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5 May, 2014

Astana hosts first Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Shamsi

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 05 May 2014 (06 Rajab 1435). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.



The tragedy of MH370 has led to a decline in visitors from China to Malaysia. The Islamic world can help make up for the shortfall. Supporting Malaysia in these difficult days must be an Islamic imperative. Take your next holiday or organise your next business event in Malaysia and make a small contribution towards helping the country mitigate the potentially wider economic impact of the tragedy.


The Islamic Tourism Centre in Malaysia has launched a vibrant new website presenting Malaysia as a prime destination for Islamic tourism and a global halal hub. The website offers a wealth of information on Mosque trails, Islamic Museums, Ramadan & Eid-ul Fitr, Muslim-Friendly Tour Highlights, as well as a Muslim Visitor’s Guide, Halal Directory and Souvenirs Directory. Located strategically at the heart of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is well-known for its natural beauty and diverse cultural landscape. At its social core are three of Asia’s oldest civilisations – Malay, Chinese and Indian – as well as the ethnic communities of Sabah and Sarawak, resulting in a unique and inspiring blend of cultures. With an abundance of halal food, prayer facilities and Islamic attractions, Malaysia perfectly caters to the needs of Muslim travellers. The ITC plays a pivotal role in bringing Malaysia to the forefront of Islamic tourism. It works with industry players to build their capacity in Islamic tourism, thus ensuring that the needs of Muslim visitors are better served. ITC has also taken several initiatives in standardising industry’s best practices through research, seminars, workshops and industry outreach programmes. Now is the perfect time to experience the country’s multitude of Muslim-friendly tourism products – Islamic architectural heritage, halal gastronomic delights, vibrant Islamic festivals and world-class Islamic events – all guaranteed to give visitors an incredible time.

Click here to see the fabulous new 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.





Colourful kites of all sizes and shapes including the famous traditional Kelantanese ‘wau’ will dominate the sky for the 32nd Kelantan International Kite Festival 2014!

This annual 4-day festival draws local and international kite fliers from as far as Belgium, China, Germany and Japan. Check out the highlights of the event such as beach soccer competition, kite-making contest, “dikir barat” competition and silat demonstration. Be “wau”ed and more!

Organiser: Kelantan Tourism Information Center (TIC)

Date: 28 – 31 May 2014

Venue: Pantai Geting beach, Tumpat, Kelantan

Contact: www.tic.kelantan.gov.my

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Be Wowed By “Wau” In Malaysia

“Ewa Bule, Ewa Bule..

Ewa Bule teraju tigo…

Ini male samo-samo…

Samo-samo bersuko rio…”

(In English Translation)

“Wau Bulan” is a specially shaped kite

Teraju Tiga” describes the 3 strings attached to the body of the kite, joined to a single string for flying

Tonight, all of us together

Together, we all have a good time

“Wau” or kite, a very popular traditional game in Malaysia existed since time immemorial. This game is mostly played in the East Coast of the country. “Wau” is so popular that there is a folk song dedicated to “wau” called “Ewa Bule” which is normally sung in “Dikir Barat” style. The song depicts “wau” as a rich cultural heritage of the Malay community and together both “wau” and the art of “Dikir Barat” music are steeped in Malay tradition.

They may look like a kite but the creation of “wau” is much more complicated and delicate. Complementing the song, “teraju tiga” or the three joined strings to each edge on the kite are synonymous with the “Wau Bulan” or moon-shaped kite which magnificently flies through the open sky.

Origin of “Wau”

“Wau” is known as kite of the West Coast states of Malaysia and is also favoured and played in other areas such as Terengganu, Kedah, Perlis and Johor. Kites were played by the Malays from the common people to the royal families since the 15th Century. “Wau” is believed to bring the spirit of wind and sky beyond time.

The word “Wau” itself, however, was derived from the Thailand word and since then, the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Perlis and Kedah adopted this word. Nevertheless, most of the other states in Malaysia use the word, “kite” to refer to the “wau” game. Even so, the character of the kite remains the same.

Just like kite, “wau” is usually played by two people at a time. One will hold the kite while another one called “juru anjung” or the controller will hold the rope. At the time when the wind blows, the “juru anjung” will be pulling the strings against the wind by means of stretching and pulling the rope until the kite was successfully flown. “Wau” looks fascinating when its colourful surface sparkles against the sun?s rays.

Types of Wau

“Wau Bulan” is the most popular and favourite type of “wau” in the Malay community. The upper side of the “wau” looks like a crescent while the tail is shaped like a semi-circle. The other reason why it is referred to as “Wau Bulan” by the society is its appearance like the moon flying high and its size which is definitely larger than other kites. Apart from that, the popularity of “Wau Kucing” is comparable to “Wau Bulan”. Obviously, it has got its nickname through the resemblance of the kite with cat. The bow will be mounted on top of “Wau Kucing” so that it will release a loud humming sound like a cat when it flies in the air. According to the myth, “Wau Kucing” is believed to have the power to scare away evil spirits and it could predict the weather forecast for the next day.

“Wau Jala Budi” on the other hand, is much popular in the state of Kedah. The uniqueness of this kite is by the name itself, “Wau Jala Budi” which was named after a leaf found in Kedah called „Budi? leaf. The upper part of the “wau” is similar to “Budi” leaf and the word “Jala” or net refers to the structure of the tail, the lower part of the “Wau Jala Budi”. However, the basic shape of this “wau” was inspired by the shape of a woman?s body viewed from the back. The “Jala Budi” produces a medium buzzing and humming drone where the bow is located at the head of the kite.

“Wau Merak” is somehow different from Wau Helang. “Wau Merak” has a longer tail and it was named after the peacock. This “wau” is popular among the Bugis community in Malaysia and believed to be originated from Sulawesi and known as “Layang-Layang Kipas” in Indonesia. “Wau Merak” is special due to its bow that will release a high-pitched sound like a peacock. Interestingly, it was originally played at night and produced varied rhythm or seven sounds. “Wau Seri Bulan” is another famous wau that has been played for generations in the state of Perak. There are many similarities between “Wau Seri Bulan” with “Wau Bulan” except for its size that much smaller compared to “Wau Bulan”, which is the biggest “wau” among all. Another popular “wau” in Kelantan is “Wau Kangkang”. “Wau Kangkang” looks similar to “Wau Jala Budi” except for its tail which seems more divergent.

Although “wau” comes in all size and shape, the motifs and designs are adaptable to one another. The “wau” creator brings out the variety of patterns and bright colors concept through the use of flora and fauna motifs that would definitely amaze anyone who sees it.

Wau Activities

There are various types of “wau” activities that have been created for Wau Helang, Wau Pari, Wau Katak, Wau Lenggang Kebayan, Wau Sewah and the popular, Wau Bulan.

Nowadays, “wau” activities are not just being played by the local community but also by visitors to Malaysia who love and appreciate the culture and tradition of Malaysia. In fact, “wau” has spread its wings to the international stage. Competitions are held annually such as The World Kite Festival in Pasir Gudang, Johor, and the Kelantan International Kite Festival. The judging of the kite competition will be based on the beauty of the “wau”, the height of the “wau” when flown in the sky, the musical sounds it produces and the way it is played.

A Valuable Heritage

Malaysia is rich in heritage and traditional values. Traditional games like Wau, Sepak Raga, Congkak, Gasing, and Batu Seremban have become hereditary games for centuries. With renewed efforts to promote the traditional games, Malaysia will continue to keep the fascination of “wau” alive. Make this Visit Malaysia Year 2014 the perfect time to be “wowed” by “wau” during your holiday here in Malaysia.

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Top Pakistani calligraphers impress art lovers in Jeddah

JEDDAH, 3 May 2014, Arab News – Over 200 paintings of 34 Pakistani Arabic calligraphers have drawn widespread praise at an exhibition here on Thursday.

The four-day exhibition was opened by Najia Aizaz Ahmed, the wife of the Pakistan foreign affairs secretary, and Hamida Alireza, an arts and crafts promoter in Saudi Arabia.

Those present included Pakistan Consul General Aftab Ahmed Khokher and his wife Afshan Khokher. The Pakistan consulate in Jeddah organized the event with Abdullah Omar Naseef, the World Muslim Congress chief.

Najia Ahmed told Arab News she was extremely impressed with the work of the Pakistani artists and hoped they would get worldwide recognition. She said they made Pakistan proud.

Khokher said the event was important because it showcased the heritage and identity of Pakistan. He said it was the duty of Pakistani and Saudi citizens to promote Islamic calligraphy at home and abroad.

Twelve prominent Pakistani artists were present, including Iqbal Ibn-e-Kaleem, Irfan Ahmed Khan, Hafiz Anjum Mahmood, Malik Muhammad, Abdul Rehman, Nasir Mehmood, Muhammed Ashraf Heera, Abdul Rasheed, Abdul Razaq, Maqsood Ali Lashari, Mussarat Arif, Hassan Kashigar, Malik M. Abdul Rehman and Muhammed Asghar Ali.

Khan, who is a senior calligrapher, told Arab News that there was a need to promote greater understanding of the art. He said modern artists are now adding their own touch to this centuries-old art form.

He also encouraged educational institutions to teach calligraphy, saying governments in other countries support their artists.

Najia Ahmed displayed a painting with four different types of Arabic calligraphy using verses from the Holy Qur’an.

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First Workshop To Develop Malaysian Aerospace Industry Blueprint 2015-2030

PUTRAJAYA, 28 April (Bernama) — The Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) today organised a workshop with key stakeholders consisting of leaders in the aerospace industry, regulatory agencies, education and training providers as well as related government agencies for the development of the Malaysian Aerospace Industry Blueprint 2015-2030.

As the first blueprint is expected to end this year, the one day workshop seeks to identify the drivers, trends, issues and challenges faced by the industry with MIGHT championing the development of the new blueprint which will serve as the main source of reference for industry planning beyond 2020.

The new blueprint will involve a macro plan with specific recommendations on capability development based on current industry gap, government procurement options emphasizing on local content, offset requirements for transfer of technology and market penetration; Foreign Direct Investment and Domestic Direct Investment strategies based on positioning in global supply chain; human capital development based on actual industry needs as well as Research and Technology activities to remain competitive.

Additionally, by leveraging on the participations from relevant government agencies, industry and academia in the development of the new blueprint, it is targeted that the new blueprint will generate new Entry Point Projects (EPPs) and future national projects.

The first National Aerospace Blueprint launched in 1997 charts a long term development plan to transform Malaysia’s aerospace industry into a dynamic regional and international aerospace player by 2015 via the implementation of the 45 recommendations. To date, more than 75 percent of the recommendations outlined in the blueprint have been implemented.

Under the Economic Transformation Plan, the government has identified the aerospace industry to be exploited by aiming to capture 5 percent of the global market share of the aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) business. In recent years, the growing market in aerospace manufacturing, MRO, training & education and avionic & system integration has also contributed to the increase in aerospace industry investment.

The Malaysian Aerospace Industry Blueprint 2015-2030 is expected to be launched during the next Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition (LIMA) in 2015 and series of workshops, consultations and engagements for the development of the said document will follow towards the expected launch date.

The Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department. MIGHT plays a key role in developing Malaysia’s high technology for business through its role as a think-tank, private-public consensus building and business nurturing platforms. It is an organisation built on the strength of public-private partnership with more than 100 members, both local and international, from industry, government and academia.

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Promoting Saharan Tourism Will Help Algeria’s Economic Development

EL-OUED, ALGERIA, April 28 (NNN-APS) — The need for promoting desert tourism to contribute to economic developmentin Algeria has been highlighted by participants of a meeting held on the theme “Saharan tourism: Between potential and constraints”, held in this northeastern Algerian city on Sunday.

The speakers, who included teachers and university researchers across the country, stressed the need to promote Saharan tourism as an important niche activity in the development of the national economy, and segment seeking mechanisms designed to make a product with international standards.

In this context, they highlighted the “operational efficiency of advertising and marketing to promote the tourism product, key factor to the economic development”.

Referring to the diversity of existing tourism potential in the southern regions of the country, even become popular tourist destinations, participants called for a considered strategy to enhance this diversity to promote Saharan tourism. — NNN-APS

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Etihad Airways Boosts Flights To Key Destinations In The Middle East

29 April 2014 – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will increase its services to Beirut and Amman from 18 flights per week to triple daily from 2 July 2014.

The additional flights, which build on the success of the existing service, will add over 800 seats per week between Abu Dhabi and the two Arab capitals. The flights will be operated by an A320 aircraft fitted with 16 Pearl Business Class seats and 120 Coral Economy Class seats.

With the additional services, guests will now have greater flexibility to choose from conveniently timed flights when travelling between these major cities.

The services to Beirut will improve connections via the Abu Dhabi hub to key destinations in Asia and Australia, including Manila, Sydney and Melbourne. While the new services to the Jordanian capital will improve connectivity to a number of popular destinations for Jordanian travellers including Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Jakarta and Sydney.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “The Middle East network has been performing strongly. This increase in our services is indicative of the huge confidence we have in this important regional market.

“We have steadily increased frequencies on both routes in line with strong demand, not only to the capital of the UAE, but also via Abu Dhabi to and from key destinations in Asia and Australia.

Etihad Airways started its operations to Beirut in November 2003, the airline’s first commercial route followed by services to the Jordanian capital Amman in December 2003 and has carried 2.1 million travellers since then on both routes.

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Turkmens register pure-bred Akhal-Teke horses

CentralAsiaOnline, 2014-04-28, ASHGABAT – The state-run organisation Turkmen Altary is continuing to register and implant chips in new-born horses of the prized Akhal-Teke breed, the State News Agency of Turkmenistan reported April 22.

