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6 Jan, 2014

Japan’s bid to make airports more Muslim-friendly

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 06 January 2014 (05 Rabee’ al-Awwal 1435). Pls click on any of the headlines to go to the story.



The internationally renowned “1001 Inventions” is on display at the National Science Centre in Kuala Lumpur. The award-winning exhibition, which was declared the world’s best by the European museums Industry in 2011, is welcoming visitors until 28 February 2014. 1001 Inventions has already received more than three million visitors at blockbusters residencies in London, New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dhahran and recently began a new European tour in Sweden. The exhibition highlights a thousand year period of history when Muslim Civilisation led the world in scientific, technological and cultural achievement – known as the “Golden Age of Muslim Civilisation.” Ahmed Salim, Producer and Managing Director of the brand, said: ”1001 Inventions features a diverse range of exhibits, hi-tech games, interactive displays and dramatisation that bring to life historic role models from Muslim Civilisation who will serve as an inspiration for ASEAN young people to pursue careers in science and technology.” The exhibition has been immensely popular in Europe, America and the Middle East, where a dual language Arabic-English version enjoyed blockbuster residencies across the Arabian peninsula. 1001 Inventions was voted the world’s best touring exhibition by the Museum and Heritage Excellence Awards in London in 2011, and currently has more than three million online fans on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. 1001 Inventions is a partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives. Open 9am-5pm daily.


Visit Malaysia Year 2014 is the nation’s biggest and grandest tourism celebration with Malaysia Truly Asia’s endless wonders of events, festivals and activities all-year round. This is the perfect time to see, feel and experience Malaysia! The fourth Visit Malaysia Year bearS the theme “Celebrating 1Malaysia Truly Asia” to reflect the diversity in unity of all Malaysians. The Proboscis Monkey has been chosen as the mascot. VMY 2014 will be the biggest and grandest ever tourism celebration with hundreds of events and festivals all lined up to welcome the world. Overall, it is hoped that VMY 2014 will contribute to the Government’s target to receive 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168 billion in receipts by 2020, as outlined in the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan (MTTP) 2020. Click here for full details on the VMY 2014 website.

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.





Successful Launch of Visit Malaysia Year 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, 4 January 2014 – Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin officiated the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 today, the fourth edition of Visit Malaysia Year campaign, themed “Celebrating 1Malaysia Truly Asia.

“The Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign is poised not only to create happy memories and wonderful experiences but also to extend the bridge of friendship and promote better understanding of each other’s cultures and heritage.

We have concocted the right ingredients for a highly successful Visit Malaysia Year 2014, among others: the enabling of policy framework and commitment of the Government, strong public-private sector partnerships and the unwavering support of our rakyat (people),” YAB Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin said at the Grand Launch ceremony.

An interesting line-up of exciting programmes kicked off as early as 10.00 am at Dataran Merdeka and these included insects exhibitions, caricature life drawing, handicraft sales, batik drawing, ratten weaving, video games, 6D van simulation and food stall featuring signature dishes from 14 states in Malaysia as part of the grand celebration to welcome the world to Visit Malaysia Year 2014.

Also present at the event, the Minister of Tourism & Culture Malaysia, YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Tan Sri Abdul Aziz, urged all Malaysians regardless of their ethnicity and backgrounds to come together and provide their support in ensuring the success of Visit Malaysia Year 2014 in line with the “We Are The Host” concept.

“Every Malaysian is duty-bound to ensure that their guests are treated with the utmost respect and courtesy while at the same time shown around and about Malaysia’s many wonderful attractions. Thus, Visit Malaysia Year 2014 will pull everyone together in a concerted effort to welcome the world. It is every Malaysian’s duty to play their role as a hospitable host,” he added.

The day-long grand celebration saw a turnout of more than 50,000 crowd. The crowd were feted to a myriad of activities which included street performances, video presentations of cultural and tourism products, 1Malaysia Mix Music and drums performances, impressive “Building Mapping” presentations on the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, an extravaganza of “Celebrating 1Malaysia Truly Asia” Performances and Fireworks Display.

Malaysia’s vocal powerhouse divas, Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza and Datuk Khadijah Ibrahim serenaded the audience with their spectacular performances. Other local artistes including Datuk Jamal Abdillah, Amy Search, Hafiz, Nash, Azlan & the Typewriter, Awie and Najwa Latif also captivated the crowd with their famous hits.

A youthful zest from the LimKokWing University students added momentum to the event as they performed the theme song of Visit Malaysia Year 2014.

Visit Malaysia Year 2014 aims to contribute to the realisation of the Government’s target of receiving 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168 billion in tourist receipts by 2020, as outlined in the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan (MTTP) 2020 which is part of the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA).

In conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014, the Government is targeting a total of 28 million in tourist arrivals & RM76Bilion in tourist receipts. To achieve the target, more than 200 exciting events and festivals have been planned for the entire year to attract more tourists during Visit Malaysia Year 2014.

Dataran Merdeka was chosen as the venue for the Grand Launch of Visit Malaysia Year 2014 due to its historical significance and surroundings. Dataran Merdeka is also set against the backdrop Sultan Abdul Samad Building, the iconic landmark of Kuala Lumpur which will match perfectly with the colourful visual feast of the Grand Launch.

The Proboscis Monkey is selected as the official mascot for Visit Malaysia Year 2014. Other three successful Visit Malaysia Year campaigns were held in 1990, 1994 and 2007.

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Tourists In For Grand Welcome in Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 27 (Bernama) — A grand welcome awaits foreign tourists coming to Malaysia between Jan 1 and 3 at 37 entry points as the country launches Visit Malaysia Year 2014 (VMY 2014).

At the major entry point of the KL International Airport (KLIA), Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz is expected to be present to welcome the tourists on Jan 1.

“The welcome will be accorded to the visitors at the entry points, either by land or air. At KLIA, for example, we will hand out goodies and tell the visitors that Jan 1 is the start of VMY 2014,” said Tourism Malaysia Domestic Marketing Division director Datuk Musa Yusof.

He spoke to reporters after the flagging-off of the KL Hop-on Hop-off bus in conjunction with the ‘Follow Countdown Journey Visit Malaysia Year 2014 (VMY 2014) from Putrajaya to Penang’, which was officiated by Tourism Malaysia deputy director-general (marketing) Chong Yoke Har, here.

Musa said a group of 50 flash mob dancers and media representatives would make stops at the Tapah R&R, the Ipoh railway station and Padang Kota Lama in George Town today to promote and distribute VMY 2014 leaflets and souvenirs.

He said a two-day VMY 2014 Countdown Carnival would also be held at the Queensbay Mall in Penang starting tomorrow.

“Lots of events will take place, such as performances by artistes, cultural performances, quiz, colouring contest and more. There will also be 13 counters for travel agencies and tourism products,” he said.

Musa said Malaysia targeted some 28 million visitors to spend RM76 billion in the country during VMY 2014.

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Putting Arab verse on the global stage

By Mythily Ramachandran, Special to Weekend Review

January 2, 2014 Gulf News – When I am overcome with weakness, I bandage my heart with a woman’s patience in adversity. I bandage it with the upright posture of a Syrian woman who is not bent by bereavement, poverty, or displacement as she rises from the banquets of death and carries on shepherding life’s rituals.

I bandage my heart with the determination of that boy they hit with an electric stick on his only kidney until he urinated blood. Yet he returned and walked in the next demonstration.

“For me writing is a spiritual practice just as much as it is intellectual. It is also part of a cause that I hold in life.”

I bandage it with the steadiness of a child’s steps in the snow of a refugee camp, a child wearing a small black shoe on one foot and a large blue sandal on the other, wandering off and singing to butterflies flying in the sunny skies, butterflies and skies seen only by his eyes.

I bandage it with December’s frozen tree roots, trees that have sworn to blossom in March or April.

I bandage it with what was entrusted by our martyrs, with the conscience of the living, and with the image of a beautiful homeland envisioned by the eyes of the poor.

These are a few lines that keep returning to my mind, long after I finished reading a translated version of Syrian poet Najat Abdul Samad’s poem, When I am Overcome By Weakness.

Poignant and stark, every word brings alive in the reader’s mind the pain and anguish Samad’s fellow beings in Syria are going through as civil war rips the country apart.

That I could appreciate a Syrian poem sitting in the comfort of my home in a metropolis of south India was only possible due to the untiring efforts of Syrian-Canadian writer Ghada Al Atrash as a translator.

Al Atrash, who now resides in Cranbrook, British Columbia, organises poetry readings in her neighbourhood in an effort to spread Arabian arts and culture.

