Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

16 Jun, 2014

Cool Weather Cape Town Woos Muslim Tourists For Ramadan

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 16 June 2014 (18 Sha’baan 1435). Pls click on any of the headlines BELOW to go to the story.



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.




China, Bangladesh pledge joint efforts to build economic corridor

BEIJING, June 10 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed here on Tuesday and both pledged to make joint efforts to build an economic corridor linking Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar.

“Bangladesh is an important country along the Maritime Silk Road,” Xi said during the meeting, noting that China welcomes the Bangladeshi side’s participation in the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, while pushing ahead with the economic corridor.

The moves will help to build a community of shared interests between China and Bangladesh, and benefit the people of the two countries and the region at large, according to the Chinese leader.

The concepts of the belt and maritime route were firstly proposed by Xi last year. The Silk Road connected China and Europe from around 100 B.C., while the Maritime Silk Road was used by Chinese merchants to transport silk, ceramics and tea to overseas markets.

Echoing Xi’s proposal on the belt and maritime route, Wajed said the four-nation economic corridor is of great significance for the development of South Asia and that her country will play an active role in its construction.

According to a joint statement, the two sides recognized that the development of the corridor would constitute an important vehicle to complement various regional connectivity initiatives and provide an important avenue for strengthening cooperation and sustainable development.

China and Bangladesh agreed to remain actively engaged towards the development of the corridor along with other countries, and expressed their hope of realizing mutually beneficial and result-oriented cooperation among the four countries, said the statement.

During the meeting, Xi said China attaches great importance to its ties with Bangladesh and regards the country as an important cooperative partner in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region.

As 2015 will mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relationship, Xi proposed the two sides hold various events to celebrate the anniversary and boost cooperation in multiple areas to cement their partnership.

Xi also expressed China’s support for Bangladesh’s development path and pledged to share technology and experience to reduce poverty and help spur its economy.

Hailing the traditional friendship, Wajed said she looks forward to closer cooperation with China in Bangladesh’s push to eliminate poverty and make itself a middle-income country in 2021.

Bangladesh will continue to support China firmly on issues involving its core interests and major concerns, said the Bangladeshi prime minister.

Wajed is making an official visit to China from June 6 to 11 at the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. During the visit, she also attended the second China-South Asia Expo in Kunming of southwest China’s Yunnan Province.

During Wajed’s visit, she and the Chinese premier witnessed the signing of a string of deals regarding economic and technical cooperation, feasibility study of flood prevention and management in Bangladesh, and the construction of a multi-lane road tunnel project under the River Karnaphuli.

In Tuesday’s joint statement, China and Bangladesh also pledged to step up cooperation in such areas as trade, investment, finance, agriculture, technology innovation, health, education, transportation and infrastructure building.

The Chinese side pledged to encourage its companies to invest in Bangladesh and participate in the country’s development of communication, energy, transportation and infrastructure, said the statement.

Back to top

Indonesia’s Wayang festival set to enliven Old Town

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, June 13 2014 – The fourth Indonesia Wayang Festival 2014, which is due to kick off at the Wayang Museum in the Old Town area in West Jakarta on Friday, will present a wayang orang (classical dance drama) performance with video-mapping technology in an effort to attract younger people to the event.

Head of the festival committee, Sumardi, said the visual effects were a new feature at this year’s festival.

“This year, we hope we can attract more young people. We want to bring them closer to tradition, especially wayang,” he told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Thursday.

Dwi Sulastri from the Wayang Orang Swargaloka theater said the technology would be used during their group’s performance, which will close the festival on Sunday evening.

“Hopefully, we can excite youngsters so that they will come to appreciate wayang theater, which has received global recognition,” she said in a statement.

The three-day festival, which is free of charge, will treat visitors to an array of traditional and contemporary wayang performances from across the country.

Popular shadow puppet shows such as wayang purwa and Sundanese wayang golek (wooden puppets) are on the schedule. The festival also boasts contemporary wayang performances, such as wayang kancil, which uses animal characters, wayang joblar, wayang beber metropolitan and wayang urban revolusi, which combines monologues, dialogue, acting, songs and dances.

Other performances will include wayang cirebon, wayang orang Betawi and wayang bhineka tunggal ika. Young visitors can also join photography, wayang coloring and storytelling competitions, while others can visit the bazaar, workshops and exhibition, which is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sumardi said he was optimistic that the festival would attract a large number of visitors, saying that wayang would never cease, despite modernization. The festival welcomes around 50,000 visitors annually.

“People may think that our younger generation only love modern pop culture from overseas, but we don’t think so. Many young people are interested in wayang,” he said.

Sumardi, who is also the museum’s head of collections and maintenance, said interest could be seen in the increasing number of student visitors to the museum, as well as the various festivals that nurtured the talent of young puppeteers and public performances that still attracted large audiences.

The Total Indonesia Foundation collaborated with the Indonesian Puppeteers Association (Pepadi) and the Indonesian Puppetry Society (Sena Wangi) to present the festival.

Head of the foundation, Eddy Mulyadi, said the main challenge for preserving the wayang tradition was the ability to adapt to the modern world without losing its originality.

At least seven senior puppet masters and two teenage puppet masters were set to entertain visitors to the Old Town, he said, adding that some of the senior puppet masters were traveling from Bandung and Cirebon in West Java, Malang in East Java and Bali to perform at the festival.

One of the anticipated shows is a performance by renowned wayang purwa (leather puppet) puppeteer Ki Purbo Asmoro, which will be on the main stage during the opening ceremony on Friday at 7 p.m.

Various efforts to preserve the wayang tradition were launched after UNESCO recognized it as an intangible cultural heritage form in 2010. In more recent years, Jakarta has hosted a number of wayang performances.

Back to top

China to finance, develop airport in Gwadar

ISLAMABAD, Dawn, June 13th, 2014: The government disclosed on Thursday that the financing and development of Gwadar International Airport had been “taken over by China” and that the Civil Aviation Authority would not be involved with the process.

In addition, the controversy over the change in the route of the $35 million Pak-China Economic Corridor deepened as government officials continued to contradict each other over the reasons for the change.

Planning and Development Secretary Hassan Nawaz Tarar told a Senate committee that a special board had been established to oversee the construction of Gwadar airport. Pakistan People’s Party Senator Fateh Mohammad Hassani alleged that land for the airport — worth Rs100 million — had been purchased at Rs1.5 billion.

The government has already handed over the development and operations side of the Gwadar Deep Sea Port to China, after withdrawing the rights originally granted to Singapore.

Change of route: A number of senators walked out of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue meeting over what they termed “the conflicting statements of federal ministers and secretaries about the route of the multi-billion dollar project”.

The government currently favours the Gwadar-Karachi-Lahore route, also known as the ‘eastern route’; whereas opposition members preferred the original ‘western route’ of Gwadar-Dera Ghazi Khan-Dera Ismail Khan.

The former, they said, bypassed “Pakh­tun and Baloch areas” and demanded that the original route be restored.

On Wednesday, Tarar told the committee that a proposal to change the route was being considered at the request of the Chinese. But at Thursday’s meeting, he said the original route was never discussed with the Chinese at any stage.

His statement was contradicted by the additional secretary for communications, who told the committee that both route options had been shared with the Chinese, who showed a greater interest in the eastern route.

This led certain senators, led by the Awami National Party’s Haji Ilyas Bilour, to deplore the contradictory statements coming from government officials and alleged that Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal had ‘misled’ the committee. Mr Iqbal had told the committee on Wednesday that both routes were considered, but the government opted for the eastern route because it was possible to develop most of it on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis, without too much external financial assistance. Developing the western route, he had said, would require heavy borrowing, which the country could not afford.

Former finance minister Saleem H Mandviwala said that he had met the Chinese ambassador, who said his government had no role in the change of route and were fine with whichever route was chosen as long as Pakistan could guarantee its security.

Sardar Hassani demanded that the western route be reinstated, a view supported by a majority of members.

Mr Iqbal later told journalists that the route for the corridor had not been changed; rather both options were always part of the plan. He added that the western route was not viable at this stage because parts of it could not be developed on a BOT basis.

Back to top

‘Visa waiver for Pakistani fans travelling to the World Cup’

APP, ISLAMABAD: Close to 500 Pakistani fans are travelling to Brazil to witness the biggest sporting carnival – the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil’s Ambassador to Pakistan Alfredo Leoni said on Thursday.

“We have issued visas to around 200 people from Pakistan, while the rest of Pakistanis are travelling to our country from other parts of the world,” Leoni told reporters at the Brazilian Embassy here.

“Here in Pakistan, we’ve given 100 per cent waiver on visas to Pakistani fans to help them enjoy football extravaganza in our country,” he said.

Leoni praised Pakistan’s football manufacturing industry which will be supplying the balls being used at this year’s World Cup.

Pakistan secured the contract when FIFA World Cup’s Chinese supplier Adidas failed to keep up with the demand of footballs in Rio de Janeiro. Sialkot ball manufacturing company Forward Sports stepped in and secured the deal. They had only 33 days to make it happen but they managed and now Pakistan will be represented at the World Cup by the ‘Brazuca’.

“Though Pakistan is a 164th-ranked football team, it has left all others behind in production of quality balls. I feel proud to be ambassador in a country which will be supplying all the balls being used in the FIFA World Cup,” he added.

Pakistan produces around 70 per cent of the total number of hand-made balls in the world. Around the time of the World Cup the production jumps to more than 60 million balls. The Pakistani city of Sialkot is the hub of the country’s football manufacturing industry.

Forward Sports owner, Malik Khwaja Masood Akhtar, told DW he had prepared footballs for a number of international events, but preparing ‘Brazucas’ was more challenging.

“We normally make hand-made footballs. Manufacturing machine-made balls was a tough task. We had to use various computer programs and modern equipment to produce the footballs. We didn’t have experts who could do this job, but we worked hard and did not compromise on quality,” Akhtar added.

Back to top

Laos, Indonesian Airlines Study Direct-Flight Prospects

VIENTIANE, June 13 (NNN-KPL) — Lao Airlines and Indonesia’s national flag carrier Garuda are conducting a feasibility study into the opening of a direct flight between Vientiane and Jakarta to increase bilateral trade and cooperation between Laos and Indonesia.

“It is possible to open the direct flight between our two countries, but we are now studying into market and travelling demand of tourists because passengers are main factor of operating a commercial flight,”said Vice President of Lao Airlines, Sengpaseuth Mathouchanh during his participation at the First Laos-Indonesia Business Forum held in Vientiane on Thursday.

