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2 Sep, 2013

Pakistani student beats world record for academic excellence

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 02 September 2013 (26 Shawwal 1434). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.


Great Opportunity for Muslim Entrepreneurs: Attend the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Kuala Lumpur, 11-12 October

Registrations are open for the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be held in Kuala Lumpur between 11-12 October. More than 3,000 entrepreneurs, speakers, investors and policy-makers 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/


WORLD ISLAMIC TOURISM MART (WITM) 2013, 4-5 September, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) will be organizing the World Islamic Tourism Mart (WITM 2013) from 4-8 Sept 2013 in conjunction with the MATTA FAIR SEPT 2013. WITM 2013 will comprise of a International Conference from 4-5 Sept 2013 to be held at Hotel Istana and a TRAVEX and Travel Fair from 6-8 Sept 2013 at PWTC, Kuala Lumpur. Message from Dato Mohammed Khalid Harun, Chairman, WITM 2013: We have several key speakers at our WITM 7th InCoMTHU Conference on 4 & 5th September. This is something no member engaged in Islamic tourism can afford to miss. WITM 7th InCoMTHU Conference focuses on Islamic travel and we have speakers who are specialists in the subject from various countries in the region. Do come and learn about – Syariah Tourism from the Vice President of Tourism from Indonesia; – Medical Tourism which is Syariah compliant; – How a country like Japan is dealing with halal requirements; – How to create a Muslim travel package, and lots more interesting topics that will help to grow your Islamic travel business. Even Malaysian inbound players should attend this as you will have Muslim travellers who expect syariah compliant travel. You will become more aware of the Syariah requirements and how Malaysia is coping with the ever increasing numbers of Muslim travellers especially from the Middle East. We look forward to meeting you at the WITM 7th InCoMTHU Conference. Please register www.witm2013.matta.org.my.

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.




Uganda: Come And Invest at Home – President Tells Diaspora

KAMPALA, Sept. 1 (NNN-NEWVISION) — President Museveni has challenged Ugandans living in the diaspora to invest home because even the natives of countries like US and Canada where they live sacrificed and invested heavily to develop them.

In a speech read for him by the Vice President Edward Ssekandi at the 25th Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) convention Saturday, Museveni said both the US and Canada cover an area of 3m square kilometers each and to develop them, they first paid a price.

“Government has since 1986 worked hard to address all key bottlenecks hindering development, among them security. Please invest home to develop our country”, he said, adding that now the whole country is peaceful and “we have invested heavy in infrastructure to create a conducive investment climate.”

My main concerns, he said, apart from peace, are socio-economic transformation of our society and economy and the economic and political integration of the African continent.

And in the battle for socio-economic transformation, the president informed delegates that he identified ten strategic bottlenecks that he first highlighted to the country during the Golden jubilee celebrations last year.

They are: ending ideological disorientation; building the State pillars to ensure that the State is capable of governing people and protecting them; developing the human resource through education and the improved health for all; promoting the private sector which is a more efficient vehicle for enterprise identification and growth rather than persecuting them as used to happen in the past.

Other bottlenecks include: developing the infrastructure especially electricity, roads and ICT; modernizing agriculture; modernizing social services; integrating the African market to assist the Private Sector; and ensuring democracy.

The president said Uganda’s economy was still small but is fast expanding through the East African integration and “through hard work we shall will achieve an African integration.” He said government has invested in infrastructure development and with high investments in electricity the problem of unemployment would be tackled because this should attract investment and therefore employment.

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China Islamic Association marks 60th anniversary

BEIJING, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) — The China Islamic Association celebrated its 60th anniversary on Friday in Beijing. Top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng said at the ceremony in the Great Hall of People that the association has all along been patriotic, and helped the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the government implement freedom of religious belief.

The association has made positive contributions to ethnic solidarity, social stability and national reunification, added Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. He expressed hope that Muslims would carry on their fine traditions and make new contributions to prosperity and the people’s well-being.

Liu Yandong, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and vice premier, said at the ceremony that she hoped the Islamic association could link Muslims with the CPC and the government, promote ethnic solidarity and social stability. Liu also called on Muslims to rally behind the CPC and the government and contribute to building a moderately prosperous society and realizing the “Chinese dream.”

Click here for pictures: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2013-08/30/c_132678540.htm

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Pakistani student beats world record for academic excellence

ISLAMABAD, 2013-09-01 (Dawn): A Pakistani student, Haroon Tariq, has broken the current world record by securing a total of 47 As in his International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) O Level and A Level exams from the University of Cambridge International Examinations. His subjects spanned both the humanities and sciences including Human and Social Biology, Islamic Religion and Culture, Physics, Chemistry and Global Development.

A student of Froebel’s International School (FIS), Haroon Tariq’s achievement had put Pakistan in the global spotlight. In the O Levels, the previous world record was 28 As which was also held by a Pakistani student Zohaib Asad. However, Haroon Tariq obtained 38 As in O levels and a total of 47As in his O and A level exams.

While talking to Dawn, Haroon Tariq said he studied 50 different subjects in O and A levels during the span of three years. He said obtaining 47 As was not easy as he had to study different languages including Spanish and French. “I want to study engineering in the future, but have not decided whether to specialise in software engineering or aeronautical engineering,” he said.

Haroon Tariq said his teachers guided him well due to which he achieved the remarkable score, adding that he had to give all his attention to his studies.

Head Principal of the school Shahmina Kamal said, “I feel honoured to be instrumental in shaping a competent youngster for tomorrow’s Pakistan.” Similarly, the head of the Dept of Examinations Sahar Pirzada said, “I always remind students that success is a state of mind. They need to trust themselves as they always know more than what they think they do.”

“Surely enough, we have students setting world records for academic excellence,” she said.

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Qatar Airways ups baggage allowance by 7-10Kg

Saudi Gazette – 23 August, 2013 – Effective September 1, passengers flying Qatar Airways routes worldwide will have enhanced baggage allowances with additional baggage weight allowed per person.

Economy weight allowances have increased from 23kg to 30kg while Business and First Class have each increased from 30kg and 40kg to 40kg and 50kg respectively. The number of bags remains the same and dependent on the type of ticket purchased. The increased weight allowance does not apply when traveling to points that are regulated by per-piece allowance.

“Revising our standard baggage allowance comes at a time whereby the number of destinations we fly is increasing and our global reach is broadening,” said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.

“The number of customers we see traveling for longer periods of time, whether for business or on holiday, reflects the necessity for increased baggage allowance no matter their destination.

Those passengers who have traveled prior to September 1 will be able to take advantage of the increased baggage allowance on their return trip if travel is on September 1 or later.

The company will also publish new Excess Baggage rates in September which will also see an increase. Passengers will be able to purchase Excess Baggage at discounted rates of up to 20% on qatarairways.com. Privilege Club members will continue to enjoy excess baggage allowance in addition to the new increased baggage allowance.

Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 16 years of operations, currently flying a modern fleet of 129 aircraft to 128 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and The Americas.

Qatar Airways has so far launched six destinations – Qassim (Saudi Arabia), Najaf (Iraq), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Chicago (USA), Salalah (Oman), Basra (Iraq) and now Sulaymaniyah (Iraq).

Over the next few weeks and months, the network will grow further with Chengdu, China (September 3), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (September 18), Clark International Airport, Philippines (October 28) and Philadelphia, USA (2 April 2014).

Qatar Airways currently has orders worth over $ 50 billion for more than 250 aircraft, including Boeing 787s, 777s, Airbus A350s, A380s and A320 family of aircraft. Qatar Airways will become the first of the major Gulf carriers to join a global alliance having been invited into the oneworld group.

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Oman Air boosts Salalah flights

Gulf Daily News – 26 August, 2013 – Oman Air has added extra flights between Salalah and Muscat for the summer.

Demand to Salalah during the Khareef season, which started in June, is unprecedented due to the clement weather and the ongoing Salalah Tourism Festival which is an added attraction for the visitors to the governorate of Dhofar.

The Salalah Tourism Festival opened on August 10 and will run until September 6.

The festival is a celebration of the history, culture, traditions and landscapes of the Dhofar governorate, of which Salalah is an important city.

Oman Air strives to promote tourism in the sultanate, especially so during the Khareef season and also during the Salalah Tourism Festival, which makes Dhofar region one of the most sought after tourist destination.

Thousands of visitors come to this region to experience the unique attractions of the area. “As the national carrier of Oman and official carrier of Salalah Tourism Festival, we are providing extra flights to Salalah to cope with the increased demand largely for Omani families as well as visitors from GCC countries and beyond,” said Oman Air country manager Ahmed Alamri.

“We are sure that with these additions, more discerning passengers can take a well-deserved break in Salalah which is proving to be a refreshing respite, especially for people from the Middle East.

“We are happy that the number of visitors to Salalah is increasing from different Oman Air stations, due to increased flights, which give the passengers more choice and attracts more visitors to this verdant city,” he added.

It has always been a practice with Oman Air to provide additional flights to Salalah during the Khareef season and the Salalah Tourism Festival.

Oman Air increased flights between the two cities from 210 to 291 flights in June, 217 to 274 flights in July, 216 to 328 flights in August and 105 to 161 flights in September, resulting in a total of 88, 536 additional seats being offered during these months.

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Middle East tourism surges in first half 2013

Saudi Gazette – 27 August, 2013 – International tourist numbers surged by 5.2 percent to nearly half a billion people worldwide in the first half of 2013, beating earlier expectations, the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization said Monday.

The growth was higher than expected, with 494 million international tourists spending at least one night abroad in the first six months of the year, it said in a report of preliminary results for the period.

In the Middle East, tourist numbers soared by 12.9 percent but these figures should be viewed “with caution” because of uneven results and limited data, the group said.

Asia and the Pacific reported growth of 6.2 percent including an 11.6-percent surge in tourists going to Southeast Asia. But results were weaker than anticipated in the Americas, which posted growth of just 2.2 percent.

International tourist numbers grew 3.1 percent in North America but South America reported growth of just 0.3 percent and the Caribbean had growth of a meagre 0.1 percent. In Africa, international tourist arrivals rose by 3.8 percent.

