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11 Nov, 2013

Surabaya’s first female mayor pledges to clean out red-light areas

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 11 November 2013 (07 Muharram 1435). Pls click on any of the headlines to go to the story.




Wrap up 2013 with more exciting events before Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014:

Unforgettable shopping spree at the 1Malaysia Year-End Sale 2013? Shopping paradise like Suria KLCC, Pavillion Kuala Lumpur, and Bukit Bintang will be thronged with shoppers and discount hunters seeking the best deals, especially with Christmas and New Year just around the corner. Date: 8 November 2013 – 5 January 2014.
Venue: Nationwide

The annual Sabah Open Dancesport Championship is back for the 13th edition! Come and witness the grace and agility of ballroom dancers from all over Asia Pacific including Taiwan, Australia and Brunei as they rumba, cha-cha and jive their way for a dazzling display of dance!
Organiser: Imperial Ballroom Dancing School
Date: 7 December 2013
Venue: 1Borneo Ballroom, 1Borneo Hypermall, Kota Kinabalu
Contact: +6 088 238 785 (Anthony Keung)

The World’s Most Internationally Represented 4×4 Event – RFC’ 13 !
In conjunction with Visit Terengganu Year 2013, the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) is proud to return to its “home” to face the unpredictable north-east monsoon. With the ultimate aim to complete this off-road adventure, competition and expedition event in 10 days, four wheel drive enthusiasts from more than 30 countries will work together to overcome the mud, rain soaked steamy jungle, insects and creatures of the night.
Organiser: RFC International Sdn. Bhd.
Date: 30 November – 9 December 2013
Venue: Kemaman, Dungun, Tasik Kenyir, Terengganu
Website: www.rainforest-challenge.com
Contact: +6 03 2163 5908/6908 +6 012 211 7080 – Luis J.A. Wee
Email: jawee@rainforest-challenge.com, info@rainforest-challenge.com, luiswee@yahoo.com

All information is correct at time of publication. Visitors are advised to contact the event organiser for the latest updates.


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.




Qatar Airways Offers Nov 11-13 Global Discount Bonanza

10 Nov 2013 – DOHA, Qatar – For three days only, Qatar Airways will celebrate joining the oneworld Alliance by offering customers discounts on Qatar Airways fares for up to 25 percent.

The Bigger World Promotion runs between 11-13 November when Qatar Airways customers can instantly purchase travel beginning 14 November in advance of the holidays through 19 June 2014.

The promotion began at 00:00 hrs on 11 November and ends at 23:59 hrs on 13 November (all times local in each market). Savings are based on round-trip/return fares via Doha.

From London to Melbourne or New York to Delhi, more than 130 destinations Qatar Airways flies are applicable via Doha as a transiting point. The minimum stay is three days and maximum stay is one month with the exception of Australia which is three months.

Blackout dates during this promotion are from 18–23 December 2013 and 2–12 January 2014. To make a booking, customers may visit www.qatarairways.com/biggerworld or visit any Qatar airways sales office or preferred travel agents.

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Guyana Tourism Minister Irfaan Ali: “Believe in your own products”

November 2, 2013 | By KNews – “We need to stop offering tourists Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes for breakfast, and give them some bananas and star apples.”

These were the sentiments shared by Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce (Ag), Irfaan Ali during a simple ceremony held at the International Conference Centre to launch the 19th Tourism Awareness Month.

In addressing the gathering of Private Sector members, diplomats and other special invitees, Minister Ali said that the way forward for the tourism industry and Guyana as a whole would entail the people believing in, and promoting local products.

Tourism Awareness Month 2013 is being observed under the theme “Communication and Information Sharing for Tourism Development.”

Minister Ali said that the launching of the significant month which commenced yesterday comes with a bitter sweet feeling.

He noted that although Guyana’s tourism industry is ahead of other countries by 13 percent, the country still has a considerably long way to go.

Testimony to this he said is the fact that Guyana is still observing the initiation phase – Tourism “Awareness” Month.

Nonetheless, in commemoration of this “significant” month, the Ministry of Tourism, under the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), has a number of activities planned.

These include a World Travel Market to London, a Bartenders’ Cocktail Competition, the Inaugural Leguan Night, a Bird-Watching event scheduled to be held at the Botanical Gardens, a Restaurant Operations Workshop, and a Communication/Public Relations seminar.

The Minister also disclosed plans of hosting a dinner on Fort Island titled ‘Romancing the Fort’.

He noted that despite what persons may say about these and other places being cultural heritage sites, activities need to be held to ensure that people know about the areas.

Ali explained that ‘Romancing the Fort’ will allow for persons to dine under the stars as they observe the beauty of the Fort and its surroundings.

The Minister highlighted that for the recently concluded Duck Curry Competition alone, Guyana welcomed in excess of 200 tourists.

Minister Ali said that billions of dollars are being plugged into the tourism industry, and that Guyana is currently receiving a number of investment initiatives from foreign entities, but stressed that the quality of what is offered locally needs to be improved.

Minister Ali also highlighted that approximately 10,000 people are employed within the tourism sector.

He noted that already for this year, Guyana has been featured in 12 international publications, and is receiving significant interest from foreign investors.

Touching on future plans, Ali said there is an upcoming launch of a direct flight service from Guyana to the United States on December 4, and that a new golf course will be constructed on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway.

He also mentioned the construction of a five-star restaurant, two new hotels and several eco-tourism resorts.

The Minister also revealed that the government, aided by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is looking to establish a National Institute of Hospitality here.

Meanwhile, the inaugural South Rupununi Savannah Safari was also officially launched by Former Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Harripersaud Nokta and his fellow coordinator of the event, Frank Singh.

This event will commence on November 27 and end on December 1.

The launch ended with the cutting of a cake by Minister Ali and Executive Member of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), Andrea DeCaires.

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OIC Chief to lead high-level delegation to Myanmar

Jeddah, Sunday, 06 Muharram 1434/ 10 November 2013 (IINA) –A high-level delegation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will visit Myanmar on Tuesday. The delegation, led by Secretary Prof. General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, will include seven foreign ministers and senior officials from the OIC member countries.

The OIC delegation will meet top government officials as well as political leaders and parliament members from the majority Buddhist community and the minority Rohingya Muslims, according to OIC sources. The delegation will also carry out field visit to the riot-hit regions and takes stock of the living condition of the Rohingya Muslim minority. Dr. Ihsangolu said the issue of Rohingya Muslims is one of the major issues that he has been giving top priority during his nine-year tenure as the secretary general of the 57-member pan Islamic organization. This is the first time, Ihsanoglu is paying a visit to Myanmar.

The 3rd Session of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), which concluded last month in Jeddah, decided to a send fact-finding mission to Myanmar in mid-November to have a field assessment of the situation of the Rohingya Muslims, who are reeling under oppression by the majority Buddhist community.

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2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture Recipients Announced

Lisbon, 6 September 2013 – Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of the Portuguese Republic, and the Aga Khan today presented the Aga Khan Awards for Architecture at the Castle of São Jorge in Lisbon.

The five winning projects are:

Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, Khartoum, Sudan: The Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, which consists of a hospital with 63 beds, serves over 50,000 patients per year, drawing from a catchment area in eastern Africa of over 300 million people. The welcoming architecture “provides an exemplary prototype for the region as well as for the field”, remarked the Master Jury in their citation. The Centre meets the high technical demands of a hospital with complex functions, including three operating theatres, while providing a number of eco-friendly solutions to common problems. Mixed modes of ventilation and natural light enable all spaces to be homely and intimate. In addition to solar panels and special insulation techniques, the architects have reused 90 six- metre (20-foot) containers that had been discarded after being used to transport construction materials for the Centre.

Revitalisation of Birzeit Historic Centre, Birzeit, Palestine: The five-year project, which will eventually encompass 50 villages, is part of a rehabilitation master plan initiated by the Riwaq Centre for Architectural Conservation. The project has transformed the decaying town of Birzeit, creating employment and reviving traditional crafts. The Master Jury remarked that the project brought together “stakeholders and local craftsmen into a process of healing that is not merely physical but that is social, economic and political”. By focusing on towns and villages in the area under Palestinian civil authority – where an estimated 50 percent of the surviving historic structures are located and where most Palestinians live – Riwaq realised that it could save much of the local heritage while at the same time having greatest significant socio-economic impact.

Rabat-Salé Urban Infrastructure Project, Morocco: Linking Rabat and Salé to form an urban hub, the project was born out of a new vision of large-scale regeneration, one in which improved transportation and mobility were to be priority components of the larger urban plan. The project combines exemplary bridge design, infrastructure improvement and urban planning. As a result, the Hassan II Bridge has become a new icon for Rabat-Salé, reinforcing a modern, progressive, twin-city identity. The Master Jury remarked that the project was “a sophisticated and cohesive model for future infrastructure projects, especially in places of rapid urbanisation”.

Rehabilitation of Tabriz Bazaar, Tabriz, Iran: With origins in the 10th century, the Tabriz Bazaar has long functioned as a main commercial centre for the city. But by the late 20th century, it had begun to deteriorate. To rehabilitate the structures, which cover 27 hectares and over 5.5 kilometres of covered bazaars, a management framework was established that involved the bazaar community, municipal authorities and the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHTO). During the pilot restoration project, the government contributed 85 percent of the financial coverage and the bazaar community contributed 15 percent; in subsequent stages, the bazaar community – convinced of the value of the restoration – provided up to 90 percent of the funding. The Master Jury found that the project was “a remarkable example of stakeholder coordination and cooperation to restore and revitalise a unique structure”. Since 2000, numerous complexes within the bazaar have been rehabilitated, infrastructure has been improved and public facilities have been built.

Islamic Cemetery, Altach, Austria: Until recently, some Muslims in Austria would send their dead back to their countries of origin for burial. But the desire of Muslims to be buried in the countries of their birth led to the creation of a multi-faith, multi-ethnic group of actors, including local authorities and an NGO, to create a cemetery where funeral rites could be administered locally. The design was lauded by the Award’s Master Jury for the way it realised “the wish of an immigrant community seeking to create a space that fulfils their spiritual aspirations and, at the same time, responds to the context of their adopted country”. Inspired by garden design, it features roseate concrete walls, five staggered, rectangular gravesite enclosures, and a structure housing assembly and prayer rooms. The principal materials used were exposed reinforced concrete for the walls and oak wood for the ornamentation of the entrance facade and the interior of the prayer space.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, which was established by the Aga Khan in 1977, is given every three years. It recognises all types of building projects that affect today’s built environment, from modest, small-scale projects to sizable complexes.

As this cycle’s recipients illustrate, the Award’s mandate is different from that of many other architecture prizes: it selects projects – from innovative mud and bamboo schools to state of the art “green” buildings – that not only exhibit architectural excellence but also improve the overall quality of life.

The US$ 1 million prize, which will be divided among the five recipients, does not necessarily go to the architect. The Award also identifies municipalities, builders, clients, master craftsmen and engineers who have played important roles in the realisation of a project. The Master Jury has the discretion to apportion the prize money however it sees fit.

Since the Award was launched 36 years ago, 110 projects have received the award and nearly 8000 building projects have been documented.