Accompanied by music, she first recites the original verses in Arabic and then follows it up with her translated version in English. The feedback, she says, has encouraged her to continue in this endeavour. For Al Atrash, poetry reading and recitation is a passion that dates back to her childhood days when her father, former Syrian Ambassador Dr Jabr Al Al Atrash, introduced her to verses.

“He would recite poems to me,” Al Atrash reminisced fondly.

This love for poetry continued at school in Syria where she studied until the age of 12 before her father migrated to America.

“At school in Syria I was expected to memorise poetry and recite it aloud in class. I do wish the same for my children here in the West, but things are taught differently,” rued this mother of three.

“Reciting poetry is certainly missing from the Western curriculum. Besides, as Arabs, we were exposed to poetry through music. Many of the mainstream songs are poems from well known authors including Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani and Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish. So it was a common thing and easy too, to recite a poem from the beginning to end, often popular songs sung across the Arab world.”

Moving to Canada with her family early this year, Al Atrash came up with the idea of conducting poetry sessions.

“My identity is an amalgam of East and West, and with this I have taken on the cause and responsibility to fill in the almost total absence of Arab arts and culture in the West,” said Al Atrash, who holds a masters in English from the University of Oklahoma. Egging her ahead was another factor — the distorted image of Arabs by the western media.

“Unfortunately the western media has used prejudiced lenses, often equating Arabs with extremists and terrorists, providing a one-sided misrepresentation; but in reality Arabs also abhor religious extremism, terrorism, and violence.”

Quoting the late Palestinian American Professor of English, Edward Saeed, she continued, “It is only a slight overstatement to say that Muslims and Arabs are essentially seen as either oil suppliers or potential terrorists. Very little of the detail, the human density, the passion of Arab-Muslim life has entered the awareness of even those people whose profession it is to report the Arab world. What we have instead is a series of crude caricatures of the Islamic world presented in such a way as to make that world vulnerable to military aggression.”

Al Atrash believes that Arabs can clear this misrepresentation by the West by presenting their culture and art to a Western audience.

“I am one of many who have taken on this cause. And I have learnt that a poem or a piece of music can touch the deepest part of the heart when nothing else can. A poem penetrates barriers and boundaries and addresses the human soul, as it universalises human feelings.”

“The feedback has been very humbling for I have discovered that everyone, regardless of race and nationality, speaks and understands the universal language of poetry and music,” added this certified translator for Arabic to English by the Society of Translators and Interpreters of British Columbia.

“The tears of my audience speak more than words. I have noticed them sitting with eyes closed, absorbing every word and every note. It is precisely this image that drives me to share more of our rich Arab arts and culture.”

Every poem is treated differently with respect to the music that accompanies her recitation.

Talking about her selection of music, Al Atrash said, “For the recital of Youssef Abdul Samad’s poem, The Security Council, I chose Rodrigo’s Libertango, as this poem is very intense politically. I felt that every musical note embodies every letter of every word of the poem. It is all about what embodies the tone and words of the poems.”

As for selecting poems for translation, Al Atrash said, “A poem has to touch my heart. It has to speak to me. I have to feel the words in order to translate them. Words without feelings are like food without salt, they are tasteless.”

At other times, she may be inspired to write a poem stirred by an extreme emotional state of either happiness or sadness. Her poem, Selma, was inspired by her 15-year-old daughter Selma.

“That poem was written not by my hands but by a mother’s heart,” smiled Al Atrash.

Read the rest: http://gulfnews.com/life-style/people/putting-arab-verse-on-the-global-stage-1.1273220

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Iran to attend Malaysian foodstuff industries fair

Tehran, Jan 2, IRNA – The Islamic Republic of Iran is to take part in Malaysian foodstuff industries fair during March and April 2014 for direct marketing of its products.

The Iranian companies are planning to have a strong presence in the international exhibition to present their products directly and also prepare the grounds for export of their products to that region.

Various products such as foodstuff, drinking water, candies and chocolates, herbal medicine, cosmetic products, sanitary products, kettering, hotel keeping equipment and packaging machinery are to be displayed in the event.

Volume of trade exchange between Iran and Malaysia in the year 2011 stood at dlrs. 1.5 billion.

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Japan’s bid to make airports more Muslim friendly

Tokyo, Monday, 27 Safar 1434/ 30 December 2013 (IINA) – Striving to get a larger share of Muslim visitors, international airports in Japan have opened new prayer rooms as well offering halal food for Muslims, amid a wider plan to make Japanese ports more Muslim friendly.

“We will seek to create a user-friendly airport for Muslims and other people who will visit Japan for the Olympic Games,” Nikkei Asian Review reported quoting a public relations official at Narita Airport. The official added that the operator of the airport near Tokyo should have done more to publicize the presence of prayer rooms for Muslims and make facilities there friendlier to them. Airports in Japan have begun earnest efforts at last to become friendly to Muslims, said Ken Fujita, head of a project at the ASEAN Promotion Center on Trade, Investment and Tourism in Tokyo to provide information on Islam to airports.

The steps included increasing the number of private prayer rooms for Muslims as well as offering halal meals in compliance with Islamic rules. The steps were announced amid plans to show the heart of Japanese hospitality as Tokyo prepares to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Leading the efforts, Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture put up a new sign earlier on December saying “Prayer Room” for Muslims in front of private rooms in its first and second terminals. The rooms, called Silence Rooms, were covered with a carpet and a direction panel pointing to the holy city of Makkah. More steps were announced by January 2014, including the installation of washing equipment in the prayer rooms for Muslims wudu’ (ablution). By next summer, two more prayer rooms will be built in the area where passengers walk through after embarkation procedures.

Kansai Airport, which created a prayer room in 2006, announced a plan in August to open two more rooms by next spring. Osaka airport has also started joint efforts with tenants in its passenger terminal building to better receive visitors from the Islamic world. Haneda Airport in Tokyo will open a prayer room by next March. The new steps followed Japan’s decision to relax the rules for issuance to visas to visitors from Indonesia, Malaysia and three other Southeast Asian nations in July.

Muslims account for an estimated 90% of Indonesia’s 240 million population and 60% of Malaysia’s 29 million. A total of 28,000 people visited Japan from Indonesia and Malaysia in October, up 40% from a year earlier. Islam began in Japan in the 1920s through the immigration of a few hundreds of Turkish Muslims from Russia following the Russian revolution. In 1930, the number of Muslims in Japan reached about 1000 of different origins.

Another wave of migrants who boosted the Muslim population reached its peak in the 1980s, along with migrant workers from Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Japan today is home to a thriving Muslim community of about 120,000, among nearly 127 million in the world’s tenth most populated country.

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2013: Algeria moves to boost development in Southern provinces

ALGIERS (APS) Wednesday 1 January 2014 – In a bid to address the citizens’ various concerns in the southern provinces, the government has taken, in 2013, a range of special measures covering employment, training and the encouragement of competences.

These measures are intended to reinforce the development programme for South and High Plateaus regions of in the sectors of agriculture, water resources, transport, education and higher education.

Indeed, the government has undertaken the regulation of subcontracting in the field of employment, which involved oil service firms and others, following the protest of youth in the region.

Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal has given instructions on the management of employment in the South to overcome the disparities in wages recorded in the same job for workers in subcontracting companies compared to those applied in the big parent companies noting that they do not provide training for the qualification of new employees as stated by law.

Under the same measures taken by the State to support youth employment in the country south in particular, the level of subsidized micro-credit has been increased in 2013.

So, the beneficiaries of micro-credit can receive a subsidized loan for the purchase of essential materials to start an activity, provided that the cost does not exceed DZD100 000.

In his numerous inspection visits to the southern provinces, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal insists on the implementation of projects on time and with the required quality standards.

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Algerian Film Festival in Germany on 26-30 March

(APS) Thursday 2 January 2014

ALGIERS- The Algerian Film Festival, to be held from 26 to 30 March 2014 in Berlin (Germany) under the slogan “Algeria after 1954,” will be devoted to the history of the Algerian cinema since the outbreak of the liberation war.

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Finance act 2014 aims to boost productive investment

(APS) Monday 30 December 2013

ALGIERS – The Finance Act 2014 (LF 2014) signed Monday by President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika is mainly devoted to encourage productive investment, the mastery of imports and improving public service quality.

LF 2014 does not introduce new taxes or tax increases, provides DZD 7,656.2 billion of expenditure, including DZD 4,714.5 billion for operating expenditure and 2,941.7 billion for capital expenditure, while revenue would reach DZD 3,455.6 billion, 10.4% up compared to 2013.

The deficit is thus of DZD 3.438 billion dinars representing 18.1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), against a projected deficit of 18.9% in 2013, 25.4% in 2012 and 34% in 2011.