The private owners of more than 1,000 pure-bred Akhal-Teke horses will receive documents certifying their animals, which the government will put on a pedigree list.

Registration and chip implants will enable Turkmenistan to keep improving the Akhal-Teke breed, Turkmen Altary zoologist Kakaly Sejitmuradov said April 24. Turkmenistan celebrates Horse Day on the last Sunday in April.

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Saudia launches non-stop flights Riyadh-Los Angeles

Saudia, Saudi Arabian Airlines celebrated a historic moment with the launch of direct services to Los Angeles March 31. Saudia is the only airline to operate non-stop flights between Saudi Arabia and the United States and Canada.

The inaugural flight took off in a new Boeing 777-300 Extended Range aircraft, equipped with 24 seats in First Class, 36 in Business Class and 245 in Economy Class (called Guest Class). The flight flew directly from Riyadh (RUH) with a stop in Jeddah (JED) and arrived at Tom Bradley International Terminal at 9:50 a.m., 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Saudia operates more than 500 flights daily to more than 80 destinations and is placed sixth among world airlines in terms of on-time performance by FlightStats.

The new flights from Los Angeles to Jeddah are part of Saudia’s plan to expand its operations worldwide and modernize its domestic and international fleet. LAX is Saudia’s third U.S. destination and the fourth in North America.

The non-stop service to Los Angeles also reflects the growing relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States. “The flight will meet the demand of growing passenger traffic between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia,” said Dr. Faisal Al-Sudariy, Saudi Consul General in Los Angeles.

Prior to the new Saudia flights, inbound travelers had to transit via Washington D.C. or New York.

Saudia offers three weekly flights Monday, Thursday and Saturday, from Los Angeles (LAX) to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. From Jeddah, there are convenient connections to Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

The Boeing 777-300 ER features a true First Class with on-demand executive meals, 180-degree lie-flat seats and up to 23-inch entertainment screens. Business Class offers passengers Arabic coffees, juices and fine-dining meals. The reclining seats are perfect for sleep or relaxing in front of the 15-inch entertainment screens. All guests are given GT award-winning amenity kits to keep them comfortable throughout the almost 17-hour flight. As part of the celebration for the new Los Angeles flight, members of Saudia’s Alfursan frequent-flyer program will earn double miles March 31 to May 31.

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Hamad International Airport Opens Gates to First Passengers

DOHA, Qatar, May 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Qatar’s new Hamad International Airport (HIA) extended its jetways today to welcome arriving passengers for the first time to the world’s newest aviation hub. A press conference was held earlier today at the HIA passenger terminal to mark the soft launch of the airport. The event was attended by Mr. Jassim Saif Ahmed Al Sulaiti, Minister of Transport, members of the New Doha International Airport (NDIA) Steering Committee, guests and members of the press.

A Qatar Airways flight was the first to officially land on the East Runway. The flight carried the Minister of Transport, the board members of the Steering Committee of NDIA and other delegates and received a Water Salute by the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority Rescue Fire Fighting Services.

Starting today, ten carriers commenced operations out of the new passenger terminal at HIA, with the remaining carriers, including national carrier Qatar Airways, expected to move to the new airport by 27th May 2014.

“HIA is a world-class aviation hub purpose-built to cater to rapidly evolving aviation and passenger needs of the 21st century,” said Mr. Abdul Aziz Mohammad Al-Noaimi, Chairman of the NDIA Steering Committee. “In fact, its capacity on opening day will be 30 million annual passengers, which is more than the initial plan. Initial capacity was expanded to accommodate the increased transit growth in Qatar over the course of the past decade,” he added.

HIA and Airport City (together comprising the NDIA project) span 29 square kilometres, 60% on land reclaimed from the Arabian Gulf. The project includes 100 buildings of various uses. The Passenger Terminal features a massive internal area of 600,000 square meters and has 3 concourses and 33 contact gates, which will subsequently be increased to five concourses and 65 contact gates, including eight for the A380, in the final build-out.

Once fully open, the terminal also features 16 lounges, 26 art installations, more than 100 F&B and retail outlets, a transit hotel, a swimming pool, a luxury spa, squash courts and a four-storey catering facility that is one of the largest in the world. The on-site public mosque can accommodate 500 worshippers at prayer time.

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Astana hosts first Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting

1 May 2014, ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN – Delegates started arriving today at the Palace of Independence in Astana, Kazakhstan to register for the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) 47th Annual Meeting of its Board of Governors. The meeting begins 2 May and runs through 5 May.

More than 3,000 delegates, including top policymakers, business leaders, media, academics, civil society, and development institution representatives are set to attend the meeting.

The Government of Kazakhstan is hosting ADB’s Annual Meeting for the first time and the theme of the gathering is “The Silk Road: Connecting Asia with a Changing World.”

During the meeting, ADB President Takehiko Nakao will discuss the midterm review of the Bank’s long-term strategy, Strategy 2020. The midterm review will sharpen and realign ADB’s operational focus in light of the emerging challenges in a transforming region, including ongoing poverty and rising inequality, environmental pressures, and the needs of middle-income countries.

Delegates will also discuss a range of topics including improving connectivity, trade, and innovation in the region, the future for the Millennium Development Goals, and how to foster closer links with the private sector.

This year’s Governors’ Seminar, Reducing Vulnerability: Learning from Past Crises, will look at the lessons from past economic downturns and ways the region can better protect itself against future crises, particularly as closer regional and global economic links mean problems can be quickly transmitted from one country to another.

Participants at the Governors’ Seminar include Mr. Nakao; Muhamad Chatib Basri, Indonesia’s Minister of Finance; Erbolat Dossaev, Minister of Economy and Budget Planning in Kazakhstan; and Arvind Mayaram, India’s Finance Secretary.

Featured panelists at other seminars represent the International Monetary Fund, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

A CNBC debate on Asia’s economic outlook with high-level discussants will take place on 2 May. Representatives of ASEAN+3, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the People’s Republic of China, Japan and Republic of Korea, will also hold discussions during ADB’s Annual Meeting.

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Hassan Khan contemporises classical Arab music at Cairo finale

Cairo, AlAlhram Online, 1 May 2014 – Hassan Khan’s Taraban, performed at Falaki Theatre on Saturday 26 April, drew the curtain on his month-long Cairo showcase of two decades of creativity. The concert placed songs by Sheikh Yousef El-Manyalawy (1847-1911) in a new, contemporary setting.

Perhaps because classical Arab songs were merely points of departure for Khan’s performance, it would make sense that the general feel of them was different. Despite the more modern character of Taraban as a performance, the idea of improvisation is actually very closely linked to the Tarab or classical Arabic music of El-Manyalawy.

The concert was also the final stop on a month-long trail of Khan’s work, starting with an exhibition in downtown Cairo, supplemented by a series of talks, exhibition walk-throughs – featuring performances and site-specific projects, sculptures, photographs, videos, and writings – and a seminar. The events were co-organised by Beth Stryker (CLUSTER) and the AUC Sharjah Art Gallery as part of AUC_LAB, in collaboration with the third edition of D-CAF.

Khan’s interdisciplinary art projects are born out of dynamic methods of artistic production that entail research, observation, chance interactions, memories, dreams, and engagement with culture. In the Cairo showcase, it was obvious how the artist relies on the past (his own, his culture’s) in his production of something new.

It becomes natural then that the artist’s musical performances combine live improvisation with old compositions. This time his source was two classical Arabic songs by religious chanter and singer, Yousef El-Manyalawy. The process of arranging the compositions included numerous steps which allowed Khan to contemporise the Tarab staples, giving them an electronic imprint.

Together with classical musicians who play oud, qanoun, violin and riqq, Khan dissected their phrases and passages, before reconfiguring and restructuring them in the studio. The new renditions were recorded over a series of sessions, and transfered to Khan’s computer and then to the main mixer. He then used his own electronic system, which features a battery of feed backing mixers, filters, processors, laptop manipulators, virtual synthesisers and live mikes, which he built and has been using over the past decade. Dialogue between the pre-recorded elements and the on-site improvisation created a re-articulation of the original pieces, conjuring up a unique experience for the audience.

“Somehow the whole concert is born between the interface of these two different approaches to sound and music,” Khan said from the stage on the night of the performance.

Yousef El-Manyalawy was a key figure during Egyptian music’s renaissance, whose main impact lasted from the late nineteenth century to the 1930s. El-Manyalawy, a pioneer in his own right, was among the first singers to record on Shellac discs, or gramophone records, almost a century ago.

“There was an actual act of composition, based on something that existed before,” Khan explained.

This performance took place in a rather dramatic setting. A large rectangular table drenched in wires stood between Khan and the audience seated on the theatre’s tomato-red chairs.

Khan was animated throughout the concert, barely standing still for longer than a few seconds. At times it almost seemed that he was preparing music in front of one’s eyes, and you could imagine the mixer as a stove, onto which the artist was mixing ingredients. Khan cooked up a rapturous meal for the ears.

El-Manyalawy’s ensemble was composed of six musicians. Their performances were characterised by an intimate relationship with the audience, with a trance or enchantment taking place throughout the concert. It looked lonely for Khan up there, by comparison, and the congenial relationship with the audience was lost.

Revisiting classical Arabic music, Khan’s performance preserved some of its elements (such as improvisation) and discarded others, ultimately creating a thoroughly enjoyable, albeit slightly overpowering performance.

Together with the large survey show and the series of footnote events running in April, this concert helped to affirm Hassan Khan’s place as a pioneering influence in Egypt’s contemporary art scene, particularly in the fields of experimental music and video.

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Bali & Beyond Travel Fair to be held June 10-14

Jakarta, Antara, 2014-05-02 – The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry is expecting the Bali and Beyond Travel Fair (BBTF) to help spread tourism outside Bali. Esthy Reko Astuti, the ministry’s director general for marketing, said the travel fair would be very important as a catalyst to enhance tourism in other parts of Indonesia.

The BBTF, to be held in Kuta and Nusa Dua from June 10 through June 14, is jointly organized by the ministry, the provincial administration, Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board (BPPI), the Indonesian Tour and Travel Agency Association (ASITA) and related tourism associations.

“The BBTF will promote destinations beyond Bali and it is aimed at attracting tourists to those places,” said Astuti.

Indonesia has tremendous tourism potential in locations that need to be promoted as new destinations. “People only know about Bali and millions of tourists vacation here on the island every year,” she said.

The BBTF, she said, should be developed to become Indonesia’s top tourism and travel fair to lure domestic and international agencies and buyers to participate in the event.

ASITA chairman Ketut Ardana added that the BBTF was designed as a large-scale tourism and travel fair for Indonesia. “No other tourism and travel fair will attract as many buyers and participants as the BBTF,” Ardana said.

The organizer had targeted 500 participants comprising 100 foreign buyers, 200 domestic sellers and 200 domestic buyers. Up to the present, around 300 sellers and 350 foreign and domestic buyers were already registered.

BBTF venues will be spread across two major sites. Business to business meetings will be held in Nusa Dua, while the expo and exhibition will be held in Kuta.

Krisna Teja, who focuses on the Australian market, said the BBTF would enrich tour packages offered to the Australian tourist market. “Many Australian tourists love to take adventurous trips beyond Bali. The BBTF will be the right answer to meet this demand,” Teja said.

Komang Takuaki Banuartha, who focuses on the Japanese market, explained that Japanese tourists had been attracted to Bali.

“But we have rarely promoted other destinations in Indonesia to the Japanese market,” Banuartha said. “There has never been any concerted effort by certain agencies, including the governments, to promote Bali and Beyond in this market.”

The BBTF is expected to provide a forum for both buyers and sellers to meet and explore new opportunities to take tourists to various destinations within and outside Bali.

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Spanish King Concludes 3-Day Visit To Oman

MUSCAT, Oman, May 2 (NNN-ONA) – King Juan Carlos I of Spain left on Thursday, after an official three-day visit to the Sultanate, during which he was received by Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.

The king and his accompanying delegation were seen off at the Royal Airport by Sayyid Haitham Bin Tariq Al Said, Yousuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Dr Ali Bin Masoud Al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Head of the Mission of Honour, accompanying the king, Her Excellency, Kefaya Bint Khamis Al Ra’eesiyah, the Sultanate’s Ambassador to Spain, and members of the Spanish embassy in the Sultanate.

During his visit to the Sultanate, the king was accompanied by an official delegation, comprising Pedro Morenes, Minister of Defence, Ana Maria Pastor, Minister of Infrastructure, Jose Manuel Soria, Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism, Rafael Spottorno, Head of the House of the King, Juan Jose Urtasun, Ambassador of Spain to the Sultanate, Gonzalo De Benito, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Jaime Garcia Legaz, Secretary of State for Commerce, Manuel Nino, Secretary General for Infrastructure and a number of officials.– NNN-ONA

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Tunisia taps “Star Wars” to boost tourism

Tunis, AP, May 1, 2014 – Imperial stormtroopers marched through Tunisia’s capital on Wednesday as part of a new effort to attract tourists and burnish the image of the North African country.

Their parade ground was downtown Tunis’ stately, tree-lined Bourguiba Avenue, where young activists fought squads of riot police in 2011 during their Arab Spring revolution.

The parade was not a case of the empire striking back against the poster child for Arab democracy in North Africa, however, but part of an innovative new campaign to bring tourists back to the sunny nation.