The 2013 Award Master Jury

The Awards are selected by an independent Master Jury appointed by the Steering Committee for each three-year Award cycle. The nine members of the Master Jury for the 2010-2013 Award cycle are:

(+) Mr. David Adjaye, Principal, Adjaye Associates, London, United Kingdom

(+) Dr. Howayda al-Harithy, Professor, Department of Architecture and Design, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

(+) Mr. Michel Desvigne, Landscape Architect and Founder, Agence Michel Desvigne, Paris, France

(+) Professor Mahmood Mamdani, Professor and Executive Director, Makerere Institute for Social Research (MISR), Wandegeya, Uganda

(+) Mr. Kamil Merican, Principal Designer and CEO, Group Design Partnership, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

(+) Professor Toshiko Mori, Principal, Toshiko Mori Architect, New York City, USA

(+) Ms. Shahzia Sikander, Artist, New York City, USA

(+) Mr. Murat Tabanlıoğlu, Architect and Founder, Tabanlıoğlu Architects, Istanbul, Turkey

(+) Mr. Wang Shu, Architect and Founder, Amateur Architecture Studio, Hangzhou, China

Steering Committee

The Award is governed by a Steering Committee chaired by the Aga Khan. The current members of the Steering Committee are:

(+) The Aga Khan, Chairman

(+) Mohammad al-Asad, Founder & chairman, Center for the Study of the Built Environment, Jordan

(+) Homi K. Bhabha, Director of the Humanities Center, Harvard University, USA

(+) Norman Foster, Founder and chairman, Foster + Partners, UK

(+) Omar Abdulaziz Hallaj, Architect, Syria

(+) Glenn Lowry, Director, Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

(+) Rahul Mehrotra, Principal, RMA Architects, India

(+) Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, USA

(+) Farshid Moussavi, Principal, Farshid Moussavi Architecture, UK

(+) Han Tümertekin, Principal, Mimarlar Tasarim Danismanlik Ltd, Turkey

Farrokh Derakhshani is Director of the Award.

A monograph featuring the projects of the 2013 Aga Khan Award, entitled “Architecture is Life”, has been published by Lars Müller Publishers www.lars-mueller-publishers.com (September 2013).

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was established by the Aga Khan in 1977 to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence. The Award recognises examples of architectural excellence in the fields of contemporary design, social housing, community improvement and development, historic preservation, reuse and area conservation, as well as landscape design and improvement of the environment.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture is part of the Geneva-based Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which has a wide range of activities aimed at the preservation and promotion of the material and spiritual heritage of Muslim societies. Its programmes include the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (HCP), which works to revitalise historic cities in the Muslim world, both culturally and socioeconomically. Over the last decade, it has been engaged in the rehabilitation of historic areas in Cairo, Kabul, Herat, Aleppo, Delhi, Zanzibar, Mostar, northern Pakistan, Timbuktu and Mopti. The Trust also supports the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as well as www.ArchNet.org, a major online resource on Islamic architecture.

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Lufthansa To Fly Non-Stop Kuala Lumpur-Frankfurt

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 (NNN-Bernama) — German airline, Lufthansa, has announced new, five times a week non-stop direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to it’s hub in Frankfurt by the first quarter of 2014.

The direct service also features conveniently scheduled evening flights, especially for business passengers, offering them a time saving and efficient connection to Europe.

General Manager Malaysia Paurus Nekoo said the country’s positive economic growth and development, as well as successful investments of German and European companies in the region, were amongst key factors that drove the service enhancement for Lufthansa.

The draw of Malaysia as a top tourist destination for European travelers also contributed to the move, he added, in a statement.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd Managing Director Bashir Ahmad said the airport operator welcomed Lufthansa’s decision to start non-stop flights to its hub in Frankfurt.

“After operating close to a decade via an intermediate point, these non-stop flights reflect the increased importance of the Malaysian market to Lufthansa. “The direct services also augur well for the Visit Malaysia Year 2014,” he added.

Lufthansa began flights to Malaysia in 1980 and up to now has offered the service with a stop-over in Bangkok.

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Great Orang Utan Project In Sarawak Wins Award At WTM London

LONDON, UK -: The Great Orang Utan Project being run at Matang Wildlife Centre in Kuching, Sarawak has been highly commended in the Best for Responsible Wildlife Experience at World Responsible Tourism Awards 2013. The award ceremony was held last weekend at 2013 World Travel Market (WTM), the leading global event for the travel industry.

At the ceremony, the award was handed over to Datuk Amar Abang Zohari Tun Openg, Sarawak’s Minister of Housing & Tourism by Andrew Starbucks, Managing Director of The Great Projects UK. Also present at the ceremony were Assistant Minister of Tourism Sarawak, Datuk Haji Talib Zulpilip, Director General of Tourism Malaysia, Dato’ Mirza Mohammad Taiyab and Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Tourism Sarawak, Datu’ Ik Pahon Joyik.

The Awards are the most prestigious and competitive of their kind in the world and are a collaboration between online travel directory responsibletravel.com and ICRT (International Centre for Responsible Tourism). The Award ceremony took place at World Travel Market during its dedicated World Responsible Tourism Day which takes place on the same time at the event venue and supported by the prominent mainstream media partners such as Metro and industry broadcasters such as TTG, Green Hotelier and Selling Long Haul.

This year, the Award featured 8 categories covering a variety of topics, which reflect the hottest issue curently debated in the world of responsible and sustainable tourism. The Great Orang Utan Project in Matang Wildlife Centre that has been highly commended for this category is part of a family of animal protection projects under The Great Projects of UK.

Maurice Balang, Marketing Manager (Europe ?? International Market) of Sarawak Tourism Board who represented the Board at WTM said; “We are proud of the recognition and hope that the awareness created will encourage more travel towards responsible tourism in Sarawak. We offer a great experience where tourist as part of their travels can help save the Orang Utan species”.

Now in their 10th year, the World Responsible Tourism Awards was founded in 2004 to celebrate the most inspiring stories in responsible tourism.

The overall winner for 2013 was the travel company TUI Netherlands for an initiative to fight sex tourism in Brazil.

The winner of the Best Responsible Wildlife Experiences category was Nam Nern Night Safari in Laos that was set up by Wildlife Conservation Society. It is known for its initiative to support the conservation of tigers and their prey, as well as other wildlife, by placing a monetary value on tigers and other wildlife for local people. This category is the newest category introduced this year. The past category which reflect the aims of the effort for wildlife is the Best for Marine Environment that was won by Moonraker Dolphin Swims Australia.

The Great Orang Utan Project was highly commended along with another entry from Belize.

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India to Launch National Portal on Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

Ministry of Minority Affairs, 08-November, 2013 – To commemorate the125th birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, independent India’s first Education Minister a national portal is to be launced on 11th November 2013. Mr K. Rahman Khan (Union Minister of Minority Affairs) wil launch the portal in presence of Dr. Sam Pitroda (Advisor to Prime Minister), Dr. Syeda Hameed (Biographer of Maulana Azad) and Shri Wajahat Habibullah (Chairperson, National Commission for Minorities).

Muhiyuddin Ahmed, popularly known as Maulana Abul KalamAzad, (11 November 1888 – 22 February 1958) was a scholar and senior leader of the Indian Independence Movement. He was one of the tallest national leaders of his time in the cause of Hindu Muslim unity as well as secularism and socialism. His contribution to laying the foundation of education in Independent India is recognised by celebrating his birthday as “National Education Day” across India.

The portal is a collaborative effort by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs, the Office of Advisor to the Prime Minister, the National Commission for Minorities, the Ministry of Culture). The portal will be a one stop point to collate all knowledge and resources available on Maulana Azad, easily accessible for people to know, learn and grow from the inspiration that he continues to be.

This portal is an initiative by the Government of India to digitize the heritage of great leaders and make their life and times available online. A similar portal on Mahatma Gandhi was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister in September 2013, and one on Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is currently in the offing.

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Emirates ups children’s inflight programming for December

DUBAI, U.A.E., 07 November 2013: With the winter break fast approaching, young travellers will have more entertainment choices than ever, thanks to Emirates. The airline announced today it will boost the children’s content on its award-winning in-flight entertainment system, iceDigital Widescreen (information, communication, entertainment) in time for the busy travel season.

From new release movies and Disney classics to a massive selection of TV programmes, December will be a great month to fly Emirates with the family.

Children on an Emirates flight in December have more than 50 hours of kid-friendly TV waiting for them. New features on iceDigital Widescreen include Nickelodeon featuring Bubble GuppiesSpongebob and Team Umizoomi, plus new and updated channels dedicated to Thomas & FriendsDora the ExplorerMickey Mouse ClubhouseAustin & Ally, and The Gruffalo. This is in addition to the BBC’s CBeebies, pre-school channel Disney Jr., Cartoon Network and over 15 channels of top children’s television.

ice Digital Widescreen’s movie line-up is also guaranteed to keep just about any child occupied with new releases for kids headed up by Despicable Me 2 and the smash hit, One Direction: This is Us, just two of 15 recent movies that children will love including The Smurfs 2Planes, and The Croods. Many of these movies are available in up to seven different languages and close to half offer closed captions for the hard of hearing.

New movies are backed up with an awesome selection of 40 Disney Classics: movies parents will love introducing to their kids. All-time favourites such as 101 DalmatiansCinderella and Mary Poppins are always popular onboard as are “modern classics” like CarsToy Story, and all four Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

“We want getting there to be half the fun, and the flight on Emirates to be the part that everyone in the family looks forward to. Having a great entertainment line-up for kids also helps alleviate some of the travel stress from the parents, so they can relax and enjoy the flight,” said Patrick Brannelly, Emirates’ Vice President Corporate Communications Product, Publishing, Digital & Events.

He added: “Emirates pioneered inflight children’s entertainment with the launch of a dedicated children’s TV channel back in 1992, and the introduction of a huge selection of Disney movies in 2003. We aim to continue raising the bar in this regard and look holistically at the whole entertainment offering such as the variety of games to play, music to listen to, kids activity packs and the newest members of the Emirates family: the Fly With Me Monsters.”

Each month Emirates reviews its entertainment to deliver the latest and best movies, television, audio and games from around the world. With more than 1,600 channels in 30 languages, iceDigital Widescreen ensures passengers of all ages are spoiled for choice.

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Qatar Airways Expands in China With Flights To Hangzhou

DOHA, Qatar 5 November 2013 – Qatar Airways announced it will begin flights to Hangzhou, China beginning 20 December 2013. The non-stop service from Doha to Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang Province, will fly four-times-weekly.

“This year we celebrate 10 years of flying to China,” said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker. “The addition of our seventh route in China will provide additional connectivity for business and leisure travellers connecting from Asia, the Middle East and GCC countries. Just two months after the launch of the Chengdu service, we are able to offer our passengers even more options for flying into China with the addition of Hangzhou.”

A state-of-the-art Airbus A330 will be operated on the Doha – Hangzhou route. The aircraft will feature 260 seats with 24 seats in Business Class and 236 seats in Economy. Selected aircraft will feature seatback TV screens, providing passengers with the next generation interactive on board entertainment system, featuring a choice of more than 800 audio and video on-demand options.

Qatar Airways began operations to China in 2003 with the launch non-stop flights to Shanghai, with the airline further expanding its portfolio over the past decade with the addition of Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Chongqing and Chengdu.

Hangzhou, which is the fourth-largest metropolitan area in China, is known for its rich history and picturesque scenery. The city, one of the top tourist sites in China, is also referred to as ‘Paradise on Earth’, ‘Home of Silk’ and ‘Tea Capital’. Highlights for tourists to Hangzhou include:

• West Lake – This fresh water lake has been an attraction for centuries. The enormous land-and-water park, has some 40 scenic and/or historic sites, comprising more than 30 key cultural relics which are distributed around the lake.

• Linying Temple – With a history of over 1600 years, the temple comprises of nine buildings, eighteen pavilions, seventy-seven palaces and halls with over thirteen hundred rooms providing accommodation for around three thousand monks.

• National Silk Museum – It is the world largest silk museum introducing the 5000 years of silk development history in China. The exhibits include silk products from the Neolithic Age to present day, showing the long development history of the silk.