“It is our plan to connect Laos with other ASEAN member countries in order to provide facilitation to business and people-to-people communication. According to our plan, we expect to open the flight after 2017,” Sengpaseuth said.

The opening of direct flight between the two capital cities is possible because Laos and Indonesia signed an Air Transport Agreement in February 1997. “I think Laos is geographically competitive as it borders China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. So it is very necessary for us to develop and enhance our trade cooperation with Laos as a partner to tap markets Laos accesses,”said Indonesian Ambassador to Laos, Irmawan Emir Wisnandar.

In the future, we need to have closer cooperation with Laos because it is located strategically, abundant of law materials, and has very positive economic growth, he pointed out.

Wisnandar continued that it is very important for Indonesian businessmen to open their eyes as Laos would be their wonderful partner.

“My future objective is how we can link direct flight between Jakarta and Vientiane because without the direct link from Indonesia to Laos at the moment, business-to-business and people to people contacts cannot develop in positive way, but if we can have that kind of flight or services I think business to business between our two countries will be strengthened and increased. Currently, our bilateral trade is still low compared to Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand because they have direct flights to Vientiane,” added Wisnandar.

Vice President of Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Oudeth Souvannavong said that trade cooperation between Laos and Indonesia is slowly increasing. The main cause is lack of air transport facilities between the two countries. Currently, many Indonesian investors show an increasing interest in investing in Laos especially in areas of mining, hydropower and agriculture.

Back to top

Malaysia: Floria Putrajaya 2014 Targets One Million Visitors

PUTRAJAYA, June 6 (NNN-Bernama) — The Putrajaya Flower and Garden Festival (Floria Putrajaya) 2014 scheduled for June 14 to 22 is set to create a sensation again with Begonia or Asam Batu being chosen as the floral theme.

Putrajaya Corporation president Aseh Che Mat said as the flowers were relatively unknown in the country, they were expected to entice visitors to the annual flower show which targeted one million visitors.

“If many people think that Asam Batu will not be well received, they are wrong. It will definitely create a lot of interests,” he told a news conference at his residence here.

He hoped the entrance fee at RM3 for adults and RM1 for children aged between seven and 12 would not burden visitors while convincing foreigners of the gorgeous flower show.

The Floria Putrajaya 2014 is scheduled to be opened by the King, Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and the Queen, Tuanku Hajah Haminah at its new permanent site at the Putrajaya lakeside, Presint 4 on June 14.

A total of 400,000 species of flowers and plants will be displayed at Floria Putrajaya, the seventh since it was first introduced, while 58 garden lots will cater for landscape operators, flower suppliers and entrepreneurs putting up their products and services.

Back to top

Nigeria, Kenya To Boost Tourism Ties

LAGOS, June 8 (NNN-Xinhua) — Nigeria is working with the Kenyan government over developing a framework to boost the tourism sector of the former country in the next 12 months, said Edem Duke, Nigerian minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation in an interview with reporters in Abuja, the national capital of Nigeria.

Duke spoke on the sideline of an event to celebrate the launch of the air route operated by Kenya Airways from Abuja to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. The minister emphasized the need to develop the tourism sector in line with the Nigerian Government’s transformation agenda and added that the partnership with Kenya would ensure increased value in trade relations.

“Kenya is the benchmark in terms of African tourism; Nigeria is the benchmark in terms of oil and gas. Kenya has just discovered oil; Nigeria is helping to develop it,” said Duke, who stressed he hoped Kenya will help Nigeria find a strategy and link to develop the tourism sector and insisting it be a win-win deal for both nations.

According to the official, an implementation committee comprising officials of both countries has been set up to work out details of the framework which will be submitted for ratification and execution upon completion.

Back to top

Malaysia Welcomes 7.09 Million Tourists In Q1 2014

PUTRAJAYA, June 13 (NNN-Bernama) — In tandem with the “Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014,” the country has welcomed 7.09 million tourists for the first quarter of this year from 6.45 million tourists during the same period last year, a hike of 10 per cent.

Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (Tourism Malaysia) said Friday the top 10 tourist generating markets to Malaysia were Singapore, Indonesia, China, Thailand, Brunei, India, Australia, Japan, the Philippines and the United Kingdom.

“The Asean region continued to be the largest contributor of tourist arrivals with 72.1 per cent share of 5.1 million of Malaysia’s total arrivals. Among Asean countries, Vietnam registered the highest growth of 30.1 per cent, followed by Thailand (20.9 per cent), Cambodia (12.6 per cent), the Philippines (10.3 per cent) and Singapore (10.2 per cent),” it said in a statement here.

Tourism Malaysia said the medium-haul markets contributed 20.1 per cent or 1.4 million tourists to Malaysia’s total arrivals.

Countries that registered double-digit growth were South Korea (37.1 per cent), Saudi Arabia (21.4 per cent), Australia (19.2 per cent), New Zealand (14.6 per cent) and India (11.2 per cent), it said.

In the long-haul markets, a total of 0.5 million tourists or 7.9 per cent of Malaysia’s total arrivals were noted.

“The markets that posted double-digit growth are Russia (25.3 per cent), Italy (18.3 per cent), France (17.5 per cent), Germany (15 per cent), United States (12 per cent), the Netherlands (11.8 per cent) and Canada (10.4 per cent),” it added.

Back to top

3,000 Malaysian Halal Products To Enter China’s Market Next Year

BERA, June 8 (NNN-Bernama) — – A total of 3,000 Malaysian agriculture-based halal products are expected to enter China’s market from next year.

Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ismail Sabri Yaakob said at present, only 232 types of local halal products were on sale in Xian, capital of Shaanxi province in China, at the “Sam Bao” supermarket. About 1,000 more halal products will enter the Chinese market before this year-end. In 2015, 3,000 halal products of various types will follow suit.

“China is confident of Malaysian halal products due to it being clean and of quality,” he told reporters after officiating the “Pahang Entrepreneur Information Tour” here.

Ismail Sabri said Malaysia had a bright future when it comes to marketing halal products in China due to demand from the Muslim community there, particularly in Xian.

The Bera Member of Parliament also said a seminar on Malaysian halal products will be held in the province and attended by religious leaders and others.

Meanwhile, in this regard, he said entrepreneurs who produced halal products in the country need to be more aggressive in snapping up opportunities following the increase in demand since last year from the Muslim community there.

In another development, Ismail Sabri said Prime Minister Najib Razak will officiate the first Agro Bazaar to be held outside the country, in Singapore on June 26.

“Four shops have been rented on Arab Street there to sell various agro-based products and local fruits with high demand such as honey jackfruit, rambutans, magosteen and Musang King durian,” he added.

Back to top

Malaysia Announces Further Measures To Promote Investment

KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on Monday announced further liberalisation to promote investment in a broader spectrum of assets and capacity building.

Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, said the country aims to further strengthen the Malaysian capital market so it may act as the catalyst for sustainable, long-term growth domestically and in the region. The Prime Minister announced the mandatory requirement for credit ratings would be removed effective Jan 1, 2017 to broaden the corporate bond market and enable investors to further diversify their portfolios.

“A gradual approach is being adopted to provide industry players sufficient time to further refine mechanisms necessary to operate under the new regime,” he said in his keynote address at the two-day Invest Malaysia 2014, which began Monday.

Flexibilities would be accorded with regards to credit ratings and the tradeability of unrated bonds and sukuk from Jan 1, 2015, said Najib.

The equity holdings for credit rating agencies will also be liberalised, and international credit rating agencies with full foreign ownership will be allowed in the Malaysian market from Jan 1, 2017. “Ultimately, this liberalisation will enable the Malaysian bond market to become a more cost-effective and attractive long-term financing platform,” said Najib.

The equity shareholding for unit trust management companies will also be liberalised in the spirit of the Asean Economic Community (AEC), and to further encourage growth and competition within the unit trust industry, he added.

“With immediate effect, foreign corporations will be allowed to own 100 per cent of shares in unit trust management companies, and there will be no barrier to entry for new foreign unit trust management companies coming into Malaysia. We believe this measure will make a wider range of competitive products available to investors, and increase competition in the sector,” said Najib.

He noted that the Securities Commission, together with professional bodies and other stakeholders, is exploring avenues to enhance the quality of information available to the capital market.

“One of the options being considered is the eventual introduction of integrated reporting, an approach that has already been adopted by several jurisdictions and multinational corporations,” said Najib.

He added that Malaysia’s financial markets could and would help drive regional integration as the AEC approaches. “In this context, we welcome collaborations -– such as the new series of Asean Indices which are available today, and were drawn up by a group of seven regional exchanges -– which will help us lay the foundations for greater regional growth,” he said.

Back to top


OnIslam & News Agencies Tuesday, 10 June 2014, CAPE TOWN – As a summer Ramadan approaches in the midst of scorching sun, tourism companies in the Cape Town has been expanding Muslim-friendly establishments to attract Muslim tourists seeking to spend Ramadan and enjoy the city’s cooler temperatures.

“Cape Town is blessed to be a city with a lot of Mosques – the Bo Kaap has nine Mosques alone, and there are many Mosques in the central city area too,” Gamidah Jacobs, owner of the Bo-Kaap based Lekka Kombuis; a Malay cooking school and Cape Town Tourism member, told eTN website on June 9.

Across Cape Town, a number of establishments have been attracting Muslim tourists from the beginning of June. Located at the southern part of the world, Cape Town visitors will enjoy cooler temperatures during the holy month of Ramadan, which starts next June 28.

Mosques and establishments that serve halal food are also a great attraction. “As for foods, Cape Town has halal fast food outlets as well as Cape Malay foods which you can find all over Cape Town,” Jacobs said.

“Visiting Cape Town as a Muslim it’s a bonus staying in the Bo Kaap area as it is a predominantly Muslim area and there are a few lodges and hotels in and around this area, eg. Hilton, Cape Town Lodge,” he added. Muslims make up to 1.5% of South Africa’s 44-million population. Cape Town alone is home to nearly half a million Muslims of diverse Asian origins.

South Africa is currently ranked as the second most halal friendly country according to Crescentrating for non OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) countries, and the Muslim community in Cape Town is the largest in the country.

The halal industry is steadily growing in South Africa where Muslims make up some 1.5 percent of the country’s 49 million-strong population.

