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21 Oct, 2013

Standing ovations for visually-impaired Egyptian musicians in Germany

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 21 October 2013 (16 Dhul Ḥijjah 1434). Pls click on any of the headlines to go to the story.




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

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

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

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

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


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


Read Imtiaz Muqbil’s columns in Lookeast Magazine

Imtiaz Muqbil writes two columns a month in Lookeast magazine, one of Thailand’s leading consumer travel publications. Here are some of the recent columns:

Thammasat University – A Must-see Destination

Russian Visitors To Thailand: Women Outnumber Men

China is Now Dominant Force in Thai Tourism

Take Advantage of the Rail-tours

10 Fascinating “Factoids” about Thailand

The Next Big Thing: Northeast Thailand

Chiang Mai, North Thailand Set to Boom

Top 10 Reasons to Hold Your Next MICE Event in Thailand

Thailand’s Big Spenders

Phuket grows as Thailand’s Second Most Important Gateway

10 Reasons to Pursue Further Studies in Thailand

Promoting Sustainable Tourism Via ‘Designated Areas’ in Thailand

Japanese Market Rebounds After Four-year Slump




Kashmir Nomad’s Aspire To Hajj

OnIslam Correspondent Saturday, 12 October 2013 SRINAGAR – Like millions of Muslims worldwide, elderly Abdul Karim Famra, a Kashmiri nomad, has been aspiring for years to perform the life-time journey of hajj, but the dream remained unfulfilled, not because his poverty but for a being a Nomad Gujjar.

“I have lived a miserable life since my child-hood I along with my family has been on move throughout the years,” Famra told Onislam.net.

“Like other Muslims I too inspire to perform Hajj but due to Nomadic status I could not make my dream true.

“Oh God can I perform hajj some day before I die,” Karim raised his hands towards sky and start weeping.

Karim dreams of hajj started several decades ago when he was a child.

“In my early child-hood I used to work as shepherd boy with another nomad ‘Suba Khan’ who gifted me a goat and that day I put a word to ALLAH that I will perform Hajj someday when the single goat will get transformed into a fleet,” he said.

Presently Karim has a fleet of more than 500 sheeps and goats, but his dream is still dying a silent death.

“I am rich enough today but my Nomadic life is barring me from performing Hajj” he told Onislam.net, adding, though government has been very soft in issuing pass ports to all hajj aspirants but his ever-changing residence barred police verification.

“Tried hard to get passport but being houseless and nomad my police verification got struck and could not be conducted which is the main reason that I could not get pass port which is necessary for Hajjis” Karim told Onislam.net

“I moved from pillar to post to get my documents through but all in vain,” he added.

Like Karim and Zenab there are thousands of Nomads who are houseless and keep on moving.

“We are moving back to Jammu region as winter is ahead and it is very difficult for us to live in Kashmir’s upper reaches,” Rashid Khan told Onislam.net adding, on reaching Jammu we live near forests and make small huts (locally called as Kullas) of Grass to live in.

During early hours, Parveena Bibi a Nomad woman along with other family members has to reach next destination and prepare food for the men who are likely to reach in the evening along with fleet of sheeps and goats.

“We have to reach our next destination where our family will rest for a day or two before crossing the Longest Tunnel to other side of Kashmir” Parveena Told Onislam.net.

Parveena, who was accompanying a fleet of Horses loaded with households, says they have to keep everything ready all the time and also remain alert during nights.

“We keep dogs, trained them to look after our live stock” she told Onislam.net

“We cannot cook food when we are on move particularly during shifting our transit camps.”

Despite difficulties, Kashmir nomads are keen on offering daily prayers and fasting Ramadan.

“We do offer prayers and keep fast during Ramadan but when we are on move, sometimes becomes difficult for us to do so.

“We don’t have Mosques (Masjid) and offer prayers where ever we reach at Nimaz time, sometime during Ramadan we take Sehri at one place and don’t know where we will break fast,” he added.

Medical aid was also a far-fetched dream for nomads.

Shazia Begum who has recently gave birth to a female child has to stay for weeks near Jawhar Tunnel as her other family members proceeded to Jammu region and it will take them complete month to reach next destination.

“Once they reach Jammu, I will travel by bus as I cannot walk,” she said adding my husband is with me to look after.

For them, drinking water is yet another daily challenge they have to face.

Begum’s elder son used to carry drinking water for the family from a road side tanker which is generally used as Harvest tanker by the farmers of the village nearer to the road.

“I have to bring water as my mother has recently gave birth to the child and my father goes for local labor to earn bread and butter for us,” Irfan 9 year old boy told Onislam.net.

Safina Begum, who is pregnant, has to be alert as she doesn’t know where she will gave birth to her child.

“I am running in ninth month of pregnancy and have not consulted any doctor till date,” she told Onislam.net.

“We don’t get medical facility and treat ourselves with Natural herbs.”

Though the government has opened special schools for Nomads, most of them have been closed because of Non-availability of teachers.

“Our children are mostly illiterate as they cannot get education but those who live in Hostels get education and scholarships” another Nomad Jumma told Onislam.net.

“Being house less we don’t get Ration cards and other facilities and have to buy our own ration” he added.

Seeing their daily struggle, social workers have been fighting for the rehabilitation of their Nomad community.

“We have been organizing awareness camps to make them (Nomads) aware about their rights” a prominent Gujjar Social worker Sikander Hayat Tariq told Onislam.net.

“Government has been thrusting for rehabilitation of Nomads and various Gujjar Hostels have been constructed for the children of these Nomads who opt for education”.

“The community is facing problems in getting their due share and our efforts are on to get them rehabilitated,” Hayat Tariq added.

Dr. Javaid Rahi secretary tribal research and cultural foundation while referring to Historical sources told Onislam.net that these Gujjars and Bakerwals embraced Islam in 9th and 10th Century.

“Nomads who converted to Islam somewhere spend almost eight months in search for grazing lands for their live stock from one corner to another and their life standard affects their religious practices,” he said.

These Gujjars, Bakerwals tribes constitute more than 20% of total populations of the Jammu and Kashmir state and more than 85 percent of Jammu and Kashmir’s total tribal population.

“Among Gujjars and Bakerwals, a sizeable population living nomadic life,” he said.

“These members of Muslim tribe (Nomads) moves from one corner to another of the state in search of grazing lands for their live stock,” Javaid told Onislam.net.

“The Nomad Gujjars in the Jammu and Kashmir were the poorest, living in neglected conditions, had no access to education as they are of migratory characters,” he told Onislam.net.

“Gujjar and Bakerwals are two names of one tribe called Gujjars. Bakerwals is the second name of Gujjars in J&K” he said adding, Most of the Bakerwals and Gujjars are Nomads who rare cattle’s sheeps and Goats.

“They run from one place to another hill-top of Himalaya’s during April and are back in September -October in plains” Rahi informed Onislam.net.

Kashmir is divided into two parts and ruled by India and Pakistan, which have fought two of their three wars since the 1947 independence over the region.

Pakistan and the UN back the right of the Kashmir people for self-determination, an option opposed by New Delhi.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

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Elderly Saudi Makes Hajj Record

IslamOnline 17/10/2013 CAIRO – An elderly 80-year-old Saudi imam has performed the spiritual journey of hajj pilgrimage to Ka’aba 60 times, making a record that could enlist his name in the Guinness World Record book.

“There is no comparison between the hajj services today and those of the past when resources were scant,” Sheikh Jabran Yahya Solaiman Al-Malki, told Saudi Gazette on Sunday, October 13.

For Al-Malki, the imam of Hiraz mosque in Al-Dair, in Jazan province to the Southwest of the Kingdom, the hajj services has developed greatly since his first hajj with his father in 1954.

He said the journey from Jazan to Makkah took him and his father two weeks to complete.

Al-Malki added at that time there were no paved roads, the cars were old and smoky, there was not enough water, food or toilets in the holy sites.

“The number of pilgrims was about 250000,” he said.

We used to live in tents…We had to cross on foot the long distances between Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.”

Recalling an “exhausting experience” which he will never forget, he has strongly praised the current hajj services.

“The hajj now is a picnic thanks to the sublime services being provided to the guests of God by the Saudi government under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and his Crown Prince,” he said.

Al-Malki said he had performed hajj for himself, his parents, relatives and a number of his sons who died young.

“At 80 with 60 Hajjs, the imam could well be on his way to setting a Guinness world record,” the paper said.

Muslims from around the world pour to Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.

Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.

Last year a total of 3.2 million faithful, including 1.75 million foreigners from 190 countries, performed the pilgrimage to Makkah.

This year Riyadh expects about two million, after the kingdom announced a crackdown on illegal pilgrims and imposed restrictions to cut foreigners by 20 per cent and Saudis by 50 per cent.

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Massachusetts Muslim Kids Learn About Hajj

IslamOnline 17/10/2013 CAIRO – As Muslims flock to hajj from around the globe, a Massachusetts Islamic school has offered students spiritual insights for the life-time journey through its special program on hajj.

My life really wouldn’t be complete without going there, Madinah Xhemalallari, a seventh-grader at Alhuda Academy, who attended the program, told the Telegram.

At the event held last Friday, young students joined a school presentation marking the Hajj pilgrimage at Alhuda Academy in Worcester, which serves 108 students from Central Massachusetts.

Wearing the simple, white un-sewn garments of hajj, students walk around the small model of Ka’aba, which is called Tawaf.

The presentation was part of a special program for kids in preschool to grade 8 to educate them on the fifth pillar of Islam.

Showing hajj spirit, exhibits and essays about the pilgrimage were presented on for visitors, said Sawsan Berjawi, principal at the school.

Tawaf is one of the Islamic rituals of pilgrimage.

During Hajj and Umrah, Muslims are to circumambulate the Ka’abah seven times, in an anti-clockwise direction.

The circling is believed to demonstrate the unity of the believers in the worship of the One God, as they move in harmony together around their central shrine, while supplicating to God “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik”.

According to Islamic tradition the Tawaf of the Ka’bah is a depiction of the Tawaf that runs above the Jannat al Firdaws in the seventh heaven where the Arsh (Allah’s throne) is situated.

And that’s my dream, to go there someday,” said 12-year-old Muhammad Farrag.

Muslims from around the world pour to Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, which will started on Tuesday, October 14.

Hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.

Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.

One-month preparations

Preparing students for the event, the teachers at the Islamic academy have been talking to students about hajj journey over the past month.

It’s a spiritual high that carries you for some time, said Nana Abdelkader, who teaches science at the academy to students in grades 6 to 8 and has visited Makkah.

The journey is filled with such energy and adrenaline.”

Teachers have also offered insights on the position of Makkah in Islam, being home to the holiest Muslim places, including Ka’aba, Al-Masjid Al-Haram and Mount Arafat.

Some Muslims go many, many times, said Tahir Ali, a spokesman for the local Islamic community.

The pilgrimage is at the center of our faith.”

US Muslims, estimated at between seven to eight million.

A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.

Hajj is officially expected to fall between October 13 and 18, with the climax falling on October 14 when the faithful descend the Mount ‘Arafat.

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Pilgrims inject SR1 billion into textiles market in Haj

Saudi Gazette – 18 October, 2013 – The Chairman of the Readymade Clothes and Textiles Committee in Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) Muhammad Al-Shehri has estimated the volume of pilgrims’ spending during the current Haj season to purchase clothes and fabrics at over SR1 billion.

This was injected in the clothes market in Saudi Arabia, the volume of whose investments are estimated at SR10 billion.

Al-Shehri said the pilgrims will spend about SR1 billion during the Tashreeq days in Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah.

He announced a drop in the percentage of counterfeit textiles and clothes that violate the specifications and standards in the Saudi market by 70 percent during the current Haj season due to the rectification campaigns that the market witnessed before the Haj period.

These campaigns are continuing till now. He said this period has helped in the exit of a big number of expatriate workers, who were promoting old clothes and those violating the standards and specifications at the lowest prices. They used to attract many customers.

As to the products that attract pilgrims, Al-Shehri said ihrams come at the top, as their sales reach SR150 million annually. Of these, the Kingdom imports nearly 1.9 million ihrams annually. These form 93 percent of the total ihrams in the Saudi market. The Kingdom manufactures about 7 percent only.

Al-Shehri said there were no complaints by pilgrims this Haj season on the bad quality of ihrams that were sold to the Haj groups during the current season. The pilgrims used to complain about the same ihrams during the past years due to skin inflammations for those who wore them. They got rid of them after creating awareness among the importers about the specifications of ihrams. Most important among these is that they should contain 80 percent cotton besides Shariah requirements.

Al-Shehri called on the Ministry of Commerce to intensify monitoring campaigns on clothes’ safety and prices. He mentioned the efforts of the Ministry of Commerce and the Customs Department to prevent entry of many commodities of bad quality and low standards and specifications.

Asked about the effects of clothes brought by pilgrims with the intention of selling them during the Haj season, Al-Shehri confirmed those sales do not affect the market greatly. They provide a variety of products.

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Emirates airline ranked No. 1 in the world for organisational transparency

Khaleej Times – 18 October, 2013 – Emirates airline, one of the world’s fastest growing carriers, was ranked No. 1 in the world for organisational transparency by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.

In a survey of corporate reporting by 100 multinationals based in 16 of the world’s fastest-growing nations released on Thursday, the Berlin-based organisation ranked Johnson Electric Holdings of China and Malaysian state energy company Petronas in the second and third positions, respectively, in terms of organisational transparency.