• Xixi National Wetland Park – It is the only national wetland in the integration of city wetland, farming wetland and culture wetland. White wooden houses with dark decorations in traditional Chinese style spread out in harmony with the most beautiful of trees.

• Wuzhen – A typical water town, buildings are lying on the sides of river, showing Low Bridge, Stream Running and Cottages. Wuzhen is still a living town, where daily life goes on as it has been for about one thousand years, and it is honored as “The Last Resting-on-water Town in China”.

In 2013, Qatar Airways has launched eleven destinations to date – Gassim (Saudi Arabia), Najaf (Iraq), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Chicago (USA), Salalah (Oman), Basra (Iraq), Sulaymaniyah (Iraq), Chengdu (China), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Ta’if (Saudi Arabia) and most recently Clark Manila International Airport (Philippines).

Over the next few weeks and months, the network will grow further with Sharjah and Dubai World Central, both in the UAE (March 1, 2014), Philadelphia, USA (April 2, 2014) and Miami, USA (June 10, 2014).

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Oman Air Lends Support To The Geological Society Of Oman

Oman Air, the national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman, supported the Geological Society of Oman on a scientific journey to the mountains of Dhofar Governorate recently.

The trip aimed to explore the geological formations in the province of Dhofar and revealed some of the mystery about the origin and age of some of the types of rocks in the area. The trip was led by David Alsop, a geological expert working at Petroleum Development Oman, and Dr. Mohamed Al Kindi, President of the Geological Society of Oman. A group of geological scientists participated in the trip including scientists from petroleum companies, the Department of Earth Sciences in Sultan Qaboos University and the German University of Technology in Oman.

Commenting on Oman Air’s support for the field trip undertaken by the Geological Society of Oman, Usama Karim Al Haremi, Head of the Corporate Communications and Media department, Oman Air, said:

“Oman Air is keen to support endeavours such as this that contribute to enriching knowledge about Oman and unravelling certain scientific facts unique to Oman. Through this sponsorship, Oman Air provides an opportunity for many people to get to know of the importance and diversity of Oman’s geology. We hope to contribute to the Society through supporting the development of ideas in geology, and to enable Omani scientists to benefit from the experiences of other experts in this area. Oman Air is happy to have joined up with the Geological Society of Oman, which focuses on raising awareness among geologists, especially among students and young people, and helping to create job opportunities for young Omanis.”

On the first day of the trip, participants visited the Wilayat of Mirbat to study the components of the glacial sedimentary rocks that date back more than 700 million years and are the oldest types of sedimentary rocks in the Sultanate. The participants studied the nature and characteristics of the cracks and the crevasses in the area and tried to explain how they were formed. The deposition of these rocks occurred during the ice age, which ended at least 10,000 years ago.

On the second day of the journey, participants went to the area of Hadbeen in the Wilayat of Sadahto to study the forms of semi-oval rocks found on the beach and to try to explain the methods of erosion which led to the formation of these rocks. In the immediate vicinity of Hadbeen, participants also studied volcanic dikes, igneous rocks and metamorphic units, as well as the types of minerals found in the region. After that, the team visited the sinkhole of Tawi Atair, one of the largest sinkholes in the world, which was possibly formed after the collapse of pre-existing cave’s roof.

At the end of the trip participants visited the Museum of the Frankincense Land to discover the history of the province and the wealth of diverse civilizational heritage.

Explaining about the trip, Dr. Mohammed Al Kindi, President of the Geological Society of Oman, said:

“The geology of the Dhofar Mountains spans a long period of the Earth’s history and reveals a lot of important evidence of the evolution of the Arabian Plate, dating from more than 700 million years ago. Evidence of life, represented by bacterial mats and domes, known as stromatolite, are dated to be around 710 million years old and they are probably the oldest evidence of life found in Oman so far. There is still much scope for discovering more interesting scientific information in the Dhofar Mountains and there is potential for many Masters and PhD degrees to be done in this area.”

The Geological Society of Oman is one of the first professional associations established in the Sultanate. It aims to preserve the heritage and diversity of geological uniqueness of the Sultanate and educate the community of the importance of preservation and its role in enriching tourism, known as geotourism. The Geological Society of Oman has been involved in many projects and studies about Oman’s geology and it provides geological consulting to the ministries and institutions. It has a large base of members and has enrolled close to thousand members in the past year alone. The members’ list includes geological experts, researchers, students and others interested in Oman’s geology.

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Surabaya’s female mayor pledges to clean out red-light areas

Surabaya, East Java (ANTARA News) November 10 2013 – Indonesia’s second biggest city, Surabaya, marked the commemoration of National Heroes Day on November 10 with a pledge to be a city free of red-light areas.

The city’s first female mayor, Tri Rismaharini, in her speech at the commemoration ceremony at Taman Bungkul said parents living in red-light districts in the city must care about their children’s future. “Their children’s growth and future must be their top priority,” she said.

Hundreds of community elements attended the event and expressed their support to the campaign. “Our children must be our priority. Parents must not only think of their stomach at the expense of their children,” the mayor said.

She said that the problem of red-light districts such as Dolly is a classic problem that has always haunted Surabaya mayors so far besides other social problems like trafficking.

She said the social problems are related with red-light districts, especially as a number of schools are located nearby. She said Surabaya is serious with its rehabilitation plan for former red-light districts. So far three districts have been shut down namely Tambaksari, KLakah Rejo and Dupak Bangunsari.

The city administration will close Sememi in December and conduct rehabilitation programs at Dolly and Jarak districts next year. She said specially for Dolly preparations must be made well because of the size of the district.

“What is the use of making the city cleaner and more beautiful if social problems like Dolly remain. Therefore I will not give in,” she said. The mayor believed people living around Dolly would not worry about her plan. She referred to the people in Dupak Bangunsari who had hailed the impact of her rehabilitation programs.

“They must not be worried. Just look at people in Dupak. Their small and medium businesses products have now even been exported. I myself have been surprised by it. I believe if all efforts are based on a good will God will bless us,” she said.

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Asia Pacific Tourism Hospitality & Tech Conf In Sarawak Nov 21-22

The first ever conference on travel technology and hospitality automation will be held in Kuching, Sarawak in November this year.

Initiated and organized by UCSI Communications Sdn Bhd, the Asia Pacific Tourism Hospitality and Technology Conference (APTHAT) 2013, will be held on November 21 and 22 at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching.

The inaugural conference will include conference, workshop, master-class, buyer seller session, hotel inspection and exhibition.

Director General of Tourism Malaysia Dato Mirza Mohammad Tayeb has consented to deliver the keynote address at the conference while the Minister of Tourism Sarawak Datuk Amar Abang Haji Zohari Tun Openg will grace the official opening.

A total of six papers will be presented along with six workshops and two master-classes will be held at the conference. Among the speakers include Prof Dr Ross Dowling and Selina Power both from Australia, Dr Madanmohan Roa, E M Najeeb, Dr Harsh Varma (all from India), Edward Dramberger, Andrew Jones (both USA), Masaru Takayama (Japan), Ahmad Jauhari, Albert Teo, Henry Wong, Rohizam Md Yusoff and Dr Peter Ting (all from Malaysia).

The papers to be presented include on cruising industry in the Asia Pacific region, sustainable tourism practices and attitude for the hospitality industry, eco tourism and sustainable development, role of Professional Conference Organizer (PCO) in business tourism development for the destination, understanding Blue Ocean Strategy for strategic marketing and many more.

The conference delegates will also have the opportunity to hear success stories from some to the industry practitioners who will share on some of their successful tips.

Among the objectives of organizing this conference are to prepare the travel and tourism industrialists to be resilient in the competitive market that is technology driven. It is also to introduce them to the latest gadgets.

The conference also aims at identifying opportunities that are propelled by innovations.

Apart from gathering the industry experts and players from within the Asia Pacific region to the conference, UCSI Communications also hope the event could further enhanced the State’s effort in making Sarawak a MICE (meeting, incentive, conference and exhibitions) destination in Malaysia. UCSI Communications is hoping to attract some 300 participants to the conference.

UCSI Communications, a member of the UCSI Group, is a registered Professional Conference Organizer (PCO) and had organized various events both in Sarawak and other states.

Details on the conference including fees are available online at www.apthat.com.

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Arab Airlines Review State of Industry

Doha – The Arab Air Carriers Organization convened the Arab Aviation Summit for the Future, AACO 46th AGM, today in Doha under the Chairmanship of Mr. Akbar Al Baker, AACO 46th AGM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways.

The AGM gathered more than 300 delegates including CEOs of AACO member airlines, AACO partner airlines and industry partners from aircraft and engine manufacturers, Global Distribution Systems (GDSs), IT providers and other specialized companies relevant to the Arab air transport industry. The AGM also welcomed the Arab Civil Aviation Commission (ACAC), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a number of regional airline associations, the European Commission, and the Federal Aviation Agency.

Arab Air Transport Statistics in 2012

Delegates received AACO’s Annual Report, which reflects the yearly harvest of AACO’s work during the past term and highlights the latest developments and challenges at industry level. The delegates also received a copy of the Arab Air Transport Statistics publication (AATS), which includes statistics of 2012 from which we extract some figures below:

(+) The Arab air transport market grew by 6.9% in 2012 compared to 2011, reaching 142 million passengers.

(+) Passenger numbers using Arab airports in 2012 increased by 13.4% to reach around 255 million passengers.

(+) Cargo movement at Arab airports increased by 2.3% in 2012 reaching 5.8 million tons of cargo.

(+) AACO members served 389 destinations in 107 countries with 3,453 average daily flights, offering 663,069 daily seats on 967 aircraft.

(+) AACO members’ operating revenues increased by 15.4% in 2012 to record USD 27.4 billion for 13 member airlines.

(+) Eighteen AACO members carried more than 142 million passengers in 2012 (an increase of 14.2% compared to 2011) and 4.3 million tons of cargo (an increase of 10.9% compared to 2011).

AACO Secretary General presented his report on the state of the industry where he highlighted the role of the Arab air transport industry and emphasized the importance of freeing market access according to the provisions and economic rules of the Damascus Convention as well allowing Arab airlines to consolidate through removal of restrictions on ownership and control. Throughout the report the Secretary General visited a number of industry issues of high importance and urgency, as follows:

(+) The SG called upon Arab governments to give attention to the development of air traffic management systems in the Arab world in order to ensure sustainable growth of the sector.

(+) The SG hoped that the deliberations in the European Union would lead to adhering to the historical achievement of ICAO with regards to addressing aviation’s impact on climate change.

(+) The SG emphasized that ICAO is the right place to achieve harmonization in formulating global principles for passenger rights regulations.

(+) The SG as well hoped that the expertise and reach of GDSs will be merged with the modern capabilities of IT in order to achieve distribution channels which provide the customer with the ability to choose a complete product rather than commoditized one.

Speech by Director General of ACAC

Mr. Mohammed El Alj, Director General of the Arab Civil Aviation Commission (ACAC), presented a keynote address about the common issues between AACO and ACAC in the fields of Aeropolitics, relations between the Arab world and the EU, air safety, environment, and air navigation issues, whereby the two organizations have cooperated throughout the years in order to achieve benefits in these areas to the Arab air transport industry.

Speech by Director General and CEO of IATA

Mr. Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO of International Air Transport Association (IATA) addressed the audience in a speech where he covered industry issues. Mr. Tyler highlighted in his speech the importance of global standards or a global approach in four areas critical to the airlines’ business: regulation, infrastructure capacity, environment, and distribution. In these key areas, global standards mean regulations that fit together to support the global system, air traffic management systems that work together for the greatest efficiency, a global approach to environmental sustainability and modernized standards for distribution that will give the customer even greater choice. At the end, Mr. Tyler stressed his key message that global standards are a strategic key asset for the airline industry that would support airlines’ global operations.