Muslims have halal bodies that certify almost every product manufactured in the country. This has enabled Muslims to consume halal products. Some of the country’s major banks offer Muslims Shari`ah-complaint banking facilities. Muslims have also established their own Islamic banks and insurance companies.

Back to top

Turkish PM Lays Foundation Stone Of World’s Largest Airport

ISTANBUL, June 8 (NNN-KUNA) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan graced a groundbreaking ceremony for Istanbul’s third and the world’s biggest airport on Saturday. The USD multi-billion project will be built over an area of 3,500 hectares with an annual capacity of 150 million passengers, thus becoming one of the world’s busiest air hubs.

Addressing a large number of citizens, ministers, businessmen and local officials at the ceremony, Erdogan said Turkey is marking a historic day; this will be the largest project in the history of the country. “The biggest airport in the world is going to rise here. The Turkish people are laying the groundwork of not just an airport but rather a monument of victory and self-confidence,” he said.

The first stage of the project will be opened on October 29, 2017, when the occupancy will range between 70 and 90 million travelers a year, Erdogan added.

The construction of project will pass through four stages, costing a total of 10.247 billion euros. The airport is expected to link Asia to North America and Africa to Europe and become a key international transit point and viable alternative to Frankfort airport in Germany.

Back to top

Maldives to launch seaplane services in July

Sun.mv – June 12, 2014 – National airline Maldivian has announced that it will begin scheduled seaplane flights next month, and the first flights will be operated to Thaa Atoll.

Managing Director of Island Aviation Abdul Harish told Sun Online today that efforts are ongoing to commence these flights in the first week of July.

Harish said that initially two daily flights will be operated to Thaa Atoll, and services to other regions will commence in the near future. He added that ticket prices for Thaa Atoll flights have not yet been determined.

Harish further said that one seaplane is ready for operation while a second one is under preparation, and they will both be ready for test flights by the end of the month.

The national airline decided to enter the seaplane market in October 2013, following which it has acquired several seaplanes of the series DHC-6 Twin Otter.

Back to top

Indonesia Introduces Sharia-based Tourism

Sun, June 8 2014 Batam, Risau Islands (Antara News) – The government through the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy is introducing a sharia-base tourism to boost domestic and foreign tourist visits in Indonesia.

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said here on Sunday that the Sharia-based tourism model introduced Islamic tourism objects incorporated with sharia values. “The tourism potentials are managed by adopting the Islamic values,” the minister said.

The Islamic values that could be developed in the tourism sector included halal (allowed based on Islamic law) culinary and Muslim apparel with Islamic values. She said that many domestic and foreign tourists looked for halal culinary tourism, and this would be more attractive if sharia-based culinary and fashion tourism were designed in interesting packages.

After all, Indonesia now has a target of becoming a global hub of Muslim fashion by 2020, together with the growing Muslim fashion industry, Mari Elka Pangestu said earlier.

“Indonesia is seeking to become a global hub of the Muslim fashion industry by 2020,” she said here on Friday. The domestic Muslim fashion industry was growing rapidly as reflected by its immense creativity. Therefore, there was a reason for the country to become a global hub of the fashion industry, she said.

“The domestic Muslim fashion industry is extremely creative and the potential market for its products is also large,” she added. She expressed hope that every region in the country will be able to tap their potential and be inspired to develop the Muslim fashion industry.

To achieve the target of being a global hub of the Muslim fashion industry, she said her ministry had organized the Muslim fashion festival every year in Jakarta.

“We have organized the Muslim fashion festival in Jakarta every year,” she noted.

In addition, the government also had sponsored three noted Muslim fashion designers, including Dian Pelangi, to participate in overseas exhibitions, she said.

“We brought it (Muslim fashion design) to London. We received an extraordinary response there,” she added.

Back to top

Algeria Embarking On Ambitious Programme To Rebuild Its Industrial Base

ALGIERS, June 10 (NNN-APS) — Algeria HAS just embarked on an ambitious programme of rebuilding its industrial base by mobilizing nearly 8.0 billion euros for state-owned companies after years of divestments, says Minister of Industry and Mines Abdesselam Bouchouareb.

“Nearly 8.0 billion euros have been mobilized for the modernization of these companies’ production tools, the launch of new projects and the upgrading of the human resources,” he said at the opening of a meeting between Algerian and French companies here Monday, held in conjunction with the visit of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to Algeria.

According to Bouchouareb, the public companies are now totally streamlined and their investment programmes have been prepared. In this regard, he affirmed that these projects would be presented to French business operators.

Stressing the huge potentials existing between the two countries and the progress they have achieved, he outlined the prospects of enhancing the partnership between the two parties, emphasizing that “no initiative of partnership should be under-estimated”.

As for Algeria’s 51-49 per cent rule which limits foreign equity ownership in joint ventures, he said that “this transitional measure in a context of fragility facing an acute global crisis, is aimed more at protecting our financial resources than controlling the companies created in partnership”.

He added that the government continued to encourage the establishment of joint ventures with the principle of assigning management to the foreign partner.

Fabius underlined his country’s willingness to boost the political and economic dialogue with Algeria and enhance the bilateral economic co-operation by exploring new potentials.

The French foreign minister called for “an exceptional partnership” between the two countries, focusing on the willingness of France to expand economic co-operation to new realms, chiefly the pharmaceutical industry, construction, tourism and agri-businesses.

France considers Algeria as “an equal partner,” Fabius stressed.

Back to top

Malaysia To See More Mega Infrastructure And Property Developments

KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 (NNN-BERNAMA) — The Malaysian government expects more mega infrastructure and property developments to be launched this year to support the construction sector’s growth, Works Minister Fadillah Yusof said.

He said according to the Economic Report 2013/2014 released by the Finance Ministry, the growth in the sector remains firm at 9.6 per cent, led by the civil engineering and residential sub-sectors.

“The growth was supported by the progressive completion of many construction works awarded in 2012-2013, particularly for the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit line 1,” he added.

He said this in his speech when opening the 5th Edition of the Asean Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Show 2014 (Asean M&E Show 2014), here Tuesday.

Fadillah said his ministry has been encouraging and giving full support to any initiatives pertaining to the industry to contribute to the country’s development. He urged industry player to capitalise on the secondary demand generated by Malaysia’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

As such, construction industry practitioners, from projects managers to architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, land surveyors, contractors and suppliers have a pivotal role to play in determining the success of the ETP, he added.

The Asean M&E Show this year has seen an expansion of the pavilions to include Singapore, Germany, Taiwan, Thailand, China and South Korea. Some 350 global exhibiting companies from 25 countries are showcasing thousands of new and innovative technology, equipment and machinery related to mechanical and electrical engineering.

Back to top

Iran, Turkey To Boost Economic Ties

TEHRAN, June 10 (NNN-MNA) — Iran’s president and a 90-member trade delegation from the Iranian private sector arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday. The Iranian trade delegation will discuss ways to boost bilateral economic relations during their three-day visit.

The delegation is comprised of senior managers of the textile, telecommunications, carpet, food, pharmaceutical, transportation, shipping, mining, petrochemical, steel, construction, agriculture, and tourism industries, according to the IRNA news agency.

Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industries, and Mines Chairman Gholam-Hossein Shafei is the head of the delegation. Rouhani and the rest of his team, which includes the Iranian ministers of foreign affairs, oil, finance and economic affairs, the interior, culture and Islamic guidance, telecommunications, and transport and urban development, as well as the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, will only be staying in Ankara for two days.

The value of trade between Iran and Turkey jumped sharply in 2013 compared to the decade ending in 2012.

Turkey was the 6th leading trading partner of Iran in the previous Iranian calendar year, which ended on March 20, 2014, according to the Iranian Customs Administration.

Annual non-oil trade between Iran and Turkey amounted to $5.286 billion in the previous Iranian calendar year. Turkey exported $3.646 billion of non-oil goods to Iran and imported $1.64 billion of non-oil goods from the country in Iranian year 1392 (March 2013-March 2014).

On April 15, Tehran and Ankara set an annual trade target of $30 billion at the 24th meeting of the Iran-Turkey Joint Economic Commission, which was held in Tehran.

In January, Iran and Turkey signed a preferential trade agreement, with the goal of boosting bilateral trade. The agreement was signed during Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Iran.

Ten cooperation agreements were signed on Monday in the presence of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Abdullah Gul. The agreements were on tourism, joint ventures, customs cooperation, and a number of other issues.

Iran is seeking a bigger share in Turkey’s energy market, the Iranian ambassador to Turkey, Alireza Bigdeli, said on May 16, adding that oil and gas exports to Turkey could be boosted if the sanctions imposed on the country were eased.

Interest in Iran as a destination for business is growing ahead of this month’s international talks, which are being held to resolve the deadlock over Iran’s nuclear program. If the discussions between the six major powers and Iran progress smoothly, it is expected that the sanctions imposed on the country will be eased and commercial routes will be revived.

Back to top

Malaysia Seeks To Pioneer Islamic Wealth Management

KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia hopes to be the first in the world to introduce Islamic wealth management, and champion the new product under the Islamic financial system, said Finance Deputy Minister Ahmad Maslan.

He said Islamic wealth management is an exciting and promising sub-sector of the financial services industry. “We understand the concept of wealth management from the Shariah perspectives that covers both the physical as well as spiritual facets of wealth.

“This principle stands in contrast to the conventional wealth management that focuses on only the physical or material wealth,” he told reporters after officiating a conference on Islamic Wealth Management, here Wednesday.

He said having already established itself as a global leader in Islamic finance, Malaysia today is the world’s third largest market for shariah assets, namely, Islamic banking products and services, sukuk and takaful.

Ahmad said to further Malaysia’s aspiration of becoming a centre of intellectual excellence in Islamic finance, the government is stepping up measures to that end.

“Several human capital development institutions, including the International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA), International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF), Islamic Banking and Finance Institute of Malaysia (IBFIM) and the Asian Institute of Finance (AIF) have been established to crystallise the aspiration.

“I foresee Islamic wealth management as a natural next-stage development of the local Islamic finance industry with the availability of our infrastructure, in respect of the human capital development to the Islamic financial institutions and expertise we have before us today, ” he added.

The two-day conference, organised by the Malaysian Financial Planning Council and Labuan International Business and Financial, serves as a platform for networking and exchange of thoughts and outlook about the inner workings of the Islamic financial industry.

More than 300 delegates involving policy makers, research institutes, government agencies, practitioners and scholars are attending the conference.

