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17 Aug, 2014

Trade Expo Indonesia 2014 to be held October 8-12

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Shamsi

A compilation of stories of interesting events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 18 August 2014 (21 Shawwal 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.





Trade Expo Indonesia 2014 to be held October 8-12

Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug 13, 2014 – (ACN Newswire) – The Ministry of Trade of The Republic of Indonesia will hold The 29th Trade Expo Indonesia (TEI), the largest international trade exhibition in Indonesia, on October 8-12, 2014 at Jakarta International Expo (JIExpo) with the theme “Towards Green Business”. The theme reflects Ministry’s objective to promote the potential and existence of products in Indonesia as high-quality and eco-friendly products, which are able to prop up the economy through the increase of non-oil exports value.

TEI 2014 will occupy an area of 40,000 m2 and be attended by 2,000 exhibitors targeting 10,000 buyers. The products displayed are: main export commodities, prospective export commodities, and other export products. In addition to the main and prospective products, it will also showcase service and skilled-labor of industrial construction services, professional services, and hospitality. These products will describe the companies’ sustainability in running green business; the products are made by taking into account of environmental and social aspects, in addition to emphasize only on function and aesthetics. Another important factor that will be considered is fair trade. This aspect, among others, is viewed in terms of fairness to all stakeholders and the ability of Indonesian businessmen to meet international standards of fair trade.

Based on its zones, TEI 2014 will also feature the Pride of Indonesia Pavilion and ASEAN Pavilion. Pride of Indonesia Pavilion presents Indonesia’s main products, local brands that have received global recognition in strategic industries, hi-tech, manufacturing, natural resources-based products, the winners of the Primaniyarta Award 2014, the products of creative industry, and top-seed SMEs. ASEAN Pavilion is an information booth of representatives of ASEAN countries in welcoming the ASEAN Economic Community 2015.

Award for exporters and buyers: Primaniyarta and Primaduta Award 2014

Primaniyarta Award is an annual award from the Ministry of Trade of The Republic of Indonesia for 5 (five) best Indonesian exporters who are able to improve, develop and provide added value in Indonesia’s export in terms of diversification of product or export markets.

Primaduta Award 2014 is given to the buyers who have obtained verification from foreign representatives of The Republic of Indonesia/Atdag/ITPC/IETO Taipei. The buyers must consistently import Indonesian product to their market, with an increase of value, volume, and diversity of products.

Both of the awards will be addressed by the President of The Republic of Indonesia to the winners at the Opening Ceremony of TEI 2014.

The series of activities TEI 2014

There will be a seminar on trade and investment in TEI 2014 based on the coordination between The Ministry of Trade and The Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM). This seminar aims to provide information to exporters, buyers, and investors in utilizing international trade opportunities and investment.

In addition to the seminar, TEI 2014 also schedules an interactive dialogue, bringing speakers, for instance, successful importers or Trade Promotion Offices (TPO) from various countries such as Netherlands, Japan, Switzerland, Dubai on others, as well as US Custom Broker and professionals or practitioners in the field. This interactive dialogue aims to provide information about potential products and access to foreign markets, along with international trade-related issues, including potential commodities.

Other activities in this exhibition are business counseling and consultation facilitated to the exporters by the Commercial Attache, Head of Indonesian Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC), and Head of Taipei IETO, to provide information on access and penetration to foreign markets.

One of the most anticipated event during TEI for exhibitors overseas buyers is business matching, where exhibitors can meet and discuss potential business contracts, and expand their marketing network abroad through this activity.

In addition to four activities above, the committee of TEI 2014 will also hold a journalistic contest for journalists who have reported about various export commodities and the strategic role of TEI 2014 in supporting the national economy. For students, there will be an essay contest about eco-friendly entrepreneurship, which aims to improve the spirit and interest of students to become successful entrepreneurs in the future.

Please visit http://www.tradexpoindonesia.com/ and download the Trade Expo Indonesia 2014 Buyers Booklet at http://www.tradexpoindonesia.com/docs/fms14.pdf for further information.

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Dubai’s Public Transport Agency Operates Traditional Abras At Mamzar Lake

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Aug 11 (NNN-WAM) – The Public Transport Agency of Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), has launched a new tourist marine transit service, through operating electricity-powered traditional abras, at Al Mamzar Lake, starting from a point just off Al Mamzar Park, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

Hussain Khansaheb, Director of Marine Transport at RTA Public Transport Agency, revealed that the service will be kicked off by deploying three abras, and the number can be increased depending on the demand for the service by marine transport enthusiasts.

“Through this service, we are seeking to broaden and enhance the scope of marine transit means in the Emirate of Dubai and contribute to leveraging the tourist movement in the Emirates, through providing this enjoyable mass transit means for residents, tourists and visitors hailing from all corners of the globe,” Khansaheb said.

He said that deploying traditional abras (or water taxis), as a fun transit means at Al Mamzar Lake was a significant step signalling RTA’s endeavours to boost its profile among various community segments.

“It adds an urban touch to this locality by bolstering the marine tourist movement, especially during the tourist season; which is marked by lovely conditions and huge turnout from residents, visitors, and tourists, descending on the area, to enjoy cruises aboard mass transit means,” added the Director of RTA Marine Transport.

It is note-worthy that traditional abras used at Mamzar Lake are sustainable and environment-friendly, since they are powered by electricity. Each boat has a capacity to load 20 riders.

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New Marine Park For Langkawi, Malaysia

LANGKAWI, State of Kedah, Malaysia, Aug 14 (NNN-BERNAMA) – The Langkawi Development Authority (Lada), plans to have a new marine park for Langkawi, in addition to the four marine parks at Pulau Payar.

The Pulau Payar Marine Park, consisting of Pulau Payar, Pulau Lembu, Pulau Kaca and Pulau Segantang, is the only marine park in Kedah state.

Lada chief executive officer, Khalid Ramli, said, he had discussions on the matter today, with representatives of Universiti Teknologi Mara and Universiti Malaysia Perlis, as well as, the Department of Marine Parks.

“We are looking at the possibility of having another marine park. One of the areas we are studying is Pulau Dangli.

“Pulau Payar receives the highest percentage of tourists, compared to other marine parks in Malaysia. Seventy per cent of the tourists coming to Pulau Payar are foreigners, attracted by the diving activities,” he told a press conference here.

Khalid also said that Langkawi would have a better tourist ferry jetty, once the upgrading of the Kuah Jetty was completed, at a cost of about RM90 million, next year.

“The upgrading work began last year under the Marine Department,” he said, adding that last year, 4.4 million visitors entered Langkawi, through the Kuah Jetty, the highest so far.

He said, he expected the number to go beyond six million in a few years.

“As for the tourists who flew in, MAHB (Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad), recorded 1.19 million arrivals last year, also the highest to date,” he said.

On development in Pantai Cenang, alleged by many to be congested, Khalid said, several projects had been initiated to overcome the problem.

“The most important is the sewerage system. That has to be settled. About 70 premises have agreed to be connected to the sewerage system … to avert discharge into the sea,” he said.

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Oman Tourism: Muscat-Masirah Ferry Service Will Get Under Way Soon

MUSCAT, Oman, Aug 15 (NNN-ONA) – In what will bring much relief to citizens, residents and tourists, when launched, the National Ferries Company (NFC) is working on starting services on the Muscat-Masirah route.

Speaking to the media recently, Mahdi bin Mohammed Al Abdwani, CEO of NFC, said, “We will launch Muscat-Masirah route, after completing the construction work at Shanna and Masirah harbours.”

The company also plans to launch Khasab-Bandar Abbas and Khasab-Qashm route.

The NFC recently announced the launch of two ferry boats Shanna and Jawarhat Masirah on the Shanna-Masirah route, which will be operational today.

“The company plans to launch Diba route, which will connect Khasab and Shinas next week,” the CEO had said.

“The company has invested almost OMR 500,000 in rehabilitating the berths in Shanna and Masirah through an international tender,” the CEO informed.

Al Abdwani cited the latest statistics published by the company as per which the total number of passengers it transported on board its ferryboats during the first seven months of 2014 grew by 20 per cent, reaching 22,275 from 18,579 passengers, similarly transported during the same period in 2013.

The number of vehicles shipped by the ferry boats as of July-end, 2014 also grew by eight per cent to hit 3,381, compared to the same period in 2013.

Al Abdwani pointed out that in response to the Royal Directives of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, about providing employment opportunities to Omani youth, the company has employed and trained a number of citizens in the wilayats of Mahout and Masirah, to run the reservation offices in Shanna and the wilayat of Masirah.

By the end of the first half of 2014, the Omanisation rate in the company stood at 68 per cent, with potential for further growth.

National Ferries Company has been contributing significantly to the maritime transport infrastructure and development.

The NFC’s fast ferries serve passenger and vehicle movements between key ports, include Muscat-Khasab (Musandam), Khasab-Lima (Musandam) and Shinas-Khasab.

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Uganda To Promote Tea Industry

KAMPALA, Aug 15 (NNN-NEW VISION) — Ugandan State Minister for Trade David Wakikona has pledged to make drastic changes to the country’s tea industry and says the ministry is working on formulating a national tea policy quickly.

He notes that although tea as a cash crop contributes 135 million US dollars annually to the economy, it has no body or policy which governs it such as those for other cash crops like cotton and coffee. As a result, tea factories and estates have reported losses in the recent past, following a drop in the tea price on world markets.

At a meeting with tea estate owners, processors and farmers at the Trade Ministry here recently, Wakikona said the ministry had started to develop a Cabinet memorandum, a document which will carry information about the tea sector to the Cabinet.

Wakikona added that the government would hold quarterly meetings with stakeholders in the tea industry to discuss challenges facing the sector. The government also plans to rehabilitate roads in tea-producing areas to make the transportation of the commodity easy and affordable.

Wakikona said the Trade Ministry would also work with the Uganda Export Promotions Board to find markets for Ugandan tea. “We shall ask the Uganda Development Corporation, an agency under the Trade Ministry, to feature tea issues prominently. This body is in charge of supporting industrialisation and value addition,” he added.

The chairman of the Igara Growers Tea Factory, Arthur Muguzi, said farmers and tea factories in Uganda had not benefited from international trade because of several trading barriers. Ugandan tea is sold through auction at Mombasa, Kenya.

“While Uganda has about 200,000 hectares of viable land for tea growing, only 28,000 hectares are under production,” he added.

However, tea production has more than doubled, from 33 million kilogrammes in 2005 to 70 million kilogrammes in 2013.

“The 112 per cent surge pushed the nation’s leaf exports, making Uganda the third largest exporter of tea in Africa, after Kenya and Malawi,” said Naboth Mbagirenta, a director at Igara Growers Tea Factory.

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Malaysia Aims To Be Among World’s Biggest Quality Cocoa Product Producers

KUCHING, Aug 12 (NNN-Bernama) — The Malaysian Cocoa Board (MCB) aims to make the country among the world’s biggest producers of quality cocoa products by 2020.

In its efforts to achieve this target, the MCB has taken various initiatives with the latest being the Cocoa Safety Project Facilitator Training.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the training involved human capital development as well as sharing knowledge on sanitary and phytosanitary standards in the cocoa industry in Southeast Asia.

This initiative was to guarantee the safety of cocoa-based products and comply with the required standards, he told Bernama here.

He said the series of training involved the cooperation between MCB and international agencies namely Standards and Trade Development Facility, Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau International and the International Cocoa Organization.

According to Uggah, consumers nowadays placed high importance on health aspects, hence food safety control on cocoa-based products produced by the country was vital in facilitating its export and marketing.

Malaysia is the fifth largest exporter of cocoa beans in the world.