Closed Session for AACO Members – Three Strategic AGM Resolutions

The Second Working Session was dedicated to AACO members where they discussed the Executive Committee report which covered strategic issues in addition to AACO’s financial and administrative issues.

Based upon the recommendations of the Executive Committee, AACO’s AGM adopted three strategic resolutions as follows:

Aviation and the Environment: AACO 46th AGM welcomed the resolution adopted by ICAO 38th Assembly on Aviation and Climate Change and called upon the European Commission to go back to the global consensus that took place during the ICAO assembly and to respect the principles contained in the resolution therein.

The AGM also directed AACO Environmental Policy Group and the Secretariat General to continue the good work done in this area in cooperation with ACAC and Arab authorities concerned as well as IATA and other stakeholders.

Proliferation of Consumer Rights Regimes: AACO 46th AGM called upon governments to review the current regulations on consumer rights and work in ICAO with a view to harmonize them and remove the unnecessary and harmful burden that is being put on airlines and consumers.

Air traffic management and airspace capacity in the Arab world: AACO 46th AGM called upon Arab governments to provide the same level of attention to the development of air traffic management and airspace capacity in the Arab world, and invited them to work on an urgent development plan with regards to air congestion that is starting to manifest in some parts of the Arab airspace. Furthermore, the AGM directed AACO to collaborate with ACAC, IATA, ICAO and CANSO to identify priorities and formulate implementation plans in order to develop the airspace capacity in line with the regional studies conducted by those organizations.

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Belgium raises Palestinian diplomatic status

Brussels, Sunday, 06 Muharram 1434/ 10 November 2013 (IINA) – Belgium said it had raised the standing of a Palestinian diplomatic delegation to the country to “mission” status in a show of commitment to a two-state solution in the Middle East.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders confirmed the change from “general delegation” to “mission” after signing an agreement during a bilateral meeting with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas during a visit to Jordan. “The raising (of status) reflects Belgian and European support for the two-state solution,” Reynders said in a statement, adding that the head of the mission could use the title of ambassador.

Reynders signed the agreement during a bilateral meeting with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Saturday in the Jordanian capital of Amman as part of a visit that included a trip to the Palestinian territories and that will take him to Israel next week. The move had been planned since November 2012 when Belgium and was among 138 countries in the United Nations General Assembly to vote to recognize Palestine as a “non-member observer state.” Germany and the United Kingdom abstained from the vote, and the United States and Israel were among just nine countries that came out against the motion, arguing that the path to statehood should pass through direct peace talks.

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Four new five-star hotels to open in Amman, Aqaba by 2016

Jordan Times, AMMAN, Nov 03, 2013 — Four new five-star hotels in Amman and Aqaba, which are scheduled to be operational by early 2016, will create about 1,800 jobs, according to a leading hotelier.

The four hotels will have about 1,000 rooms, Michael Wale, president of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa and Middle East told The Jordan Times in a recent interview.

He noted that two of the hotels are located in the capital and the other two are in the port city of Aqaba, some 330km south of the capital.

“There is great potential for the hospitality sector in Jordan, which proved to be resilient in the face of challenges and difficulties the region is going through, and the opening of the four new hotels is testimony to a rising interest by tourists in Jordan’s tourism attractions,” Wale said.

The hotels, which are currently under construction, include The St Regis Amman that will feature two 16-storey towers and 260 guest rooms and suites; the W Amman Hotel located in Al Abdali area; the Westin Saraya Aqaba; and Al Manara, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Aqaba featuring 200 rooms, including 31 suites, according to the hotelier.

“There is a significant rise in (the) number of tourists coming from East Asia to countries in the region, including Jordan, which is a reason why we believe that Jordan enjoys great potential for attracting more tourists due to its stability and the availability of many tourism attractions, including Petra and the Dead Sea” Wale said.

Although the region is going through difficult times at present, the situation is temporary and tourism will flourish soon in the area, especially in the Kingdom, he added.

“We believe that Jordan has many interesting destinations that are attractive to tourists from all over the world, and expectations for the hospitality sector in the country are high.”

Commending the quality of human resources in the Kingdom’s hospitality sector, Wale said the majority of those employed at the hotels are Jordanians.

“There are well-skilled human resources in the hospitality sector and this is very crucial to its development,” he added.

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Humayun’s Tomb Restoration Inaugurated

Delhi – The restoration of the Mughal Emperor Humayun’s 16th century garden tomb, the jewel of Mughal architecture that predates the Taj Mahal, was inaugurated on 18 September by India’s Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, Union Minister of Culture Mrs Chandresh Kumari Katoch, Chairman of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Mr Ratan Tata, and His Highness the Aga Khan.

The once decaying structure, marked by cracked masonry, broken stonework and worn gardens, is resplendent in its Mughal finery once again. Restoration required six years of conservation works and 200,000 work days by master craftsmen.

Completion of the restoration builds on the pledge made by the Aga Khan in 1997, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of India’s independence, to restore the Tomb’s gardens. Since 2007, the Urban Renewal Initiative, implemented by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India, several government agencies and co-funding partners, has included: conservation of over 30 monuments; the creation, by an extensive programme of landscaping, of a 69 hectare (170 acre) city park in the Sundar Nursery-Batashewala Complex; and significant improvements to the quality of life for the residents of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, a repository of seven centuries of living culture.

“I think we have found a good model in the public-private partnership that has restored this great monument to its earlier glory,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “The key to the success of this conservation initiative here at Humayun’s Tomb has been partnership between like-minded public and private agencies, seized with concern for the protection of the national heritage, and able to work in a transparent and inclusive manner with local communities. I hope this successful partnership demonstrated here will encourage both government and civil society institutions to forge similar alliances at all our World Heritage Sites.” The Prime Minister also congratulated the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the Archaeological Survey of India and the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust on the success of this endeavour.

Rhe Aga Khan also spoke of the importance of partnerships: “What we honor, above all else, is the spirit of partnership in which this work has unfolded. In my view, the ethic of partnership must be at the center of a successful project.” He went on to conclude that India’s 30 World Heritage sites “represent a patrimony that cannot be preserved by the public sector alone. Public-private collaboration will be essential”.

Restoration at Humayun’s Tomb and its gateways, pavilions and enclosure by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture has been co-funded by the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and carried out in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India.

To restore the original designs of the Mughal builders of Humayun’s Tomb – many of which had been compromised by 20th century work – craftsmen were required to remove a million kilos of concrete from the roof and thousands of square metres of cement from the walls, ceilings and floors of all structures within the garden enclosure.

Craftsmen also had to restore stone joints in the dome with lime infill to make the dome watertight; reconstruct the collapsed arcade of the garden enclosure wall; restore the tile work to the roof canopies while reviving tile making skills in India; apply 21,000 square metres (225,000 square feet) of lime plaster, mainly to the inner surface of the double dome and to the 68 small mausoleums on the ground level; reset 5400 square metres (58000 square feet) of sandstone on the terrace following the original patterns and slopes; and lift the 3700 square metres (40,000 square feet) stone plinth, which was buried under 20th century cement, amongst other works.

In addition to the emphasis on matching the standards of Mughal-era craftsmanship, the project took a craft-based approach to conservation that offers a model for reviving these fast-disappearing skills while simultaneously creating employment.

Together with the conservation works on Humayun’s Tomb, a number of adjoining monuments have been restored, including: Nila Gumbad, Isa Khan’s garden tomb, Bu Halima’s garden tomb, Arab Serai gateways, Sundarawala Mahal and Burj, Batashewala group of Monuments, Chausath Khambha, and Hazrat Nizamuddin Baoli.

All conservation works are preceded by a programme of thorough archival research and exhaustive documentation, including the use of state-of-art 3D laser scanning and independent peer reviews. A multi-disciplinary team comprising of conservation architects, archaeological engineers, historians, amongst others, supervised the process.

In keeping with AKTC’s general aim to leverage culture in ways that stimulate socioeconomic development, conservation has been accompanied by projects aimed at improving the lives of residents in the neighbouring Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti. In addition to initiatives in health, education and vocational training, neighbourhood Parks have been landscaped, housing improvements have been undertaken in partnership with house owners and support has been provided to the municipality for a major street improvement programme. A programme of cultural revival has focused on the musical legacy of Hazrat Amir Khusrau, the 14th century Sufi poet, who lived in the area and is buried there.

The Urban Renewal Initiative offers a template for the restoration of other World Heritage Sites in India and abroad that might benefit from partnerships that bring together civil society, the private sector and public agencies. It also demonstrates that in order to make conservation meaningful in historic urban centres, conservation efforts must be accompanied by development programmes that benefit local communities.

For more information, including images and a film, please see the Media page: http://www.akdn.org/Content/1199

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Travel “Oscars” for Serena Hotels in Africa

Nairobi, 25 October 2013 — Serena Hotels received six awards, including “Africa’s leading Hotel Brand”, at the 20th edition of the World Travel Awards, which are considered by many to be the “Oscars” of the travel industry.

In addition to “Africa’s Leading Hotel Brand”, Serena hotels also won “Leading Eco Hotel of the Year 2013” for the Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge; “Rwanda’s Leading Hotel 2013” for the Kigali Serena (an award it also won last year); “Kenya’s Leading Business Hotel 2013” for the Nairobi Serena Hotel; “Uganda’s Leading Hotel 2013” for Kampala Serena Hotel; and “Tanzania’s Leading Hotel 2013” for the Dar es Salaam Serena Hotel.

Serena Hotels are part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), which makes bold but calculated investments as a way of stimulating further investment and development. Beginning in the 1970s with four hotels, it has gone on to pioneer culturally and environmentally appropriate tourism in parts of the world that have often lacked sufficient foreign direct investment. It currently operates 35 hotels, lodges and tented camps in Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Rwanda) and Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan).

Mahmud Janmohamed, the director of the Serena Hotels, said, “Our main function, as part of the Aga Khan Development Network, is to help the emerging economies of the region grow, so these World Travel Awards confirm that the quality of our products and services meet the standards required by investors, officials and tourists. We are committed to doing our part to attract investment, provide space for exchange and host tourists who come to see the many wonders of Africa.”

Graham E. Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards said: “We are proud to have held these Awards in Nairobi after recent events, to not only show support for the Kenya Tourism Board but Africa as a premier tourist destination that creates jobs and drives a significant part of each country’s GDP. Africa is a very competitive region for our World Travel Awards, and these winners continue to serve as an example of the most luxurious and innovative brands with unique hospitality products and services. Tonight’s recipients strive to set the highest possible bar to raise the standards of excellence in travel and tourism and it has been an honour to hold our ceremony here in Kenya, regarded as one of the most beautiful countries in the world.”

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Exploring the Islamic aspects of Spain, Portugal & Morocco

Khairil Hassan in Andalusia, Spain

November 09, 2013, Borneo Bulletin – ANDALUSIA is in the south of the Iberian peninsula, immediately south of the autonomous communities of Extremadura and Castile – La Mancha; west of the autonomous community of Murcia and the Mediterranean Sea; east of Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean; and north of the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar.

The name “Andalusia” is derived from the Arabic word Al-Andalus. As well as Muslim and Romani influences, the region’s history and culture have been influenced by the earlier Iberians, Carthaginians/Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Byzantines, all of whom preceded the Muslims, as well as the Castilian and other Christian North Iberian nationalities who regained and repopulated the area in the latter phases of the Reconquista.

The Andalusian autonomous commu-nity is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Almeria, Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaen, Malaga and Seville. Its capital city is the city of Seville.