As a result of the “robust” performance, the organization said it was boosting its 2013 forecast. After originally tipping growth of three-four percent for the whole year, it now expected the increase to be at the higher end of that range “or to slightly exceed it”.

Europe enjoyed growth of 5.1 percent in international tourist numbers in the six months, it said. International tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) grew by 4 percent in 2012, topping the 1 billion mark globally for the first time in history. Despite continued economic volatility around the globe, demand for international tourism held up well throughout 2012.

With an additional 40 million tourists (+4 percent), international arrivals reached 1,035 million, up from 995 million in 2011. In order to celebrate the historic 1 billion milestone UNWTO launched the campaign One Billion Tourists: One Billion Opportunities, calling on tourists to make their actions count.

Asia and the Pacific recorded the fastest growth across all UNWTO regions, with a 7 percent increase in international arrivals, or 16 million more. Africa saw an increase of 6 percent, equivalent to 3 million more tourists, reaching 50 million for the first time ever.

The Americas also experienced sustained growth with 5 percent more arrivals, or an increase of 7 million. Europe, which accounts for over half the word’s total, recorded a 3 percent increase, or 18 million more arrivals. Despite the fact that some destinations performed rather well and others saw a moderate recovery, the Middle East (-5 percent) has not yet succeeded in returning to growth.

Growth is expected to continue in 2013 at +3 percent to +4 percent, only slightly below the 2012 level and in line with UNWTO’s long-term forecast. By UNWTO region, prospects for 2013 are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5 percent to +6 percent), followed by Africa (+4 percent to +6 percent), the Americas (+3 percent to +4 percent), Europe (+2 percent to +3 percent) and the Middle East (0 percent to +5 percent).

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IDB eyes $10b sukuk

Saudi Gazette – 27 August, 2013 – Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the AAA-rated multinational lender, will boost its sukuk program by more than 50 percent by year-end as demand for financing from member countries, including Turkey and Morocco, grows.

IDB aims to raise its medium-term note program to $ 10 billion from $ 6.5 billion, so that it is ready to tap the market at any time, said Abdul Aziz Al Hinai, vice-president of finance at IDB.

The increase will be the largest by value since the programme was started in 2005 by the almost 40-year-old bank.

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Tehran to host International Bakery Exhibition

Tehran Times – 27 August, 2013 – The 7th International Bakery Exhibition (IBEX2013) will open on September 12 at the Tehran Permanent International Fairgrounds. Some 80 Iranian companies and four foreign companies from Germany, Spain, and China will attend the exhibition, which will run till September 15. The participants will showcase their products in the fields of related machinery, raw materials and yeasts, silos, laboratory equipment, and packaging systems.

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Saudi Arabia, Morocco study ways to promote shipping links

Arab News – 28 August, 2013 – The Saudi-Moroccan Joint Commission concluded its meeting here Tuesday after adopting a series of resolutions to promote cooperation in trade, investment, transport, housing, infrastructure, agriculture, tourism, food and traditional industries.

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, who chaired the Saudi side, emphasized the commission’s role in strengthening Saudi-Moroccan relations under the leadership of King Abdullah and Moroccan King Muhammad.

“Our trade exchange has grown by 20 percent and the Saudi Fund for Development has financed about 40 projects in Morocco,” Prince Saud pointed out. The formation of a joint investment company with a capital of 800 million Moroccan dirhams is another vital achievement, he said.

In his keynote speech, Prince Saud highlighted the growing relations between two Arab countries at the level of official contracts and exchange of visits by businessmen.

“We have succeeded in solving problems related to marine transportation, which was one of the obstacles facing smooth flow of trade,” the Saudi chief diplomat said.

“There is a study to establish a direct shipping line between the two countries in addition to encouraging Saudi-Moroccan contracting companies,” he said.

Prince Saud referred to political, economic and social cooperation between the two countries aimed at boosting progress and prosperity of their peoples. He described Saudi-Moroccan ties as a model for inter-Arab cooperation. He decried the crises facing some Arab countries, adding that some of them were caused by foreign intervention.

“We have to work together to face these challenges and strengthen Arab security and stability,” he said.

Prince Saud said he was happy over the return of peace and stability to Egypt and commended the new government in Cairo for going ahead with its roadmap with the participation of all political parties.

Prince Saud expressed his hope that the meeting of Saudi-Moroccan businessmen would strengthen cooperation between private sectors in the two countries. Moroccan Minister of Foreign Minister Saaduddin Al-Usmani presided over his country’s side.

The meeting, which was attended by senior officials and business leaders from both countries, discussed ways of expanding cooperation as well as major regional and international issues.

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Qatar Airways to fly to Taif Oct. 2

Saudi Gazette – 28 August, 2013 – Qatar Airways will begin flights to Taif, Saudi Arabia beginning Oct. 2, 2013. The non-stop service from Doha will operate four-times-a-week. The schedules are: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday.

When added in October, the new services will bring the carrier’s global network to 131 destinations worldwide.

“For nearly 20 years we have been steadily growing our presence and services to Saudi Arabia,” said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker. “As our sixth destination, Taif will bring additional connectivity for passengers connecting from Asia, the Middle East and GCC countries.”

The Doha-Taif route will be operated by a state-of-the-art Airbus A320 with an average travel duration time of just over two hours. The aircraft will feature 144 seats in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in Business Class and 132 seats in Economy. Selected aircraft will feature seatback TV screens, providing passengers with the next generation interactive on board entertainment system, featuring a choice of more than 800 audio and video on-demand options, together with an SMS text messaging service from each seat.

The launch marks the continued expansion of services by Qatar Airways to Saudi Arabia since it began in 1997 with non-stop flights to Jeddah. Since then the airline has added Riyadh, Dammam, Madinah and Gassim to its portfolio of destinations.

Those wishing to visit Taif have a variety of cultural and outdoor activities to add to their trip. They include:

• Al Rudaf Park: Located south of Taif is a large natural park where clumps of tree lie scattered amidst magnificent weathered granite rocks. The site also has a small zoo.

• Taif Rose Plantation: In the month of April the rose fields are filled with these small fragrant pink roses that are picked at dawn and later distilled into expensive Taif rose oil. Taif perfume has been used in several luxury perfumes including Ormonde Jayne Perfumery, Chanel and Guerlain.

• Shubra Palace: The regional museum of Taif, located in a building of around 1900, which served King Abdul Aziz as a lodging in the 1930s at several places on this page about Taif.

• Rock Carving Site: Located 40 km (25 mi) north of Taif, is Okaz Souk, the site of the largest and most well-known of the pre-Islamic souqs or gathering places. The souq was a scene for annual social, political and commercial gatherings. It was also the location of competitive recitation of poetry and prose. The buildings remain, including prominent outlines of walls of basaltic stone.

• Nature Reserve: At the top of Al Hada mountain is a large nature preserve at an elevation of 2100 meters above sea level. Al Hada means tranquility and this preserve of trees and plants offers a true respite. It is also good location to catch the sunset over the mountain.

• Al Shafa: A small village situated high upon the Sarawat mountains at an elevation of 2200 to 2500 meters above sea level, rich in agricultural products. The fruit gardens of Taif are located here. Great view for camera buffs and for those with an adventurous heart, try a camel ride.

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Abu Dhabi to become global water sports hub

Gulf Today – 23 August, 2013 – Leading members of the UK travel trade are tipping Abu Dhabi as an upcoming international water sports destination with the emirate’s Volvo Ocean Race campaign bringing the emirate’s offering into the global sector spotlight.

Travel trade decision-makers have been given a brief on Abu Dhabi’s expanding water sports offering and its 2014/2015 Volvo Ocean Race campaign during a gathering when they sailed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam yacht in the Solent Channel near Cowes on the Isle of Wight and met the team’s skipper, double Olympian Ian Walker.

“The aim was to ensure these influencers are fully aware of Abu Dhabi’s water sports credentials and plans for the hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race in the UAE capital over Christmas and New Year 2014/2015,” explained Nabeel Al Zarouni, Country Manager UK, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi).

Now the emirate is likely to feature on a new website being planned by Hayes & Jarvis and Thomson Tailormade of Tui Travel’s Specialist Holidays Group. TCA Abu Dhabi is pushing forward a package-strong and tourism-driven event.

“I think Abu Dhabi could eventually prove popular for those customers really serious about water sports,” said Katie Parsons, Regional Product Manager, Hayes & Jarvis and Thomson Tailormade.

“It is something we can look at on our new web site later this year and give Abu Dhabi a focus. We would also include more about the cycle tours of the Abu Dhabi Corniche and Yas Island, the desert camps and the host of events that the destination now promotes – this is a multi-faceted destination.”

Parsons said her companies could now investigate selling Abu Dhabi as a stopover during the Volvo Race hosting for clients flying to Australia and New Zealand during the holiday period.

The hosting’s stopover potential was also highlighted by Sundarshan Napit, Manager of Brightsun Travel (UK). “It think Abu Dhabi can be a watersports destination and the Volvo Ocean Race hosting fortnight can be sold to passengers going beyond Abu Dhabi by attracting them with specific stopover packages,” he said.

The Marketing Head of Flight Centre UK, Siobhan McGarvey, said Abu Dhabi is now well placed to leverage its sporting infrastructure. “We could see the destination being promoted as the new home of sport because of its three championship golf courses, its tennis championship, the Grand Prix and, of course, the Volvo Ocean Race stopover and we could help support this message,” she said.

“I think there are lots of opportunities to promote Abu Dhabi with twin centre options, extended stopover stay and new experiences to do each day in the destination.”

The Product Manager of Southall Travel Limited, Amanda Blair, said the emirate’s water sports offering is a winner. Abu Dhabi is excellently placed as a water sports destination. With its year-round sunny climate and vast range of water sports on offer, there is something for everyone from Wadi Adventure to sea cruises, diving and international sports resorts. All ages, capabilities and interests are catered for.