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Malaysia: Q2 GDP Registers Strong Growth Of 6.4% Anchored By Higher Export

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 6.4 per cent in the second quarter against 6.2 per cent registered in the first quarter of the year, driven by higher exports and continued strength in private domestic demand.

Bank Negara (Central Bank) Malaysia Governor Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz announced Friday said that in current prices, the second quarter GDP amounted to RM262.8 billion.

Zeti said the performance achieved was broadly higher than the 4.5 per cent recorded in the same quarter of last year.

Exports performed tremendously at 8.8 per cent while imports recorded a growth of 3.9 per cent.

“Exports and private sector activity remained the key drivers of growth during the quarter whereby private investment expanded by 12.1 per cent, reflecting investments in the services and manufacturing sectors.

“Private consumption increased by 6.5 per cent supported by stable employment conditions and continued wage growth while public sector expenditure declined by 2.1 per cent,” she told a media briefing on the country’s second quarter GDP performance here Friday.

She said the services sector recorded sustained growth of six per cent, supported mainly by the trade-related sub-sectors, the manufacturing sector expanded by 7.3 per cent and mining sector grew by 2.1 per cent due to higher production of both natural gas and crude oil.

The agriculture sector registered strong growth of 7.1 per cent, reflecting higher production of palm oil while the construction sector grew 9.9 per cent supported mainly by residential and non-residential sub-sectors.

Trade surplus narrowed to RM18.4 billion for the quarter from RM26.3 billion in the previous quarter while Bank Negara’s international reserves amounted to RM423.5 billion as at July 31, sufficient to finance nine months of retained imports.

On the ringgit, she said it would continue to be affected by shifts in global liquidity and capital flows.

“Between July 1 and Aug 13, 2014, the local note appreciated against the US dollar by 0.6 per cent, 2.7 per cent against the euro, Australian dollar (2.1 per cent), pound sterling (2.0 per cent) and Japanese yen (1.6 per cent),” she added.

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Indonesian Govt Successfully Reduces Poverty Rate B Y 4.5 Million – President

JAKARTA, Aug 15 (NNN-ANTARA) — The Indonesian government has been successful in reducing the poverty rate by some 4.5 million people over the last five years, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono noted in his State of The Nation Address.

“In 2009, the poverty rate reached 14 percent of the total population or 32 million people were under the poverty line. In March 2014, the poverty rate declined to 11 percent or some 28 million people,” the head of state remarked before the joint session of the House of Representatives (DPR) and the Regional Representative Council (DPD) here on Friday.

Despite the decline in poverty rate, the government is not satisfied and is striving to achieve zero poverty, he emphasized.

He also noted that the effectiveness of development was not merely measured by poverty reduction but also by the growth of the middle class.

“Actually, the government has so far pursued double objectives, systematic and significant reduction of poverty rate, and at the same time, improvement of public welfare and the middle class,” he stated.

In the 21st century, Indonesias progress was not measured by the number of conglomerates but by the growing middle class population.

When the number of middle class increased, it automatically meant that the poverty rate declined because some poor people managed to improve their welfare and joined the middle class group, he explained.

“Agricultural workers have become land owners, employees have become managers, and poor people have become businessmen, lecturers, or officials,” he cited as examples.

President Yudhoyono also claimed in his state-of-the-nation address that Indonesias international repositioning has constantly improved since the reform era.

“Indonesia has become a regional power and at the same time, a globally respected player,” he said.

He explained that the nation has established strategic partnerships with all major countries and most of the worlds emerging powers.

“We also continue to seek a dynamic equilibrium in the region, so that the ongoing geopolitical shift may not lead to new tensions or conflict,” he emphasized.

Yudhoyono, however, expressed concern that the stable and cooperative relations among major countries in the recent years has now begun to deteriorate.

He cited the example of the Ukrainian conflict that caused the MH17 airplane crash, the Middle East crisis, and the human tragedy in Gaza, Palestine.

“And now, the deadly Ebola virus poses a threat to any country on earth,” he stressed.

The president stated that over the years, Indonesia has upheld the principle of free and active foreign policy, while fighting for justice and world peace and will continue this practice in the future.

In the surrounding region of Southeast Asia, Indonesia continuously contributes to strengthening ASEAN for the creation of a peaceful and prosperous region.

“Indonesia remains committed to ensuring that we are ready towards the realization of the ASEAN Community 2015 in three pillars: politics and security, economy, and socio-culture,” he noted.

As the realization of the ASEAN Community 2015 is scheduled to come into effect on Dec 31, 2015, he called on all Indonesian entrepreneurs, laborers, local governments, university students, civil society, and artists to propagate it more actively, so that they will be able to understand all the opportunities and challenges.

He emphasized that Indonesia should also derive maximum advantages and benefits from its communal communities comprising 600 million people.

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Guyana Secures New Rice Market In Panama

GEORGETOWN, Aug 16 (NNN-GINA) — Guyana has managed to secure yet another market for rice. This announcement was made by President Donald Ramotar during a press conference at the office of the President.

Recently, President Ramotar was in Colombia where he engaged Panamanian Head of State, Juan Carlos Varela in talks regarding that country being a possible market for Guyana’s rice.

On his return, President Ramotar deployed a team to Panama to negotiate the terms under which this arrangement could materialise.

“The team just returned with COPA Airlines and the mission was successful…we have managed to get a new market for rice in Panama,” the President posited.

The Ministry of Agriculture will be disclosing more details on the agreement reached.

President Ramotar said that his Government is aggressively pursuing additional markets in Central America and Africa so as not to restrict the massive growth in production that the country has been witnessing, but rather to encourage even greater production.

Guyana’s rice industry has seen repeated bumper crops, with a record production of 535,000 tonnes of rice of which 395, 000 tonnes was exported.

This year, the country is expected to produce over 600,000 tonnes of rice by the end of 2014.

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said that the target set in the National Agriculture Strategy 2013-2020 to reduce the importation of corn and soya by 15-25 percent is not only achievable, but it can also be exceeded.

He said that the feasibility work conducted by the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) has shown that Guyana can reduce the cost of corn and soya by minimum of 30 percent through replacing importation.

Moreover, the test plots in Guyana demonstrate that the yield per acre is equivalent and in some instances, even better than that recorded in the United States and Brazil.

“I would say that at this stage we have successfully demonstrated that we will be able to do large scale production… I want to congratulate NAREI on the work done to demonstrate the feasibility on commercial scale corn and soya production in Guyana,” Minister Ramsammy said.

Cultivation of corn and soya in Guyana is not novel, but these crops were only cultivated to meet kitchen demands. As such, the Ministry has embarked on a programme that will see the cultivation of corn and soya on a scale that would meet the needs of the stock feed industry.

“We have to lower the cost of production, and one way to do so is to ensure that those inputs that we need for the stock feed industry, mainly corn and soya, are obtained at a low price which will allow for competitive pricing,” Minister Ramsammy said.

Late last year and earlier this year, cultivation of corn and soya was also done on test plots at Mon Repos. These crops will be harvested shortly.

The Ministry has also extended an invitation to farmers with sizeable plots of land to grow corn and soya and in this regard, it has committed to providing the required technical support. At present, there is a consortium of Guyanese and Brazilian investors who have indicated their interest in large-scale production of corn and soya for stock feed industry and for the production of bio-fuel.

These investors are looking at the intermediate savannahs as a possible location for cultivation. The Ministry has allowed them to utilise test plots at NAREI’s Ebini facility to conduct their own feasibility studies. That study is proceeding well and has even exceeded the expectations of the experts that are working on the field at Ebini.

The Minister said that, “we expect that the largest scale production of hundreds of acres will begin by the end of this year.”

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Pakistan’s Vision 2025 Shaped Along Malaysian Development Model

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Aug 14 (NNN-BERNAMA) – Pakistan has taken a leaf from Malaysia in drafting its newly-launched Vision 2025 initiative, to make the country economically strong and prosperous.

Pakistan High Commissioner to Malaysia, Syed Hassan Raza, said, Malaysia’s Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and good governance were taken into consideration, when Pakistan worked out the initiative.

He said, the most important aspect of Malaysia’s national transformation model, which was aimed at building the government into an efficient and people-centric institution, had been envisaged in his country’s plan, and closely observed towards achieving the developed-country stage.

Syed Hassan spoke to reporters at a flag-raising ceremony, to mark Pakistan’s 67th Independence Day celebrations, at the High Commission here today.

“The purpose of the Vision 2025 plan is to transform Pakistan into an economically strong and prosperous country, by providing a high quality of life for all citizens.

“Having the same kind of vision with what Malaysia’s current transformation plan is doing (that is going to last until 2020), Pakistan would want to emulate the model in which we strongly feel as the easier model to replicate, than any other model in the world,” he said.

Syed Hassan said, Pakistan would also want to emulate the structure of the transformation plan, which emphasised the importance of being more effective in the delivery of services and accountable for outcomes that mattered most to the people.

He said, another important aspect of the Malaysian model was its “economic design and how society has to be changed.”

“The Malaysian experience of energising the government itself (as compared to the last 25 years) and making the institution stronger, by trying to put an end to any maladministration in the government, ending any kind of corruption in the society, be transparent and equitable to everybody — these are very much in favour of Pakistan to endeavour in executing the vision,” said the 55-year-old envoy.

Pakistan’s Vision 2025 was unveiled by Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif on Monday.

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International Monetary Fund Praises Economic Reforms In Egypt

CAIRO, Egypt, Aug 11 (NNN-MENA) – Masood Ahmed, director of the International Monetary Fund’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, said, “Egypt has applied hard and brave economic reforms” in recent weeks.

Negotiations between Egypt and IMF, over getting a LE4.8 billion, to support the economy stopped in 2013. Rationalising of the subsidies programme, as well as economic reforms, were among the conditions needed to get the loan.

“If the fund’s programme is applied in Egypt, it will give signals to international institutions that the situation is stable to carry out other programmes,” Ahmed said in press remarks. “Measures taken in Egypt will have a crucial impact on the cost of subsidies.”

Last month, the Cabinet had decided to increase fuel and electricity prices.

The gradual removal of energy subsidies was intended to reduce the budget deficit.

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Saudi Arabia takes steps to ensure Ebola-free Haj

Arab news / 09 Aug 2014 – Pilgrims arriving from different countries are being monitored for the Ebola virus at the airports.

This was stated by a senior official from the Ministry of Health. “We are checking pilgrims coming on airlines from West and Central Africa, and also from other countries, since pilgrims could have been on transit in the endemic countries and can potentially be carriers of the virus,” said Sami Badawood, director general of the Directorate of Health Affairs in Jeddah.

“We don’t want to take any chances by allowing infected pilgrims into the Kingdom,” Badawood said, adding that the suspected cases will be quarantined immediately and sent to a designated hospital for specialized treatment.

The Health Ministry has also issued an advisory against travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone and New Guinea. The government stopped issuing Haj visas to these countries as an initial step to control the spread of the disease among the pilgrims.

The WHO has said the spread of Ebola in West Africa is an international health emergency.

WHO officials said a co-ordinated response was essential to stop and reverse the spread of the virus.

In Nigeria, one of the latest countries to be affected, President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a national state of emergency.

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Central African Republic names first Muslim prime minister

Presstv / 12 Aug 2014 – The Central African Republic (CAR) has named its first Muslim prime minister in a bid to end more than a year of conflict in the country. Mahamat Kamoun, a former advisor to interim President Catherine Samba-Panza, was appointed by a presidential decree on Sunday, according to an announcement on the state radio.

Kamoun will lead a transitional government that will be tasked with implementing a truce agreed last month between the representatives of the mostly Muslim Seleka group and armed Christians. The two sides signed the tentative ceasefire in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, pledging to end the hostilities.