The region has a rich culture and a strong cultural identity. Many cultural phenomena that are seen internationally as distinctively Spanish are largely or entirely Andalusian in origin. These include flamenco, bullfighting, and certain Moorish-influenced architectural styles. Most of Spain now proudly flies the green and white Andalusian flag.

Darussalam Holdings in collaboration with Golden Palm Tours led a group of 58 Bruneians to the Islamic Tour of Spain, Portugal and Morocco, and I was really lucky to be brought on the inaugural trip.

The journey started from Spain. Hola! A trip to Spain felt like walking into an open museum, wherever our eyes wander, a part of history stood in every corner of the country.

On our first day in Spain, we were taken to the largest mosque in Spain, Centro Cultural Islàmico Mezqita, also known as Abu Bakr Mosque where we had lunch and performed solat. The mosque also acts as the learning centre for Islamic culture and studies in Madrid.

We were then brought for a panoramic tour of Madrid and another panoramic tour of the old city of Islamic Historical City and Islamic Kingdom of Toledo and all its Islamic historical sites, including the Bab Asaqraa, the Bridge of Musa Ibnu Nusair, Plaza del Torros and the old historical Mosque which is converted to a Cathedral. Before we left, our bus stopped at a valley where we were taken aback with a breathtaking view of the Mirador of Toledo.

Toledo is known as the “Imperial City” for having been the main venue of the court of Charles I and as the “City of the Three Cultures”, having been influenced by a historical co-existence of Muslims, Christians and Jews. In 1085, the city fell to Alfonso VI of Castile as the first major city in the Christian Reconquista. Toledo has a history in the production of bladed weapons, which are now popular souvenirs of the city. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental and historical co-existence of Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures.

We made our way back to Madrid to rest for the evening. This was a four-star hotel where they served halal food just for our tour group, and the manager even showed the halal certificate for the meats served at the hotel. We enjoyed our dinner with ease.

We made our way to Granada early the next day. Travelling by coach in Spain, olive trees can be seen as far as the eyes can reach. These are Spain’s main export, and these are a common sight during our trip for the next few days in the country as we made our way from one city to another.

It took us a few hours to reach Granada and during the bus ride, Hj Mohammed Abu Al-Anouar, the CEO and Founder of Golden Palm Travel narrated the history of Andalusia, before and after the fall of the Islamic empire in the 15th-Century. He kept us mesmerised with the history that we didn’t feel the long hours of the journey. He also recited some surahs from Al-Quran and “Doa Safar” to bless our journey during leaving and upon reaching every city.

When we reached Granada, here lies the majestic La Alhambra, a place we only dreamt of going after reading romantic novels. The La Alhambra can already be seen miles away before reaching the city. What a sight.

The La Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 which was later converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. The Alhambra’s Islamic palaces were built for the last emirs in Spain and its court of the Nasrid dynasty. After the Reconquista by the Reyes Católicos (“Catholic Monarchs”) in 1492, some portions were used by Christian rulers. The Palace of Charles V, built by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1527, was inserted in the Alhambra within the Nasrid fortifications. It is now declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

The tour to Alhambra takes an hour by foot. Every visitor were given a wireless hearing device for which connects to a wireless microphone that the tour guide whispered into in order to minimise noise during the tour.

During the tour, we can see the beautiful architecture of the ancient buildings and Islamic scriptures can be seen on the walls and ceilings of the palaces. Streams and fountains of cold water from the mountain springs adorned the hallways and courtyards of the Alhambra especially the middle court at ta place called theFuente de los Leones or Fountain of Lions. The fountain is surrounded by twelve lions sculpted in white marble. Resting upon them is a 12-sided cup, on which a poem by Ibn Zamrak is engraved making reference to the water.

Some say, anyone who drinks the water from the fountains will fall in love with the city and will return to Granada. I leaned over to scoop and drank some when the guards were not looking.

After the tour, we were sent to our hotel which was directly underneath the mountain where La Alhambra is situated. We dined in the evening and were entertained with the local music.

Before we were done with desserts, the staffs of Darussalam Holdings and Golden Palm Travel entered with a birthday cake and this was a surprise for one of the group whose birthday fell on the very day. It was a treat from the travel agency. Everyone retired for the night after a day of adventure into an ancient palace, beautiful local music performance and also a birthday surprise.

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UK to facilitate Kuwaiti investments in London

LONDON, Nov 10 (KUNA) — The Mayor of London Boris Johnson told KUNA his country welcomes Kuwaiti investments, both state and private, in London as well as in other British cities and is willing to iron out any difficulties, in an interview here Sunday.

The mayor, due on a two-day official visit to the State of Kuwait as of Monday, said it was his duty as mayor to encourage Kuwaiti investments in London. He noted the announcement of the Kuwaiti Government of increase of investments in the UK and in London in particular was most welcome.

The Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Mustafa Al-Shimali, had back in July announced the intention to hike investments in the UK and other countries in the infrastructure sector through Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA).

Mayor Johnson recalled the landmark visit by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in November last year and the impact it had on bilateral relations, most specifically on the economic and investment aspect of relations. He stressed the two nations and peoples share time-honored bonds and relations shall continue to prosper, based on grounds of friendship and mutual respect.

On the goal of his first Kuwait visit, Johnson said he is to meet with senior officials in government and in KIA, as well as with businessmen to discuss good investment opportunities in the British capital. He said he hopes to attract new investments to London, while at the same time providing London-based businesses and companies the opportunity to find partners in Kuwait.

On volume of Kuwaiti investments in London, Johnson said, “We insist on seeing even higher volume, and so the Kuwait visit program is rich in important meetings, befitting the strong relations between the two nations.” The official said he would be conveying a message to Kuwaiti officials; “that the British Capital is a city open to investment and would provide all required facilities to attract foreign capital.” The mayor said he is to discuss the technical assistance London authorities could provide in the transportation sector and most particularly in the field of managing bus and subway service, in which London boasts an internationally recognized expertise which spans over 150 years. “There are also projects in clean energy aiming to curb gas emissions and pollution,” the mayor said, expressing personal interest in working out difficulties that stand to impede Kuwaiti investments.

The official stressed he would work hard on finding distinguished partners for Kuwaiti investors in London who enjoy appropriate expertise and excellence in the fields chosen for investment and cooperation.

Represented by Kuwait Investment Office in London, the State of Kuwait is among the top investors in the British capital, and the office is a main player in the British market as it manages investment projects worth no less than 150 billion pound sterling.

UK exports to Kuwait had increased by 17 percent in 2012, following an official visit to Kuwait by British Premier David Cameron in 2011.

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US Art exhibition explores Muslim life

Washington, Saturday, 05 Muharram 1434/ 09 November 2013 (IINA) – Portraying Muslims daily life through the lens of art, students in a leading American university have inaugurated a multimedia expo about Islam, which will be running through November.

“Islam is a religion that can be interpreted in so many ways and through so many different passions,” Layla Quran, a junior student at the University of North Carolina (UNC) and co-organizer of the expo at Chapel Hill, told the Daily Tar Heel. “There’s so much room for possibility — you can interpret it in a way that fits your lifestyle.” Under the title “Passion in Practice”, the Islamic Exhibit has been opened in the Student Union Art Gallery at UNC to introduce Islam in a creative way. The gallery will showcase photographs of around 20 subjects in daily life situations for UNC students and Muslims engaging in what they are passionate about.

The photographs were taken by Aisha Anwar, a junior student and co-organizer of the exhibit. “I love photography, and I also love my Islamic beliefs,” Anwar said. “Using my photography skills to also better myself and connect that to my religion and embody Islam through it was something I was struggling with, and it may have driven the goal behind this project.” The expo will also show short films containing interviews connecting passion with Islam. “I think of Islam as a holistic thing. It makes me strive for the truth in all things that I pursue — boxing is a segment of that,” said Zaki Haidary, one of the gallery’s subjects. “I think overall, the message of Islam is about self-betterment and striving to know the unknown. Those ideas can really carry over into boxing because it requires so much self-discipline and so much self-knowledge.”

Organizers and participants in the exhibits aim to bring a ‘fresh perspective’ on Islam and its followers and defy stigmatization. “(The exhibit) is a really powerful way to show that Muslims are people, too — not this stereotypical image,” said Haidary, who was raised by a Christian mom and a Muslim dad. “It’s putting a face on the religion for students on campus — they have interests and passions, and they’re your neighbours.”

‘Passion in Practice’ will also try to prove that prayer isn’t the only way to worship Allah, students asserted. “I wanted to depict Islam as an art form rather than the conventional idea of religion,” Anwar, the photographer, said. “I wanted to know, as a college student, how to find a balance between being a ‘religious person’ and actively engaging in the environment around you.”

Showing Islam in real life, the exhibition welcomes non-Muslims to come and learn from it. “Islam encourages cooperation and understanding of others,” Quran said. “What are you going to do to be helpful? What role will you play in your club, your religion, your world?”

US Muslims are estimated between six to eight million. A recent survey found that American Muslims are the most moderate around the world. It showed that US Muslims generally express strong commitment to their faith and tend not to see an inherent conflict between being devout and living in a modern society. An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.

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Nigerian film star reverts to Islam

Lagos, Tuesday, 02 Muharram 1434/ 05 November 2013 (IINA) – Jolting millions of her fans, Nigerian screen diva Lizzy Anjorin has officially embraced Islam, according to a report in OnIslam.net.

She described Islam as a religion that had always been her favourite from childhood but which she could not practice in deference to her father who was a Christian. “I have always been a Muslim at heart right from childhood. My mother was a Muslim and I have always dreamt of one day practicing Islam,” she told OnIslam.net in a telephone interview. “That day has come and here I am. Alihamdulillah.”

Lizzy Anjorin, a lone child of her parents, is a top-rated award-winning movie artist and producer in the booming Nigerian movie industry – The Nollywood – where she maintains a record of being one of the most enterprising actresses around. Finding Islam, Lizzy appeared in photos donning hijab and announced that he has taken the name Aisha as her official Islamic name.

Yet, the movie star said she continues to use the name Lizzy Anjorin to feature in movies. She was until her conversion Elizabeth, her Christian baptism name. “It is not true that my conversion was due to my fiancé being a Muslim,” Lizzy told OnIslam.net, debunking insinuations by some of her fans that she may well dump Islam if she parts ways with him, who some reports claim is a Muslim. Many Nigerian movie actors and actresses, like their foreign counterparts, are plagued with unstable marital relationships.

Her conversion to Islam jolted millions of her fans and the entertainment industry but the actress said she turned to Islam as part of her life’s dream. Speaking on her conversion, Lizzy told Onislam.net: “Everything came the way it did. It came so sudden though I always expected it.” “This is a dream I have nursed since I was old enough to know what I want. At birth, I was half Muslim and half Christian. My father was a Christian while my late mum was a Muslim.

“I went to church while growing up because of my father. But the reality is that I have always has interest in Islam so immediately my father died I announced my conversion to Islam, my mother’s religion.” Lizzy also confirmed performing the 2013 holy pilgrimage. “I have crowned my journey to Islam with a holy pilgrimage,” she said. The news of Lizzy Anjorin’s conversion has jolted many Muslims across Nigeria, especially her numerous fans who congratulated her “for finding Islam at last.”

“I am happy for her because it is not by her own wish but it was by Allah’s grace that her dream has become a reality,” Tajudeen Olumide, who calls himself a great fan of Lizzy Anjaorin, told OnIslam.net. But many Muslims have also urged the movie star to consider changing her lifestyle to suit the code of conducts prescribed by her new religion, Islam. “I am sincerely happy for her and as a fellow Muslim I wish her a rewarding practice of religion of Islam,” Shakirah Adedo, a chartered accountant, told OnIslam.net, in response to Lizzy’s conversion. “But I hope she recognizes the fact that Islam is a beautiful religion with codes of conducts.