The Tunisian National Office for Tourism has teamed up with the country’s own Star Wars fan club to stage its first Star Wars encounter in the country with participating fan clubs from Europe that will feature the parade in the capital and then film screenings and events in Tunisia’s deep south — home of the sets from several Star Wars movies.

“We did this campaign to take advantage of these sets which are unique in the world — the only sites from the movies remaining,” said Zied Chargui, director of the National Office of Tunisian Tourism and one of the brains behind the new efforts to attract tourism that go beyond subway billboards in European capitals.

The campaign began with Tunisia’s own video of recording artist Pharrell Williams’ wildly popular Happy song, featuring Star Wars characters dancing around Tunisian tourist sites and the sand-covered desert movie sets.

Read the rest: http://gulfnews.com/arts-entertainment/celebrity/tunisia-turns-to-star-wars-to-boost-tourism-1.1326676

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Morocco looks to welcome 20 million tourists by 2020

Global Arab Network – Morocco continues to pursue its plans under Vision 2020 to attract up to 20m tourists each year, bring total bed capacity to 375,000, create 17,000 new jobs and generate $17bn in annual revenues by 2020, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.

Recent results are promising, with the number of visitors for the first eight months of 2013 growing 6.76% year-on-year (y-o-y), to reach around 7m, and the country is looking to capitalise on the projected rise in the number of global international travelers in 2014, which is expected to increase by 4%.

As highlighted by the easing of demand from its biggest source markets to the north of the country, Morocco has been moving to diversify its links with other non-traditional countries in regions such as Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Gulf and Asia. The Moroccan Tourism Office (Office National Marocain du Tourisme, ONMT) is planning to set up an office in Brazil in a bid to attract 30,000 visitors each year from the South American country starting in 2014, as well as use its presence there as a base to reach out to the rest of Latin America.

Air links between both countries will be strengthened, and started with the first charter flight between Sao Paolo and Casablanca on November 1 as part of an agreement signed between the ONMT and a variety of Brazilian tour operators – notably Schultz, Flot, Raidho and Flytour, among others. National carrier Royal Air Maroc plans to launch three regular weekly flights starting in early December.

The ONMT is also looking to attract tourists from non-traditional markets in Europe. The number of visitors from the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, for instance, registered a y-o-y increase of 88%, 9% and 7%, respectively, in the first eight months of 2013. A recent agreement signed with Polish tour operator Itaka to boost charter flights to Agadir is expected to bring the number of tourists visiting the region of Souss to 129,000 by 2016. The Gulf is another potential source of visitors, and one that the government hopes will be increasingly important. To date, Saudi Arabia has been the largest market in the MENA region, accounting for more than 70,000 arrivals in 2012.

And while the European slowdown has highlighted the importance of bringing in a greater diversity of visitors, Morocco is still committed to attracting greater numbers of visitors from traditional European markets, which still accounts for more than 80% of tourists. It aims to double the number of British visitors by 2016 from its current 500,000 and is focusing on strengthening air links between both countries. At the World Travel Market held in London in early November, the ONMT signed a cooperation agreement with British tour operator Thomas Cook to launch flights to Agadir, in addition to its existing connections to Marrakech, Fes, Essaouira and Mazagan.

To accommodate the projected rise in arrivals, numerous plans are under way to expand hospitality infrastructure. Long-term initiatives under Vision 2020 include the government’s Plan Azur, which involves the development of six beachside resorts as part of a drive to boost sun-and-sand tourism, although the programme’s parameters were adjusted following the global financial crisis. In the more immediate future, the Ministry of Tourism is looking for investments amounting to Dh20bn (€1.7bn) in 2014 and would like to see the addition of nearly 18,000 beds next year.

The national Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development has traditionally been tasked with attracting investment into new tourism projects. However, as part of Vision 2020, sector development is being decentralised and shifted to regional authorities to increase their participation in determining tourism policy, management and devising offerings. Dedicated tourism development agencies will head each of the eight tourism regions identified under Vision 2020 and will gradually be established through 2018, absorbing existing delegations and regional councils.

This strategy is expected to boost competition from one region to another, and improve both the soft infrastructure for new investments as well as ensure that projects reflect the local competitive advantages. So far, 10 of the 16 administrative regions (as distinct from the Vision 2020 regions) have signed Regional Programme Contracts (Contrat Programme Régional, CPR) – an agreement between the Ministry of Tourism and local authorities outlining tourism development priorities.

These start with the Chaouia Ouardigha region in April 2013 where 92 projects have been identified, requiring investments of up to Dh8.9bn (€772.7m). The latest CPR to be signed was for the Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz region in October 2013 where 102 projects are set to be carried out. More than 90% of the required investment of Dh20.3bn (€1.8bn) will come from the private sector. Around 36,000 beds are expected to be added by 2020, bringing the region’s total bed capacity to 96,000.(OBG)

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Oman to pour billions into infrastructure sector

Global Arab Network – A programme by the Omani government to pour billions into infrastructure to help support long-term economic diversification is benefiting the Sultanate’s construction sector, which will likely see its order books filled for years to come, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.

According to Paula Boast, a partner at the Bahrain office of legal firm Trowers & Hamlins, which has advised on a number of construction projects in the Sultanate, prospects for the building industry are encouraging.

“The message coming out of Oman is positive,” she told a construction industry seminar on November 10. “There is a good mix of active projects and projects coming on-line. It is good to note that the focus has been on key areas like infrastructure – social, economic, and civil – tourism and utilities and support. Infrastructure is a necessity, it drives commerce and industry, promotes economic growth and will put Oman on the international map.”

The construction sector is expected to grow by 6.3% this year, according to Boast, significantly faster than the 5.1% rise in overall GDP that the IMF has projected for Oman in 2013.

It is in infrastructure where the Omani government is intending to make its largest investments over the coming years, with some $56bn worth of projects scheduled to be carried out between this year and 2017, and a further $56bn worth of developments through 2022.

The transport sector is set to be the biggest beneficiary of the construction push, with the 2244-km national rail grid the cornerstone of the infrastructure programme. Construction of the $15.6bn network, which will link up several major industrial hubs, as well as provide a connection to the planned GCC rail system, is expected to begin in the last quarter of 2014 and be completed in 2018.

Among the other major transport and logistics projects set to be built or completed over the coming years are a $5.2bn expansion of the Muscat and Salalah airports, and a further $3.2bn on road upgrades, while billions more are to be spent on developing the ports of Duqm and Sohar over the next few years. The hydrocarbons sector will also see increased investments, with high levels of spending intended to boost production at existing fields and bring new reserves on-line.

Though many of these projects will see work awarded to foreign contractors, some will be co-operating with local firms, with Omani construction companies also in line to win secondary contracts on the large-scale developments.

The higher flow of projects being pumped out through the capital works pipeline will also serve to benefit the construction materials segment of the industry. In anticipation of a rise in demand, the Sultanate’s two leading cement producers have announced plans to expand their facilities, with both Oman Cement and Raysut Cement looking to increase output by the end of the year.

Oman has experienced delays in some big infrastructure projects, including the on-going expansion of its airports. Increasing the workload could stretch the industry’s capacities and place heavy demands on materials suppliers, creating the possibility of further holdups and additional costs.

Moreover, with construction across the Gulf region regaining momentum after the slow-down in the wake of the global financial crisis, materials and labour costs will likely start to climb, fuelling inflation within the industry.

Despite this risk, Oman’s construction sector should be on an upward path for the better part of the next decade, with the state’s spending likely to build further growth in the wider economy.(OBG)

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Cultural melting pot ‘Café Clock’ opens in Marrakech

Marrakech, MAP, 30th April 2014 – Marrakech’s cultural scene grew richer with the opening of the “Café Clock”, a British idea to promote social interaction, a meeting place for artists and most of all a real cultural melting pot.

After the success of the Fez Café Clock, UK’s ambassador to Morocco Clive Alderton inaugurated on Saturday this second café with the attendance of figures from the sphere of culture and art.

The café, located in the Kasbah neighbourhood in Marrakech old medina, is meant to preserve the Jema el-Fnaa’s storytelling and oral tradition from dying out. It also offers cooking classes, Sunday Sunset Concerts, yoga sessions, movie screening, and calligraphy and belly-dancing courses.

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Twelve countries to take part in Majapahit Travel Fair

May 2 2014 Surabaya (ANTARA News) – At least 12 countries are expected to take part in the Majapahit Travel Fair 2014, which will be held on May 8-11 here to promote the tourism potential of East Java.

Chief of the Culture Service of East Javas Tourism Office Jarianto said here on Friday Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, China, Russia and Vietnam were among the 12 countries that will participate in the event.

“This year’s fair will be the fifteenth of its kind held by the East Java province at the Grand City Convex to promote its tourism potential,” he said. Jarianto explained that the event will offer tourism packages, hotels, airlines and small business products.

There will also be travel exchange activity at Hotel Bumi, Surabaya. “The travel exchange activity in 2013 succeeded in concluding transactions worth Rp38 billion. This year its target is Rp40 billion,” he added.

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More than 2.2 million tourists visit Indonesia in first quarter

May 2 2014, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – A total of 765,607 foreign tourists visited Indonesia in March, raising the number of tourist arrivals in the country in the first quarter to 2,221,352. This represented a 10.07 percent increase compared to the same period last year, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Mari Elka Pangestu said here on Friday.

The average monthly tourist arrivals of 740,000, which was a record, shored up the governments confidence to achieve the tourist arrival target of 9.3 million-9.5 million in 2014, she added.

“Tourist arrivals in the first three months of 2014 showed a positive trend, which is expected to continue until the end of the year. We are optimistic about exceeding the target of tourist arrivals in 2014,” she said.

Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) showed tourist arrivals through the three entry points of Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Ngurah Rai Airport and Batam grew 6,48 percent, 14.42 percent, and 7.50 percent, respectively, in the first quarter of 2014 as compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, the arrivals in the entry point of the Lombok International Airport in West Nusa Tenggara grew significantly by 214.7 percent, the Adisucipto Airport in Yogyakarta rose 44.0 percent, and the Husein Sastranegara Airport in Bandung increased 23.03 percent.

The number of tourist arrivals via the Lombok International Airport in the January-March 2014 quarter reached 15,954, led by Australian tourists of 4,962. “Most of the Australian tourists came by the Jetstar airlines, which recently started a Lombok-Perth flight route,” she said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia led tourist arrivals through the Husein Sastranegara Airport in Bandung in the first quarter, which reached 52,280.

Malaysian tourists also ranked first in the list of tourist arrivals via Adisucipto Airport in Yogyakarta, which reached 23,221, including 9,730 from Malaysia and 3,515 from Singapore. Most of the Malaysian and Singapore tourists traveled to Indonesia by low-cost airlines.

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Indonesia will need skilled workers to face AEC

Jakarta, May 2 2014 (ANTARA News) – Indonesia is facing crucial manpower problems and need to improve the competitiveness of its human resources to enable them to compete in the labor market at home and in the ASEAN integrated region.

“Indonesia needs to find solutions and breakthroughs so that its manpower, as a national asset, will not become a burden for economic development,” chairman of the Manpower Empowerment Affairs of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) Frans Go said on Wednesday.

In addition to facing the threat of expatriate influx when the ASEAN Economic Community or the ASEAN free market integration comes into effect in 2015, Indonesia is also facing low workers quality, limited job opportunities and a high unemployment rate.

With rich natural resources, Indonesia should have been able to use its manpower to develop its natural resources for the prosperity of its people. In national development, there are two important elements apart from technology and innovation, namely natural wealth and human resources.

“Natural resources will be meaningless and will not be able to create prosperity for the people if they are not developed by competent and skilled manpower. Manpower has strategic position and plays an important role in development,” Frans stated.

Thus, Indonesias manpower sector, according to Frans, basically faces problems at home and abroad. At home Indonesia faces three main problems, namely limited jobs, workers lack of quality and a high unemployment rate.

The countrys economic growth has not yet been able to absorb the workforce entering its job market.

According to the Kadins data, in 2013 each one percent of growth was only able to absorb 180,000 workers or only about 45 percent of the ideal projection. This also indicates that the quality of investment also tended to decline.

The quality of workers is also low. Data at the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) showed the composition of Indonesian workers; 52 million of them or 46.95 percent only had elementary school education.

The BPS data also showed that Indonesias unemployment rate was still high, with the rate rising to 6.25 percent in August 2013, from 5.92 percent in February 2013 and 6.14 percent in August 2012.

Therefore, according to the Kadin Chairman, Suryo Bambang Sulisto, the manpower issue is the most crucial problem that Indonesia is currently facing. Therefore, Indonesia should achieve a breakthrough to overcome it.

Surya stated that the problem became crucial because the population continued to increase, while the absorption capacity of employment tended to decline.

He pointed out that based on the Capital Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) data, the realization of investment in the first quarter of 2014 amounted to Rp106.6 trillion but it was only able to provide jobs for 260,156 workers.

This decline was in comparison with that in the first quarter of 2013, when the investment only totaled Rp93 trillion yet was able to absorb 361,924 workers.

“This is an indication that investments had shifted from the labor-intensive to capital-intensive businesses. If this trend continues, the projection that is designed to absorb 400 thousand workers for each one percent of economic growth will not be achieved,” Suryo Bambang Sulisto noted.

In addition, Indonesia will continue to face a serious unemployment issue if it does not change its policy of exporting natural resources, he remarked.

Therefore, according to Suryo, the Kadin recommended that the government should reinforce micro, small and medium-sized businesses, which so far were able to provide jobs for about 100 million workers and contributed 57 percent to the countrys gross domestic product.