The organisational transparency category marked firms on their disclosure of data like majority and minority holdings, percentages owned by the parent company and the country of incorporation and operation — all of which is often made “deliberately opaque for the purpose of hiding the proceeds of corruption”, Transparency said.

The average score in the category was 54 percent. Eleven companies scored zero in this category, nine of them incorporated in China.

The global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption has admonished Chinese companies for their opaque business practices while praising Indian firms’ relatively high standards in the survey.

Indian firms perform best in the Brics group of nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — with a result of 54 per cent and several occupy the top positions in the overall index, said Transparency, attributing this to laws in India about how multinationals must report on subsidiaries.

Top of the class overall came India’s Tata Communications, which also topped the anti-corruption programmes category with 92 per cent, followed by three more Tata companies.

China got the lowest rating of the Brics economies, whose companies made up three quarters of the total sample in the survey of 100 of the fastest-growing multinationals in 16 emerging economies. Indian firms performed the best.

Marked on how transparently they present measures to combat corruption, how they report on their organisations and how they disclose data like revenue, expenditure and taxes, three quarters of the companies scored less than five out of 10.

“As emerging market companies expand their influence they should seize the opportunity to play a bigger role stopping corruption internationally,” said Huguette Labelle, head of the Berlin-based independent pressure group.

Widespread shortcomings included the failure of about 60 per cent of all the companies surveyed to disclose information about their political contributions.

“Results show that companies from China lag behind in every dimension with an overall score of 20 per cent,” Transparency said in the report. “Considering their growing influence in markets around the world, this poor performance is of concern.”

Eight of the 10 worst-performing companies were Chinese, such as state-owned Chery Automobile, which, along with Mexico’s privately-owned consumer goods group Mabe, scored zero points.

“Chery is not publicly traded, so naturally it is not as transparent as those listed companies,” Wang said, noting that the automaker does publish quarterly and annual results to its bond investors.

In the third category measuring standards of country-by-country reporting of revenues, capital expenditure, income before tax, income tax and community contributions, the Chilean retailing group Falabella scored highest with 50 per cent.

Sandro Solari, Falabella’s chief executive officer, said transparency was “a central element in building trust” and it would continue strengthening its ability to deliver information.

“Key financial data give citizens the possibility to understand the activities of a particular company in their country and to monitor the appropriateness of their payments to governments,” said Transparency.

In a sub-index ranking just the Brics nations, which the watchdog said account for 20 per cent of global economic output and 15 per cent of world trade, the companies from first-placed India were followed by South Africa, Russia, Brazil and China.

Russian companies have been handed middling ratings. Including six Russian companies — metal giants RusAl, Norilsk Nikel Evraz and Severstal, together with energy majors Gazprom and LUKoil — on three separate scores, the survey, which was released on Wednesday, placed Russia in the middle of its Brics peers in a headline comparison of overall corporate performance.

Russia’s six representatives earned a 43 per cent rating. India’s 20 companies led with 54 per cent, while the 33 Chinese companies assessed garnered the lowest overall score with 20 per cent.

On the single score of organizational transparency, aluminum producer RusAl emerged as an international winner, with a perfect 100 per cent rating. It became the only Russian company that made the “top performers” list of the survey, sharing its perfect organisational transparency rating with Emirates Airlines, China’s Johnson Electric and Shanghai Electric and Malaysia’s Petronas.

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Indonesia’s Textiles and Furniture Lead Transactions on First Day

Jakarta, Indonesia, Oct 17, 2013 – (ACN Newswire) – Transactions on the first day of Trade Expo Indonesia (TEI) 2013, totalling US$ 13.33 million, featured textiles and furniture, with spices, handicrafts, jewellery and accessories, footwear and agricultural products following. While based on country, most buyers making transactions on the first day came from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Nigeria, India, Egypt, and South Korea.

“Trade Delegations present at TEI 2013 were interested in various products shown in the total. In addition to handicrafts and furniture, products shown in TEI 2013 are more diverse,” said Deputy Trade Minister Wamendag Bayu Krisnamurthi in a news conference on day 2 of TEI 2013. “We are expecting a significant surge in transactions on day 2, considering that the new Business Matching activity begins and continues through the final day,” he added.

Downstream export products displayed in the National Export Development (NED) Pavilion represent various industry sectors divided into several zones, ranging from strategic industry products, natural resource-based products, product manufacturing, the creative industries and SME products, to potential investment and professional service sectors.

NED is a showcase pavilion which demonstrates that Indonesia is able to create products that rely not only on natural resources, but those that are supported by high technology, innovation, and creativity, the trademark of younger Indonesian professional workers. For example, PT. Biopharma, which produces high-quality vaccines and antiserums in Indonesia, has been exporting vaccine products worldwide.

“This is in line with the Government’s efforts to continue to increase the added value of Indonesian exports so that Indonesia’s export commodities can become a trigger price in the international market,” said Deputy Minister of Trade.

The first day saw the Deputy Trade Minister paying courtesy calls and meeting with trade mission delegations from several countries including the United Arab Emirates, Suriname, Serbia, Malaysia, Sudan and Jordan. Increased cooperation in in the fields of economy and trade became important notes in meetings with the delegations. “In addition to discussing improvement of bilateral relations in the economic field, the courtesy calls were intended to explore export opportunities, and expand business networking and investment opportunities,” said the Deputy Minister.

The main focus of TEI 2013 is developing long-term Business-to-Business (B-to-B) opportunities. “Actual transactions that occurred totalled USD 13.33 million. We are optimistic that our final transaction target will be achieved. Many participants also expressed that an assessment during the expo will be followed up by a company visit to ensure their requests will be met before buying. Plans on day 2 include the completion of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Solaris Paper Plt. Ltd. and PT Pindo Deli Pulp and Paper Mills, worth EUR 16 million,” explained Wamendag.

In addition to increasing the role of trade, TEI 2013 is also an ideal opportunity to attract foreign investors to Indonesia. The Trade and Investment Forum at the Expo, held in cooperation with the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), will be attended by around 600 participants businessmen, exporters, importers, investors and potential investors, as well as Indonesian representatives from abroad. The activities are expected to provide a positive image of the condition of the economy and the investment climate in Indonesia.

The Trade and Investment Forum held parallel discussions, divided into seven regional groups including Asia (non-ASEAN), Middle East and Africa, Europe 1, Europe 2, North, Central and South America, as well as ASEAN and Australia-New Zealand. Speakers at the discussion included Ambassadors and trade attaches to the Indonesian Trade Promotion Center who sought to convey information to businessmen in Indonesia regarding the opportunities, strategies, and regulations of export destinations worldwide.

Along with staging TEI 2013, the Ministry of Trade in collaboration with Femina Group is hosting Jakarta Fashion Week (JFW) 2014 at Senayan City, to facilitate Business-to-Business entry for entrepreneurs in the fashion field with international buyers. TEI and JFW both encourage increased non-oil exports, especially in the creative field of fashion and design.

For more information, please visit http://www.tradexpoindonesia.com/ and http://www.kemendag.go.id/.

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Standing ovations for visually-impaired Egyptian musicians in Germany

Called “The fourth pyramid of Giza,” “The human miracle,” and “The ambassadors of Egypt,” once again, Al-Nour Wal Amal (Light and Hope) Chamber Orchestra, consisting of 40 visually impaired women, captured the hearts of audiences during their latest visit to Germany.

The orchestra gave two concerts: in Berlin’s Urania Theatre on 8 October and in Hamburg’s Laeiszhalle on 11 October. This is the third visit of the orchestra to Germany, following their German tours in 1992 and 1999.

The orchestra often performs in concert halls that carry illustrious histories. In Berlin, Al-Nour Wal Amal performed in Urania Theatre, which belongs to the Urania Society celebrating its 125th anniversary this year with decades of contribution to the scientific, technological and cultural life of Berlin and other cities across Europe.

In Hamburg, the over a century old Laeiszhalle adorned the musicians with its splendid architecture and breathtaking acoustics. “The Laeiszhalle miraculously escaped damage during the two World Wars. Its original interior is almost intact,” Petra Gaich, head of artistic planning at the Laeiszhalle, explained to Ahram Online.

Hamburg’s grandest concert hall, which seats over 2000, is also the main home to the city’s three leading orchestras: the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra (NDR Sinfonieorchester).

Al Nour Wal Amal Chamber Orchestra performing at the Laeiszhalle, Hamburg, Germany. 11 October 2013. (Photo: Ati Metwaly)

Since its first international trip in 1988, Al-Nour Wal Amal Chamber Orchestra proves that visual impairment is no obstacle to musical growth. Sharing this experience internationally not only gives exposure to Al-Nour Wal Amal, it also encourages orchestra members who today consist of three generations of musicians. “The youngest member of Al-Nour Wal Amal Chamber Orchestra is still at school. This is our third generation. The most experienced are those from the first generation. Some are married and have families of their own,” Amal Fikry revealed to Ahram Online.

The orchestra is part of an association with the same name — an NGO founded in 1954 by a group of volunteers under the leadership of the late Istiklal Radi with the aim of providing care and education to visually impaired girls, and to help them integrate into society. In the early 1960s, Radi — with the help of late Samha El-Kholy, then dean of the Cairo Conservatory — launched Al-Nour Wal Amal Music Institute. A decade later, a small chamber orchestra was formed and started to perform across many venues in Egypt. In the 1980s, Amal Fikry, vice-chair of Al-Nour Wal Amal Association, decided to put into action one of the dreams of Radi: international travel.

Austria came first, in 1988. Since then, the orchestra has toured extensively, enchanting audiences in many countries, including Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Greece, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, India, Thailand, Japan, and Australia, among others.

Each musician points to a different country as their favourite trip, for varying reasons. All, however, underscore the appreciation they receive from the audiences, fact that they take as a reward for their hard work and persistence.

As they enjoy music and persevere, the orchestra’s repertoire is growing. It includes many pieces from the Western classical music canon, along with compositions by Egyptian and Arab composers. Usually the orchestra will also perform a piece from the country hosting them.

Some girls point to Mera Joota hai Japani by a composer from India Shankar Jaikishan as their favourite. The composition was in their programme this time as well. Other works included compositions from Rossini, Johann Strauss II, Mozart, Grieg, Bizet, Mikis Theodorakis, topped with Abou-Bakr Khairat, Rageh Dawood, Riyad El-Sonbaty, Aly Abdel Sattar, etc.

Though some women from Al-Nour Wal Amal Chamber Orchestra say they particularly enjoy performing Western classical music, others seem to enjoy both Western and Oriental music. But a closer look at Al-Nour Wal Amal reveals that there might be some compositions that are closer to their hearts as musicians. For instance, there is something special in The Blue Danube, as an obvious happiness springs from their faces once they embark on a journey through this famous river. “We’ve been performing Strauss’s The Blue Danube for three years now. The music flows delightfully … ” Basma Saad, violinist and leader, explains to Ahram Online.

On the other hand, percussionist Fawzeya Latif recalls Refaat Garrana’s Pharaonic Dance as one of her favourites, pointing to its “beautiful melodies.” Though the orchestra did not perform Garrana’s piece in Germany, it is one of their standards. In turn, contrabass player Shahinaz Salah says that “each composition has something special within itself,” adding that being raised on Western classical music, she finds herself most comfortable with it.

But whether the musicians have particular preferences, or enjoy performing all of the repertoire equally, the audience seemed to respond differently to each composition: from indulging themselves in a silent and attentive delight, to enthusiastic clapping alongside Oriental rhythmic compositions.

An adaptation by the orchestra’s conductor and trainer, Ali Osman, of the Ballet Suite No 21 from Theodorakis’ Zorba witnessed especially strong enthusiasm in Berlin and Hamburg. In fact, Zorba was the last element of the programme, leading to long standing ovations, to which the orchestra responded with an encore.

Click here to read the rest and see great pictures: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/33/83812/Arts–Culture/Music/Long-standing-ovations-for-AlNour-Wal-Amal-in-Germ.aspx

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Malaysian Companies Conclude Business Worth Rm664.65 Mln At Tehran Exhibition

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Oct 17 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysian exhibitors at the recently-concluded Tehran International Industry Exhibition clinched business deals worth RM664.65 million.

The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) said nine companies participated in the exhibition representing products ranging from health supplements, LED Lights and fittings, personal care products, adhesive sealants and coating products, security system, electric and telecom poles, garment accessories and many more.

“This was Malaysia’s ninth consecutive participation as a national pavilion in this fair in order to boost Malaysia’s exports to Iran.

“Iranian buyers want high quality and value for money products. Malaysian companies must continue to serve this market through regular market visits and participation at trade events in Iran,” said Matrade Senior Trade Commissioner in Dubai Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz in a statement.

He said Matrade Dubai would continue to assist Malaysian companies to penetrate the Iranian market.

“Matrade Dubai foresees more Iranian buyers will be visiting Malaysia to continue their discussions and look for new products and services that Malaysia can offer,” added Mohd Mustafa.

One participant at the fair, Zenn HRB Sdn Bhd, which manufacturers concrete poles and railway sleepers, sees a huge potential in the Iranian market given the country’s plan to expand its rail and subway network.

The company was now in the process of shortlisting potential partners since the Iranian Government was embarking on a major infrastructure plan.