Abu Dhabi, which is again contesting the Volvo Ocean Race with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, will host the race from mid December 2014 to Jan.3, 2015.

TCA Abu Dhabi, which is behind the emirate’s race campaign as well as the stopover, is pushing forward a package-strong and tourism-driven event, including a fan-friendly Destination Village on the stunning Abu Dhabi Corniche breakwater, as well as a compelling entertainment programme to leverage the seasonal holiday dates.

TCA Abu Dhabi is once again working closely with a number of government bodies to successfully deliver the stopover, including Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club – the Official Host Yacht Club and key partner in the roll-out of the stopover and junior sailing initiatives.

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Istanbul to host Int’l Conference On Islamophobia

An International Conference On Islamophobia: Law & Media is to be held between 12-13 September, 2013 in Istanbul.

Islamophobia, which is a term used to express the groundless fear and intolerance of Islam and Muslims, has swept the world, becoming detrimental to international peace especially in recent years. The fear and hatred of Islam is the factor that not only exposes 1.6 billion Muslims to various negativities but also removes the tolerance which is a common ground for peaceful co-existence of different beliefs. As such, Islamophobia poses a big problem for believers of other religions as well.

Islamophobia is deemed as a human rights issue because of its implication of fear and intolerance culminating in hate speech and attitudes towards Muslims. Today all Muslims around the world call for recognition of Islamophobia as a hate crime and Islamophobic attitudes as human rights violations, highlighting the legal dimension of the issue. Therefore, existing relationship of Islamophobia to human rights and universal law appears to be an important subject requiring to be scrutinized.

The other important point is that the forms of media coverage on Muslims and Islam are in direct proportion to the spread of Islamophobia and the social problem that it tends to lead. Anti-Islamic propagandas made through images and language used by the visual media and print media play efficient role in creating the social repercussion of Islamophobia. Moreover, media, with its far reaching effects on public opinion, has the potential of playing effective role in fighting against Islamophobia as well as in spreading it.

Within this context, our Directorate General and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation will co-hold an international conference under the auspices of Mr. Bulent Arinc, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, at Istanbul Grand Tarabya Hotel, in Istanbul, on 12-13 September, 2013 to discuss the Islamophobia with its media and law dimensions.

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UAE firm to set up agro-park in Karnataka

Khaleej Times – 25 August, 2013 – UAE-based Al Bariz Trading will soon set up an agro-park in Karnataka as a joint venture to grow food crops and horticulture products for export into the Gulf region.

An agreement to set up the joint venture with Bangalore-based Aiman Agro Flora was signed here on the margins of a day-long conference on Transcending Arabian Borders, or TAB 2013, organised by the Indo-Arab Chamber of Commerce, or IACC.

The proposed joint venture will also set up a nursery in greenhouses to grow saplings of vegetables and fruits that can be shipped to Arab states for replanting and cultivation under controlled climatic conditions.

“Land will be identified for the agro-park near Bangalore, which enjoys a salubrious climate round the year and is suitable to grow a variety of agro-products and flowers,” IACC executive director Asif Iqbal told Ians.

Inaugurating the maiden TAB event, Union Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) K.H. Muniyappa said India had close cultural and trade relations with the Arab world over the centuries.

“Our people have invested in the Arab world from Oman to Egypt and much of our overseas trade passes through the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden,” Muniyappa told about 300 delegates, including 250 members of the IACC and 40 delegates from 11 Arab countries.

Noting that India’s bilateral trade with the 23 Arab states had increased to $ 110 billion in 2012 and where 4.5 million Indian expats live and work, Muniyappa said the ministry would explore investment and trade opportunities in the Gulf region for the Indian MSME industry.

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GCC single tourist visa likely from next year

Khaleej Times – 26 August, 2013 – A senior official at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said the six member states are currently working on setting up an automatic system for exchanging information online, to facilitate enforcing a single tourist visa system.

Abdullah Al Shobaili, Assistant Undersecretary at the GCC for Economic affairs, told Saudi-based daily Al Hayat that an agreement between the AGCC countries requires enforcement of different technical elements, especially the presence of an automatic system that links the member countries, a matter involving several entities at the government machineries in every country.

“The issue had been discussed at the joint meeting between the Tourist Cooperation Committee in the AGCC and the GCC Tourist counterpart in the AGCC Chambers of commerce and industry, which was held in Fujairah last year,” he said, noting that, the meeting had been subjected to extensive study.

He, however, a unified GCC law on combating trade fraud and a statute for the protection of consumers are near to completion. The two laws aim at protecting the parties concerned in the whole manufacturing process- producers, consumers, distributors, importers, exporters and the economic environment in general.

Meanwhile, security sources disclosed that the draft bill of issuing the GCC single tourist visa, which is similar to the European single one (Schengen Visitor Visa), is subject to the completion of some technical procedures and is expected to commence in mid-2014.

The sources said the draft bill would be the most comprehensive in the field of security cooperation among the GCC states, as it will create a unified GCC security enquiry and information that issues a GCC visa without reservation as per a code suitable for use in the GCC states.

The system will enable the visitor with a GCC visit visa from entering all GCC countries. Moreover, it is connected with the blacklists which contain names and fingerprints of persons banned from entry to each and every member country.

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Qatar Airways launches global partnership with Barcelona Club

Saudi Gazette – 29 August, 2013 – On Tuesday night, on the pitch of Camp Nou, Barcelona Club President Sandro Rosell welcomed Qatar Airways and Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker into the Barcelona Club family.

“Our Club has more than 100 years of history with many glorious moments. Qatar Airways is a young company which is full of enthusiasm and which, like ourselves, strives for excellence in everything it does,” said Rosell presenting Al Baker with an autographed jersey. “Both of us are expanding globally in the world, with more and more supporters and customers and we share objectives which will consolidate our partnership”.

“We are proud to be uniting with a team that upholds one of my country’s core visions: uniting the world through sport, enriching societies through sport, and creating opportunities through sport” said Al Baker who in turn presented Rosell with a model of the Qatar Airways 787 Dreamliner.”Football Club Barcelona is a team that unites the world. And Qatar Airways is truly a global connector. A perfect match – bringing your fan base closer to your hearts and home.”

Invited guests had the opportunity to witness the official team photo which included Rosell and Al Baker and the 22 members of the Barcelona Club first team wearing this season’s new official jersey. Youngsters from the FCB Escola children’s squad also joined the team on the pitch.

During a reception following the launch, the airline presented its newest global television campaign entitled “The Arrival” an integrated campaign supporting Qatar Airways’ sponsorship of FC Barcelona, the first commercial partnership in the club’s 114-year history.

The 90-second ad, which launches today, centers on a Qatar Airways flight attendant touching down in the Land of FC Barcelona, disembarking the Qatar Airways 777 and taking a journey through this incredible destination to the famous Camp Nou Stadium. Throughout her adventure she encounters some of the club’s most famous players, past and present, experiences the rich history of FC Barcelona and meets the fans at the heart of the club.

Since its beginnings, FC Barcelona has been characterized by being not just a football organization, but also a powerful force for globalization, solidarity, integration and social cohesion. Qatar Airways fully identifies with these values, which is why this partnership between both organizations is much more than just a simple economic alliance.

Furthermore, Qatar Airways’ partnership with FC Barcelona will help to position the airline in the world.

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Iraq expands airport to shake off war-torn era with bigger fleet

Times of Oman – 26 August, 2013 – Iraq plans to construct a new central airport and is continuing a fleet expansion with the possible addition of Bombardier’s CSeries as the war-torn country seeks to revive its travel industry and lure tourists.

The government will unveil a list of contractors next week it will ask to bid for construction of the airport in Karbala south of Baghdad, Nasser Hussein, director general of Iraq’s civil aviation authority, said in an interview in Baghdad. At a cost of $ 2.5 billion, the new hub would be the country’s biggest, with capacity of 20 million passengers a year, he said.

Iraq, home to the world’s fifth-largest crude reserves, is revamping its civil aviation infrastructure after decades of armed conflict, sanctions and neglect left airports and the national fleet in decay. Iraqi Airways has already ordered eight planes from Airbus, as well as 39 Boeing airliners that include the cutting-edge 787 Dreamliner.

“This airport will be the biggest in Iraq with a capacity set to reach 20 million passengers a year,” and the national fleet will more than triple to 65 planes by 2016, Hussein said.

Iraqi Airways said last year it planned to halt an order to buy regional jets from Bombardier in favor of larger planes. The carrier is now talks with the Canadian manufacturer for a $ 200 million order of five CSeries-100 planes due for delivery by 2016 once a contract is signed, Hussein said.

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Pakistan, China Move Forward with Economic Corridor Project

ISLAMABAD, Aug 28 (NNN-XINHUA) — Officials from Pakistan and China have held the first meeting of the Joint Co-operation Committee (JCC) on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal, welcomed the visiting Chinese delegation in his opening remarks as the meeting began here Tuesday .

He attached importance to the economic corridor’s role in improving bilateral economic relations, saying Pakistan will actively co-operate with China and implement the consensus of the leaders of both countries as well as the accords signed by both countries.

The head of the Chinese delegation and Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Zhang Xiaoqiang, said this meeting fully symbolized the joint efforts of both countries in promoting the implementation of relevant work.

The planning and implementation of the economic corridor project will deepen the bilateral strategic co-operation, promote common development, benefit peoples of the two countries, facilitate regional integration and bring co-operation and stability to the region of South Asia, said Zhang.

He hoped the meeting could make a good start and lay a solid foundation for the sustainable and strong development of the economic corridor.

The JCC conducted in-depth discussions on key issues related to the economic corridor, including infrastructure, energy and investment. The Chinese delegation arrived in the Pakistani capital on Monday evening.

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President Guebuza Praises Improvements In Mozambique’s Exports

RICATLA, MOZAMBIQUE, Aug 28 (NNN-AIM) — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza has declared that the goods produced for export in Mozambique have improved in quality, making them more “appetizing and competitive”.

He was speaking at the inauguration of the 49th edition of the Maputo International Fair (FACIM), held at Ricatla, in Marracuene district, about 30 kilometres north of the capital, Maputo, on Monday.

