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18 Nov, 2013

World’s First Underground Mosque Opens in Turkey

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 18 November 2013 (14 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)

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.




1MALAYSIA Year-End Sale Is Back! Get Set For Extreme Shopping Addiction

KUALA LUMPUR, NOVEMBER 17, 2013 – From trendy malls to open-air markets, the atmosphere is vibrant with the mood for the best shopping and leisure experiences ever, as only year-end sales can offer. Yes, the fabulous 1MALAYSIA YEAR-END SALE is back – bigger and better, events and happenings in hundreds of shopping outlets all over the country for nearly two months from November 16, 2013 to January 5, 2014.

The Minister of Tourism and Culture, YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri bin Tan Sri Abdul Aziz launched the 1MALAYSIA YEAR-END SALE (1MYES) 2013 today at The Esplanade, KLCC.

1MYES is one of the three major shopping seasons in the country. The other two are 1Malaysia GP Sale held during the Grand Prix from March to April; and 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival from June to September. 1MYES wraps up the shopping frenzy with a big bang.

1MYES offers the best bargains, the best choices, and the best shopping experience in all of Southeast Asia.

With gigantic malls, terrific bargains, top value offers and great chances to win attractive prizes in many contests and activities organised during this time of the year, 1MYES has all the elements to cause “extreme shopping addiction”. But it’s an addiction that will end on a positive note – shoppers will get top value from their shopping during 1MYES. Everyone may end up saying, “It’s my extreme shopping addiction.” This is 1MYES 2013’s tagline created to entice both locals and tourists to experience fabulous shopping in Malaysia. The fun extends beyond the malls and markets to hotels, restaurants, tour operators and to transport companies which have all rallied around to offer tempting holiday packages, F&B deals and lots more, making 1MYES even more exciting.

Tourism Malaysia has released a special “My Extreme Shopping Addiction” booklet that lists major events and happenings during 1MYES throughout the country. The free booklet is available at all Tourism Malaysia offices and Tourist Information Centres.

For more information, please contact:- Ms Norizah Abidin, Assistant Director, Shopping Secretariat Malaysia, Tel: + 603-8891 8532

Email: norizah@tourism.gov.my, Shopping Malaysia Secretariat: enq-megasales@tourism.gov.my


• In 2012, Malaysia registered 25 million tourist arrivals and RM60.6 billion in tourist receipts.

• Tourists spent RM19 billion on shopping in Malaysia last year, an increase of 5.7% compared to 2011.

• The amount constituted about 30.7% of the total tourist receipts of RM60.6 billion in 2012.

• Shopping expenditure holds the second biggest share of tourist expenditure after the accommodation sector.

• Malaysia’s retail industry grew by 5.5 percent last year with RM87.8 billion in sales turnover, making shopping a lucrative sector of Malaysia’s tourism industry.

• Malaysia is targeting to attract some 36 million tourists and RM168 billion receipts by the year 2020.

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Puppet theater festival starts in Baku

12 November 2013 – AzerNews – The second international puppet theater festival opened in Baku with a solemn ceremony on November 9. The festival is co-organized by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, International Puppet Theaters Association (UNIMA), and Azerbaijan State Puppet Theater after Abdullah Shaig.

It will present performances of leading puppet theaters from several countries in different genres that are of interest to both children and adults. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism Adalat Valiyev said the festival was organized under “The Azerbaijani Theater in 2009-2019” State Program.

Valiyev said a number of works would be staged in Azerbaijan State Puppet Show after Abdullah Shaig, Azerbaijan State Russian Drama Theater after Samad Vurgun, and State Theater of Young Spectator as part of the festival.

Jacques Trudeau, Secretary General of International Puppetry Association, highlighted the activities of the organization which groups puppet theaters from 87 countries. The festival will feature performances of Azerbaijan State Puppet Theater after Abdullah Shaig and Gakh State Puppet Theater, as well as theaters from the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, Bulgaria, Croatia, Switzerland, Hungary, and Tatarstan with some 12 performances.

The second puppet theater festival will last until November 16. Puppet theaters from the UK, Italy, and Switzerland will have performances on November 11, and 13. Tickets are available at the city’s box offices.

The festival is also expected to host master classes which will be conducted by professionals from world-famous puppet theaters. The first International Puppet Theater Festival was held in Baku in November 2011, after which Azerbaijan became a member of the UNIMA.

Azerbaijan will host a congress of the International Theater Institute under UNESCO in 2014.

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Morocco launches third edition of guidebook to promote MICE

The Moroccan National Tourist Office is delighted to announce the launch of the 2014 edition of MEET Morocco. This 92-page, high-quality publication highlights Morocco’s suitability as a destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, with features on the kingdom’s principal regions, the main visitor activities, new infrastructure and hospitality developments, meetings facilities and a comprehensive list of hotels.

MEET Morocco is produced in collaboration with Nicholas Publishing International, a Dubai-based publishing company. To be officially launched at EIBTM in Barcelona on November 20, it is a valuable tool for meetings and event planners, offering comprehensive information about meetings, conferences and incentives facilities in the country.

MNTO and NPI will be distributing 8,000 printed copies and 2,000 CDs of the MEET Morocco guide at major international travel trade shows and mailed to specialist databases of meeting planners, corporate travel and events buyers in the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the Gulf region. The publication can also be accessed online at www.visitmorocco.com and www.meetmiddleeast.com

Features in MEET Morocco 2014 include: Morocco and Vision 2020 – New developments – Meetings overview – Agadir – Casablanca – El-Jadida – Essaouira – Fez & Meknes – Marrakech – Rabat – Tangiers – Golf – Atlas Mountains – Eco Tourism – Spas and wellness – Hotel overview and factsheets – Alternative meetings venues – Shopping – Dining & Nightlife – Getting around.

“As a melting pot of cultures and civilizations, combined with its strategic location, its legendary hospitality and the openness of its people, it is not surprising that the organisation of conferences and meetings has become second nature to Morocco,” says Abderrafia Zouitene, Chief Executive Officer of the Moroccan National Tourist Office.

“In Morocco,” he adds, “events can be inspired by the unique characteristics of each region. Whether coloured by the energy of Marrakech, lulled by the serenity of Essaouira, soothed by Agadir’s sea breezes, driven by the energy of Casablanca, inspired by the deserts of Ouarzazate, event planners can offer their clients a unique event and an unforgettable experience.”

Meet Morocco is the third collaboration between NPI and the Moroccan National Tourist Office, following earlier MEET Morocco titles published in 2002 and 2009.

“As specialists in producing meetings guides for countries across the MENA region, we understand just how unique and how special Morocco’s product is. With visitor numbers climbing and with impressing new meetings facilities opening in every major destination, we believed it was the right time to produce a third edition of MEET Morocco. We believe it will become an important tool for promoting the destination as a meetings hub in North African and the Mediterranean,” said Rob Nicholas, Managing Director of NPI.

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Biman launches Frequent Flyer Programme, new duty free sky shop

DHAKA, Nov 10, 2013 (BSS) – Biman Bangladesh Airlines has launched Frequent Flyer Programme (FFP) named ‘Biman Loyalty Club’ and a new duty free sky shop with a view to raise the standard of the national flag carrier.

Biman launched its new product in a colourful ceremony with the presence of Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister M Faruk Khan at a city hotel last night.

Under its FFP any passenger can avail a green Biman loyalty card to start earning miles by signing up online on the Biman website or manually at sales outlets. The passenger can update the green card to silver and gold cards gradually for enjoying exciting facilities from the airline.

When a member completes 10,000 miles of journey, he or she can start utilise it by way of availing a free domestic return journey or a free one-way journey on Kathmandu or Kolkata route.

Payment for excess baggage, entrance to the Business Class Lounge in Dhaka or an upgrade from Economy to Business Class can also be paid with the earned miles.

Biman also launched its new in-flight duty free shop with a collection of wide range world renowned brand products as desire of Prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

Faruk Khan said Sheikh Hasina’s government believes that Biman will be able to become a truly international standard carrier soon. The Present government took lots of initiatives including procuring numbers of brand new aircraft including Boeing 777-300 to achieve the target.

The minister said the Biman will be turned into a profit making airline by next year in line with the government’s planning. He said Biman will resume its New York flight soon and is planning to connect with Australia. Biman Chairman Air Marshal (retd) Jamal Uddin Ahmed and CEO and managing director Kevin Steel also spoke on the occasion.

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Islamic writers strive to disseminate peace message

Centralasiaonline.com 2013-11-14 PESHAWAR – The Islamic Writers Forum Pakistan (IWFP), a literary body of religious scholars and ulema from across the country, is propagating Islam’s core message of peace, love, morality and brotherhood.

At a time when Islam is being portrayed as hardened and intolerant by some radicals, every Muslim has the moral as well as religious obligation to publicise his religion’s true image, Maulana Muhammad Abdullah Sadiq, president of the IWFP Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) chapter, told Central Asia Online.

“For an Islamic scholar who has studied hundreds of books, it is better to play an effective role in reforming society than to confine himself to a mosque or religious seminary,” he added.

IWFP unites religious scholars and encourages them to contribute articles and essays to local, regional and national newspapers. Scholars formed the group in 2001, but it was not very active initially, Sadiq said. However, during the past three or four years, its members realised their responsibility and revived it.

In 2009, the forum became a registered journalistic body in 2009 with 122 members. They contribute hundreds of religious columns to various newspapers and magazines monthly.

Growth has been rapid. KP had only three members about two years ago, Sadiq said. But that number has since surged to 30, and “more are applying to join.”

The forum’s members decided that the most practical way to spread its message was to use media, he said. The columns contributed by IWFP have highlighted problems that Muslims around the world face, Mufti Siraj-ul-Hassan, a forum member who heads the Islamic edition of Daily Aaeena, a Peshawar-based newspaper, said.

The group’s members contribute research-based articles to increase awareness of the difference between jihad and militancy, he said.

“We also teach that Islam has no place for sectarianism or insurgency,” Siraj emphasised.

The group’s focus for the holy month of Muharram, for example, is to explain that harmony among sects is a key tenet of Islam, Siraj said. “We have taught about each and every aspect of Islam and educated people about minorities’ rights well before the All Saints Church bombing in Peshawar and after it,” he added.

Oftentimes, the columns generate response. Readers contacted them and expressed appreciation for their efforts in light of the All Saints Church incident, he said. Readers also are asking questions in the newspaper about recent publications, reflecting the writers’ success in gaining attention, he added.

Abdul Jalil Jan, the KP spokesman for the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) religious party, hailed the initiative. The forum is assisting religious parties, which also are striving to correct misconceptions about the basic tenets of Islam, he said.

“The effort initiated by (the writers’ forum) is welcome, as it’s high time to spread the true message of Islam,” Zia-ul-Haq Sarhadi, president of another journalist group, the Abaseen Column Writers Association, said.

The group has plans to further spread its message. “We want to extend publication of our columns from the religious edition of newspapers to the editorial page so that readership could be enhanced, Siraj said. “The religious edition is published weekly, and our target is to get a column published in every newspaper daily.”

Further, the group will expand into electronic media by launching a separate TV channel, he added.

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Two Rafflesia flowers, the world’s biggest, bloom in Bengkulu

Mon, November 11 2013 Bengkulu (ANTARA News) – Two Rafflesia Arnoldi flowers are in bloom in the Central Bengkulu and Kepahiang forest areas of Bengkulu Province. “One flower is in bloom in the Taba Penanjung sanctuary and another in the protected forest of Bukit Daun,” Sofian Ramadhan, coordinator for Bengkulu Rare Flower Community, said here on Monday.

The Rafflesia arnoldii found in Taba Penanjung has been in full bloom for the past three days and has become an attraction for the locals. The flower found in Bukit Daun is in the beginning stages of blooming and will be in full bloom within the next three days, he confirmed.

The two rare flowers are now being guarded by local volunteers, he acknowledged. In addition to the two flowers, several buds of the Rafflesia Arnoldi were also found in the two areas. The buds will need many months to develop.

Rafflesia is a genus of flowering plants that comprises 16 known species. The best known of these is the Rafflesia arnoldii, which has the distinction of being the worlds largest flower, reaching a diameter of some three feet and weighing up to 15 pounds. The genus Rafflesia gets its name from Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of the British colony in Singapore. Rafflesia arnoldii is found in Indonesian tropical forests.