Kadin also suggested that the quality of Indonesias workers overseas should be improved. “I think it is a noble mission for Indonesia to send skilled workers abroad. What is not noble, in my mind, is that if the state is not able to send workers overseas for a respectable placement,” he asserted.

After all, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will shortly be implemented wherein Indonesian manpower should be able to compete, both at home and abroad, with foreign workers.

During a rally to observe the International Labor Day or May Day on Thursday, Jaya Santoso, President of the Association of Indonesian Workers Unions (ASPEK), expressed concern about the planned implementation of the AEC.

He said the Indonesian workers will find it a challenge to face the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, pointing out that the heads of state of the ASEAN countries as well as China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India had agreed to the free movement of foreign workers in those countries.

“This should make us aware of the fact that foreign workers will pose a threat to us at home, as work opportunities can be tapped by them,” he pointed out.

The National Profession Certification Agency (BNSP) expressed the need for Indonesia to increase the competence of its manpower in the face of the ASEAN Economic Community, which will be effective beginning in 2015.

“It should be done now. The new government must include it in the first 100 days of its working program,” the BNSP deputy chairman, Sumarna F Abdurahman, said, referring to the government that will change in October after this years legislative and presidential elections.

He said the education system in Indonesia, which was not yet competence-based, posed a problem in the employment sector. Meanwhile, each industrial sector does not as yet have a manpower competence certification agency.

“In the ASEAN, school certificates are not used as a consideration for employment, but competence certificates are,” he pointed out.

Indonesia has implemented profession certification programs. In its middle-term development plan (2009-2014), a total of 2.5 million people were certified but 80 percent of them were Indonesian migrant workers.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) had also expressed the need for Indonesia to reform its educational system to improve the quality of its workers.

“There must be reforms in the educational system. Private companies must interfere and cooperate with the government,” Apindos Committee Research member Bob Azam said.

He said about 52 percent of the workers in Indonesia were elementary school graduates. Their education concerned general subjects and had no relation with the industrial sector.

In Germany, he said, students of secondary schools had begun to be assisted by various companies. When they graduate they can directly work.

“So, the link-and-match system was 50 to 60 percent effective there. But in Indonesia where the link-and-match was launched, its effectiveness still needed to be increased,” Bob said.

After all the productivity of Indonesian workers in the ASEAN region is still low if compared, for example, with that of Thailand and Malaysia. These two countries make large investments to improve the quality of their human resources, he added.

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Rwanda: RwandAir Express starts flight to Cameroon

Africa Manager – RwandAir Express airline, which has just acquired the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, has announced the commencement of its flight from the Rwandan capital, Kigali, to Douala, Cameroon.

The airline, Rwanda’s flag carrier, said in a statement that it would operate four weekly flights along the route.

The Rwandan airline currently flies to 13 destinations: Nairobi (Kenya), Entebbe (Uganda), Mombasa (Kenya), Bujumbura (Burundi), Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Johannesburg (South Africa), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Lagos (Nigeria), Accra (Ghana), Jubba (South Sudan), Libreville (Gabon) and Brazzaville (Congo).

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Emiratis, Indians top real estate investments in Dubai

Sunday, 04 May 2014, — Africa Manager – Emiratis ranked highest among all investors in Dubai during the first quarter of 2014, in terms of the value of investments, with Indians being the largest number of foreign investors.

Investments in Dubai’s real estate sector totalled Dh35 billion ($9.53 billion) during the first quarter of 2014, a 57 per cent increase over the same period last year, the Dubai Land Department ( DLD ) has announced.

The agency said the number of investors also rose significantly in the same period, with 13,279 individuals making transactions compared to the 7,339 in the first three months of last year – an increase of 81 percent, according to a report in Zawiya website.

Quoting figures released by DLD’s Real Estate Sector Development Department, it said 133 nationalities made real estate investments in Dubai during this period.

As many as 1,228 Emiratis made investments worth nearly Dh7 billion, while other GCC states contributed Dh3 billion, with 583 Saudi citizens investing Dh1.8 billion, Qatar Dh1.25 billion, Oman Dh344 million, Kuwait Dh312 million and Bahrain Dh 160 million.

Arab countries outside the GCC generated more than Dh3 billion with 1,599 nationals from 16 Arab countries making investments in Dubai’s property sector.

A total of 9,602 international investors from outside the Arab world made transactions worth over Dh20 billion. Indians were at the top spot for international investment, both in terms of the number of investors (2,414) and the amount of expenditure (Dh5.895 billion). British citizens were ranked in second place making Dh3.145 billion worth of investments, followed by Pakistanis in third place with investments totaling Dh2.410 billion, the report said.

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Ten Golden Coins of Bodhi Era Discovered in Afghanistan

May 3, 2014, Gardiz (BNA) Ten golden coins of Bodhi Era handed over by Paktia security directorate to the head of information and Culture department of that province today.

Mohammad Shefa Moshteq the head of information and culture department of Paktia said BNA, the coins included historical artifacts which were smuggled by traffickers of ancient artifacts six months ago from Logar province to Paktia.

According to the source, the relics were placed in a ruin place in Teora Ghafoorkhail region, in relevant areas of Gardiz city which were uncovered and seized by police.

The source added, no one has been arrested in connection of the case.

Mohammad Gul the head of historical monument department of Paktia said the coins belonged to Bodhi’s era which are consider the most valuable of relics in that era.

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Afghan Parliament Approves New Minerals Law

Kabul (BNA), May 3, 2014 – Today the Wolesi Jirga (lower house) of the Parliament approved the new Minerals Law by an overwhelming majority after a year of deliberations. The new law, which meets best international standards and provides a more conducive and attractive environment for investors, was part of Afghanistan’s Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF) commitment at the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan about two years ago.

The passage of the new Minerals Law comes only two weeks after the Wolesi Jirga passed another law that is critical for moving towards Afghanistan’s self-reliance as committed to in TMAF – the Value Added Tax Law. The Ministry of Finance, which advocated the passage of these law, takes this opportunity to thank the Lower House both for further enriching the laws by their interactions and discussions with the relevant stakeholders and then for standing behind them. With the new law in place now, Afghanistan is more attractive for national and international investments in the mining sector.

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Longest Holy Quran on display in Erzurum, Turkey

ERZURUM – Anadolu Agency – May/03/2014 – The exhibition “Mukaddes Miras” (Holy Heritage), a display of 99 handwritten copies of the Holy Quran, was recently opened at the Yakutiye Madrasah in the eastern province of Erzurum.

Editions of the holy book written by calligraphers from the Muslim world from China to Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran and India are on display at the exhibition.

Among the items, a 25-meter long Quran has drawn great attention from visitors. It is estimated that the Quran was written in the 19th century and is the only one of its kind in Turkey. The calligrapher of the work, which features the whole Quran on a fabric, is not known.

The artistic consultant of the exhibition, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University member Professor Ali Rıza Özcan, said Erzurum was the seventh location of the “Holy Heritage” after Istanbul, Gaziantep, Diyarbakır and other cities.

Özcan said a special process was used to write the 25-meter long Quran and that it was one of the rarest works in the world.

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Borusan Philharmonic Orchestra to play at BBC Prom on July

ISTANBUL, May/02/2014 (Anadolu Agency) – Celebrating its 15th year, the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra (BIPO) will be the first orchestra from Turkey to perform at the world famous BBC-Proms on July 29 at Royal Albert Hall. Conducted by Sascha Goetzel, the program will feature violinist Daniel Hope as the soloist to perform the world premiere of composer and producer DJ Gabriel Prokofyev’s new violin concerto, which he composed for the memoir of World War I upon the order of BBC Proms. He is the grandchild of the great Russian composer Sergey Prokofyev.

The concert program will focus on Eastern Europe. Balakirev’s “Islamey,” Holst’s “Beni Mora,” Mozart’s “Abduction from Seraglio,” Händel’s “Solomon Overture,” Respighi’s “Belkis, regina di Saba” will be performed.

The BBC Proms is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in London. Founded in 1895, each season currently consists of more than 70 concerts in Albert Hall.

In 2009, the total number of concerts reached 100 for the first time. The festival is described as the world’s largest and most democratic musical festival. All concerts in the event are broadcast life on BBC Radio 3.

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Final statement of 7th meeting of the Friends of Yemen

LONDON, 29 April (Saba)- The Friends of Yemen ‎met in London on Tuesday under the co-‎chairmanship of Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and Yemen to discuss Yemen’s political transition, humanitarian situation, economic and security reform, and restructuring the Friends of Yemen group.

In their statement, the Friends of Yemen:

(+) reiterated their full support to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen as well as commitment to the principle of non-interference in Yemen’s internal affairs. They commended the efforts and determination of President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the Government and the people of Yemen as they deliver the GCC initiative and its implementation mechanism.

(+) welcomed the successful conclusion and outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) on 25 January, including the outcome that Yemen will become a federal state of six regions.

(+) emphasized the importance of translating NDC outcomes into actions and recognised the importance of supporting Government of Yemen in delivering this process.

(+) welcomed the appointment of the Constitution Drafting Committee on 8 March. They also welcomed the appointment on 25 April of the formation of the National Authority for the Implementation of the NDC outcomes. The Friends of Yemen commended the work of the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referenda in preparing for the creation of a biometric voter registry and urged the Government of Yemen to set out a clear timetable for the referendum and elections and called on the international community to support Yemen in this regard.

(+) welcomed the progress achieved during the transition period and reiterated their full and continued support to its remaining phases.

(+) reiterated that the only way to a united, peaceful, stable and prosperous Yemen is through the implementation of the GCC Initiative and stressed the importance of communicating to the Yemeni people the outcomes of the NDC, the work of the Constitution Drafting Committee, and subsequent steps in the transition.

(+) welcomed the confidence-building measures taken, in particular the steps to implement the 20 points recommended by the NDC’s preparatory technical committee and the 11 points approved by the NDC on southern and Saada issues. They encouraged the Government of Yemen to deliver on these points, and called on the international community to work with the Government of Yemen and the Executive Bureau to support projects in these areas.

(+) welcomed UN Security Council resolution 2140 of 26 February which established a Sanctions Committee and Panel of Experts with a view to applying measures against individuals or entities engaged in or providing support for acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen, in particular obstructing or undermining the successful completion of political transition or impeding the implementation of the outcomes of the final report of the comprehensive National Dialogue Conference through violence, planning, directing, or committing acts that violate applicable international human rights law or international humanitarian law.

(+) welcomed the NDC commitment that all parties would disarm and peacefully participate in the political process, and reaffirmed support for this effort.

(+) welcomed the positive recommendations made by the NDC, including introducing a minimum legal age for marriage, and a minimum of 30% of seats on elected bodies to be reserved for women; and called for their implementation. They welcomed the inclusion of women and youth in the political and transition process and support their continued participation comprising at least 30% of all groups.

(+) also welcomed the NDC’s recommendation to pass a law on transitional justice and establish a commission to investigate the alleged human rights violations in 2011. They also commended the work that has begun to establish an independent National Human Rights Institution. However for Yemen’s human rights situation to improve, the government should work without delay to enshrine the NDC’s recommendations into the new constitution and enforce them by law.

(+) acknowledged the commitment of the Government of Yemen to human rights, and encouraged implementation of OHCHR recommendations accepted by the Government of Yemen.

(+) noted the continuing need for economic and governance reform, including tackling corruption, investment in infrastructure, and increased provision of basic services to set Yemen on the path to stability and self-sufficiency. The Government of Yemen and international partners have both made commitments under the Mutual Accountability Framework. These promises need to be kept in order to deliver tangible benefits to the Yemeni people and to reinforce and sustain the accomplishments of the transition process.

(+) welcomed the appointment of the Head of the Executive Bureau in Sana’a and stressed the need for donors to work together with the Executive Bureau to facilitate the disbursement of pledges. They encouraged the Government of Yemen to swiftly identify a timetable for economic reform, take decisions on critical areas of reform to increase the pace of pledge disbursement and signal a commitment to meaningful reform, chiefly by tackling fuel subsidies to alleviate the looming fiscal crisis and prioritise resources towards those who need them.

(+) encouraged the Government of Yemen to increase economic stability by continuing negotiations to secure an IMF programme.

(+) recognised the on-going efforts to support the Government of Yemen in addressing Yemen’s manpower and unemployment issues. This should take the form of job creation, training of Yemeni labour, and encouraging foreign direct investment to create employment opportunities inside Yemen. They recognised Yemeni aspirations to explore ways of reducing barriers for Yemenis working and travelling abroad.

(+) noted that in spite of the progress made during the political transition the overall humanitarian challenges remain largely unchanged 14.7 million people are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. 10.5 million people are food insecure; 8.6 million people have insufficient access to health services; more than 1 million children are suffering from acute malnutrition; and 13 million people still lack access to clean water and sanitation; they noted that this year’s appeal requires $592 million: and urged the international community to ensure this is fully funded and to give multi-year resources to enable the most effective response to this protracted humanitarian crisis.

(+) acknowledged the efforts made by Government of Yemen in response to the increasing numbers of refugees and called on the international community to assist Government of Yemen in improving the conditions for internally displaced, migrants and refugees.

(+) welcomed the Regional Conference on Asylum and Migration form Horn of Africa to Yemen held in Sanaa from 11-13 November 2013 and emphasised the importance of implementing The Sana’a Declaration.

(+) condemned the deadly terrorist attacks in Yemen and acknowledged the sacrifices of the Yemeni defence, security and police personnel who have been killed or injured, and extended condolences to their families and friends. They supported the Government of Yemen’s drive to establish and implement counter-terrorism legislation and welcomed the Government of Yemen’s continuing efforts to combat terrorism, smuggling and piracy and confirmed their commitment to continue its support to build Yemen’s capacities in this regard.