President Guebuza, who toured several of the pavilions of foreign exhibitors and Mozambican exporters, said: “We note with satisfaction the growth of our national display and its expansion and diversification. Many of our national products are now properly packaged, which makes them more attractive, tempting and competitive.”

More than 2,000 Mozambican and foreign exhibitors are participating in this year’s edition of FACIM, held for the third consecutive year in Ricatla. The 480 foreign exhibitors are from 20 countries. Five of these — South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and Swaziland — are fellow members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The others are China, Germany, Brazil, Kenya, Egypt, Indonesia, Italy, Macau, Poland, Portugal, Thailand, Japan, Argentina, Sweden and Turkey.

President Guebuza declared that the fair provided a vast range of opportunities for establishing partnerships between Mozambican exhibitors and their foreign counterparts.

“In this fair we have been displaying in one space the potential we are offering to those who visit us. In this fair, foreign exhibitors have the opportunity to interact with each other, with their Mozambican counterparts, and with the representatives of foreign companies based in our Mozambique,” he added.

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Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada Safe for Tourism

Egypt State Information Service – 24 August 2013 – Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou called on 23/08/2013 on European countries to support Egyptian people through tourism assuring that Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada are safe tourist destinations.

Zaazou made the remarks during a meeting with Swedish Ambassador to Egypt Malin Karre. The meeting took up tourism cooperation and means of boosting bilateral relations. The minister also called for gradually canceling travel warnings imposed by Sweden’s authorities on travel to Egypt.

Zaazou reiterated that current situation in Egypt is a normal transition to democracy in which Cairo witnesses two waves of revolution.

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Nigeria “Can Generate N1.2 Trillion From Tourism”

Premium Times – 26 August 2013 – A former President of Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), Samuel Nzekwe, says Nigeria can generate N1.2 trillion from tourism yearly if the required infrastructure is provided.

Mr. Nzekwe told the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Lagos that government should make substantial capital allocation to develop infrastructure like roads, power supply and adequate security.

“All over the world, tourism is a big revenue earner to governments and infrastructure can create the enabling environment for this to happen.

“Nigeria is capable of generating a quarter of its total annual revenue from tourism, if the sector is well managed,” he said. Mr. Nzekwe said that apart from generating revenue, tourism could create employment opportunities for youth and reduce the crime rate.

“Provision of basic infrastructure would bring about Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). When people are coming into a country, they are able to see the available business opportunities, ” he added.

The accountant said that with its natural endowments, Nigeria could be a great tourists’ destination in the world. He stated that by promoting tourism, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation would improve because there would be increased productivity.

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Nigeria: Osun Osogbo Festival, a Monumental Tourism Attraction

Leadership – 29 August 2013 – The excitement associated with the annual celebration of the world acclaimed Osun Osogbo festival climaxed last Friday with no fewer than 300,000 people from across the globe converging on Osogbo to celebrate the festival.

Historically, Oso-igbo, (goddess of Osun River) was the queen and original founder of the ancient town. She was accredited with many important achievements which helped to establish the town. She lived in a beautiful environment and possessed magical power which inspired her people and frightened their enemies.

She was acclaimed to be the goddess of fertility, protection, and blessing; she possessed the ability to give children to barren women and power to heal the sick and the afflicted using medicinal water from the river.

Worshipers believed that Oso-igbo still possesses that efficacious power to bail them out of their problem because her existence is eternal hence their commitment to the worship of the deity.

However, Osun Osogbo festival transcends the local belief of her adherents now that it has become a world acclaimed festival, an heritage site in Nigeria sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

This year’s event was co-sponsored by the Osun State government, MTN, and many other organizations without any support from the Federal Government of Nigeria according to the chairman Osun State Tourism Board, Engr. Abimbola Daniyan.

Highlight of the events marking this year’s festival included: the traditional town cleansing, Iwo Popo town storming, OSUNFest Concert, lectures, School package tours, film shows, arugba Berths, ANTP performance night, visits by United States Trade & Culture Delegation to historic sites, drama presentation.

Others were mini exhibition and performance, Susan Wenger Sacred Colloquium, fashion business workshop, trade, arts, & craft mini expo, adire exhibition, hair, fashion, &style exhibition, business-to-business meeting, hiv-aids promotional campaign, cultural summit among others.

The event that brought home hundreds of sons and daughters of Osogbo was witnessed by hundreds of thousands of people from across Nigeria, Africa and rest of the globe.

Besides thousands of people that had arrived the city before the grand finale, thousands started trouping in as early as 6 am to afford them the opportunity of exploring the historical monuments in the grove before the real event commenced at an immaculately constructed shed beside the river where the Osun priests perform ritual.

The climax of this year’s event was the arrival of the governor of the State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbsola at the grove accompanied by his Deputy, Otunba Grace Titilayo Laoye-Tomori (a daughter of the soil) and other members of his cabinet and associates drawn from across the country and in the Diaspora.

Various side attractions spiced up the event, including cultural dance by the Osun State Cultural Troupe, paying of traditional homage by the traditional chiefs, special exchange of pleasantries by visiting traditional rulers, special blessing by the priests, struggle to draw water for spiritual healing, cultural dance by groups of masquerades, display of traditional dressess, (various batiks), availability of animals such as monkeys of diverse species in large numbers, availability of cultural monuments that speak volume as well as tour guides.

Governor Aregbesola’s physical presence at the grove for the first time since he assumed office added colour to the grand finale as he was heralded thunderous applause by the large crowd that throng the event.

Addressing the people in his speech entitled “Strengthening Our Human Bond, Improving Our Economic Gains”, Aregbesola called on stakeholders to give maximum support to the celebration of Osun Osogbo festival to enhance the promotion of cultural essence and development of tourism industry in the society.

He expressed delight that the economic potentials of the festival had begun to manifest in various sectors of the economy.

According to him, apart from the promotion of our rich cultural heritage, Osun festival serves as booster to the economy in view of increased tourism attraction and multiplier effects on trade, hospitality and transportation.

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Malaysia’s Malindo Air Set to Get Nod From India

JOHOR BAHARU, Aug 23 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysian hybrid airline, Malindo Air, is in the final stage of getting approval from the Indian authority to start operating flights to the country.

Chief Executive Officer Chandran Rama Muthy said among the destinations the airline was looking at are Delhi, Mumbai and Kochi. “We are still waiting for the approval and we expect to know the outcome in the next one or two months,” he told reporters after the official opening of its airport ticketing office at Senai International Airport here.

Currently, the airline flies to 12 destinations of which 11 are domestic routes and one international route. “We will start our international inaugural flight to Dhaka next Wednesday. “By October, we expect to introduce another international destination,” he added.

Chandran said by the end of this year, Malindo Air would have 20 routes of which 60 per cent will be domestic destination. The airline will be receiving two new ATR72-600 aircraft next month.

The company also aims to fly 1.5 million passengers by year-end from about 300,000 passengers volume currently. “Next year, our target is to have three million passengers volume and we believe we can achieve it as we will have additional 10 aircraft next month,” he added.

Chandran said the airline would be opening more airport ticketing offices in stages to the destinations it flies as it now has the size and scale as well as the routes to expand its reach.

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Algeria, China To Strengthen Agricultural Cooperation

ALGIERS, Aug 23 (NNN-Bernama) — Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Rachid Benaissa held Wednesday discussions with Chinese Vice Minister for Agriculture Niu Dun, who is on a four-day working visit to Algeria.

The discussions focused particularly on the means of strengthening the Algerian-Chinese cooperation in the agricultural and rural development field as well as the exchange of experiences, Algeria’s Press Service (APS) reported.

Niu Dun’s visit to Algeria “will be an opportunity to review cooperative relations in the field of agricultural and rural development between the two countries and to examine ways to strengthen and diversify them,” said the Ministry of Agriculture.

Chinese Vice Minister for Agriculture will also meet with Fishing and Fishery Resources Minister as well as senior officials and will visit the sector’s institutions and achievements, said the source.

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Contemporary Egyptian artist exhibits in Zurich

Ahram Online, Monday 26 Aug 2013 – Amsterdam-based Egyptian contemporary artist Dina Danish is presenting her most recent projects at an exhibition dubbed Double Bubble Gum, Bubbles Double, opening 28 August at the Barbara Seiler Gallery in Zurich.

After completing a BA in Art at the American University in Cairo, Danish moved to San Francisco, where she acquired a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing from the California College of the Arts. Her work has recently been exhibited in galleries and art fairs in various cities, including Cairo, Oslo, Rotterdam, Amesterdam, and San Francisco.

One of Danish’s projects exhibited at the Barbara Seiler Gallery is a video she recently produced dubbed ‘Live From The Aquarium’. In the video, a crowd walks through the aquarium at Dubai’s largest shopping centre, Dubai Mall, as a sports commentator describes their every move as if he were covering on a tennis match.

Also showcased in Zurich is a series of constructed photographs that visually depict tongue twisters, and a number of works including metal sculptures that are based on the artist’s ongoing research on chewing gum and its use in contemporary art and cinema.

Double Bubble Gum, Bubbles Double runs until 5 October at Barbara Seiler Gallery

Anwandstrasse 67, Zurich, Switzerland

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Archaeological research on prehistoric Azerbaijan

28 August 2013 – AzerNews – Archaeological research is underway in Galatepe, which is located near the Salmanbeyli village of Azerbaijan’s Agdjabedi region.

According to the head of the Mil-Karabakh archaeological expedition of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) Tavakkul Aliyev, the research in Galapete, which is located at the strategically important intersection of Gargarchay River and the ancient Gavur irrigation canal, began in 2008.

During the archaeological research at the site of the ancient Albanian city, which was cited as Enian in ancient sources and Yunan in Medieval sources, and in the nearby necropolis, different historical materials were identified.

As a result of research on the site of the city a 9 meter deep cultural layer, including a wall made of bricks dating back to II century BCE to II century AD, a public building occupying space of 56 square meters, a hall and a street were discovered.