Based on a tax reference price of oil barrel at $ 37, the law expects an economic growth of 4.5% overall and 5.4% excluding oil and a variation of the index of consumer prices of 3.5%.

To achieve these objectives, the LF 2014 introduced new measures to encourage productive investment, promote domestic production and promote job creation.

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2nd OIC Halal Middle East Exhibition & Congress Held

ICDT and the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized the “2nd OIC Halal Middle East Exhibition & Congress” from 16th to 18th December 2013 at Sharjah Expo Centre, United Arab Emirates.

The inaugural session of the Exhibition was chaired by H.H Shaikh Abdullah bin Salem Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah in the presence of HE Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, OIC Secretary General, Mr. Saif Mohammed Al Midfa (CEO of Expo Centre Sharjah), Dr El Hassane Hzaine (Director General of ICDT) and Mr. Asad Sajjad, Secretary General /CEO of Halal Development Council of Pakistan.

Others dignitaries attended the opening session, including Dato’ Hasan bin Malek, Malaysian Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism ; Haji Abdul Malik Kassim, Minister of State of Penang; Mufti Muhammad Rafi Usmani, Grand Mufti of Pakistan and President Darul Uloom, University of Karachi- Pakistan; Dr Saleh H. Al Aayed, Secretary-General-International Islamic Halal Organisation- Saudi Arabia; Nabil A Molla, Secretary-General-GCC Standardisation Organisation (GSO); Khaled Al Aboodi, Chief Executive Officer of the Islamic Corporation for Private Sector Development (IDB Group) – Saudi Arabia and Abdul Rahim Hasan Naqi-Secretary-General, GCC Chamber of Commerce- Saudi Arabia.

The Exhibition recorded the participation of 21 countries; it was spread over an area of 4000 square meters.

The Halal Congress Middle East 2013 was organized on the sidelines of this exhibition, under the theme: “One Halal Logo – One Halal Standard: United we Succeed – Divided we Fail “.

During the Congress, Dr. Hzaine presented a paper on “Competitive Halal regulations as a technical barrier to Trade: stakes and solutions within OIC “.

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Libya port unloading hits record

Saturday, 04 January 2014 – AfricaManager – Container unloading at Libya’s Misrata port has hit record levels this year and the major shipping gateway is expanding, a local official said, in a rare success story in the troubled North African country.

Libya’s third-biggest city, some 200 km (124 miles) east of the capital Tripoli, has benefited from better security conditions than other parts of the OPEC producer, which has been hit by turmoil since the 2011 toppling of Muammar Gaddafi.

Misrata saw some of the worst fighting during the NATO-backed uprising. But it now rarely sees the kind of clashes of armed groups that occur regularly in the eastern port city of Benghazi and sometimes in Tripoli.

This year, Misrata’s non-oil port has unloaded 208,339 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers, up from 159,634 last year, said Mohammed El-Swayah, marketing and cooperation manager at the Misrata Free Zone Co., part of the port.

“This is a record figure,” he told Reuters. Misrata was benefiting from its geographic position in central Libya, stability and a long tradition as Mediterranean trade center.

“Many traders from Tripoli use Misrata port,” he said, adding that the port city also had an expansion plan to become a transit point for goods arriving from abroad and continuing on to sub-Saharan countries.

In 2010, the year before the violent uprising brought economic activity in Libya to a standstill, Misrata unloaded 130,779 TEUs, he said.

Swayah said Misrata has been handling 55 to 60 percent of the cargo in Libyan ports, and he said the harbour’s quays were currently being expanded. Other large non-oil ports in Libya are Tripoli, Khoms and Benghazi.

The growth of business at Misrata contrasts sharply with the fate of the country’s oil ports. Libya relies on oil for government revenues, but militias and tribesmen have often seized the major oil ports and fields, slashing the country’s crude exports to around 110,000 barrels a day from a potential 1 million bpd or more.

The militias helped oust Gaddafi, but they have kept their weapons to press for political and financial demands, and the government has struggled to rein them in. On Thursday, armed militiamen blocked the port entrance at Tripoli and demanded the resignation of the prime minister.

Analysts say that apart from better security, Misrata port benefits from a free trade zone offering special benefits for investors such as exemptions from taxes and duties.

Swayah said 18 companies had invested in the local free trade zone. “We have requests from 50 other firms which are being studied,” he said during a visit to the free trade zone, which is also being expanded.

Many foreign firms who used to be active in Libya before the uprising have been reluctant to return due to the volatile security situation.

But Swayah said both foreign and local firms were now considering investing there, although he declined to name any of them.

“Since the revolution we’ve had requests (to invest) from Italian and other firms,” he said.

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Dubai airport to top 65.4 million passengers

Saturday, 04 January 2014

Dubai International, the world’s second busiest international hub, is set to surpass the traffic forecast for the year, as the airport recorded another month of high growth this November.

With traffic in November reaching 5,337,544, up 9.5 per cent compared to 4,875,003 in the corresponding period in 2012, the airport has registered 12 consecutive months of traffic exceeding 5 million passengers. The year to date (November) totalled 60.384 million passengers compared with 52.363 million recorded during the same period last year, an increase of 15.3 per cent, said the monthly traffic report issued by Dubai Airports.

In November, Western Europe recorded the largest increase in total passenger numbers (+97,637 passengers), followed by the Indian subcontinent (+56,732), the GCC (+56,711), Australasia (+51,151), and Africa (+46,731).

The strongest markets in terms of percentage growth were Eastern Europe (+56.5 per cent) driven by flydubai’s services to 15 destinations in 10 countries across Europe, followed by Australasia (+33.4 per cent) thanks to the launch of Qantas’ services to Dubai earlier this year, and Russia and CIS (18.8 per cent ) spurred by an increase in demand on routes to the region, it said.

Aircraft movements in November increased by 6 per cent to 31,525 from 29,749 recorded during the same month in 2012. The year to date movements totalled 337,121, up 7.6 per cent compared to 313,300 movements between January and November 2012.

Dubai International handled 223,195 tonnes of cargo in November, an increase of 11.6 per cent compared to 200,060 tonnes recorded during the same month in 2012. The year to date freight volumes reached 2,217,429 tonnes compared to 2,077,676 tonnes handled during the corresponding period last year, an increase of 6.7 per cent.

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said: “The growth in passenger traffic has been nothing short of phenomenal this year with a monthly average of 5.4 million customers and we are set to exceed our target of 65.4 million for the year. Dubai International’s total capacity increased to 75 million passengers per year when Concourse A was opened in January 2013 and this will be followed by the opening of Concourse D in early 2015 – we continue to focus on improving our facilities and customer service as our infrastructure development programme keeps pace with our healthy traffic growth.”

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Bid to boost Public Awareness of Corruption in Afghanistan

Kabul (BNA) Bakhtar News January 1, 2014 – Memorandum of Understanding of second phase for public awareness on corruption was signed yesterday between Minister of Education Dr. Farooq Wardak and General Director of Independent Administrative for counter corruption Ghulam Hussain Fakhri.

BNA correspondent reported, before signing the agreement, Minister of Education talking related to harms of corruption said, “The first phase of the program started in May and ended in October, 2013, while the second phase of the program will start after the agreement signed and will last for one year.”

Minister of Education added the ministry had made efforts for implementation various ways to prevent the society from the phenomena.

Meanwhile, general director of independent administrative for counter corruption Ghulam Hussain Fakhri asked judicial organs and high-ranking government officials to jointly work for reduction and rooting out corruption and help the administration in this regard.

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Kabul Seminar On Thoughts, Life of Hakeem Sanayee Ghaznavi

Kabul (BNA) January 1, 2014 – By reading out message of Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, a research seminar was held on life and thoughts of Hakeem Sanayee Ghaznavi in international media center.

BNA correspondent reported, the seminar was held by Ministry of Information and Culture with cooperation of ICESCO and participation of advisor to President, Professor Nimatullah Shahrani, a number of parliamentarians, deputy ministers, advisor and officials of the ministry, a number of knowledgeable figures, university lecturers and academic and cultural figures of the country.

At the beginning of the seminar, message of Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was read out by cultural deputy minister of information and culture Sayed Musadiq Khalili, the message said, “The great and high position poet Hakeem Abul Mujid Majdoud Bin Adam Sanayee is one of the top teachers of Persian and Dari poem.

Hakeem Sanayee was one of the speakers who were good in bringing variety and renewing in Dari poem and his artifacts were a base for poets after him.” “Sanayee’s luminous poems have been in full consideration of speakers and people during the past centuries.