Back to top

Express Air To Link Pontianak with Johor Baharu

JAKARTA, June 11 (NNN-Bernama)– Indonesia’s domestic carrier, Express Air is set to connect Pontianak, West Kalimantan to Johor Baharu, Malaysia on Saturday in a bid to boost business and travel in the two cities.

“The airline had proposed the Pontianak-Johor Baharu flight service earlier this year. They will have the maiden flight on Saturday,” state-run airport operator, PT Angkasa Pura II operations manager at Pontianak’s Supadio Airport, Syarif Usmulyani was quoted as saying by Antara news agency on Wednesday.

He said that the airline would fly once a day between the two cities. “We are hoping that the new flight will help accommodate the demand for transportation among people in West Kalimantan. We believe that it will also boost our economy,” he said.

Syarif said that Malaysia-based low-cost carrier, AirAsia had also shown an interest in linking Pontianak to international destinations.

Back to top

Mozambican Government Approves National Development Strategy

MAPUTO, June 12 (NNN-AIM) — The Mozambican government has approved the National Development Strategy (ENDE), which will guide the country’s development over the next 20 years.

The strategy is based on such previous documents as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and Mozambique’s own Agenda 2025.

Speaking to reporters after a session of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) here Tuesday, Deputy Minister of Planning and Development Amelia Nakare said the that ENDE was an integrated development approach which would, through a series of pillars and strategies, establish priorities for development.

“Fundamentally, it presents the continuing need for the development of human capital. This is an indispensable factor for national development, and so the government will continue to bank on investment in human capital,” she said.

Nakare also stressed the importance of territorial planning and organization, which would make it possible to outline the priorities for investment, particularly in infrastructure.

“We must know very clearly what to build and where and when to build it. And for this to happen efficiently, considering that resources are scarce, the government must plan carefully,” she said.

A further pillar of the strategy is institutional co-ordination. “Knowing that the implementation of any policy flows from correct and appropriate coordination, the government thinks that at the level of all institutions, and not just those of the state, it is necessary to make the effort to guarantee ever greater coordination”, Nakare said.

Based on these pillars, the government intends to establish strategies in the social, economic and infrastructure areas, so as to guarantee a business environment that helps attract investments, with the perspective of exploiting Mozambique’s natural resources in a sustainable manner, she added.

Back to top

Jazeera Airways To Acquire New Generation Aircraft

KUWAIT, June 8 (NNN-KUNA) — Jazeera Airways Chairman Marwan Boodai said here on Satuday his company was holding talks with leading makers for buying a new generation of aircraft.

The contract between Jazeera Airways and plane manufacturers will be announced by the end of this year, Boodai said in an exclusive interview to KUNA as the airline has recently got delivery of a new A320s.

The company finances the buying of new airfraft through Kuwaiti and international banks without any governmental guarantees, he said, adding that Jazeera Airways is keen to update its fleed of planes.

He said the airline plans to keep new aircraft for only five years before offering them for renting, noting that it represents the Kuwaiti private sector which has proved ability to build world companies at home with the help and support of the Kuwaiti government.

However, Jazeera Airways does not believe in governmental financial support, the chairman of the Kuwaiti private airline pointed out.

Jazeera Airways Group had got delivery of a brand new Airbus A320 aircraft, bringing the Group’s fleet to 15 fully-owned aircraft.

Jazeera Airways is the largest airline serving the Middle East out of Kuwait. It currently serves 19 destinations across the Middle East and operates a modern fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft.

Established in April 2004, Jazeera Airways was first non-government owned airline in the Middle East and continues to be one of the few Middle-East based non-government owned airlines to this day. Today, Jazeera Airways is a publicly-traded company and is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE).

Back to top

Boston subway gets ads against Israeli apartheid

Middle East Monitor / 12 Jun 2014 – Adverts highlighting Israeli violations of Palestinian rights have gone up in Boston’s subway system, thanks to local non-profit group Ads Against Apartheid.

The series of three ads cover home demolitions, illegal West Bank settlements, and the Israeli military’s killing of Palestinian children. The posters also include the message “End support for Israeli apartheid”.

Intended to challenge the idea that Israel is committed to peace, “if the ads are shocking”, said Ads Against Apartheid President Chadi Salamoun, “that’s because the reality on the ground is shocking.”

The ads are running in State Street Station during the month of June. Ads Against Apartheid hope to run the ads across Boston and in other US cities.

Back to top

“Muslim World” exhibition held in Chelyabinsk

islam.ru / 09 Jun 2014 – An exhibition “Muslim World”, lasted for 4 days which was held at the Sports Complex “Youth”, completed in Chelaybinsk. Various artefacts and types of products including national Bashkir honey, national dishes, halal meat, sweets, souvenirs and books were displayed to visitors. As a part of the exhibition a contest was held for the best cook and fashion show of Islamic clothing.

The event was organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Chelyabinsk region, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Bashkortostan in the Chelyabinsk region, the Regional Spiritual Directorate of Muslims in the Chelyabinsk and Kurgan regions, “Culture world of Bashkortostan” news agency reports.

Back to top

Jerusalem declared capital of Islamic tourism for 2016

Ma’an / 10 Jun 2014 – The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has chosen Jerusalem as the capital of Islamic tourism for 2016, Palestinian officials said Thursday.

Mahmoud Habbash, PA minister of religious affairs, said the decision is a step towards breaking Israel’s siege of the city’s Islamic and Christian holy sites. The fact that Israel tries to hide the Arab and Islamic identity of the city and builds settlements will not change the fact that “Jerusalem is the religious and political capital of Palestine,” he added.

Habbash said he hopes Arab and Islamic delegates would visit Jerusalem and its holy sites. The 1st OIC International Forum on Islamic Tourism was held in Indonesia this year. East Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 by Israeli military forces and later annexed in a move never recognized by the international community.

Back to top

Russia’s smallest Quran to be displayed in Ingushetia

islam.ru / 10 Jun 2014 – The head of the republic of Ingushetia has handed over the smallest copy of the Holy Qur’an in Russia to the of the chairman of the Spiritual Administration of the Republic Isa Hamhoev for temporary storage.

It is planned to display the smallest copy of the Holy Quran at the republican museum in order for all the citizens of the republic to see it, republican news agencies reports.

There will be prepared set of necessary devices by using which all the visitors will be able to read the ayats of the Quran. This copy of the Holy Qur’an was produced by the chief expert of the Book of Records of Russia Anatoly Konenko with his son Stanislav in Omsk in 2006.

The size of the 612-page book is measured by 23 x 35 mm.

Back to top

Japan university hosts Islamic exhibition

World Bulletin / 11 Jun 2014 – Doshisha University in Japan’s Kyoto has hosted exhibition about Islam organized by the Omani Foundations and Religious Affairs Ministry called the “Message of Islam from Oman”.

The aim of the exhibition, which also offered a tour into life in Oman, was to familiarize the Japanese public with the teachings of tolerance and peace in Islam, Centre for Monotheistic Studies director Professor Katashiro Kohara told the Oman Observer.

“The Japanese public is open to learn new things. The Japanese are interested in learning about Islam,” he said. “The Exhibition gives the Japanese another chance to learn about the basic principles of Islam and the great contributions of Oman in spreading the message of tolerance,” he added.

With a collection of twenty-five paintings demonstrating manifestations of coexistence, mutual understanding and harmony between people, brought on the praise of a number of esteemed visitors.

“This gathering is very important as it enables the Japanese to understand Islam in general and Oman, in particular,” Professor Junia Shinohi, a professor of Theology at the University of Doshisha, said.

Exhibition organizer Dr Mohammad bin Said Al Maamari said “The best thing we can do is to spread the messages of peace and goodwill among the entire mankind.”

Islam was thought to have first come to Japan in the early 1900s when Muslim Tatars were escaping Russian expansionism The majority of estimates of the Muslim population have been put at around 100,000.

The 2000 Keiko Sakurai had estimated the number of ethnic Japanese Muslims in Japan at 63,552, and around 70,000 – 100,000 foreign Muslims residing in the country.

Back to top

Kosovo elects first lawmaker to wear a headscarf

World Bulletin / 12 Jun 2014 – Labinote Demi-Murtezi, who won enough votes in the elections, became Kosovo’s first headscarved lawmaker to enter the parliament.

Murtezi collected the most votes among the female candidates. She needed 5,000 votes to take a seat as a lawmaker and by the end of the elections over 6,000 votes were given to her.

Before the elections, the Prime Minster of Kosovo Hashim Thaci had given his word to remove the headscarf ban in schools. Agani, who is the leader of the Justice Party, during the election campaigns also constantly talked about how no one can restrict students who wear the headscarf from studying.

Back to top

Qatar Duty Free opens shopping emporium at HIA

Sun.mv – June 9, 2014 – Qatar Duty Free (QDF) has unveiled a shopping emporium for passengers travelling through Hamad International Airport (HIA).

The emporium started with the beginning of Qatar Airways’ operations at the airport on May 27.

Qatar Duty Free at HIA now offers passengers access to selected designer labels, high street fashions, electronics, gourmet foods, amongst others, said Qatar Airways in a press release on Monday.

“Passengers will experience at HIA unique store environments that have been designed around their needs,” said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Akbar Al Baker.

“Based on our deep understanding of passenger preferences, we have developed stores that are comfortable to explore and filled with beautiful products.”

The emporium includes new concept shops such as Esquire, for the travelling businessman, the Marmalade Market, a food store for gourmet food lovers, and Chocology, a chocolate store with world-class chefs who carve chocolate creations for customers.

Additional concept store for consumer electronics, toys, contemporary fashion, high-fashion accessories and Swiss watches are also featured in the emprorium.

Passengers at Hamad International Airport can also enjoy boutiques and stores from the likes of Bally, Bvlgari, Burberry, Chanel Watches, Harrods, Hermes, Michael Kors, Rolex, Tag Heuer, Tiffany, Swarovski, Virgin Megastore, and WH Smith. More brands are reported to launch stores at HIA in the coming months.

Back to top

Tree houses draw tourists to Olimpos

ANTALYA – Anadolu Agency – Olimpos is a little known getaway in the southern province of Antalya, full of outside sporting activities and a plethora of wooded area to escape the concrete jungle of daily life

Antalya, which hosts more than 12 million tourists every year with its well-known sea, sun and sand, also offers opportunities to those who want to have an alternative holiday.