It is a parasitic plant, with no visible leaves, roots, or stem. It attaches itself to a host plant to obtain water and nutrients. When in bloom, the Rafflesia emits a repulsive odor, similar to that of rotting meat. This odor attracts insects that pollinate the plant.

Another enormous flower in Bengkulu, the Amorphophallus titanum or Titan arum, which is also known as the “corpse flower” because of its unpleasant odor, is expected to be in full bloom next month. Like the Rafflesia, the Titan emits the smell of rotting flesh to attract pollinators.

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Culture Connects Latinos With Islam

OnIslam & Newspapers Wednesday, 06 November 2013 CAIRO – Sharing cultural roots between Spain and Arabs, an increasing number of Latinos are reverting to Islam because of its support for a healthier lifestyle and closer family connections.

“Islam does not make you lose your culture,” Chris Cruz, who was born and raised Roman Catholic but converted to Islam, told Tucson Sentinel. There’s a lot more to life than what we used to do. I grew up partying.”

Same as Cruz, Sobida Espinoza said she was raised catholic and reverted to Islam to find truth. “If you’re Hispanic it’s almost as if you are forced to be Catholic,” Espinoza, a member of the Islamic Community Center of Tucson, said.

“People are converting to Islam because they find the reality that isn’t defined in other religions.”

Cruz and Espinoza aren’t alone. Ahmad Shqeirat, the center’s imam, confirmed that over the past years, most of the converts at his mosque have come from the Latino community. “It seems they are digging for their heritage,” he said.

Finding similarities between Islam and their culture was one of main reasons driving many Latinos to Islam. For example, Spanish is filled with Arabic vocabulary, Shqeirat noted.

Cruz said both Islam and Catholicism promote having large families, but he said his new religion offers more guidance on the family structure. That led his mother-in-law, who is also Hispanic, to convert, he said.

“She noticed a big change in how we conducted ourselves and how our relationship had really grown,” Cruz said. “We don’t drink and we don’t have the big parties.”

Aspiring for a better life with no drugs or alcohol, Hispanics were reverting to Islam because they aren’t happy with their lifestyles. “They are looking to fulfill a void that nothing else can fulfill,” Nahela Morales, national Hispanic outreach coordinator for WhyIslam, an online resource about Islam and Muslims, said.

Morales said she believes many Hispanics don’t feel accepted in the United States because of illegal immigration and other issues. Finding Islam, they become a part of a larger minority who share same values and ethics. “It’s still something very appealing,” she said. “They find that family that they lack.”

With increasing problems of drugs in the Latino community, new mosques were being opened in Hermosillo, Sonora and Mexico. “It’s getting kind of weak, the family structure,” Imam Didmar Faja of the Albanian American Islamic Center of Arizona in Peoria said.

“They are looking for other options to keep these rooted traditions with them.”

Abandoned by her family after reverting to Islam, Espinoza, who is single, said Islam became her new family and changed her life for the better. “I sometimes feel sad, but that also makes me stronger in the religion,” she said. Though there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to nearly seven million Muslims.

According to the Pew Research Center, 6 percent of American Muslims are Hispanic. Further, one of 10 American-born converts is Hispanic, and that figure is growing.

The American Muslim Council puts the number of Latino Muslims in the US at about 200,000 in 2006. The largest communities of Latino Muslims exist in areas with the highest concentrations of Latinos, such as New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami. Yet, California is the state with the most Latino Muslims.

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First Muslim Exercise DVD Hits US Markets

OnIslam & Newspapers -, 13 November 2013 FLORIDA – Going through exhausting journey to lose weight years ago, Nadine Abu Jubara sought to provide women, especially Muslims, with an alternative platform to exercise, especially for those reluctant to go to the gym.

“Women, not just Muslim women, tend to use modesty as an excuse to neglect their bodies,” reads the website Jubara launched under the name “Nadoona,” which means “call on us” in Arabic, Radio Free Europe reported on Tuesday, November 12. “Long sleeves and flowing tops shouldn’t mean flabby arms and love handles.”

The website was the culmination of four-year efforts by Jubara to lose weight herself. Being of Palestinian origin, the American Muslim, who lives in Florida, found few allies to her plans to lose weight in her Muslim community.

Gathering at weddings and parties, where the tables heaved with Middle Eastern food, she would set about choosing the healthiest items and smallest portions and hear, “Oh come on, take more!” or, “It’s just one day, it’s just one bite!”

“There was almost this discouragement for what was going on, but I still held strong and I kept going and I made it to my goal,” she says.

Losing 65 pounds (30 kgs), she noticed a dramatic change in people’s reactions as many were so impressed by her weight loss that they wanted to know how she did it.

“After about the hundredth time I was asked, ‘What’s your secret?’ I thought, clearly we have some sort of void in this community about this topic,” Jubara says.

Noticing the gab, she decided to offer help to observant Muslim women who prefer to wear modest, body-shrouding garments even while exercising.

Launching the website, she began charging a modest fee for personalized diet and exercise consultations and one-on-one video coaching.

Seeing huge interest, Jubara had another idea launching “Nadoona Extreme,” which was billed as “the first ever workout DVD for Muslim women.”

“Transform your body in the comfort of your own home,” it promises.

In a trailer for the video, Zainab, a Puerto Rican-American born in New York who converted to Islam four years ago, demonstrates moves including lunges and push-ups while wearing a colorful hijab and flowing training clothes.

Each step in the workout starts with a brief prayer, reinforcing the religious-spiritual aspect of the concept. Jubara released “Nadoona Extreme” at the beginning of November after an initial printing of 2,000 copies. Customers have been preordering the video from the website for weeks.

The response was overwhelmingly positive, from both Muslim and non-Muslim women. “When I thought of this idea, I didn’t want it to eliminate anyone,” Jubara said. “As I always say, fat and cellulite don’t discriminate between races, so I never wanted to have those boundaries and barriers dividing us that we find in so many other arenas. It’s a topic that we can all relate (to).”

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Malaysia On Track To Empower Women For Economic Growth

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Nov 10 (NNN-Bernama) — There is a proverb that says “Women hold up half the sky”.

Realising the important contribution of women to the country’s economic growth, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has charted out clear policies to encourage more women involve in the workforce and decision making in both the public and corporate worlds.

According to Prof Dr Samsinar Md Sidin from the Faculty of Economic and Management, Universiti Putra Malaysia, the country was on the right development track when it focused on empowering women as a economic driving force of the country.

“Our leader made the right decision when he focused on economic empowerment of women,” she said. However, she told Bernama that in order to tap women’s optimal economic performance, especially working mothers, there were several issues such as domestic help and child care that must be addressed.

She said this was crucial considering these two were among the biggest issues that hindered many women from working and developing their careers, despite having good qualifications, skills and track record.

“Working mums have to juggle between family and work, so if these issues (domestic help and child care) can be tackled, I have no qualms they will go all out to perform in their work,” she said.

Aside from training and upskilling programmes, she said the government and the private sector could also consider introducing other incentives to retain and lure women back to work. She suggested that giving certain days of unrecorded leave for women to attend to family emergencies would be a good idea.

Samsinar said Malaysia could also be a good example to other Muslim countries on leveraging on economic empowerment of women. “I have travelled to a lot of Muslim countries and they have a good impression on our women. They are impressed that our women are well-educated and have significant roles to play in nation-building and at the same time able to uphold the Islamic values,” she added.

To increase female participation in the workforce from the current 49.5 percent to 55 percent in three years, various initiatives have been introduced, including providing training and entrepreneurship programmes to women as well as giving tax reduction to companies who employ women after a career break.

Malaysia also set an ambitious goal which is to have 30 percent women as senior decision-makers and on corporate boards by 2015. To achieve that goal, a Women Directors Training Programme was launched last year and to date has trained 485 women to hold such positions.

According to statistics from the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, some 52 women from the programmes were successfully appointed as board directors this year.

The importance of economic empowerment of women was highlighted by Najib in his speech at the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in London late last month. He had pointed out that greater involvement of women could deliver better growth, more competitiveness and greater human development.

“Companies with women on their boards are more likely to account for environmental risk when making investment decisions, more likely to invest in clean energy, and more likely to focus on energy efficiency.

“They demostrate a stronger commitment to good governance, and to laying the foundations for long-term growth; working to improve access to healthcare, and offering services to those with limited access to financial products,” he said in his speech.

Concurring with Samsinar, MCA Young Professionals Bureau chief Chua Tee Yong said the policy demostrated government’s clear commitment in empowering women to stimulate the economy. He said for the objective to be met in the long run, the government must have strong political will and continue to implement new efforts.

He said proactive steps were also needed to address pipeline leakages of women in the workforce. Despite close to 70 percent of undergraduates in higher learning institutes in the country being women, the fairer sex is only represented by about 49 percent in the workforce.

“This figure has been quite stagnant for a long time, and I think the initiatives outlined can help to improve it,” Chua said.

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Nigeria-China Trade Volume Hits US$16 Bn

LAGOS, Nov 13 (NNN-NAN) — The trade volume between Nigeria and China has steadily grown to 16.59 billion dollars as at June, a Chinese official said. Daivid Zhao, a representative of the BrightWay International Exhibition Corporation Ltd., disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria at the ongoing 2013 Lagos International Trade Fair.

“The trade volume between the two countries grew steadily to 10.57 billion dollars in 2012 and reached 16.02 billion dollars in the first half of 2013,” he said. Zhao also said that the corporation had brought 425 Chinese exhibitors and 1,000 participants to the Lagos International Trade Fair in the last five years from 2007.

Chinese pavilions, Zhao said, had recorded more than 200,000 visitors at the exhibition from 2007 to 2012.

He said that the companies’ participation at the fair had boosted bilateral, economic cooperation and trade between both countries. Zhao said that the corporation expected increased participation of Chinese companies at the 2013 Lagos Trade Fair.

“Since 2008, Chinese pavilion has been the biggest international hall mostly visited. The exposure of our companies and their products to Nigerian investors has contributed to the growth of the trade volume between China and Nigeria,” he said.

A total 101 Chinese companies and 200 delegates participated at the Fair which ends on Sunday.

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Malaysia Seeks Strategic Partnership With Indonesia In Services Sector

SURABAYA, Nov 13 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysian companies are seeking to build strategic partnerships with their Indonesian counterparts in the services sector, to jointly grab economic opportunities, as well as undertake business in third countries. This initiative is being spearheaded by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) in its solo, four-day Malaysia Services Exhibition (MSE) 2013, which began here Wednesday.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer Trade Promotions and Services Division Matrade, Susila Devi said the Malaysian companies in Indonesia were not there to compete, but complement each other through their individual advantages and expertise via strategic partnerships.

“Malaysia is seeking partnerships (business in the services sector)and we cannot overestimate ourselves. Indonesia and Malaysia by virtue of close ties, can together develop the services sector, and perhaps also envision a wider market such as that in Asean,” she told reporters here today.

There are 62 Malaysian companies with 162 business representatives from the services sector participating in the MSE 2013, focusing on promoting seven sectors in the services industry.

The sectors are construction, ICT, franchises, health, education, logistics and transport, as well as areas encompassing management, printing and real estate services.

Susila said the MSE series is a Matrade initiative to find new ways to promote the services sector being developed by Malaysian companies, and since 2008, 17 have been held in various countries globally.

“The services sector is not easy to exhibit as it is of an intangible nature. It is easier to exhibit goods, but when it comes to services, we can only highlight elements of services based on the different sectors.

“For example, the fact that in the construction sector, Malaysian companies are good at facilities and project management,” she added.

She said exports from the services sector in Malaysia was growing although the value was still low at about six and seven per cent. “At present, the services sector only represents 16 per cent of Malaysia’s overall exports, and mostly goods. However, in line with the country’s economic growth towards 2020, the government has already indicated we need to focus more on the services sector.

“We have set the target for the sector to contribute 62 per cent of the gross domestic product in 2020. It is now at 58 per cent,” Susila added.