I’m happy that MoIC has held seminars related to personality, view and thought of this great poet of ancient Ghazni in the past one decade, republished artifacts of Hakeem Sanayee and organized today the seminar as well with cooperation of ICESCO,” the message added. “We hope that articles prepared for the seminar and speeches of our knowledgeable figures will make the country’s youth acquainted of Hakeem Sanayee’s characteristic, thoughts and artifacts.

I wish your seminar further success and praise Ministry of Information and Culture for holding the seminar,” the message said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sayed Makhdoom Raheen, minister of information and culture spoke related to personality, works, poems and various dimensions of Hakeem Sanayee’s life and said, “Today we’re talking about a man who is the best in his thoughts and going towards high positions through thoughts and act.”

Dr. Raheen added one of the subjects stressed a lot by Hakeem Sanayee were ‘scare from fire of hell and scare from hereafters and Day of Judgment and his sayings were full of Quranic learning. In the seminar, director of art for ministry of information and culture read out message of ICESCO, Professor Mohammad Afzal Banwal read out message of Kabul University, Ali Shah Rustayee read out message of Academy of Sciences, Professor Najib Sayes read out message of Ustad Rabbani Education University and Abdul Ghafoor Sangin read out message of Hakeem Sanayee Cultural Association.

Also, representative of Ghazni people in Wolisi Jirga Nafeesa Azimi, advisor to Ministry of Justice Abdul Ahad Ashrati, Professor Raziqi Narriwal and Najmuddin Mawaj briefed related to Hakeem Sanayee’s life, personality, artifacts, poems and works, praising ministry of information and culture for holding the seminar.

The scientific seminar continued its work after selection of Professor Banwal as head, Nasreen Amini as deputy and Mohammad Afsar Rahbeen as secretary. In scientific session of the seminar, Kabul University lecturers Professor Abdul Qayoum Qaweem, Professor Mohammad Hussain Yameen and Taj Mohammad Zareer read out their articles related to life and works of Hakeem Sanayee. The seminar will continue its work today too.

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Dubai airport set to surpass annual forecast of 65.4 m passengers

DUBAI, 31st December, 2013 (WAM) — Dubai International, the world’s second busiest international hub, is set to surpass the traffic forecast for the year, as the airport recorded another month of high growth in November, according to the monthly traffic report issued by Dubai Airports.

With passenger traffic in November reaching 5,337,544, up 9.5 per cent compared to the corresponding period in 2012, the airport has registered 12 consecutive months with traffic exceeding 5 million passengers. For the year to date (end of November), Dubai International has seen 60,384,407 passengers compared with 52,363,589 recorded during the same period last year.

In November, western Europe recorded the largest increase in total passenger numbers (+97,637 passengers), followed by the Indian subcontinent (+56,732), the AGCC (+56,711), Australasia (+51,151), and Africa (+46,731).

The strongest markets in terms of percentage growth were eastern Europe (+56.5 per cent) driven by flydubai’s services to 15 destinations in 10 countries across Europe, followed by Australasia (+33.4 per cent) thanks to the launch of Qantas’ services to Dubai earlier this year, and Russia and the CIS (18.8 per cent ) spurred by an increase in demand on routes to the region.

Aircraft movements in November increased by 6 per cent to 31,525. The year to date movements were up by 7.6 per cent.

Dubai International handled 223,195 tonnes of cargo in November, an increase of 11.6 per cent compared to the same month in 2012. The year to date freight volumes reached 2,217,429 tonnes compared to 2,077,676 tonnes handled during the corresponding period last year.

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said, “The growth in passenger traffic has been nothing short of phenomenal this year, with a monthly average of 5.4 million customers and we are set to exceed our target of 65.4 million for the year. Dubai International’s total capacity increased to 75 million passengers per year when Concourse A was opened in January and this will be followed by the opening of Concourse D in early 2015. We continue to focus on improving our facilities and customer service as our infrastructure development programme keeps pace with our healthy traffic growth.” WAM/ES/CM

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First travellers use UK visa waiver

ABU DHABI, 1st January 2014 (WAM) – 1st January saw the first travellers to visit the UK using the Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW). This allows visits to the UK for up to six months without a visa.

So far, over 300 visa waiver applicants including 170 Emirati, 107 Qatari and 102 Omani passport holders have completed an EVW, with the number expected to increase during the coming months.

UK border force officials have been working through the night at local airports to assist airlines and travellers using the scheme.

Matt Heath, Regional Director for UK Visas and Immigration said: “We’ve already seen really good uptake of the EVW scheme, it is simple to complete, free of charge and quicker than applying for a visa. When completing an EVW it is essential that the travellers enter their full name, spelt exactly as it appears in their passport together with their date of birth and exact flight details.” With an EVW there is no requirement to provide biometrics, attend a visa application centre or hand in passports prior to travel. The document is issued immediately via a secure web site and can be obtained online from anywhere in the world for travel to the UK.

Dominic Jermey, British Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates said: “I’m delighted to see Emiratis start to use the Electronic Visa Waiver scheme. Introducing this scheme is a really important part of the drive by the British government to make relations between our two great nations ever closer – like all important relationships; it is our people who are at the heart of the long standing friendship between the UK and the UAE. This visa waiver offers a great alternative to a visa and can now make it easier for Emiratis to visit Britain. The UK looks forward to warmly welcoming more Emirati visitors for business and leisure.” Travellers must complete their EVW online at least 48 hours before departure and present a printed copy on departure and again on arrival in the UK. The EVW is only valid for a single entry to the UK on the date and time specified.

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Dubai Customs launches Carpet and Art Oasis 2014

DUBAI, 2nd January, 2014 (WAM) — The 19th edition of the Carpet and Art Oasis kicks off today, 2nd of January. Organised by Dubai Customs at Dubai Festival City, the exhibition will run until 2nd February, featuring the participation of more than 60 exhibitors, reflecting a rise of 20% compared to last year.

“Dubai Customs’ Carpet and Art Oasis is one of the most remarkable events regularly scheduled for Dubai Shopping Festival,” said Ahmed Butti Ahmed, Executive Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, Director-General of Dubai Customs, who noted that DSF has positioned Dubai as the primary destination for tourists and visitors at this time of year. “Dubai Customs is proud to organise the Carpet and Art Oasis that increasingly attracts larger crowds, giving Dubai Shopping Festival greater splendour as traders, rug lovers and visitors gather to acquire some of the rarest and most gorgeous handcrafted carpets,” he said.

Organised by Dubai Customs every year since the launch of Dubai Shopping Festival in 1996, the exhibition has been closely connected with the festival as one of its core activities. The event is gaining grandeur year after year, featuring a multitude of rare and exquisite carpets brought from the world’s most famous carpet handcrafting countries.

This year, the organisers have decided to increase the exhibition area by 30% in a bid to position the Oasis as the biggest platform for handmade carpets worldwide. The new edition showcases more than 150,000 pieces, with a total market value worth Dh1 billion.

The new edition of Carpet and Art Oasis also features the completed Naseej Al Walaa, or “Loyalty Weave”, Portrait, an initiative launched by Dubai Customs to create a handmade wall-hanging portrait of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Executed by mothers visiting the Carpet and Art Oasis, the initiative was held under the patronage of Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. A special hall has been dedicated to accommodating this piece of art. It contains a traditional loom that was used to make the weaving with silk and wool yarns.

The portrait is regarded as a form of showing gratitude and recognition by mothers of the U.A.E. to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, who has dedicated many valuable initiatives and contributions to women, and has shown constant interest in women’s social and domestic welfare as well as their engagement in all fields of work. As a result, women in the U.A.E. are now holding superior work positions, besides enjoying all rights due to them under Islamic Sharia and by international and local laws.

An exquisite piece of art, the Naseej Al Walaa Portrait features numerous stitches and rich colours. It has over one million knots and over 120 natural colours spread over an area of nearly 4.5 square meters. Made of 50% pure silk and 50% natural wool, the weaving was accomplished in cooperation with Heritage Carpets Company.

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DSF 2014 : Ready to attract shoppers with more offers

ABU DHABI, 2nd January, 2014 (WAM) — As the emirate rejoices in positive business sentiment, the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, or DFRE, an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, is ready to make the 19th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival, which opens today, a global retail success story.

“In the last few years we have witnessed the number of visitors to the Dubai Shopping Festival averaging around four million and we are anticipating an increase of between five to 10 per cent during the 19th edition of the DSF from January 2nd to February 2nd,” said Laila Mohammed Suhail, Chief Executive Officer of DFRE.

She added that since it was launched in 1996, the Dubai Shopping Festival has attracted approximately 51 million participants, residents and visitors, who have spent just under Dh130 billion, whether it was for shopping, hospitality or on entertainment.