The wall found there is 1.5 meters thick. The length of the bricks used in construction is 58 centimeters, the width is 47 centimeters and the thickness is 18-20 centimeters.

This shows the high development of brick architecture in Azerbaijan in the ancient period. The base of the 9 meter deep column made ??of limestone, hearths, a layer of ash, remains of burnt wood, red ceramics with rich patterns, flooring plastered with clay, and 40 centimeters wide reinforced soil were found.

During excavations carried out at the necropolis in recent years, 12 pitcher burials were found and there were jewelry, weapons, a sword, an arrow and spear tips in them, most of which are associated with the Hellenistic culture. These findings allow a more detailed research of the cultural and spiritual life of the ancient Albanian cities.

In the course of this year’s research excavations reached a depth of 10 meters, and as a result, a layer of a structure dating back to the Hellenistic period was discovered. It demonstrates that Galatepe consists of two layers – the upper one, which refers to the Middle Ages and the bottom one, which dates back to the ancient times. During the research the remains of the city walls and ceramic products of the Middle Ages were also found.

Research in the second section of Galatepe began on August 16. The archaeological research will be conducted until the end of September.

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Azerbaijan may kick off new internal road project in 2014

28 August 2013 – TODAY.AZ – The reconstruction and modernisation of the Ujar-Zerdab-Agjabedi highway could cost $230 million, a source from Azeryolservis JSC of Azerbaijan Transport Ministry told on Friday.

According to the preliminary data, from the total funds, provided for the reconstruction of the highway, $150 million is expected to be attracted from international financial institutions.

“As the feasibility study of the project was prepared by the funds for technical support from the Islam Development Bank (IDB), it is possible that the credit will also be attracted from this financial institution,” the source said.

The remaining finance will be provided by a government share in the project. According to the source, in the event of a successful project preparation, construction work can begin in the second half of 2014 and completed in 2017.

The project covers work over a 76 kilometre section. As a result of the reconstruction of the two-lane highway the road can be promoted from a third to a second technical category level.

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Azerbaijan tourism up by nearly 10%

29 August 2013 – TODAY.AZ – The number of foreigners, who visited Azerbaijan in the first half of 2013, increased by 9.9 percent (108,130 people) compared with the same period of 2012 and amounted to 1,196,953 people, the press-service of Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism said on Wednesday

Out of the total number of foreign nationals some 418,012 are citizens of Russia, 400,542 people – Georgia, 173,861 people – Turkey, 70,254 people – Iran, 8,298 people – Europe, and 125,986 people – nationals of other countries.

In comparison with the same period of the last year, the number of citizens of the CIS countries, who visited Azerbaijan, increased by 18.7 percent, from the European Union – increased by 22.9 percent, from Asia – by 7.3 percent, from Africa – 37.5, and there was an increase of 19.2 percent in number of visitors from Australia.

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Baku to host belly-dancing festival

29 August 2013 – AzerNews – The European cup and championship on one of the most captivating styles of dance, belly dance, will be presented in Azerbaijan by the International Dance Organization, the Modern and Social Dance Association of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan Youth Union, according to the Association.

The three-day event will be held September 6-8, bringing together visitors, judges and participants from Europe, as well as observers from the International Dance Organization. Dancers from across Europe will show their dancing skills in nine nominations of belly dance and in several age categories.

The panel of referees will include judges from Azerbaijan, Italy, Spain, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Turkey. The dance extravaganza will be full of bright colors, as well as beaded costumes, beautiful Oriental tunes and breathtaking dance.

The festival will take place based on a specially built platform. Another platform will be built for the international “Silk Way” championship, which will be held on the same day and at the same place.

The Silk Way 2013 is expected to draw participants and referees of countries from all over Eurasia. If this first international championship, organized by the Modern and Social Dance Association, is successful, it will be accredited by the International Dance Organization and become an annual event.

“It is very important for the development of dance in Azerbaijan,” the Association head Aziz Azizov said. “It is a huge exchange of experiences and culture, it’s a healthy competition. We are pleased to have the honor to hold the Championship and the European Cup, as well as an opportunity to show our domestic product, the international championship “Silk Way’.”

The “Silk Way” championship will include such nominations as hip-hop, folk, belly dance and a dance show. Those who wish to participate in the tournaments should call 012 511 2611 and 050 626 66 26 phone numbers.

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Indonesian batik workshop held in Brunei

August 29, 2013 – Borneo Bulletin – The Indonesian Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam has signified the importance of economic cooperation between the two countries and the potential for this partnership to be increased beyond the oil sector and consumer goods is “vast”.

Handriyo Kusumo Priyo, the Indonesian Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, was speaking at the launch of the two-day workshop held at the Indonesian Embassy in Kg Sungai Hanching yesterday.

The workshop was attended by the guest of honour, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Dyg Hajah Normah Suria Hayati binti Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama (Dr) Haji Awang Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri, who also officially launched the event.

The bilateral trade that amounted to US$675.6 million between the two neighbours is a testimony to the significance of their cooperation, said the ambassador. Indonesia imports mainly oil products from Brunei, and consumer goods formed the main bulk of Indonesia’s export to Brunei.

Thus the relevance of the batik workshop is more underlined for the diversification of economic cooperation activities between the two nations, said Handriyo Kusumo.

He further explained that the batik industry in Indonesia is an important component of the country’s economy, with a total of US$110 million worth of export to global markets. Indonesian batik is also inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2009.

He added that the batik workshop can pave open opportunities of cooperation between artisans of Indonesian batik and Brunei’s enthusiasts.

An expert on Indonesian batik, Venny Afwany Alamsyah will facilitate the workshop. She is the instructor and researcher on Indonesian batik, with various qualifications and experience to her name. She also presented lectures on batik for over 80 countries.

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Brunei Minister: Let’s preserve our culture

August 29, 2013 – Borneo Bulletin – Brunei Darussalam has no restriction on the expansion of languages and dialects of the country’s various ethnicities, said the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports.

In line with the objectives of Unesco, the ministry has always provided concern and support for the care and preservation of the nation’s intangible culture, which includes languages and dialects, said the Minister, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hazair bin Haji Abdullah, who was the special guest at the opening ceremony of Forum on Diversity of Language in Borneo (FOKEBB) at the Songket Ballroom of Rizqun International Hotel yesterday.

He added that the richness and uniqueness of Borneo not only lied in its flora and fauna, but also on the multiple languages, cultures and socio-economic life among its community.

“It is hoped that this forum, themed Language as Social Mosaic, Economics and Culture, will be able to highlight and enrich the sociolinguistic and socio-cultural study on the Borneo society,” the minister said.

In her speech, Language and Literature Bureau (DBP) Director Hajah Aminah binti Haji Momin said the forum aimed at creating understanding, tolerance, solidarity, the spirit of unity and a sense of mutual respect involving the country’s diverse cultural practices.

Hajah Aminah, who was also the co-chairperson of the ceremony, went on to say that the forum would raise public aware­­­ness on how the importance of protecting and preserving the native language.

“This can contribute to the enrichment and development of the Malay vocabulary and the national language,” she added.

Later, the minister presented the newly-launched book, Proceeding FOKEBB, to four recipients – Dr Yabit Alas, Director of Continuing Education Centre of UBD; Aminah binti Awang Basar from the Sabah Language and Literature Bureau (DBP); Herpanus and Dr Norazuna Norahim from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.

The minister then visited an exhibition booth and watched performances. The two-day forum will feature 24 presenters – 10 from Brunei Darussalam and 14 from abroad.

Lecturers, students of higher institutions, as well as government and private officers will be among the 200 forum participants.

The forum is organised by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and the Language and Literature Bureau, in collaboration with Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) and the Ministry of Education.

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Bangladesh Trade fair held in Malaysia

DHAKA, Aug 25, 2013 (BSS) – A three-day trade fair, titled “Trade in Bangladesh” will begin in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday (August 29) aiming to boost the Dhaka-KL trade, organisers said today.

Headmaster Events in collaboration with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) are organizing the show at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) at Kuala Lumpur.

Commerce Minister GM Quader and former Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi will attend inaugural session of the event at 7 pm as chief guests. The opening session will include traditional songs and dance troupe of Malaysia organized by the Cultural and Tourism Ministry of Malaysia.

Hundreds of Bangladeshi products will put on display over 70 stalls for visitors from 10 am to 7am pm every day.

The product line up will include different category e.g. 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) are 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). In addition, Malaysia SME will be the media partner of the prospective trade fair. Headmaster Events CEO Shafiul Islam told BSS that 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 will be held at the World Trade Centre PWTC.

Organizers said the fair would help bring many entrepreneurs with their latest products in one roof resulting in business transactions worth millions.

The trade show is an initiative to encourage the growth and sustainability of the “Next Eleven” and to bolster the bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Malaysia while the latter government has recently declared a zero tariff on the import of 300 products from Bangladesh.

Bangladesh-Malaysia trade is heavily tilted on Malaysian side as in 2012-13 fiscal, Bangladesh imported goods worth 1.3 billion US dollars from Malaysia against the import of $73 million.

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Pakistani calligraphic artists workshop in Beijing

BEIJING, Aug 24 (APP): An exhibition of Photography and calligraphy works from visiting Pakistani artists was inaugurated here on Friday. The Ambassador of Pakistan to China Masood Khalid said these artists are truly representing their country in China through their work.

He pointed out that holding of such activities as “Pakistani Artists Workshop in China”, help bringing people of the two countries more closer as well as further cement our bond of friendship.

The Ambassador also proposed holding of such activities on reciprocal basis.

“Pakistani’s arts scene is very dynamic and rich culture of 5000 years” remarked Masood Khalid. He said that these artists have truly depicted through their work the rich culture of Pakistan.

Ambassador Masood on the occasion also appreciated the Chinese Ministry of Culture for organizing the exhibition. He pointed out that their art work carried out along with Chinese peers not only impressive but also illustrated humility and kindness.

Pakistan and China are close friends; he said adding that we are “Iron Brothers”. These artists are true representatives of Pakistan’s art and culture, he noted.