Iran is Malaysia’s third largest trading partner in the West Asia region after United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

For the first eight months of this year, Malaysia’s exports to Iran increased 9.7 per cent to RM2.21 billion compared with an offtake of RM2.01 billion registered in the same period last year.

The total value of Malaysia’s trade with Iran stood at RM4.58 billion last year with exports valued at RM3.52 billion and imports at RM1.06 billion.

Malaysian exports to Iran included palm oil, crude rubber, chemical and chemical products, wood products, rubber products and machinery, appliances and parts.

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Indonesia to host world coral reef conference in Manado

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, October 17 2013 – Delegations from around 50 countries are expected to take part in the World Coral Reef Conference (WCRC) to be held in Manado, North Sulawesi, in May 2014.

“Initial preparations have been made such as coordination with related ministries like the Maritime and Fisheries Ministry and the Office of the Chief Minister for People’s Welfare,” head of the provincial Maritime and Fishery Service Office, Ronald Sorongan, said in Manado on Wednesday as quoted by Antara news agency.

Ronald said the WCRC was a summit meeting of countries with coral reefs from around the world to discuss the use of coral reefs for human life and ways to preserve them.

“The participants are expected to be those who took part in the world maritime conference also held in this city several years ago,” he said, expecting ministers and other high ranking officials from the 50 countries to attend the conference.

The WCRC was part of the fifth annual celebration of the world maritime conference and Coral Triangle Initiative, he said.

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Qatar targets ‘near zero’ water discharge to sea by 2016

Gulf Times – 18 October, 2013 – Qatar is working on a major pro-environment project aimed at safeguarding the country’s marine ecosystem by targeting “near zero” water discharge to sea by 2016.

The initiative is led by the Ministry of Energy and Industry in conjunction with the Ministry of Environment and involving various companies working in the country’s energy and industry sector.

A recent report showed that Qatar’s long-term plan is to achieve “zero liquid discharge” of processed wastewater by end-2016.

The energy and industry sector is aiming to achieve this primarily through investments in water recycling and reuse, using wastewater treatment plants and using treated wastewater to irrigate green zones as well as re-using water in core operations and production processes.

“There is much to be done to achieve the ambitious goal of near zero water discharge, and in the meantime the sector is reducing the impact of water discharged by monitoring effluent quality and temperature,” said the latest Qatar Energy and Industry Sector Sustainability Report.

In 2012, some 16 companies reported on their total water discharge, representing 48% of the total companies invited to participate in the Sustainable Development Industry Reporting (SDIR) programme, a sector-wide initiative led by HE the Minister of Energy and Industry, Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada.

With reporting in its early stages, there are challenges relating to the consistency of measurement and data reliability. Data quality is expected to improve in future reports, it said.

The total amount of water discharge for the 16 reporting companies in Qatar was 110,733mn cu m at the end of 2012, the report said. Only two companies reported a reduction in their water discharge in 2012.

Total E&P Qatar reported a reduction of 3.1mn cu m in 2012 (a reduction of 12% compared to 2011) and Qatar Vinyl Company (QVC) reported a reduction of 5% in 2012.

The oil and gas (E&P) subsector reduced total water discharge in 2012, while discharge volumes in the other three subsectors increased, the report showed.

Companies recognised the need for seawater returned to the sea to be at temperatures and salinity levels that do not harm marine life, the report said.

Conditions of discharge are regulated by the Ministry of Environment, and seawater used for cooling is tested to ensure it does not breach levels agreed within companies’ consent to operate.

Data reported on discharges to sea for the sector is not complete, with only five companies providing water discharge composition data.

With reporting in its early stages, there are challenges relating to the consistency of measurement and data reliability.

However, from those five companies, four have reported zero oil and chemical in their water discharge.

In alignment with the goals of the National Development Strategy (NDS), Mesaieed Industrial City companies are working to design and install a comprehensive seawater quality monitoring network to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment options and assess the cumulative effect on the receiving water body

Some nine companies reported the amount of water they recycled, which totalled 7mn cu m in 2012.

“While the limited amount of data has made it difficult to identify trends in performance, there are a number of initiatives of note where companies have begun water recycling,” the report said.

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Qatar rail and transport projects at $ 30bn, 2nd largest in Gulf

Gulf Times – 15 October, 2013 – Qatar is the second largest rail and transport projects market in terms of current development in the Gulf region with rail, metro, tram and BRT projects in the country valued at more than $ 30bn, a new report has shown.

These projects are scheduled to be finished by 2020, ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Finals, Meed has said in a report.

The GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) region now accounts for more than 50 rail and transport projects worth $ 140bn, it said.

Saudi Arabia has the greatest potential with projects worth $ 50bn due to be completed by 2025, the report said.

The third biggest rail market is the UAE, where $ 27bn worth of projects is due for completion by 2030.

Figures provided by Meed Projects show that there are now 108 separate railway, metro, monorail, tram and BRT projects under bid, under design or under study in 14 Mena (Middle East and North Africa) countries.

Opportunities in the Mena region’s $ 225bn rail, metro, tram and bus rapid transit (BRT) capital investment programme to 2030 will be highlighted at the Meed Mena Rail & Metro Summit will open at the Beach Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi on October 29.

Almost 50 expert speakers representing government and private businesses in the GCC, the wider Middle East and the world will address the event with more than 300 delegates expected to attend the conference.

Philippe Casgrain, vice president for Europe, the Middle East & Africa at Bombardier Transport will open the summit with a presentation outlining the key challenges those involved delivering hundreds of billions of dollars of railway projects face in the Middle East region.

One of the biggest issues is pressure on the Middle East project supply chain and competing demands for steel, cement and skilled labour from other sectors of the region’s booming projects market. About $ 2.2tn of projects are under bid, design or study, about half of this figure in the GCC.

The project pipeline in rail, metro, tram and BRT projects is formidable. According to Meed Projects figures, almost $ 40bn of projects are under bid at present. But about $ 90bn projects under design and more than 75% of projects are under bid, design and study and due to be finished by 2020.

Joining the opening keynote session at the summit will be representatives of major urban rail, tram and BRT programmes.

They include Dr Mohamed Montazeri, deputy managing director (planning and logistics) at the Tehran Urban & Suburban Railway Company. Iran has more than $ 15bn of major projects in the pipeline and two-thirds of this planned investment will be in the urban rail network of the Iranian capital by 2025.

Meed Projects figures show that more than $ 90bn of metro and light rail projects are planned in the Mena region by 2030. Planned passenger and freight rail investments of a similar value are projected in the same period. High speed railway projects of about $ 15bn are under study. Monorail and tram projects worth more than $ 10bn apiece are planned. There is a single large-scale investment in BRT, a $ 1.5bn project in Abu Dhabi. Prequalification of companies wishing to work on the project is now under way. But other cities are now seriously considering BRT as an alternative and supplement to new urban rail and tram ways.

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Vast potential for web, mobile developers in the Arab region, says ArabNet

Saudi Gazette – 12 October, 2013 – The rapid growth of the digital sector in the Arab region is leading to a surge in demand for top-tier web and mobile developers.

Hiring the best has become a priority to be able to build a successful digital company across sectors, from media to advertising to e-commerce.

ArabNet bridges this gap between companies and talented developers in the ArabNet Developer Tournament 2013 – 2014. a regional competition to identify the best web and mobile developers in the Middle East.

After the success of the first edition, with hundreds of developers participating across the region, the tournament returns to gather top coders across six Arab countries: Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and UAE.

This year the tournament caters to the needs of web and mobile developers at three levels: giving them the opportunity to test their coding skills, advance in their career and learn the latest technologies in web and mobile development.

The heart of the tournament is the competition: 3 rounds of 1-on-1 challenges that will test developers on different skill sets: Speed, creativity and competency.

The top 4 winners will receive cash prizes and the opportunity to represent their country at the championship at the ArabNet Dubai Digital Summit in May 2014.

The tournament also introduces two new features to complement and enrich the competition. First, the Job fair connects developers with local and regional companies looking for technical talent, with multiple opportunities to either join their team, or collaborate on freelance projects.

Second, the event will feature a Code Lab, a series of hands-on technical training sessions led by experts from development agencies, to help developers hone their skills and stay up-to-date with the latest technologies.

Workshops will cover topics ranging from mobile and game development, to usability and user interface design.

The tournament will kick off in Lebanon on October 26, where the local round will be hosted by Beirut Creative Cluster and with the sponsorship of touch Lebanon.

Online registration is open to all web and mobile developers who are interested to spend a day competing, advancing their careers, honing their skills and connecting with other like-minded developers.

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Bahrain set to host investment forum

Gulf Daily News – 13 October, 2013 – The Industry and Commerce Ministry is gearing up to host “Invest in Bahrain 2013” forum and exhibition.

It will be held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa on October 30 and 31 at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre, said a ministry statement.

The forum is part of the ministry’s programmes to boost the national economy, following directives from the leadership and government to enhance the position of Bahrain as international centre for industry, commerce and services.

The forum, eighth is a series of events organised by the ministry, introduces investment opportunities for investors from inside and outside Bahrain.

This year the forum is organised in co-operation with the Economic Development Board, Central Bank of Bahrain and Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The forum is an annual event that was organised for the first time in 2003.

This year, the event will also witness close co-operation between the ministry and GCC agencies and organisations.

The event is expected to attract a large number of businessmen, businesswomen and local and foreign investors, in addition to Arab and international economic experts.

On the sideline of the forum, the ministry organises an exhibition for pioneer national industries that associate companies from various sectors.

The ministry is expecting to attract many investors because of the success of the previous events and led to the entry of many foreign companies that set up their operations in Bahrain.

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SCTA hopes to attract investors

Arab News – 16 October, 2013 – The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has launched a campaign to attract both visitors and investors to promote the country’s rich cultural heritage during the week-long Eid Al-Adha holiday.

An official said on Sunday that the campaign was aimed at promoting the concept of advance planning of holidays by selecting the right tourism offers provided by tour operators in collaboration with the SCTA during this Eid Al Adha holiday.

The commission has also urged visitors to ensure that the accommodation facilities they opt for an licensed operator and its price list is approved by the SCTA.

The campaign, which was launched on Friday under the theme “Experience Eid’s delight,” consists of two parts, with the first focusing on the tourism events that are scheduled to take place during the Eid holidays across the Kingdom, and the second highlighting tourism offers provided by hotels and furnished apartments and tourism facilities during the holiday.

The SCTA launched the marketing campaign exclusively devoted to Eid Al Adha holiday on audiovisual and mass media, the official said, adding that information on tourism offers could be accessed via Tourism Communication Center on the Toll-Free number (19988).

He said the SCTA’s official website also provides detailed information on Tourism e-Calendar about all tourism events and activities that are taking place across the country, and can be accessed via the link http://event.sct.gov.sa, or through Saudi Tourism website http://www.sauditourism.com.sa.

Earlier, the SCTA had announced that museums across the Kingdom would be open during the Eid Al-Adha holidays for visitors to prom

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Bahrain set to host major HRM summit

Gulf Daily News – 16 October, 2013 – The Fifth Annual Human Resources Management Summit (HRM Summit 2013) to be held in Bahrain after the Eid holidays will bring together human resources experts and decision-makers from around the world.

Being held under the patronage of Minister of State for Electricity and Water Affairs Dr Abdulhussain Mirza, the event is scheduled to take place from October 21 to 23 at the Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence and Spa.

The event organiser, Roshcomm’s chief executive M A Sridhar met Dr Mirza and other EWA officials to discuss the developments and the international speakers line-up.

“The fifth annual HRM summit is designed to share industry best practices, offering attendees the chance to gain valuable insights,” Mr Sridhar said.

“It is the must-attend event for anyone working in the field of human capital management, talent, performance and retention management.

“Special emphasis will be given to the issues of “foreseeing the role of HR practitioners and HR leaders” and “getting HR expert’s opinions and deliberations”.

Various other issues were discussed with the minister, including the importance of interacting with prominent higher education entities such as Bahrain University and the Bahrain Polytechnic in order to disseminate the developments of HRM principles to outstanding graduates of these universities.

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Iraq to boost oil export capacity

Saudi Gazette – 17 October, 2013 – Iraq is set to boost its oil export capacity significantly by the end of the first quarter next year, stepping up competition with top exporter Saudi Arabia to grab a bigger share of the growing Asian market.

Iraq is wooing Asian customers by offering easier payment terms to secure buyers as it ramps up oil output after years of war, but inadequate infrastructure and security issues this year have hampered the Middle Eastern nations’ efforts to maintain steady output and exports.

The country is planning to raise its total export capacity to 4 million barrels per day (bpd), deputy prime minister for energy Hussain Al-Shahristani said Wednesday.

“In total, we will be having capacity of 4 million barrels (per day) next year,” he said on the sidelines of the World Energy Congress in South Korea. “By the end of the first quarter we should have them.”

Iraq’s current oil output is now back up to 3.3 million bpd of crude, and may touch 3.5 million bpd by year-end. The Middle Eastern nation is exporting 2.5 million bpd of its output, with 60 percent going to Asia, 20 percent to the American market and the rest to Europe, he said.

But Iraq may not use the country’s export capacity to its full potential and may instead work on upgrading some of the older export facilities, the minister said.

“We will be taking some of our old terminal for upgrading because we don’t (currently) need them,” he said.

Iraq’s total storage capacity has been recently raised to more than 7 million barrels, he also said.

Iraq’s terminal upgrading activity this year and other work to improve its export capacity have sharply reduced it exports in some months this year.