“DFRE has adopted a number of strategies to promote DSF 2014 to attract visitors from our regional and international markets, and also ensure that when they leave Dubai they feel enriched and are able to take home great memories. One of our key strategies is to put the spotlight back on the shopping element of the DSF and for this we have adopted a new theme, �Shop at your Best’ aimed at showcasing Dubai as a tourism destination that offers multiple and unique shopping experiences,” she told local English daily, Khaleej Times.

Starting today, the DSF has something for everyone. From discounts at 70 malls and over 6,000 retail outlets across the city, to 150 kinds of entertainment programmes.

Working under the umbrella of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, or DTCM, DFRE is able to reach out to reach to a wider audience and new markets across the world, as part of its efforts to increase the number of tourists during DSF 2014.

The festivals and retail body also launched a global marketing campaign that relies heavily on digital communication channels including a new look website that uses geo-marketing technology for the first time to create awareness of, and promote the 32-day DSF 2014 to families and tourists across the world, especially in the strategic markets of GCC, Russia, India, China, Hong Kong and South Africa.

DFRE has also forged marketing alliances with Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel site and the online editions of the internationally renowned Vogue magazine to extend the reach and visibility of DSF 2014 in key markets.

The shopping festival’s sole aim is to boost the retail sector on a global scale, explained Suhail, saying, “Since it was launched in 1996, DSF has supported the growth of Dubai’s retail sector. DFRE’s mandate has also grown from merely organising festivals to setting clear directions and policies for the continued growth of the retail sector, paving the way for enhanced cooperation with the trade on ways of boosting Dubai’s retail sector.

“Significantly, over the past 18 years, DFRE has established a strong and longstanding partnership with the private sector, and regularly discusses issues, challenges and strategies with its key partners and sponsors aimed at further enhancing the retail sector.” DFRE is taking advantage of the positive economic environment that prevails in Dubai to chart its future plans. “Hoteliers, retailers and entertainment providers have seen visitor numbers and sales rise in 2013 and we are confident of a great year ahead of us with more events, attractions and value for money than ever before for visitors and local residents. The year 2014 will be a crucial and challenging period for DFRE as we plan for all our other festivals and events such as Dubai Summer Surprises, Ramadan in Dubai, Eid in Dubai, Dubai Motor Festival and Modhesh World leading all the way to the milestone 20th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival in 2015,” concluded Suhail.

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Epsom College In Malaysia To Open In September

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Jan 4 (NNN-Bernama)– British-styled boarding school, EpsomCollege will open its first overseas campus in Malaysia in September this year.

Epsom College in Malaysia headmaster Martin George said teachers with qualifications and experience from the United Kingdom (UK) had been selected to deliver a UK curriculum standard to the students.

Following the Cambridge International Examination (CIE) syllabus, the college aims to mirror the academic excellence of Epsom College in the UK which consistently achieved 84 per cent of A-level grades as A , A or b grade.

“We will begin our school tours in February that will enable families to fully experience what Epsom has to offer for their children.

“With a minimum class size of 24 students in the senior school and 16 in pre-school nursery, we are perfectly poised to provide world class education here at Epsom College in Malaysia,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Located in Bandar Enstek, Nilai, Epsom College in Malaysia is limiting the first year intake to 200 students and is currently holding entry assessments for pupils aged 3 to 17 at its KL office in Publika, Solaris Dutamas.

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Israeli Actors Sit Out Show At Settlement Theatre

JERUSALEM, Palestine, Dec 26 (NNN-MA’AN) – A trio of Israeli stage actors is refusing to perform in an acclaimed play before a theatre in a West Bank Jewish settlement, part of a burgeoning domestic movement, against the government’s settlement policies.

The protest mirrors a global movement against the settlements that has put Israel’s government in an increasingly difficult situation, as the current round of peace talks with the Palestinians continues.

The international community, including the U.S., has long considered Israeli construction of homes for Jews in the West Bank, captured territory claimed by the Palestinians, as an obstacle to peace.

This sentiment, long held also by Israel’s dovish left, now appears to be gaining steam at home, following a string of harsh global condemnations of settlement construction in recent months. Some on Israel’s left fear the scale of the settlements soon will pass the tipping point where a pull-out may become too difficult, and Israel will be forced to essentially absorb the West Bank and its millions of Palestinians.

In a joint statement, the Cameri and Beit Lessin theatres, said that, three cast members in their production of “Best Friends” had asked to be excused from performing at the cultural centre in Ariel, a settlement built deep inside the West Bank. It said, they were granted exemptions and will be replaced by alternates, allowing the show to go on.

One of the actresses, Sarit Vino-Elad, said, she could not bring herself to step foot in a theatre built on occupied land which posed an obstacle to peace with Palestinians.

“This is not a boycott. It’s my own little protest against a government policy, that continues to build settlements,” she said. “They are trying to make Ariel part of the consensus, but as far as I am concerned it is not legitimate. You want me to perform there? Solve the problem.”

Israel is particularly sensitive to such sentiments, as it is constantly battling against international efforts to impose economic, cultural and academic boycotts upon it over the settlements. Defenders of Israel say, it is a victim of orchestrated campaigns to delegitimise it and hold it to a double standard over its policies.

But such arguments seem to be facing an uphill struggle. Last week, the American Studies Association, a 3,800-member group of American scholars, endorsed a boycott of Israeli universities.

Previously, the Dutch water company Vitens, the largest supplier of drinking water in the Netherlands, decided to cut ties with Israel’s national water carrier, over its operations in West Bank settlements. The European Union recently forced Israel to make guarantees that special European research funds would not be spent in the settlements. The EU is also considering measures to clearly label products made in the settlements, a move that could harm sales.

Lately, Israeli settlements are also coming under increasing scrutiny at home.

Israelis, who once considered the West Bank inseparable from the rest of the country, or at least shrugged off the settlements as insignificant, have begun to protest the large government budgets promoting West Bank construction, instead of solving a dire housing crisis plaguing the rest of the country. Others refuse to purchase settlement goods or perform reserve military guard duty in the West Bank.

For years, the Palestinians refused to negotiate with Israel, while settlement construction continued, saying it was a sign of bad faith. Under heavy U.S. pressure, the Palestinians reluctantly resumed negotiations last summer, under U.S. mediation, with an April target date for agreement.

The Palestinians seek the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, all captured by Israel in 1967, for their state. Israel pulled troops and settlers out of Gaza in 2005 and it is now ruled by the Islamic militant Hamas. East Jerusalem, with its sites holy to Muslims, Christians and Jews, has been annexed by Israel. The West Bank, despite the fact that Israel builds towns there, has not.

More than 550,000 Israelis now live in areas captured in 1967, amid roughly 2.5 million Palestinians. The Palestinians complain that the growing settler population makes it ever more difficult to partition the land.

The settlement of Ariel is a particular stumbling block. An enclave of nearly 20,000 people is one of the largest settlements, and its defenders say, most Israelis want the settlement to be annexed to Israel in any future peace deal. But it is located well inside the West Bank, meaning no minor border adjustment as part of a peace deal could leave it on the Israeli side. Hawkish Cabinet ministers angrily have denounced the protesters and threatened to strip their government subsidies.

In 2010, Ariel inaugurated a glitzy $11 million performing arts centre that immediately sparked an artists’ boycott.

Vino-Elad said, her colleagues have preferred to stay quiet with their stance for fear of political backlash — but she could not. “We don’t want to create world wars here, we want to make theatre,” she said.

The Cameri theatre said, it was committed to staging the show in Ariel but that it would respect the political positions of its artists.

“The theatre does not force its actors to perform in Ariel. Those who are not interested are replaced by their colleagues,” it said in the statement. “The Cameri theatre chose to allow its actors to exercise their freedom of expression and follow their conscience.”

Culture Minister, Limor Livnat, criticised those artists that “boycott Israeli citizens because of where they live.”

Ariel Turjeman, the director of the Ariel theatre, played down the protest, saying the actors who refused to perform in the West Bank were a tiny number compared to the thousands who did. He said, the theatre purchased a play, not an actor, and that the move is little more than a publicity stunt.

“Those who don’t want to come don’t have to,” he said. “If Ariel makes them uncomfortable, they can stay home. And to be honest, we don’t want those who don’t want to come here.”– NNN-MA’AN

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Uganda Moves To Protect Heritage Sites

By Stephen Ssenkaaba

KAMPALA, Jan 1 (NNN-NEW VISION) — The Government of Uganda through the Department for Museums and Monuments in the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, is developing a framework to protect a number of aging historical buildings and monuments in the country.

This follows growing concerns being voiced over the continued demolition of such buildings and their replacements with modern structures without due regard to the historical important of the old buildings.