The promotions undertaken through the MSE for the services sector has shown results and testimony of this is the success of Malaysian companies in important iconic projects overseas, such as the Burj Khalifa and Al Burj Al Arab buildings in Dubai (United Arab Emirates).

Malaysian companies were involved in the structural steel works for both buildings. According to Susila, to succeed overseas, Malaysian companies cannot act on their own. “They have to find partners, whether in the form of consortiums, joint ventures or partnerships,” she added.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s Trade Commissioner to Indonesia Nadzri Shamsudin said Surabaya was chosen as the venue to promote the Malaysian companies in the services sector as it is Indonesia’s second largest city after Jakarta. “At the same time, it also provides opportunities to expand business in the East Java region, specifically in the infrastructure and logistics sector,” he added.

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World’s First Underground Mosque Opens in Turkey

OnIslam & News Agencies Tuesday, 05 November 2013 ISTANBUL – The first underground mosque has been constructed in Turkey’s Buyukcekmece district in Istanbul, the building that has won the first place in the World Architecture Fest competition for religious places.

“Mosques are places to contemplate and pray,” Mehmet Narin, the Mufti of Buyukcekmece, told the World Bulletin on Monday, November 4. “They are branches of the Kaaba,” he added.

Merging the essence of Islamic and ottoman designs with modernity, Sancaklar Mosque was inspired by Cave of Hira, where Prophet Muhammad (Peace upon him) first received prophecy. Built seven meters beneath the surface, the Mosque was constructed by the Turkish architect Emre Arolat.

The mosque, located on 1200 square meters under the ground, is enlightened by lead lanes and sunshine to cast a spiritual environment. Departing from standard mosque designs, the Sancaklar Mosque features a cavernous underground worship hall imbued with a special spiritual reverence.

The architects note in their brief that their design “aims to address the fundamental issues of designing a mosque by distancing itself from the current architectural discussions based on form and focusing solely on the essence of religious space.”

It has been under construction since May 2011 and is scheduled to be opened during the coming weeks.

Offering a place for more than 650 worshippers, the mosque aims to void the shortage of mosques in the district. “Due to the lack of mosques here in the Karaagac neighborhood, this one is needed,” the Mufti, Narin, added. “This district is filled with villas but there was no mosque.”

Being the world’s first underground mosque, the Sancaklar Mosque was designed without a minaret or a crescent. Approximately 99 percent of Turkey’s population is Muslim. Turkey has thousands of mosques, the most famous of which are Blue Mosque, which is marked with its blue tile work ornamenting its interior walls.

In May 2012, the world’s first underwater mosque was built in north-western city of Tabuk in Saudi Arabia.

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Malaysia’s Matrade To Hold Global Trade And Export Expo On Nov 25-28

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 (NNN-Bernama) — The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) is organising one of the region’s largest trade fairs for sellers and buyers globally, the Intrade 2013 in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25-28, aiming to connect trade exhibitors, buyers and suppliers to the global market.

In a statement Friday, Matrade said it expects to host 9,000 local and international trade visitors, 300 buyers from 30 countries, as well as 450 exhibitors from 15 countries at the seventh edition of Intrade.

Themed “Revitalising Export Growth,” Intrade 2013 reflects the importance of rejuvenating export opportunities in the current situation of heightened competition and concerns in the global economy, the trade promotion agency said.

“Riding on a successful event from last year, Intrade 2013 is bullish in providing the same trading platform to its participants with the four main industry clusters that will stimulate economic growth and provide business opportunities, namely building materials; electrical and electronics; information and communications technology (ICT); and manufacturing support and lifestyle,” Matrade said.

It said the international event is also an avenue to enhance networking and business matching, exchange of ideas and knowledge amongst the business communities from different countries, as well as to share and learn about the intricate business of trading in global markets through its three concurrent events — Kuala Lumpur International Trade Forum, Incoming Buying Mission, and FTA@INTRADE.

“Businesses are encouraged to be outward-looking and always exploring for opportunities to bring their businesses to higher grounds through all possible channels, thus Intrade 2013 offers the perfect interactive platform,” the agency said.

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“Algeria In Movement” Festival In France To Correct Country’s Image

PARIS, Nov 14 (NNN-APS) — “Algeria in movement,” an annual festival aimed particularly at “correcting” the country’s image in France and highlighting the talents of its youth, opened Tuesday in Paris at the initiative of Algeria-France Forum.

The event, which is being held in Paris on Nov 12-16, started with a focus on the Algerian media, a meeting which highlighted the new Algerian social networks and media in which participated web journalists, photographers, journalists and radio presenters.

The meeting was marked by the screening of two documentaries about the long journey of the May 1, 2011 by Oran’s association Bel Horizon and Bejaia Doc.

At the event’s official opening, President of France-Algeria Forum Farid Yaker said that “Algeria in movement” is meant to reveal the Algerian talents to the French civil society and to contribute at boosting the relations between the Algerian and French economic and cultural civil society players.

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Malaysian PM Wants Langkawi To Be Among Best In World

LANGKAWI, Malaysia Nov 10 (NNN-Bernama) — Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said today he is committed to developing the island of Langkawi as a tourist destination of the world to the ultimate level. He said that to achieve this, it required investments in Langkawi and big brands to attract more high-class travellers.

“It is time to continue (former prime minister) Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s mission on Langkawi. We have achieved much…But we have to bring it to the ultimate level. We need a few anchor investments…top class brands to be in Langkawi. A game changer… To bring Langkawi to be on par with Bali, Monaco and other places, what we call nautical holiday destinations… Luxury! That is the concept…we want Langkawi to be among the best in the world,” he said.

Najib said this when performing the ground-breaking ceremony of the Hotel St. Regis Langkawi & Langkawi International Convention Centre here.

Also present were his wife Rosmah Mansor, Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, Rajawali Group chairman Peter Sondakh and Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) chief executive officer Khalid Ramli.

Najib said when he launched the Langkawi Blue Print in 2011, the goal was to draw three million tourists a year by 2015 but for this year the number hadalready reached 3.6 million.

“But we need high end tourists as well…Who can spend and spread the word that Langkawi is among the best in the world,” he said.

Therefore, he said, when completed in 2015, the nautical resort comprising integrated St. Regis Langkawi, which has 84 rooms and 11 villas, and the iconic and beautiful LICC would impact not only on Langkawi but Malaysia as a whole.

He said he also hoped that when the two facilities were completed, they could be used for the 2015 Asean summit due to be held in April that year.

“(I) Look forward to this investment.. 15 months is a very tight schedule…Asean summit here in Langkawi…Free publicity…Free airtime…Aiming for the April deadline,” he added.

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Indonesia Launches Tourism Website In Mandarin

BEIJING, China Nov 12 (NNN-ANTARA) — The Indonesian Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry launched a Mandarin language website here on Monday in an effort to provide more information about Indonesia and tourism destinations for Chinese tourists.

“This website is specially designed for Chinese tourists, so this is not a mere translation of the existing website from the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry (Kemenparekraf), but we made a special design to meet the needs of Chinese tourists who will tour Indonesia,” Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Pangestu said here on Monday.

The minister noted that, according to research, many Chinese tourists have little information about Indonesia, including its tourism destinations.

“The majority of Chinese tourists only know Bali. Therefore, this website was made in accordance with the needs of tourists from China, not only highlighting Indonesian tourist destinations, but also about Indonesia as a whole,” she noted.

The website, found at cn.indonesia.travel, is a recognition of the growing number of Chinese tourists visiting Indonesia.

In addition, the minister said, Indonesia has offered three destinations outside Bali for Chinese tourists to visit, including Yogyakarta, Lombok and Labuan Bajo.

“In the short-and medium-term, we would offer Yogyakarta, Lombok and Labuah Bajo, which is known for its giant lizards. We are starting to introduce other destinations, other than Bali, to Chinese tourists,” she disclosed.

For their promotion, the three locations have already been listed on the tourism ministrys website – cn.indonseia.travel – in the Mandarin language.

Mari said China is one of 16 main markets Indonesia has been targeting. “Five of the markets are Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, China and Japan,” she added.

Indonesia and China have agreed to increase tourist visits to reach two million by 2015.

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Citilink Indonesia Keen To Operate Four New Air Routes To Johor

NUSAJAYA, Nov 13 (NNN-Bernama) — The Johor government has received an application from Citilink, an Indonesian low-cost airline, to operate four air routes from the republic to the Senai International Airport, the State Assembly was told.

State Tourism Committee, Cooperatives and Consumerism Committee chairman Tee Siew Kiong said the routes were Bandung-Johor Baharu, Surabaya-Johor Baharu, Denpasar-Johor Baharu and Medan-Johor Baharu.

“The round-trip flights only could attract more tourists to the state as they will make the Senai Airport a major tourist gateway to Johor and Malaysia and turn Johor Baharu into a major aviation hub in southern Malaysia,” he said.

Tee said the state government and the Johor Tourism Department would discuss the request with the Transport Ministry, Department of Aviation, Senai Airport Terminal Services, Malaysia Airlines, and Johor Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).

Apart from Citilink, he said the Johor government had held talks with Indonesia AirAsia to operate from the Senai International Airport and was awaiting a response from the aviation authorities.

He said the state government had also held meetings with other airlines, including All Nippon Airways, Korea Air and Cebu-Philippine Airlines on the possibility of providing charter services for tourists.

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Oman aims big push in health care

Oman Tribune – 08 November, 2013 – In the backdrop of steps being initiated to give Oman a big push in raising its health care facilities, a conference on the infrastructure facilities in the sector will be held here on November 11 and 12.

Organised by International Quality and Productivity Centre and Global Exhibitions and Conferences LLC, the meeting is expected to focus on healthcare facilities, developing internationally-accredited hospitals, analysing big data opportunities in the Sultanate, medical tourism, IT in healthcare and sustainability.

According to organisers, the Sultanate was on with a massive programme to upgrade its health facilities with the government charting out a health plan aimed at 2050. Already, the last budget had allocated 547 million rials for the health sector which was a nearly 10 per cent rise over the previous year, they said.

This would be the first such conference where experts would look at sharing ideas and also look at partnership opportunities and evolve strategies for this.

There was expected to be presentations on the massive healthcare projects coming up across the Sultanate which would include the Sultan Qaboos Medical City in Batinah and the International Medical City in Salalah, besides those being promoted by a number of groups.

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Etihad set to launch flights to Madinah

Khaleej Times – 08 November, 2013 – With the addition of the new service, which will start on February 1, 2014, Etihad Airways will now offer 50 weekly flights to four destinations in Saudi Arabia which, along with Madinah, include Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah.

Flights between Abu Dhabi and Madinah will be operated by an A320 aircraft fitted with 16 Pearl Business Class and 120 Economy Class seats, offering a total 1,904 seats per week. The new services are set to meet growing demand from Hajj and Umrah travellers. They will also allow maximum connectivity over Abu Dhabi for flights between Saudi Arabia and the Indian Subcontinent, Asia, the GCC and Europe, as well as serving strong point to point traffic.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ president and chief executive officer, said: “We are delighted to announce the introduction of Madinah to the Etihad Airways’ global flight network. Saudi Arabia has always been a key market for Etihad Airways and Madinah is therefore an important strategic destination for the airline. Our new flights will cater to the Saudi Arabian population living in the UAE, as well as to the growing numbers of business and religious travellers looking to fly to the city.”

“The demand for the Umrah flights has always been very strong and with plans for the expansion of the Prophet Mohammed Mosque underway, we expect this demand to continue to grow in the future,” Hogan said.

The new service to Madinah will be Etihad Airways’ ninth destination in the Arabian Peninsula, joining Dammam, Jeddah, Riyadh, Kuwait, Bahrain, Doha, Muscat, and Sana’a. Flight EY345 departs from Abu Dhabi at 00:50 and arrives in Madinah at 02:55 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Flight EY346 departs from Madinah at 03:55 and arrives in Abu Dhabi at 07:20 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

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Saudi Arabia becoming global hub for Islamic finance

Saudi Gazette – 10 November, 2013 – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar will all increase their global importance as centers of Islamic finance in the coming years, as the three markets experience rising international demand for financing.

Already the top three Islamic banking markets in the Gulf region, rising international demand for infrastructure and investment project financing is likely to stimulate growth in the three markets.