Exports fell to 2 million bpd in September, the lowest rate in 19 months, as the terminal repair and expansion work reduced shipments of Basra Light crude, which accounts for most of Baghdad’s export revenue.

Asked whether OPEC members will discuss a change in production targets in December, Al-Shahristani said: “The world is satisfied with current OPEC production. We don’t see any reason to change the production target.”

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which pumps more than a third of the world’s oil, meets on Dec. 4 in Vienna to decide whether to adjust its output target.

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Salalah Airport expansion project enters final stage

Oman Tribune – 17 October, 2013 – The Salalah Airport expansion project is set to enter the final phase with the tender being floated for the radar system. The Ministry of Transport and Communications-floated tender will be opened on December 9.

The around $ 112-million expansion of Salalah Airport is in the final stages and Muscat Airport general manager Aiman Al Hosni had said recently that there was likelihood of it being commissioned before the opening of new airport in Musca t that was also being developed.

The Tender Board has invited the bids for the radar system, believed to be among the last components for the airport expansion.

As per plans, the testing of the new facilities and equipment in place will begin early next year so that the commissioning could be undertaken as scheduled.

With the expansion to upgrade the airport to international standards, the airport’s capacity is expected to be raised to 2 million passengers and by the next phase it would be raised to six million. As per plans, the target fixed is 25 flights, including international ones.

With the expansion of the runway to 4,000 metres, the airport can have the large passenger aircraft Airbus A380. As part of the expansions, various services offered would help upgrade the airport to International Air Transport Association (Iata) services.

Once ready, the Oman Airport Management Company, which is to handle even the new Muscat airport, will take over the management and operation of the expanded Salalah venture.

Already, tenders for the design and construction of cargo handling and maintenance-repair-overhaul facilities, besides in-flight catering for the two projects at Muscat and Salalah have been opened.

While five companies bid for in-flight catering, six submitted bids for the design and construction of the cargo and MRO facilities.

Development of the Sohar and Duqm airports are also underway.

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22 Countries Confirm Participation In Algerian International Theatre Festival

BEJAIA, ALGERIA, oct 15 (NNN-APS) — Twenty two countries, represented by many troupes, have confirmed their participation in the 5th International Theatre Festival of Bejaia, which will be held from Oct 29 to Nov 5, the event organizers say.

This cultural event will see the participation of troupes from all over the world, including Germany, which will be represented by a delegation of 45 people, bringing together artistes from the Academy of Media Arts of Cologne and the Theater an der Ruhr company, led by its director, Roberto Ciuli.

France, Austria, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland will also be representing Europe in the fifth edition of this cultural event.

Several Arab countries, namely Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Palestine, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia and Syria, have also confirmed their participation.

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Morocco’s Selman Marrakech Named Africa’s Best Hotel For 2013

PARIS, Oct 16 (NNN-MAP) — Moroccan luxury hotel Selman Marrakech has been named the Best Hotel in Africa in 2013 by the jury of 2013 Villegiature Awards, which recognizes the best hotels of Europe, Africa and Asia.

The awards, announced here Monday, also recognizes some hotel trades, as well as publishing, including books dedicated to hotels and gastronomy.

In addition to Selman Marrakech, two other hotels in Morocco were nominated for the grand prize for best hotel in Africa, namely Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea & Spa, and Palais Namaskar Marrakech.

The 2013 Villegiature award jury was composed of 24 correspondents and journalists from major foreign and French media institutions.

The award ceremony was attended by several diplomats, including Moroccan Ambassador to France Chakib Benmoussa.

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Iraqi Airlines Launching New Flights End Of The Year

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct 17 (NNN-NINA) – Iraqi Airways announced, it will launch several flights to several countries by the end of the year, National Iraqi News Agency (NINA) reported.

The airlines media manager, Salah Tayeh, said, the new destinations include Beijing, Shanghai and Kwangju cities in China, Baku in Azerbaijan, and Tunisia and Morocco.

“The airlines have completed all procedures for the opening of these new lines and now remains the question of contact with the concerned authorities in these countries for them to complete their procedures,” he said.

Iraqi Airways launched several flights to Georgia, Germany and Malaysia, during the last period of this year.

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Uganda Mulls Plan To Build Airport For Capital, Kampala

KAMPALA, Oct 18 (NNN-NEW VISION) — Uganda’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has mooted plans to construct an international airport in Kampala to complement Entebbe International Airport at the Lake Victoria town some 37 km from here.

David Mpango Kakuba, the CAA Uganda Deputy Managing Director says this will go a long way towards boosting domestic air transport as well as tourism in the country.

“It is important for Kampala City to have an airport, just like Wilson Airport in Nairobi city,” he told New Vision on the sidelines of the just-concluded 9th Joint Transport Sector Review workshop at Hotel Africana recently.

“It doesn’t make sense for someone flying to Jinja from Kampala city to go through the traffic jam to Entebbe airport then board a plane. Even tourists would find it easier to connect to our various tourism destinations.”

Considering that aviation is one of the world’s most expensive industries, Kakuba noted that building an international airport would cost at least 100 million USD.

“Aviation is a very expensive venture, but a necessary one. We are a landlocked country and we have to look at alternative transport means outside of roads. But the plan for an airport in Kampala is only at the conceptualisation level. Once the Government is ready to compensate people, we can identify land at Namanve even tomorrow,” he said.

Kakuba says planning for the new airport in Kampala is still in its early stages. The CAA is looking for at least 300 hectares of land for the project. The airport will have a 1.8 kilometre-long runway. The authority is still considering the location of the airport, with the Namanve area thought to be one of the options.

Under a 20-year Civil Aviation Master-plan, the CAA plans to expand Entebbe International Airport by building a domestic terminal, airport terminal, aircraft maintenance hangers, a second parallel runway and taxiways.

Preparation for the 300 million USD expansion has kicked-off with the acquisition of 66 acres of land formerly owned by the Agriculture Ministry. Although Entebbe Airport requires 2,000 ha for expansion, its land at Kigungu adjacent to the runway has been encroached on.

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Mozambique’s Mining Sector Expected To See Major Growth

LONDON, Oct 16 (NNN-AIM) — Mozambique will see a rapid growth in its mining sector over the next few years, according to a report by Business Monitor International (BMI), which provides businesses, banks, financial service companies, governments, academia and research centres with analyses, data and forecasts.

BMI said in a report here Tuesday that Mozambique would be “one of the major growth stories in the global mining sector as a combination of investment into its sizeable coal reserves and a relatively strong business environment coalesce to provide rapid growth in output”

The researchers expect the value of the country’s mining sector to grow from 263 million USD in 2012 to 735 million USD in 2017, a jump from 1.8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 to 2.9 per cent in 2017.

The report pointed out that the country’s coal sector would expand over the next few years. Almost all of the coal mined would be exported, giving Mozambique the potential to become one of the largest global exporters, with India and China the main destinations.

However, the report warned that there were still concerns about the capacity of Mozambique’s infrastructure to cope with the projected increase in production. It noted that “there have in fact been positive developments, with Mozambique’s Nacala port ready to export its first shipment of coal from December 2013”.

In addition, the analysis stated that the government planned to submit a draft of a revised mining law by the end of 2013 in a bid to streamline procedures and attract more investment to its booming coal sector.

It said the government had stated that its new mining code would not change royalties or mining taxes, and was purely to speed up the licence process and reduce bureaucracy for mining investment, a move which appeared to be wholly positive for the sector.

Last week, BMI brought out a report on risk factors in Mozambique in which it estimated that GDP growth would more than double from 7.1 per cent this year to 15 per cent in 2020. This is when BMI expects the country’s natural gas fields to begin production.

Recently, BMI estimated that Mozambique would be the fastest growing economy in the world over the next decade. It calculated that accumulated GDP growth by 2022 would be 158.8 per cent.

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Direct Mozambique-India Flights Planned, Says Ambassador

MAPUTO, Oct 16 (NNN-AIM) — Mozambique could soon have direct flights to India, says the country’s High Commissioner (Ambassador) to India, Jose Maria Morais.

Speaking at a meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Mozambican diplomat pointed out that a civil aviation agreement between the two countries could soon be signed.

However, Morais was unable to say which Indian city the flights would operate to, but commented: “Once the deal is signed, both our national carriers will have an air link.”

The meeting in the Indian city of Chennai was organized to introduce a Mozambican business delegation, according to the Express News Service.

The High Commissioner also expressed his desire to take a delegation of Indian business people to Mozambique. Economic links between the two countries are increasing rapidly. Bilateral trade could grow to three billion USD by 2016, up from the current level of 1.28 billion USD.

India has supported Mozambique’s development through various lines of credit from its Export Import Bank, which have totalled 640 million USD. In July, it opened a 217 million USD credit line to finance infrastructure projects. That followed on from an even larger credit line opened during the visit of Mozambican President Armando Guebuza to India in 2010.

In addition, Indian companies are heavily involved in developing Mozambique’s large coal and gas deposits.

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Indonesia Plans To Apply 500 Product Quality Standards In 2014

JAKARTA, Indonesia Oct. 17 (NNN-Xinhua) — The National Standardization Agency (BSN) of Indonesia planned to issue 500 new product quality standards known as Indonesian national standard (SNI) next year in an attempt to boost competitiveness of products, an official said here on Thursday.

Chairman of National Standardization Agency of Indonesia Bambang Prasetya said that the new standard would be imposed in many sectors, including agriculture, foods, electronic, industry, construction and others.

Prasetyo said that currently the agency had applied over 9,500 SNIs.

The chairman said that some of the quality standard had been used by the international communities, and the government would seek to make more Indonesian standards be adopted by the foreign communities, which indicates that the country’s standards are qualified internationally.

“We have striven to make more our standards used by the international communities,” he said at Jakarta Convention Center.

To boost the competitiveness of Indonesia’s products at the global market, the chairman said that Indonesia had adopted several international quality standards.

“But, (for the products planned to enter Indonesian market), Indonesia applies its own standard which has criteria adjusted with Indonesian condition,” he said.

Coordinating Minister for Economy Hatta Rajasa said that with more-integrated global economy, Indonesia needed to boost its competitiveness.

“Therefore, our standard must be able to step up our competitiveness,” said Hatta at the center.

Indonesia’s export is account of about 26 percent of the GDP and its huge domestic market of 238 million populations has been a target for foreign products.

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Malawi: Government Eyes Tourism for Forex

Malawi News Agency – 11 October 2013 – Blantyre — Government says tourism is Malawi’s next potential big foreign exchange earner now that tobacco may not be popular with the growing anti-smoking lobby.

Former Minister of Tourism and Culture, Racheal Zulu revealed this on Wednesday on the sidelines of the World Postal Day Commemorations in Chiradzulu, where the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) handed over a renovated Mtengatenga postal hut to her ministry.

Mtengatenga postal museum hut is located between Blantyre and Zomba and that is where people carrying letters and parcels from Zomba (and other districts) on one side and Blantyre (and other districts) on the other, were meeting to exchange letters and parcels.

“Tourism is well nurtured and has the potential to become a multi-billion Kwacha industry that can change the lives of many communities around the country,” she said.

Zulu observed that the first step in transforming the nation into a holiday destination is to preserve and treasure places of historic interest that have great potential to attract visitors.

“Mtengatenga postal hut is strategically located on a busy road to our great tourist destinations of Zomba and Mangochi. Imagine the businesses that could emerge from this community if thousands of tourists would stop over at the hut on their way to the said destinations,” she noted.

Zulu also said many businesses such as lodges, curios sellers and groceries that could be established at the place could change the socio-economic wellbeing of the surrounding communities, appealing to Malawians to develop a habit of visiting these historical places.

However, Malawi News Agency has observed that people are not into the habit of visiting the country’s tourism destination places because they are expensive.

“I wonder why these government people always talk of Malawians appreciating tourism and the like. What are they doing about making places affordable for Malawians? Why don’t they come up with subsidized programmes for organizations or religious bodies to be taking people to such places?” asked Gift, a Blantyre resident.

“It is sad to hear tales of Malawian locals who fail to explain to visitors from abroad when they are asked about tourism attraction sites found in our beautiful country… .we should become tourist ambassadors and help sell our country to millions of tourists wanting to identify a destination to spend their money,” the minister said confidently. Other countries like Kenya, South Africa, Mauritius, Zambia and Tanzania rely on tourism as one of their greatest contributors to their Growth Domestic Product (GDP).

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Nigeria: Ministry, NSE Partner to Develop Tourism Industry

This Day – 14 October 2013 – The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) will partner as part of efforts to develop the tourism industry.

The Chief Executive Officer of the NSE, Mr. Oscar Onyema disclosed this at the weekend when the Minister, Mr. Edem Duke, visited the management of the exchange and stockbrokers on the Lagos trading floor.

Onyema said the exchange and ministry would, early next year, organise a national discourse on tourism as a business so that the industry could actually be galvanised. According to him, just like every other sector that is developing, the tourism industry needs capital, stressing that it is what the stock exchange is for.

Duke disclosed that transformation of the National Art Theatre into a duty-free leisure and entertainment city, which has been approved by President Goodluck Jonathan, would be facilitated partly through the capital market so that everyone can participate and benefit.

He said investors in the capital market should look beyond the traditional areas of investment and look into the new frontier, which he said, is tourism.