“Many of our buildings and architectural landmarks need protection,” says Rose Nkaale Mwanja, the Commissioner for Museums and Monuments in the ministry.

She explains that many important historical buildings are languishing in obscurity, while others have been removed. For that reason, the department of museums and monuments has embarked on a campaign to identify all buildings which have a special historical significance to this country and, in conjunction with local governments design plans of conserving them.

In Kampala, the department has already identified 76 buildings of unique historical importance to the city which need protecting.

“We are working with KCCA (Kampala Capital City Authority) to map these buildings. We will then preserve and promote them,” she says.

It is estimated that more than 100 historical buildings of immense tourism and educational potential exist in Uganda but many of them are under some form of threat.

In 2011, Uganda Museum survived demolition following revelations of the government’s plans to have it replaced with a modern 60-storey complex. Thanks to the intervention of conservation activists and concerned Ugandans, its demolition has now been put on hold.

Nakasero Market had the hangman’s noose around its neck for some time amid bickering for redevelopment and replacement by business interests. And Fort Lugard, the first base of the British colonial administration in Uganda was removed and replaced with what is now called Gadhafi Mosque.

Vivian Craddock Williams of the Historic Buildings Conservation Trust in Uganda says that historical buildings are the benchmarks against which the history of a country is written. “In the end they not only become great points of reference to the nationals and other people but also become tourist attractions for a country,” he said in an interview recently.

The biggest threat to Uganda’s historical buildings, he said, is “organizational neglect”.

Absence of strong legislation to protect historical buildings has been a major obstacle to protection of these structures. Lack of financial support from government also compromises many otherwise commendable efforts by conservationists to protect historical buildings. Indeed many such people operate as voluntary bodies without any facilitation from Government.

In more developed economies, governments provide money and facilities and legal protection to conservation of historical buildings. Until such steps are put in place to support conservation, our history will be wiped out. — NNN-NEW VISION

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Entries increases for Kuwait heritage festival

KUWAIT, Jan 3 (KUNA) — The committee organizing the fourth Popular Heritage Festival said on Friday the registered number of applicants desiring to participate in the January 16th event had reached 1,200 thus far.

The committee chairman, Sheikh Sabah Fahad Sabah Al-Nasser Al-Sabah told that KUNA the racers and contestants have registered their names at the festival headquarters, located on Al-Salmi road, since the registration began in December.

Sheikh Sabah Fahad, also the secretary of Kuwait Hunting and Equestrian Club, said 760 awards would be distributed to winners of the contests.

The contests involving camels, goats, sheep and falcons, will be held at the festival headquarters. Registration for the horse races will be at the club. Fishing contests will be organized at the fishermen diwaniahs, Al-Watyah, Al-Salmiyah and Al-Fintas and the registration will proceed till January 11th.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Fahad indicated that the festival’s head committee would coordinate with the Ministry of Interior to organize trouble-free entry of camels from the other GCC countries into Kuwait.

Sheikh Sabah Fahad praised the graceful initiative of His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, of organizing this great festival. (end) fsa.ysa.rk KUNA 031320 Jan 14NNNN

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10 Types Of Aid Packages To Help People Cope With Rising Costs

CYBERJAYA, Jan 3 (Bernama) — The government has prepared 10 types of aid packages to help the people cope with the current and future rising costs of living, said Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan.

“When we see prices of three things going up, we must not forget all the help we have received, so I hope the people and especially the opposition to be fair,” he told reporters after visiting the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) counter at the Inland Revenue Board office here, today.

The 10 aid packages include BR1M, six types of basic subsidies, assistance to farmers, fishermen, oil palm workers and rubber tappers, reduction of income tax cuts, health subsidies, educational assistance, affordable housing projects, assistance to the poor, funds for the development of entrepreneurs as well as salary increases and bonuses for civil servants.

He did not deny that rationalisation of the budget made ??by the government in reducing the national deficit recently had caused prices of three types of items to rise namely oil, sugar and electricity.

But he said this aid packages had been created to help people to achieve a high level of income so as not to be burdened with rising costs in the future.

“So what is being done is in the name of social safety net and the government is trying to increase the people’s income in order to absorb the rising costs here and there.

“I do not deny that there is an increase in three types of items, but I was told by Tenaga Nasional Bhd that 70 percent of users will not be affected by the increase in tariffs,” Ahmad said.

He explained the RM400 million savings made ??by the government through the sugar subsidy rationalisation had been used to improve the healthcare of people through additional nurses, new 1Malaysia clinics and rural clinics and a new hospital.

He added that the reduction in fuel subsidies has seen a saving of RM4.4 billion which will now go towards BR1M handouts.

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Patchwork method used for old Turkish carpets to survive as decoration

NEVŞEHİR – Anadolu Agency, January/04/2014

Old carpets, which are reproduced through the patchwork method in the Cappadocia region, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Turkey, are sold at good prices. The patchwork carpets find buyers for $300 per square meter.

Silk and woolen carpets are being weaved by female locals in wooden carpet looms with madder and draw much interest from tourists visiting the central Anatolian region.

Large carpet stores in the towns of Avanos and Ürgüp collect these 40-50 year-old deformed pieces of carpets from all around the country and combine them using patchwork method. In this way, the old carpets are brought into the region’s economy.

HDN The director of Cappadocia’s first big touristic carpet store in Avanos, Sefa Yıldırım said patchwork carpets produced with old woolen carpet pieces drew much interest in recent years, particularly from tourists from South American countries.

He said patchwork carpets brought good income, adding they combined the pieces of different carpets considering the color and motif harmony. “Although they are old carpets, they are renewed through this process.”

Yıldırım said the old carpets go through five stages and continued: “First of all, the dust on these carpets from all around Turkey is cleaned in dust boxes. Then, they are washed in steam pools and trimmed. Later on, they are cut in an appropriate way and combined again.”

He said they were mostly evaluating the old carpets that were popular in recent years. “We especially sell them to tourists from South American countries. We also produce bags, wall decorations and prayer rugs using these carpets. Each square meter of these carpets is sold for between $100-300. Carpets are the first thing that comes to mind as a souvenir in Cappadocia. Our women have been weaving carpets for centuries in this region. And these carpets are really famous. The Yahyalı, Taşpınar, Bünyan, Avanos and Ürgüp carpets are the best known ones. The carpet sector is one of the biggest sectors in Cappadocia and the Ürgüp region. We are trying to keep it alive.”

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Pakistan appoints woman judge in Shariah court

Islamabad, Wednesday, 29 Safar 1434/ 01 January 2014 (IINA) – Pakistan’s national Shariah court, which hears cases under the country’s Islamic legislation, on Monday appointed a female judge for the first time in its 33-year history.

Ashraf Jehan, 56, who was serving as an additional judge at the high court in southern Sindh province, made history as she took the oath in Karachi. “It was a historic oath-taking ceremony today when an able lady judge had joined the Shariah Court,” said Agha Rafiq Ahmad, the chief justice of the Federal Shariah Court of Pakistan. The court was established in 1980 during the rule of military dictator Ziaul Haq as part of a sweeping Islamiation of Pakistan’s institutions. It examines the country’s laws to check them for conformity with Islamic injunctions and hears appeals under religious legislation known as the “Hudood Laws”, which run parallel to the penal code. “There was no bar in the constitution to make a woman the judge of Shariah Court and there is no discrimination between men and women,” Ahmad said.

The chief justice of the Shariah Court, who rarely speaks to the media, said he was pleased to comment on an historic moment. “I took the initiative as it would send the message in the world that we are enlightened people and would dispel many misconceptions,” he said.

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IDB allocates $285.4 million to finance new projects

Jeddah, Thursday, 23 Safar 1434/ 26 December 2013 (IINA) – The Board of Executive Directors of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has approved a total of $285.4 million for financing new development projects in member countries and Muslim communities in non-member countries.

Under the recent approvals, $120 million is allocated for the Ma’aden Wa’ad Al Shamal Phosphate Project in Saudi Arabia for the production of chemical fertilizers; $79 million to Northern Dakar Sanitation Improvement Project in Senegal; and $35 million to Kabala Water Supply Project in Mali for the development of drinking water networks in the capital city of Bamako.

The IDB Board also approved $2 million for Mali for preparation of a feasibility study and detailed engineering design for a portion of the trans-Sahara road linking Kidal to the Algerian border. IDB has been funding several parts of this economically strategic road which has a main axis linking Algiers to Lagos in addition to several branches (over a total length of 9000 km), and is eventually crossing in to Algeria, Tunisia, Chad, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, all of them IDB member countries.

Other financing approvals included: $21.3 million for reconstruction of Osh-Batken-Isfana Road Project in Kyrgyzstan linking the country to neighboring states; $17.4 million for support to Upgrading Public Health Laboratories Project in Uzbekistan as well as $9 million for participation in the Integrated Rural Development Project of the Plains of Diagble in Togo.