In particular, there is set to be strong demand from the government sector, which is increasingly working to ensure that at least a proportion of large project financing is structured in compliance with Shariah law.

As the fastest-growing of the three markets, the balance sheet of Qatar’s Islamic banks are expected to be worth more than $100bn by 2017, according to a recent report by global credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s.

The Euromoney Qatar 2013 Conference, which will be held under the patronage of Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Prime Minister, Qatar, will provide a major platform for discussion of the direction of the Islamic financial sector, and the models for cooperation and competition that will help sustain it.

Co-hosted by Qatar Central Bank, the Euromoney Qatar Conference 2013 will see a major presentation on “Islamic Markets and Economic Growth”, presented by Dr. Khaled Al Fakih, Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of The Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI ).

It will be the first time that a representative of AAOIFI has addressed the Euromoney Conference, and reflects the growing global interest in Shariah-compliant financing and investing.

Qatar has one of the fastest-growing Islamic banking sectors in the world, driven by the demand for local credit to finance government infrastructure and investment projects.

This in turn is having an impact on the assets of Qatar’s Islamic banks, increasing their share of the country’s banking system. The Islamic banks’ market share in domestic credit increased from 13 percent in 2006, to 25 percent at the end of 2012, according to the S&P report.

Global interest in the Islamic financing sector was demonstrated in October 2013, when Britain announced that it would become the first non-Muslim country to sell a bond that can be bought by Islamic investors. Prime Minister David Cameron said that the UK Treasury is drawing up plans to issue a £200m sukuk, a form of debt that complies with Islamic financial law.

The new Shariah-compliant gilt will enable Britain to become the first non-Muslim country to tap the growing pool of Islamic investments, which is set to exceed $ 1 trillion by 2014.

As a meeting point for international financial players and major decision-makers from the region, the Euromoney Qatar Conference will provide an ideal opportunity for both sides to learn more about expectations and predictions for the local, global and international markets.

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Tourism growth boosts Qatar hotel revenue

Gulf Times – 11 November, 2013 – Driven by higher hotel occupancy rate, Qatar’s four- and five-star hotels earned a total revenue of QR703.1mn in the third quarter, up 13.81% on the same period last year, official data shows.

Despite the industry adding some 600 rooms, the average hotel occupancy rate in the third quarter had gone up to 57% from 50% in the corresponding period of 2012, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said yesterday.

“All key indicators of the tourism sector demonstrated improvement and growth in the third quarter compared to the period under review in 2012,” QTA said.

According to QTA, four- and five-star hotels account for some 11,717 of Qatar’s total 13,551 rooms, with calls for more economy and budget hotels from consumers.

Regional visitors increased by 20%, with the greatest increases coming from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait while the UAE and Oman remained static.

Tourists reaching Qatar from other continents rose by 13.36% whereas arrivals from Asia showed the biggest increase at 18.27%.

QTA statistics now incorporates “wider field of data” which provides “greater guidance” to the industry. The data is based on hotel submissions to QTA and assists in assessing trends and underlying opportunities.

Despite the increase in room inventory, the average room rate per available room per day for both four- and five-star hotels increased by 8.82% in the third quarter compared to the same period in 2012, reaching QR319 from QR293.

Contrary to industry opinion that predicted falls in revenues due to rapid room inventory increases, average total revenue per available room per day grew by 4.41% in the third quarter compared to the third quarter in 2012.

This indicates the sector is still facing robust demand and the fourth quarter in 2013 is likely to show strong growth, according to QTA.

“Driving the tourism sector was increased exposure to the global economy, assisted by the influx of companies and businesses supporting Qatar’s infrastructure development,” it said.

“A diverse range of events and activities in Qatar, and increased regional and international presence during the third quarter of this year also pushed growth in the leisure sector. These include the Eid Festival 2013, as well as performances of Cirque du Soleil at the Aspire Dome,” QTA said.

The third quarter had also seen many achievements for QTA. The Eid al-Adha Festival in October was aimed at promoting Qatar as a family tourist destination regionally.

In September, QTA announced the official opening of its representative office in Paris, the second such facility in Europe.

QTA also joined the world in celebrating World Tourism Day on September 27, organising a local photography competition to raise awareness of the importance of tourism to Qatar’s economy and the local community.

The authority led a high-level Qatar delegation to ITB Asia in Singapore, the largest travel show in Asia. QTA utilised the occasion to hold buyers meetings and interact with counterparts in the Asian tourism industry, setting the stage for increased tourist growth from the region.

QTA said: “The scene is set for continued growth, as new infrastructure readies to accelerate the growth of the sector. Doha Exhibition and Conference Centre is under construction and Hamad International Airport is set for an early 2014 opening.

“QTA is readying the launch of a new phase in Qatar’s tourism industry with the release of the National Tourism Strategy, later this month, which will serve as the road map for the sector’s development in the coming years. Qatar Tourism Authority has a key role to play in co-ordinating the development of a sustainable tourism sector in the country, and growing tourism sector’s contribution to a diversified national economy.”

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Malaysian PM’S Visit To Bangladesh Will Further Enhance Bilateral Ties

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Nov 16 (NNN-Bernama) — Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s official three-day visit to Bangladesh beginning tomorrow will further enhance relations between the two countries.

A Foreign Ministry statement said the visit will seek to broaden and deepen the existing cooperation between Kuala Lumpur and Dhaka as well as to provide an excellent opportunity for leaders of both countries to exchange views and achieve closer understanding on issues of mutual interest.

“The prime minister’s visit to Bangladesh underlines the importance which Malaysia attaches to its relationship with Bangladesh,” the statement said.

During the visit, Najib is scheduled to call on Bangladesh’s President Md Abdul Hamid and attend a bilateral meeting with his counterpart Sheikh Hasina to discuss and exchange views on regional and international issues of common interest to both countries.

Najib is also scheduled to be the Chief Guest for the inauguration ceremony of the Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Memorial Specialised Hospital and Nursing College.

“The hospital, which is named after the Bangladesh prime minister’s mother will be managed by KPJ Malaysia,” said the statement. Najib will be accompanied by wife, Rosmah Mansor and a delegation of 62 including Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Meanwhile, Rosmah is scheduled to visit the Dhaka Community Hospital. The World Children Welfare Fund under the PERMATA childood eduction programme had donated RM103,000 last month to Mercy Malaysia for the ‘Cleft Lip and Palate Project’ at the hospital.

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Abu Dhabi pushes bid for global hub

Khaleej Times – 11 November, 2013 – MEED, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Department, announced it will stage the 8th edition of the annual Abu Dhabi Conference to discuss the roadmap and project outline for the Emirate’s aspirations to become a global business hub.

Scheduled on December 8-10, 2013, the Abu Dhabi Conference will feature keynote addresses by Eng. Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehhi, undersecretary, Ministry of Economy; Mohammed Omar Abdullah, undersecretary, Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED); and Eng. Amer Al Hammadi, executive director for Planning & Infrastructure, Urban Planning Council (UPC).

In addition to ongoing massive projects in real estate, retail, tourism and transport, Abu Dhabi will award a range of new contracts in Q1 of 2014 with an estimated value of over $ 7 billion. These include the $ 1.8-billion Adwea — Mirfa IWPP project, the $ 2.5-billion residential villas project in Musanada — Shamkha South; and the $ 1-billion Urban Planning Council mixed-used project in the Shahama and Bahia Districts.

As the capital pushes its agenda for sustainable growth, a total of $ 346.7 billion worth of projects will be implemented from 2016-2030, thus presenting opportunities for contractors and other stakeholders to align their business strategy with Abu Dhabi’s planned developments across critical sectors. “We have worked closely with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Department in putting together a programme that will present a comprehensive overview of project opportunities, achievements and challenges faced in delivering Abu Dhabi’s economic vision 2030 across key sectors,” says Edmund O’ Sullivan, chairman, MEED Events, organisers of the annual business conference focusing on Abu Dhabi.

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Nigeria: Turkish Airlines Set Begin Kano Flights

Daily Trust – 13 November 2013 – Lagos — Turkish Airlines will meet with travel agents Friday November 15 in Kano at a workshop in preparation for the commencement of flights between Kano and Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday, December 12.

A statement from the airline quoted the managing director, Kano, Mr Ahmet Akbuga, as saying: “The workshop is geared towards sensitizing the travel agents, agencies and the public on the commencement of flights between Kano and Istanbul.”

“The workshop will also serve as an opportunity to formally meet with and interact with the agents and agencies who are mostly our partners in our relationship with the travelling public”, he added.

According to him, Turkish Air sees Kano city as a rallying point for the sustenance of the longstanding cultural relationship and expansion of business frontiers between Nigeria and Turkey. He added that passengers in Kano and neighbouring states in northern Nigeria can travel to any part of the world through Turkish Airlines, a member of the Star Alliance.

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Nigerian Airlines Contribute N58 Billion to Economy

This Day – 11 November 2013 – Domestic and foreign airlines that operate in Nigeria contribute about N58 billion to the nation’s economy and support 61,000 jobs. This was disclosed by the Ministry of Aviation in a new report titled: “Evolving Towards a Risk-based Aviation Safety Strategy”, which outlined plans for the reformation of the sector.

According to the report, airlines registered in Nigeria directly employ 7,000 people locally and support through their supply chain a further 33,000 jobs with further 21,000 jobs supported through the household spending by those employed by airlines and their supply chain.

Also, airlines registered in Nigeria carry about six million passengers and 119,000 tonnes of freight a year to, from and within Nigeria and directly contribute about N29 billion to the GDP.

“The sector contributes indirectly another N17 billion through the output it supports through its supply chain and further N11 billion comes from the spending of the airlines and their supply chains,” the report stated. The report noted that the plan of the Ministry of Aviation is to further develop the sector to boost revenues accruing from it to the GDP, create more jobs and make airline operation more profitable.

The first step to actualise this, it pointed out, is the modernisation of the airports and other infrastructure that will enhance safe air transport in Nigeria, attract international travellers and enhance local carriers to operate more international destinations. “Our reform programme therefore will place Nigeria as a hub for the airfreight and passenger flows in the West Africa sub-region in the immediate future and Africa in the long term,” the report said.

The ministry said the reform plan started with the Aviation Master Plan which has the strategic thrust for institutional changes, infrastructure development, dynamic hubs and cargo terminals, free economic zones and perishable cargo villages and improved human capacity development.

The plan also includes technical capacity building for air traffic control personnel and the establishment of the national carrier, Nigeria One.

“The strategy we adopted for implementing the aviation reforms was hinged on three platforms: safety and security, infrastructure development and horizontal growth, including institutional changes, the development of our domestic airlines and the national carrier,” the publication also stated.

The plan, the ministry noted, would encourage private sector participation and foreign direct investment to build and manage airports and other offerings at the airports and these include the already planned project with the Chinese investors that are building four airports terminal at the four major airports in Nigeria, including Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt. “The projects have kicked off and it is expected that transparent policy and concession arrangements would attract more investors to the sector to engage in public, private partnership to develop the industry.”

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Gambia Bird Begins London to Freetown Air Service

Concord Times – 13 November 2013 – Just a year after commencing operations in Sierra Leone, Gambia Bird on November 11 began its air service from London to Freetown and back to London with Boeing 757 aircraft, which offers space for up to 182 passengers.

Welcoming the aircraft at the Freetown International Airport in Lungi, Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma, said he was delighted that the airline has succeeded in upgrading its air service.

“I am delighted to receive this flight which is an indication of the confidence the airline has in the Sierra Leonean market. Significantly, just one year in the country they have upgraded their service,” noted the transport minister. “What I am seeing here today is much more comfortable and spacious. I learnt that our country will be one of their hubs. We want options. We don’t want one dominant carrier to take over the market.”

While urging the airline to ensure that they give the British Airways a run for their money with their new route to London via Freetown, Minister Koroma pointed out that London is a preferred route for Sierra Leoneans because of the rich colonial ties between the two countries.

According to him, the more airlines use the country to fly to London, the better the competition will be in terms of customer service, among others.

The airline’s Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Waziaski, told Concord Times that right from the beginning, Freetown has been one of their major hubs, and that the Boeing 757 aircraft has a wider economy class as well as a real business class.