Kamoun is now facing the demanding task of revitalizing a political transition aimed at ending the deadly violence in the Central African Republic.

The African country descended into chaos last December, when Christian armed groups launched coordinated attacks against the Seleka group that toppled the government in March 2013.

On December 5, France invaded its former colony after the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution giving the African Union and France the go-ahead to send troops to the country.

In March 2014, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said almost all of more than 100,000 Muslims once residing in the capital, Bangui, had fled the violence perpetrated by the armed Christians.

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1,000-year-old Islamic burial ground found in Spain

The Local / 14 Aug 2014 – It has only taken two weeks but already excavations at a archaeological site in the Spanish town of Alcázar de San Juan have turned up some exciting finds.

Researchers from the University of Castilla-La Mancha University say they have already unearthed fragments of household goods from the bronze age as well as a Roman inscription and traces of Celtiberian settlements.

But project leader Víctor López Menchero says the the most exciting discovery is an ancient necropolis (see picture here) containing seven bodies. The positioning of the bodies — they are all facing towards Mecca — and a lack of accompanying items, both suggest a Muslim graveyard.

For López Menchero, the discovery of an Islamic necropolis is key because it is one of the few pieces of evidence that Muslims lived in Castilla-La Mancha.

Much of Spain was under Islamic rule from the eighth to the thirteenth centuries with the Mezquita of Cordoba and Granada’s Alhambra palace being among the most visible symbols of the period.

Islamic Spain was also a intellectual melting pot with Muslim, Jewish and Christian scholars exchanging key Greek, Latin and Arabic texts, work which would help spur Europe’s Renaissance. But little evidence of this civilization has been found in Castilla-La Mancha to date.

López Menchero’s archaeological project, jointly run by Castilla-La Mancha University and authorities in Alcázar de San Juan was established in 2013.

But in a statement published by the Alcázar de San Juan town hall the investigator there is “a world to explore”.

“We are not talking about a four-year project: to fully understand everything it’s going to take one or two hundred years.”

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New Mosque to be built in Alaska

U.S. news / 15 Aug 2014 – On the edge of this northern outpost an unfamiliar sight is emerging: twin minarets. Alaska’s small but growing Muslim community is building the state’s first newly constructed mosque.

“This is our future,” said Osama Obeidi, one of the Muslim-Americans leading the building effort for the Islamic Community Center of Anchorage. “We have second-generation Alaskans now, and new people coming all the time. We need a place to call home.”

The 15,000-square-foot mosque, taking shape near a Sons of Norway Viking Hall, will eventually include a Sunday school and a community center. Heated floors will make worship in the bitter winters more comfortable.

The mosque is perhaps the clearest sign yet that Islam in the U.S. is rapidly pushing beyond traditional population centers such as Detroit and Los Angeles. As the number of American Muslims grows through both immigration and higher-than-average birthrates, domes and minarets are sprouting in areas as varied as the eastern mountains of Kentucky and Louisiana’s parishes.

The building boom reflects American Muslims’ desire for a sense of permanence as their religion shifts from one mainly imported by immigrants to one practiced by their American-born children and grandchildren, Muslim leaders say.

The Muslim population in the U.S. is expected to more than double by 2030, to 6.2 million, according to a 2011 Pew Research Center study. By then, Muslims are expected to represent 1.7% of the U.S. population, making them as numerous as American Jews or Episcopalians today, the study says.

But rapid expansion has brought growing pains. Congregations are competing for construction funds and religious leaders, or imams, since both are in limited supply. And directing cash toward buildings can leave little for programming to retain young followers and offer professional counseling and educational services, some Muslim leaders say.

“There’s this ‘edifice complex,’ ” said Jihad Turk, president of Bayan Claremont, the Islamic graduate school at Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, Calif. “You have incredible enthusiasm and energy around fundraising and building these buildings. But there’s little attention given to the programming, best practices and governance.”

A 2011 survey of U.S. mosques found a 74% increase in the number of Muslim congregations established between 2000 and 2011, rising to 2,106 from 1,209. About 30% of those congregations built new mosques, said the report sponsored by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and a coalition of Islamic organizations.

In 2000, the study counted 314 “purpose-built” mosques; by 2011, that number had more than doubled to 632.

Even as their presence grows, Muslims continue to struggle to find their place in American society. A Pew Research study released in July showed Americans view Muslims “more coldly,” or negatively, than any other major religious group—including atheists—on a so-called “feeling thermometer.”

Part of the colder view of Muslims is because fewer Americans know a Muslim person, according to the Pew study and Dalia Mogahed, research director for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a think tank in Washington, D.C., that focuses on Muslim issues.

Ms. Mogahed, who analyzed a decade’s worth of polling on American attitudes toward Muslims, said that spikes in negative feelings toward them didn’t coincide with terror attacks, like the Boston Marathon bombing, but with “political campaigns where anti-Muslim sentiment was a key driver” and Muslims were portrayed as suspect, she said.

Though there is at least one other congregation in Alaska worshiping out of an existing space, Anchorage, with a population of about 300,000, has been one of the few sizable U.S. cities that lacked a purpose-built mosque, U.S. Muslim leaders said.

Worshiping here presents unique challenges. For instance, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for the holy month of Ramadan, which this year ended in late July. That can be tough in the land of the midnight sun, where it can be light for more than 20 hours a day in summer. The congregation sought counsel from the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America, which ruled they could fast according to sunrise and sunset in Mecca, or from 4 a.m. to just after 7 p.m.

Alaskan Muslims say there are benefits to being pioneers: The new mosque was designed with younger members in mind, and the two women who sit on the mosque’s planning committee pushed for a more inclusive worship area in which women aren’t completely cut off from the main prayer hall during the gender-segregated service.

“We have this great opportunity,” said Heather Barbour, 42, one of the women who helped plan the mosque. “From the start the women are welcome, and have the same services and access.”

So far the mosque, which has its minaret bases but not yet its towers, hasn’t been met with much opposition, as projects have in some other parts of the country, say local Muslims and police. The only incident of note was when some Bibles were left at the construction site. They were donated to a Catholic school.

Fifteen years ago, Anchorage’s Muslim community was small enough to gather in an apartment for services. About seven years ago, the congregation began renting a 1,200-square-foot storefront in a strip mall. Over the last five years, its numbers have risen, mostly due to refugee-resettlement programs.

The congregation finally scraped together enough money to break ground on the new mosque in 2010. So far, the project has cost roughly $2 million; completion is expected to require another $1.5 million.

The Anchorage congregation also is yet to woo an imam. So some in the congregation take turns giving sermons.

One Friday this summer, Youssef Barbour, a doctor who moved here in 2007 after emigrating from Syria, was scheduled to speak. The congregation had hoped to celebrate Ramadan in its new mosque.

Fittingly, Dr. Barbour spoke about patience, he said. His message: “Every person has a limit or a threshold” when patience runs out, “but we can raise that threshold.”

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Iranian is first woman to win Fields Medal in mathematics

Oslo, Wednesday, 17 Shawwal 1435/ 13 August 2014 (IINA) – An Iranian-born mathematician has become the first woman to win a prestigious global prize known as the Fields Medal, the International Congress of Mathematicians announced Tuesday. The Fields Medal is widely described as the ‘math Nobel Prize.’

Maryam Mirzakhani, a Harvard educated mathematician and professor at Stanford University in California, was one of four winners announced at the group’s conference in Seoul. An expert in the geometry of unusual forms, she has come up with novel ways to calculate the volumes of oddly-shaped hyperbolic surfaces, which can be curved like a saddle or curly like a piece of crochet.

“Fluent in a remarkably diverse range of mathematical techniques and disparate mathematical cultures, she embodies a rare combination of superb technical ability, bold ambition, far-reaching vision, and deep curiosity,” the ICM said in a statement. Mirzakhani was born in Tehran in 1977 and earned her PhD in 2004 from Harvard University. She has previously won the 2009 Blumenthal Award for the Advancement of Research in Pure Mathematics and the 2013 Satter Prize of the American Mathematical Society.

The Fields Medal is given out every four years, to four separate winners. The other three winners this year were Artur Avila of France, Manjul Bhargava of Princeton University in New Jersey, and Martin Hairer of the University of Warwick in Britain.

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Over 12,000 Syrians to perform Haj

Makkah, Wednesday, 17 Shawwal 1435/ 13 August 2014 (IINA) – As many as 12,000 Syrians will be coming to the Kingdom to perform Haj this year.

The pilgrims will be coming from Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and other countries hosting Syrian refugees, Saudi Arabia’s Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar said. “The Syrian pilgrims will be issued with Haj visas by the Saudi embassies in these countries,” he added. Hajjar said the arrival of the pilgrims would be worked out in collaboration with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. About 2,000 Syrians, currently staying in the Kingdom on visit visas, will be granted Haj permits, he said. The minister on Monday started an inspection tour of the six Tawafa (pilgrim guidance) establishments within his efforts to assess the readiness of all the government and private sector organizations for the upcoming pilgrimage.

During the tour, which will continue until Aug. 21, the minister will also visit the Unified Zamzama Office in charge of providing the Zamzam water to the guests of God and the General Syndicate of Cars, which is responsible for their transport. He will also proceed to Madinah to meet with officials of the Unified Agents Office, the Private Establishment for Guides and other private and government bodies involved in providing Haj services. Hajjar said the preparations for this year’s Haj season started immediately after the end of last year’s pilgrimage. “Meetings with Haj missions of more than 75 countries were held during the past three months to discuss the affairs of their pilgrims, including their arrival and departure,” he said.

The minister said he discussed with the Tawafa establishments for Arab and South East Asian pilgrims their operational plans, programs and services to be extended to the pilgrims to enable them perform the Haj rites in ease and comfort. Hajjar said more than 6 million pilgrims came to the Kingdom to perform Umrah this year. He added that there had been a substantial drop in the number of complaints made by pilgrims, a decline he attributed to the huge financial and human resources deployed by the Kingdom to extend the best possible services to the pilgrims.

Hajjar also said his ministry was making strenuous efforts and is closely coordinating with the health and foreign affairs ministries to take precautionary measures against the possible spread of the Ebola virus during the Haj season. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Tawafa Establishment for Arab Pilgrims, Faisal Nouh, said his establishment will be serving more than 300,000 pilgrims coming from 19 Arab countries. He said about 116 field offices have been established for this purpose.

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Qatar Airways launches special fare promotion

Sun.mv – August 13, 2014 – Qatar Airways has announced a proportion for customers in Maldives with 25 percent reduction in cabin fares for Economy Class and Premium passengers, to a variety of designations.

The promotion will run until 15 August 2014 and offers customers the opportunity to travel to destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas, Qatar Airways said in a press release on Tuesday.

Passengers who purchase their tickets during the promotion have the flexibility of a four-month window, until 10 December 2014, to complete their travel, and the Economy and Premium fares purchased under the promotion are eligible for Frequent Flyer Points and mileage accrual.

“These are special fares we are offering to our loyal passengers. We want to thank them for their loyalty and appreciation of our award-winning five-star in-flight product and on-board service. Our passengers can have a world of choice from our ever-growing network which now includes more than 140 destinations across the globe, with convenient flights from Doha and beyond,” said Ajay Jacob, Qatar Airways’ Country Manager Sri Lanka & Maldives.

Qatar Airways’ customers across Maldives can book through the carrier’s website or through the airline’s sales offices, or its registered travel agency partners, to enjoy the saving.

Qatar Airways, through rapid growth in 17 years of operations, currently flies a modern fleet of 134 aircraft to 144 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and the Americas.