Antalya’s Olimpos area was discovered 30 years ago by people backpacking around the world and has become very popular for alternative holiday seekers. With its magnificent natural beauties, Olimpos offers holiday for people of all income levels.

Olimpos is located within the borders of the National Park and concrete is not allowed. Tourists can have their holiday in wooden houses built in trees. Nearly 50 facilities have a capacity of some 3,000 beds in Olimpos. Holiday goers have chance to do alternative sports, such as rock climbing, jogging, bicycling, canoing, deep water solo diving and more. Sportsmen and young tourists especially have a good time thanks to the facilities’ organizations.

Unlike the other holiday centers, tourists walk through the remains of the ancient city to go to the beach. The Olimpos Beach is reached by walking through the 2,200-year-old ancient city.

Kadir’in Ağaç Evleri (Kadir’s Tree Houses), which was the first touristic facility opened in Olimpos and is shown as an extraordinary hostel, draws more than 50,000 tourists to the region from some 80 countries.

Kadir Kaya, stating that he ended his professional life as a teacher in Ankara and came to Olimpos 30 years ago, said he decided to build tree houses as a response to all the demolition of trees being cut on the coasts. He said the trees on the coast were killed and luxurious hotels.

“The trees on the coast were cut and hotels were built instead, so I decided to build the tree houses. They burned them in 2007 and we rebuilt them. I did it to show tourism is possible without cutting down trees. The coastline is filled with hotels, but the backyard was neglected. The real truth is the life in the backyard. If you love nature, it embraces you. Nature is entrusted to us. If we don’t take care of it, we cannot leave anything for future generations. It is easy to destroy nature, but it is hard to protect it. Ecological balance is necessary.

“Everyone has rights in this sea, mountains, air and forest. When I first came here, streams used to overflow, transportation was used as an excuse to cut the trees. (In the past) I carried the goods I got from villagers on my shoulders, like bread, tomatoes and cucumbers. We used to prepare our food with caravan tourists and eat it. The number of our guests did not exceed 40. Today, I host approximately 250 tourists a day.”

Kaya said people who travel with their caravan and set up their tents spend too much money, but the ones staying in a hotel spent their money for the hotel only, adding alternative tourism should be developed for local artisans to earn money.

Kaya said he did not promote his business to be known in international area, but the name was heard through the grapevine, adding, “I don’t see people as a source of money. Even if they don’t have money, they stay here. I work for people here to be healthy and leave this place happy. I have not earned too much money, but many people.”

Today, Kaya hosts tourists from nearly 80 countries, including New Zealand, Australia, Japan, German, Peru and Canada. “They see us on the Internet and come here. We have become famous by word of mouth,” he said.

He said the region has 350 routes for climbing, drawing more than 50,000 tourists, adding they had made an investment of 100,000 euros for the routes. “More than 10 million people in Europe are interested in climbing sports. Even if we only bring 20 percent of these people, it is more than 2 million people. Nature sports have great potential” he said, adding they would organize an international event for climbing in October, and the world’s 50 best known mountaineers, as well as more than 3,000 sportsmen would come to Olimpos.

Back to top

Centuries-old church rescued in Cappadocia

AKSARAY – Anadolu Agency – The roof of a 1,500-year-old church in the central Anatolian region of Cappadocia has begun to be restored before its collapse. Now, officials need resources for the restoration of the other parts of the Red Church (Kızıl Kilise), which was included in the 2008 World Monuments Watch.

The Paris-based Cappadocia Friends Association’s Turkey representative Osman Diler said the association was established in 1995 for the Red Church to be restored and gain in tourism. He said the church was included on the list of the World Monuments Watch as a result of the association’s works.

“The Red Church was listed as one of the 100 World Heritage in Danger in 2008. This situation made things easier for us to promote the church and find resources,” he said.

Diler said the Red Church was one of the first churches in the Cappadocia region and had a significant place in faith tourism. “After St. Gregorius, who was one of the founders of Orthodoxy in the 4th century, returned to Güzelyurt, he spent the last days of his life on a farm in the area of the current Red Church. After his death, the Red Church was built in the 6th century, in 560, according to the carbon analysis results. The church has become one of the frequent worship places of Christians on their way to the pilgrimage (to Jerusalem),” Diler said.

Diler said the restoration of the Red Church had started in 2011 while it was in danger of collapse, and they received support from France, the U.S., Greece and Turkey.

“The cost of the restoration project was nearly 500,000 euros. We started restorations with the support from our members in those countries, benefactors and foundations. For the restoration process, headed by retired Professor İsmet Ağaryılmaz of Yıldız Technical University Faculty of Architecture Restoration Department, we received the necessary permission, wrote a contract with a firm and completed the first stage.

“The restoration was divided into a few stages. The dome of the church was about to collapse. We first refurbished the dome and finished 30 percent of the restoration. We need cooperation. We continue seeking resources from France, the U.S. and Turkey. We will start the second stage when we find the resources,” Diler said.

Diler also highlighted concerns regarding excavations on the Red Church and in its vicinity, adding, “Because there are no settlements around the church, illegal excavations are carried out in the area. Even though the gendarmerie sends its teams regularly, the church urgently needs a watchman for protection.”

He said foreign tourists’ interest in the church has increased in recent years. “Tourists come to the church in groups. When the restoration is done, this interest will increase more. Then we can sell tickets and earn revenue,” he concluded.

Back to top

Istancool Festival to host famous figures

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet – Istancool, the annual high-profile International Arts & Culture Festival will be held for the fourth time this year between June 13 and 15 in Istanbul.

In the course of three days, the admission-free festival will offer the public a unique opportunity to attend open panels and talks, screenings, workshops and exhibitions while also giving them the chance to experience artistic collaborations and performances based on past, current and future topics related to arts and culture.

With writers, directors, actors, filmmakers, musicians, artists, designers and performers expecting to attend the event, the festival will introduce the theme of “Intercultural Dialogues in Arts & Culture” to celebrate a “cultural mosaic,” a mix of creative people from different cultures that co-exist within today’s global society.

Among this year’s guests will be Abel Ferrara, Shirley Manson, Peter Beard, Tim Walker, JR and Jose Parla, Liya Kebede, Hüseyin Çağlayan, Delfina Delettrez Fendi, Waris Ahluwalia, James Nares, Elvis Mitchell, Armand Limnander, Ayşe-Ece Ege, Mehmet Tez, Goga Ashkenazi, Ertuğrul Özkök, Harun Tekin, Ali Kazma, Pamela Golbin, Serdar Gülgün, Kathleen Forde, Doug Hall, Alin Taşçıyan and Beyhan Murphy.

Vakko Fashion Center in Nakkaştepe and Pera Museum will be the festival venues.

Back to top

Uzbeks to launch new smartphone firm

Centralasiaonline.com 2014-06-09 TASHKENT – Uzbekistan, the only Central Asian country making smartphones, should reap economic benefits from the growing mobile technology industry, industry watchers said.

Olive Telecom is planning to release its first batch of smartphones this July, becoming the third smartphone manufacturer in Uzbekistan, behind Artel and UZTE. Olive Telecom already makes tablet computers.

“Right now, Uzbekistan produces approximately 600,000 mobile phones per year, a figure that could grow if a new player joins the market,” Sanjar Narysov, an analyst from Ekonomicheskii Vestnik, said. “Production could increase to 2m-2.5m units per year. This has become a significant industrial sector that could make good money for Uzbekistan.”

With such growth, Uzbekistan someday should be able to meet its domestic consumer demand as well as that of neighbouring Central Asian countries.

“In coming years, UZTE is planning to export about 10% of its output; that is, potentially about 50,000 phones (a year),” Narysov said. “At an average price of US $150-200 (344,228-458,971 UZS) per telephone, these exports could bring up to US $10m (22.9 billion UZS) to Uzbekistan a year.”

Uzbekistan had almost 20m cell phone users in March, according to official data. “Consumer demand within the country is great, although for now most Uzbeks use imported phones,” Aleksey Potanin, owner of a mobile phone store in Tashkent, said.

UZTE opened a US $3m (6.9 billion UZS) factory last year in Syr Darya Oblast and plans to manufacture as many as 500,000 telephones per year. Like Artel, UZTE offers four models.

The public has received the Uzbek phones well. “Uzbek-produced smartphones … have been especially designed for the Uzbek market – they’re inexpensive, easy to obtain and high quality,” Kirill Altman, a Tashkent ad agency director, said. “And although for right now only Uzbeks are interested in them, I think that soon Uzbek brands will become competitive in the entire region.”

Back to top

Bangladesh hoping to identify nearly 1,000 tourist spots

DHAKA, June 7, 2014 (BSS) – Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) is working for identifying nearly 1,000 tourist spots across the country to enrich local tourism basket with wide range of diversified tourist attractions.

“Lots of tourist attractions are laying across the country, but due to lack of proper infrastructures and safety measures these spots are not getting popularity. We have taken an initiative to turn those spots into tourist attractions by developing tourism infrastructures and providing security to the tourists,” BPC Marketing Manager Parvez Ahmed Chowdhury told BSS today. He said it will be a milestone in the country’s tourism industry as so far no such kind of list regarding country’s tourists attractions was prepared.

The BPC has taken up the imitative four years back in 2010 and asked all District Deputy Commissioners (DC) and Thana Nirbahi Officers (TNO) to identify potential tourist attractions of their respective areas. “After receiving information from the DCs and TNOs, a team ofBPC visited across the country and marked the tourist spots,” Chowdhury said.

He said the BPC has so far identified 800 tourist attractions from the information of DCs and TNOs and inspection of their own team. “Apart from the 800 spots, more tourist attractions are being included in the list and we are hopeful that we can identify nearly 1,000 potential tourists attraction under the initiatives,” chowdhury said.

A Committee of BPC has been working on it and it is expected that the list will be finalized within three months. After finalizing the list, the BPC will send the names and locations of the tourist attractions to the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry.

The ministry will make a short list from nearly 1,000 of tourist attractions and ask the relevant ministry to take proper action to turn the selected spots into tourism products through infrastructure development.

Director of Tour Operator Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) Toufiq Rahman said the drive to identify the tourist attractions, scattered across the country, is a good initiative of the government. The list will help the government to preserve tourism products and help place variety of tourist attractions in front of both foreign and domestic tourists, he said.

Back to top

Visit Bangladesh to explore trade, investment: PM

BEIJING, June 10, 2014 (BSS)-Terming Bangladesh as a lucrative destination for foreign investment, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today urged the Chinese entrepreneurs to visit Bangladesh to explore the possibilities of increasing trade and investment.