“Today will mark a milestone in our history since we started our operations in October of 2012,” maintained CEO Waziaski. “Of course we will connect passengers coming from London via Freetown to Banjul, which will increase the connectivity as well as other countries along the west coast and of course Banjul. We will be delivering passengers coming from London to Freetown and distributing them to Banjul. We will do our best to connect Freetown to other major destinations around the world.”

Waziaski explained that the aircraft has a capacity to carry more cars as well as a wider cabin, and that passengers will experience much more comfort.

“We will continue to keep our high standard which is our goal, and our service will remain to be excellent. The aircraft has 162 spaces for Economy Class and 20 for Business Class. We now have three frequencies per week and our capacity has also doubled,” he explained.

Chief Marketing Officer, Jan Limbach, disclosed that passengers wishing to travel with the Boeing 757 aircraft will have to pay US$599 for Economy Class and US$1,499 for Business Class Country Manager, Madam Sueray said: “My feeling is that it’s really going to work for us in Sierra Leone. We know what Sierra Leoneans mean and I am delighted that we have the aircraft now.”

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Malawi to Host Regional Youth in Tourism Arts Festival and Conference

Malawi News Agency – 13 November 2013 – Lilongwe — Malawi is expecting to hold the SADC Youth in Tourism Arts Festival and Conference from 12 to 13 December this year in Lilongwe. The SADC Youth Tourism Arts Festival and Conference will be held to promote sustainable development in tourism in Southern Africa, with the participation of the youth.

15 Youths from SADC countries of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mauritius, Namibia, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Swaziland and South Africa will partake in the conference.

According to a press statement from Region Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) who are the organisers of the conference, said they have organised an essay competition for youths between the ages of 12 to 17 years from primary and secondary school so that they select two winners who will be crowned as junior Tourism Ministers.

Two winners from primary and secondary school level will be crowned Southern African junior Tourism Ministers for one year and the two together with their teachers will be sponsored to the Regional youth in tourism Arts festival and Conference in December.

“Preparations for the first ever youth in Tourism Essay competition are now at its peak and a total of 150 schools in SADC countries are taking part in this inaugural competition.

“RETOSA realised that this age group is a critical component in the sustainable development of tourism in Southern Africa and this is also in order to create a regional platform for purposes of mainstreaming scholars in tourism programs,” reads part of the statement.

The statement further highlights that the theme for the Regional Youth in Tourism Essay Competition is “Turning Southern Africa into A Competitive and Green Tourism Destination” and that can only be achieved through deliberate engagement and exposing the youth to critical tourism issues and get them involved in national and regional tourism at an early age.

It goes on to add that, RETOSA has extended the deadline for submission of the essays to 30 November 2013 to accommodate all our member states to participate. RETOSA is the tourism implementing agency for Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

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Saudi-Turkish business council seeks to boost bilateral trade

Arab News – 12 November, 2013 – In a bid to raise the level of bilateral trade between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the Saudi-Turkish Business Council (STBC) reaffirmed the private sector’s potentials to work together to boost the two-way trade.

Pointing to the importance of the role of private sector in both the countries to strengthen commercial ties, the STBC in a statement issued Sunday called on private investors from both the countries to come forward.

The council held a meeting on Nov. 6 on the sidelines of the Saudi-Turkish Joint Committee meetings to work out the ways and means to boost Saudi investments in Turkey and to launch a direct maritime shipping line between the two countries, it said.

The meeting, attended by Mazen bin Ibrahim Rajab, STBC chairman, the delegation of Council of Saudi Chambers and businessmen from both the countries, discussed a number of issues related to bilateral trade. According to a recent report, the two-way trade is currently valued at $ 8 million.

Making a call for revamping commercial ties, STBC also stressed on further strengthening trade and commerce to revitalize the two way trade exchanges.

The joint business council also embarked on cooperation in the field of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the exchange of experiences to further boost bilateral trade.

It also emphasized on participation in exhibitions and cultural events in both countries by their people.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia signed a number of trade agreements, including an agreement on enhancing economic and technical cooperation (1974) to evaluate and enhance bilateral trade and commerce and within the framework of that agreement for technical cooperation, the joint economic committee meetings are held with the participation of the government institutions and in case of need, private enterprises from both the countries alternatively in Ankara and Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey enjoy very cordial relations and diversity in various fields and are key partners with the Kingdom enjoying the status of one of the largest trading partners of Turkey among the Middle East countries.

Turkish-Saudi joint business council was formed by Foreign Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK) and Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry in 2003 to develop bilateral economic cooperation between both countries.

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Royal Jordanian inaugurates Amman-Mosul flights

Amman, Nov. 11 (Petra)–Royal Jordanian inaugurates its flight between Amman and Mosul, in northern Iraq tomorrow. Initially, the airline will operate two weekly flights to Mosul, on Tuesdays and on Saturdays, raising the number of frequencies between Jordan and Iraq to 28 weekly, together with the nine weekly flights to each of Baghdad and Erbil and the four weekly flights to each of Basra and Sulaymaniyah.

Through this new route addition, the airline aims to boost its presence in the Iraqi market, help the growing air transport between the two countries, in general, and serve, in particular, businessmen, students and Jordanian and Iraqi citizens wishing to fly to Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq in terms of population.

The service between Mosul and Amman will also serve Iraqi passengers transiting though Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA), connecting them, through RJ flights, with any worldwide destination served by the airline.

The flights from QAIA to Mosul depart at 6:15 and reach Mosul at 8:05. The return flights depart Mosul at 8:50 and reach Amman at 10:45, a flight duration of one hour and 50 minutes.

The addition of Mosul will increase the total destinations on RJ route network to 61 Arab and international cities, directly served from Amman.

The airline offers its passengers more than 850 other destinations on member airlines through its partnership in the oneworld alliance, which it joined in 2007.

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ArtTalks pays tribute to the masters of modern Egyptian art

AhramOnline – Thursday 14 Nov 2013 – Zamalek’s ArtTalks Gallery is hosting an exhibition of rare artworks by key figures in modern Egyptian art representing the artistic movements that emerged in the first half of the 20th century.

Works by Mahmoud Said, Mahmoud Mokhtar, Ragheb Ayad, Adham Wanly, Seif Wanly, Margaret Nakhla, Yousef Kamel, Ramses Younan and Fouad Kamel, on loan to ArtTalks from private collections, were presented Tuesday 12 November in a talk on the History of Egyptian Modern Art delivered by gallery founder Fatenn Mostafa.

Since its launch in December 2012, ArtTalks has been on a dual mission: to present and support young Egyptian artists, and to act as a forum for knowledge by familiarising the public with the roots of modern Egyptian art.

Therefore, while most galleries nowadays dedicate their space to works by more contemporary artists, this show provides a valuable glance into the artwork of the pioneers of modern Egyptian art.

During her talk, Mostafa took on the daunting task of covering four decades of art history in two hours. The seminar presented key painters of the first half of the 20th century while a small collection of their works adorned the walls surrounding the attendees.

The talk established three men as game-changers in Egypt’s modern art scene: Sheikh Mohamed Abdou, then the country’s mufti (authority responsible for issuing religious edicts), who endorsed art and refuted claims of its contradiction with Islamic principles; Prince Youssef Kamel, who personally financed art and founded the Fine Arts University in 1908, and Mahmoud Khalil Pasha, who established the first Museum of Fine Arts in Egypt back in 1927.

After decades of foreign occupation, the struggle for a sovereign national identity was the driving force behind the birth of Egyptian modern art, Mostafa explained.

The first movement of modern Egyptian art was therefore replete with indigenous identity, as many painters began to depict everyday life and ordinary subjects. This generation of artists also drew inspiration from their Pharaonic roots.

Among this group is Mohamed Nagui, who has been described as the father of modern Egyptian art, and assumed a number of prominent positions in art institutions locally and internationally.

Also among Egypt’s pioneering modern artists was Mahmoud Mokhtar, generally referred to as the father of modern Egyptian sculpture.

Other painters such as Ragheb Ayad and Yousef Kamel were also influenced by Pharaonic subject matter, and set out to chronicle intimate images from Egypt’s society. “The importance of art is that it is a documentation of our history,” Mostafa commented.

The seminar delved into the life and work of Mahmoud Said, probably Egypt’s most widely known artist. Six of the master’s artworks are exhibited at ArtTalks for the duration of this exhibition. In the works of such artists as Margaret Nakhla, who painted scenes in public baths as well as Church weddings, emerged a revolutionary depiction of the mundane.

Mostafa then presented the second generation of artists, the Art and Freedom Group. She calls them the “Tahrir Square of the 40s,” in that they brought forward revolutionary ideals and posed art as a tool with which to challenge oppressive forces in society.

This movement’s artwork was radically different from any other period in Egypt’s art history; surrealist and abstract art emerged, heavily influenced by Western artists and styles.

The works of artists who belonged to this surrealist art movement are also exhibited at ArtTalks until next week, including paintings by Ramses Younan, Fouad Kamel and Kamel El-Telmessani.

The exhibition runs until 20 November at ArtTalks. 8 Al-Kamel Mohamed Street, Zamalek, Cairo

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Govt exempts scientific books from import duties

Thu, November 14 2013 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian government has exempted scientific books from import duty and value added tax (VAT) as part of efforts to promote the country’s education levels. The import duty and tax exemptions also apply to general textbooks, religious books and textbooks, the Director General of Customs and Excise at the Finance Ministry, Agung Kuswandono, said in a circular, a copy of which was available on Thursday.

He said duty exemptions were given to the import of science and technology books, other scientific books, general and religious books and textbooks. The import of scientific books was granted exemption from duty without prior approval from the finance minister or any other appointed official, he said.

Other genres of books, such as entertainment, advertisement, business promotion, catalogs (non-educational), horror, horoscopes, comics and art (such as painting reproductions), continue to be subject to import duties.

According to the circular, any individual or corporate body hoping to import general or religious books or textbooks will no longer require a VAT-free certificate from the director general of taxation to obtain VAT exemptions. General textbooks, fiction and non-fiction books are needed to improve national education levels.

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Muhammadiyah to launch television channel on Nov 18

Fri, November 15 2013 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The second largest Muslim community in Indonesia, Muhammadiyah, will launch its own television channel on November 18 to coincide with the organization’s 101st anniversary.

“The television network, to be called TVMu, will broadcast programs containing Islamic views and education,” Muhammadiyah Chairman Din Syamsuddin said here on Friday. Viewers at home can watch the new television channel using satellite Telkom1 frequency 3480 or streaming live on the Internet at UseeTV.com.

According to Din, the tv channel will broadcast programs such as news, discussions, health programs and recordings by famous preachers in Indonesia, such as Buya Hamka.

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Istanbul commuters to enjoy free internet on buses

13 November 2013 – TODAY.AZ – Free Internet will be provided in Istanbul’s buses from November 13, Turkish news agency Cihan reported today. According to the information, around 100 buses with Wi-Fi have been commissioned today. Along with free Internet, it will also be possible to charge mobile phones in buses.

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Azerbaijan, Turkey eye $15 billion trade turnover

14 November 2013 – TODAY.AZ – Turkey aims at increasing trade turnover with Azerbaijan up to $15 billion, Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, Turkish TV channel TRT Haber reported on Nov. 13. The Turkish PM made the remarks at a press briefing held after the third meeting of the Supreme Council on Strategic Partnership between Azerbaijan and Turkey.

According to Erdogan, at present the trade turnover between the countries has reached $4.2 billion and it is expected that this figure will increase to $15 billion.

The prime minister also said that Turkey and Azerbaijan are implementing strategically important economic projects, and they are expected to develop in the future.

“Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project is one of the most important economic projects of Azerbaijan and Turkey,” Erdogan underscored.

The Turkish PM also said the issues discussed between Azerbaijan and Turkey included the issue of constructing a gas pipeline from Turkey’s Igdir province to Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, as well as construction of a railway to Nakhchivan from this province of Turkey.

TANAP project envisages transporting gas from Shah Deniz field to Europe via Turkey.

The initial capacity of the pipeline is expected to reach 16 billion cubic meters per year. About six billion cubic meters will be delivered to Turkey, and the remaining will be supplied to Europe.