Speaking on the occasion, the Joint Secretary Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Mashhood Ahmed Mirza said that the Information Minister Senator Pervez Rashid took keen interests in sending five Pakistani artists to China to highlight Pakistani’s rich culture there.

The group of five Pakistani painters namely Akram Dost Baluch, Masood A. Khan, Aqeel Solangi, Zaira Ahmad Zaka and Mobeen Salman Ansari was taken to different historic places around Beijing including Great Wall besides as well as Inner Mongolia, on their return they engaged in paintings and photography at Jin Hua Arts School, in Beijing along with Chinese painters.

The painting workshop that was largely attended by art lovers concluded on August 26. The ceremony was also addressed by Cultural Counsellor, Chinese Ministry of Culture Gao Hua and Vice General Manager of China International Exhibition Agency Huang.

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Pakistan to launch National Programme for skill enhancement

ISLAMABAD, Aug 29 (APP): Government will launch National Programme for Skill Enhancement throughout the country to provide employable skills to the youth. Plan is to expand youth vocational training and employment promotion programmes in all districts and to expand the Youth Development Centers (YDCs) to achieve the ultimate objective of one youth development in each district.

The YDCs will be made centers of information for youth and eventually information technology (IT) centers, official sources told. There is lack of opportunities for development of entrepreneurial skills among the youth for self-employment, official said, adding support will be provided for educational, sports and recreational activities.

Official said the focus is on increased youth engagement in community development and social networking. There is need to create Youth Engagement Committees for management and supervision of activities in the community and also to strengthen training institutes such as TEVTAs, the skill training centers and other private sector skill development activities.

Besides, plan is on cards to explore jobs for youth in Middle East and East Asian countries under an institutional arrangement through Overseas Employment Corporation.

Acquisition of land for Youth Center in Chitral and involvement of youth in healthy recreational activities is also in consideration, he said.

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Turkmenistan encourages bicycling

Centralasiaonline.com, 2013-08-29, Ashgabat – Turkmenistan is pushing its citizens to start riding bicycles. The government recently issued a plan to develop biking from 2013-2017 and a national bike ride September 1 will focus attention on the sport.

The programme will increase mobility in Turkmenistan, Perkhat D., a State Sports Committee official, said. The initiative is meant to improve public health and the environment, the BBC reported President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov as saying.

Committee employees went abroad to see how other countries have promoted bicycling, said Dovran Bakiyev, another committee official, calling the effort an “invaluable … investment, which will bear fruit soon.”

After signing the resolution on the bicycling development programme June 7, Berdymukhamedov called on officials to attract “broad segments of the public to bicycling,” Turkmen media reported.

“If everything envisaged becomes reality, Turkmenistan could become a cycling power in Central Asia,” Perkhat D. said.

The goals are for every adult and child to have his or her own bicycle, to modernise the transport infrastructure, and to create cycling lanes and racetracks, as in Europe, he said.

“We have been ordered to ensure that bicycles are readily available for sale everywhere at accessible prices,” Aleksei Tomin, a Ministry of Trade and Foreign Economic Relations employee, said. “We are now looking for (business) partners for importing a large batch of them.”

During August, the traffic police and other ministries and departments were conducting training sessions for cyclists who intend to participate in the September 1 nationwide bike ride.

“On that day, everyone will get on his or her bike, ranging from small children … to workers,” Ashgabat traffic police Major Gakhryman Gakhramanov said. “We have been ordered to stop motor traffic on all the main roads.”

Bicycling has had a hard time gaining traction in Turkmenistan because of safety issues and costs.

“At least in Ashgabat, the roads are in good condition, but it is quite different in the provinces. The only exceptions are newly built towns like the Avaza resort,” said Adyl, a long-time Ashgabat bicycle owner.

“I would never ride a bicycle or allow my adult children to do so,” said Gakhramanov, a traffic policeman who has spent his whole career in Ashgabat and who cited the dangers for biking on the capital’s roads. The cost of bikes might pose another problem.

“I am not confident that bicycling will become widespread, because ordinary people can barely make ends meet,” Ashgabat economist Maisa Kakhramanova said. “They can’t afford a bicycle for 670-675 TMT (US $211-237).”

However, bicycles could be useful in the provinces, where public transport is deficient, she said, adding, “A bicycle is much cheaper than a car.”

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Tajikistan resumes Khorog development

Centralasiaonline.com 2013-08-23 KHOROG, Tajikistan – One year after clashes between government troops and militants in Khorog, the city will host “The Investment Possibilities of Pamir Development” (The First International Economic Forum) August 30-31, which organisers predict will help bring more foreign investment to the region.

Though last year’s July unrest caused about 2.2m TJS (US $460,000) in economic losses, the area’s development ambitions are proving resilient, officials and residents say, adding that already Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast’s infrastructure and economy are bouncing back.

The Ishkashim Free Economic Zone of Tajikistan (IFEZT) is organising the forum in co-operation with government agencies and international organisations, including the OSCE, Aga Khan Foundation and the UNDP. The event will explore the prospects for boosting foreign investment to finance additional Pamir region development.

Organisers expect the forum to demonstrate the region’s potential in mining, agriculture, material processing, renewable energy and tourism to high-ranking government officials and business owners from Tajikistan and other countries.

One reason the event is taking place in the Pamir region is that the area could become a “platform for future investments,” IFEZT Deputy Chief Shakar Kadamshoyev told Central Asia Online.

“We expect private investors from Canada, Europe and Kuwait to take part in the forum,” he said.”We’ve been negotiating specific regional investment projects with them.”

Planners also expect travel agencies to take an interest in luring travellers to the Pamirs, Kadamshoyev said. “Local companies, too, will get a unique opportunity to demonstrate their business potential by signing agreements with foreign partners,” he said.

Kadamshoyev noted the possibility for inter-governmental ventures, too, given the Pamirs’ proximity to other countries. “Another important direction … for accelerating the region’s development is investment in the energy sector,” he added.

“We’ve seen Pamir Energy (an Aga Khan project) manage in a very short time to solve the region’s electricity problem and even to export power to Afghanistan.”

A transport infrastructure is needed to support major investment projects and promote regional development, analysts say. “The Dushanbe-Khorog highway is in deplorable condition,” said Eshonkul Akobirov, a driver hauling cargo from eastern Asia to Tajikistan, adding that parts of the mountainous road are dangerous. “Flying to Khorog isn’t easy, either.”

Improvements to the highway are already under way and drivers have already noticed new pavement on the Shurobod-Kalai Khumb section, Badakhshanrokh Highway Administration spokesman Alibek Jurabekov said. Sufficient investment in the Ishkashim economic zone’s airport also would speed transportation.

The airport can handle small, single-engine aircraft and helicopters. It takes about an hour and a half to fly in from Dushanbe, compared to roughly 20 hours by car. Apart from the highway’s reconstruction, a number of other infrastructure-improving projects have been launched in Khorog this year.

For example, in February, GIZ (the German governmental aid agency) provided a 200,000-TJS (US $42,000) grant to repair the Temur canal, a major water artery damaged in last year’s clashes. “The repairs … notably improved water supply to the city,” Khorog Mayor Faromuz Imomberdiyev wrote in a letter of thanks to GIZ. “Nearly 60% of the Khorog population uses the canal to irrigate their land plots.”

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Website teaches Tajiks new skills

Centralasiaonline.com 2013-08-27, Dushanbe – A new website, uroki.tj, is helping Tajiks discover new skills and recreational talents. The website features free video lessons in sports, dancing, music, foreign languages, computer literacy, computer graphics, photography and other subjects.

Ozod Siddikov, the man behind the website, got the idea after reading The Education of Millionaires, a book about alternative education. “I wanted the Tajik people to have the opportunity to put together their own curriculum based on their needs, curiosity, and desire to learn something new,” he said, adding that the site would soon be offered in both Tajik and Russian.

“After our business takes off, we will flood the website with original video lessons,” he said, adding that the website has about 3,000 unique users a day. “We also plan on having free or trial workshops where you can receive certificates upon completion.”

While the website is open to everyone, youth can benefit the most. “Young people can spend hours in internet cafés,” Kiromiddin Nazarov, the director of the Republican Centre for Information Technology and Communications at the Education Ministry, said. “It would be better if they spent that time on educational websites rather than on something useless.”

Nazarov’s centre has developed numerous online materials for school-age children. “We have put together online curricula for grades 1 through 11,” he said. “We think and hope, for that matter, that they have a positive influence on a child.”

“The idea itself is very good, but in order for this to develop, you would need to create websites for a specific audience, test them out and, based on the results, make video-lesson websites,” Azim Bayozov, an independent educational consultant at the Plus Centre for Supporting Educational Reform and a proponent of the programme, said.

“What’s most important is to take into account the limited internet traffic in Tajikistan,” he added. “It would be better to combine video lessons with audio lessons or with learning material.”

Adkham Mirsaidov, chief of the youth wing of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, backs the initiative. Having similar websites would force them to compete and improve their quality of work, he said.

“Video lessons should be intended to fill in the gaps (of conventional education),” Bayozov said. “Namely, it would be good if websites had additional information that a secondary school or university isn’t able to provide us with in any given topic.”

Such websites are great for providing further educational options, Akrom Sodriddinov, a student from Dushanbe, said. “I use a lot of similar Russian-language websites for my university studies and would like to have something similar in Tajikistan,” he added.

Uroki is competing against the rest of the internet for traffic. Advanced internet users are already taking advantage of similar, non-Tajik sites, Akhmadaly Tojiddinov, creator of a number of Tajik cultural websites, said. “There are thousands of them, many of which are more useful,” he said.

Uroki will be popular in Tajikistan only as a source for subjects that aren’t on western websites, he said. Those could be anything, from “how to play the nai” to “how to cook plov,” but not something more universal like “how to play the guitar.”

“Even in rural areas, if someone wants to learn how to do something outside school, then information that comes in handy in his or her everyday life will be useful,” Tojiddinov said.