“I welcome you all to be our partners in our business activities and to share together the gains and benefits, profits and prosperity as we journey forth as friends and partners to the future,” she said.

The Prime Minister said she firmly believed that Chinese investment in Bangladesh would be profitable and worthwhile, particularly in manufacturing and service sectors.

“The two-hour flight from Kunming to Dhaka should allow you the opportunity to see for yourself the potentials for business awaiting you in Bangladesh,” she said.

She said while addressing Bangladesh-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum organized by China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) at Presidential Beijing Hotel here this afternoon.

Chairman of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) Jiang Zengwei presided over the function attended by leading Chinese business leaders, chiefs of corporate bodies, manufacturing and trading companies, investment groups, construction, power generating and engineering companies.

ERD Secretary of Bangladesh Mohammad Mejbahuddin, Bangladesh Ambassador in Beijing Muhammad Azizul Haque, President of Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, President of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Atiqul Islam, General Manager of Sany Heavy Industry Co. Ltd. Cui Yongqian and General Manager of Ningbo Four Seasons Import and Export Company Ltd Bao Huihong, among others, also spoke on the occasion.

The Prime Minister said Bangladesh is also uniquely placed between the markets of South and Southeast Asia and China, and is becoming a regional economic hub.

“Bangladesh’s involvement in numerous regional trading frameworks and development of multi-modal connectivity with the neighbours will soon make it a center of bustling economic activity in the region,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is looking forward to the quicker progress of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC).

Highlighting the packages the government is offering to the foreign investors, the Prime Minister said that Chinese investors may also participate in joint ventures with Bangladeshi entrepreneurs.

“They could invest in sectors not yet tapped such as pharmaceuticals, ceramics, tourism, education, healthcare, road and rail communications, petrochemicals, and agro-based industries, among other things,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has great admiration for the remarkable economic progress made by China. China is now the second largest economy in the world and is poised to become the largest in the coming decades.

“It augurs well that China is keen to do business with its neighbours, including Bangladesh,” she said.

The Prime Minister said China remains one of Bangladesh’s key development and cooperation partners. “China is supporting our infrastructure building efforts and has also given concessionary credit in some of our important initiatives,” she said.

In recent times, she said, China’s support for Bangladesh has been gaining momentum. “We had recently sought China’s assistance for some of our key areas of development during the period 2014- 18,” she said. The Prime Minister said Bangladesh has sought China’s participation and assistance in some of the country’s mega projects as listed in our Joint Statement.

“Our two sides have also signed some agreements, including the construction of power plants, a river tunnel and the setting up of a Chinese industrial zone, to welcome Chinese investors to Bangladesh,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said a very positive development is a contract awarded by Bangladesh to the China Major Bridge Engineering Company to build the core structure of the 6.15 km bridge over the Padma river.

The Prime Minister said Chinese investments have also been on the increase with 49 Chinese companies investing over $300 million in eight Bangladesh EPZs till December 2013.

Sheikh Hasina said Chinese companies like Huawei, CMEC, ZTE, are today in Bangladesh. Besides, she said, Chinese state-owned enterprises and private companies are making remarkable progress in power generation, infrastructure building, telecommunications, fertilizers, textiles, EMGs, leather, ceramics, packaging, accessories etc.

The Prime Minister said the policies have a provision of corporate tax holidays from five to seven years, concessionary duty on the import of machinery, export incentives, allowing 100 per cent foreign equity, and unrestricted exit policy.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh also provides a market of 160 million people, 60 percent of whom are below the age of forty years. “This young population is enterprising, talented and smart and can adapt to newer trades and technologies and they have been the driving force behind the huge growth of cellular telephones and ICT products,” she said.

“Our export earnings during the period have increased by 107 percent; remittances increased by 62 percent; foreign exchange reserves improved by 217 percent; and power capacity increased by 109 percent,” she said, adding “Bangladesh is thus often mentioned as a “Model of Economic Development”.

Back to top

Fine arts exhibition begins at Shilpakala Academy

DHAKA, June 10, 2014 (BSS) – A fortnight-long fine arts exhibition will begin at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy in the city tomorrow.

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith will inaugurate the ’19th Young Artist Fine Arts Exhibition 2014′ at the National Arts Gallery of the Shilpakala Academy at 12 noon. The minister will also distribute prizes among the winners.

Addressing a press conference today, Shilpakala Academy Secretary Jahangir Hossain said 197 works of 166 artists would be on the display in the exhibition. Of those, eight works have been selected for awards.

The exhibition will remain open from 11 am to 8 pm till June 25. However, it will open at 3 pm to close at 8 pm on Fridays, he added.

The press conference was held at the fine arts department of Shilpakala Academy. Director of Fine Arts Department Mohammad Anowar Hossain and Instructors Prodyut Kumar Das and Rezaul Hashem Rashed were present.

Back to top

Work on Dhaka Elevated Expressway will start in Sept

DHAKA, June 12, 2014 (BSS)-Communication Minister Obaidul Quader said today that work on the proposed Dhaka Elevated Expressway would start in late September, this year. The project would be financed through public-private partnership (PPP).

He said this while distributing cheques worth 20 crore Takas to 26 persons whose land had been acquired for the project. A total of 136 crore Takas for 200 persons have been earmarked for the purpose, which would be distributed at the shortest possible time.

The program was held at the Shetu Bhavan, Banani.

The minister said that the Dhaka Elevated Expressway would start from Hazrat Shahjalal(R) international airport and extend 20 kilometers up to Kutubkhali on the Dhaka- Chittagong Highway, passing through Tejgaon, Moghbazar and Kamlapur. Along with the ramp the expressway would measure 46 kilometers.

The total cost of the project would be 12 thousand and 2 hundred crore Takas.

The minister said that a certain quarter was out to subvert all the major projects of the government including Padma Bridge, Dhaka Elevated Expressway and the Karnafuli tunnel. ‘These are all achievements of the incumbent government’. He said the government would reply to such adverse propaganda through its work. He asked all not to pay any heed to the seditious propaganda in the greater national interest.

Those who were present at the cheque distribution ceremony included former minister and local MP Shahara Khatun, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Yousuf Haroon, secretary of the Bridges’ Division Khandaker Anwarul Islam, the managing director of Dhaka Elevated Expressway Mun Chai and the project director Kazi Mohammad Ferdaus.

Back to top

Malaysia exploring scope for Islamic banking in Turkmenistan

Ashgabat, Thursday 14 Rajab 1434/ 12 June 2014 (IINA) – Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia wants to explore new fields of collaboration in Turkmenistan, including in halal products and Islamic banking.

Razak, who is on a two-day official visit beginning Monday to Turkmenistan, said Malaysia is also interested in sharing its expertise in the mining, construction, chemicals, tourism and communication sectors. Najib said he conveyed this to Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov during their meeting at the Presidential Palace here on Tuesday after the ceremonial welcome was accorded on him. He also expressed his appreciation to Berdimuhamedov for granting Petronas a greater role in the country’s oil and gas (O&G) sector.

Petronas has been participating in Turkmenistan’s O&G exploration industry since 1996, operating in the Caspian Sea. “I must thank the President for wishing to see a greater and enhanced role for Petronas in Turkmenistan. “We are committed to continuing to provide technical training for your students through the collaboration,” he said at a joint press conference with Berdimuhamedov after they witnessed the signing of four documents between representatives from Malaysia and Turkmenistan.

The documents were a Cultural Cooperation Agreement between Malaysia and Turkmenistan; Agreed Minutes on the Terms of Reference for the Joint Committee on Trade between Malaysia and Turkmenistan; a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Education Cooperation; and a MoU on Long-term Cooperation between Petronas and the State Agency in Charge of Hydrocarbons. Earlier, Najib, who is Finance Minister, and Berdimuhamedov signed a joint statement marking his official visit to the Central Asian republic.

The Prime Minister said he had a fruitful and warm meeting with Berdimuhamedov where they shared the same sentiments on a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. “We both emphasized the importance of boosting the overall cooperation between Malaysia and Turkmenistan, which will contribute substantially to the strengthening of friendship and mutual understanding for the benefit of the people of our two countries.”

Meanwhile, Berdimuhamedov expressed his appreciation for Malaysia’s contributions to the country, saying collaborations would benefit both nations. “I hope we can continue to cooperate to provide a firm foundation in expanding our bilateral relations for the benefit of our countries and the people.”

Malaysia and Turkmenistan have enjoyed close and warm relations since diplomatic relations were established in 1992. Turkmenistan is Malaysia’s third largest trading partner in the Central Asian region. Total trade between the two countries in 2013 was recorded at $33.13 million, compared with $11.68 million in 2012 and $24.27 million in 2011.

Back to top

Huda, first Saudi anchorwoman to work for BBC Arabic

Dammam, Wednesday 13 Rajab 1434/ 11 June 2014 (IINA) – She was the first Saudi woman to say: Huna London (This is London) on the BBC Arabic service. Her voice was linked to a number of serious events of conflicts and relapses in the Arab world.

Huna London, the oft-repeated phrase by Huda Al-Rasheed, made her famous as the first Saudi woman to migrate to a foreign country and work for a foreign radio station. She did this when working in the media was considered a disgrace to Saudi women because of social traditions. Her start was like the beginnings of her other female peers who lived under the burden of the unwelcome perception of women in media. These included, among others, actress Mariam Al-Ghamdi and journalist Dalal Aziz Dia. Even before stepping foot on foreign shores for work, Al-Rasheed encountered obstacles at home. Her father had strongly objected to her work in Saudi radio but she never stopped pursuing her dream. He reprimanded her on several occasions and warned her that she would never succeed.

The father’s anger, criticism and objections proved to be the fuel Al-Rasheed needed to achieve success. She worked hard to achieve her goal, thus proving her father wrong. She started her media career by working first for the Jeddah Radio for three years before moving to Riyadh TV to present the news. She was the first Saudi woman to appear on screen.

During the economic boom when the atmosphere was filled with the smell of oil, Al-Rasheed decided to travel to Britain to learn English. There she looked for an opportunity and she found it in her second home — which was the radio. There was only the BBC Arabic radio service to go to. She entered the BBC studios dreaming to be accepted at the famous media house, which was noted for its strict approach to news and the fact that it never forgave professional mistakes.