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Pakistan donates US$100,000 for new Commonwealth Youth Council

COLOMBO, Nov 15 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Friday announced a special donation of US$100,000 at the Commonwealth Summit in Colombo for the newly established Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC). The contribution, which demonstrates the importance Pakistan attaches to the youth agenda, is intended to fund the youth-led development projects of the CYC in its early years.

The Commonwealth Youth Council was formally launched during the 9th Commonwealth Youth Forum held on the margins of the Commonwealth Summit. The newly established autonomous youth-led body would serve as the representative voice of 1.2 billion young people in the Commonwealth and provide a framework for youth-led development initiatives. The Government of Sri Lanka has offered to host the Secretariat of CYC.

Earlier, speaking on the agenda item relating to “Climate Change Financing”, the Prime Minister stated that climate change was a defining reality of our times and called for a multi-pronged and revitalized global partnership for generating the needed financing to confront its effects.

In this regard, he proposed formation of global policies to motivate private sector, enhanced availability of grants and soft loans to the public sector and early operationalization of the “Green Climate Fund”.

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif also held a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Summit. During the meeting, issues of common interests came under discussion.

Prime Minister is leading Pakistan delegation to the Commonwealth Summit. He is being assisted by Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Ms. Anusha Rehman, Minister of State for IT and Telecommunication and Jalil Abbas Jilani, Foreign Secretary.

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Over 2 million visitors to Cappadocia in Jan-Oct

NEVŞEHİR – Anadolu Agency – The number of tourists visiting Cappadocia, one of the most popular tourism destinations in Turkey, exceeded 2 million people through the first 10 months of the year, according to new figures.

Cappadocia, which is famous for its fairy chimneys, hot-air balloon trips, underground cities and boutique hotels carved into rocks, has been visited by 2,386,000 Turkish and foreign tourists since the beginning of the year, compared to 2,327,744 tourists in the previous year. The number of tourists in the region is expected to exceed 3 million by the end of the year.

The most popular places visited by the tourists are the Göreme Open Air Museum and the Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu underground cities.

“Cappadocia has become more popular day by day and the number of tourists increases each year,” said Nazif Demir, secretary-general of the Cappadocia Tourism Managers Foundation (KAPTİD). He also said Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr had had a positive affect on the region.

“Tourism managers expect direct flights to the region and an increase in the existing number of flights,” Demir said, noting tourist operators’ biggest desire in the hunt for more tourists.

Hot-air balloon trips and trekking are very popular in Cappadocia. Sedimentary rocks formed in lakes and streams and ignimbrite deposits that erupted from ancient volcanoes approximately 9 million to 3 million years ago, underlie the Cappadocia region. The rocks of Cappadocia near Göreme eroded into hundreds of pillars and minaret-like forms. People of the villages at the heart of the Cappadocia region carved out houses, churches and monasteries from the soft rocks of volcanic deposits. Göreme was a monastic center from 300 to 1200 A.D.

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Water to flow once again from Alanya Castle cisterns

ANTALYA, Alanya – Anadolu Agency – Already one of Turkey’s biggest tourist draws, the southern district of Alanya will soon have one more reason to attract visitors with the imminent opening of historical cisterns around the town.

“Some of the cisterns date back hundreds of years ago, and they are still in very good condition,” said Alanya Mayor Hasan Sipahioğlu. “We can make use of some of these cisterns in the Tophane and Hisariçi neighborhoods. We will also use the cisterns in the Necmettin and Pazar neighborhoods and restore them. Later on, we will open them to tourism.”

There are around 500 active and inactive cisterns in the area, of which the Necmettin Cistern is the largest, the mayor said, adding that aimed at restoring all of them. Sipahioğlu said various cultural events like exhibitions could be organized in the cistern.

Some locals living in houses inside Alanya Castle put some of the cisterns to use by collecting water in them, he said, adding that the activity posed no health risk.

Sipahioğlu said the number of cisterns, which date back to the Hellenistic and Roman periods in Alanya, increased with new ones built during the Seljuk era.

The environs and insides of Alanya Castle are home to many cisterns, said Sipahioğlu, noting that the houses around and inside the castle had been restored.

HDN The architect responsible for the restoration, Emine Cimrin Koçak, said the cisterns were used to supply water in the past. “When there was a water shortage, the locals always used these cisterns. The cisterns were built to overcome water shortages in old times.”

“Every house in the area neighborhood has one or two cisterns at least,” she said. “We try to keep these cisterns, which are a part of the restored houses, active. I also have a cistern system in my own house. We use the rain water, which gathers in the cisterns, for our daily needs. When the water is cut off, we use this water, especially for the garden.”

Halit Erdoğan, the neighborhood head for Tophane in Kaleiçi, said those living in the Alanya Castle in the past used cisterns for water needs, noting that they only fell out of use when tap water came to houses in the 1950s.

“As the number of locals living in the castle decreased, cisterns were left to their fate. Not only cisterns but also many houses were left in ruins. But recently people began restoring cisterns for nostalgic purposes or possible needs. Today some 50 cisterns are active. I hope that all cisterns around the Alanya Castle will be restored and open to tourism,” he said.

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Tulips bloom in Istanbul’s parks, gardens

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency – The fifth Istanbul Tulip Summit was held on Nov. 14 and 15 in Istanbul’s Haliç Congress Center with the attendance of sector officials from around the world. The summit was previously held in Canada, Australia, England and the United States.

Speaking at the summit, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş said the tulip was a plant that left its mark in history.

He said that tulip had a significant place in the Ottoman era, and was frequently used in ornamentation, ceramics and the art of calligraphy but it did not have as much prominence in Istanbul as it did in the Ottoman era.

Topbaş said that later on tulips gained importance in the Netherlands and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality had started working and taking great efforts to bring the tulip back to its homeland, Istanbul.

“We have initiated a project titled ‘tulip returns home’ in the city. I went to the Netherlands and said there that I would like to plant tulips in Istanbul. We started working in 2005 with 600,000 tulip bulbs. Today 15-16 million tulips blossom in Istanbul in a year.”

The mayor said that they would also return Yıldız Park to its original form at the time of Abdülhamit and the garden of the Topkapı Palace would be reorganized.

“Actually, we don’t use Yıldız Park entirely, but only a 300-decare area of it. The works will be in three stages. We will work to return the park to its original situation especially at the time of the sultan Abdulhamit. This is a 70-decare land, which is closed now and was used as a building site during the construction of the Bosphorus Bridge. We want to add this part to the park. Then there is the place of greenhouses. When we add this part, it becomes a 500-decare land. Archive and documentation was very important at the time of Abdulhamit. Thanks to it, we have very detailed information about all trees planted there. We evaluate them and try to make the park as it was in the past,” Topbaş said at the end of the summit, when asked about the details of the reorganization.

As for the rearrangement of the Topkapı Palace garden, Topbaş said, “The Topkapı Palace is a different value as a whole. We have previously rearranged the garden. We removed some additional parts; there were shanty houses, we ruined them. After arranging it, we left it to the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Topkapı Palace Museum Directorate. During a recent visit, I saw that some parts were neglected in the garden. I told the Parks and Gardens Department to work on it. Because when people come to the Topkapı Palace, they should feel that they are in a palace. You know the royal gardens. Ours has different beauties. We will reveal the unknown or forgotten parts of the palace gardens.”

The World Tulip Summit President Michel Gauthier noted that importance of meeting in Istanbul. He said that he came to Istanbul for the first time 20 years ago for the tulip festival, adding, “We planted tulip bulbs in the garden of the Sultanahmet Mosque. Now I am at the Tulip Summit after 20 years and very proud. This summit has led to the formation of a tulip friendship. Because tulips are a factor that unite nations.”

The summit ended on Nov. 15 and new tulip species were planted in the Emirgan Wood on the last day of the summit.

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Book published on Istanbul as film setting

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency – A new book published as part of the Istanbul Municipality Culture Association’s “Istanbul’s Faces Series” explores the presentation of Istanbul on the silver screen.

Researcher and writer Semra Kır has prepared the title, which gathers together the many movies and books that took place in Istanbul. “100 Films of Istanbul” reveals both the popular and the unknown movies on Istanbul, and has been published to mark the 99th year of Turkish cinema.

The book focuses on Istanbul’s beauty and its reflection in films and books over the years, focusing on such popular locations as the Galata Bridge, the Princes’ Islands, the Bosphorus Strait, Rumeli Hisarı, the Grand Bazaar, Haydarpaşa Train Station, Eminönü, Balat, and Beyoğlu.

Movies set in Istanbul contribute to the city’s urban memory and show people how the city has evolved and developed over time. Each movie is described in the book with details of its director and plot, and a number of cult movies are presented with their posters.

Famous Turkish directors such as Halit Refiğ, Memduh Ün, Osman Seden, Metin Erksan and Lütfi Ömer Akad are featured in the book, which discusses almost 100 years of Istanbul’s celluloid culture.

Haydarpaşa Station and the Bosphorus are among the locations that directors have traditionally found most irresistible in the city, and in some of the movies the Bosphorus even appears as a character.

Istanbul’s houses and old mansions are other popular recurring motifs for movies set in Istanbul. The book devotes its pages to the films that reflect the beauty of the city in the best and most interesting way. The opens with a scene from Muhsin Ertuğrul’s 1966 film “Bir Millet Uyanıyor” (A Nation is Awakening) showing Mehmet Ali Bengü’s mansion on Ethem Efendi Street, which is in Erenköy, on the Anatolian side of the city. Galata Bridge and Rumeli Hisarı are among the other main settings in the movie.

The book does not only focus on the old Istanbul, but also the contemporary and new version of the city. It is possible to discover the old city with some of the famous movies such as Faruk Genç’s “Yılmaz Ali,” which features the Golden Horn, the Süleymaniye Mosque, and Beyazıt Square, in the year 1952. The Grand Bazaar is one of the main settings in Lütfi Ömer Akad’s “Kanun Namına” (In the Name of the Law). Metin Erksan’s cult movie “Şoför Nebahat” (Driver Nebahat), on the other hand, is notable for showing an unpopulated Taksim Square.

The contemporary Istanbul is also showcased in the book, particularly the Galata neighborhood where many modern moviews are shot. One of the most famous recent Turkish movies is set in the nearby neighborhood of Eminönü, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Üç Maymun” (Three Monkeys), while “Dinle Neyden” (Listen to it from the Ney) focuses on the Topkapı Palace, the Haseki, Galata and many other historical locations in the city.

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Traditional Paper production continues at museum in Turkey’s Yalova

YALOVA – Anadolu Agency – Paper production still continues traditionally at the İbrahim Müteferrika Paper Museum, which was opened this year by the municipality in the northwestern province of Yalova. In an atelier established inside the museum, paper is produced with traditional methods by using tree branches, and visitors are also able to join in this process.

Art historian Aytekin Vural, who is responsible for the museum, said the first publisher in the Ottoman period, named İbrahim Müteferrika, constructed a printing atelier in Yalova’s Elmalık village in order to meet the need for paper for the publishing facility, which he opened in the second half of the 18th century. He said paper production had continued in the atelier for nearly 20 years.

Vural said pruned tree brunches had been used in the paper production in the Yalova printing house, and in order to revive this traditional method and tell “the adventure of paper,” they had decided to establish the museum.

“Then we decided to produce paper in the museum and focused on this atelier that we opened inside the museum. First of all, we searched the Ottoman archives and examined the notebooks of people worked in the paper production. We tried to document the registers of İbrahim Müteferrika. Later on, we established the museum and started producing paper. The Yalova Municipality İbrahim Müteferrika Paper Museum opened on May 25. Within such a short time, we have received 10,000 visitors, which was very pleasing for us. Around 5,000 visitors came from 80 countries, led by the European countries and the United States. The museum drew visitors from all 81 provinces of Turkey, too,” he added.

“Due to the level of interest in the museum, we prepare papers one day in advance, because 300 to 400 people come to the museum every day. Visitors produce paper here and take it as a souvenir,” Vural said, adding that their main goal was to show people “traditional methods.”

He also added that they cut the necessary tree and plant branches and brought them to the museum without damaging the environment.