“Beyond the news of her conversion, Lizzy may now have to be choosy about the role she takes in movie and her wears. Islam prescribes hijab for women. Islam calls for modesty. Will she abide by these?” Lizzy is not the first Nigerian to hit headlines with news about her decision to embrace Islam. Last July, the decision of Charity Uzoechina, a 25-year-old daughter of a pastor, to convert to Islam has attracted nationwide debate between Nigeria’s umbrella Christian and Muslim groups. The conversion of Charity, the daughter of Pastor Raymond Uzoechina of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), has stirred a controversy in Nigeria’s mainly Christian South-eastern.

It also raised questions about freedom of religion in the volatile tribal region. Nigeria, one of the world’s most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south. Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria’s 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part. But ethnic and religious tensions have bubbled for years, fuelled by decades of resentment between indigenous groups, mostly Christian or animist, who are vying for control of fertile farmlands with migrants and settlers from the Hausa-speaking Muslim north.

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Astana plans to become the leading city for Eurasian economies

ASTANA. November 8. KAZINFORM – Kazakhstan, being located in the heart of the Eurasian continent, binds the largest markets in China, Europe, Russia, the CIS and provides transport routes to Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. It is beneficial to investors and guarantees them the link between producers and consumers. Through Kazakhstan there run the largest transcontinental routes called “North – South”, “East-West”, and “South-East Asia-Central Asia region”.

It is expected that by 2020 the volume of trade between the countries bordering with Kazakhstan will increase by half and will reach $ 1 trillion. And in connection with the growth of the Chinese economy in 2020, the annual volume of trade between China and Europe will amount to 800 billion dollars.

As a result of the implementation of the Kazakh President’s plans by 2020 the volume of transit traffic through Kazakhstan should increase by almost a factor of 2 with a further reach up to 50 million tons.

“The competitive advantage of the” New Silk Road” will be based on implementation of the principle of “5S”, that stands for speed, service, cost, safety and stability. As a result of their territorial and functional relationship there should be a synergistic effect. This principle should be the main source of competitive advantage of the “New Silk Road” following the example of Dubai or Singapore”, said the President.

Meanwhile, the competitive advantages of the territorial development of the city of Astana are in a favorable geographical location, in the historically formed spatial organization of the city as a major transportation hub linking the regions of the country and neighboring countries with the network of roads and railways. The combination of these qualities makes Astana a leader city, concentrating the economic activity in the surrounding areas, and it will be the driving force for the rest of the country.

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EXPO-2017 facilities to be exempt from tax in Kazakhstan

ASTANA. November 7. KAZINFORM EXPO- 2017 facilities will be exempt from tax in Kazakhstan, Kazakh Minister of Economy and Budget Planning Yerbolat Dosayev said today.

“The Tax Code is amended regarding the exemption of national companies from corporate income, land and property tax,” Dosayev said. “These changes are necessary to fulfil commitments within the contest among the candidate countries for holding EXPO- 2017. Moreover, a technical dossier envisages that the construction of EXPO- 2017 facilities will be exempt from corporate income tax and tax on property and land.”

According to Dosayev, the proposed amendments also envisage exempting the organisations involved in the design and construction of the exhibition facilities from corporate income tax, Kazinform refers to trend.az.

“The list of such companies will be determined by the government,” Dosayev said. “The analysis of foreign experience shows that all countries are taking action on additional tax incentives for organisations involved in these activities.”

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Indonesia offers lessons learnt on managing mangroves sustainably

October 21 2013, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Indonesia`s mangrove swamp is the largest in the world, covering some 3.2 million hectares, or 22 percent of the total area of mangroves in the world, with a high level of biodiversity.

Despite their many benefits, these coastal trees are in a vulnerable state. Over the last 20 years, the area has been reduced by 1.1 million hectares, mostly due to conversion to other land uses.

In the 1980s alone, mangroves covered 4.2 million hectares of land in Indonesia, but by the end of the 1990s, more than half of that coverage had been lost to agricultural expansion.

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of 17,504 islands with a total coastline of 95,181 kilometers, is extremely vulnerable to a rise in sea levels, storm surges, or intense tropical storms linked to global warming.

Most of its population lives along the coast and in the downstream areas of watersheds, which empty into the main ocean.

In his speech to mark the opening of the seminar on 25 years of Mangrove Forest Management, held by PT Bintuni Utama Murni Wood Industries (BUMWI) in Bogor recently, Dr Harry Santoso, senior expert for the Ministry of Forestry for the Development of Watershed Management, remarked that the economic potential of coastal areas is generally quite high.

However, from time to time, due to the pressure of rapid development, both directly and indirectly, as well as increasing demand for the conversion of mangrove forests along the coast, it is often difficult to avoid conversions that would benefit the poor. Pockets of poverty caused by the loss of livelihoods for those living along the coast among the mangroves are now widespread.

At the seminar, drawing on the Bogor Agricultural University`s (IPB) 50 years of experience, Santoso noted that people living in coastal zones continue to face certain challenges.

First, according to data issued by the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS), some 7.87 million people, or 25.14 percent of the total population under the poverty line, live along the coast of Indonesia.

Second, the rampant coastal environment destruction due to the conversion of land for intensive aquaculture (fish and shrimp pond) programs, settlement, tourism, fisheries programs, agricultural expansion, mining, reclamation efforts, and excessive harvesting of mangroves for firewood, among other things, has caused the continuous depletion of critical ecosystems in coastal areas, including the protected mangrove forests and coral reefs.

Third, deforestation and changes in land use affecting mangrove forests will contribute to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by destabilizing the climate and ecosystem, lowering the productivity of people living in rural areas, especially in the pockets of poverty in coastal areas that are prone to food insecurity.

Fourth, national security and defence concerns are still being resolved, such as illegal logging, fishing, and mining activities and human trafficking in the coastal areas and small islands off the beaten track.

“The management of the mangrove ecosystem, as a renewable resource, should be an integral part of the spatial planning of provinces, districts, and cities and the management of watersheds from upstream to downstream,” Santoso said.

“This is necessary because mangrove forests form a bridge between terrestrial and marine ecosystems and, thus, have a specific function; its existence depends on the dynamic relationship between terrestrial and marine ecosystems,” he added.

According to Santoso, the existence of the mangrove forest, as a wetland resource in coastal areas, is influenced by watershed ecosystems.

PT BUMWI has established itself as a pioneer in opening up the eastern part of Indonesia. The company was launched through order SK-HPH No. 174/Kpts-IV/1988 on March 21, 1988. The 82,120 hectare concession area covers a large part of the Bintuni Bay mangrove forest. Through order SK No. 213/Menhut-II/2007, registered on May 28, the company`s right to use the land was further extended to the year 2052.

To date, the company exports a total of 2.7 million green tons of wood chips, employs an average of 800 workers per year and contributes to the protection of the mangroves and its ecosystem.

By hosting the seminar and inviting experts to address the attendees, Raflis, president director of PT BUMWI, pointed out that he would like to provide transparent information on the company`s activities in managing its concession area.

He recognized that hectares of mangroves in some parts of Indonesia have been cut or damaged through harvesting or for other reasons, but most of the deforestation was due to conversion of the land to other land uses.

“For the last 25 years, the company has contributed significantly to the local economy as well as to that of the entire country,” Raflis said.

“Surely we all hope that the work and best practices of sound management of the mangrove forests, which has been implemented by PT BUMWI in the Gulf of Bintuni, Papua, for 25 years, should be replicated in other regions of Indonesia and even abroad,” Santoso asserted.

Other countries and companies can especially learn from the company`s ability to source basic data and information for publication, create pilot and reference materials for sustainable mangrove management, develop learning management systems, develop science and technology, manage institutional and human resources, plan the location of education, implement training, handle extensions, and conduct research and development.

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Univ of Toledo honours Pakistani-American surgeon

WASHINGTON, Nov 9 (APP): The University of Toledo has established endowed professorship to honor Pakistani-American doctor, Sayed Amjad Hussain, for his services to the varsity and the greater Toledo area in Ohio state as surgeon, teacher, researcher and writer. Dr. Thomas Schwann was installed as the first S. Amjad Hussain Professor of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, at a ceremony presided over by Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold, the chancellor and executive vice president for biosciences and health affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences at The University of Toledo, the University said.

The one million dollar endowment was made possible through the efforts and generous contributions of Dr. Hussain’s family, friends, colleagues and grateful patients. The endowment would support Dr. Schwann’s research projects.

Born in Peshawar, Pakistan, Dr. S. Amjad Hussain graduated with distinction from Khyber Medical College in 1962 and then received general surgery training at the Medical College of Ohio (now The University of Toledo) and cardiovascular surgery training at Wayne State University in Detroit. He went back to Pakistan for four years to teach at his alma mater.

In 1975 he started private practice of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery in Toledo and joined the University as clinical faculty.

The author of more than 50 scientific papers, 13 books and an op-ed columnist for the daily Toledo Blade for nearly 20 years, Dr. Hussain is an accomplished surgeon, researcher and teacher who has held many leadership positions, including president of the Academy of Medicine of Toledo, the Toledo Surgical Society, the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America and Khyber Medical College Alumni Association.

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Last batch of Chinese Muslims Hujjaj return home

BEIJING, Nov 8 (APP): The final group of Chinese Muslims after pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia this year arrived here Thursday. With the return of 288 pilgrims on board chartered flight, the post Hajj operation of Chinese Muslim has completed. A total of 11,800 Chinese pilgrims have safely returned to China from Mecca, Saudi Arabia via the country’s charter flights for this year’s pilgrimage, according to the State Administration for Religious Affairs.The administration and the Islamic Association of China also sent a work group consisting of more than 100 guides, medical workers, chefs and volunteers to provide services for Chinese pilgrims. China has more than 20 million Muslims, most of whom live in the western provinces of Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan, as well as the Ningxia Hui and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions.

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Bid to facilitate diaspora participation in Pakistan development

WASHINGTON, Nov 7 (APP): Islamabad will encourage expatriate Pakistanis’ participation in development of the country through investment and also benefit from their skills and ideas as it endeavors to create conditions for fast-paced economic growth, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said.

He was addressing a gathering of Pakistani-American professionals, business and opinion leaders under the banner of Council on Pakistan Relations.

As part of its 2025 vision as well as five-year development plans, the government is open to innovative thinking, reforms and participation of all stakeholders including collaboration of private and public sectors, he said while outlining some key steps towards resolution of energy crisis and achievement of economic goals.

He referred to an upcoming consultative conference that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will have with more than 1500 experts and political leaders to evolve a roadmap and spur economic growth on sustainable basis.

The consensus on development would reinforce across the board ownership as the government wants to make the development agenda as the agenda of the country.

Professor Iqbal said his Ministry would serve as link between the diaspora and the government and connect the prospective participants to relevant departments. “Anyone wishing to start a development project is welcome – you will be welcomed to contribute in whatever capacity or way you may like to, be it investment with capital, skills and suggestions.”

He told the gathering that already the government is encouraging foreign educated Pakistanis to work with it and they are also joining civil service.

Additionally, the government is working on a programme to assist those who wish to do things innovatively within the government. The minister said reform would be a constant part of the government’s endeavors to step up up economic growth and bridge the knowledge-performance gap.

Apart from the long-term 2025 vision, the government would go for a result-oriented criterion to judge performance of various ministries within its five-year constitutional term.