She applied for a job there, took the exam and then returned to the Kingdom. A few months later, the BBC called her to inform her that she had successfully passed the exam and a job was waiting for her if she was still interested. Her father gave her his consent on condition that her brother too approved. Al-Rasheed packed her bags and headed for London again where she worked for the BBC Arabic service until 1998. When the Arab listeners preferred the songs of Haifa Wahbi, Hakeem and the other singers over news, Al-Rasheed decided to go quietly into the shadows. She has remained away from the spotlight ever since until 2008 when she was honored by Kuwait for her outstanding media services.

She, however, never paid attention to the flattering praise, the smell of success or parties during her tenure. She was content with the success she had achieved by being the first Saudi woman news presenter on an international radio broadcasting service.

Back to top

Uganda Exhibits Tourism in Nordics

9 June 2014 – East African Business Week – Kampala — A contingent of over 20 people from the tourism industry returned last week from a week-long road show trip and expo in the Scandinavian countries.

The trip organized by Uganda’s embassy in Denmark together with Uganda Tourism Board(UTB) and facilitated by SN Brussles, saw the contingent exhibiting in Gothenburg in Sweden, Copenhagen in Denmark, Oslo in Norway and the final leg in Brussels in Belgium.

The group comprised of officials from UTB led by its CEO, Mr. Stephen Asiimwe, SN Brussels’s marketing manager Ms. Suzzane Othieno, Tour Operators led by the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) chairman, Mr. Bonifence Byamukama, Uganda Wildlife Authority’s Director Tourism and Business Services, Mr. Raymond Engena.

The week-long engagement included expos, road shows and a one-day Cultural and Tourism Forum held at Bella Center , Scandinavia’s largest exhibition and conference center, in Copenhagen, near the border with Sweden.

In Copenhagen, the group was joined by The Director of Tourism at the ministry of Tourism, Ms. Grace Mbabazi Aulo who represented the minister, Members of Parliament for Kigulu North in Eastern Uganda, Mr. Edward Balidawa, who represented the Cultural Minister and Kampala Woman MP, Ms. Nabila Naggayi Ssempala. Others were the Director of Uganda’s Hospitality, Tourism and Training Institute, Ms.

Uganda’s ambassadors in Denmark and Belgium, Mr. Ambassador Mr. Wanume Kibedi Zaake, Ms. Mirjam Blaak respectively, said their embassies were committed to supporting trade, tourism and investment.

The Nordics and Benelux countries combined bring in over 30% of Uganda’s tourism arrivals. “This is a great market and with concerted efforts and the right strategy, this number can grow,” said Amb. Kibedi.

“We need more private sector engagement and with the promised increased funding for tourism, the sky is the limit for this beautiful and stunning destination,” Amb. Blaak said.

Tourism in Uganda has continued grow in the last five years by 20%. Last year alone, the sector contributed 10% of GDP, the highest since the early 1970s before the Idi Amin era.

UTB CEO, Mr. Stephen Asiimwe said government had promised increased funding by over five times from last year’s spending. He said the World Bank had also promised some resources that will go unto financing representation in source countries. “Our road shows and meetings in the Nordic countries and Brussles were very engaging and eye openers into the tourism business and environment. The business-to-business meetings were especially very educative for the audiences about Uganda’s tourism products and potential.

“The Ugandan officials held meetings with groups from the hospitality training institutes, DANIDA business support agencies, transporters, hoteliers, airlines and tour operators. We also announced Uganda’s hosting of the Africa Travel Association (ATA) congress due in Kampala in November from the 11-16 at Munyonyo Commonwealth Speke Resort,” he said.

Since 2012, Uganda’s embassies and foreign missions abroad have been tasked with promoting the country as a favorable investment, trade and tourism destination.

Back to top

Nigeria: Jovago.com Partners NTDC to Boost Tourism

10 June 2014 – This Day – Africa’s largest online hotel booking platform has partnered the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) to boost tourism industry in the country.

The partnership with NTDC, which makes Jovago.com their official hotel partner, would ensure that Nigerians visiting the NTDC website www.toursim.gov.ng can find and book from over 4,000 hotels across Nigeria already listed on Jovago.com. This would help NTDC promote Nigeria even more effectively and also provide valuable content for the official Nigerian tourism website.

The Director-General of the NTDC, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, in a statement said: “We are very keen on this new partnership with Jovago.com. Not only is it targeted at promoting Nigeria’s thriving tourism sector and exhibiting the country’s potentials to Nigerians and the world at large, it also makes it easy for anyone visiting the official NTDC website to choose from the wide selection of hotels available on Jovago.com.”

Jovago.com as the official hotel partners of the NTDC would also provide the NTDC with online marketing expertise required to help boost tourism in Nigeria, one of the main goals of the NTDC.

According to Marek Zmyslowski, managing director of Jovago.com, “Nigeria is a thriving tourist destination with a large number of tourist sites and attractions. Our aim is to make these places easily accessible to everyone in Nigeria by making it very convenient for people to find and book good hotels online.”

Back to top

Indonesian Idul Fitri travelers forecast to reach 19.29 million

Wed, June 11 2014 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Minister of Transportation Evert Erenst Mangindaan on Wednesday forecast that the number of travelers during the annual Idul Fitri exodus will reach 19.29 million, increasing 3.83 percent than the previous year.

The government predicts that home-bound traffic for the Muslim holidays will peak during the three days before D-Day and a day after, while the return traffic will be at its highest on the fourth and fifth day after the Idul Fitri holiday.

Around 5.59 million travelers are forecast to return home by road with 2.37 million people by motorcycles and 1.78 million by private vehicles, the minister noted.

Meanwhile, train passengers were predicted to rise 3.1 percent to 4.49 million, while the number of air travelers is expected to rise 11.48 percent to 4.1 million passengers.

About 3.54 million passengers will use rivers, lakes, and inter-island ferry services, and 1.57 million will use sea transportation.

“Adequate preparations should be made as the number of passengers during Idul Fitri will increase,” the minister emphasized.

The Ministry’s Air Transportation Director Djoko Murdjatmodjo earlier stated that five airlines had proposed additional flights to anticipate the increase in passenger traffic during the 2014 Idul Fitri exodus.

The airlines are Sriwijaya Air, Nam Air, Lion Air, Indonesia Air Asia, and Garuda Indonesia.

Sixteen additional flights will be made available for 16 days for seven days before and after the D-Day. “A total of 903 flights will be made available during the 16 days,” Djoko added.

Back to top

Indonesia hosts ASEAN’s coastal, marine environment meeting

Wed, June 11 2014 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian Ministry of Environment hosted the 15th Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment in Jakarta on June 11-12, 2014, which focused on issues of coastal sustainable development.

The Ministry of Environment’s spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change Control, Arief Yuwono, said here on Wednesday that the ASEANs coastal and marine environment working group had been actively working on these issues for 15 years, so Indonesia is honored to be the host this year.

According to Arief, coastal and marine environment reservations play an important role for the ASEAN people, who will reach a population of 633.1 million by 2015, or almost 10 percent of the worlds population, especially since they earn their livelihood from the sea.

“Thus, a sustainable development in coastal and marine areas has become more and more important,” he noted.

Moreover, Arief added that ASEAN member states face the same challenges and problems on coastal and marine environment management, such as cross-border sea pollution and the threat of climate change.

Cross-border sea pollution was mainly caused by high sea traffic in the ASEAN region, particularly in the Malacca Strait and Singapore Strait.

Some oil spill accidents, either on a small or large scale, in the area of the Malacca Strait and Singapore Strait had also impacted the seas of other ASEAN members.

“This is automatically a significant loss for the people of the ASEAN who earn their livelihood from the sea as the spilled oil damaged the coastal and marine ecosystem and caused its resources to decline. Meanwhile, the recovery of the area takes time and a huge amount of money,” Arief explained.

Therefore, the working group meeting in Jakarta was expected to arrive at an action plan to increase the resistance of coastal and marine environments and to protect the people living in the area from the threats of pollution and climate change.

Back to top

Prabowo pledges to build Trans Sumatra highway

Thu, June 12 2014 Palembang, South Sumatra (ANTARA News) – Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto has promised to execute the Trans Sumatra highway construction plan stretching 2,700 kilometers from Aceh in the western tip of Sumatra to Lampung province in the eastern part of the island.

“President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyonos program to construct the Trans Sumatra highway will be continued and accomplished,” Prabowo said when meeting with noted local ulema and community leader Kemas Abdullah Alim Ali here on Thursday.

He added that he will also resume the programs of developing railways and expanding productive plantations to increase production of commodities, such as rice.

“This includes developing a bio energy program,” he noted, adding that all this will be carried out to continue Yudhoyonos development schemes.

Prabowo also praised the leadership of Yudhoyono, who is calm, quiet and patient in leading the nation. “It is not easy to manage this country. Our president is calm, quiet and patient, although he is insulted by various parties and interests,” he said.

Indonesia will hold a free and democratic presidential election on July 9, 2014, which will be contested by only two pairs of presidential and vice presidential candidates: Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa and Joko Widodo (Jokowi)-Jusuf Kalla (JK).

Prabowo Subianto is a retired military general and the chairman of Gerindra (Great Indonesia Movement) Party, while his running mate, Hatta Rajasa, is a former coordinating minister for economic affairs and the chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN).

Jokowi is Jakarta’s governor and a cadre of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), and his running mate, Jusuf Kalla, is a former vice president and a senior politician of the Golkar Party.

The Jokowi-JK pair is supported by five political parties: PDIP; the Nation Awakening Party (PKB); the Peoples Conscience Party (Hanura); the Justice and Indonesian Unity Party (PKPI); and the National Democratic Party (Nasdem) established by Surya Paloh, the owner of Metro TV and the Media Indonesia newspaper.

The Prabowo-Hatta pair is supported by Gerindra; PAN; the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS); the United Development Party (PPP); the Moon and Star Party (PBB); and the Golkar Party, whose current chairman is Aburizal Bakrie, the owner of TV One.

Back to top

Democratic Malawi Allows Islam Growth

OnIslam Correspondent Sunday, 08 June 2014 LILONGWE – Tasting the fruits of democracy for two decades in the southern African nation, Malawi Muslim community has hailed the impact of the democratic culture which allowed the growth and expansion of Islam in the largely Christian dominated state.

“The dawn of democracy in 1993 has provided avenues for the growth and expansion of Islam in this country. With democracy in place, we have been able to construct schools, health care facilities and madrassas,” renowned Muslim scholar, Dr. Imran Shareef told OnIslam.net.