“None of tree branches cut by the municipality go to waste. The branches are being evaluated for the paper production in the museum. And in this way we prevent environmental pollution and do not have difficulty in finding material. In traditional paper production, paper is completely hand made. We produce cellulose without using any preservative, and we hang the paper to dry. In modern paper production, chemical materials are used in cellulose production, but here everything is hand made. The goal of the museum is to make paper a brand in our country and to present it to the world with the name ‘Yalova paper’ as a souvenir. We believe that Yalova will be remembered by paper, just as it was 269 years ago,” Vural said.

He stressed that they did not use chemical materials at any point of the paper production, and turned cut tree branches into paper by boiling and beating them for 10 hours in mortars.

Some artists want particularly white papers, Vural said. “We benefit from the Ottoman documents to give them what they want. Gelibolulu Mustafa Ali has a book featuring the Ottoman professions. Based on this book, we made different trials in different colors. We began producing white paper by boiling branches with limestone, yellow paper with curcuma and red paper with tea. We obtain even colors without using chemical materials,” he said.

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SuperStar Aquarius cruise-ship calls in Brunei

Borneo Bulletin Online – November 12, 2013 – The SuperStar Aquarius, a 51,309-tonne cruise ship carrying 800 international passengers from Malaysia, China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia arrived at the Muara Port for the first time yesterday following her successful homeport relocation to Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah, Malaysia last week.

The cruise ship was welcomed in a ceremony hosted by Brunei Tourism with the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, attending the event as the guest of honour.

Amid mesmerising traditional cultural performances “Jipin Lela Sembah”, “Kayum Oh Ya Kayum”, “Rumpun Budaya” and “Joget Seri Kenangan”, all cruise passengers were presented with local souvenirs courtesy of Brunei Tourism.

Edward Johann Leong, the Vice President of East Malaysia Operations of Star Cruises, said as a leader of the Asia-Pacific cruise industry, Star Cruises truly understands what customers want when it comes to holiday preferences.

“We are proud to present a variety of exclusive shore excursions for our passengers on this 4D3N cruise, so they could explore the best of Muara and Bintulu. Brunei is a refreshing tourist destination for her rich diversity of natural and cultural heritage as well as her exciting contemporary energy. I am sure our passengers will enjoy themselves and have a memorable time here,” added the Vice President.

Moreover, Leong added that they are very appreciative of the support rendered by the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Tourism, the Ports Department, the Immigration and National Registration Department and the Royal Customs and Excise Department. “We hope we can continue to work closely to spur cruise tourism development in Brunei and bring more international passengers to this wonderful Abode of Peace – A Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures,” he said.

Following the Vice President’s speech was a ribbon cutting ceremony and a video presentation on Star Cruises and tourism in Brunei, an exchange of memento ceremony was held at Stardust Lounge.

The guests then toured around the 13-deck luxury liner and had a sumptuous lunch at the Cruise Ship Centre, Muara Port. The inaugural cruise ceremony was also attended by members of the media, travel agents and business partners from across the region such as Malaysia, China and Taiwan.

SuperStar Aquarius offers a 4D3N cruise from Kota Kinabalu to Muara and Bintulu every Sunday with a number of exclusive shore excursions for guests to explore. The vessel will be calling at Muara every Monday from now until March 30, 2014, allowing passengers to explore the best of Brunei. On Star Cruises, every journey is a voyage of discovery and surprise.

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Youth leadership programme aims to develop future human capital

Borneo Bulletin Online – November 12, 2013 – THE current generation of youth faces numerous challenges in defining their own identity. With the advent of social media and the Internet, youths are exposed to various thoughts and cultures which can undermine their values towards their own nation and culture.

The observation was made by Awang Hj Kamri bin Hj Mohd Rakawi, Acting Assistant Director of Civil Service Institute in his welcoming remark at the opening ceremony of the 5th Trilateral (Brunei-Malaysia-Singapore) Leadership Development Programme (LDP) held for three days in Brunei Darussalam.

With the current situation, Acting Assistant Director of Civil Service Institute in his welcoming remarks said it is no great wonder that countries around the world have begun focusing their efforts in shaping the proper development of their youths in order to retain their national pride and identity.

“Youths, according to the National Youth Policy in Brunei, are citizens aged from 15 to 40. The current policy focuses on six key areas which include personal growth and development, training and employment, leadership, international awareness understanding and service to the others and the nation,” he said.

With almost 40 per cent of Brunei’s population comprising youths and considering the huge importance in the future development of human capital, he said it is decided that the focus of the second leg of the leadership development programme will be on Youth Transformation.

Highlighting the Trilateral (Brunei-Malaysia- Singapore) Leadership Development Programme, he said that the annual leadership development programme is designed to provide an in depth view into the specific areas within the public service systems of Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore.

This is considered a rare opportunity for all three counties to showcase, share and benchmark each other’s policies and process which may or may not be similar among them.

He added that for 2013, Brunei Darussalam will share the progress of youth towards developing future human capital in securing the future workforce of Brunei Darussalam.

The development of youth is one of the key areas of Brunei’s Vision 2035 which is ‘Towards a Well-Educated and Highly Skilled Nation’.

The programme is held for 12 days whereby Brunei is hosting the first leg while Singapore will become the host for second leg from November 15 to Nov 18. The programme will conclude in Malaysia on Nov 22.

The programme, comprising 28 senior government officers, is aimed at providing an opportunity for better networking among the government officers from three countries. The theme of this year’s LDP in Brunei is ‘Visionary Youths are Catalyst for Sustainable National Development’.

The programme aims to share and expose Brunei’s experience in youth development as well as to gain a first-hand look into roles of the public service and NGOs in youth development.

Among the itinerary of the programe includes visits to PKBN (National Service Programme) and numerous briefings on the current youth development programme such as the National Youth Policy and its relation to youth development by Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, involvement and role of Islam in Shaping Youth by Ministry of Religious Affairs, Youth Entrepreneurship by Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) and briefing on volunteerism by Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.

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Britain sets up group to monitor Islamic finance trends

London, Wednesday, 02 Muharram 1434/ 06 November 2013 (IINA) – Another sign that the British government has stepped up its Islamic finance proposition to a potentially important new level is the establishment by the UK government of the Global Islamic Finance and Investment Group (GIFIG), comprising financial regulators and chief executives from the OIC countries.

UK Financial Secretary to the Treasury Sajid Javid who was promoted to this new position in Prime Minister David Cameron’s mini cabinet reshuffle in October, said on the sidelines of the World Islamic Economic Forum that GIFIG will meet regularly to identify and address the critical factors that will drive the global Islamic finance market over the next five years. The Group is chaired by UF Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, Baroness Saeeda Warsi, who is also the Co-Chair with Sajid Javid of the UK Government Islamic Finance Task Force launched in March earlier this year.

In some respects the UK leadership in setting up this Group could turn out to be more important than the issuance of a debut 200 million British pounds sovereign sukuk by the UK Treasury in the wholesale sterling market, as announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in his speech at the opening of the World Islamic Economic Forum 2013 in London last Tuesday. “I am delighted that the government is establishing this Group. We are competing in a global race and it is crucial that we, as a country that is open for business, know what we need to do to take advantage of the Islamic finance opportunities that are out there.

“The Islamic Finance and Investment Group will be perfectly placed to pick up on developing trends and will have the expertise to help Islamic finance grow globally, as well as developing London as one of the world’s leading Islamic finance centers,” Sajid Javid said. According to the UK Treasury, GIFIG will comprise members from key Islamic finance centers, including Central Bank Governors from Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, the UK and Malaysia; key industry chief executive officers; and senior experts and practitioners from the ‘Islamic finance industry. GIFIG, according to a statement of HM Treasury, will hold its inaugural meeting in January 2014 under the auspices of the UK government “to consider the issues surrounding Islamic finance and how best to work together to promote its development. Drawing on London’s experience as a leading global financial center, the group will play an important role in helping to grow the Islamic finance market going forward.”

The UK Treasury will consult other important markets and players including Saudi Arabia, the single largest market for Islamic finance in terms of assets and liquidity, and Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world. Financial Secretary Javid will confirm the final scope and membership at the Dubai Global Islamic Economy Summit later this month. Javid, in a tweet, stressed that “our (the government’s) sovereign Islamic bond plan will help UK become a world leader in Islamic finance, boosting UK investment and jobs.”

Industry organizations such as TheCityUK, the influential body promoting London as the leading international financial center, including Islamic finance, are strongly supporting the Coalition Government’s new-found initiatives on Islamic finance. Chris Cummings, CEO of TheCityUK, said in a statement that “the sum proposed for the sukuk, 200 million British pounds, is a good start to measure demand and once this is identified, larger issues can be contemplated. Apart from the message that the announcement sends to our international partners confirming London’s position as a global hub for Islamic Finance, the issuance of an Islamic bond in the UK will also address the liquidity requirements of Islamic banks currently based in the UK and those looking to establish operations here.”

Perhaps the biggest fillip from GIFIG could come in facilitating policy movement on Islamic finance in Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) member countries, many of whom lack such policies or commitment. With the UK Treasury, a member of the G7 (Group of Seven industrialized countries) leading this initiative, the chances of such policy traction must be increased. Given the lifespan of GIFIG is 5 years, the Islamic finance industry can look forward with some optimism to perhaps positive changes in the attitude and policies of OIC member countries towards a $1.3 trillion and growing industry and global phenomenon.

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Makkah Clock Tower 2nd tallest building in world

Makkah, Thursday, 10 Muharram 1434/ 14 November 2013 (IINA) – Standing tall at 1,972 feet (601.07 meter), the Abraj Al-Bait Tower, also known as Makkah Royal Clock Tower, has been declared the second tallest building in the world by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, considered a world authority on supersized skyscrapers.

Only Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is 2,717 feet (828.14 meter) tall, surpasses the Makkah Clock Tower in height. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat announced its decision at simultaneous news conferences in New York and Chicago on Tuesday. It recognized the under construction One World Trade Center in New York— at 1,776 feet (541 meter) high — as the tallest skyscraper in the United States and the third tallest building in the world.

Makkah Clock Tower already holds several world records. It is the tallest clock tower in the world and has the world’s largest clock face. The structure has the second largest floor area of any structure in the world with 1,500,000 m2 (16,150,000 sq ft) of floorspace, surpassed only by New Century Global Centre in Chengdu, China, which has a floor area of 1,700,000 m2 (18,300,000 sq ft). Measuring the height of a building would seem to be a simple thing, but in the case of the new World Trade Center tower it is complicated by the 408-foot (124.36-meter)-tall needle atop the skyscraper’s roof.

The Council’s verdict rested on a conclusion that the needle should be counted as part of the building’s total height. Without it, the tower would be just 1,368 feet (416.97 meters) tall, the same height as the original World Trade Center. That would make it smaller than not only the Willis Tower, but also a 1,397-foot (425.81-meter) apartment building being built a short subway ride away near Central Park.

Speaking at his office in New York, council chairman Timothy Johnson, an architect at the global design firm NBBJ, said the decision by the 25-member height committee had more “tense moments” than usual, given the skyscraper’s importance as a patriotic symbol. “I was here on 9/11. I saw the buildings come down,” he said. Over the past few months, the Council had hinted that it might be open to changing its standards for measuring ultra-tall buildings, given a trend toward developers adding “vanity height” to towers with huge, decorative spires.

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Brunei entourage in KL for ASEAN Explore Quest Malaysia

Borneo Bulletin Online – November 12, 2013 – A TOTAL of nine representatives from Brunei Darussalam, consisting of local media, local celebrities and travel agents yesterday left for Kuala Lumpur for the Asean Explore Quest Malaysia for seven days.

The trip is in conjunction with the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 with the concept of gaining experience about Malaysia first-hand with a memorable “Explore Quest” for the representa­­tives of each Asean countries.

Among the objectives are to create a memorable event for the participants to experience Malaysia first-hand and build rapport and gain support among the media and travel trade in Asean regions.

In addition, it is also to leverage status and popularity of celebrities to accelerate awareness of Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign and gather information for all participants in order to follow-up and stay in touch.

The participants are expected to visit and take part in various activities with the combination of city and nature in four states, namely Kuala Lumpur, Perak, Perlis, and Kedah (Langkawi) which is organised by Tourism Malaysia

Present to bid them farewell to the participants was Pg Haji Noorezamey bin Pg Hj Othman, Marketing Officer II, Tourism Malaysia in Brunei Darussalam.