In the regional context, the minister informed the gathering that Pakistan’s strategy has a strong focus on regional connectivity. Three regions, South Asia, China and Central Asia with their three billion population offer a mammoth opportunity for progress and Islamabad wants to make Pakistan the hub of regional trade.

The region, he said, can be a hub for global economic recovery. The minister told the Pakistani-Americans that Pakistan’s democratic transition is a huge step forward in bringing political stability, which is necessary for sustained growth and development.

He said the people of Pakistan had put all major political parties to work in provincial and central governments and that political actors have shown maturity to work cooperatively for rule of law and Constitution and consensus on future direction of the country.

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Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to visit Bangkok on Nov. 17

ISLAMABAD, Nov. 8 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif will visit Bangkok from November 17-19 on the invitation of Prime Minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra. According to Foreign Office, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will participate in “Connect Asia Pacific Summit”, being held in Bangkok on 18 November. Prime Minister will also undertake bilateral official visit to Thailand after the Summit commitments.

Connect Asia Pacific Summit is being jointly organized by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT), Government of Kingdom of Thailand and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The Summit will, inter alia, be attended by the Presidents of Mongolia and Rwanda and Prime Ministers of New Zealand, Cambodia and Togo.

The visit, which closely follows the visit of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to Pakistan in August this year, is indicative of the closeness of Pakistan-Thailand relations and the desire on part of the leadership of two countries to take these relations to new heights.

During their meeting, the two Prime Ministers will review the progress on decisions taken during their August 2013 meeting in Islamabad.

Pakistan and Thailand enjoy cordial relationship, marked by mutual understanding and close cooperation. These ties date back more than two millennia. Gandhara Civilization provides an immutable bond between the peoples of the two countries.

The two countries have sought to upgrade their political relations with deeper cooperation in trade, investment, education, science & technology, security, defence, culture, tourism, etc.

In essence, bilateral relations are being deepened and broadened at the government-to-government, business-to-business and people-to-people level. The Prime Minister’s visit will further augment the existing close ties between the two friendly countries and their peoples.

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World Bank financing 29 projects in Bangladesh

SANGSAD BHABAN, Nov 10, 2013 (BSS)-The World Bank is now financing a total of 29 projects in Bangladesh involving about Taka 38,000 crore. Out of the amount, the Bank has so far disbursed Taka 9,677 crore.

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith told this in parliament in his written reply to a question from treasury bench member Sanjida Khatun.

The finance minister said, the World Bank is also providing credit to 25 projects under the Bank’s trust fund. Total allocation for these projects is around Taka 3,910 crore, out of which, Taka 769 crore has so far been disbursed, the minister said.

Replying to a question from female member Nur Afroz Ali, the finance minister said, since 2009, names of 80 companies were cancelled from the stock market list sending those to ‘Over-The- Counter (OCT) market.

Out of those companies, he said, 11 were later transferred to the main market. Name of a company has finally been cancelled from the OCT list, the minister said.

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Emirates Islamic Bank launches GCC currencies remittance campaign

DUBAI, 4th November, 2013 (WAM) — Emirates Islamic Bank, one of the leading Islamic financial institutions in the U.A.E., announced today the launch of a foreign currency remittance campaign focused on GCC currencies. The offer, which is valid till November 20th, 2013, offers special rates with no fees on remittances in five GCC currencies – Saudi Riyal, Omani Riyal, Bahraini Dinar, Kuwaiti Dinar and Qatari Riyal.

The campaign is expected to generate considerable interest from residents intending to transfer funds back to their home, thus taking advantage of the special exchange rates and 0% transaction fees offered by Emirates Islamic Bank.

“Foreign currency remittances are a key aspect of life in the U.A.E., as a result of the vast expatriate community that works here and makes regular transfers to their home countries,” said Faisal Aqil, Deputy CEO, Emirates Islamic Bank. “We are pleased to launch this 0% transaction fee campaign with discounted rates in our branches at this time when we expect considerable transfers within the GCC states.” The campaign on GCC currencies transfers is part of Emirates Islamic Bank’s wider strategy to diversify and expand its product range and offer customers remittance and currency exchange products in addition to standard retail banking services.

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AFDB Invests US$20 Million In Arm-Harith Infrastructure Fund

TUNIS, Nov 8 (NNN-AfDB) — The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a US $20 million equity investment in ARM-Harith Infrastructure Fund (ARMHIF), a new infrastructure private equity fund based in Nigeria with a targeted fund size of US $250 million.

The lack of efficient infrastructure is a major obstacle to doing business in West Africa.

Better infrastructure in the region would create an enabling environment for economic growth by competitiveness of local production, promoting foreign direct investment and facilitating trade. The level of investment required for infrastructure development is far in excess of public and donor resources.

The AfDB support to ARMHIF will catalyze further resources necessary to develop infrastructure projects.

ARMHIF has been set up to invest, through equity, in infrastructure projects and companies across West Africa, with a focus on Nigeria. The Fund will invest in assets across a range infrastructure sectors including energy, transport, ICT, water and utilities.

ARMHIF is sponsored by Asset and Resource Management Company Ltd. (ARM), a leading Nigerian non-bank financial services company established in 1994 and currently managing over US $2.7 billion of assets.

ARM has formed a partnership with Harith General Partners (Harith), an experienced infrastructure investment manager on the continent, to manage the Fund. Harith already manage the US $630-million Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF).

Mouhamadou Niang, Acting Director of the AfDB’s private sector department, said “the Bank’s support to ARMHIF will contribute toward the delivery of modern and reliable infrastructure that will reduce the cost of doing business and enhance the region’s competitiveness”.

“We are very pleased to have an institution of the calibre of the AfDB as an anchor investor in our new Fund. AfDB has been instrumental in attracting the interest of other investors, including Nigerian Pension Funds, a sector that has a significant role to play in providing long-term capital for funding infrastructure development in Nigeria and beyond.

“We see tremendous infrastructure investment opportunities throughout West Africa. Having the equity capital to deploy is an important part of the equation,” said Opuiyo Oforiokuma, Managing Director, ARM Infrastructure.

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EU Turns Towards Asia For New Partnership

BRUSSELS, Nov 10 (NNN-KUNA) — Following in the footsteps of America’s commitment to “rebalancing” relations with Asia, Europe is also gearing up for enhanced economic, political and security cooperation with Asia.

November could be described as an outstanding month in EU-Asia relations with a record number of meetings planned between EU and Asian leaders.

Analysts opine that beset with economic and financial crises, rising public disenchantment with the US over the spy scandals in Europe and faced with a fast changing world, the EU is shifting its focus to Asia.

After their seventh summit which was held in Brussels on November 8, the EU and South Korea expressed their satisfaction at the “remarkable development of the strategic partnership based on a growing and comprehensive engagement.”

A joint statement welcomed the expansion of bilateral EU-Korean cooperation on political and security affairs. In Tokyo on November 19, the EU and Japan will hold their 21st summit which is expected to upgrade EU-Japan relations after the launch of negotiations in March on a strategic partnership agreement to develop a wide-ranging economic and social cooperation and an ambitious free trade agreement.

The 28-member bloc and Japan account for about 30 percent of global economic output and thus have a major role to play in world economic stability.

Japan and the EU are also interested in strengthening cooperation to deal with Middle East issues such as the Iranian nuclear programme, Syria and Palestine as well as Asian issues like Afghanistan and North Korea.

The EU-China summit in Beijing on November 21 will mark the 10th anniversary of the EU-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and launch initiatives to take the relationship forward in the next decade.

Observers note that the EU and China enjoy one of the world’s biggest trade relationship.

The EU is China’s biggest trading partner while Beijing is the EU’s second biggest after the US, with trade in goods of 434 billion euro, and in services of 43 billion euro in 2012.

EU officials are of the view that Europe and China share a common goal of improving international security including nuclear non-proliferation in the world.

They are cooperating to resolve Iran’s nuclear issue as China is part of the 5 1 Group which is chaired by the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton.

The two sides also agree that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is essential to ensure stability in the East Asia region.

On Monday, November 11, the spotlight of EU-Asia cooperation will fall on New Delhi where the ASEM (Asia Europe) ministerial meeting will take place.

Ashton, along with a number of EU’s foreign ministers, hope to revitalize the 51-member EU-Asia partnership.

On November 4, Ashton made her first-ever official visit to the headquarters of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta and inaugurated the EU-ASEAN cooperation office.

She also held talks with Indonesian officials to strengthen Europe’s ties with the largest Muslim country in the world.

In Brussels on November 7, the EU and Thailand finalized the text of the EU-Thailand Partnership and Cooperation Agreement to enhance political dialogue and intensify their work together on global issues such as non-proliferation, counter-terrorism and small arms and light weapons.

The EU has also quickly moved to improve relations with Myanmar/Burma which has caused some resentment in the Muslim world due to the continuing campaign of persecution against Rohingya and other Muslims in the country.

Ashton opened an EU office in Yangon during her first visit there in April 2012 marking a new beginning in bilateral ties.

She will also co-chair the launch of the a so-called “Task Force” with Myanmar from November 13-15 in Yangon to provide comprehensive support to the transition process in the country.

Analysts say that both Europe and Asia are now realizing that demands of rapid globalisation have created complex challenges which require that both the regions work closely for their economic, peace and security interests and for global stability. –NNN-KUNA

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Malaysia Can Achieve 26.8 Million Arrivals Target

JOHOR BAHARU, Malaysia Nov10 (NNN-Bernama) — Tourism minister Mohamed Nazri Aziz is confident that Malaysia could achieve its target of more than 26.8 million tourists this year. He attributed this to the creation of high profile and international standard tourism products.

The family-oriented lure that caters to all age groups is located at Iskandar Malaysia where the Johor Premium Outlet, Legoland Theme Park, Puteri Harbour Theme Park, Sanrio Hello Kitty Town and Lat’s Place (restaurant) await visitors.

“The statistics on visitor arrival to the state is very encouraging and an extraordinary leap since the introduction of the new products,” he said at the Malaysia Deepavali 2013 Open House launched by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak at Dataran Bandaraya last night.

According to Mohamed Nazri, Malaysia, particularly Johor’s main tourism market is Singapore at 94 per cent, followed by China, Indonesia, Middle East, Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, Brunei, Philippines and India.

He said Malaysia was recently listed by Lonely Planet as one of 10 main destinations to visit in 2014.

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Langkawi To Have Two New Tourism Landmarks

LANGKAWI, Malaysia Nov 10 (NNN-Bernama) — Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak today officiated the groundbreaking ceremony for two new landmarks in Langkawi — Hotel St Regis Langkawi and Langkawi International Convention Centre (LICC).

In his speech, Najib said Malaysia will assume the ASEAN chairmanship in 2015 and he wanted the ASEAN Summit, expected in April 2015, to be held at LICC.

The projects, undertaken by Rajawali Group, were expected to be completed in 15 months.

Rajawali Group Chairman, Tan Sri Peter Sondakh, said the company started its investment in Langkawi in 2005 with the acquisitions of Westin Hotel Resort and Spa Langkawi.

He said Langkawi has great potentials to attract international high-end tourists. “We upgraded our hotel from time to time in the last five years. We can play our part to put Langkawi to the world map,” he said in his speech at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Sondakh said the two projects will create more jobs and help boost the island’s economy.

“We need assistance from federal and state governments, Langkawi Development Authority and the Ministry of Finance. Tourism is the key element to develop the island,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rajawali Diector Integrated Nautical Resort (Subsdiaries), Ferry Ma’aruf, said the company will spend over RM400 million to build the hotel and convention centre, which were situated next to Westin Hotel Resort and Spa Langkawi.

The hotel will cost RM300 million and the LICC over RM100 million, he said.