(+) welcomed the objective to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Yemeni defence, security and police forces through improved coordination and cooperation between the ministries and with the donor community.

(+) denounced all forms of violence and armed confrontations and call on political parties to refrain from any acts undermining, or contradictory to, the GCC initiative and its implementation mechanism in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.

(+) welcomed the steps taken to restructure the defence, security and police forces and look forward to further programmes of reform in line with the National Dialogue outcomes. They reiterated their condemnation for the attacks on electricity lines as well as oil and gas pipelines which entail heavy losses for the national economy and exacerbate the suffering of all Yemenis.

(+) unequivocally rejected the payment of ransoms to terrorists and called on countries and companies around the world to stamp out this lucrative source of income for terrorists.

(+) welcomed the Yemeni government’s efforts to establish an extremist rehabilitation program in coordination with UNICRI, and committed to supporting this effort.

(+) agreed to follow through on commitments made at the outset of the Gulf Cooperation Council transition initiative to provide training and necessary equipment to a range of Yemeni security forces and criminal justice institutions with the objective of fostering a secure Yemen that effectively administers justice.

(+) have agreed to revise the structure of the Friends of Yemen Group in order to enhance its work and fully support Yemen as it undertakes the political transition and associated reform processes. The underlying principles of this new structure are Yemeni ownership and support for the GCC Initiative and Implementation Mechanism in three main areas: the political transition, economic reform and development, and security and justice sector reform.

(+) agreed to establish a Steering Committee and Working Groups in each of the three areas. The Groups will report back to the Steering Committee which will report to the annual Friends of Yemen meetings to be held at Foreign Minister Level in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York each September.

(+) expressed their appreciation and thanks to the United Kingdom for hosting this meeting and to the Co-Chairs for the preparation for it.

(+) decided to meet again in September 2014 in New York at Foreign Minister level in the margins of the UNGA to assess progress.

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Qatar grants US$ 21 mln to support Yemen education

SANA’A, May 02 (Saba) – Qatar has granted US$ 21 million to Yemen through the Educate A Child initiative to support education sector, Education Minister has said.

The amount would help to carry out a project, to be launched in June of this year, to enroll around 100,000 children, who have no access to education, Abdul-Razzaq al-Ashwal said upon his arrival to Yemen after his participation in the second-high ministerial meeting organized by Educate A Child initiative in Doha and concluded last Thursday.

The project is the first of its kind as a direct intervention targeted children and it is consistent with the Ministry’s 2013-2015 mid-term plan under the Education National Master Plan, he said.

Educate A Child is a new global initiative launched by Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar, which aims to significantly reduce the numbers of children worldwide who are missing out on their right to education.

It is working with a broad range of international, national and local partners to reach the world’s poorest and most marginalized out of school children. Its focus is on nurturing innovative approaches to reach these children, and on replicating and scaling-up successful programmes.

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UNESCO agrees to hold Firdausi International Award

TEHRAN, May 3 (MNA) – The head of National Memory of the World Register has said UNESCO has agreed to hold Firdausi International Award.

Reza Salehi Amiri, who is also the head of Iran’s National Library and director of National Committee Memory of the World Register said that Irina Bokova, the incumbent director-general of UNESCO would dispatch a delegation soon to address the issue and examine the conditions for holding the award.

“Bokova visited Iran last week during which she unveiled the Foreign Ministry historical maps which had been registered in the Memory of the World Register,” he told Mehr News.

“Her visit to Iran coincided with the beginning of the year of culture, and I believe that this coincidence would prove fruitful, since such visits are very effective,” Amiri added.

Asked whether there had been any negotiations with Mrs. Bokova about the establishment of Firdausi International Award, Amiri told that she agreed to the very idea of the Award, and would dispatch a delegation of experts to Iran to address the issue.

If ratified by UNESCO, Firdausi International Award will be awarded to distinguished national and international literary works of achievement.

Amiri had expressed hopes before that UNESCO would agree to the proposal of the establishment of the Award made by Iran in 2009.

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United Arab Emirates Hotels Post High Occupancy Rate In Q1

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, MAY 1 (NNN-WAM) – Over 600 hotels in Dubai witnessed an average occupancy of nearly 90 percent in Mar, while holiday resorts in Abu Dhabi reported their best quarter ever from Jan to Mar.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) hospitality sector, remained on the uptick in the first quarter, figures released by analysts and tourism authorities showed.

According to Dubai-based TRI hospitality consulting, Dubai’s 612 hotels reached a hotel occupancy of 88.4 percent, up 1.1 percent over Feb. Average room rates hitting 398.71 dollars, an increase of 5.6 percent year on year, local daily Gulf news reported.

Dubai’s neighbouring emirate, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, and its 150 hotels recorded 2.6 million guest nights in the first quarter, up by 22 percent over the same period last year, state news agency, WAM, reported, quoting the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA).

With an average occupancy rate of 79.1 percent in Mar, resorts in Abu Dhabi were performing slightly weaker than Dubai, but improved by 4.4 percent over Feb, according to TRI consulting.

Despite the booming tourism sector in Dubai, which got a boost with events like the world’s most prestigious horse race, Dubai world cup at the end of Mar, the Dubai art week and the festival of lights, average daily rate of hotel rooms in Dubai fell slightly by 0.2 percent, reaching 871.91 Dirham or 237.77 dollars.

Gulf News quoted the managing director of TRI consulting, Peter Goddard, as saying that “although the market witnessed stagnant performance during Mar, the strong growth experienced in Jan and Feb ensures that the market maintains positive, heading into the summer period.”

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi witnessed a growing interest from Chinese visitors. Chinese arrivals in the first quarter delivered 50,253 guest nights, which is more than double the same period last year. The UAE’s biggest source markets include India, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.

Last year, Dubai hosted 11 million tourists and business travelers. By 2020, the emirate aims to lure 20 million visitors per year.

The UAE tourism sector will present itself from May 5-8, to global travel agents and tour operators, at the Arabian travel market, the biggest tourism and hospitality fair in the Middle East and North Africa.– NNN-WAM

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Indian Composer A.R. Rahman Entertains More Than 15,000 Fans At KL Concert

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Apr 27 (NNN-BERNAMA) – More than 15,000 fans thronged Stadium Merdeka, here, last night, for the renowned Indian composer, A.R. Rahman’s concert titled, “Infinite Love – Live In Concert.”

The three-and-a-half-hour concert saw Rahman’s hugely diversified body of work, which included a mix of beloved classic numbers and recent hits, in both Hindi and Tamil, as well as, a Qawwalli segment, with Sufi devotional music and an electronic dance music section.

The maestro also entertained his fans with his numbers from the soon-to-be-released Tamil 3D film, Kochadaiyaan.

The music composer said, he considered Malaysia as one of his most extraordinary fan bases and aimed to give them an unforgettable time at his concert. Having last performed in Kuala Lumpur in 2003, Rahman said, he was very excited to present his new repertoire of numbers to his fans here.

Renowned worldwide for his innovative compositions, Rahman has won two Academy Awards (for his work on Slumdog Millionaire), two Grammy Awards, a Bafta award and a Golden Globe award, in addition to the numerous awards and nominations he has to his name in India.

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6th Latin American Festival In Malaysia On May 18

KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 (Bernama) — Malaysians are to be swept away with the return of the muti-cultural festival, the 6th Latin American Festival to be held at BB Park, here on May 18. Venezuelan ambassador to Malaysia, Manuel Guzman said following the success of previous festivals, this festival had become a tradition in Kuala Lumpur, thanks to the growing interest of Malaysians in learning about the culture of Latin American countries.

“Ten Latin American countries will participate in the festival and each country presents a variety of its food, music, arts, crafts, dances and costumes.

“The festival is a great opportunity for the Latin American and expat community living in Malaysia to get together, celebrate and share our culture with the locals,” Guzman said at a conference here, today.

It is organised by the embassies of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela in Malaysia, supported by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and Plaza Low Yat. All proceeds from the festival will be donated to two charity organisations, namely Hospis Malaysia and Orphan Care.

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Egypt Opens Replica Of King Tut Tomb In Luxor

LUXOR, Egypt, May 2 (NNN-MENA) – Egypt inaugurated a replica of Pharaoh King Tutankhamun’s tomb and opened it for the public in Luxor province, the country’s ancient capital city, where many ancient pharaohs were buried. The move aimed to protect the original tomb of the famous king that dates back to more than 3,000 years.

King Tutankhamun, known as King Tut, was the Egyptian Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty that ruled the ancient country for only nine years in the 14th century BC. His tomb at the Valley of Kings was discovered by British Egyptologist and archaeologist, Howard Carter in 1922, a discovery that received world press coverage back then.

“The 3D facsimile is an exact copy of King Tut’s tomb. It is a new experience in Egypt and it relieves the original tomb from too many visitors and gives it a break for reparation,” Antiquities Minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, said.

He revealed that the replica will be moved in the future to the under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum near the Pyramids plateau in Giza, which is scheduled to be completed by late 2015.

Installed underground near Carter’s House, at the entrance of the Valley of Kings in Luxor, the replica was granted to Egypt as a gift from Madrid’s Facum Arte, as the first step to protect suchlike priceless ancient royal tombs.

For his part, Egyptian Tourism Minister, Hesham Zaazou, hailed the project as a step to preserve Egypt’s cultural heritage and commended the European Union and the Spanish and Swiss foundations that helped in the project.

“This will preserve the bright ancient drawings on the tomb walls that remained intact for thousands of years,” Zaazou said.

With regards to the security situation that discouraged a lot of tourists to visit the turmoil-stricken country, Zaazou said that the authorities are currently introducing new security measures to reassure visitors.

“I managed to get ministerial decisions to install cameras in public places and in hotel corridors and to install GPS and cameras inside all tourist buses in Egypt, to be able to closely locate and monitor them,” Zaazou continued, noting his ministry will be provided by explosive detection devices to ensure protection of visitors.

Tourism in Egypt, one of the country’s main sources of income and foreign currency, has been declining sharply due to the political chaos that followed the ouster of two presidents over the past three years.– NNN-MENA

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Malaysia Eyes 10 Per Cent Rise In Total Trade With Kazakhstan This Year

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia May 2 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia aims to increase its total trade with Kazakhstan by 10 per cent this year from US$57.84 million in 2013 via a strategic partnership, said Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade).

Malaysia’s exports to the Central Asian Republic last year stood at US$55.12 million and total imports at US$2.72 million, with total trade between the two countries in 2013 growing 6.2 per cent over the previous year.

Matrade Deputy Chief Executive Officer Dzulkifli Mahmud told the media at a business forum here Friday, the republic is seeking local companies’ expertise in agriculture, food processing, pharmaceuticals, transportation and logistics, construction and tourism.

The half-day event is aimed at presenting investment opportunities in a leading industrial and agricultural region of Kazakhstan to government officials, tourism and innovation players as well as investment experts.

Early this year, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev introduced the state programme for Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development for 2015-2019.

The five-year plan provides attractive economic preferences to foreign investors to build a stable, diversified and mutually beneficial economic collaboration between Kazakhstan and its foreign partners.

To this end, Dzulkifli urged export-ready small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to venture into Kazakhstan.

“We see Kazakhstan as a platform for local companies to expand to the country as well as to Commonwealth of Independent States countries such as Russia,” he said.

“It is good that we are exporting more than we import, however, we need to balance between imports and exports for a long-term relationship between the two nations,” he added.

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GST Secures Country’s Future With More Robust Yields – Malaysian PM

JITRA, State of Kedah, Malaysia, May 1 (NNN-BERNAMA) – Prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) system, that will be implemented from Apr next year, is able to secure the country’s future with more robust yields.

The prime minister said, even though certain quarters proposed to hold protests in Kuala Lumpur against the GST, the reality was that the country’s future would be guaranteed once it was introduced.

“If we think rationally…we understand that every government policy is for the people’s benefit. Don’t expect results in one or two days, you sow the seeds today, you expect the fruit tomorrow,” he said, when officiating the Civil Service Labour Day celebration 2014, at Wawasan Hall here.

Najib urged the people to understand the government’s intention in undertaking changes and transformation because of its strong rational.

“This is the meaning that should be realised…changes cannot be stopped..must proceed..if we don’t change, we will face an economic squeeze and bring sufferings to the people,” he said, adding that the government wanted to undertake changes and transformation despite being viewed as unnecessary.

The function was also attended by Kedah Menteri Besar (Chief Minister), Datuk Seri Mukhriz Tun Mahathir, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, Public Service Department Director-General, Tan Sri Mohamad Zabidi Zainal and Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) President, Azih Muda.

This year’s theme is “Civil Servants, Pillars of the Nation.”

Najib said, the government was a government that does not promise something that it is unlikely to be fulfilled and not merely to garner support or popularity without thinking of the consequences.

“When we intend to do something, we weigh carefully and use fair considerations. If Cuepacs President wants allowances to be upgraded, salaries to be raised, then we need to increase productivity…Where do we find funds if we do not have the yields to fund these considerations,” he said.

Based on the government’s considerations, he said, it had brought success to the country, even though an economic crisis was being faced globally.

“Malaysia achieved a moderate economic growth of 4.7 per cent in 2013, while this year, it is likely to be slightly higher compared to the previous year,” he said.– NNN-BERNAMA

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Iran Will Buy 400 New Aircraft By 2025 If Sanctions End

TEHRAN, Iran, May 1 (NNN-IRNA) – Iran is looking to buy 400 passenger planes in the next 10 years, to upgrade its aging fleet, if Western sanctions imposed over its controversial nuclear programme are lifted, the country’s top aviation official said.