These websites need to be more original than their competitors, journalist Abdullo Ashurov said. “Take, for example, a video course called ‘How to make kurutob’ (a Tajik dish). No other websites have it,” he said. “You could also tape lectures by famous Tajik scientists, such as mathematicians and physicists. I, for one, would love to watch this.”

That original content is exactly what his website is aiming for, Siddikov said.

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1,800-year-old Orthodox church in Turkey set to open for weddings

MUĞLA – Anadolu Agency – The Aegean town of Marmaris’ Kameriye Island is expected to become a ‘marriage center’ for tourists when a project prepared for the restoration of a 1,800-year-old Orthodox Church is completed

Project works are about to come to an end in a 1,800-year-old Orthodox church, located on Kameriye Island in the Aegean town of Marmaris and considered as the second home of the Virgin Mary in Turkey, which is set to open to tourism.

The Marmaris Trade Center (MTO) initiated a project in 2010 to restore the church and open it for faith and marriage tourism. The project titled “Five Pieces of Gold,” was approved by the Provincial Special Administration last February. The restitution and restoration projects of the church were also approved by the Muğla Cultural and Heritage Preservation Board.

MTO Chairman Mehmet Baysal said that the restoration works of the project were set to start soon. He said that a team including experts of the Provincial Culture and Tourism Directorate and Muğla Council of Monuments made observations about the history, architectural structure of Kameriye Island and gathered information about similar churches to create a database for the restoration project.

Baysal said that the budget problem of the project was also solved, adding “In accordance with the law, the Provincial Assembly cannot provide a budget for chambers. Since the island is within the borders of Bozburun district, the budget was allocated for the municipality and they will make a tender for the project.”

He said that the Kameriye Church Restoration Project made a tremendous impact in Turkey and abroad, and experts agreed the idea that the island would become Turkey’s second Virgin Mary. Baysal said that statistical works showed that faith and cultural tourists brought more income than those who came for sea and sun tourism.

“There are three similar churches in the region. We plan to make projects for their restoration, too. This project is very important to diversify tourism. We believe that the island will be a faith and marriage tourism center in the region. We estimate that hundreds of couples will get married in this church through special tours organizations that we will organize,” Baysal said.

The Kameriye Church, which is reached by a 20-minute boat trip from Bozburun, is being visited by lots of tourists in the summer months, particularly Orthodox tourists. Some tourists, who join daily boat tours, take a break on the island and light candles in a chapel named “Ruined Church.” Also, some tourists make a wish by tying pieces of cloth to the tree in front of the church.

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Turkish State Theaters to focus on national, historical plays

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency – Turkish State Theaters are preparing to open the curtain on the new season. This year, national and historical works will be highlighted

State Theaters (DT) will welcome the new season with 150 works, most of which will be staged for the first time. The goal of the organization is 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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Planned Diyarbakır hotel set to be star of Mid East

DİYARBAKIR – Doğan News Agency – A leading businessperson in the textile industry has announced plans to build a tourism complex in Diyarbakır for $200 million amid a surge of investments in the southeastern Turkey that has accompanied greater hopes for peace in the region.

A thermal holiday village that will include every kind of social facility will be built in the province’s Çermik district, providing substantial employment and contributing to the social and economic transformation in the region, according to the businessman behind the project, Hamza Öner.

The region, and particularly Diyarbakır, has become a favorite for investors after steps taken by the government and Kurdish political figures to end the three-decade-old conflict in the southeast.

Although the peace process is still continuing, businesspeople have already set their sights on the much-neglected region.

Öner said he was impressed by the political progress as well. “I (have always) seen the southeast as a center of attraction, but of course, the solution process has encouraged us, so we took action.”

The complex to be built on a 300,000 square meters of land will have 300 timeshares, a shopping mall, a five-star holiday with thermal center, a museum, a zoo and a religious center. The project will consist of 10 stages, each valued at $20 million, while construction is expected to last until 2015.

The holiday village has been named “Helinamin,” referring to “my home” in Kurdish. “Because the Kurdish population lives here, and our investment will target them, we put this name,” Öner said.

In addition to residents of the region, visitors from neighboring Middle Eastern countries, especially Iraqis, are expected to show an interest in the facility.

“Çermik will be the new tourism center of the Middle East, not only the region,” Öner said, adding that Helinamin would be able to accommodate 400,000 visitors a year after it opens.

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Local tourism grows fastest in Med basin

ANTALYA – Anadolu Agency – Turkey has the fastest growing tourism industry in the Mediterranean basin, hosting 19.1 million foreign tourists over a period of seven months in 2013, marking a 10.6 percent increase compared to last year’s figures for the same period.

According to the data issued by the Union of Mediterranean Tourist Hotels (AKTOB), Spain leads in the ranking of Mediterranean basin countries with 34 million tourists between January and July, a 3.9 percent rise compared to last year.Turkey follows Spain with 19.1 million foreign tourists, achieving a growth of 10.6 percent in the seven-month period.

With halted tourist flow following the military coup on July 3, Egypt completed the seven-month period in 2013 with 5.7 percent growth, while it grew by more than 10 percent in the first half of 2013.

Another Mediterranean basin country, Greece, has grown by 9.2 percent despite an earlier downturn until May, hosting around 7 million tourists in seven months.

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Istanbul among best for historical venues

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has inscribed the historical areas of the Turkish city of Istanbul on its World Heritage Committee list of “best practice.”

Adopted during the 37th UNESCO World Heritage Committee session in Phnom Penh of Cambodia, the decision of the Committee put Istanbul, along with 26 places including Greece’s Acropolis, Japan’s Kyoto Historical Monuments and Tataristan’s Kazan Kremlin Historical and Archaeological Complex, on its “best practice” list, which is determined in terms of criteria such as their state of local protection and their value for humanity, to mark the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention.

Speaking to the Anadolu Agency, Head of UNESCO National Committee of Turkey Professor Öcal Oğuz said the historical peninsula of Istanbul, ranked on the list of “best practice,” set an example for the world in terms of protection and transfer to next generations.

He stated that the decision of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee must be regarded as a confirmation of the efforts and methods of protection that are in practice in Istanbul. “The decision to include Istanbul on the list is of great importance to indicate the successful implementation of the basic criteria of UNESCO while choosing the historical places to be put on the UNESCO World Heritage list after evaluation of their protection, contribution, proportion and transfer to next generations,” he added.

The 26 historical venues on the list for regional renovation projects and other practices in different fields are as follows: the Acropolis in Athens, Angkor, Archaeological Ensemble of Merida, Boyana Church, Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia, Cueva de las Manos in Rio Pinturas, Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa, Gros Morne National Park, Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin, Historic Center of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Alban, Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities), Historic Town of Vigan, Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area, Land of Frankincense, Le Morne Cultural Landscape, Medieval City of Rhodes, Mogao Caves, Old Havana and its Fortification System, SGang Gwaay, Sacred City of Caral-Supe, San Marino Historic Center and Mount Titano, Shiretoko, Škocjan Caves, Sundarbans National Park, Teide National Park and Wet Tropics of Queensland.

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“Reptile tourism” in Turkey’s Antalya

ANTALYA – Anadolu Agency – The Ecological National Park in Antalya is home to thousands of reptiles that are at risk of becoming extinct. The park hosts tourists visiting from many countries, especially Russians

Thousands of Russian tourists, who believe that touching snakes prevents sweaty palms, come to the Ecological National Park (Eko Park) in Tekirova in the southern province of Antalya’s Kemer district. The park draws around 40,000 to 50,000 visitors every year.

According to its website, Eko Park covers an area of 40,000 square meters and is the first flora and herpetofauna (plant, reptile and amphibian) park establishment.

Eko Park is a shelter for many plants and reptiles that are at risk of extinction, as people unaware of the vulnerable structure of nature destroy millions of micro- and thousands of macro-organisms.

The collection of reptiles in the park includes native poisonous and non-poisonous species of snakes, chameleons and other reptiles and amphibians, as well as exotic reptiles brought over from different parts of the world, such as pythons, coral snakes, boa constrictors, anacondas, vipers, cobras, mambas, timber rattlesnakes, giant lizards, turtles and crocodiles.

The founder of Eko Park, morphologist and herpetologist Selami Tomruk, said their goal in opening the park was to protect nature from being looted and to introduce the importance of wild life. He said animals seized in zoos had lost their wild instinct, so they wanted to create an “ecologic park” instead.

Tomruk said Eko Park was home to many species that were rarely seen in the wild such as anacondas, spitting snakes, black mambas and alligators. “People come, particularly from Russia, just to touch the snakes. Russians believe their palms won’t sweat if they touch a snake. Some Russians come to the park only to do this.”

He added that as well as Russians, the park also drew lots of tourists from Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany. “We don’t host too many Turkish visitors and we want to see them more,” he said.

He said the Eko Park also drew a lot of attention from universities from all around the world. Many university students are visiting the park and writing their theses, Tomruk stated, while also noting that he did not see any Turkish university students in the park.

“Some tourists come to the park at night and work on scorpions with thermal cameras. They share their research with university students in their own country. For example, Russian television stations and newspapers conducted research here to examine the role of snakes on palm sweating. This place does not have a touristic aim, but rather a scientific aim. I wish we could establish a scientific institute here,” he said.

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60 nations take part in Uzbek music festival

Samarkand, 17 Shawwal 1434/ 24 August 2013 (IINA) – The ninth traditional international music festival, “Sharq Taronalari,” was held in Samarkand from August 25 to 30 under the patronage of UNESCO on the eve of the 22nd anniversary of the independence of Uzbekistan.

Currently, participation in the festival includes about 60 countries, including Latvia, Burkina Faso, Russia, Japan, Turkey, Austria, Georgia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Great Britain, China, France, Madagascar, the United States, Thailand, Czech Republic, South Korea, Spain, Estonia, Egypt, amongst others. Official media representatives from 15 countries are expected to visit the country to mark the event. The festival will include competitions for best folk song, best performance of national melodies of the nations of the world and their interpretation of modern musical art.

Traditionally, the festival also includes seminars, round table discussions, conferences and art and musical shows.