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Ontario Muslims Host Pink Hijab Day

OnIslam & Newspapers Thursday, 07 November 2013 ONTARIO – Muslim students at an Ontario university in Canada have held a ‘Pink Hijab Day’ event to raise money for breast cancer and educate public about the Muslim headscarf.

“This is an opportunity for people who don’t understand what the hijab means to come out and ask questions,” Kathleen Connerton, Vice-President of Sisters within Lakehead University Muslim Students Association, told The Argus, the students’ union newspaper.

“The hijab is not simply something Muslim women wear but it is also a way of our lives and we hope to clear up misconceptions,” Connerton added.

The event, held last week by Lakehead University Muslim Students Association (LU-MSA), aimed at raising students’ awareness about breast cancer.

With all girls wearing Pink headscarves, the event aims to highlight the effective role of Muslim girls in their communities.

“It is important to bring these two events together, to show how Muslim women express themselves by wearing the hijab and how we like to support our community,” said Connerton.

To raise donations, desserts like cake pops, brownies, cotton candy, and popcorn were sold at the event, along with pink headscarves.

“We jumped on board as a way to raise money for breast cancer and to let people learn about the hijab and what it means,” Meriem Benlamri, director of the Multicultural Centre, said.

Offering student a real-experience of hijab, a display was set up so as students could try wearing a hijab, in which they would insert their face into a cut out featuring a pink headscarf.

“We wanted students to feel a personal connection with it,” Benlamri said.

“And see that it is not so foreign and there are no negative connotations with it, despite what you see in the media all the time,” she added.

As a part of its contributions to the Canadian community, LU-MSA is planning to hold a ‘World Book Drive’ event.

“We’ll be collecting books all around campus for one week, and then these books will be sent to underprivileged (people),” said Zahid Hasan, LU-MSA president.

During the fall semester, LU-MSA activities have been focused on charity, while the winter semester will tackle education along with raising awareness about the Muslim community in Canada, Hasan noted.

Last October, LU-MSA has contributed in raising money to orphans and needy children during ‘Charity Week 2013″.

“We are one of ten universities in Canada participating in Charity Week,” Hasan said at that time. It is an opportunity to create unity between the Muslim community and Thunder Bay, as this is an effort to help those in need.”

Muslims make around 1.9 percent of Canada’s 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the country. A survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian. Interfaith events usually help in correcting misconceptions about Muslims which resulted in a sharp increase in anti-Muslim views among Canadians.

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Marvel Introduces Muslim Superhero

OnIslam & Newspapers Wednesday, 06 November 2013 CAIRO – Bringing its readers closer to the challenges facing Muslims in the US, a leading American comics company plans to introduce their first female Muslim superhero, reflecting challenges on how to deal with familial and religious edicts while fighting supervillains.

“Any time you do something like this, it is a bit of a risk,” G. Willow Wilson, an author, comic book writer and convert to Islam, told The New York Times on Wednesday, November 6. “You’re trying to bring the audience on board and they are used to seeing something else in the pages of a comic book.”

As introduced by Marvel Comics, the new character, Kamala Khan, is a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City. Unlike other superheroes, no exploding planet, death of a relative or irradiated spider led to Kamala’s creation.

Yet, she first came to papers following a conversation between Sana Amanat and Steve Wacker, two editors at Marvel. “I was telling him some crazy anecdote about my childhood, growing up as a Muslim-American,” Amanat said. “He found it hilarious.”

Both editors supported the idea due to the dearth of female superhero series with cultural diversity.

Kamala, whose family is from Pakistan, has devotedly followed the career of the blond, blue-eyed Carol Danvers, who now goes by Captain Marvel, a name she inherited from a male hero.

When Kamala discovers her powers, including the ability to change shape, she takes on the code name Ms. Marvel — what Carol called herself when she began her superhero career.

“Captain Marvel represents an ideal that Kamala pines for,” Wilson said. “She’s strong, beautiful and doesn’t have any of the baggage of being Pakistani and ‘different.’”

Amanat added, “It’s also sort of like when I was a little girl and wanted to be Tiffani-Amber Thiessen,” from “Saved by the Bell.”

Appearing in the new series, the new superhero is portrayed as facing familial and religious challenges. “Her brother is extremely conservative,” Amanat said. “Her mom is paranoid that she’s going to touch a boy and get pregnant. Her father wants her to concentrate on her studies and become a doctor.”

The creative team announced that they were ready for all possible reactions. “I do expect some negativity,” Amanat said, “not only from people who are anti-Muslim, but people who are Muslim and might want the character portrayed in a particular light.”

But “this is not evangelism,” Wilson said. “It was really important for me to portray Kamala as someone who is struggling with her faith.” Yet, they were expecting a success, especially that Kamala is a normal American girl. “Fans respond with their dollars,” said Axel Alonso, the editor in chief of Marvel Entertainment.

“When you see Spider-Man strip down his mask and he looks like you, you are more inspired to pick up that book.”

As for Kamala, Wilson said the series was “about the universal experience of all American teenagers, feeling kind of isolated and finding what they are.” Though here, she adds, that happens “through the lens of being a Muslim-American” with superpowers.

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Qatar plans to invest QR73bn on bridges and subways

The Peninsula – 14 November, 2013 – Qatar will invest about $ 20bn (QR73bn) on construction of bridges, subways and underpasses to link its various road and rail projects with an aim to upgrade the country’s internal as well as external connectivity with the neighbouring countries, Al Sharq reported yesterday.

The amount is part of the country’s $ 100bn investment plan that has been announced to for its transportation sector over the next few years.

The $ 20bn investment plan was announced at the 6th Annual Bridges Middle East Co-located with Tunnels Middle East conference held here from November 11 to 13.

The three-day event was the region’s leading event dedicated to designing, planning, delivering and maintaining world-class bridges and tunnels. It was organised by the International Centre for Quality and Productivity.

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Saudi Arabia to host Brain Forum in December

Arab News – 15 November, 2013 – Some of the world’s top inspirational thinkers and pioneers in the field of brain research and personalized health care will come together for a two-day conference from Dec. 3 at Laylaty Hall in Jeddah.

Being held with the support of Minister of Interior Prince Mohammed bin Naif, the Brain Forum — a first of its kind symposium in the Middle East — is organized by W Science in collaboration with King Abdulaziz University (KAU), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the Saudi Society of Neurology and NeuroPro AG Switzerland.

Globally renowned scientists will present their latest discoveries and hold open discussions on the future of brain research and related health care challenges at the event, which will focus on “Challenging the future.”

New tools, technologies as well as other personalized health care innovations to improve diagnoses, management and treatment of brain disorders will also be presented at the forum.

The two-day event will provide physicians, scientists and business executives from both the public and private sectors with opportunities to exchange ideas, to share thoughts and to offer help to those facing challenges in their communities, worldwide.

The W Science initiative was launched by Walid Juffali to support outstanding scientific projects and facilitate collaborations among leading scientists working at the interfaces of different scientific disciplines to address unmet medical needs and improve the quality of personalized care.

Juffali said: “The Brain Forum falls within the framework of the W Science Initiative as well as those initiatives undertaken by the Saudi government to address national health priorities, including neurodegenerative diseases and brain disorders I believe the Kingdom will benefit greatly from the encounter between leading scientists and global experts who can challenge the future when coming together.”

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Qatari Women discuss key issues in doing business

The Peninsula – 13 November, 2013 – The Fourth annual Qatar International Business Women Forum, organised by Qatari Business Women’s Association (QBWA) in collaboration with Interactive Business Network (IBN), concluded yesterday by raising key issues enabling the promotion of women in the business.

At a gala dinner on the opening night, the winners of the 2013 Qatari Business Women of the Year were announced.

The eight distinguished women who were honoured for their services to business and their professions were: Fawzia Ahmad Al Abdulla from Barwa Bank (Innovation), Moudhi Al Hajri (Community Contribution & Participation winner), Latifa Al Darwish (Leadership), Reem Al Harami (Future Goals and Financial Performance), Anisa Jassem Mohd Sulaiman (Business), Aisha Al Bdeed (Business Runner up), Noof Abdulla Mohd Al Sulaiti (Career Achievement Criteria and the QBWA Professional ), Hayatt Al Shahri (Professional Runner Up).

Also, a Special Recognition award was given to the Qatari Golfer Yasmin Al Sharshani.

Panel discussions at the two-day conference covered issues including business women leaders: a unique style and technique, focusing on harnessing emotional intelligence as a strength in business.

Dr Nitham Hindi, Dean of the College of Economics and Business at Qatar University discussed how emotional intelligence has financial rewards for individuals and organisations.

He said: “Emotional intelligence relates to the way we deal with each other, about taking decisions in consideration of others.” He urged for more women to continue their higher education and to become female role models for the future generation.

Other discussion sessions covered the topics of Arab women as business leaders, and the role of family-owned companies versus small business enterprises as incubators of women business; financial support for women entrepreneurs and innovators; creative financing for SMEs, and whether business women change makers are born or made.

At the conclusion of the Forum, QBWA vice chairwoman Aisha Alfardan said: “This year’s Forum has been our most successful ever and we are grateful to the 1,000 delegates, many of whom travelled from across the world to attend this event.

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New Doha airport will handle 1,000 aircraft daily: Official

The Peninsula – 13 November, 2013 – Once fully operational, the Hamad International Airport (HIA) will handle an average of nearly 1,000 aircraft carrying over 135,000 passengers daily from across the world, a senior official of Qatar Airways said at the ongoing annual ACI Airport Exchange conference and exhibition here yesterday.

Build at a whopping cost of $ 15.5bn (QR56.4bn), Qatar, with the ambitious and state-of-the-art HIA project, aims to enhance region’s air transport infrastructure and capacity.

“HIA will open with a capacity of 24 million passengers per year, rising to around 50 million when we reach full operational capacity in 2015. This represents an increase in aircraft movements from 137,000 to 360,000 each year. And our annual cargo capacity will nearly double, from 0.8 to 1.4 million tonnes,” said Ashish Jain, Senior Vice President, Group Safety and Security, Qatar Airways, in the official capacity of the airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker’s representative at the conference.

The annual event commenced at Qatar National Convention Centre yesterday with a series of keynote addresses, symposiums and seminars addressing the latest developments in the aviation sector. Themed ‘Beyond Airports 2020’, some 1,000 delegates from around the world are expected to attend the two-day conference.

Chairman of Qatar Civil Aviation Authority Abdul Aziz Mohammed Al Nuaimi inaugurated the exhibition with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Senior Qatar Airways Group representatives attending the inauguration included Executive Vice President Patrick Muller and Senior Manager Public Relations and Communications for Doha International Airport (DIA) Abdulaziz Al Mass, and Vice President, Human Resource Employee Services for Qatar Airways, Nabeela Fakhri.

Jain highlighted how Qatar Airways and HIA aim to enhance the region’s air transport infrastructure and capacity, as well as set new standards for airport hubs regionally and internationally.

“Qatar is a rapidly developing nation budding with aviation growth, spurred by the onset of Qatar Airways, which is at the helm of this development. Fundamentally, HIA arose from a need to increase Qatar’s aviation capacity. The new airport will keep pace with Qatar’s growth and actively contribute to this exciting era of cultural and economic development,” he said.

He also said airports need to develop capacity to innovate and exceed expectations, which HIA is expected to achieve.

“HIA represents an entirely new approach and understanding of what constitutes an airport of the future. From its design to operations, facilities and services, HIA will offer passengers a completely different experience from what they are accustomed to today”, he added.

Over the course of the event, top executives from DIA and Qatar Airways will shed light on how the HIA will deliver seamless passenger experiences so that passengers will choose to travel via this airport.

“We need to serve our home city and remain competitive with other regional airport hubs; but we also aspire to set new standards of operational efficiency, passenger experience and community engagement. We want people to choose to travel through HIA as a destination experience”.

Jain concluded by acknowledging the challenges that HIA has faced in its opening, including construction delays, but firmly asserted that while Qatar is a rapidly developing country, it also demands nothing less than the best.

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