The remark by Ali Reza Jahangirian of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation, reflects Tehran’s interest in attracting foreign investment and upgrading its creaking aviation industry.

It comes amid a new climate in the country, following the election last June of new President Hassan Rouhani, who has focused his efforts on reviving Iran’s faltering economy.

“Iranian airlines will be ready to buy 40 jets a year,” Jahangirian said, without disclosing specifics of what could be a multi-billion dollar project.

Jahangirian also said, Iran has received “very positive signals” from Western companies, including Boeing Co. and General Electric Co., about getting new spare parts. Both Boeing and GE have said, the U.S. Treasury Department has given them licenses to export to Iran.

The licenses for spare parts were made possible, under a temporary nuclear deal, struck last Nov, between Iran and six world powers. Under it, Tehran is to halt some aspects of its nuclear programme, in return for the lifting of some sanctions — including restrictions on sale of commercial plane parts and services to Iran.

Such a sale to Iran would be the first publicly known dealing, between U.S. airspace companies and Tehran, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, that toppled the pro-U.S. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and brought clerics to power.

Iran and the six-nation group — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany — are currently negotiating a comprehensive, permanent deal, that could lift all sanctions on Iran, while removing any possibility for Tehran to develop a nuclear weapon.

Jahangirian said that out of Iran’s 250 commercial planes, about 150 are flying, while the rest are grounded due to lack of spare parts.

Jahangirian also said that Iran has taken some “technical” steps, in preparing for a resumption of direct flights with the United States, but that more needs to be done before that becomes a reality.

Direct flights between the two countries were cut after the 1979 revolution.– NNN-IRNA

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Tunisia, Libya Sign Agreement On Civil Aviation

TUNIS, May 3 (NNN-PANA) — The international civil aviation training centre in Tunisia on Friday signed an agreement with the Libyan-African company that allows the Libyan holding company to buy 27% of the capital of the Tunisian civil aviation and airport office, sources said in the Tunisian capital.

The centre also signed two framework agreements with the Libyan air transport company, Libya Airlines, and Afrique Airlines, enabling the two companies to benefit from training led by the centre.

Among those present at the ceremony were the Libyan minister of Telecommunications, Abdelkader Mohamed Ahmed and the Tunisian minister of Transport, Chihab Ben Ahmed. Ahmed said that other partnership projects between the two companies would be implemented.

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World’s Highest Railway Tunnel Joins Up, Links to Xinjiang

NAM News Network – The world’s highest tunnel for high-speed trains in northwest China was completely linked up on May 1, 2014 paving the way for the operation of the line linking Gansu Province and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. With altitudes of up to 3,607.4 meters, the 16.3-km-long tunnel passes through the Qilian Mountains with two sections and a bridge. It began construction in 2009.

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11th Freme Travel Fair held in Brunei

03 May 2014, BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: The 11th Freme Travel Fair was launched yesterday at the Radisson Hotel. Three airline companies – Royal Brunei Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Malaysia Airlines – are participating in the two-day event.

Customers are able to browse and shop for the holiday that will suit their budget as well as seek professional advice. The highlight of the event include a trip to Malaysia with DJ Daffy of Kristal FM from June 14–17 and from September 22-27. Other products include Trafalgar and insight tours with 10% discount. The fair also promotes the new Temburong Lodge. Furthermore, lucky customers can stand a chance to win a grand draw prize of consisting of a two roundtrip tickets to Istanbul via Singapore airlines and two roundtrip tickets to Australia via Royal Brunei Airlines. Consolation prizes also awaits lucky participants.

The event is a part of the effort of Freme Travel to thank their loyal customers for the never ending support. The fair will end today May 3. ©BRUDIRECT.COM

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Kuwait’s “Journey of Hope” boat on world tour

MANAMA, May 3 (KUNA) — Kuwait’s “Journey of Hope” boat left Bahrain on Saturday heading for Doha, Qatar, wrapping up the first stop of a 22-stop overseas tour to show the world Kuwait’s special experience in caring for mentally disabled people.

The ‘Journey of Hope’ embodies Kuwaiti government and people’s care for mentally disabled people. The journey is supported and sponsored by the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. The journey is hoped to attract the world’s attention to the needs and potential of such a segment of the society.

“The Journey of Hope”, an expedition with a heartfelt message dedicated to bring awareness to the mentally disabled, sailed off Thursday from the shores of Marina Crescent, Salmiya. The Journey will head to Washington D.C. and return back in a 210 day-long expedition. It will stop at 19 countries and 22 ports of call.

The boat will stop in Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Malta, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, France and Britain before reaching the United States. On the return sector, it will also stop in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen, Oman, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain before returning back to Kuwait.

Over 22 celebratory events will be held at intervals in all ports en route with a view to unifying people of all cultures and religions towards a collective effort to care for and benefit those with mental disability everywhere.

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Abu Dhabi, Yemen sign agreement for conservation of Houbara bird

ABU DHABI, 29th April, 2014 (WAM) — Abu Dhabi and Yemen have signed a cooperation agreement on the conservation of the Houbara Bustard.

The 10-year agreement updates the existing Convention on Houbara Conservation, reinforces the historically strong relations that exist between the two parties and extends the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Houbara Reintroduction Project.

The agreement was signed by representatives from Abu Dhabi’s International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) and the Environment Protection Authority, Ministry of Water and Environment of the Republic of Yemen.

The wide-ranging agreement covers cooperation on advancing the world-leading ecological studies pioneered by IFHC, to develop a Houbara reproduction programme in order to increase their numbers in the Republic of Yemen, to establish natural reserves in Yemen to protect the species, to provide training with personnel at the appropriate authorities in Yemen and to advance environmental awareness and education in schools and local communities in Yemen.

Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Deputy Chairman of the IFHC Board, said, “This agreement is another significant advance in the programme to conserve such a culturally important species. The Houbara is a bird close to the heart of both countries and we welcome the opportunity to take our partnership forward. Future success depends on international cooperation and Abu Dhabi is both delighted and willing to share our knowledge and expertise in order to realise our ultimate objective of restoring and preserving the Houbara in the wild.”

The agreement was signed on behalf of Abu Dhabi by Mohamed Saleh Al Baidani, Director General, IFHC, and by Anwar Faisal Al Hemairi, Deputy of the Environment Protection Authority in Yemen. On Saturday, the delegation took the opportunity to visit the National Avian Research Centre (NARC) at Sweihan to witness first-hand IFHC’s state-of-the-art Houbara breeding facility.

Commenting on the ceremony and the delegation’s visit to Abu Dhabi, Mr. Al Hemairi said, “Yemen has the last surviving groups of non-migratory Houbara in the Arabian Peninsula. This resident population plays a crucial role in Yemen’s natural environment and the convention we have signed will progress environmental cooperation, enhancing the close relations and the constructive partnership which already exists between us to meet our mutual ambitions.” The agreement follows the release in Yemen last year of nearly 200 Asian Houbara bred in Abu Dhabi.

Mohamed Saleh Al Baidani, Director General of IFHC, said, “The opportunity to study the resident population in Yemen has proved an important element in establishing IFHC as the leading authority on the species. The ability to continue studying the species for the next decade can only assist the Fund in advancing its programme to preserve and restore wild populations of the bird across its entire range.” WAM/AAMIR/Moran

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Third meeting held of Arab and South American Culture Ministers

RIYADH, 30th April, 2014 (WAM) — Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Second Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, last night opened the third meeting of the Culture Ministers of Arab and South American countries in Riyadh, under the theme: “Arab-South American Culture: Partnership and Future”.

Prince Muqrin, Adviser and Special Envoy of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, said in his opening speech that the conference seeks to strengthen relations and promote cultural and heritage links between peoples and the development of methods of dialogue and understanding on all issues of concern to their communities.

He pointed out the keenness of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, to support culture and intellectuals through its initiatives in all fields that serve the whole of humanity and bring coexistence and peace, security and stability.

Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohiuddin Khoja, Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, stated that the meeting revolves around two main pillars: first, Arab-Islamic civilisation in South America countries and its role in building bridges of dialogue, and second, The future of Arab-South American cultural dialogue.

The meeting was attended by Ministers of Culture and the heads of international cultural organisations concerned.

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Ajman Tourism Development Department announces Ajman Tourism Award 2014

AJMAN, 30th April, 2014 (WAM) — Ajman Tourism Development Department (ATDD) has announced the launch of the Ajman Tourism Award 2014, aimed at ensuring quality control on all tourism products in the Emirate of Ajman.

A periodic award that targets hotel establishments in the emirate is supported by CHA International, organiser of the MENA Travel Awards.

Faisal Al Nuaimi, General Manager of ATDD, unveiling the details of the award in a press conference, said that the Ajman Award comes in line with Ajman Vision 2021 and out of the ATDD’s adherence to the best practices adopted with regard to quality control on all tourism products in the Emirate of Ajman.

The Award was based on a mystery shopper project that was launched by ATDD in 2013 with the aim of establishing a mechanism to measure the quality of services and products offered by hotel establishments.

This mechanism was a result of benchmarking and was adopted as part of efforts to review and develop standards for the development of the hospitality sector in the emirate of Ajman, he affirmed.

The idea of Ajman Tourism Award 2014 came during the planning for the mystery shoppers’ project which necessitated the rewarding of tourism sector partners who highly adhered to the classification standards adopted in Ajman, and those who presented added value for the tourism sector in the emirate, Al Nuaimi clarified.

Yamina Aoucher, the Director of Tourism Licensing and Standards at ATDD, said all hotel installations in Ajman were covered by the mystery shopper project and were therefore included in Ajman Tourism Award 2014.

The categories of the Ajman Tourism Award 2014 are: the best five-star hotel, best four-star hotel, best two-star hotel, best one-star hotel, best superior hotel apartment and best standard hotel apartment, Aoucher said.

Winners of Ajman Tourism Award 2014 will be announced and honoured during the MENA Travel Award ceremony, to be held at Conrad Dubai Hotel on May 7th.

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Abu Dhabi receives 30% Q1 uplift in GCC hotel guests

ABU DHABI, 1st May, 2014 (WAM) — Abu Dhabi is rolling out a whole new look at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the region’s biggest travel and tourism fair, which runs in Dubai from May 5th-8th, in a bid to capture the increasing attention of GCC travel influencers and maintain growing visitor numbers from its neighbouring states.

Figures just released by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) show that in Q1 of this year, hotel guest arrivals from the GCC, with the exception of the U.A.E., rose 30% in the first three months of 2013 to 58,698. GCC guests delivered 131,416 guest nights during Q1, a 29% uplift on last year, and stayed, on average, 2.24 nights.

“All five of our GCC neighbours delivered double-digit growth for our hospitality industry in Q1, with Saudi Arabia accounting for the lion’s share and which now ranks as our seventh largest international source market, with Oman and Qatar also among our top 20 at 14th and 18th place respectively,” explained Sultan Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director of Tourism, TCA Abu Dhabi.

“Our challenge is to continue this upward trajectory and to convince GCC travellers to stay longer and explore an emirate which now offers much more to see and do.” This year’s Abu Dhabi ATM pavilion has been designed to reflect the vibrancy of the emirate with a new-look summer season programme being one highlight.

“Slightly larger than last year and with more partners, at 48, and 85 products, we are going all out to engage the GCC travel trade with events to be packaged around, including our new-look Abu Dhabi Summer Season, new partners to forge business links with and fresh products to sell,” explained Al Dhaheri.

“We are intent on intensifying our efforts to build destination awareness of our product within the GCC and to get across the message that there are valid reasons for staying longer in the emirate where our partners are providing exceptional facilities and services at highly affordable prices. Our current average room rate is US $133 which represents great value for money when judged alongside the standard of offering.” WAM/AAMIR/Moran

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Algerian Play “El Kors El Asfar” probes “design for a new world”

02 May 2014, Algerian Press Service, ALGIERS – Rehearsal of the play “El Kors El Asfar” was presented Thursday in the Algerian National Theatre (Tna) in a virtual argument where the fatal impact on the lives of human beings, caused by the supposed extinction of the sun suggests a future devoid of love and humanism.

Conceived and directed by Rabia Guichi based on a text of Fathi Kafi, the show gives an overview of the world of tomorrow, in the absence of solidarity between individuals and nations, in a metaphor where the loss of wildlife and flora pushes man, seeking survival, to selfishness and indifference.

In a kingdom in peril, members of the ruling family, no longer having any source of life, feed on human flesh and maintain relationships governed by the scheme and conspiracy, seeing their citizens becoming protesters.

Bearing a universal message, the show sounds as an alert to prevent against all harm generated by sectarian and narrow visions which make the policies of nations in the world.

“The idea of a possible design of a new world, certainly deserves to be nourished by love, humanism, equality and tolerance to achieve the equitable sharing of wealth among individuals and nations and allow all a decent life,” said the writer.

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Investments more than doubled in Algeria in Q1 2014

03 May 2014, ALGIERS (Algerian Press Service)- Investments announced over the first quarter of 2014 in Algeria has more than doubled reaching DZD682 billion, DZD129 billion in direct foreign investment (FDI), against DZD305 billion in the same period in 2013, showing the fresh impetus given to investment through government’s facilitations, according to the National Agency for Investment Development (ANDI).

During the first quarter of the year, a total of 2,632 investment projects have been announced, estimated at DZD682 billion, and which are expected to create more than 51,600 jobs according to ANDI.