A sum of $750,000 is also to be funneled into four educational projects in Muslim communities in Bosnia Herzegovina ($200,000), Guyana ($150,000), Thailand ($200,000) and US ($200,000) as special assistance under IDB’s Waqf Fund, while a sum of $400,000 will be provided (under operations authorized by the IDB President) as technical assistance grant to Chad, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria and Yemen to help them prepare Malaria prevention and control programs.

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Qatar signs $1.25 billion aid deal for Morocco

Rabat, Sunday, 26 Safar 1434/ 29 December 2013 (IINA) – Qatar and Morocco have signed an aid deal worth $1.25 billion, part of a five-year package of financial assistance extended by Gulf states to the North African kingdom to help it weather ‘Arab Spring’ protests.

Four Gulf states — Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE — agreed in 2012 to provide aid worth a total $5 billion to Morocco in the period 2012-2017 to build up its infrastructure, strengthen its economy and foster tourism. Each of the four countries has committed $1.25 billion to Morocco for the whole five year period. The aid is very welcome to King Mohamed — who signed the accord late on Friday with the visiting emir of Qatar — as he seeks to quell the kind of social discontent that helped to oust rulers elsewhere in North Africa, including Tunisia and Egypt.

Morocco is under heavy pressure from international lenders to reduce its budget deficit after spending heavily on food and energy subsidies and higher public sector salaries in 2011 and 2012 to help defuse social tensions. Morocco has budgeted to receive a total $1 billion in aid from the Gulf states for 2014. It hopes to cut its budget deficit to 4.9 percent of gross domestic product next year from an estimated 5.5 percent in 2013.

Qatar was the last of the four Gulf states to sign the aid accord with Morocco. It was not immediately clear whether Qatar would disburse the aid installments for both 2012 and 2013, each worth $250 million, together. The Gulf states have agreed a similar package of aid, also worth a total $5 billion over a five-year period, for Jordan.

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Ban on cigarette sale comes into force in Sharjah

Sharjah, Sunday, 26 Safar 1434/ 29 December 2013 (IINA) – A ban on the sale of tobacco products and cigarettes by grocery shops and supermarkets located in residential areas and near academic institutions has been imposed in Sharjah with immediate effect, Gulf News daily reported.

On December 10, a government circular was issued to cigarette vendors across the spectrum of commercial grocers and supermarkets. While the announcement to prohibit the sale of tobacco products in the city of Sharjah was made by the Sharjah Municipal Council in April this year, the organization was yet to work out an implementation strategy with the Sharjah Municipality, which is responsible for enforcing the ban. Grocers said they are already experiencing a loss in revenue as cigarette sales were their main source of profit.

There is no point of running a grocery shop if we cannot sell cigarettes,” a grocer who runs three shops in Al Taawun said. It was learnt that prior to the enforcement of the ban, grocery shops in residential neighborhoods used to sell 60,000 to 75,000 cigarette packs a month. Many of them are now trying to dodge the ban by selling cigarettes only to known customers. “We have been issued a circular on the ban. We do not want to take risks by stocking cigarette packs in the shop. Now, we have stored it all in another place. Only some brands of cigarettes packs are sold on the sly, not all. It’s too risky,” another grocer who runs a shop in a residential area in Al Khan said.

Hoping that the ban would be lifted in the near future, another grocer said: “There are rumors that we will soon be able to sell cigarettes like we used to earlier. We can’t afford to turn away our regular customers who don’t mind paying a dirham or two extra for a pack of cigarettes. This way, we are trying to minimize our loss. For example, if a cigarette pack costs Dh8, we charge Dh2 extra,” he added. Relieved at the cigarette sale ban, Hashim K. Abdullah, a resident of Qanat Al Qasba, said: “I am so glad that Sharjah has implemented this ban. It is sad to see youngsters, especially teenaged boys, sharing a cigarette hiding behind a municipality garbage bin or in dark alleys.”

“This is fantastic news that the Sharjah Municipality has finally implemented the ban on the sale of cigarettes in residential areas. It will not only discourage small children from taking up smoking, but also help those who want to quit smoking,” Suresh Kishore Tare, a resident who stays near the Sharjah Expo Centre, said. Rana Khatib, a resident of the same area, said that it is not sufficient to implement the ban, but also make sure that grocers do not violate the rule. “I am sure that these small groceries would find a way to sell cigarette packs. They are here to make money. They don’t care how many people they help to become smokers. I am very happy that we have this rule. I am a mother of two teenaged boys. So far, they have not taken up smoking and I hope it stays that way.”

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Iyad Madani takes over as Organization of Islamic Cooperation chief

Jeddah, Thursday, 01 Rabi Al-Awwal 1434/ 01 January 2014 (IINA) – Iyad Madani took over on Wednesday as the 10th Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

He succeeds Turkey’s Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who served as the head of the 57-member grouping of Islamic countries for nine years. Addressing a function at the headquarters of the OIC on the occasion, Madani thanked the member countries for the trust reposed in him to lead the pan-Islamic body over the next five years. He also thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Saudi Arabia for nominating him to the prestigious post. “I would strive to translate this trust into action through exerting relentless efforts to serve the Muslim Ummah and their genuine causes,” he said.

Earlier, addressing a function held to bid farewell Ihsanoglu, Madani emphasized that the OIC “is living in a multi-polar world and needs to adjust to that reality.” He noted that all the past secretaries general contributed to the OIC in accordance with the dynamics of his time and that the OIC would continue to remember their contributions and tireless efforts.

The 12th Islamic Summit held in Cairo in February 2013 elected Madani as the new secretary-general of the organization. Madani, who is the first Saudi to fill this key post, served as minister of Haj and minister of culture and information until 2009. Madani was appointed chairman of the board of directors of Knowledge Economic City in March 2012. He also served as vice president of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Foundation for Housing Development. Madani was the first editor-in-chief of Saudi Gazette newspaper.

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Mu’tah University wins ALECSO Award for ‎creativity

Karak, Dec. 29 (Petra) – Mu’tah University has won the award for ‎creativity and technical innovation for young researchers in the Arab World, granted by the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO).

The award, granted during the Arab Forum for Scientific Research and Sustainable Development hosted by ALESCO in Tunis, was given to the University for the research carried out by Professor Mohammad Dabbas in the field of renewable energy.

Dabbas told Petra on Sunday that the research tackles the use of solar evaporating cooler to generate power and electricity based on a renewable energy source.

He added that the research, based on locally registered patents, aims at serving the Jordanian Desert in producing power.

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Opick holds charity concert for Palestine in Aceh

Banda Aceh, Aceh Darussalam January 5 2014 (ANTARA News) – Aunur Rofiq Lil Firdaus (Opick), Indonesian singer and writer of Islamic songs, held a charity concert for Palestine here on Sunday.

“Palestinian people needs help from all over the world including from Aceh,” he told thousands of his audience.

Opick sang a number of religious songs, and between the songs he explained about the suffering of Palestinian people.

The organizing committee collected at least Rp900 million and some goods from the concert.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has called on Indonesia to increase its contribution as the agency is facing a funding shortfall of US$37 million until the end of the year, an UNRWA spokesperson has said.

“If funds are not forthcoming, we will not be able to pay the salaries of teachers, medical personnel, social workers and other staff in December, which will bring our operations to a standstill,” Esther Kuish Laroche, the chief of UNRWAs Donor Relations Division, said in her keynote speech at the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in Jakarta on Thursday.

She noted that the Indonesian government had, in 2012, increased its contribution to UNRWA from US$20 thousand to US$100 thousand.

“We are grateful for that. On this day of solidarity, I would like to call upon your generosity to further increase Indonesias support. I look forward to seeing our relationship deepen and grow further,” Esther Kuish, who is based in Jerusalem, added, while praising Indonesia for its solidarity with the Palestinians for several decades.

She said the Palestinian refugee population has grown from 750,000 to more than five million people living across Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank. (*)

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MAS Establishes Code-sharing With Ethiopian Airlines

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 (Bernama) — Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Ethiopian Airlines will be establishing a code-sharing pact that will take effect from Jan 1, 2014, which will provide access to the national carrier to Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.

MAS said the new code-share is valid for booking.

The code-sharing arrangement will see the Ethiopian Airlines’ flying from Addis Ababa, the largest city in Ethiopia, to Kuala Lumpur and vice-versa, carrying the MAS flight code.

The service will include a transit in Bangkok, MAS said in a statement.

“MAS is very pleased to offer our customers an extended reach to the African continent and to the customers of Ethiopian Airlines access to Kuala Lumpur.