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President: Vision is to increase Chinese tourist arrivals to 2 million

Sun.mv – August 16, 2014 – President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has said that his vision is to increase the number of Chinese citizens traveling to the Maldives to at least 2 million in the years ahead.

President Yameen made the statement in an exclusive interview to the Xinhua news agency on Friday, during his current visit to China to attend the 2nd Youth Olympics Games at Nanjing, China.

President said in the interview that he is confident Maldives will continue to be a favored destination among Chinese holidaymakers if the air transport connectivity between the two countries can be improved, and if further efforts are made to market Maldives in Chinese cities.

“My vision is to increase the number of Chinese travelers to the Maldives to at least 2 million in the years ahead,” said President Yameen, speaking to Xinhua news agency.

In global diplomacy, the President said that Maldives and China share common core values on peace and bilateral cooperation.

“Our positions at the UN and other key multilateral forums highlight the close cooperation between our two countries,” the President said.

Xinhua states that additional agreements promoting relations between the two countries will be inked during President Yameen’s current visit to China.

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Horse trips in Kas, Turkey, an alternative to sea, sun and sand

ANTALYA – Doğan News Agency – Tourism operators in the southern resort district of Kaş are looking to provide an alternative to the area’s sea, sun and sand by offering horse trips.

Tourists can spend part of their holiday overlooking the ancient city of Patara and viewing the sea and Meis, a Greek island just off the coast from Kaş, from the unique vantage point of a horse during nature tours with professional guides.

Visitors are brought to the ancient city to see the historical structures there, as well as to Patara beach via a forested path. Trips typically end at sundown.

The three-hour horse tours are being organized between May 1 and Sept. 1 over a course of around 18 kilometers. The tour price is 80 Turkish Liras per person.

Horse trainer and tour guide Ufuk İnan said tourists, particularly ones from Europe, were in search of alternatives rather than sea and sun. “We fill a gap in this field. We are drawing a lot of interest, especially from foreigners. They discover nature, history and the ancient city of Patara on horses, which give them great pleasure,” he said.

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City of gladiators attracts cinematic scenes

MUĞLA – Anadolu Agency – Films and TV series shot in the western province of Muğla’s ancient city of Stratonikeia in recent years have contributed to the increase in visitors to the region. Thanks to these productions, tourists are visiting the historical places where scenes were filmed to take photos.

The head of the Stratonikeia excavations, Professor Bilal Söğüt, said remains from many eras in history could be seen in the ancient city, where they have discovered a settlement dating back 3,500 years.

Home to the Caria and Leleg settlements throughout history, Söğüt said Stratonikeia was also important during the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Anatolian beyliks, Ottoman and republican eras.

He said the structures in the region had been preserved as a whole from the ancient times to the present day. “Thanks to the video shoots over recent years, the ancient city and the region have been promoted. Compared to previous years, the number of visitors has increased to a great extent.”

Söğüt said the ancient city of Stratonikeia was serving producers as a natural film set with its historical identity and that the structures were being revived during excavations.

Muğla is already visited by many tourists due to its historical and cultural beauties, Söğüt said. “It is possible to see historical structures around Anatolia, but all of the structures from the ancient times to present day have come together in Stratonikeia. We bring an important structure to the forefront in every field in the ancient city. From the Ottoman-era village squares to the Roman-era Parliament buildings, temples and bathes. We can see all of these together. The variety here draws everybody’s attention.”

The ancient city has drawn the attention of TV and film producers in the recent years, he said.

“Robert’in Filmi” (Robert’s Movie), “Sürgün İnek” (Exiled Cow), “Dondurmam Gaymak” (Ice Cream, I Scream) and “Dabbe” are among the cinema films that were shot in Stratonikeia. Also, the TV drama “Güzel Köylü” (Beautiful Villager) is being shot there.

“Horror, comedy and tragedy – films of all genres have been shot here. There is a suitable place for films of any genre. We continue excavations in the city and at the same time we support shootings,” Söğüt said.

He said they estimated that new TV series and films would be made in the newly restored houses in the city. “Almost all of the old structures here have a story. Most of them have a musical story. Some registered houses have been restored. It adds value to the ancient city,” he said.

Söğüt said gladiators were trained in the ancient city of Stratonikeia and it was a special region for lovers. “Especially on weekends, brides and grooms come here for photo shoots. They stroll around here to make their love immortal. Before shootings start, we tell the features of the ancient city to production teams. We walk on the stone roads of the city. It captivates everyone.”

With the support of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, reception areas have been established in the city and electrical wires were installed underground. “Visitors know where to go thanks to information boards,” he added.

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UNESCO World Heritage List adds historical places in Kazakhstan

Centralasiaonline.com 2014-08-15 TARAZ, Kazakhstan – Silk Road sites – including the ancient settlements of Kayalyk, Karamergen, Talgar, Aktobe Stepninskoye, Akyrtas, Kulan, Kostobe and Ornek – now have international stature.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee, at a June session in Qatar, added them to its World Heritage List as part of a three-country entry, Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang-an-Tianshan Corridor.

Prior listings for Kazakhstan included the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi; petroglyphs within the archaeological landscape of Tamgaly; and Saryarka, the steppes and lakes of northern Kazakhstan. UNESCO added them to the World Heritage List in 2003, 2004 and 2008, respectively.

Five of the eight newly listed Silk Road sites are in Zhambyl Oblast.

The mediaeval settlement of Kulan is situated near the present-day village of the same name. It is a whole complex of structures dating back to the 6th-13th centuries, scattered over an area of more than 2,000 sq. m.

“The Kulan shahristan (the part of town within the city walls but outside the citadel) was dug up, the citadel and the surrounding wall (rabad),” Bauyrjan Tolybayev, a district museum worker, told Central Asia Online. “Many interesting things were found … khums (clay vessels) for keeping wine, a bronze cauldron and pitchers.”

“The archaeologists were particularly excited to dig up a winery,” Tolybayev noted. “Also, they found unique terra cotta busts of local rulers.”

The Ornek ancient settlement also dates back to the Middle Ages. It is on the banks of the Altynsu and Shybyndy rivers. The inner city was built in the form of a quadrangle. A wall with 31 towers surrounds Ornek, and a mosque stands in the city centre.

Another settlement, Aktobe Stepninskoye, lies on both banks of the Ak-Suu River. It is one of the largest mediaeval settlements in Kazakhstan. The archaeologists unearthed the citadel, a palace complex, and a minaret.

The Kostobe settlement is near the modern village of Sarykemer on the bank of the Talas River.

“At one time it was an impregnable fortress,” archaeologist Karl Baipakov said. “We dug up a sanctuary, the walls of which are decorated with highly artistic carvings. Our finds attest to cultural ties with other Central Asian and Middle Eastern cities.”

The mediaeval settlement Akyrtas is a legendary place. It has become a pilgrimage location for adherents of different religions and for mystics who say it is saturated with energy.

“We still aren’t sure what it actually is – a mediaeval palace, a religious shrine or a local ruler’s headquarters,” archaeologist Arslan Akjigitov said. “We probed it with seismic radar, and based on the gathered data, we can assert that there’s a huge hollow under Akyrtas, at the depth of 200 metres. Scholars haven’t figured out yet what’s down there.”

“I visited all five (of the Zhambyl Oblast) sites last summer,” Taraz resident Vladimir Goncharov said. “It was truly a breathtaking experience … Each stone there breathes of history. But anyone going to see those sites should go to the local district museums by all means, where supremely fascinating archaeological artefacts are on display.”

Tourists are welcome

The rarest archaeological items excavated in Zhambyl Oblast in recent years have been attracting attention from the National Museum management in Astana.

“The oblast leaders received an official letter asking us to send the artefacts to the museum in the capital,” Zhambyl Oblast Akim (Governor) Karim Kokrekbayev told Central Asia Online. “But we warned them we couldn’t do that because excavations attract foreign tourists.”

Oblast authorities have been talking of a need to develop a tourism cluster in Zhambyl for many years. Now that UNESCO has put the five sites on its World Heritage List, prospects for developing the regional tourist industry are looking much more realistic.

“We’ve gathered a colossal body of artefacts,” Baipakov, chairman of the Kazakhstani Archaeological Society, said. “Now we have something to show to foreign tourists.”

Taraz’s old town might be the next Kazakhstani site to go on the World Heritage List. Kazakhstani archaeologists have long discussed the possibility.

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President urges foreign entrepreneurs to invest in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Aug 16, 2014 (BSS) – President Abdul Hamid today urged the foreign investors and entrepreneurs to investment in Bangladesh, saying that this country could be their first investment destination because of its investment-friendly policy and existing congenial atmosphere, including political stability.

“The government of Bangladesh is providing various facilities for foreign investment in the country . . . it is ensuring 100 percent security to the foreign investors in Bangladesh,” said the President while speaking at the golden jubilee celebrations programme of the Foreign Investors’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here.

He said apart from political stability, a very congenial atmosphere for investment is prevailing in Bangladesh. Besides, smooth supply of electricity, availability of cheap manpower, vast domestic and international market, transportation facilities, tax holiday and other incentives are currently prevailing in Bangladesh, he added.

The President said the role of investment in the national economy is very important, especially the investment in industry and productive sector helps achieve long-term sustainable development target.

He said the government has been working to develop a congenial investment environment by framing an investment-friendly policy, law and amending the regulations for the expansion of local-foreign investment in Bangladesh. As a result, foreign investment is increasing, he said, adding that the country received the highest ever US$1730.65 million worth Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in fiscal year 2012-13.

Abdul Hamid said Bangladesh expects more foreign investment for its overall development. There are enormous opportunities for investment in power generation, gas and oil exploration, infrastructure development, ship-building, textile, leather industry, ICT and agriculture-based industry.

“Foreign investors can invest in these lucrative sectors,” he said and urged the FICCI members to extend their cooperation in this regard.

The President highly appreciated the FICCI for its role, especially during the post-liberation period, for the development of Bangladesh economy. Since its inception in 1963, FICCI has been playing important role in attracting local-foreign investment side by side with developing leadership in the trade and commerce, he added.

The President hoped that the FICCI would continue to play its role for the further development of the country and its economy. FICCI President Rupali Chowdhury, Youngone Group chairman and CEO Kihak Sung, distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya and chief executive officer Jim McCabe addressed it.

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Garuda to operate Timika-Sorong-Manado route

11 August 2014 Timika, Papua (ANTARA News) – The national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia will soon open the Timika-Sorong-Manado route with three flights per week, stated Head of the Mimika air communications office John Rettob.

“It is good news for the users of air transportation service that from August 15, 2014, Garuda will commence its first flight from Timika to Sorong and Manado,” Rettob noted here on Monday.

He explained that Garuda will operate the CRG-1000 plane, which will have 84 economy class seats and 12 business class seats to serve the new route from Timika to Sorong and Manado in North Sulawesi.

Rettob remarked that Garuda will take over the Timika-Sorong-Manado route, which was last operated in February by Merpati Nusantara, a government airline that had stopped operations as it was facing financial difficulties.

He added that Merpati Nusantara had halted operations in the region since February, and the transport ministry has offered several routes left vacant by Merpati to other airlines.

Garuda Indonesia and Sriwijaya Air have indicated their interest to operate these routes.

Garuda Indonesia sought approval to operate the Jakarta-Makassar-Timika-Jayapura route on a daily basis while Sriwijaya Air has opted to operate the Timika-Sorong-Manado route thrice a week.

The Moses Kilangin airport authority in Timika has agreed to a time slot arrangement for the two airlines.

However, Rettob stated that as of now, Sriwijaya Air had not yet coordinated with the Mimika district administration on its proposal to serve the Timika-Sorong-Manado route, and therefore, Garuda will start operating the route.