Local investments represent the lion’s share with 2,615 projects nationwide, which account for 99.4% of the announced projects, worth DZD553 billion (81%), and are expected to create about 40,500 jobs (78%).

Regarding direct foreign investment, Algeria has drawn, over the first three months of the year, 17 investment projects with a total of DZD129 billion (about USD1.8 billion) and are due to create more than 11,100 direct jobs, the investment agency underlined.

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Assia Djebbar’s life and career, international colloquium theme in Oran

Algerian Press service, 03 May 2014, ORAN (Algeria)- An international colloquium theme dedicated to the Algerian woman of letters Assia Djebbar will be organized May 5-6 in Oran (432-km west of Algiers) by the Letters, Speech, Civilizations and Literature Department at the University of Oran.

Under the theme “Assia Djebbar: the Career of a Woman of Letters, Literature, Resistance and Transmission,” the two-day scientific meeting will pay tribute to this writer and adopt “an interdisciplinary and polyphonic approach of her work and her particular contribution in Algerian and Maghreb literature,” as underlined by the organizers.

Teachers and researchers of many local and foreign universities (France, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Italy, Mexico and Japan) will broach the work of the most known Algerian writer, universally crowned and renowned and also most studied, the colloquium’s organizers said.

The colloquium will shed light on Djabar’s work in six axes: “architecture of Djabar’s text,” “memory and quest for identity,” “writing and desire,” “literary and film approach,” “The ego in history and language,” and “female voice and speech.”

Assia Djebar, 78, whose real name is Fatima Zohra Imalayene is writer of novels, short stories, essays and poems.

Her most important works include “les Enfants du Nouveau Monde” (The Children of the New World, 1962), “Les Alouettes Naives” (the Naive Larks, 1967), “Femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement” (Algiers Women in Their Apartment, 1980), “L’amour, la fantasia” (Love, the Fantasia, 1985), “Ombre sultane” (Sultana Shadow, 1987), “Loin de Medine” (Far from Madinah, 1991), “Nulle part dans la maison de mon pere” (Nowhere in my Father’s House, 2007).

Assia Djebar also produced two long documentaries, namely “La Nouba des femmes du Mont Chenoua” (The Nouba of the Women of Mount Chenoua, 1978), “La Zerda ou les chants de l’oubli” (The Zerda or the Songs of the Oversight, 1982).

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ISESCO calls for enhancing freedom of expression as part of a sound ethical framework

Rabat 30/04/2014 – The World Press Freedom Day, celebrated every year on 3 May, is an opportunity to call to attention the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

On this occasion, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) stresses the need to promote freedom of expression along with a sense of responsibility, while adhering to professional ethics, and guaranteeing the right of access to information as one of the major rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Islamic Declaration on Cultural Rights.

As well as calling for expanding the scope of access to information, strengthening and supporting media practice and institutions, and adopting the principle of proximity in information, ISESCO lays emphasis on the need to involve civil society organizations and media professional associations in the development of new laws and legislation aimed at reinforcing the right to communication and access to information, safeguard the rights and moral and physical safety of journalists, and deal with them according to fair legal rules.

In the same vein, ISESCO points out that its action programme in communication during the second decade of the third millennium is centred on areas related to the promotion of the principles of freedom of expression and universal access to information and knowledge as part of a sound ethical framework, and the development of media practice in the Member States. Other focus areas include training ICT human resources, providing technical and financial assistance to media institutions, and stimulating scientific research in information and communication in the Member States.

In addition, ISESCO calls on the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the United Nations Human Rights Council to undertake all means to effectively sensitize media institutions to the need to respect religious symbols and refrain from their desecration, as this constitutes a clear provocation to the feelings of Muslims, a flagrant breach of universally accepted standards of media practice and ethics, a grave violation of the UN General Assembly Resolution 65/224 on “Combating Defamation of Religions”, and a blatant disregard for the international declarations and conventions on human rights.

By the same token, ISESCO underscores the importance of linking freedom of speech with responsibility and avoiding double standards, and calls for boosting communication among media institutions and organizations as well as media practitioners in the Member States with their counterparts in Western countries so as to work together to promote respect for cultural and religious diversity and fight against racial discrimination and defamation of religious beliefs and symbols and the moral values of peoples and nations.

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ISESCO message to Muslim world: Invest in education to meet the development challenge

Rabat 01/05/2014 – On May 3rd, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) celebrates anniversary (the 32nd this year) in accordance with the relevant resolution of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, as adopted by the 3rd Islamic Summit Conference (Mekkah and Taif, January 1991).

On that occasion, ISESCO Director General, Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, addressed a message to the Muslim world, calling on the Member States to join efforts to develop the educational system in all its aspects in such a way as to boost the learning process, and boost quality through an overhaul of curricula at all education stages to meet the requirement of innovation, modernization and development.

The message stressed the need to invest in education to meet the challenge of development, gain access to the knowledge society, and achieve progress by expanding Education for All based on equal opportunities for all citizens, rural and urban alike. This, the Director General, argues will enable them to exercise their right to quality education based on the acquisition of useful knowledge and skills, and give better chances for the new generations to contribute to their communities’ development.

The Director General explained that among the challenges facing the Muslim world today are the faltering efforts to develop education, and the failed policies adopted in this vital area in a large number of countries, as a result of years dysfunctions in the process of comprehensive sustainable development. He also stressed the need to strengthen cooperation and partnership between the Member States in education, science, culture and communication, while developing those sectors in line with the reference framework of the Islamic civilization and Islam’s humane values ​​and ideals, and in accordance with the first goal set forth in the Charter of ISESCO.

In the same vein, the Director General urged the Member States to implement ISESCO’s strategies dealing with education, science and culture. These include mainly the Strategy for Developing Education in Islamic Countries, the Strategy for the Development of Science, Technology and Innovation, the Strategy for Developing University Education in the Islamic World, and the Cultural Strategy for the Islamic World. By the same token, he called for the implementation of other Organization’s other strategies which together constitute an integrated framework for the development of all such vital areas.

Dr Altwaijri also called upon the Muslim world to put aside madhhab-based disputes and sectarian conflicts, and focus on fostering Islamic solidarity and prioritizing the Muslim Ummah’s supreme interests. He also urged stronger joint Islamic action based on the federating bonds of Islamic brotherhood, and called for the enforcement of ISESCO’s Strategy for Bringing Muslim Madhahibs Closer Together as adopted by the 10th Islamic Summit Conference held in Malaysia in 2003.

In this regard, ISESCO Director General warned against the spread of sectarianism which only fuels conflicts and generates hatred among Muslims. He also cautioned against the increasing disputes and clashes motivated by partisan and regional considerations, which undermine the integrity of some Muslim societies and only serve the ill-intentioned plots of the international powers to put their hands on the resources of the Muslim world.

ISESCO Director General’s message highlighted the importance of maintaining a heightened sense of Islamic unity to address the multifaceted challenges of development and strengthen the cohesion of the Muslim Ummah at this critical juncture, calling in the meantime for overcoming all impediments to cooperation, integration and partnership among OIC Member States.

Besides, Dr Altwaijri invited the Member States to maintain their support for the Organization and intensify cooperation towards implementing the action plans and the resolutions of the sector-specific Islamic conferences organized by ISESCO in cooperation with the OIC General Secretariat. He also underlined the need to continue advancing ISESCO’s civilizational mission in the fields falling under its ambit, and called for shoring up these efforts to meet the Muslim world’s development goals, enhance dialogue among followers of religions, cultures and civilizations, promote a culture of tolerance, understanding and peace among nations and peoples, and disseminate Islam’s approach to all these issues.

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Egypt: Solar energy to be used in lighting streets’ advertisements

Cairo, Saturday, 3 May 2014 – The electricity ministry started to consider using solar energy for lighting advertisements on streets instead of depending on the traditional electricity power.

Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker said that this matter would be applied firstly on the ads spread in the Greater Cairo governorates that represent 40% out of the ads countywide.

Shaker said that the national grid is able to meet the needs of consumers in summer, referring to the limited resources that require rationalization by citizens to overcome such a crisis.

He also said that Egypt has seven million air conditioners, thus if we can use only half of them in the peak hours, we would make the state save 2,000 megawatts. Shaker stated that strict procedures are currently being considered against the citizens who did not pay accumulated electricity bills.

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Ivory Coast launches ecotourism effort to save chimpanzee

TAI NATIONAL PARK, Ivory Coast, Rajab 4, 1435, May 3, 2014, SPA — Conservationists and the Ivorian government hope to take advantage of the fact that chimps in Tai park are relatively comfortable around humans by launching eco-tourism projects designed to stem the chimpanzee population’s precipitous decline.

A baby chimpanzee named Dali slowly stretched out his brown, furry arms and clumsily scrambled from a branch 20 meters (65 feet) high for a breakfast of nuts and insects provided by game rangers. In the next few minutes he would be joined by 15 others who soon clambered off into the depths of Tai National Park, AP reported.

Chimpanzees normally resent humans, but scientists in the park have spent decades ‘habituating’ them so they could be studied. Two years ago, a Disney film got up close for the Tim Allen-narrated ‘Chimpanzee,’ which was set in Tai park.

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WB, Pakistan sign unprecedented package to boost economy, energy

WASHINGTON, 03 May 2014 (Associated Press of Pakistan) : The unprecedented $12 billion World Bank package for Pakistan over five years will help bolster the country’s economic revival plans as well as its efforts to meet exponential energy requirements, Islamabad’s ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani said.

He was speaking on the occasion of signing $1 billion two Developmental Policy Credit Agreements on behalf of the Pakistani government at the World Bank Headquarters. Philippe H. Le Hourou, Vice President of World Bank Group’s South Asia Region, signed on behalf of the Bank. The Policy Credit Agreements include: (i) Pakistan First Power Sector Developmental Policy Credit amounting to US$600 million; and (ii) Fiscally Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Developmental Policy Credit worth US$400 million.

In addition to finalizing the two Policy Credits, the World Bank Board has also approved the World Bank Country Partnership Strategy for Pakistan for the period 2015-19 involving a total outlay of $11 billion and allocation of $125 million by the IFC for setting up a Three Gorges subsidiary in Pakistan to finance energy related projects.

In his remarks, Ambassador Jilani highlighted that the unanimous support by WB Executive Board members for Pakistan is a reflection of the trust and confidence that the international financial institutions have reposed in Pakistan economy and the current Government’s efforts to address challenges.

Ambassador Jilani thanked the World Bank for its support for Pakistan and said that the package would help expand economic activity, spur employment opportunity, reduce poverty and also help contain extremism.

“It will hugely boost the international investors’ confidence in Pakistan,” he said. Besides the massive $12 billion WB package, other institutions will also back Pakistan’s economic development and the country is expecting more than $5 billion in foreign investment in the energy sector.

In addition, in June this year the World Bank is expected to approve $700 million for Dasu Hydro Power project and Islamabad is also confident of securing international support for Diamer Bhasha dam.

Vice President Le Houerou expressed deep appreciation for Islamabad’s policies that have led to economic turnaround within ten months, while noting “it is amazing how much mileage we have walked together.”

He said it is because of the “very forceful and determined will and economic actions” by the government of Pakistan that the World Bank and Pakistan have entered such landmark programs within a short span.

“That is quite an achievement — that we have been able to work from almost no program to this kind of very heavy important program — that speaks to the determination of the government of Pakistan — (they) did a fantastic job.”

The five-year program, he said, is a “recipe for success” for Pakistan.

Under the agreements signed Friday, the purpose of Power Sector Developmental Policy financing is to support Pakistan’s programme of reforms aimed at developing an efficient and consumer oriented electric power system that meets the needs of Pakistan’s people and economy, sustainably and affordably.

Meanwhile, the Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Developmental Policy financing seeks to support Government of Pakistan’s efforts to promote private and financial sector development and expand social protection for the poor through enhanced revenue mobilization.

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Albania serves as gateway for Indonesia’s products to Balkan states

May 4 2014, London (ANTARA News) – Indonesias relations with Albania continues to grow as reflected in its increasing trade with that country which also serves as a gate for Indonesian products to the Balkan states, an Indonesia diplomat said.

“Albania is very strategic for Indonesian products to enter the Balkan states although both countries are geographically separated far away,” Indonesian Minister Counselor at the Indonesian Embassy in Sofia, Pranowo said.

Pranowo was quoting Albanian Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Entrepreneurship Brunilda Paskali, who made the remarks in a seminar on Indonesia-Albania Economic Relations at Beder University Tirana.

The seminar was held in connection with the 20th anniversary of Indonesia-Albania diplomatic relations.

In the meantime, Indonesian Ambassador to Bulgaria and Albania Bunyan Saptomo said in his keynote speech in the seminar that business makers of the two countries had not yet fully tapped the business potentials of both countries.

This is based on the fact that businesses of the countries had not yet been well informed of the potentials of the two countries.

Therefore, the Indonesian embassy in Sofia initiated the seminar and hoped that Albanian businessmen would attend the Trade Expo Indonesia 2014 in Jakarta.

Based on data at the Albanian Institute of Statistics (INSTAT), the trade relations between the two countries in 2013 increased 178.35 percent from that in the previous year.

Indonesia-Albania trade was recorded at US$7.15 million in 2012. It rose to US$19.91 million in 2013.

Indonesias exports to Albania included chemical products, paper, carton, electrical appliances and fishery products.

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Turkish Airlines makes first flight to Sarajevo

ISTANBUL/SARAJEVO, May 02, 2014 (Anadolu Agency) – Turkish Airlines (THY), Turkey’s flag carrier, has made its first commercial flight to Sarajevo from Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport.