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Tunisia: Montreal air service operational in Q2 2014

The regular air service Tunis – Montreal (Canada) will be operational in the second quarter of 2014.

This line, launched in the framework of the implementation of the bilateral agreement signed in 2010 between Tunisia and Canada, will operate three weekly flights between the two countries, two on board Tunisair aircraft and one on those of private company “Syphax Airlines” the Department of Transportation announced Thursday in a statement.

The direct air link between the two countries will also contribute to the development of trade and economic and tourist exchanges between Tunisia and Canada and also to facilitate the movement from and to Tunisia, of a Tunisian community in Canada of about 21,000 people.

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Tunisia -Tourism: figures improve, but still below 2010 levels

Tunisian tourism is still struggling to recover its pre-revolutions performance. It has nevertheless recorded an increase in terms of entries and revenue during the first nine months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012.

According to figures from the Ministry of Tourism, 4.905,079 million tourists visited Tunisia from January to September 2013, up 4.9 % compared to the same period of 2012, but still 10.4% below the levels of 2010, the year shortly preceding the Revolution (December 17, 2010 / January 14, 2011).

Europeans and North Africans continue to be the main customers of the Tunisian tourism, virtually sharing the market up to 49.6% for the former and 48.3% for the latter.

The French, first visitors to the country, continue to shun the Tunisian tourism with 638,659 entries during the first 9 months of 2013, down 22.8 % compared to the same period in 2012 and 43.7% compared with 2010 .

An upswing was however recorded in other European nationals like the British, Russian, Italian and German, with respective rises of 27.6 %, 11.5 %, 6.1% and 3.7% versus 2012.

The Czech market, too, posted a growth with a 59.6% increase in entries compared with 2012.

Regarding the Maghreb, Libyans are still in the lead with 1.456,681 million entries in the first three quarters of 2013, up 19% compared to the same period last year and 21% compared to 2010.

They are followed by Algerians whose entries have reached 653,032, up 6.6% compared to last year.

Regarding tourism receipts from January to September 20, 2013, they reached according to preliminary figures from the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT), 2,336.6 million dinars, up 2.7 % compared to the same period last year. They remain, however, 6.7% below those recorded in the same period in 2010.

Only 41,518 Swiss tourists and vacationers came in Tunisia during the period from January to September 2013, down 8.8 % compared to the same period of 2012 and 41.1% in comparison with 2010, noted Ridha Dkhili, officer in charge of German-speaking markets (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) at the National Office of Tunisian tourism (ONTT).

Speaking Thursday at a seminar organized by the Tourism-info observatory on the theme “for the revival of the Swiss market,” he pointed out that the decline in the number of Swiss tourists is not unusual. “This downward trend began in 2000, the year in which the entries of Swiss tourists reached 120 thousands before rising to 105,728 entries in 2008,” the official said.

According to him, Tunisia is facing competition on the Swiss market from Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco and Croatia.

Professionals, who gathered at the meeting, were unanimous in noting that after the Revolution of December 17, 2010 – January 14, 2011, the decline in tourist arrivals from Switzerland has continued because of the climate of instability and also due to environmental pollution.

ONTT predicts that by the end of 2013, Tunisia will host approximately 56,300 Swiss tourists, with a decline of 5.5% compared to 2012. They recalled that recommendations for increased vigilance and the “advice posted on the website of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs concerning the existence of risk of terrorist attacks have deterred tourists from coming to Tunisia.”

To revive the Swiss market, the Swiss Ambassador in Tunis, Pierre Combernous, who was present at the meeting, recommended Tunisian tourism community to ensure better value for money and high value-added for tourist products.

He also stressed the need to further diversify the tourism offer by creating other forms of accommodation, “because Swiss holidays are mainly seaside, active and cultural.”

He also emphasized the need to promote Saharan tourism and develop “a reasonably priced offer by using clean energy.”

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3rd Agricultural Products Exhibition Held In Kabul

November 03, 2013, Kabul (BNA) With participation of over 150 domestic and foreign companies, the 13rd world exhibition of agricultural products which was held in Badam Bagh of Kabul last week ended.

Minister of agriculture and irrigation Mohammad Asif Rahimi in connection of opening this exhibition said that the aim of the exhibition was to improve the agricultural products in Afghanistan and providing market for them.

He added that encouragement of domestic products, informing farmers about the quality of modern technology which plays the main role in growth of agricultural economy.

According to him, domestic traders, investor and people of Afghanistan can contribute in the growth of economy of the country and with encouragement of domestic industries and productions; they should provide the grounds for the growth and encouragement of farmers, craftsmen and producers.

At the same time, the second vice president who attended at his exhibition said that lack of marketing for domestic agricultural productions is a main problem before increasing of agricultural productions in the country and he relates the maintenance security with increment in agricultural products.

He added that attending to capabilities and vast capacity of agricultural sector in providing employment and reduction of poverty, how much we make efforts in strengthening and growth of this sector, in such scale, the ground is prepared for socio-economic activities and also would annihilate the influence of terrorists’ and their activities.

At the same time, a number of economic experts of the country who were attending in this exhibition, expressing their optimism regarding to the measures taken by the agriculture ministry said that for introduction of domestic agricultural products, this ministry should provide the ground for marketing of agricultural products to foreign countries.

The executive director of chamber of commerce and industries, Qurban Haqjo said in connection that one of the main problems of farmers of the country is lack of standardized spring houses.

If such spring houses be established in the country and the farmers protect their productions in them, this would play its important role in the growth of our economy. On the other hand, through this, poverty would annihilate and employment would be created.

Likewise, a number of farmers who were attended at this exhibition and showed their products, believe that opening such exhibition can play its role in introduction of their products and is important for merchants.

They welcomed this measure adopted by Ministry of Agriculture. One of Kandahar farmers, Mohammad Agha said in the connection their introduction and marketing of domestic products pave the way for introduction of these products abroad, on the other hand, the merchants interesting to export domestic products to overseas. This is beneficial for both either for us or those merchants who purchase our products and then export to abroad.

A horticulturist of Kabul, Mirza Gul said in respect to opening of this exhibition that fortunately, our country has good products that are unparalleled in the world. Because, our products are ripen naturally not artificially and has good taste. So our products have good markets in the world.

At the same time, a number of our countrymen while are happy for opening of this exhibition, say that all things which are exhibited are domestic products and are possessing every kind of praises.

On of girls who had come along with her family members, Nafisa says that our domestic products have now good markets in abroad and mostly exported to India, Pakistan, US and other world countries.

She added that today in our city markets all Chinese, Iranian and other countries’ products are sold that neither have good taste nor don’t ripe naturally, so, if spring houses be established in the country for protection of agriculture products, there is no need for the import of foreign products.

While, the improvement and the increase of agriculture products are at the focus of attention of Afghan government, the Ministry of Agriculture opened the exhibition. The exhibition was opened for the public for three days and over 60000 people watched it.

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Awards for Best Nawrozi Poems, Literary Pieces, Farahi

November 10, 2013, Kabul (BNA) A session of cultural committee of high commission for Nawroz festival 1393 was held under chairmanship of Deputy Minister of Information and Culture Ghulam Nabi Farahi.

In the session which was attended by representatives of relevant ministries and organs the head of cultural committee of high commission for holding Nawroz festival talking said, “Leaders and representatives of 13 Nawroz zone countries are to take part in Nawroz festival of 1393 and various cultural programs as publishing of books, holding concerts, staging plays, exhibitions, sports, Buzkashi, wrestling competitions and documentary films are to be shown.

Meanwhile, Farahi asked writers and poets to send their literary pieces and poems related Nawroz to Deputy Ministry of Tourism so that prizes can be awarded. He added designers and experts who could prepare their designs in connection with sign and logo of the ceremony are asked to send their works to the deputy minister.

Ministry of Information and Culture in particular the cultural committee is determined to provide prizes for the best design.

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Turkey’s nationalist party seeks prayers in the Hagia Sophia

ANKARA (Daily News) – The Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) deputy parliamentary group chair, Yusuf Halaçoğlu, has submitted a bill to Parliament to turn the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque, suggesting that the current function of the Hagia Sophia as a museum was “not legal.”

In his lawful cause attached to the bill submitted on Nov. 8, Halaçoğlu recalled that a Cabinet decree declaring the Hagia Sophia as museum was released in 1934, but this decree was not published in the Official Gazette or any other similar official publication. However, both according to the Constitution of 1924 and the current Constitution, all bills, proposals or decrees need to be published in the Official Gazette after presidential approval in order for them to be accepted as laws or governmental decrees having the force of law (KHK), he explained.

“No such status exists with regard to the Hagia Sophia, here, there is clearly an illegality,” Halaçoğlu said in the lawful cause. He further claimed that the signature on the decree of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, was a forgery.

“Today, all of our mosques that were commissioned by sultans, from the morning call to prayer to the evening call to prayer, every day of the week, are open for prayers and for the visit of any person regardless of their religion. However, the Hagia Sophia can only be visited as a museum against the codes and law. This bill has been prepared aiming to open the Hagia Sophia – which is the symbol of the Conquest of Istanbul and which has been resounding with the sounds of the call to prayer for 481 years – as a mosque for prayers,” he added.

The Hagia Sophia Museum was first dedicated as an Orthodox patriarchal basilica in 360. Until the year of 1453, it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople. Following the city’s conquest by the Ottoman Empire, the building turned into a mosque in 1453 and remained so until 1931, when it was closed to the public for four years. It was reopened by the republican authorities in 1935 as a museum.

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Iran launches semi-submersible tourist boat

Oct 31, 2013, PressTV – Iranian experts have launched the first domestically designed and manufactured semi-submersible tourist boat off the coast of the Iranian Persian Gulf island of Kish.

The boat, named Morvarid (Pearl) and developed by technicians from Malek Ashtar University of Technology in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, made its maiden voyage on Wednesday.

The vessel’s four-seater underwater cabin makes it unique in the world since other semi-submersible boats have two-person cabins, project manager Arab Yar-Mohammadi said.

He added that Morvarid semi-submersible boat, which was developed within 120 days, can cruise at 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) per hour.

The Iranian semi-submersible boat enjoys great navigation capability, and is equipped with state-of-the-art technology.

Morvarid’s windows enable its occupants to get a broad underwater view. The semi-submersible boat also has underwater filming capability.

Yar-Mohammadi expressed hope that the semi-submersible boat would be mass produced in the near future.

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Jakarta Governor to modernize people’s markets in capital city

Jakarta, November 6 2013, (ANTARA News) – Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, or Jokowi as he is popularly called, made another breakthrough by starting the modernization of peoples markets in the capital city on Wednesday.

“We aim to remove the problem of dirty, smelly marketplaces in the city,” he said at a groundbreaking ceremony marking the development of five traditional markets in the city that sell mostly fresh produce.

Initially, the program will affect five markets: Pasar Manggis, Pasar Pesanggrahan, Pasar Kebon Bawang, Pasar Kampung Duri, and Pasar Nangka Bungur.

Jokowi noted that the markets must not be inferior compared to modern ones, and therefore, they must be cleaned up, submit to zoning requirements, and must provide parking lots.

He stated there were still 23 other markets that have to be revitalized.

He also pointed out that traders would eventually not have to pay rent since he considered this to be an unreasonable burden, especially for those earning small profits.

“They, however, will have to pay fees that are mandated in the bylaw,” he said.

He claimed old traders would be prioritized for setting up shop in the new market, while those who used to do business outside the old market will be accommodated inside the new market.

The populist governor has so far been able to relocate street vendors who had jammed streets around the countrys largest garment market in Tanah Abang and illegal dwellers located around several dams in the city, allowing the city to normalize the dams functions once the dwellers were removed.

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