“This is also our initiative towards enhancing air connectivity with key priority markets overseas for increased tourist arrivals into Malaysia in conjunction with the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign,” said MAS’ Group Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.

Through this partnership, MAS can expand its reach in Africa without operating its own flights, Ahmad Jauhari said.

“As one of the most affordable tourist destinations in the Asia-Pacific region, we are confident that more tourists from the African region will use this code-share and visit Malaysia,” he added.

MAS flight MH9489 will depart Kuala Lumpur at 11.25 pm every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and arrive at Addis Ababa at 6.45 am the following day.

Meanwhile, MH9488 will depart Addis Ababa at 12.40 am every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and arrive at Kuala Lumpur at 6 pm on the ame day.

The Ethiopian Airlines code for this service is ET619 and ET618, respectively.

To promote this code-share, MAS is now offering attractive all inclusive return fares to Addis Ababa starting from RM3,885 for economy class travel and RM13,170 for Business class travel.

Travellers can book their tickets to Addis Ababa on MAS 24-hour toll-free number 1-300-88-3000, MAS’ ticket offices and appointed agents throughout Malaysia.

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Malaysia To Spread Its Wings Further On Global Map

By Nor Baizura Basri

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 (Bernama) — Malaysia, which continued to spread its wings and presence especially in the international arena this year, is expected to flourish further come 2014.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s presence at international economic forums such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) in January, as well as, World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in October, have further boosted the country’s image on the global landscape.

During WEF in Davos, Switzerland, Najib, who is also Finance Minister, together with several Cabinet ministers, presented and marketed Malaysia’s success stories, which were mostly driven by the country’s transformation programmes.

Since the implementation of these programmes, Malaysia has successfully attracted increased investments to its shores while stepping up investments abroad, value of the stocks and employment.

Besides, Najib also presented the business community with the country’s aspiration to become a high-income economy by 2020 with a per capital income of US$15,000.

The per capital income jumped to US$9,750 by end-2012 from US$6,700 four years ago, he said.

“We presented all these as one package to the international community at the WEF here. There is no other platform as big and strategic as WEF,” he said at the end of the trip.

Najib said at ‘Malaysia Night’, the culmination of the country’s participation in the WEF, investors saw a ‘shadow’ of what investors could enjoy and achieve if they were to visit Malaysia, what more if they decided to invest in the country.

“In gloomy conditions, especially in Europe and the United States, Malaysia is one of the few places that radiates success in managing its economy which brings about the transformation which we promised,” he said.

In London, the prime minister wooed foreign investors with Malaysia’s capabilities in Islamic banking and finance.

That made the city, which is among the biggest financial markets in the world, to take bold steps into the Islamic finance landscape.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said London wants to become the hub for Islamic finance outside the Muslim world.

“I don’t just want London to be a great capital of Islamic finance in the Western world. I want London to stand alongside Dubai and Kuala Lumpur as one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world,” he said.

To further prove his commitments, he announced several moves including becoming the first sovereign outside the Islamic world to issue sukuk, the creation of new Islamic indices on the London Stock Exchange Group, as well as, offering ten new Chevening Scholarships for Islamic finance for 2014-2015 period.

That, of course, did not come out blindly. It was proof of a stronger bond and relationship between Malaysia and Britain that has grown over the years.

Not only that, Cameron also praised and commended Najib on promoting moderation against extremism.

“Prime Minister Najib is a newly re-elected leader whose pioneering Global Movement of Moderates is uniting and inspiring people across the world in the fight against extremism and whose commitment to business with Britain is delivering millions of pounds of new investment and hundreds of new jobs here and in Malaysia,” he said.

This has certainly boosted existing ties between the two countries and taken it to another level since 2011 compared with the “benign neglect” level between 1997 and 2010.

Meanwhile, in terms of ranking, Malaysia has set another record this year, being the only Muslim country among the top 10 global economies in terms of ease of doing business.

According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2014 report, Malaysia jumped to sixth position in the ease of doing business from 12th previously among the 189 economies in the World Bank’s report.

This, according to the Prime Minister, was due to the effectiveness of the government’s reform programmes.

Due to several fiscal consolidation moves by the government, international rating agencies such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s also revised their ratings to “positive” and “stable”, respectively, on Malaysia’s sovereign rating.

Turning back to the regional front, Malaysia has been very committed in Asean’s regional integration in 2015 with 88 per cent of the measures already implemented.

With another year to go, certainly Malaysia has the tenacity and the drive to make the Asean Economic Community (AEC) a reality.

AEC, with a population of 600 million, will become the next growth driver for Asean member countries as they become a single market and production base.

Asean will then become a highly competitive economic region, a region of equitable economic development, and a region fully integrated into the global economy, attracting possible investments around the world.

This AEC would also transform Asean into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour and freer flow of capital.

3M Malaysia Sdn Bhd Managing Director Michael Wu said moving forward to 2014, the company was confident Malaysian businesses would seek to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the global market.

This included continued growth in demand in the key fields of oil and gas, electronics, automotive, metal fabrication, consumer and healthcare.

“Malaysia must also recognise the emerging strength of the automotive industries of our neighbours in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. We must be able to compete with them especially with their participation in the AEC,” he told Bernama.

With the wealth of opportunities to be found within these industries alone, he said Malaysia would be able to significantly enhance both its productivity as well as position along industry supply chains so as to move the country towards gaining significantly higher value.

“Innovation will be the key that allows the nation to unlock this untapped potential and 3M is ready to partner both the Malaysian government, as well as, private enterprises to achieve our nation’s goal of becoming a successful, developed and high-income nation,” Wu added.

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Malay Village Communities Must Revive, Preserve Silat

JERTEH, Dec 26 (Bernama) — The National Culture and Arts Department, Terengganu has called on Malay village communities to help revive the traditional Malay martial art of silat among their younger generation.

This is to ensure that the nation’s cultural treasures are not forgotten or cease to exist in this technologically advanced modern era.

Its director Zaifri Hussin said silat, which was the pride of the Malay community, should return to its former glory to enliven village life.

He said with the advent of the cyber world now, much of the Malay culture and arts had been neglected and forgotten, and their possible extinction, therefore, viewed seriously.

“The National Culture and Arts Department will ensure that the various forms of silat such as silat tari, silat tongkat, silat pulut, silat gayong, silat gajah and so on will be continued by the young generation.”

Zaifri said this when closing a Silat Tari Jatuh training session participated by 53 children, aged six to 16, in Kampung Durian Telur, Hulu Besut, here, Thursday.

In this regard, he said his department would assist any village seeking to establish an association to promote silat among the younger generation from next year.

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First British Muslim policewoman honoured

London, Sunday, 04 Rabi Al-Awwal 1434/ 05 January 2014 (IINA) – The Queen New Year Honours’ List has brought good news to British Muslims, including the name of the country’s first female officer.

“I’m honoured to receive this award for the work I do,” Nikki Hubbard, a detective constable with the Metropolitan Police in Westminster, who was honoured for her services to charity in the New Year Honours’ List, told Get Surrey. “I love being in the police and making a difference,” she said. Appointed MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE)), Hubbard become the first female Muslim police officer to be included in the Queen’s Honours. “As a first generation Muslim woman I can see how important it is that everyone in society is represented,” she added. “It is through my work with the police that I have become involved in setting up the survivors network for victims of honour based violence.” Running a private management business, Hubbard shifted her career in 2006 to join the police.

Completing her initial training, Hubbard worked for the Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) lead for honour based violence and forced marriages (HBV). She helped develop the national police response to HBV. She also worked closely with the ACPO lead on domestic abuse, and sat on a steering group for violence on women’s strategy and tackling perpetrators. Following the murder of Banaz Mahmod in south London in 2006, Hubbard produced a training DVD called Her Choice, Your Duty to Protect, which was ratified by ACPO and used as a national police training tool. She was also instrumental in setting up the Karma Nirvana’s Survivors Network.

Away from her police career, Hubbard is a trustee for the Development In Literacy Trust UK, the charity which supports schools in UK and Pakistan. “Outside of work I am a champion for raising awareness about breast cancer amongst Asian women, which I became involved with because of the impact the disease has had on my family,” she said. The trust focuses on girls’ education, as well as supporting mothers whose children are failing in education and funding projects for terminally ill children. Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million.

In July 2012, a report by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex found that Muslims are the most likely of all groups to be identified with the concept of ‘Britishness.’ In 2011, think tank Demo found that Muslims in the United Kingdom are more patriotic than the rest of population. Responding to the statement “I am proud to be a British citizen”, 83% of Muslims said they are proud of being British. The percentage came higher than average across the population which scored only 79%.

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