“The period before 1993, denied us this level of opportunity. The one party state restricted us. But democracy has provided room for Islam to flourish in this country. Much as we celebrate what democracy has done to this country in general, the Muslim community should feel proud of how much democracy has meant to us.

“The new political dispensation has also provided equal opportunities between Muslims and Christians to worship without any form of restrictions. This country has provided through its constitution freedom of worship which is being enjoyed by all Malawians of diverse religious inclinations.”

The scholar said democracy has also provided equal access to education between Muslims and Christians as well as equality before the law.

“Today in Malawi all Malawians regardless of whether they are Muslims or Christians are all below the law and they are being treated equally by the law. And at the same time, we are all having equal access to education opportunities. These have been made possible by the democratic culture”, said Shareef.

He, however, bemoaned that some of the freedoms being promoted under democracy were in conflict with the teachings of Islam.

“Much as we rejoice the sweet fruits of democracy, we should also be mindful of the fact that this system has also promoted some freedoms which have been in conflict with religious values,” he noted.

“Following the dawn of democracy, there have been various types of indecent dressing and other behaviors which have been eroding values of religion. Democracy allows people to dress the way they want, no matter even if that was not in tune with religious values. This has remained one of the major challenges affecting us today. It is not easy to police the way people should dress at this time.”

Other analysts have also praised pluralistic politics as highly credited to have enhanced the participation of Muslims in active politics.

“Since democracy was re-introduced in 1993, there has been active participation of Muslims in party politics, a situation which was not there before then. Although the number of Muslims in politics is not all that huge, but Muslims just like our Christian counterparts are very free to take part in politics,” Sheikh Alhaj Jafari Kawinga, President of Muslim Forum for Democracy and Development (MUSFORD) told OnIslam.net.

Kawinga added: “Democracy has accorded us, Muslims an opportunity alongside Malawians of other faith groups to take part in politics and building the nation through various spheres. Before democracy came, this was not the case. Otherwise, democracy has emancipated us.”

But Kawinga observed that some faith groups have used democracy as a weapon to deny Muslims a chance to “claim their rightful place in society.”

“Some sectors of the faith community in the country have used this form of governance to deny us our rightful place in society. They have often associated Islam and Muslims with all sorts of bad things in order to discriminate us, so that we shouldn’t be part of the whole process of development.”

Through his organization, Kawinga said Muslims were being encouraged and influenced to actively participate in national building “against all odds.”

“We have gone through the width and breadth of the country pleading with Muslims to come out of the cocoon and face the world. We would like all Muslims to realize that this is an opportunity to fight for our rights. Nobody will fight for us, unless we take a step to move forward.”

Malawi is a secular, but diverse religious a country. Both Muslims and Christians played a pivotal role in ending a 30-year dominance of dictatorship in 1992. In 1994, the country adopted a new constitution which provided for various forms of freedom.

Muslims account for 36% of the country’s 16 million population. Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity.

Recently, Malawians went to the polls for a record five times since the re-introduction of democracy.

This was the first time that the country held tripartite elections, during which about 7 million eligible Malawians elected the president, legislators and councilors at the same time, in what was billed as “decisive elections”.

“As we savor sweet fruits of democracy, we need to rise against the challenge of having our religious values eroded by forces of democracy,” said Kawinga. “As Muslims, we should safeguard the sanctity of our religion in the face of the rising wave of democracy.”

Back to top

Ireland Tops World in Islamic Values

OnIslam & Newspapers Tuesday, 10 June 2014 CAIRO – A new survey by a leading US academic has found that Ireland leads the world in embodying Qur’an teachings of justice and Islamic values in a list where Western societies came at a leading position ahead of many Muslim-majority countries.

“We must emphasize that many countries that profess Islam and are called Islamic are unjust, corrupt, and underdeveloped and are in fact not ‘Islamic’ by any stretch of the imagination,” Hossein Askari, an Iranian-born professor of International Business and International Affairs at George Washington University, was quoted by the Telegraph on Tuesday, June 10.

“Looking at an index of Economic Islamicity, or how closely the policies and achievements of countries reflect Islamic economic teachings – Ireland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore, Finland, Norway, and Belgium round up the first 10,” he added.

In their study, Askari and his colleague Dr Scheherazde S Rehman rated 208 countries and territories as being more compliant with the teachings of Islam and Qur’an.

The unexpected results showed that the top countries in both economic achievement and social values are Ireland, Demark, Luxembourg and New Zealand. Britain also ranks in the top ten.

The first Muslim-majority nation is Malaysia ranking at 33, while the only other state in the top 50 is Kuwait at 48.

“If a country, society, or community displays characteristics such as unelected, corrupt, oppressive, and unjust rulers, inequality before the law, unequal opportunities for human development, absence of freedom of choice (including that of religion), opulence alongside poverty, force, and aggression as the instruments of conflict resolution as opposed to dialogue and reconciliation, and, above all, the prevalence of injustice of any kind, it is prima facie evidence that it is not an Islamic community,” Askari said.

The new results reflected similar records made in Islamicity index released by the Iranian professor in 2010. “New Zealand, Luxembourg, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands; and again only Malaysia (38) and Kuwait (48) make it into the top 50 from Muslim countries,” he said.

“Islam is, and has been for centuries, the articulation of the universal love of Allah for his creation and for its unity, and all that this implies for all-encompassing human and economic development.”

Muslims make up 1.1 percent of the 4.5 million people in Ireland, but their ranks are swelling due to immigration, domestic births, and in some cases conversion.

Two decades ago, they numbered about 4,000. A 2011 census recorded 49,204 Muslims, including nearly 12,000 school-aged children. The numbers represent a 51 percent increase since 2006.

Back to top

Al-Ahsa festival expects 1.4m visitors

Arab News – 13 June, 2014 – The third Al-Ahsa shopping and entertainment festival opened on Tuesday with organizers estimating that it would attract 1.4 million visitors. Al-Ahsa Gov. Prince Badr bin Muhammad Al-Jalawi, chairman of the region’s Tourism Development Council, opened the event.

The organizing committee has estimated that the event would make SR480 million. The festival will take place over 22 days at local malls and commercial complexes in Al-Ahsa.

The committee expects 1.4 million visitors, both residents and nonresidents, to attend the festival, a 10 percent increase from last year.

A total of 420 companies and institutions would offer discounts and promotions throughout the event.

Muhammed Al-Afaleq, general supervisor of the festival’s executive committee, said the event has boosted the region’s tourism industry. “The festival would not have been as successful without the support of Prince Badr.”

Al-Afaleq said that the festival in its first year brought in much needed revenue for local hotels, furnished apartments, malls and restaurants of over SR400 million, with every person spending on average SR1,829.

All of this contributed to the success of the festival and gave it a 4.1 out of 5 rating, according to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.

The second year of the festival reinforced the success of the previous year with 10 percent more visitors. A total of 390 companies and institutions presented many offers and discounts during 2013.

Saleh Al-Afaleq, deputy chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers, head of the Al-Ahsa Chamber, Shoura Council member and the general coordinator of the festival, said the event has been an economic boon for the region.

“There are several developmental and investment projects that will be implemented in the coming months including the Al-Uqair Tourism Project. In addition, private and public sector companies will be restoring several tourism sites,” he said.

Back to top

Jafza roadshow highlights Dubai as world gateway

Khaleej Times – 13 June, 2014 – Jafza recently conducted a highly-successful roadshow comprising workshops and business seminars in Taipei, Taiwan, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing, China, where companies indicated strong interest in using the free zone to launch into world markets.

The Jafza team, led by Khalid Al Marzooqi, the senior manager for Jafza Sales in the Asia-Pacific region, and Jeffrey Xlyu, Jafza sales executive for the Asia-Pacific region met a number of high-profile Chinese companies which are looking to set up their Middle East base of operations in Jebel Ali Free Zone.

Ibrahim Mohamed Al Janahi, deputy CEO of Jafza and chief commercial officer, Economic Zones World, said that by virtue of its strategic central location, with the Jebel Ali Port on one end and the Al Maktoum International Airport on the other, Jafza is part of one of the largest sea-land-air corridors in the world. He explained that with the addition of upcoming Etihad rail passing through the Free Zone, Jafza will have another facet added to its multi-modal connectivity. “We place a very high value on the level of expertise, commitment and global scale of the companies operating out of Jebel Ali Free Zone,” Al Marzooqi said. “For companies looking for a global reach, the Jebel Ali Free Zone is a world class location, with an unsurpassed logistics infrastructure. It offers access to a market of over two billion people in the Mena region, and is one of the key reasons companies from all around the world are interested in setting up in the Free Zone.”

The Free Zone is also located close to the site of the upcoming World Expo 2020, being held in Jebel Ali. Like Shanghai in 2010, the Dubai Expo will have a highly positive impact on the Dubai and UAE economy, with the benefits spreading across the entire Mena region.

Back to top

Chamber to host second Africa Global business forum

Khaleej Times – 11 June, 2014 – The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry that it is organising the second Africa Global Business Forum (AGBF), New Realities — New Connections, on October 1-2, 2014. The forum will explore new business partnerships and opportunities arising between Africa and Dubai. It will also highlight the strategic role of Dubai as a world-class hub in connecting Africa with international investors.

With its objective to engage key global investors to encourage investment flows into Africa, the forum will involve prominent stakeholders from the African Union and Economic Blocs in facilitating high-level dialogues and in advising on key strategic directives related to Africa’s economic outlook. This year’s content is developed by The Economist Events.

In its strategy of expanding into the African continent, Dubai has become a major trading partner for the region as the emirate’s non-oil trade with the continent increased by 141 per cent, up from Dh37.9 billion in 2008 to Dh91.3 billion in 2013. The list of Dubai’s non-oil trade partners in Africa last year was topped by Egypt followed by Libya, Sudan, Ghana, Mali, Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Algeria, DRC, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Morocco and Djibouti.

Hamad Buamim, president and chief executive officer of Dubai Chamber, said: “Hosting the Africa Global Business Forum for a second year is major signal of Dubai’s intention to develop stronger ties with Africa. Dubai is a gateway for business in Africa with excellent connectivity and a stable and competitive business environment that is open to foreign investment.”

“Dubai Chamber is pursuing a strategy of international expansion which supports our African connection. We already have a presence in Ethiopia and will open another office in Ghana later this year to serve West Africa. We also have plans for Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Angola,” Buamim added.

Back to top