekistan meets every prerequisite for developing alternative energy, but using it more consistently in business requires scientific support, Tashkent physicist Abdujabor Abdurakhmanov told Central Asia Online. “Uzbekistan could become a good proving ground for experimentally integrating (alternative energy) technology,” he said, noting the country’s sunny weather.

In line with the March 1 presidential decree, the International Solar Energy Institute (MISE) will implement high-tech projects involving commercial uses of solar energy. The institute will also conduct applied research on how to use solar energy in different industries.

Initially, MISE might have trouble finding qualified researchers, another physicist, Rustam Rakhimov, warned. “Many of the (predecessor energy research institute)’s researchers have left the country, and youth are reluctant to apply for work at the institute because of a lack of funds,” he said, noting that Uzbek scientists have lost status during recent years of cutbacks in scientific funding. However, many colleges and universities will start training qualified scientists for the energy sector this autumn, Higher and Secondary Special Education Deputy Minister Farkhod Rizayev said.

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Brunei Girl Guides host Al-Quran reading competition for International Peace Day

September 06, 2013 – Borneo Bulletin – Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah and Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah yesterday attended the International Al-Quran Reading Competition of a Journey of Friendship and Peace at the Bahtera Banquet Hall of Badiah Hotel. The competition was organised by the Brunei Darussalam Girl Guides Association to coincide with its annual Peace Day celebration.

Participants in the competition include Siti Aqila binti Haji Zaidin from Brunei Darussalam, Nurfarizan binti Mohd Khaidir from Malaysia and Ummel Haya Abu Bacar Sharief from the Philippines. Hjh Viviyanti binti Hj Mohd Ali, Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Girl Guides Association of Brunei Darussalam in her welcoming remark mentioned that through the Journey of Friendship and Peace, another step further has been taken to instill girls’ peace among the nation.

“It is hoped that the journey would enhance the girls’ spiritual growth, as well as provide healthy competition and opportunities to prove themselves as responsible citizens of the world,” she added. She also highlighted throughout the Al-Quran Reading Competition, that the recitation has helped provide an environment of healthy friendship and the promotion of peace.

The competition was then enlivened further by the Tafsir Surah Al-Alaq by students of Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah School. The objective of the event was to support the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s aspiration for the promotion of spiritual activities. The Girl Guides Association of Brunei Darussalam started its annual activity on September 6, when International Peace Day is celebrated.

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Three-day fair ‘Trade in Bangladesh’ ends in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31, 2013 (BSS)-A three-day trade fair titled ‘Trade in Bangladesh’ ended today Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) with displaying of hundreds of Bangladeshi products.Former prime minister of Malaysia Tun Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi inaugurated the fair on August 29. Headmaster Events in collaboration with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) organized the show.

Hundreds of Bangladeshi products displayed at over 70 stalls for visitors in the fair that aimed at boosting Dhaka-Kuala Lumpur trade. The product line up included different category including handicraft, footwear, RMG, tourism, housing, banks, insurance, cosmetics and many others. Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB), Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC), Pubali Bank Ltd., Popular Life Insurance Co. Ltd., Regent Airways and National Credit and Commerce Bank Ltd. (NCCBL) were the key participants of trade show.

Sponsors of the fair are Regent Airways, National Credit & Commerce Bank Ltd. (NCCBL), Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) and Elenga Hotel Sdn Bhd (Malaysia). On the sidelines of the fair, a wide range of B2B (Business to Business) sessions and four seminars on RMG, Investment in Bangladesh, Tourism and Business Networking were held at the World Trade Centre.

Mohammad Ahmed, managing director of Ahmed Food Products Ltd, one of the participants of the show, said there is a huge demand for Bangladeshi agro-based products in Malaysia. “Malaysian and Chinese businessmen shown keen interest in using our products,” he said adding that Ahmed Food will soon appoint a distributor in Kuala Lumpur to tap the full potentials of the Malaysian market for Bangladeshi products.