“With the addition of Sarajevo, the total number of THY international destinations out of Sabiha Gokcen airport (SAW) has reached 17,” Mehmet Baspinar, VP of Sales and Marketing for Eastern Europe and the Balkans said on Friday.

Ahmet Salih Kansu, Turkish Airlines’ Director for Bosnia and Herzegovina, told Anadolu Agency that there will be three flights a week between Sarajevo and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, increasing the total number of direct flights from Istanbul to Sarajevo to 21 per week.

Kansu said: “THY has already been operating 18 weekly flights between Sarajevo and Istanbul Ataturk Airport for 19 years. Now, Bosnians will have the opportunity to fly directly to Istanbul’s Asian side where 45 percent of Istanbul’s population lives.”

“The Bosnians will be able to easily travel to neighboring Anatolian destinations like Izmit, Yalova, Bursa, Adapazari and northern and eastern Marmara regions.”

Passengers will be able to fly from Sarajevo to Asian side of Istanbul on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays for €99 (US$137) including taxes. The price is valid for online bookings only, and for tickets purchased up until July 24.

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Istanbul summit shows business opportunities in Turkey

ISTANBUL, May 03, 2014 (Anadolu Agency) – Turkey’s Development Minister Cevdet Yilmaz briefed foreign investors about investment opportunities in Turkey at a business summit in Istanbul Saturday.

Speaking at the submit organized by BKR International, a major association of independent accounting and business advisers, Yilmaz said, “The custom union with the EU came into effect in 1996 and Turkey’s trade volume with the EU has since reached a remarkable level. Thanks to the advantages of the Custom Union, Turkey has became an attraction center of companies from Asian origin.”

Yilmaz also mentioned the geographical importance of Turkey. “Turkey is located in the heart of Europe, Asia and Africa, it is of crucial importance for the region and rest of the world, we are just in the middle of three continent with a lot of historical and economic ties,” he said.

“We will first turn Istanbul into a regional financial center and in time a global financial center,” Yilmaz informed conference attendees and provided information on plans for a third airport in Istanbul.

BKR International, hosting a conference for the first time in Istanbul, represents over 155 independent accounting business advisory firms in over 75 countries.

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Turkey to host young diplomats around the world

May 03, 2014, ANKARA (Anadolu Agency) – Turkey’s foreign ministry will host young diplomats from across the world in May in its ‘Diplomacy Academy,’ the ministry said on Friday.

Young diplomats from 79 countries will receive training between May 5-30 on how to cope with the current global challenges the international scene is faced with as part of the academy’s “International Junior Diplomats Training Program.”

The program, which is set to be held in the provinces of Istanbul, Denizli, Izmir and Canakkale, will be opened in Ankara on Monday by Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru.

Founded on the deep-rooted legacy of Ottoman diplomacy, the Diplomacy Academy offers training programs in a wide array of disciplines including diplomacy, international relations and economics.

Junior diplomats from the Balkans, East Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caucasus, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa meet every year for a month in Turkey within the context of the program. 2014 will mark the twentieth edition of the program.

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Istanbul’s biggest airport tops European traffic charts

May 02, 2014, ANKARA (Anadolu Agency) – Istanbul Ataturk Airport broke air traffic record of all times in Europe with 1,267 landings and takeoffs on Thursday, May 1st, Turkey’s airports management agency said.

The agency said Ataturk Airport, which led with the highest numbers of passengers in Europe in August of last year, now breaks a new record in air traffic.

While a new record was broken on April 25 this year with 1,246 planes landing and taking off in 24 hours, the May 1st surpassed this record with a total of 1,267 airplanes, 632 landing and 635 taking off from Ataturk Airport.

Turkey’s Transport Ministry said in January that Turkish civil aviation broke a record with over 150 million passengers in 2013, an increase of 14.6 percent compared with 2012.

There was 17.6 percent increase in domestic flights in 2013 and the number of passengers reached 76.1 million. International passengers numbers reached 73.3 million with a rise of 11.8 percent.

Among the busiest airports in Turkey, Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport remains in top spot with 17.2 million domestic flight passengers. Sabiha Gokcen Airport, Istanbul’s main air hub on the Asian side of the city, is second with 11.9 million domestic flight passengers, while Esenboga Airport in capital Ankara is the third busiest with 9.3 million domestic flight passengers.

In the last 10 years, Turkey has experienced more than a 20 percent annual increase in both aircraft and passenger traffic and in 2012, the commercial aircraft traffic of Ataturk Airport increased 14.8 percent compared to 2011.

According to 2010 forecasts by Turkey’s Middle East Technical University’s, in 20 years Istanbul airports’ commercial aircraft traffic will exceed 1 million aircraft and will host 118 million passengers per year. Cargo traffic will reach 2.5 million if the infrastructure is available.

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Astana Fashion Days to kick off May 7

ASTANA. KAZINFORM, Anadolu Agency – Astana Fashion Days will be held in Astana on May 7-8. According to the organizers, as part of the programme the first Kazakhstani contest of young designers will give an opportunity to compete for participation in the Russian Silhouette contest in Moscow. Two out of 22 young designers may represent there Kazakhstan. The programme also foresees various seminars and master classes, exhibitions and presentations of Miss Intercontinental Kazakhstan и Miss Tourism Kazakhstan.

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Construction of North-South highway begins in Krygyzstan

Kazarman, May 2 / Kabar / Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev today participated in the official ceremony of beginning the construction of an alternative north-south highway. The event took place in the village Kazarman of Jalal -Abad oblast.

“Today we see a historic event – the official start of construction of an alternative route. This highway will be another road uniting Kyrgyzstan,” the president said.

Minister of Transport and Communications of Kyrgyzstan Kalykbek Sultanov said that construction of the first phase includes five sections: 2 – in the south, 2 – in the north, one plot – the construction of the tunnel.

Currently, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has begun to implement the first phase of the project, the financing of which $ 400 million allocated to Kyrgyzstan by Export-Import Bank of China. Construction works will be fulfilled by China Road and Bridge. Corp.

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Kyrgyzstan Participates for the First Time in Sharjah Heritage Festival

At the invitation of organizers of Sharjah Heritage Days festival this year a large group of representatives of Kyrgyzstan came to Sharjah. They brought a lot of interesting things, utensils, food and household supplies of ancient nomads, including national yurt in beautiful decoration. A concert of musical dance group of Eastern University in Bishkek caused a wide resonance. The Kyrgyz delegation was one of the most representative, some of them brought a self-made crafts for sale as souvenirs to locals and tourists.

The festival, held in the city, aspiring to become the capital of Islamic culture, held under the auspices of UNESCO.

Organizers of the festival say that invitations were sent to all five countries of Central Asian region. However, representatives of only two countries of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan took part in the event. Uzbek delegation was represented by music and dance group from Khorezm and also aroused great interest among the audience. According to the head of the Department of Culture of Sharjah Dr. Abdulaziz , Kyrgyzstan participates in the festival for the second time, and this was the result of active cooperation with the Consulate General of the Kyrgyz Republic in the UAE.

Tourists and guests of the festival became acquainted not just with national exhibits from different countries, but also to feel the spirit of unity of the Muslim world, its antiquity and deep relationship, despite appearance and linguistic differences. According to organizers of the festival, it gives the opportunity to be part of history, art and culture of the Arab and the entire Islamic world, to witness the former and present life of the Arabs, to get acquainted with traditional lifestyles of emiratis living in metropolitan areas and Bedouins in the desert. In addition, visitors could see the national traditions, costumes and ornaments, handicrafts, folklore performances and various national shows.

In this the Arabs succeed because every night they begin to accompany all activities with very attractive dance -song performance of Arab folklore. One of the surprising discoveries for tourists may be the fact that apparently monotonously dressed in shrouds Arab women have a varied wardrobe, which are the envy of every woman in the world. The festival organizers did not forget about children, they can watch puppet shows based on oriental tales, circus acts, a variety of books.

As the festival is international, the organizers took the responsibility for the selection of participants from other countries. At the same time, for example, part of the festival participants from Kyrgyzstan arrived in Sharjah with the assistance of the Islamic Centre for Development of handicrafts. Organizers maintain regular contact with the Consulate General of the Kyrgyz Republic in Dubai. According to organizers, the festival is designed for guests of all ages.

The photo exhibition, lectures on various topics of the Arab and Islamic world in general, contests, ethnic and national show performances were held within the framework of the festival. This year, for the first time, organizers of the festival invited media representatives from the participating countries to cover the event. Consul General of the Kyrgyz Republic in Dubai Kubanichbek Omuraliev trying to involve in the festival not only creative teams, but also officials of Kyrgyzstan. However, the Consulate General’s invitation addressed to the Minister of Culture, Information and Tourism of the KR remains without attention for the second time.

One of the important parts of the festival is the Museum Biennale, organized by the Cultural Foundation of the Government of Sharjah. Every three months it exhibits works of masters of the Muslim and Arab world, may be not the most famous, but which correspondent with goals and intentions of the festival by spirit and scope of work – to enable people from around the world to get acquainted with the world of other peoples and nations, their history and modern thoughts. Now the museum is under the patronage of Princess Hur Al Qassimi, the daughter of Ruler of Sharjah.

Princess Navar received a good liberal arts education, knows foreign languages and plans to work towards strengthening the cultural relations of the Arab and Islamic world.

Consul General Kubanichbek Omuraliev, who took part in the festival, believes that such a festival “really brings together nations and countries. And thus countries can find opportunities for closer relations. It is through culture we can get closer as close countries that will eventually lead to attracting investment in Kyrgyzstan. Investment opportunities in countries such as United Arab Emirates are enormous, we just have to work actively. ”

The festival was only the beginning and opens up broad prospects for potential development of bilateral relations with Arabian Emirates. One could say Kyrgyzstan’s first cultural landing in the Gulf country in wide format gives a chance to open doors for Arabs in favor of bilateral relations, their expansion in the economy, which ultimately have a positive impact on investment.

Throughout the world, despite all the contradictions and obstacles rapprochement between countries and peoples only brings benefits – in cultural enrichment, the growth of tourism, the development of the spiritual world. Through them, as a consequence of the convergence and understanding comes the realization of the importance of both political and economic ties between the countries. From this perspective, the United Arab Emirates, Sharjah Government create very acceptable conditions. And countries such as Kyrgyzstan should make maximum use of the offered possibilities. Especially because, unlike many countries in our region, the Arab world more open and close with Kyrgyzstan.

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Australian athlete Patrick Farmer on 1,400-km run in Lebanon for peace in the region

Wed 30 Apr 2014, NNA – Philanthropist and former member of the Australian Federal Assembly runner, Patrick Farmer, on Wednesday held a press conference at the Press Club, during which he announced that his peaceful initiative was to “run for peace in the Middle East in order to consolidate peace and tolerance in the region.”

“I will run in different Lebanese regions, a distance of 1,400 kilometers,” reported the athlete and wished for a broader participation from the Lebanese for the “moral support.”

He claimed that the marathon will be launched tomorrow, on Thursday May 1st. The race will debut in the Cedars region and pass through Becharreh, Byblos and Tripoli and ending his career Saturday, May 3 in downtown Beirut.

Farmer has expressed his love for Lebanon, and said that “the Lebanese Diaspora in Australia reflects a beautiful image (of the country).”

He finally reported that the marathon will be filmed and aired as a documentary on the Australian TV, noting that the funds which will be collected during his journey will go for the organizations working for peace.

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Lebanese airlines MEA launches flights to Basra, London

Beirut, 26 Mar 2014, NNA – Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines MEA announced on Wednesday the launching of a new flight to Basra – Iraq as of March 30, 2014, noting that there will be two flights per week — one on Thursday and another on Sunday. The airline has also announced an increase in its flights to London reaching two flights per day.

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Malaysian State Of Sabah To Draw Up More Comprehensive Guidelines On Safety Of Tourists

KOTA KINABALU, Sabah state, Malaysia April 30 (NNN-Bernama) — The Sabah state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry is drawing up a more comprehensive guidelines to ensure safety of visitors at its wildlife sanctuaries. Its minister, Masidi Manjun, said the ministry would discuss the matter with the relevant agencies, including the Sabah Wildlife Department.

“We are looking at existing procedures, whether they have been complied with and personally, I think it is not about violating procedures,” he said.

He was met after opening the ‘Stakeholders Validation Workshop Imbak Canyon Conservation Area Strategic Management Plan 2014-2023’ organised by the Sabah Foundation and Petronas here Wednesday.

Masidi said this in response to a report and photographs sent by the team of Honorary Wildlife Wardens from HUTAN, the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme (KOCP), to Sabah Wildlife Director Dr Laurentius Ambu, who responded by saying he was really disappointed and shocked.

In the report, HUTAN claimed that tourism players (operators, guides, boatmen), including so-called “eco” operators, continued to ignore warnings and advice from the Sabah Wildlife Department and its partners, by placing themselves and their tourists at great risk to see the Borneo Pygmy elephants in the wild.

“The elephants are quite dangerous sometimes. The incident where an Australian tourist was killed should be a reminder to us all. We should not risk ourselves because the elephants can become violent,” said Masidi.

He said such an incident could be avoided had the tour operator observed the standard operating procedures (SOP).

“The tour guide could have advised tourists from doing anything that might place them at risk, but we are still waiting for a full report on the incident,” he added.

The incident occurred in December 2011 while the tourist was trying to capture a picture of a pygmy elephant during a visit to the Tabin Wildlife Forest Reserve.

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