This year, a scientific conference entitled “Musical traditions of the East in the context of contemporary culture” will also be held, which will bring together prominent scientists, art historians, musicologists, directors of music festivals and representatives of international organizations from around the world. Rehearsals for folk dance ensembles are in full swing in Registan Square for the grand opening.

The festival has gained widespread popularity and has became one of the most prestigious international forums for music. Interest in the festival is growing annually and the fact that it is recognized as the largest music festival in the Eastern world and is held under the patronage of UNESCO makes it of high political and spiritual significance.

“Sharq Taronalari” began in 1997 at the initiative of the head of state for the first time. The festival has boasted performing groups and artists from 31 countries since then and the number of participants increases yearly. In 2011, the festival was attended by representatives from over 50 countries around the world.

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New project seeks to end food wastage at feasts

Makkah, Saturday, 17 Shawwal 1434/ 24 August 2013 (IINA) – A new project seeking to prevent food wastage at weddings and social events has been created and implemented by a group of men from Makkah.

The supervisors of the project, called “Prevent Food Wastage,” have started educating the general public about their project and the importance of ending food wastage common at social events. The project gathers any leftover food served at a wedding or event and distributes the food among the poor after it has been repackaged. There are volunteers and paid workers who help distribute the food to the needy.

One of the supervisors said over 70 persons benefit from the project on a daily basis. He stressed that all workers make sure that the amounts of food they have gathered at any wedding are clean and edible and can be served again to the poor and needy. “We have visited many owners of wedding halls and explained to them the goal of our project and how we seek to prevent food from going to waste. We asked them to call us whenever there is an event held on their premises,” the supervisor said.

The group has its own kitchens, which it uses to prepare leftovers and distribute as small meals inside plastic plates to ensure the food remains fresh and healthy. The project is currently focused on educating the maximum number of people about its goals and the importance of saving leftovers for the poor and needy.

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Thimarafushi Airport in Maldives to be opened on 2 Sep

Sun.mv – August 26, 2013 – The cremony to officially inaugurate the new airport in Thaa Thimarafushi will be held on 2 September. Minister of Transport Ameen Ibrahim told Sun tonight that preparations in this regard are ongoing. The airport will be inaugurated by President Dr Mohamed Waheed. “We were trying to complete everything by yesterday. Most of the work is already done. The remaining work will be handed over to a company within two days or so,” he said. He said that operation of flights to the airport will commence after ensuring that the airport meets the standards set by the Civil Aviation Authority. Regional Airports has said that a temporary terminal has been constructed in the airport, and the work related to the fence is also almost complete.

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Thai Bank to fund $150 million for Maldives airport runway

Sun.mv – August 28, 2013 – The Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) has said that Thailand’s Exim Bank has decided to provide a loan of $150 million for the construction of a new runway at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

Managing Director of MACL Bandhu Ibrahim Saleem told Sun Online that it has been decided to commence a three-year project for the development of the airport. Under this project, land will be reclaimed on the eastern end of the airport, and the terminal will be developed to facilitate 1.8 million passengers, said Saleem.

“A Code F runway will be constructed on the newly reclaimed area, this would facilitate landing of the largest, A380 aircrafts. The present runway will then be used as a taxiway,” he said.

He said that the cost of reclamation of the runway area and the development of the new terminal is estimated at $380 million, and that the discussions are under way with Thailand’s Exim Bank to obtain a loan of $150 million.

“The terminal is being designed. The funding will be available in the next six months or so. We are planning to start the construction of the terminal as soon as the runway is completed,” he said. By the time the airport is upgraded to serve 1.8 million passengers in 2015, new resorts must to be developed.

“The airport will not see any growth if more resorts are not developed. It’s very important to open new resorts. We would need about 1.5 million tourists to travel to Maldives by the end of 2015, only then can we operate the airport smoothly,” he said.

Saleem said that efforts are ongoing to sign an agreement with Dredging International regarding the reclamation of the airport runway area.

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Hundreds of Saudi mosques under renovation

Arab news – 29 Aug 2013 – The renovation of 647 mosques is currently under way, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments and Call.

“Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s program for the renovation of mosques is progressing steadily,” said Undersecretary for Administrative and Technical Affairs Abdullah Al-Huwaimel.

He said the ministry began implementing the program as soon as the king’s order to allocate SR500 million to the project was issued. “Priorities are determined as per technical, architectural and engineering studies of mosques across cities and villages.”

Minister Saleh Al-Sheikh heads the program and renovation projects were awarded to contracted companies after bidding.

The ministry recently announced that it has allocated SR85 million to renovate mosques in more than 19 governorates and rural centers

“They will be renovated to the highest standards,” said the ministry’s Makkah province Branch Director, Abdullah Al-Naser. He said the budget allocated for the region was distributed based on the needs of each area and on categories determined by a committee.

The ministry’s branch in Jazan received SR33 million to cover the renovations of 66 mosques, said director Sa’ad Al-Namasi. The ministry allocated about SR9 million for renovating 42 mosques in the Eastern Province and Qassim.

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Juma Jami mosque to be built in Crimea

islam.ru – 26 Aug 2013 – The Construction of the Juma Jami mosque of Crimea will begin in the near future, the press service of the Crimea Muftiyat reports. According to the Mufti of the Crimea Muslims Emirali Ablaeva, the Spiritual Administration of Crimea Muslims and the authorities do everything necessary.

Juma Jami mosque will accommodate five thousand people. Emirali Ablaev stressed that the Government of Turkey and Ukraine supervise the preparation of all necessary documents to start the construction of the mosque in Simferopol. By a decree of the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it have been allocated the necessary funds for the construction of Buyuk Juma Jami mosque.

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Expansion of Prophet’s Mosque through the ages put on display

Arab news – 26 Aug 2013 – The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Prophet’s Mosque has organized an exhibition on the mosque’s history and expansion works as part of the ongoing celebration of Madinah as the Islamic Cultural Capital of 2013.

The items on display give an insight into the kind of expansions that the mosque underwent since its inception in the seventh century to date.

“The items showcased also include manuscript copies and photos of the messages sent by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to many kings of his time, inviting them to Islam,” Exhibition Director Abdul Hadi Al-Hujaili said in a statement quoted by the Saudi Press Agency on Friday. “His seal is also among them.”

The items include 35 photographs, replicas of the mosque, tape recordings in English and Arabic, plaques that describe the expansion and constructions ordered by the King Abdullah. Photos of the razing of old buildings, diggings for new constructions, foundation stone-laying ceremonies and completion of construction, expansion of its squares and construction of car parks and utilities can also be viewed, Al-Hujaili said.

The exhibition venue is at the southern side of the mosque. Books describing various aspects and history of the mosque and the city of Madinah are also exhibited. One book on display is on the imams of the mosque over the past decade.

Videos on various stages of the expansion and construction of the mosque are being shown at a closed hall. The films include the efforts of King Abdul Aziz and his successors in the development of the mosque.

It also gives a video presentation of the ongoing 30,500-square-meter expansion ordered by King Abdullah in March and the installation of 250 huge umbrellas and cooling and water spraying systems using 436 fans in the mosque squares, he said. When the expansion works are completed in less than two years, the mosque will have a capacity of 1.6 million worshippers.

“The exhibition will also showcase rare manuscripts and copies of the Holy Qur’an including a copy of the Amma juz, Surah Maryam, Surah Al-Fatihah, beginning of Surah Al-Baqarah, and Surah Ibrahim. It will also give details on the construction of the service buildings, control rooms and the service tunnels besides the standby power stations and air-conditioning system,” he said.

School and university students who wish to visit the exhibition should apply for that at the exhibition office, he said, adding that they can visit on weekdays from Sunday through Thursday during the forenoon.

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Relics of Holy Prophet on display in Dagestan

islam.ru – 28 Aug 2013 – An exhibition of sacred relics related to the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) takes place in Makhachkala in the sport complex named after Ali Aliev. Thousands of Muslims gathered near the complex and are waiting for their turn to see the relics which are honoured by millions of Muslims around the world.

As reported the republican Interior Ministry, about two thousand police officers are involved to ensure order and safety of the event, as well as employees of private security and soldiers of the North Caucasian republics. Relics have been washed with Zamzam water, and especially for it the keepers of relics have brought 600 liters of water to Dagestan from Mecca. The water will also be given out to muslims.

The exhibition was visited by the Head of Dagestan Ramazan Abdulatipov. According to him, this event will have favorable effect on the atmosphere of the republic. “Such kind of event in the spiritual life of Dagestani society contributes to the prevention of extremism and radical movements which call their false ideology – Islam and confuse people” – Ramazan Abdulatipov said.

More than 20 exhibits were delivered to Dagestan on August 25 by a special flight from the United Arab Emirates. The exhibition will be held during the week. It is expected that the exhibition will be attended by about 3 million visitors.

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Makkah Gate to be built in 20 years

Islam.ru – 28 Aug 2013 – The structural plan for the Makkah Gate project that was recently approved by Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal will be implemented in four stages over 20 years, said Osama Al-Bar, Makkah mayor and chairman of the board of directors at the Makkah Gate Company.

He said that 70 percent of the project is located inside the borders of the Grand Mosque.

“The strategy of the project will allocate a series of places to be developed independently in phases,” he added.

“The infrastructure network proposed is proportional to the phases of development and is in accordance with a development plan that extends between 15 to 20 years, five years being allocated for each phase,”said Al-Bar.

Spokesman Issam Kolthoum said that the properties conform to 10 percent of the area to be developed, with owners from different parties such as the Ministry of Finance and other individuals in the loop.”

Very small properties, he added, as well as a number of infringements, will not hinder the progress of the project and insure the lawful rights of their owners.

Kolthoum said the project includes a location for Makkah National Park designed in harmony with the natural features and landscapes of the area.

“The projects pays much heed to consistency of the geological conformation with the facilities and their use,”added Kolthoum.

Once completed, the project will accommodate 1,000 visitors who will enjoy 40 different activities, including more than 300 campsites, 30 kilometers of long pedestrian lanes, sports locations, a children’s park, places for rest and services.

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