“For us in the ministry, this is a big leap of faith and visitation to the NSE is meant to open a new page in the engagement of the private sector to look at the second largest economic sector globally and to raise the awareness that investors in NSE must also begin to look beyond the traditional areas of investment and look into the new frontier because today globally, tourism has become an opportunity for diversifying nation’s economy, restoring hope, creating platform for national cohesion and putting jobs at the behest of our young men and women,” he said.

Duke said having visited the capital market community, the brokers would advise their clients (investors) to patronise the industry. “It is my belief that having come here, we will solicit and gain your confidence and support so that our otherwise feeble voice will be enriched by your rich eloquent voices and then you will speak with the big investors in the Nigerian economy and those who are still sitting on the fence as we begin to look at the dwindling fortunes from traditional sector, culture and tourism holds great opportunities for the future of this country,” he said.

“As I look at all of you, I see that spirit of enterprise, that believe that commitment that passion that is typically Nigerian and I am sure that every blessed day that you retire from the trading floor, you find opportunity for leisure and entertainment. It is time to put culture as an enterprise on the front burner of nation economic discourse. And hopefully generate significant activities on the exchange and creating capital and finance for that sector”, he added.

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Sierra Leone: Tourism Minister Markets Potentials in Italy

Concord Times – 16 October 2013 – In an effort to boost the tourism sector for sustainable economic growth, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Tourism and Culture, Peter BayukuKonteh has taken it upon himself to lure meaningful investors in Italy for possible investment in the country.

His recent visit to Italy with the Chairman of Sierra Leone’s National Tourist Board, Ahmed Wurie last week, on the kind invitation of the Honorary Consul General Allesandro Rosso, demonstrated the minister’s readiness to ensure that the country continues to be an attractive destination for potential investors.

While in Italy, Mr. Konteh engaged Italian business moguls and tour operators in Milan to inform them about the country’s enormous potentials and its friendly and unique business environment. He therefore encouraged them to explore such potentials and establish their respective businesses in the country. After a detailed highlight of the existing opportunities in the country, the minister said the tour operators, especially Kouni Tours, have expressed interest to go to Sierra Leone later this year.

In another development, Minister Konteh met with Ms. Simonetta Giordani, Under-Secretary in the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism of the Republic of Italy and the head of the Crisis Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Claudio Taffuri in Rome. During the two meetings, Minister Konteh refuted claims made by the Italian government advising its citizens that they should not travel to Sierra Leone unnecessarily. The reports further warned that due to the country’s horrible past, travelling to the rural areas of the country is detrimental.

The minister dispelled such as baseless and unfounded, and informed Ms. Giordani and Mr. Taffuri about the ongoing developments in the country. He gave an overview of Sierra Leone’s governance reform process, thus leading to the country’s enviable position in terms of economic growth across Africa.

He urged his hosts to embark on a proper research about the situation on the ground before disseminating such information to the general public. Sierra Leone, he went on, has attracted world attention due to its success story in democratic governance and infrastructural development in recent times. This was why world leaders, including United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, have reposed confidence in the country due to its ongoing development programmes, he said and advised the government of Italy through the Under-Secretary to remove such information from their website; as such message may have negative impact on the country’s strides to promote sustainable development.

While encouraging the Italian government to help market the country’s good image and strengthen the bilateral relationship that exists between the two countries, Minister Konteh urged Sierra Leoneans – including government missions abroad – to monitor information published about the country in respective websites.

Responding, the Under-Secretary and the head of the Crisis Unit expressed concern about such misinformation and assured the minister that immediate and necessary action will soon be taken to put the records straight.

Meanwhile, the Italian Ambassador based in Abidjan has already been contacted by the department of the Crisis Unit in Rome to do a proper assessment regarding the present reality in Sierra Leone. The Under-Secretary has also expressed interest in helping Sierra Leone to get more tourist attraction and other business related opportunities.

MinisterKonteh later proceeded to the Italian region of Tuscani where he held meetings with the Mayor and 25 medical doctors who have been travelling to Sierra Leone to offer free medical services to the people of Koinadugu district. He disclosed that the region of Tuscani is about to send a 20ft container with solar panels, medical equipment and a mini bus for the Kabala government hospital, the nursing school and the blind school respectively.

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Egypt: Beblawi Says All Egyptian Touristic Destinations Ready to Welcome All Visitors

Egypt State Information Service – 16 October 2013 – Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, Civil Aviation Minister Abdel-Aziz Fadel, Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou and South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda inspected on Tuesday 15/10/2013 Sharm el-Sheikh Airport and other tourist projects.

El-Beblawi reviewed the airport developing projects especially the establishment of a new terminal with a capacity of 8 to 18 million passengers annually and with a total cost of about 457 million dollars as well as the establishment of a new lane with a capacity of 40 planes.

During his visit, el-Beblawi met with several tourists to convey a message that Egypt is safe and stable as well as to show support to investors and tourism in Egypt.

Beblawi stressed that all Egyptian touristic destinations are ready to welcome all visitors, calling on the Egyptians to spend their holidays in these attractive places.

El-Beblawi also extended his greeting to Egyptian people on the occasion of Eid al-Adha.

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Egyptian Named Second Best Tour Guide in World

Egypt State Information Service – 17 October 2013 – An Egyptian won the silver prize in the 2013 best world tour guide competition organized by the British Wanderlust travel magazine. The award was based on the number of ratings given by the magazine readers to Hossam Mousa. The readers lauded his skills, knowledge and presentable appearance.

Moussa decided to donate his 2,500-strling prize to a charity taking care of street children in Egypt. Egyptian Ambassador to Britain Ashref el-Khouli welcomed Moussa at his office and congratulated him over the win.

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Underwater museum planned in Turkey’s Antalya

17 October 2013 – TODAY.AZ – The Shipping Trade Chamber (DTO) Antalya Branch is planning to establish in Antalya a similar museum to the world famous underwater museum in the Caribbean Sea.

The project aims to make the city a diving center and to improve underwater sports. Talks have started with the West Mediterranean Development Agency (BAKA). The museum is set to be established in the Side district.

DTO Antalya Branch Chairman ?nanç Kendiro?lu said the museum would provide the international promotion of the underwater tourism potential in Antalya, and the city would step into a new age in diving tourism.

Kendiroglu, who spoke with BAKA Secretary General Tuncay Engin, said the agency was “positive” about the project, and the tasks would begin for the establishment of the underground museum.

The world’s first underwater museum in Mexico’s Cancun has drawn attention with the placement of 400 human sculptures to form coral reef. The museum aims to demonstrate the interaction between art and environmental science and forms a complex reef structure for marine life to colonize, inhabit and increase biomass on a grand scale. Sculptures are made from specialized materials used to promote coral life.

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US museums with stunning Azerbaijani art examples

18 October 2013 – AzerNews – Notwithstanding the long distance, many Azerbaijani art samples are kept in museums all over the United States.

Currently, hundreds of rare art samples, especially handmade ones, are kept at museums in Washington, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco, Cleveland, Detroit, Boston and other cities, art galleries and private collections.

Azerbaijani art specimens were brought to America by two ways — trade and archeological excavations.

From the historical point of view the most ancient of the art works kept in the United States are metal items presently exhibited in New York city’s Metropolitan Musem of Art and Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

One of the most prominent art samples kept in the Metropolitan museum is jewelry dated 8-7th centuries BCE. One of them, a golden bracelet, has attracted the greatest attention of art critics.

A lion representation on the bracelet, including lion heads on both sides of it, was made with astonishing accuracy and dynamics.

This art, which has over 3,000 year-long history, reminds of theScythian culture, which widely spread in the territory between the northern part of the Black Sea and the southern part of the Azerbaijani boundaries.

Some sources said the Scythes lived in the territory at that period and made a grand influence upon Azerbaijani political and cultural life. This influence is also reflected in other creations of local craftsmen.

There are many metal art specimens dating back to the Middle Ages in the US museums and private collections, including a bronze dish kept in Cleveland Museum of Art traced to the 12th century.

Also, the art of Azerbaijani carpet weaving is represented in the United States. The ancient Azerbaijani high quality piled and pileless carpets are kept in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

An Ardabil carpet woven in the 16th century that is 178 centimeters wide and 333 centimeters long represents a battle between predators and grass-eating animals, with a lion, a tiger, a wolf, and a deer seen more vividly.

The carpet’s storyline shows that the lion and the tiger tear the deer apart, while other animals, standing in a circle, are watching the fight with colorful flowers and trees in the background.

Another carpet is smaller than the previously mentioned one and is only 107 centimeters wide and 161 centimeters long with an adornment resembling an altar in the center, decorated with flowers and cloud traces.

The clouds have a closed flower bud in the center. The carpet’s bottom is decorated with herbal patterns, while the top is covered with religious inscriptions.

The carpet also attracts the viewer with its weaving style, with golden and silver yarn used in the process of its creation. The carpet was given to the museum by American millionaire Isaac Fletcher.

Most of the Azerbaijani carpet weaving tradition is represented by the 18-19th centuries’ carpets from Baku, Guba-Shirvan, Ganja-Gazakh and Garabagh regions; these carpets are preserved at museums including those in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.

The museum in Boston also has a number of fabrics with storylines dating back to the 16th century.

One of these fabrics, woven in Tabriz, was the velvet upper side of a luxurious umbrella. The fabric’s composition reminds famous Azerbaijani artist Soltan Mahammad Tabrizi’s ‘Shah Tahmasb I in the hunt’ miniature.

The front part of the circular fabric presents a popular hunting scene where a gazelle is pursued by a horseman, a deer is parted by a lion and there is also a head-to-head fight between a young man and a panther.

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Azerbaijan Visual Concert arranged in Czech Republic

16 October 2013 – TODAY.AZ – The Azerbaijan Visual Concert “The Flower of Fire”, comprising the Modern Azerbaijani Mugham Trio, coupled with a synthesis of classical music, has been held in Prague, the Czech Republic.

The concert was organized by AZEDER, the Azerbaijan Student Network (ASN) and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR).

Based on the composition of Gunay Mirzoyeva and Francesco Magiani, the Mugham trio coming from Azerbaijan and the Prague Modern Orchestra accompanied the event and made this special evening a musical- visual tribute to “The Land of Fire”- Azerbaijan, capturing the spirit of its ancient history, traditions, beauties of the country, as well as its music and human community.

Along with the ambassador of Peru, Mrs. Marita Landaveri Portura and the consular of the embassy of Azerbaijan Alimirzamin Askerov, many other members of the diplomatic corps, Czechs and Azerbaijanis residing in Czech Republic, as well as members of different nations visited this event.

The concert was broadcasted by the media of Czech Republic, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Commencing the ceremony with his opening speech, the representative of the ASN in Czech Republic, Sabir Mammadov talked to the event participants about the development of intercultural relations and the importance of such projects for the contribution to and deepening of relations among our nations. Then the guests were welcomed to taste Azerbaijani national meals and sweets under the Azerbaijani music.

The concert was a great opportunity to show the Europeans Azerbaijan being a young and democratic country while comprehending a rich and ancient culture. “The Flower of Fire” was concluded with a very positive impression by event participants.

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Indonesia Investment Forum Hong Kong, November 6-7, Will Open Dialogue Between Indonesia and Global Investors

Jakarta, Indonesia, Oct 16, 2013 – (ANTARA) – Christovita Wiloto, Founder & Chairman of Indonesia Investment Forum said, “Indonesia has huge investment opportunities as a developing country. Government, businesses, and investors should optimally utilize the vast investment opportunities in Indonesia. Along with that, PowerPR and Investor Daily will organize Indonesia Investment Forum regularly, next forum will be held in Hongkong in November, 6-7, 2013 and New York in March 2014. The forum will discuss various investment opportunities in Indonesia and will open the dialogue between Indonesian government, Indonesian corporations as the investment target and Global Investors.”

BKPM to revise 2014 investment target. The Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) says there will be revision of Indonesia’s investment target for the year 2014. BKPM head Mahendra Siregar said that the revision might take place due to the continually declining global economic condition. The BKPM is targeting Rp 390 trillion of investment at end of 2013 and Rp 506 trillion for 2014.

Indonesian companies secured $32.8 billion of financing and investment from Chinese firms on October 3, 2013, during a state visit by President Xi Jinping last October 3, 2013. Xi, in his first visit as president to southeast Asia’s biggest country, became the first foreign leader to address Indonesian lawmakers in parliament. He said China hoped trade with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) would reach $1 trillion by 2020, from $320 billion in 2012, according to ASEAN’s website.

Negotiated by companies including Indonesian state-owned firms and privately held Sinar Mas Group, deals included a $1.8 billion loan to PT OKI Pulp & Paper Mills – an affiliate of Sinar Mas – to build a mill in Sumatra, and funding for five Boeing 777-300 ER planes for PT Garuda Indonesia.

Several Chinese companies also pledged to invest in Indonesia, including Hangzou Jinjian Group Co. Ltd, which plans to spend $600 million on a bauxite-processing complex there, according to the government official.

Investment mostly comes from large developed countries such as the US and China. Despite slowing growth and an uncertain election season coming up in Indonesia, major U.S. companies are planning substantially to intensify their investment in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

A study of 35 of the largest U.S. investors in Indonesia, including Freeport-McMoRan, General Motors, GM, Cargill, Coca-Cola and Chevron, shows plans representing combined investment there of about $61 billion over the next three to five years, compared with $65 billion spread over the past nine years.