Md Kamrul Islam, assistant general manager (marketing support and PR), said the fair will not only help the company get airlines business but also flourish Bangladesh tourism industry. “We got huge response from visitors as 15 per cent of the total participants got export orders from the show,” said Syed Zafar, chief financial officer of the Headmaster Events.

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Handicraft showroom inaugurated at Mymensingh for poor women

DHAKA, Sept 3, 2013 (BSS) – The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB), Valuka, Mymensing, today formally opened a handicrafts showroom “SHANTI” on the BRDB Premises at Valuka, Mymensing.

Dr M Amanullah, MP, was present on the occasion as the chief guest while Korean Ambassador in Bangladesh Lee Yun-young and Resident Representative of KOICA Bangladesh Office Kim Bok-Hee attended the ceremony as special guests, said a KOIKA press release.

BRDB Director General, high government officials and KOICA volunteers were, among others, present on the occasion. The press release said a large number of women who received training from the KOICA-BRDB Training Centre would be able to make wears for men and women and sell them from the showroom which will definitely save their time and energy.

By doing this they would be able to earn money for themselves and also for their families and that will ultimately help the poor women to get rid of poverty, it said.

Speaking on the occasion, Lee Yun-young lauded the collaborative endeavor of KOICA and BRDB to open the showroom. He hoped this type of initiatives would bring positive change in the society.

He described the year 2013 as a very special year for Korea and Bangladesh because it is the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relationship between the two countries and 20th anniversary of dispatching KOICA’s Volunteers to Bangladesh, the release added.

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Ghana: Flowers, Gardening Are Viable Source Of Income

ACCRA, Sept. 1 (NNN- GNA) — Ms Esther Cobbah, Chief Executive Officer, Strategic Communication (StratComm) Africa, has called on Ghanaians especially the unemployed to venture into flower growing and gardening as they could serve as a major source of income. She noted that Ghana had all the requisite resources such as the soil, water, plants and seedlings, which could be utilised for the cultivation of flowers and gardening.

Ms Cobbah said this during a workshop and exhibition of flowers and gardening in Accra on Saturday. She noted that African countries such as South Africa had already taken the lead in the exportation of flowers, adding that, Ghana could also do the same.

“It’s sad to note that while other African countries are exporting flowers, we (Ghana) are rather importing them when we could have grown them on our own”, she added. The Garden and Flower Show, which was the first of its kind to be organised by StratComm, was designed to create awareness about the commercial and psychological benefits of flowers and gardens.

The event, which was under the theme “Sustainable Gardening in Ghana” was also aimed at starting a gardening movement in Ghana as it would serve as a launch pad for a full programme at establishing the culture of gardening in the country.

Participants at the workshop and exhibition included florists, horticulturalists, home makers, real estate developers, landscape designers, pot makers, carvers, subsistence farmers among others.

On exhibition were different species of flowers, fruits, sculptures, flowers pots, garden furniture, landscape designs and compost among others.

Topics discussed at the workshop included “Garden and Flowers for Job and Income Generation”, “Garden and Flowers for Beauty and Health”, and Garden and Flowers- Get Started, Keep it Going.”

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East Kalimantan sets sights on boosting tourism

The Jakarta Post, Samarinda, September 01 2013 – Apart from strengthening the renewable resources-based economy and agricultural sector, the East Kalimantan provincial administration is currently intensively promoting its tourism sector.

It has even put tourism at the top of its priority list; indeed, tourism is primed to become the new economic locomotive, alongside manufacturing.

The province is currently gearing up to hold the 2013 Derawan Festival, which will take place from Sept. 15 to 22 in Derawan Islands, Berau regency.

The Derawan Festival is part of a series of the 2013 Sail Komodo event. The Derawan Islands have become a prime tourist destination in East Kalimantan for their pristine beaches and marine attractions.