Meanwhile, Garuda General Manager for the Timika branch Dedy Setiadi remarked that the company has acquired the time slot from Timikas Moses Kilangin Airport to operate the route.

Setiadi pointed out that the Timika-Sorong-Manado route will be served with three flights per week since the demand for this route is significantly high.

According to him, Garuda has also acquired a time slot from the Sorong Airport to operate a similar type of its airplane to serve the Jayapura-Sorong-Manado route.

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Egypt Tourism Minister Announces Transport Project Between Cairo, New Cities

Egypt State Information Service – 11 August 2014 – Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou announced a new project to offer tourist-level public transport means between Cairo and new cities. Safe parking lots were set for the urban buses and for the cars of citizens who will use the service, Zaazou said.

Authorities concerned will issue temporary licenses for the buses until legislative amendments are made to put the buses in service, he said.

The tourism and local development ministries and Cairo City Hall are coordinating to set the stops and routes of the buses, he said, adding that initially three routes were proposed in the first phase on which 10 buses will be operating on each route with a 10-minute interval.

Route “A” will link between New Cairo’s Ring Road and eastern Cairo’s Nasr City and will have seven stops, he said, adding the journey will take nearly 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, Route “B” will start from Qalubiya’s Obour City and end at the main bus stop in Nasr City, taking the interception of the Ring Road and passing by Cairo airport with an expected trip time of 50 minutes.

Finally, Route “C” will start from the main stop in Nasr City and end in Shorouk City and will be passing by Al-Rehab City, all in 40 minutes, he added.

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Gambia Committed to Intellectual Property Protection’

The Daily Observer – 12 August 3014 – The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has reaffirmed that The Gambia Government is committed to strengthening the copyright sub-sector of the country for the protection of the intellectual property and the creative community.

PS Momodou C. Joof was speaking recently at the opening ceremony of the National Roving Seminar on making better use of intellectual property for business competitiveness and development in Africa.

The meeting that also discussed ‘Protection and Utilisation of Traditional Knowledge, Genetic Resources and Expressions of Folklore’, was organised by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) in collaboration with the government of The Gambia.

Joof recalled that in 2003 the government repealed the obsolete 1916 Copyright Ordinance with a new Copyright Act, which provides for a copyright office under the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC). “In May 2013, the copyright office finally succeeded in calling up the constituent congress of the Collecting Society,” he recalled further.

Further in his remarks, the permanent secretary defined folklore as ‘the literary, artistic and scientific work belonging to the cultural heritage of The Gambia, which are created, preserved and developed by ethnic communities of the country or by unidentified Gambian authors. Thus, he noted, the tangible and intangible aspects of Gambians folklore thus deserve protection.

“It is indeed obvious that what makes the tourist product unique are those aspects of cultural heritage which are distinctly Gambian; be they cuisine, costume, customs or carvings, or music and masquerades,” he stated. “Our dances, songs, praise songs, traditional musical instruments, stories, legends and fables are other aspects of our folklore which make The Gambia a unique tourist attraction”.

PS Joof informed that the NCAC, under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, has under its custody over 6, 000 audio and video recordings dating to five decades on various aspects of Gambian traditional songs, performances, genealogies, linguistics and similar folklore materials. He described these materials as invaluable assets of folklore, which the Swakupmond Protocol seeks to protect when it is ratified.

The director general of African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), Dr. Fernando Dos Santos, said the colloquium was the fifth in the series of roving seminars that the organisation has planned for the next two years in order to promote the use of intellectual property in the ARIPO member states.

DG Santos thanked the participants for their interest in the session and expressed his institution’s readiness to continue to work with the government to empower the IP office in order to accelerate its growth.

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‘Football Can Challenge Tourism in Gambia’s GDP’

The Daily Observer – 14 August 2014 – A former minister of Finance and Economic Affairs has expressed optimism that Gambia’s football industry has the potential to challenge the contribution of tourism to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Dominic Mendy, who made these remarks at a recent national football dialogue to develop a strategic plan for the next five years, however cautioned that this could only be achieved only if the industry is packaged properly.

It goes without saying that tourism contributes significantly to the GDP of the country at the rate of about 16 % per annum, and for football to catch up on this, and given the huge economic potential of football to attract investments through merchadising, the acquisition of television rights and the direct sale of football gear, all makes it a potential source to contribute to the GDP of the country.

Mendy has been contracted by the Ministry of Youth and Sports as the lead consultant for the project and he is expected to meet all the relevant stakeholders of the sport before the document is finally validated. The conclusions are expected to be implemented not later than the 2016 domestic football league season.

While admitting that he is a novice in the area of football, the consultant expressed his love for the sport, and optimism that the game will be played at the highest level in The Gambia. He therefore urged for a collaborative partnership from all the stakeholders in order to come up with a clear strategy. “Football can challenge tourism in its contribution to the GDP and employment in this country, (but) only if it is packaged properly,” he said.

If this is done, he further pointed out, the sport can become one of those industries that will lead into higher consumption in other industries and create employment of significance. He reiterated that the true foot of foreign exchange in football that passes through Gambia could contribute significantly in stabilising the dalasis.

Mendy went on to describe football as the most popular sport in the world and that almost everybody is involved in watching and taking pleasure in it. Because of the mass involvement in the game, he observed football has made itself a great economic potential. “So because football is so huge, it is so supported and to support football, you don’t need much money, (from each individual) and if everybody contributes little, it becomes huge money,” he observed.

He further argued that since football has a huge economic potential, no nation could avoid it. He cited the English and the Spanish premier leagues as the most famous in the world and that they generate more money than the rest of the leagues across the world. However, despite this, he observed, the England national team could not present the best team in the Brazil 2014 World Cup. “The best players look forward to playing in England, and you know what England has decided to do. They knew that football has become so strong in the world that they cannot be what they used to be during the olden days. But they know that they have the infrastructure, physical and systemic (opportunity) to make sure that the true foot of money in international football can be transited through England,” Mendy explained.

He maintained that once that happens, England was able to have a piece of the cake, therefore making football becoming an industry contributing significantly to her Gross Domestic Product, thus, employment, building a very strong middle class and supporting the balance of payment in England.

Rhetorically, Mendy remarked: “That is the potency there in football. We don’t want middle class? We don’t want the money? We don’t want to enjoy the glory of football not only to win but to harness that which it brings to us and make us better and richer people; more contented people and other ramifications?”

“I am a facilitator and I don’t want to deliver a lecture because I cannot deliver a lecture in football. But one thing I want to tell you is that I am more than honoured to be invited to lead the process of consultation that will culminate in a national football strategy,” he stated.

The former Finance minister made his role unequivocal indicating that he was to only lead and facilitate a consultation between the football fraternity and the government. He vowed that a proper consultative process would take place in which the platform will exist for opinions to be raised without fear and put into implementable strategies.

After all that, he said, The Gambia would cease to see football as something frivolous. In doing so, the consultant went on, all he wanted was the cooperation of everyone.

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Baku to host caricature exhibition

14 August 2014 – AzerNews – The final exhibition of “Caricature competition” project will be held in the Center of Modern Art in Baku on August 15. The project was the leading project in the fifth grant competition, announced by Youth Foundation under the President of Azerbaijan. The project is led by Roza Aliyeva.

About 30 artists took part at the three-day exhibition. Each artist is allowed to put on display only three works.

During the first stage of the exhibition, young cartoonists created their works in the open air. The second stage of the exhibition includes exposition of young artists’ collections.

The main goal of the competition is to develop fine and caricature art in Azerbaijan, identify talented young artists and strengthen ties between young artists and professionals.

Caricature is the main or in another word the only form of graphic satire. In fact, the very name of the genre comes from Latin word “carrus” which means “exaggerate”. It succinctly highlights both the advantages and disadvantages of a particular person or society.

In Azerbaijan, caricature genre in press was born in 19th century in satiric magazines.

This new genre quickly became very popular among population as it showed the gaps and ugliness of the society in a comic form.

The development of this genre in Azerbaijan is associated with “Molla Nasraddin” magazine headed by Jalil Mammadguluzade (chief editor) first released on April 7, 1906.

In 2006, Azerbaijan Cartoonists Union (ACU) was established. The union is a member of FECO Federation of Cartoonist Organizations.

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First Azerbaijani cookbook to be published in U.S.

12 August 2014 – AzerNews – Azerbaijani cuisine has inspired many people, locals and foreigners, as no one can stop falling in love with it immediately.

Delicious dishes of various regions drive crazy gourmands and tourists cannot resist good smell from the local restaurants. Some people like the food so much that want to cook it at home as well, looking for recipes books which are rarely in English.

However, this problem will be resolved by October with “Pomegranates and Saffron: A Culinary Journey to Azerbaijan” book, the first comprehensive cookbook on Azerbaijani cuisine published in the U.S.

The book explores some 200 recipes of traditional and modern Azerbaijani dishes grouped into 15 categories, including appetizers and salads, soups and stews, vegetarian dishes, pasta dishes, and desserts, all adapted for preparation in a Western kitchen by the author, food blogger Feride Buyuran.

The unique book has 90 percent new content and 10 percent best recipes from her blog, mixed with felicitous Azerbaijani proverbs, words of wisdom, and anecdotes. All the recipes have been collected from the different region of homeland including ancient and forgotten ones. They were tasted a number of times to make the cookbook more precise.

Currently, the book is available to pre-order on: http://www.azcookbook.com/pomegranatesandsaffron.

Sheilah Kaufman, Award-Winning Author (with Nur Ilkin) of “The Turkish Cookbook” believes that “Azerbaijan’s culture and cuisine are not yet well known to many of us. Now Feride Buyuran’s book Pomegranates and Saffron is about to change it. Reading this amazing, extensive, and comprehensive compilation on this ancient culture and cuisine is a must for anyone interested in expanding their culinary repertoire,” she said.

Feride Buyuran, the creator of popular food blog AZCookbook.com, never thought she would become a chef. She holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in English Philology from Azerbaijan’s State University of Languages and a Master of Business Administration degree from California State University.

However, the passion for cooking led the author to produce her first book about the cuisine of her homeland.

“I moved to the United States in 2002. At that time, my cooking was very limited. Craving for homemade Azerbaijani foods, I decided finally to learn how to cook properly,” Feride explains to AzerNews.

Feride knew the process of cooking Azerbaijani dishes as she saw her mom’s cook every day in Baku, but rarely tried to cook herself back in home. However, moving to the U.S. forced her to learn to cook Azerbaijani dishes from her mom’s recipes and other dishes from books and magazines.

“Call after call to my mom in Baku for recipes, trial after trial in the kitchen, I finally mastered some skills. While I was learning how to cook, I searched for an Azerbaijani cookbook in bookstores and libraries, but was not able to find any that would cover our cuisine in details,” she said.

So, I felt there was a niche and that I could fill it. The blog was launched in January 2007. With this blog I wanted to both introduce Azerbaijani cuisine to the world and help fellow Azerbaijanis living abroad and looking for tried and tested recipes to recreate their national food far from their homes,” she said.

Living far away from the birthplace forced Feride to look at native cuisine from a different perspective. “Here I began to deeply appreciate the cuisine which I took for granted back in Azerbaijan. The dishes, the flavors, the aromas become special and unique.”

The author is nimble for new recipes and can be easily inspired by trips to the grocery store or a farmer’s market, a recipe in a magazine or a cookbook. “I love to eat so seeing food or even thinking about food can make me rush into the kitchen to whip up something,” she underlines.

Despite introducing new cuisine to Americans, Feride also supports healthy life style and adjusts Azerbaijani dishes to local cuisine. “Food can be delicious without being laden with tons of fats and unhealthy ingredients. I also try to squeeze regular exercising into my busy schedule.”