Christov said, “This forum will be attended by approximately 50 Indonesia corporations and 50 Global Investors. There will be Public Expose of Indonesia State-Owned Enterprises, Indonesia Districts and Cities. It will be very comprehensive for the first time.”

Primus Dorimulu, Chief Editor of Investor Daily said, “To continue the succes of Indonesia Investment Forum in Singapore in May 2013, PowerPR | Christovita Wiloto & Partners and Investor Daily now present Indonesia Investment Forum in Hong Kong.”

Christov said, “The main purpose of Indonesia Investment Forum is to make Indonesia as a world leading country, by creating a better understanding of business in Indonesia, which will create interest to invest in Indonesia as well as increase the number of investors who will make investment in Indonesia.”

Primus said, “PowerPR and Investor Daily began organizing Indonesia Investment Forum in Singapore, on May 2013. The forum will discuss various investment opportunities in Indonesia and will open the dialogue between Indonesian government, Indonesian corporations as the investment target and Global Investors. This forum will be attended by private corporations, Indonesia State-Owned Enterprises, Indonesia Districts / Cities, Global Investors and various global business communities.”

For more information on participation, sponsor, one on one, investment, media, etc please contact melva_powerpr@wiloto.com please visit http://www.indonesiainvestmentforum.com

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Jokowi breaks ground marking start of work in monorail project –

Wed, October 16 2013 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi broke the ground on Wednesday to mark the start of work to build the city’s monorail project.

Construction of the project was halted 5 years ago on financial problem after some of pillars had been implanted in some areas.

“Thanks God, today we resume the construction of the project. There would be no pillars lying idle and unused,” Jokowi said when inaugurating the groundbreaking ceremony in the Kuningan area of South Jakarta on Wednesday.

He said he was confident the project, which is now owned by PT Jakarta Monorail, would be completed by the end of 2016 if work continues night and day.

“The project owner, a private company, claimed it has been ready with fund and the document,” he said.

Chief Commissioner of PT Jakarta Monorail Edward Soeryadjaya said construction would start along green line between Kuningan and Palmerah.

“The monorail project is aimed at providing an alternative for the Jakarta citizens to avoid being trapped in traffic jams,” Edward said.

He said all preparations needed to resume the construction of the project have been available that his company could start work immediately.

“We would continue to coordinate with the Jakarta city administration during the process of construction. We also will inform the public the possibility of traffic jams in some points where work is underway,” he said.

He said the monorail project will use carriages produced by China CNR Corporation Limited.

CNR is a Chinese state company operating in manufacturing industry with products including carriages for mass rapid transport system.

The monorail project is a mass transport system with a single train. It would have two tracks to operate in areas most strategic in Jakarta.

Green Line extends 14.3 kilometers between Palmerah and Kuningan via Sudirman, and Blue Line extends 13.7 kilometers with 14 stations between Kampung Melayu and Grogol.

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JPI organises Arabic Language workshop

Borneo Bulletin – October 17, 2013 – IN A bid to enhance the skills and professionalism level of officers and teaching staff, the Islamic Studies Department (JPI) under the Ministry of Religious Affairs recently held a two-day workshop on enhancing communication skills in the Arabic Language.

Officiating the opening ceremony was Assistant Director of JPI, Dayang Hajah Surbiah binti Hj Tengah.

Workshop facilitators, Dr Mohammed Mohi El-Din Ahmad, Ustaz Saidai bin Hj Hitam and Dr Abang Hadzmin bin Hj Abang Taha at the event. – NYL

A total of 24 participants including officers from the Inspectorate Section and teachers from Arabic schools nationwide attended the workshop which was held at the Multipurpose Hall of Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Damit Girls Arabic Religious Secondary School (SUAMPRIPAD).

Facilitating the workshop were lecturers from Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA); Dr Siti Sara binti Hj Ahmad, Dr Salah Sabu’ee, Dr Omar Abdullah Semasaba and Ustaz Saidai bin Hj Hitam and from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD); Dr Mohammed Mohi El-Din Ahmad and Dr Abang Hadzmin bin Hj Abang Taha..

At the conclusion of the workshop, SUAMPRIPAD Vice Principal, Ustazah Hjh Rosnah binti Haji Mohd Taha, presented tokens of appreciation to the facilitators and certificates of attendance to the participants.

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Malaysia, UAE tie up to boost Islamic finance

Washington, Sunday, 08 Dhul Hijja 1434/ 13 October 2013 (IINA) – The central banks of Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates signed a pact recently to foster closer economic ties between the two countries, including in the area of Islamic finance.

The pact signals stronger cooperation between the two financial hubs, which held a combined $181 billion in sharia-compliant banking assets as of 2011, despite growing competition for a share of Islamic business. Governors of both central banks signed the memorandum of understanding on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings in Washington. It follows stronger cooperation between the Islamic finance centers, in particular the Gulf and Southeast Asian regions, despite traditional differences in the design and implementation of sharia-compliant financial products.

Both central banks are key backers of the Malaysia-based International Islamic Liquidity Management Corp, an institution tasked with addressing a shortage of interbank lending products for Islamic banks. Last year, Malaysia’s securities commission revised its guidelines for screening equities that qualify for Islamic investment, moving them closer to the approach used in the Gulf. The global Islamic banking industry is expected to tip $1.3 trillion by year-end. It follows religious principles such as a ban on interest and pure monetary speculation.

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Travelers to traverse route of great adventurer of Ottoman era

BURSA – Doğan News Agency – Researchers for the project traveled on the Evliya Çelebi Cultural Route on horseback and made works on culture, history, botany, archaeology and horse-riding. They arrived in the Babasultan village, where the project was introduced. AA photo

Researchers for the project traveled on the Evliya Çelebi Cultural Route on horseback and made works on culture, history, botany, archaeology and horse-riding. They arrived in the Babasultan village, where the project was introduced. AA photo

Horse-riding and hiking enthusiasts will soon be able to walk in the footsteps of the Ottoman Empire’s most famous traveler, Evliya Çelebi, with the construction of the 600-kilometer Evliya Çelebi Cultural Route in western Anatolia.

The cultural road project, which aims to revive history and re-establish cultural ties, includes the routes that Evliya Çelebi passed during a journey that started in Istanbul and ended in the Hejaz in 1671.

Researchers taking part in the project traveled on the Evliya Çelebi Cultural Route on horseback and made works on culture, history, botany, archaeology and horse-riding. They arrived in the Babasultan village, where the project was introduced, with their horses to be welcomed by Bursa Mayor Recep Altepe.

Altepe said the project started in 2011, the internationally recognized Year of Evliya Çelebi. “The city of Bursa aims to improve its identity as a city of tourism. At this point, cultural routes are very important. As a common work of the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Bursa Metropolitan Municipality, we are introducing Turkey’s longest riding travel and walking route.”

The mayor said 250 kilometers of the 600-kilometer route, which starts in the northwestern province of Yalova and ends in the inner Aegean province of Kütahya, passed between İznik and Kütahya and that Babasultan was a historic village along the route.

“Necessary arrangements have been made on this route. Our goal is to host tourists visiting this region in the best way and therefore to make a contribution to Turkish tourism. This work will provide added value to Turkey,” he said.

Speaking about the details of the project, Ottoman historian Dr. Caroline Finkel said researchers on the project were very pleased with the interest they had received so far on the project.

“Babasultan village on the route of the Evliya Çelebi Cultural Road is a unique one. This is the most beautiful place on this road,” she said.

She also asked for a bridge on the road to be named the Evliya Çelebi Bridge.

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Muğla’s Belen Café calls on tourists to take step back in time

MUĞLA – Anadolu Agency – A Turkish traditional ballad ‘Ormancı’ is brought to life in Muğla’s Çaybükü village, as efforts to draw culture-vultures and re-ignite tourism coalesce. The Belen Café has become the gateway to the ancient world where the events of the ‘Ormancı’ ballad are relived

A café in Muğla is continuing to pack in the visitors with its ability to take visitors back in time to the time of a ballad that continues to resonate in local folklore.

Restored in 2005 by the mayor of Muğla, Belen café hosts a total of 40,000 people annually. The place around Belen, Çaybükü in Muğla, also reflects the past and the ancient culture in Turkey’s Anatolian villages.

Belen Café is famous for a particular Turkish song by the name of “Ormancı” (Forester). The song is a ballad that tells a story set in the 1940s, at the Belen Café itself, on the Çaybükü road and the surrounding village. The ballad was based on a real-life event in which two friends in the village who were fighting over a matter related to the government of the time. The fighting escalated, leading to one of the friends killing the other.

The Belen Café still depicts this event by way of the exhibition it has on display, including documents that it has hung around the café itself. The ballad is still played out at the cafe.

The mockups of the ballad’s heroes, Tevfik Cezayir and Mustafa (Mustafa Şahbudak), bring the characters to life as they wander the café today, attracting tourists and visitors from all over the world and also from Turkey.

The various interesting pieces hung on the walls each tell the story of the heroes and two friends involved, while the mockups and models in the café enliven the environment, adding a real and historical effect to the ambience.

“In the past, the event would sadden us all, so much so that we are still trying to forget those difficult times,” said the village headman, Necait Cezayir. “As the café becomes a touristic attraction, the destiny of the village will also change.” The café has been restored to be able to reflect the events that occurred in 1946, he added.

Cezayir said many people come to listen to the story of Belen Café.

Noting that the café has changed many facets across the village, he said the villagers would be able to comfortably profit from the tourist activity.

The café welcomes tourists with ballads from Muğla and Ormancı, where the ballad involves two friends playing checkers and villagers play a more traditional game, which many people end up playing.

The visitors are able to observe how checkers is played, in the café. The café is open 12 months a year, and the climate is suitable for visiting 12 months of the year.

“There is breakfast here and a lot of traditional dishes; we also have many traditional handmade clothes and accessories available for purchase. Tourists are attracted by such products,” Cezayir added.

The place is of great value for Turkey, said tourist Fatma Aksoy, adding that it was very important to protect and preserve such places.

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Turkey’s tourism boom on holiday

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet – Tourists flock to Turkey’s warmer southern climes, such as Pamukkale in Denizli, for the start of the annual Eid al-Adha, the country’s most important holiday. Tourism facilities are expected to host nearly 500,000 visitors during Eid. DHA photo

Tourists flock to Turkey’s warmer southern climes, such as Pamukkale in Denizli, for the start of the annual Eid al-Adha, the country’s most important holiday. Tourism facilities are expected to host nearly 500,000 visitors during Eid. DHA photo

Turkey’s tourism is seeing a boom during the religious festival of Eid al-Adha while the tourism facilities’ occupancy has reached almost full capacity.

The tourism sector is enjoying a fruitful season thanks to the Eid al-Adha and the tourism facilities are expected to host nearly 500,000 visitors, Turkish Hoteliers Association (TÜROFED) Deputy President Mehmet İşler told Cihan News Agency on Oct. 13.

“Despite negative impacts on the tourism sector, Turkish tourism continued to develop. The tourist numbers rose by 10.6 percent in the first eight months from the same period a year earlier,” he said. İşler noted that the recovery in the tourism sector began during the holiday of Eid al-Fitr in August and was sustained in the Eid al-Adha.

İşler stated that the sector was expected to contribute to the economy with 500 million Turkish Liras ($250 million) added-value in this period.

The Eid al-Adha takes place between Oct. 15 and Oct. 18, but the public sector’s employees will be on vacation during nine days, between Oct. 12 and Oct. 20, which motivated people to go on holiday to other cities. Besides, the majority of the employees in the private sector took Oct. 14 off to extend their vacation.

The hotels in Turkey’s southern provinces, which many local and foreign tourists visit particularly during the summer, expect to work at almost full capacity during the holiday. “We are near to the end of the tourism season that will be closed after this nine-day holiday,” Kamil Özer, Muğla Culture and Tourism manager told Anadolu Agency. Özer said local tourists showed interest in Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye, Dalyan, Akyaka and Datça coastal districts of Muğla during this holiday because it was nine days long.

Thermal hotels were another popular holiday destination. The northwestern province of Yalova, one of Turkey’s prominent thermal centers, expects to reach full capacity in its hotels, the mayor of Termal district, İsmail Atik told Anadolu Agency. Atik said particularly tourists from Middle Eastern countries preferred to visit thermal hotels.

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People could benefit from Brunei’s natural goodness

Borneo Bulletin October 14, 2013 – THE island of Borneo including Brunei Darussalam has greatly preserved the ‘greenery’ of its forests thus making it a prime location to produce a wide variety of tropical fruits rich in biochemical goodness.

“Brunei has the potential to lead its people towards living a healthy lifestyle as the country is very much ‘one’ with nature,” said Dr Robert Lockhart, a Natural Hygienist and Drugless Physician during an interview on the ‘Raw Food Lifestyle: How to Live In Harmony with Nature and Disease-Proof Your Body’ seminar at the Central Lecture Theatre, UBD.

“Throughout the years, many have lost their love for nature and to re-establish this passion amongst the community might take some time. Brunei has properly preserved much of its rainforest hence, they have not exposed the country to harmful pesticides or substances that are prevalent in most western countries than throughout Asia.

“It is not natural or normal to become obese and suffer from diabetes, heart diseases or cancer.

“Diseases are the consequences of nature’s broken laws that come mostly from ignorance. We are trying to get rid of ignorance and preconditioned ideas that are impregnated in us since childhood,” highlighted Dr Lockhart.