Derawan itself has also been designated as one of the 15 prime destinations in Indonesia by the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry.

“We will continue to improve the supporting infrastructure at tourist sites, including promoting them, and holding national as well as international events, such as the Derawan Festival, which is aimed at encouraging visitors to come to East Kalimantan,” said Governor Awang Faroek Ishak in Samarinda recently.

“The huge potential that tourism has to offer has prompted the provincial administration to accelerate the development and improvement of tourist infrastructure in Derawan Islands, such as building an airport on Maratua Island, which is part of the Derawan Island chain, in the hope of providing easy access to visitors,” Awang said.

East Kalimantan is rich in natural resources like coal and gas. It makes the highest contribution to the country’s export output; it is third in terms of competitiveness after Jakarta and East Java, and is third in the value of foreign and local investment. The region, however, is prone to illegal logging and smuggling activities.

Over the past five years, the East Kalimantan administration has been improving and building support infrastructure for the tourism sector, such as roads, bridges, sea and airports, power and tap water.

It has also developed as many as 393 tourist sites since 2009, with the number increasing to 550 destinations in 2012. The developments include the restoration of the Pampang Cultural Village Hall and the building of parking lots at the Tanah Merah Waterfall and Samarinda Botanical Garden.

The administration has also revived the Yuvai Semaring resort in Krayan, Nunukan regency, and the Panji Sukorame reservoir in Tenggarong, Kutai Kartanegara regency.

A timber museum can also be found at the Panji Sukorame reservoir, which serves as a tropical forest education facility with its hundreds of different kinds of timber and leaves that have been preserved.

Besides that, in 2012, the administration also renovated the floating cultural hall on Lake Bahadaq, West Kutai.

The provincial administration, in collaboration with the Tourism and Creative Economy Agency, has also enhanced the quality of its tourist-focused human resources through tourism workshops in Berau and Balikpapan, and it has been empowering local communities living in and around tourist sites in Bulungan and Nunukan.

The number of tourists to the province reached 1.3 million people in 2012, of which 26,149 were foreign visitors. They contributed around US$26 million to the provincial coffers, while domestic visitors contributed around Rp 468 billion ($44 million).

Earlier in July, East Kalimantan organized a prestigious cultural event in Kutai Kartanegara, namely the 2013 Erau Internatioanl Folklore and Art Festival, which was attended by members of the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals (CIOFF) from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Greece, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

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Saudi Arabia to participate in Islamic Solidarity Games

Jeddah, Arab News – Saudi Arabia will participate in the third Islamic Solidarity Games in the Indonesian city of Palembang, which opens Sept. 22 and continues through Oct. 1. About 5,000 athletes from OIC countries are expected to participate in the games.

“We’ll participate in nine competitions — athletics, archery, basketball, football, karate, taekwondo, tennis, volleyball, and weightlifting — from a total of 13 games,” a statement from the General Presidency of Youth Welfare said.

Draws took place last Wednesday for football, basketball and volleyball in the presence of Muneef Al-Dossary, a senior official at the Youth Welfare Presidency. Saudi Arabia is bracketed in Group 2 with UAE, Palestine and Turkey in football matches to be held from Sept. 17 to 29, an official statement said.

The Saudi basketball team’s matches with Kuwait, Qatar and Palestine will be held Sept. 15-20. In volleyball matches set for Sept. 23-30 the Saudi team will pit skills against Indonesia, Turkmenistan, Egypt and Libya. “Our players will participate in athletics scheduled for Sept. 25-29,” the statement said.

The event, which brings together athletes from member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, was originally scheduled to be held in April at Pekanbaru on Sumatra island.

The Islamic Solidarity Games is a multinational, multi-sport event under the aegis of the Islamic Solidarity Games Federation (ISSF). The ISG’s participating countries are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Bahrain, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Palestine, Kuwait, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Oman, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Senegal, Tunisia, Guinea, Congo, Jordan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Somalia.