Except this, the energetic business woman is taking classes of flamenco dance, and also likes to read whenever she gets a chance.

The main appreciators of Feride’s recipes are her family. “When my food experiments turn out good, they are happy. Recipes that end up in a disaster are not welcome, of course. But generally speaking they are happy,” she added.

The recipes, representing various regions of Azerbaijan, came from family, friends, and perfect strangers who wanted to help. “I am so grateful to all the people for their invaluable recipe contribution,” Feride stresses.

Moreover, Feride mastered food photography skills and produced practically all of the living photos for the book.

Sharing with us her plans, Feride noted, that she expects to continue with food blogging in both English and Azerbaijani. “I have lots of dreams for the future – my own magazine, a TV program, and more books,” she explains.

Hopefully, the author will further promote Azerbaijan and its cuisine abroad and more people will have a chance to enjoy lipsmacking Azerbaijani dishes.

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Malaysia’s Penang Gets First Chinese Mosque

OnIslam & Newspapers Thursday, 14 August 2014 CAIRO – The dream of Chinese Muslim community in Malaysia’s Penang has come true after getting the green light to start their long-awaited mosque that will deliver sermons in Chinese language in the north eastern state.

“The purpose of a Chinese mosque is to show the universal and multicultural root of Islam,” Penang religious affairs committee chairman Abdul Malik Abul Kassim was quoted by the Malay Mail on Wednesday, August 13.

Calls to establish a mosque for the Chinese minority in Penang started since 2008 to create a place for worship and community activities for Chinese Muslim community in Penang.

For Malaysia Muslims, the new Chinese mosque in Penang would be the best reflection of Muslims’ diversity in Penang state.

The state’s first Chinese mosque sermons will be temporarily delivered in Titi Papan Mosque that was established in 1893, until constructing a new one.

“If everything turns out well, we may even build a new mosque with Chinese architectural features at a separate location, resembling the Masjid Beijing in Kelantan or the Chinese Muslim Mosque in Ipoh,” Abul Kassim told The Star online on Thursday, August 14.

Abul Kassim stressed that the state was not segregating its Muslim faithful, “but we just want to show that Islam can be multi-ethnic and multi-cultural”.

Highlighting diversity, the 121-year-old Titi Papan Mosque last Friday’s sermon was delivered in China’s Mandarin language.

“The state government also plans to build a Chinese mosque with a unique Chinese architecture in the future to reflect three different cultures — Malay, Chinese and Indian,” Abdul Kassim revealed.

Along with Titi Papan Mosque multilingual sermons, the historical Kapitan Keling Mosque sometimes deliver sermons in Tamil for Indian Muslims.

“In Penang, there are mosques that symbolize the multiracial community here. We have mosques for the Arab, Acheh, Keling and many others,” Abdul Malik said.

“We want to present Islam as a magnanimous and universal religion. We won’t restrict anybody from coming to the mosque. Islam does not equal to Malays,” he added.

Usually dubbed the “melting pot” of Asia for its potpourri of cultures, Malaysia has long been held up as a model of peaceful co-existence among its races and religions.

Malaysia has a population of nearly 26 millions, with Malays, mostly Muslims, making up nearly 60 percent. Ethnic Chinese and Indians – most of them Buddhists, Hindus and Christians – make up about 35 percent. There are about 57,000 Chinese Muslims in Malaysia.

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US Convention Empowers Young Muslims

OnIslam – Sunday, 10 August 2014 DETROIT – Looking forward to empower a new Muslim generation in the US, preparations continued ahead of the launch of the 51st annual Islamic Society of North America’s annual convention from Aug. 29- Sept.1 in Detroit, Michigan, planning discussions for some of the challenges of shaping Islam’s future in North America.

“The baton is being passed to a new generation of Muslim activists, and there are new ideas and a different way of doing things,” Edgar Hopida, communications director for ISNA, told OnIslam.net.

“So we need to think about who’s going to step up and produce a viable American-Muslim community,” said Hopida.

This year’s theme is Generations Rise: Elevating Muslim American Culture. According to Hopida, the topic is relevant to how the American-Muslim society is changing and how young people are making their mark.

“Several generations ago (they were) building mosques and basic institutions. Now we need to refine and get beyond by building civil rights organizations and people who produce culture like art and music,” he said.

Convention organizers said looking at how Islamic and Muslim culture fits into American society is a growing challenge for Muslims. Several panel discussions will analyze the different ways culture manifests itself into everyday society, including one that will look at the place of culture in regards to Shariah principals.

Practical advice about how to tread the line between expressing one’s creativity while avoiding corruption or going against Allah’s laws will be discussed.

Elizabeth Johnson, a 30-year-old Islamic convert, said she is excited about the focus on culture.

“In many ways culture defines and guides all that we do, think, and say,” said Johnson, who has been Muslim since 2005. “The culture we are raised in develops our global view, including the way we analyze and interpret theology and political ideology.”

Referring to America as a “melting pot,” Johnson said the United States is the perfect place to have such a discussion.

“Having Muslims from many different cultures in a country as unique as ours is a sure way to get a progressive, modern take on Islamic law and interpretation.”

This year’s theme was set after noticing a remarkable success for younger imams are showing Muslims how popular culture can fit into their Islamic lifestyles.

“There are still people with an old way of doing things, but there’s also a transition happening,” Hopida said, adding that younger generations are more open and finding out that there is permissibility to merging their modern culture into their religious practice.

Successful imams included Usama Canon, founding director of Ta’Leef Collection, and Khalid Latif, executive director and chaplain for the Islamic Center at New York University.

Yassir Amir, a 56-year-old Pakistani who came to the States nearly 30 years ago, said he is happy to see young people take on more responsibilities, but hopes they will keep their religious values intact. “I would hate to see Islam pushed to the side just to embrace new ideas,” he said.

Another convention panel will welcome young Muslim activists and leaders who will be called on to talk about modern culture. While recognizing that culture offers unique and positive opportunities for Islam, the panel members will offer up their opinions on particular challenges other young people and the future of Islam in America will face.

Both Hopida and Johnson said portraying Islam’s post-Sept. 11 image remains a struggle. “We have been challenged in the last decade and a half to justify our religion,” Johnson said. “Our religion needs no justification so long as we follow it, nor will anyone ask us for a justification if our compatriots see us playing an active role in the country.”

Hopida said the 2001 attacks came as a wake-up call to Muslims in America. “We’ve made ourselves insular, but we can’t be our own little shell,” he said, adding that it’s up to younger Muslims, in part, to drive the change.

“Those who were born and raised here have a different way of looking at things as an American,” Hopida said. “There’s been a shift in terms of what we look at as priorities.”

Johnson said increasing Muslims’ visibility is key to forging a positive path moving forward. “Let’s get out there and run marathons, attend protests, put together fundraisers in our communities, strengthen our national image, and be good role models,” she said. “Actions speak louder than words, and we need to turn up the volume.”

In addition to panel sessions, convention participants will hear from former US President Jimmy Carter, who will talk about how to combat community violence. They can also take part in a wide variety of activities including a trade bazaar, film festival, art exhibit, health screenings, and other events.

For more information including a full list of events and how to register, log on to www.isna.net.

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Malcolm X Mosque: From Separatism to Unity

OnIslam & Newspapers Monday, 11 August 2014 CAIRO – Built as a center for the twenty’s century’s 50s black separatism, Malcolm X’s Harlem mosque has been serving as an interfaith pillar open to different races and religions that welcomed Christian and Jewish prayers.

“It is a motivating factor for us to establish a strong community life and to have a dignified community—that good people would want to be a part of, whether they are Muslims or not,” Imam Izak–EL M. Pasha, the mosque’s leader, told Wall Street Journal. The mosque, Masjid Malcolm Shabazz, was constructed in 1956 to be a center for Malcolm X early days of preaching Black Nationalism.

Decades later, the mosque, with its green dome overlooking West 116th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard, welcomes followers of all faith groups. The welcoming nature of the mosque administration was apparent when the façade of a nearby Christian church collapsed after which its congregation held weekly services at the mosque.

A Jewish group without a synagogue now gathers there, too. “They were really warm and welcoming,” said Mia Simring, who is part of the Harlem Minyan. “It was important to me that we take the opportunity to partner with such an established organization in the community.”

When the facade caved in at Baptist Temple Church, the mosque didn’t just provide the congregation a new place to worship. The imam, Pasha, had a whole area of the mosque renovated to accommodate the Christians and didn’t charge them.

“I thank God for Imam Pasha, because he saved us three years of rent,” said the Rev. Shepherd Lee, Baptist Temple’s pastor.

The journey of the mosque, which tops tourist tours in Harlem now, has extended through decades and generations.

Today, roughly 200 people worship in the mosque on any given Friday. Beyond its place in history, the mosque has built economic and moral authority in Harlem, said Neal Shoemaker who operates Harlem Heritage Tours out of a building near the mosque.

“If somebody’s going to do something wrong, they’re going to do it in a different part of Harlem,” Mr. Shoemaker said. “They are really trying to create a better community that benefits the greater good, whether you are black or white or young or old.”

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Pasargadae: Earliest capital of Achaemenid Empire

Sun Aug 10, 2014 PressTV – The ancient monument of Pasargadae as the earliest capital of the Achaemenid (First Persian) Empire manifests the glorious civilization of the nation.

Located near the Iranian historical city of Shiraz, the place was not only the capital of its founder Cyrus the Great (559–530 BC) but later became his last resting place.

The first capital of the Achaemenid Empire, Pasargadae lies in ruins 43 kilometers from Persepolis, in Fars province, southwestern Iran.

The structure was unfinished when Cyrus died in a battle. The location is currently considered as one of Iran’s most remarkable archaeological site which covers 1.6 square kilometers.

Pasargadae stands as an exceptional witness to the Achaemenid civilization. The vast Achaemenid Empire, which extended from the eastern Mediterranean and Egypt to the Hindus River in India, is considered the first empire to be characterized by a respect for the cultural diversity of its peoples.

The most important monument in Pasargadae is the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great.

Pasargadae represents the first phase of this development into a specifically Persian architecture which later found its full expression in the city of Persepolis.

Archaeologists have recently unveiled that Pasargadae site was granted with unique structural engineering as Achaemenid engineers built the city to withstand a severe earthquake, what would today be classified as 7.0 on the Richter magnitude scale.

Pasargadae was first archaeologically explored by the German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld in 1905.

In 1928, Herzfeld along with his assistant Friedrich Krefter did one excavation season.

After Herzfeld, Sir Aurel Stein completed a site plan for Pasargadae in 1934. Later, in 1935, Erich F. Schmidt produced a series of aerial photographs of the entire complex.

In 1930, the Brazilian poet Manuel Bandeira published a poem called “Vou-me embora pra Pasárgada (I will go away to Pasargadae)” in a book titled Libertinagem.

In the book, Pasargadae is described as a utopian city. This poem has become one of the Portuguese language´s classics.

Pasargadae was registered with UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2004.

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Jasmine intl. film festival to be held in Iranian two cities

Mon Aug 11, 2014 PressTV – The second edition of Jasmine International Film Festival (TJIFF) is programmed to be held simultaneously in two Iranian cities of Tehran and Amol.

The festival’s opening and closing ceremonies will take place at Iranian capital city of Tehran and the northern city of Amol in Mazandaran Province at the same time, the Secretary of festival Hossein Mosafer Astaneh announced.

Many Iranian and international visual arts lovers and experts will flock to the festival to review Iranian TV and Home Video productions and compare them with the other productions of the world.