According to the specialist, well-meaning parents and health professionals urging others to take certain drugs or medicines is not a natural way towards keeping your body fit. Brunei is an ideal location to start a new and improved movement to nature loving.

“It is not as simple as merely consuming raw food but rather a lifestyle. One must realise that if they have decided to give up or stop eating meat altogether, the planet would have slightly benefited from that decisive thinking as they would not be involved in the ‘killing’ of animals,” said the speaker.

“Brunei could be the beating heart in conveying the message to others across the globe that raw natural food is the best for the people.”

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A cultural show steeped in Bisaya tradition

Borne Bulletin October 14, 2013 – THE Bisaya indigenous people, one of the prominent ethnic groups in Brunei Darussalam and on Borneo Island, have been residing in the country for thousands of years.

In the spirit of preserving and promoting the rich tradition and cultures of the Bisaya people, a Bisaya cultural show was held for the first time to celebrate the 1st anniversary of the Bisaya traditional culture, art and heritage bodies of Kg Bebuloh yesterday. It was organised by Kg Bebuloh Consultative Council.

The guest of honour was Awang Haji Mohd Said bin Tundak, village head of Kg Bebuloh, who is also the advisor for the cultural bodies. He admitted that this was the first time that he experienced a function steeped in Bisaya tradition and culture.

Among the highlights was the “Banding” and “Tindik Telinga” ceremony, which uses the traditional way of the Bisaya people to pierce the ears of girls to chase away bad luck.

Children performed five traditional music performances – Gendang Parang, Gendang Sayau, Gendang Imang Imang, Gendang Raja Beradu, Gendang Peribayu – and three traditional dances – Alai Parang, Ngasok and Ansayau.

According to Awang Limbun bin Yaba, Deputy Chairperson of the organising committee, “The Ngasok dance is normally a celebration for harvesting ‘padi’ by the Bisaya people while the Ansayau is a warrior dance for victory after a battle. The tradition may have been in Bisaya for centuries.”

Haji Mohd Said, in his speech, explained the importance of conserving the Bisaya tradition and culture.

He also thanked the organising committee for its effort in “letting people witness the rich tradition of Bisaya people”.

“I’m 60 years old and I have never seen such a unique ceremony. So, it’s safe to assume that ma­­­ny young people have never seen such tradition as well. I hope such events will be carried on.”

Awang Manang bin Silai, the chairperson of the organising committee in his opening remark said: “The celebration is themed ‘Babulang’, a Bisaya tradition that has been passed down from generations.”

The Bisaya traditional culture, art and heritage bodies of Kg Bebuloh, he said, “have organised a number of workshops to unearth talented young children to carry on the traditional music and dance of Bisaya”.

“The aim of the workshops is to further spread the Bisaya tradition to be showcased to the community as a whole so that the tradition will be preserved.”

Awang Manang also thanked the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for carrying out initiatives, through various ministries, to promote the tradition of Bisaya people.

“For example, the Language and Literature Bureau has published a book that contains the Bisaya language,” he said.

He also pointed out that the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports had invited the Bisaya people to share the knowledge of traditional medicine in the Languages of Borneo forum last August and to perform in Taman SOAS during His Majesty’s get-together ceremony this year.

Most recently, the Bisaya community was invited to Istana Nurul Iman during the Asean Summit to showcase its handicraft.

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Dawn of new era for Brunei aviation

Borneo Bulletin October 13, 2013 – WITH the imminent arrival of the remaining four Boeing 787s to Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) and the modernisation of the Brunei International Airport, the national aviation industry is geared for greater heights.

RB has thus becomes the first airline to operate the Dreamliner in Southeast Asia, and will shortly become the first airline to offer an exclusive B787 Dreamliner service on all long-haul flights.

While launching RB’s ‘Betterfly’ with the Dreamliner at the Airport Hangar last night, Minister of Communications, Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, said: “What underlines these events is our synergy in making our aviation industry more sustainable economically, socially and environmentally.

“We are in the middle of a very vibrant region. The international air traffic passenger is to double from three billion passengers in 2012 to 6.4 billion in 2030, with an average growth rate of 6.4 per cent every year in Asia-Pacific.

“While we work towards Asean Open Skies, we hope to see stronger passenger growth in the region. Opportunities will be led by routes within and beyond Asean.

“The expectation also accounts for passengers’ growth from China, Japan and Korea. In this regard, the Ministry of Communications shall continuously seek opportunities to further expand and liberalise Brunei’s air linkages with other countries.”

The minister added that the progress made in Asean had been complemented by the potential in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) region, an initiative that focuses on expanding operations to sustain air services on existing routes.

“RB has contributed in improving our air linkages within BIMP-EAGA with the recent code-share agreement signed on June 28. With this agreement in place, since July 1, MasWings has been code-sharing 15 weekly RB flights between Kota Kinabalu and Bandar Seri Begawan and vice-versa, while RB code-shares on four weekly MasWings flights between Kuching and Bandar Seri Begawan.”

He also noted that it was an opportune time for RB to capitalise on the potential growth of the region and that the new aircraft would enable the national carrier to chart more routes, serve a wider market, improve national connectivity and eventually, enhance national competitiveness.

In line with the regional potentials and the Asean Economic Community goal, the minister was pleased to see the alignment of RB’s strategies with those of the ministry.

“In enhancing national competitiveness, a lot of progress has been seen in major projects involving our infrastructure and connectivity.

The modernisation of the Brunei International Airport is currently progressing well with the anticipated completion date next year. Rehabilitation work on the airport’s pavement will commence soon. Upon completion, the runway will be able to accommodate bigger aircraft.

It has been more than 30 years since RB started its operations. During the span of time, there have been unpredictable challenges in the aviation industry, ranging from fluctuating fuel prices to epidemic breakouts.

The minister lavished the flagship carrier for successfully dealing with the volatility of the aviation industry, saying RB’s “safety record is something we can be proud of”.

“I’m very pleased that RB shares the same priority as the Ministry of Communications – ensuring safety and security in the transportation sector.

“Although it is a record we can be proud of, we should never let complacency creep in. In fact, it is equally important to maintain our standard and continue focussing on safety and security,” he said.

The ministry, through the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) pays serious attention and gives paramount priority to safety and security thus DCA strives to ensure that any airline operator in Brunei Darussalam is in compliance with the safety and security standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as well as other internationally adopted practices such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

As for the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, the minister said he was aware that RB had been working closely with the Department of Civil Aviation to ensure the safety and security of the new fleet, conforming to the requirements of the DCA and the international standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Apart from its state-of-the-art security and safety features, the Dreamliner also provides a more pleasant ambience in the cabin, ensuring a new level of comfort for the passenger.

“However, I am more intrigued by the Dreamliner’s environmentally-friendly features. By consuming 20 per cent less fuel and producing 20 per cent lower CO2 emissions, I am very pleased with the efficiency level of the aircraft.”

Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Haji Abdullah added that with the Dreamliner contributing towards environmental sustainability and energy efficiency, RB had duly answered the government’s call for efficient energy usage.

Aviation sector is a rapidly evolving sector with a growing number of players seen today, particularly among smaller airline operators connecting more cities as new destinations in the region.

The ministry, according to Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Haji Abdullah, had detected positive interests in forming regional airlines in Brunei Darussalam – a development the ministry is encouraged by.

“This development is one that reflects the vibrancy of the industry. The ministry is currently reviewing a policy on regional air services. We’ll be issuing a public consultation paper as part of the policy review exercise.

“We welcome the participation of all stakeholders, interested parties and the general public to give their feedback on the consultation paper. The input received will be valuable when reviewing the policy,” he said.

The ministry conducts an iterative process before making the final policy call on regional air services operating in Brunei Darussalam.

“Through this policy, it is the intention of the ministry to have airline operators work in synergy and complement each other, rather than compete with each other,” said the minister.

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Eight parties interested to develop airport in Maafaru

October 10, 2013 – Eight parties have submitted Expression of Interests to develop a domestic airport in the island of Maafaru in Noonu atoll, north of the Maldives.

A senior official from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture revealed that period for the EOI to a tourist resort in a separate island in Noonu atoll, in conjunction with the airport project, expired at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday.

Kuwaiti company, International Holding Company and a local company, I & T Management expressed interest for the Maafaru airport project earlier this year. Both companies later recalled their proposals.

The Tourism Ministry official said that the EOI’s will be evaluated during next week.

“It is a long holiday after today. But we will evaluate the proposals very soon and invite the parties who qualify to submit RFPs. We want this to progress swiftly,” the official said.

The government called for EOIs for the Maafaru airport development project on 22nd September.

In 2008, the government terminated its agreement with Noonu Hotels for the development of an airport in Maafaru.

The project was announced again on 4 February 2013, after the people of Maafaru staged protests against the delay in commencement of the project, claiming that they were being denied basic needs.

Then acting Minister of Transport Mohamed Nazim was summoned to the Parliament Committee on Oversight of the Government over the protests

Noonu Hotels was also given an island for resort development in conjunction with the Maafaru airport project. According to the government, the company paid $7 million as advance rent for the island.

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Tajik economy is improving, economists say

Central Asia Online 2013-10-15 DUSHANBE – Tajikistan’s economy is recovering as the country tackles challenges in food security, transportation and energy self-sufficiency, according to analysts.

“If you look at the government’s three strategic plans – to break out of our (transport) isolation, to attain energy self-sufficiency and to guarantee food security – the Tajik economy” has done pretty well, Vafo Niyatbekov, deputy chief of analysis and prognostication of foreign policy at the Presidential Centre for Strategic Studies, said.

The country has built about 10 heating plants and more than 20 small hydro-power stations in the past five years, with three large hydro-power stations planned to improve its energy sector, he told Central Asia Online.

“All this indicates we’ll be able to cope with the (energy) crisis and become self-sufficient …,” Niyatbekov said.

Energy self-sufficiency equates to cheap domestic power, which is key to boosting industrial production and luring investors to Tajikistan, he said.

Niyatbekov also pointed to progress on food security.

“Until recently, the bulk of farmland was planted under cotton,” he said. “Today, the government allocates land to farmers, who can independently decide which crops to grow. Having enough agricultural produce to satisfy domestic demand, Tajikistan has started exporting surplus food (dried fruits).”

While the country finally has addressed its problem of inadequate transport links to the outside world (by agreeing to jointly build a Tajik-Afghan-Turkmen railway), the economy still over-relies on migrant worker remittances, Niyatbekov noted. To break this dependency, the country needs to create jobs at home in industries like hydro-power and agriculture, he said.

The Tajik economy has grown this year because of agriculture, which makes up 20% of the GDP, Firuz Saidov, director of the Strategiya think tank, told Central Asia Online.

The country also stands to reap benefits from rising global prices for cotton, he said.

“Industrial production is expected to grow, too. This year’s GDP growth rate will be 0.5 to 1% higher than last year’s. Tajikistan has enjoyed generally favourable development conditions this year, and the weather was good (for agriculture), too,” Saidov added.

Building up domestic resources is key

In addition, micro-lending has helped propel the economy, National Refinancing Institute (Bovari va Khamkori) Director Nurinisso Rustamova said.

“Since the Micro-financing Law was passed in 2005, this sector has grown steadily and dynamically, having an overall positive effect on the economy,” she said.

“It’s good to see micro-lenders gain momentum (by) making micro-loans everywhere, including in remote towns and districts,” Rustamova told Central Asia Online. “Investors have been eager to co-operate, understanding that the public needs access to credit in order to promote self-employment so that it can earn a living and break out of poverty.”

But the country still has few well-paid jobs, which prevents the majority of workers from earning a decent living, Rustamova added.

“Civil society should join forces with government agencies in addressing outstanding problems,” she said. “Specifically, we need to improve the legal environment, tax system and business registration procedures. Support for private enterprise is a ‘must’ since small- and medium-sized businesses’ revenues make up half of GDP.”

Although Tajikistan is moving in the right direction, the country needs to continue working on projects that will allow the country to gain a greater degree of economic independence, Financing and Investment Institute (Moliya va Sarmoya) Director Shulamo Khoshokova said.

“When we learn to employ domestic resources and skillfully allocate them among economically active people, who seek to create new jobs and secure steady incomes for their families, we’ll be able to overcome the most difficult economic situations in our country,” she said.

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Radio Yntymak promotes inter-ethnic peace

Centralasiaonline.com 2013-10-18 OSH – Listeners and viewers in southern Kyrgyzstan are learning tolerance from a fledgling public TV and radio station.

Analysts credit Yntymak for helping stabilise the south and for contributing to stronger inter-ethnic peace after the violent inter-ethnic clashes of 2010.

“I like Radio Yntymak very much … because it reports about the developments in Osh city and throughout Kyrgyzstan, featuring some news in Uzbek,” Ikbol Isakov, an ethnic Uzbek from Aravan, Osh Oblast, told Central Asia Online. “Second, it broadcasts special Uzbek-language shows, where listeners call with questions in Uzbek and receive answers in Uzbek.”

Yntymak, a publicly owned TV and radio station, began broadcasting online in April 2012. In August 2012, it took the 106.1 slot on the FM radio dial. It offers 24 hours of radio and 17 hours of TV daily.

About 60% of the broadcasts are in Kyrgyz, 30% in Uzbek and 10% in Russian, the company said.

The Kyrgyz government established Yntymak in 2011 as a TV/radio station with the mission of strengthening inter-ethnic peace, inter-cultural co-operation and national unity, Ernis Mamyrkanov, one of the station’s founders, told Central Asia Online.