The First ISG was held in 2005 in Saudi Arabia. The second event was cancelled after it had been originally scheduled to take place in Tehran in October 2009.

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QTA participates at 20th UNWTO general assembly

Saudi Gazette – 05 September, 2013 – Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) delegation have returned after their successful participation at the 20th UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly held last week in the Victoria Falls region at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the 38th meeting of the UNWTO Commission for the Middle East.

During the general assembly, Qatar was reelected as a member of the Credentials Committee of the Middle East region.

“The Qatari presence at the 20th UNWTO General Assembly resulted in excellent insights and relationship building with peers in the global tourism industry. These meetings also serve as an opportunity to communicate the excellent results we are achieving in raising the level of tourism in Qatar. We are able to benchmark ourselves against our peers while also participating in debates and exchanges on some of the most pressing issues facing our industry. The future is bright for us, and we look forward to continued multi-lateral opportunities for dialogue” said Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, Chairman of QTA.

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Abu Dhabi to provide Dh367m for Pakistan projects

Khaleej Times – 02 September, 2013 – Abu Dhabi will be providing a Dh367.3 million grant to Pakistan to carry out three road, healthcare and educational projects.

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, or ADFD, and the UAE Project to Assist Pakistan, have signed a memorandum of understanding in this regard.

The move is in line with the Government of the UAE’s keenness to support and help Pakistan to face their development difficulties, and allow them to implement efficient plans to uplift the living standards of their people. The MoU was signed by Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, acting director-general of the ADFD, and Abdullah Khalifa Saeed Al Ghafli, manager of the UAE Project to Assist Pakistan.

“The positive impact of the projects to be funded by this grant will benefit most of the sectors of Pakistani’s economy,” Al Suwaidi said.

Out of the grant’s total amount, Dh223 million will be allocated for supporting the road networks sector, through constructing the Makeen-Miranshah road that will link South and North Waziristan.

The second tranche of Dh46 million will be earmarked to funding three vocational colleges to develop skill sets that would enable best job opportunities, while Dh92 million will be assigned to finance the second phase of the 1,000-bed UAE Specialist Hospital in Islamabad.

Al Ghafli stressed on the importance of this agreement and partnership between the UAE Project to Assist Pakistan and the ADFD to promote the humanitarian and developmental efforts provided by the UAE.

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Oman’s tourism revenue tops $ 1b-mark: UN report

Times of Oman – 02 September, 2013 – The Sultanate’s tourism revenue from international visitors exceeded $ 1 billion for the first time in 2012, making it one of the top tourism destinations in the Gulf region, according to a recent report published by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

While some other countries in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region posted only a marginal growth or reported a considerable decline in arrivals due to continued regional political tensions, Oman’s international tourism receipts increased from $ 996 million in 2011 to $ 1.095 billion last year, noted the report entitled “Tourism Highlights 2013.”

The Sultanate had a 2.3 per cent share in total international tourism receipts in the Middle East region — as defined by the UNWTO — in 2012, having added more than $ 300 million on its 2010 performance.

The share put Oman in the fourth place after the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, whose international tourism receipts for 2012 were $ 10.38 billion, $ 7.43 billion, and $ 2.85 billion, respectively.

Kuwait stood fifth with a total revenue of $ 425 million, while the data for Bahrain was not available in the report. The strong demand for tourism in Oman is credited to the Sultanate’s efforts to further develop its tourism infrastructure, especially hotel rooms.

According to the 2013 Middle East Hotel Survey, RevPAR, (revenue per available room) in Muscat and Salalah, Oman’s primary destinations, grew by one per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, in 2012 over the previous year.

“The year 2012 was a better period for our hotel than 2011,” Noureddine Ouchtaine, an entrepreneur at the Marina Hotel in Muscat told the Times of Oman.