Turkey, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, Indonesia, Belgium, South Korea, France and Austria are some of the countries whose representatives will take part in the event.

Organized by Iran’s Visual Media Institute in collaboration with Ministry of Culture, the festival is programmed to be held in five competitive sections.

The participants will contend for awards in Iran Competition, Video-Cinema Competition, Feature Animation Competition, Script Writing Competition and World Competition.

The works should follow the themes such as Family Values, Environmental Protection, Spirituality and Modern Life, Struggle against Injustice and Human Rights, according to the festival’s website.

The participated films are also required to be more than 75 minutes and completed after January 2012.

Jasmine festival aims to encourage cultural diversity and provide the opportunity of comparing the quality of various productions.

The second Jasmine International Film Festival is scheduled to kick off on August 23 and will run until August 28, 2014.

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Dubai, Africa to explore new business deals

Gulf Today – 16 August, 2014 – With the confirmation of President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and Amama Mbabazi, Prime Minister of Uganda as well as Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, as leading speakers for the 2nd Africa Global Business Forum (AGBF 2014), the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has intensified the momentum of its preparations for the forum being held on Oct.1 and 2 at Atlantis The Palm.

Locally, the Emirati speakers will be led by Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Emirates Airline and Group, eem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State and Managing Director, Dubai Expo 2020, Sultan Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy and Mohammed I Al Shaibani, Executive Director and CEO, Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD).

Other prominent speakers confirmed for the forum are Dr Donald Kaberuka, President of African Development Bank Group, Stephen Schwarzman, Chairman and CEO, Blackstone Group, Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Asia, and Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman, DP World.

The forum, which is organised by Dubai Chamber under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will serve as an ideal platform for a constructive dialogue and interactive networking sessions.

It will also create a favourable environment for exploring new business partnerships and opportunities between Africa and Dubai and the rest of the world arising from the business meetings and bilateral networking as well as the parallel dialogue sessions and panel discussions spread out over the two days of the forum.

Hamad Buamim, President & CEO, Dubai Chamber, stated that in the history of Dubai Chamber this 2nd Africa Global Business Forum will witness the largest participation by state heads and business leaders due to the forum’s important agenda which will clearly help establish strategic partnerships and a strong bilateral relationship between the business communities in Dubai and the African continent.

He further stressed that the presence of prominent business leaders and decision-makers from Africa and Dubai will enrich the forum and will serve as a fitting venue to inform African companies on how to utilise the emirate’s experience in stimulating economic renaissance in the African continent while enhancing the competitiveness of Dubai companies globally.

The President and CEO of Dubai Chamber pointed out that Dubai has become a hub for many African companies to trade with the world as he said that the number of African companies operating under Dubai Chamber membership has increased from 2,914 in 2008 to 7,906 until mid-2014, registering a growth of 171 per cent.

Dubai is offering excellent connectivity to the African continent with the world through a highly sophisticated logistics infrastructure and network of direct flights to many destinations in Africa while the emirate’s business community is seeking to enhance cooperation ties with the continent under the guidance and unconditional support of the government.

All these factors combined will have a wide-reaching repercussion on bilateral economic cooperation between Dubai and Africa in the long run, Buamim added.

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UAE will provide 600 buses for Cairo

Khaleej Times – 15 August, 2014 – The fleet will meet 30 per cent of the public transport programme requirements of Greater Cairo and ease traffic movement.

Dr Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC), accompanied by Army Major-General El Arabi Al-Serwi, Governor of Suez, toured the GB Auto, a leading manufacturer of bus and commercial vehicles, and Ain Sokhna Port, managed by UAE terminal operator DP World.

At the GB Auto facility, Al Jaber viewed the final model of 600 buses which the UAE Project in Egypt will supply to the Transport General Authority in Cairo. While 300 buses will be manufactured by UAE-based Hafilat Industries, the remaining will be built by Egyptian manufacturer Ghabbour Auto. The fleet will meet 30 per cent of the public transport programme requirements of Greater Cairo and ease traffic movement.

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Sharjah tourism 2015 plans revealed

Gulf Today – 15 August, 2014 – A number of new projects will be unveiled shortly as part of the celebration of crowning the Emirate of Sharjah the Capital of Arabic Tourism-2015, revealed Marwan Serkal, executive director of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq). The new projects aim to raise the standard of the tourism services and enhance the environmental and cultural aspects in the emirate, Serkal said.

This came during an interaction on the radio talk show ‘Al Khat Al Mubasher’ (Direct Line Programme) that is simultaneously broadcast on Sharjah Radio and TV, following a suggestion initiated by one caller. It included a full study to develop the tourism in Dibba Al Hisn, in terms of establishing an entertainment city containing a fish aquarium and a water park, in addition to a museum and a heritage area within the Waterfront project in the city to serve all the society’s segments.

Serkal said that there are new projects under construction in the emirate, such as development work on the Flag island in Sharjah that includes service and entertainment facilities, an open theatrer, arts gallery and a cafe. This is besides a building in Mileiha that talks about the history of the area and promotes tourism, particularly in the middle areas that have a history dating to 300 BC.

Also a commercial project and a resort for the environmental tourism in the city of Kalbaa will be announced in the next period, Serkal said.

There are also other 3 new projects which will be established in the city of Khor Fakkan. The first is the mountain resort, the second is development of the beach through filling a part of the sea in one phase, while in another restaurants, cafes, entertainment and sport facilities will be established. Meanwhile, the third project will be a flagpole for the UAE’s flag, he added.

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Makkah hotels brace for Haj

Saudi Gazette – 15 August, 2014 – Hotels in the holy city, especially the small ones in the central area around the Grand Mosque, are currently bracing for Haj which is a prime season for them. The hotels use this time of year in which occupancy falls to less than 10 percent to do their maintenance and refurbishment works. They are renewing their furniture, reinforcing their safety measures and training their staff to provide excellent services to the guests of God. Mohammed Al-Qarni, a Saudi hotelier, told Makkah daily that some hotels have sent delegations outside to attract clients. He said travel and tourist companies usually make hotel reservations for their pilgrims at an early stage to ensure timely accommodation. He called for providing the young Saudi men and women with proper training to work in the hotels. The accommodation sector, consisting of hotels, furnished apartments and other private buildings is this year expected to make revenues of bout SR3.5 billion which is 45 percent less than the revenues of last year which were close to SR6 billion.

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New 180 kmph train to link Riyadh and Dammam

Arab News – 16 August, 2014 – Four new passenger trains will join the current fleet between Riyadh and Dammam beginning November this year. Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) President Mohammed Al-Suwaiket said the Riyadh-Al-Kharj rail service would be commissioned during next year.

The first of the four trains is to arrive in the Kingdom toward the end of November and the others would follow a month after, said Al-Suwaiket.

The trains are being manufactured in Spain by CAF, a leading global rolling stock manufacturer. The train, which will arrive shortly, is being given the final touches by the manufacturer.

The high-speed train, which would run at a velocity of 180 kmph, will be initially deployed between Riyadh and Dammam. Subsequently, the trains will be used from Dammam to Al-Ahsa and Riyadh to Al-Ahsa.

The new trains will be an improved version of the previous locomotives, and have increased passenger capacity, luggage facility. They could run up to 180 kmph even during extreme weather.

“Rail transport is a vital support to growth and development in any country,” said Al-Suwaiket.

“While the Saudi economy is the largest in the Middle East and one of the 25 largest worldwide, the Kingdom is experiencing significant development in the railway sector,” said the SRO chief.

“SRO is working very hard to provide the best services within the current operational structure. However, the government, realizing the value rail transport adds to national development, launched a number of initiatives to bring this vital service on par with the developmental needs of the country,” he said.

These initiatives include major expansion projects to connect the Western Region with the Eastern Region, the Northern with the Central, and to link the holy places as well as the Kingdom with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states,” he said.

The new initiatives also include moving toward privatizing SRO and opening the door for national and foreign investments in it to bolster its ability to support national development, Al-Suwaiket said.

The SRO has drawn up a master plan in cooperation with the German International Cooperation (GIZ).

The Saudi Railway Master Plan 2010-2040 (SRMP) is to have a conceptual framework in place for the longterm development of a future passenger and freight transport network for Saudi Arabia.

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Dates display at the first ever Festival of Dates

The Peninsula – 16 August, 2014 – Around 20 varieties of dates are on display at the first ever Festival of Dates organised by the Ministry of Environment.

The three-day event, which began at Ezdan Mall on Thursday, is aimed at educating people about the variety of dates in the region. Among the types on display are Lulu, Shishi, Khasab, Ghur, Razeez, Barhi, Kabkab and Hilali.

The festival is set to become an annual event that will see participation by local date farmers, who produce 70 percent of the dates consumed in the country.

Through the festival the ministry also hopes to raise awareness among consumers of the nutritional and therapeutic benefits of eating dates.

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IDB to boost projects in Sudan

Arab News – 16 August, 2014 – The Islamic Development Bank expressed keen interest in supporting and developing projects in Sudan during discussions held with Sudanese Foreign Minister on Wednesday.

Ahmad Mohamed Ali, president of IDB Group for Development, received Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Ahmed Karti, during his visit to the Kingdom, at IDB’s headquarters in Jeddah.

Karti thanked the IDB for its role in supporting economic and social development in Sudan by extending assistance to several projects in various economic sectors.

He further noted that there are many national projects with potential in the country, especially in the fields of agriculture, mining and industry, which require financial support. He added that Sudan seeks to attract foreign investment and strengthen the capacity of local investors.

Meanwhile, Ali assured his counterpart that the IDB would provide the necessary support for the development of local entrepreneurs and bolster Sudan’s efforts to attract foreign investment.

He also commended Sudan’s experience in the field of micro-finance, noting that the IDB would seek to benefit from the Sudanese experience to transfer their knowledge and expertise to other member states.

During the meeting, the two counterparts also agreed to establish a Sudanese technical mission comprised of experts from various fields to visit the bank and discuss future initiatives and projects.

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Gulf Air showcased at summit

Gulf Daily News – 15 August, 2014 – Gulf Air, Bahrain’s national carrier, participated in the fifth summit between the Worldwide Airline Customer Relations Association (WACRA) and the Passenger Rights Unit of the European Commission in Brussels.

Gulf Air acting chief executive Maher Salman Al Musallam spoke of the airline’s customer service achievement at the event.

‘With heightened mobility, on a global level, customer service is increasingly at the heart of any transport policy and understanding its importance is essential for a healthy business,’ Mr Al Musallam said.

‘At Gulf Air, our customer service strategy, reflective of our commitment to delivering the best service to our passengers, is developed from our many years of reputable customer care and differentiates Bahrain’s national carrier from its competitors,’ he added.

‘Meeting with the Passenger Rights Unit of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Mobility and Transport gives WACRA members the opportunity to participate in a forum for informal and productive dialogue,’ WACRA chairperson and Gulf Air customer experience senior manager Kavita S Al Jassim said.

‘Knowledge and experience was shared on regulation on the rights of persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air in addition to processes to simplify complaint handling and better co-ordinate policies.

‘As WACRA chairperson and as a representative of Gulf Air, it was a great opportunity for me to showcase Bahrain’s national carrier at the summit, sharing our experience in the business and developing a greater understanding of how we, as customer relation professionals, should operate and interpret current EU regulations,’ Ms Jassim added.

WACRA is a world-wide organisation of air transport professionals dedicated to promoting and encouraging a free exchange of ideas and methods to provide a consistently high level of customer service since 1946.

This has become the forum to share and benefit from each other’s customer relations and service experiences and issues.

It also co-operates with the Air Transport Association and the International Air Transport Association.