After the June 2010 ethnic riots, which killed about 400 people in southern Kyrgyzstan, the government sought to restore stability by any means available, and the media outlet is one tactic, he said.

“We knew that access to information in one’s native language would be the foundation of … mutual understanding, so we aimed to create a public square for uniting people,” Mamyrkanov said. “That’s how we formed the idea of founding a multi-lingual TV/radio station staffed by a multi-ethnic team … to give everyone something to his or her liking while offering something else that … could unite everybody.”

The Yntymak team attained that goal, Mamurkanov said.

“They generated a variety of programmes and shows that were interesting to all; they contributed to peace-making in southern Kyrgyzstan after the June 2010 tragedy and to restoring public harmony,” he said. “The station became popular in less than a year’s time.”

The Kyrgyz government in 2011 turned to Internews for help in establishing a multi-lingual public radio station in southern Kyrgyzstan and received the requested technical and financial assistance, Mark Walsh, country director of Internews Kyrgyzstan, told Central Asia Online.

“The information vacuum for the (ethnic) Uzbek population in the wake of the June 2010 riots hindered reconciliation between the two ethnic groups,” he said. “The Uzbek community had no vital information about the society (it) lived in, and both ethnic groups (the Kyrgyz majority and Uzbek minority) were left without information about each other that could contribute to mutual understanding and tolerance.”

Yntymak exemplifies how members of both communities can work together on mutually beneficial productions, Walsh said.

“In the future, Yntymak can serve in post-conflict communities elsewhere in the world as a model for reconciling groups divided by conflict,” he added.

Yntymak will be in demand not only today but in the future, too, analysts and locals agreed.

“One of our goals was to mitigate the post-conflict situation,” Yntymak General Director Daniyar Sadiyev told Central Asia Online.

“Another was to re-establish friendly relationships between the two ethnic groups. Yntymak has been a success. … It’s good for bringing the ethnic groups closer together and for strengthening national unity.”

A public oversight board consisting of seven members of different ethnicities runs the company, Sadiyev said.

Apart from their main job, namely, broadcasting, Yntymak staffers have staged joint concerts involving Kyrgyz and Uzbek performers, team members said.

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Kyrgyz economy shows shades of green

Centralasiaonline.com 2013-10-10 OSH – An economy that sustains the environment can flourish in Kyrgyzstan, specialists say.

Alternative technologies like solar power, which are taking root in the country, can reduce environmental risks while helping bring prosperity to the Kyrgyz people, they added.

“A green economy is a completely realistic and achievable aim for Kyrgyzstan,” Vladimir Grebnev, co-ordinator of the UNDP Environment Protection for Sustainable Development programme in the Kyrgyz Republic, told Central Asia Online.

As he sees it, a green economy consists of a combination of technological solutions being introduced in specific economic sectors that will enable the country to transition to a sustainable economy. It sprouts up when consumers have tangible proof of how alternative technologies work in their own communities and helps them trim household expenses like utility bills.

He offered solar panels as an example. When panels installed in a remote village start turning on lights and television sets, that is the introduction of a green economy, Grebnev said.

These new technologies are becoming available around the country.

In Osh, workers built an energy-efficient school last year. Recently, they also built a greenhouse that enables year-round flower cultivation.

“Our country’s government has decided to pursue three tracks in developing the green economy: water, power and environmentally pure agricultural produce,” Baktiyar Kudayberdiyev, chief of the Public Services and Green Economy Combined Department in the Osh mayor’s office, told Central Asia Online.

Toward that end, many entrepreneurs see prospects for profits in energy-efficient technologies, he said.

“The total area of a farm greenhouse is 300sq. m,” Kudayberdiyev added. “It can be used to produce three or four harvests a year. Building the (new Osh greenhouse) cost 850,000 KGS (US $17,350), and we hope that it will pay for itself, given the modern ways to use new technologies.”

Workers are building such hothouses in other parts of Kyrgyzstan, Vyacheslav Kvak, director of the Osh Oblast Agro-Industrial Eco-Complex, said.

“The idea of introducing such hothouses was born several years ago,” he said. “After analysing the situation, we concluded that in the period between growing seasons, a very high proportion (almost 90%) of the fruits and vegetables we consume come from Uzbekistan (and other countries). Chemically fertilised GM (genetically modified) produce is entering our country. And we thought we could arrange to build some hothouses, so that the population could grow environmentally pure produce.”

Three categories of hothouses have been available to the public since the start of the year, he said: industrial, farm and weekend cottage.

Switching to a green economy

A green economy is one where the country is transitioning away from a traditional economy that produces goods and services but pollutes the environment, Evgeniia Postnova, national co-ordinator of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme, said.

“That means that we are switching to a more environmental, cleaner way to obtain goods and services,” she said. “At the same time, we are taking into account the potential access of the next generation to natural resources, both in Kyrgyzstan and globally,” she told Central Asia Online.

The GEF is working closely with communities that are interested in solving environmental problems while reaping benefits (such as by installing solar-powered water-heating plants), Postnova said.

Such endeavours can be profitable, she said.

“Deposits of coal, oil and gas are finite, so change is inevitable,” she said. “And for this to work well in Kyrgyzstan, we need to start showing small communities that the use of renewable energy sources is fully achievable, bearing in mind that we have 300 sunny days a year.”

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Bangladesh Udhiyah Goes Online

OnIslam Monday, 14 October 2013 CAIRO – With a growing number of internet users in Bangladesh, many livestock traders have turned to online brokers to sell ‘Eid Al-Adha sacrifices in the world’s third-largest Muslim majority nation.

“This is a place without hassle and any fear of getting mugged,” Eshita Sharmin, marketing manager at Bikroy.com, one of the largest online shopping websites in Bangladesh, told Gulf Times.

The new trend appeared in the south Asian Muslim majority country a year ago.

Starting with only ten brokers, five online brokers have joined them this year in the proliferating industry.

For Bangladeshi Muslims, online trading offers them full information about the sacrifice, giving detailed description about it including color, breed and estimated weight of the animal.

It also gives farmers and traders a better chance to advertise their cattle and reach a wider range of customers.

Sharmin noted that online brokers cut the burden of going to the livestock markets and walking back with the animals to home.

“Online cattle buying saves time too,” Sharmin added.

Web Reports have showed a boost in online livestock trading after the online livestock advertisements increased to 1200 this year, compared to 800 in 2012.

As the public demand for livestock online increased, the number of online advertisements have also increased to accommodate the boosting demands amid wide spread of internet services in the Asian country, Sharmin said.

Bikroy.com, has already received over 700 advertisements. The numbers is expected to triple during the ‘Eid Al-Adha celebrations.

Udhiyah or animal sacrifice, a ritual that reminds of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma’eel were willing to make for the sake of God.

A financially-able Muslim sacrifices a single sheep or goat or shares six others in sacrificing a camel or cow as an act of worship during the four-day ‘Eid Al-Adha.

The Udhiyah meat should be divided in three equal parts, one each for one’s own family, friends and the poor.

Fair Prices

The new online customer friendly services have also cut prices of the sheep, by excluding the role of the ‘middleman’ or mediators.

Buyers could get sacrificial animals online with ‘fair prices’, which would be delivered to their homes after contacting several traders before making final purchase, said Enamul Haque, project in-charge of online portal Amar Desh Amar Gram.

Before the payment, buyers are allowed to view and check the sacrificial animals, he added.

Livestock online shopping portals offers various prices of sacrificial animals ranging from 6,000 taka to 125,000 taka.

Haque stated that livestock online trading has received ‘positive feedbacks’ from both clients and vendors.

Last year, the online portal Amar Desh Amar Gram, has mediated the sale of 25 cows, the number is expected to double this year.

The portal has advertised about 53 cows with details so far for ‘Eid Al-Adha sacrifices.

Bangladesh is the world’s third-largest Muslim majority nation with a population of some 148 million.

The country has a secular legal system but village councils issue fatwas to resolve disputes in rural areas.

Bangladesh follows Shari’ah in resolving issues related to inheritance and marriage.

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Halal products fair to be held in Bishkek

islam.ru / 12 Oct 2013 – Halal products fair will be held at the Sports Palace named after K. Kojomkula on October 13-15 in Bishkek, the press service of the Spiritual Administration of Kyrgyzstani Muslims reports.

The organizers of the event are the center of halal industry in Kyrgyzstan of Spiritual Administration of Kyrgyzstani Muslims and the Ministry of Economy of Kyrgyzstan republic. The aim of the exhibition is to promote Islamic values , the development of halal products in domestic markets.

“The participation of the manufacturer in the fair is the a great chance for them to demonstrate the confidence in their products, to confirm the high quality of products and services, establishing business contacts with new partners ,” – said the organizers. The fair is dedicated to the sacred holiday of Eid al- Adha.

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New York pupils could get Muslim school holidays

AFP | 18 Oct 2013 – School children in New York are likely to get two extra days off to mark the biggest annual Muslim holidays if the city’s next mayor gets his way.

New York schools currently have mandatory holidays for the Christian festivals Easter and Christmas, and the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Passover.

But the school term often clashes with Islam’s biggest festivals of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, forcing Muslim children to choose between religion or study.

Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio, the frontrunner in the race to be mayor, has told Muslim voters that New York should respect everyone’s faith.

“That’s why we have to respect people of Muslim faith by providing the Eid school holidays for children in our school system,” he said Wednesday.

It was unfair, de Blasio said, for Muslim children to have to decide between observing the religious holiday or sitting for an exam that could fall on the same day.

“They can’t do both under our current system,” the mayoral candidate added.

“We try to make sure that with children of other faiths they don’t have to face that conundrum and it shouldn’t happen to Muslim children either. It will take some time to resolve, but I know we can do it.”

Opinion polls give de Blasio a huge lead in the race for the November 5 election. The next mayor will formally take office on January 1, 2014.

His main Republican party opponent, Joe Lhota, has also indicated support for granting Muslim school holidays.

At a campaign stop in Brooklyn, Lhota acknowledged that New York’s Muslim population was rising.

“Their religion needs to be respected as all other religions are respected,” he was quoted as saying by the New York Daily News.

Thirteen percent of New York school children are Muslim.

In 2008, the city administration passed a unanimous resolution calling for two days’ holiday for the main Muslim festivals, but it has never been implemented.

Current Mayor Michael Bloomberg opposed the move on the grounds that it could invite a flood of similar requests.

“We need more school days, not less,” he has said.

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From Detroit To Makkah

OnIslam Friday, 11 October 2013 CAIRO – Joining millions of Muslims from around the world, Muslims from Metro Detroit area have embarked on hajj pilgrimage to Makkah, as others prepared for ‘Eid Al-Adha with gifts and charitable giving.

“It’s a time of refocusing and renewing,” Yusuf Hai, the managing director from Canton Township, told Detroit News.

“My wife and I have contemplated … how to recommit ourselves to what we believe the world is truly about, which is focusing on God,” Haj, who was planning to join pilgrims with his wife, added.

Haj was not the only American Muslim from Detroit planning hajj this year.

On Sunday, other Metro Detroiters abroad for the pilgrimage will start hajj rituals in Makkah, the most sacred city for Muslims in the world.

Muslims from around the world pour into Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.

Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.

From tearfully praying for forgiveness of sins to stoning a large pillar representing the devil, “the spiritual experience is unmatched,” said Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren, who will be there with a group next week.

Suehaila Amen, a Muslim from Dearborn Heights, has also accompanied relatives for her first pilgrimage.

For her, the journey was a unique chance to reflect and strengthen her spirituality.

“This is just my opportunity to go and give the ultimate thanks for all of the things I have been given in my life,” Amen, a university recruitment events coordinator, said.

Sheikh Ali S. Ali, an imam at the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton Township, who left last week to guide a group on the pilgrimage, said the aim is simple: “We glorify the almighty God.”

Staying at home, other Detroit Muslims were planning for ‘Eid Al-Adha, the major holiday many Muslims begin celebrating Tuesday with prayers, gifts and charitable giving.

“We are able to fulfill our duty and at the same time we fulfill another duty, which is helping our brothers,” Imam Shuajb Gerguri said.

The imam added that members of Harper Woods’ Albanian Islamic Center will send money to a humanitarian group that will arrange meat distribution in the Balkans.

“By doing this, people thank God we have enough ourselves that we are able to help,” imam Gerguri said.

Udhiyah or animal sacrifice, a ritual that reminds of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma’eel were willing to make for the sake of God.

A financially-able Muslim sacrifices a single sheep or goat or shares six others in sacrificing a camel or cow as an act of worship during the four-day ‘Eid Al-Adha.

The Udhiyah meat should be divided in three equal parts, one each for one’s own family, friends and the poor.

It is permissible that someone in another country could perform the sacrifice on one’s behalf.

Parwin Anwar, a bilingual tutor from Sterling Heights, expects to prepare a rice dish for loved ones.

“It’s just a time of happiness and also remembering God and a lot of prayer,” she said.

‘Eid Al-Adha, or “Feast of Sacrifice”, is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations, together with ‘Eid Al-Fitr.

After special prayers to mark the day, Muslims offer unhiyah, a ritual that reminds of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma’eel were willing to make for the sake of God

Festivities and merriment then start with visits to the homes of friends and relatives.

Traditionally, everyone wears new clothes for ‘Eid, and the children look forward to gifts and the traditional ‘ediya (cash).

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