According to Ouchtaine, 6,208 guests stayed at the Marina Hotel in 2012, up from 6,145 visitors in 2011. Moin S.B., Assistant Operations Manager at the Corniche Hotel in Muscat, also said that business in 2012 was better than 2011. The website of the Oxford Business Group (OBG), citing STR Global’s “Construction Pipeline Report,” wrote on August 29 that Oman has the highest expected growth rate for hotels in the region.

According to the report, nearly 4,600 rooms are in different stages of planning or construction, and once completed, would lead to nearly 60 per cent capacity increase.

Compared to 2011, last year was more for a number of shopkeepers as well, including Jasim Pukkayil, who sells Pashmina shawls in the Muttrah Souq.

However, Abdul Tabras, who works at a perfume shop in the Muttrah Souq, told the Times of Oman that his business is “going down and down” and that the shop’s sales were almost the same in 2011 and 2012.

And Shafeek, who sells clothes, perfumes, and shawls in the same souq, says business in 2012 was just as good as it was in 2010 and 2011.

The beauty of the Sultanate has been appreciated by thousands of tourists who opted to see a ‘Middle Eastern’ country for themselves and found Oman a pleasant and relaxing place. “I am enjoying Oman. Everything is fine. We arrived two days ago. We have had a good time. People are lovely,” said Zuzi Maso, a South African national, while trying a pair of sandals in the Muttrah Souk. Janet Downey and Bernie Chandler, a Canadian couple who spent the first two weeks of November in 2012 in Oman, said that their fabulous visit whetted their appetite to come back and see more.

“Our experience was great: people were friendly, helpful and welcomed us with smiles wherever we went. There is so much to learn about the people and their history and it is so different from what we see on the TV as to what the Middle East is like.”

The writer is an Iran national, who is currently doing her internship with Times of Oman. The views expressed in this article are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Times of Oman.

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Etihad starts Sanaa flights

Khaleej Times – 02 September, 2013 – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, on Sunday launched its inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi to Sanaa, Yemen’s political and commercial capital.

A high-level Yemeni delegation, including Minister of Transport Waed Bathib, Minister of Tourism Dr Qasim Sallam Said, representatives from the Civil Aviation, the Ministry of Education, security officials and senior airport officials received the maiden flight upon its arrival at Rehaba International Airport in Sana’a.

Khaled El Mehairbi, Etihad Airways’ senior vice-president for Government and Aeropolitical Affairs, led the airline’s delegation that included Hassan Al Hammadi, senior vice-president for Executive Affairs and Corporate Security; and Ali Murtada, vice-president of Sales for the Middle East, Levant and Africa.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways president and chief executive officer, said: “The ancestral, cultural and business ties between these two countries are significant, and we celebrate this new link between these two capitals. The launch of direct services to Sanaa is consistent with our strategy of adding depth and scale to our network and targeting areas of growth in emerging markets. I am confident this new service will further facilitate Yemen’s economic development and encourage trade and investment in the capital.”

The launch was celebrated with a reception followed by a banquet attended by the UAE Red Crescent bureau based in Yemen, members of the travel trade and a media delegation from the UAE.

Marking the launch of services, Etihad Airways also will visit Al Khair Public School and Um Habiba School in the city, where staff and volunteers are due to distribute 1,000 bags filled with stationery and school supplies to students. The effort is arranged in collaboration with the UAE Red Crescent.

More than 90,000 Yemeni nationals live in the UAE and the country is Yemen’s largest regional trading partner, with annual trade valued at over US$ 2 billion, including $ 1.6 billion in UAE exports. Overall, the UAE accounts for almost 20 per cent of Yemen’s total imports.

Sana’a is Etihad Airways’ latest destination on the Arabian Peninsula, joining Bahrain, Dammam, Doha, Jeddah, Kuwait, Muscat and Riyadh. The airline now serves the Yemeni capital four times a week from Abu Dhabi with an Airbus A320 aircraft equipped with 16 Pearl Business Class seats and 120 seats in Coral Economy Class.

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Media hailed for support to Oman tourism

Times of Oman – 03 September, 2013 – Dr Abdullah bin Nassir Al Harrasi, chairman of the Public Authority for Radio and Television (PART), yesterday held discussions with members of the Arab Tourism Media Campaign currently visiting the Sultanate.

Dr Al Harrasi welcomed the participants and hailed the efforts being made to boost the tourism sector. He stressed the role of the media in highlighting the tourism sector and the importance of giving exposure to different tourism sites in the Sultanate. He said that tourism is closely linked with media in the Sultanate, and stressed the role of media in promoting the cultural aspects of Oman.

Dr Al Harrasi assured PART’s cooperation with the Arab Tourism Media Centre. The meeting was attended by Hussain Al Mana’ei, head of the Arab Tourism Media Centre, Sultan bin Khamis Al Yahya’ei, representative of the Arab Tourism Media Centre in the Sultanate and a number of PART officials.

Meanwhile, members of the delegation visited the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) during which they familiarised themselves with the programmes and activities of ROHM.

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Dubai’s Emirates resumes flights to Libya on ‘solid demand’

Emirates 24/7 – 03 September, 2013 – Dubai-based Emirates, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, has resumed passenger flights to Tripoli, the capital and largest city of Libya, the airline said in a media statement today.

“We are now connecting Tripoli not only to Dubai, but also to our worldwide network of more than 130 destinations. Solid early bookings have demonstrated the demand, opening up new markets for passengers to and from Libya,” said Adil Al Ghaith, Emirates’ Vice President Commercial Operations Northern and Western Africa.

“Libya is showing healthy economic growth and the re-launch of our flights to Tripoli will help to support business, international trade and from Tripoli to the rest of world,” he said.

Emirates now serves Tripoli three times a week with a quick stop in Malta, utilising a Boeing 777-200ER.

Tripoli is one of the main hubs of Libya’s economy and, home to many of the country’s largest local and international companies. In June 2012, Emirates re-opened its Tripoli town office enabling customers to book travel on Emirates’ services outside of Libya.

Supporting trade between Tripoli and the rest of the world, Emirates SkyCargo introduced a freighter service to the city in May 2012, helping import a variety of goods such as electronics from the Far East to drilling equipment from the US. The resumption of passenger flights also enables Emirates SkyCargo to better serve Libyan cargo customers by offering a total weekly capacity of over 100 tonnes and more frequent connections with their supplier markets.

Libyan travellers now once again enjoy the renowned service from the airline’s international cabin crew recruited from over 130 countries, gourmet cuisine and award winning ice system with more than 1400 channels of entertainment and the connectivity to send and receive emails and text messages.

Emirates has a fleet of 201 aircraft and is the world’s largest operator of A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft, flying to 134 destinations in 74 countries across six continents.

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Bahraini Women urged to claim equality

Gulf Daily News – 04 September, 2013 – Women in Bahrain are being urged to claim their rightful place alongside men – through social media.

A study has found that male users outnumber females online, despite efforts to empower the country’s women.

Sixty per cent of the country’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users are men while 40pc are women, according to Social Media Club president Ali Sabkar.

He revealed there were now plans to increase women’s online presence and a special Youth Forum had been lined up next month by the Supreme Council for Women (SCW).

“There is room for progress and the SCW forum aims to have a platform for youth to discuss social media and ways to empower women in this field,” he said.

The Youth Forum is set to take place at the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea and Spa on October 8. The two-day event, organised by the SCW youth committee, will focus on women in social media and help them become opinion leaders.

Mr Sabkar, whose organisation is providing strategic consultation for the forum, blamed local traditions for holding back women – even on the Internet.

“Employers seem to prefer men to fill social media management positions than women, as they want them to be available all the time,” he said.

“Women usually do not prefer to be working all the time and such positions need candidates to be available around the clock either online or offline, which is against traditions.

“Some are also not into being exposed to mass media and do not have their identities out there.”

SCW Youth committee and forum organising committee head Mazin Anwar said the upcoming event coincided with Bahraini Women’s Day, which falls on December 1.

“This forum is the work of the SCW youth committee and looks to involve youth in women’s issues as part of the committee’s duties,” he said.

“It looks to bring the issues of women from a youth perspective using a media platform mostly used by youth: Social media. It also comes in line with the theme of Bahraini Women’s Day this year: Women and the Media.”

The forum will cover social media and women from a social perspective, volunteering in social media and investment. Recommendations will be made to the SCW general secretariat.

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Oman to host tourism campaign for Arab media

Oman Tribune – 29 August, 2013 – The Sultanate will host the first Arab Media Tourism Campaign from September 1 till 7 in conjunction with Dhofar Municipality and Omran Company.

Over 25 Arab media men, journalists and broadcasters representing a number of Arab media specialised in the field of tourism will take part in the campaign, which comes within the framework of efforts being exerted by the Arab Tourism Media Centre to identify tourism and civilisational landmarks in the Arab countries. Choosing the Sultanate to host this event stems from its unique historic, civilisational and tourism landmarks.

Sultan Bin Khamis Al Yahya’ei, Representative of the Arab Tourism Media Centre, said that the centre was keen to organise this event during Salalah Tourism Festival, adding that a number of media men from Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will take part in this event alongside with media men from the Sultanate.

He said that the centre, in cooperation with Dhofar Municipality and Omran Company, prepared a programme for the media team. A press conference will be held for Maithaa Bint Saif Al Mahrouqiyah, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Tourism and another for HE Sheikh Salim Bin Aufait Al Shanfri, Head of Dhofar Municipality.

The programme includes a meeting with HE Dr Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Harrasi, Chairman of the Public Authority for Radio and Television (PART), besides visits to the Royal Opera House Muscat, Bait Al Zubair Museum and the Governorate of Dakhiliyah. It also includes visits to a number of tourism landmarks in the Governorate of Dhofar.

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Accreditation for Oman Air Learning and Development

Times of Oman – 05 September, 2013 – Air Learning and Development, which works to enhance standards in civil aviation by providing training to Oman Air’s staff and members of the public, has been awarded ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System certification.

The accreditation recognises the high standards of performance and sustained commitment to quality, demonstrated by Oman Air Learning and Development, which operates from the Oman Air Training Centre in Muscat.

The certification was awarded to Oman Air by Didier Michaud-Daniel, CEO of the validating body Bureau Veritas, at a glittering ceremony in Seeb, on August 21.

Abdulaziz Alraisi, chief officer – Management Affairs and Saleh bin Abdullah Al Zadjali, senior manager, Oman Air Learning and Development, received the certification on behalf of the national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman.

Alraisi said: “We are extremely proud to have achieved ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System accreditation, a level that has been adopted so that we can effectively implement global standards in education and commit ourselves to strategic planning for future needs and ensure ongoing success. It will also help us to use all our resources to maximise the benefits on behalf of our customers, both within Oman Air and with our external commercial clients.”

Oman Air Learning and Development offers modern, effective training programmes for flight operations, engineering, in-flight and ground services, corporate communications, recruitment and human resources staff.

Training is offered to Oman Air’s staff and to that of other airlines. Oman Air conducts its own technical training, where students are taught all aspects of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul. Further specialised training also aims to ensure enhanced customer satisfaction at check-ins and customer services desks, during the departure process, throughout the baggage journey and during immigration clearance. Its courses are approved and accredited by the Oman Civil Aviation Authority, IATA, Lufthansa and Swiss International Airlines.

Al Zadjali said: “This ISO accreditation could not have been achieved without the dedication of our staff and advisers and I would particularly like to thank Salim Al Harthy, Badar Al Waili, Ghaliya, Fathima and Renjith for their invaluable contributions.”

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