The WACRA Board also includes Dan Thompson from United Airlines, Neville Gillett from Air New Zealand, Mostafa Karam from Emirates Airlines, Sami Maenpaa from Finnair and Heidi Gould representing Delta Air Lines as members.

The next WACRA Conference is scheduled to be held in Auckland, New Zealand, from November 2 to 5 and will be hosted by Air New Zealand.

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Road link project with S. Arabia to open trade

Oman Tribune – 14 August, 2014 – The road project to link Oman to Saudi Arabia will open up a direct trade route between the two countries, according to Saif Bin Abdullah Al Yahmadi, Director-General of Housing, at Al Dhahirah governorate.

Al Yahmadi said that the proposed road, which passes through the Empty Quarter will facilitate trade between Saudi Arabia and Oman and also pave the way for the economic development of Al Dahirah region. Currently, Oman and Saudi Arabia are connected only via the UAE for trade.

The government will build border post in Ibri, since most of the traffic and cargo will pass through the Empty Quarter once the road is opened, Al Yahmadi added. He said the government will prepare a general plan for the area proposed and welcomed proposals.

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Exhibition on calligraphy at Sarah Gallery attracts crowds

Oman Tribune – 14 August, 2014 – An exhibition by a group of calligraphers titled ‘Calligraphy – The Art of the Letter’, which was launched at the Sarah Gallery on July 24 and is continuing till August end, has been attracting huge crowds.

According to Omar Mohammed Al Mamari, exhibition and documentation officer at the Bait Al Zubair Museum, the exhibition brings together an eclectic mix of Arabic calligraphers and typographers with incredible talent.

Calligraphy, the most fundamental element of Arabic art, is principally a means to transmit a text, albeit in a decorative form. Its development as an art form is not unique to Arab culture. Other examples include Chinese and Japanese calligraphy and illuminated Bibles, said Al Mamari.

Elaborating further, Al Mamari said in the Arabic world, however, calligraphy had been used to a much greater extent and in astonishingly varied and imaginative ways, which have taken the written word far beyond pen and paper into all art forms and materials. For these reasons, calligraphy may be counted as a uniquely original feature of Arab art.

The genius of Arabic calligraphy lies not only in the endless creativity and versatility, but also in the balance struck by calligraphers between transmitting a text and expressing its meaning through a formal aesthetic code, he added. The two predominant styles used in Arabic calligraphy are the Kufic and Nashk styles. Kufic is the oldest form of the Arabic script. Today contemporary calligraphers exploit the inherent possibilities of the Arabic script to create writing as an ornament.

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Tourism added $ 5b to Oman’s economy in 2013

Times of Oman – 14 August, 2014 – More than 2.1m tourists visited the Sultanate in 2013, according to government figures, up by 7.8 per cent compared to previous year. Oman is moving speedily to accommodate rising visitor numbers by rolling out several hotels and infrastructure projects.

Tourism made a direct contribution of $ 2.5b to the economy in 2013, equivalent to three per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), according to a report released in April by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

The council’s Travel and Tourism Economic Impact 2014 report about Oman said it expected that figure to rise by 10.2 per cent this year, after which it anticipates an average annual increase of 5.4 per cent throughout the following decade.

Once investment, the supply chain and induced income impacts were included, tourism’s overall contribution to Oman’s economy last year reached $ 5b, and is forecast to hit $ 10.1b by 2024, the council said. By this time, the WTTC concluded, the industry should account directly for 4.4 per cent of national employment.

Oman witnessed an increase in domestic business and leisure travel on the back of rising economic momentum. The domestic travel component accounted for more than half of all direct spending, according to the council’s findings.

Analysts have pointed out that while the Sultanate might have a less glamorous image than some of its neighbours, the country’s vast and diverse geography, which includes deserts, mountains and 3,400 kilometres of coastline, is nonetheless eliciting significant interest.

Improvements to Oman’s transport infrastructure and connectivity is playing a key part in supporting tourism growth.

Bahaa Hefzalla, marketing director with the Muriya Tourism Development Company, believes that upgrades to Oman’s airports, coupled with the opening of new facilities in regional hubs, have helped broaden country’s appeal.

“There are now more direct flights to Salalah from major GCC cities and more frequent flights from Muscat to destinations around Oman,” Hefzalla told the Oxford Business Group. “This is opening many doors for tourism companies and developers. The demand is, well, skyrocketing.”

The Ministry of Tourism last year sanctioned the development of 54 new hotel resorts across the country in 2014, which will increase the number of rooms available by almost 3,000.

Twenty-four new hotels opened their doors in 2013, bringing the number to 282, while room numbers reached 14,400, marking a 12.3 per cent year-on-year increase, the ministry said in June.

However, while the industry is forging ahead in many ways, a skills gap in the labour market may curb growth. Hezfalla told the OBG that a shortage of local, trained professionals was forcing operators to recruit staff from abroad.

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Multi-entry visa boosts Dubai cruise tourism sector

Khaleej Times – 14 August, 2014 – A new ruling in the UAE (Cabinet Resolution No. 22 of 2014) which took effect on 1 August 2014, will ensure implementation of a new visa and fees system.

Recent regulatory changes to the United Arab Emirates’ visa system will have a transformative effect on Dubai’s cruise sector and further boost medical tourism in the emirate.

A new ruling in the UAE (Cabinet Resolution No. 22 of 2014) which took effect on 1 August 2014, will ensure implementation of a new visa and fees system. Amendments include a new multiple entry tourism permit for cruise passengers and a range of new entry permits for medical tourists and their companions. The ruling was signed by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

These visa options will make travel between UAE and visiting nearby countries easier for travellers who need to make multiple stops whether by air, land or sea. The new multiple entry tourism permit for cruise passengers at just 200 dirhams (c. US$ 50) will now make their travel more cost effective and logistically more convenient with particular impact on a number of key markets for which previous regulations made the cost significantly higher, including India, China, Russia & CIS, South Africa, and Brazil.

Hamad bin Mejren executive director of Business Tourism at Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said: “This positive announcement of the new visa system will have an encouraging impact on the attractiveness of Dubai as a destination for those overseas visitors who plan on travelling in and out of the UAE – for example on a cruise ship, or by taking a short break into neighbouring Oman and Saudi Arabia.

“The announcement will have a significant impact on cruise tourism in the Arabian Gulf, and is one which has been received very well by our partners within the cruise industry. With Dubai being the only home port for many international cruise lines operating cruises in this region, the advantage of simplifying visa procedures through granting passengers multiple entry tourist permits will reduce the costs for each passenger and further boost the sector’s growth. This means that visitors can now arrive at Dubai International Airport or Dubai World Central, take a cruise from Mina Rashid out to other emirates and neighbouring countries and return to Dubai on the same visa rather than having to incur additional time and expense obtaining two or three separate visas.”

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Major Iranian food products receive Halal Food Standard label

Islamic Republic News Agency – 15 August, 2014 – Secretary General of Halal World Institute Abdol-Hossein Fakhˈkhari said here Wednesday evening major Iranian industrial food products have gained the Halal Food Standard label.

ˈThat is while obtaining the Halal Food Standard is still not obligatory in Iran yet, and it is granted to the Iranian products as a promotion measure,ˈ said Fakhˈkhari in the opening ceremony of the Halal World Institute Office in Mashhad.

He said that presently more than 1,000 famous Iranian industrial food products are fully observing the requirements for obtaining the Halal Food Standard label.

The secretary general of Halal World Institute said that those food manufacturers have in fact obtained both the Iranian Standard Instituteˈs label of approval and the Halal World Instituteˈs, which is approved in 57 Islamic world countries.

He said that in case some industrial food products do not exactly match the Halal World Instituteˈs requirements for Halal Food Standard label that insatiate does not reject them, but will instead offer them the required training to enable them to acquire the Halal Food Standard label.

Fakhˈkhari said that presently the Iranian Halal food exports amount is 5 billion US dollars, adding, ˈThe capacities in Iran for exports of Halal food are much higher than that.ˈ

ˈRelying on the existing capacities and potentials Iran can export thirty billion dollars of Halal food annually, which can potentially increase up to 100 billion dollars, if it is supported and encouraged,ˈ he added.

He said that the volume of the world Halal food trade, keeping in mind the 2 billion population of the world Muslims, is estimated to be at least 2,000 billion dollars.

ˈThat amount is so huge that it has attracted the attention of most world economists,ˈ said the secretary general of Halal World Institute.

He said that Malaysia is today trying to gain a ten percent share of the worldˈs Halal food exportsˈ share, providing food for the world Muslims, and Iran, as a Muslim country with such broad potentials, can at least gain a 5% share of that trade.

Fakhˈkhari said that during the past eight years that Halal World Institute has been active in Iran effective measures in expansion of the Halal food trade have been adopted, the first of which has been granting the Halal Food labels to major Iranian industrial food products.

He said that in addition to that Halal World Institute has thus far organized nine rounds of training Halal food technicians in two levels.

The secretary general of Halal World Institute said that his affiliated institute has also launched the worldˈs first Halal News Agency (www.halaworldinstitute.org), held the first International Halal Food Day in Iran on the 17th of the fasting month of Ramadan, praised the top 40 Halal industrial food brands and established Halal Terminals in some free trade zones of the country.

Fakhˈkhari also referred to President Hassan Rouhaniˈs attention to Halal tourism, arguing that the Halal World Institute has made efforts in that respect and harmonized with some free zones, such as Kish, aimed at gradual launching of the Halal Tourism Terminal.

In order to promote and expand Halal culture, Halal World Institute was established in 2007. Once Halal Food Standards were approved by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2010, its scope of activities was expanded into new sectors like Halal science, Halal regulations, and Halal code of conduct.

The OIC is comprised of 57 countries in which either the majority of population or considerable minority constitute Muslims. Different institutions exist in OIC family, a number of which such as Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) and Islamic Chamber Research and Information Center (ICRIC) deserve mentioning.

Halal World Institute is affiliated to ICRIC and has planned to be active in “Halal food”, “Halal certificate”, “Halal standards”, “Halal regulation”, “Halal restaurant” ,“Halal medicines” ,“Halal cosmetics” ,“Halal services” ,“Halal textile”, “Halal tourism”, “Halal banking”, “Halal insurance”, “Halal transportation”, “Halal hotels”, “Halal chain stores”, “Halal training”, “Halal research”, “Halal institutions”, “Halal culture building”, “Halal standardization”, “Halal rule making”, “Halal Structure” and “Halal trade ”.

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Push to create a Qatari ‘brand’ of dates

The Peninsula – 15 August, 2014 – The Agriculture and Research Department at the Ministry of Environment has embarked on action plans to enhance the production of dates and boost the quality of garden fresh and dry dates.

As a precursor to the ambitious plans to develop the ‘Qatar brand’ of dates, the ministry, for the first time, launched a “festival of fresh and dry dates” yesterday. The festival at Ezdan Mall runs until August 16 and will be an annual event.

The date harvest season has just begun and 20 varieties of local dates are on display at the festival, which attracted a large number of visitors on the first day.

“As of now, local production is covering just 70 percent of total demand. The ministry has plans to make the country self-sufficient by boosting production.

“We have lined up a series of projects to increase the quality and quantity of local production,” said Yousef Al Khulaifi, Director, Agricultural Affairs, at the ministry.

As part of promoting the date palm sector, the ministry has planned to launch an awareness campaign to highlight the nutritional values of dates and the need to include the fruit in the daily menu of people.

“Our campaign will focus on the need for families bringing traditional and natural food back to their dining tables. It is important in this age of people running after junk foods and risking their health. The date’s nutritional and medicinal values would be highlighted during the campaign,” said Massoud Jarallah Al Marri, Head of the department.

He said the campaign to promote natural food would be the nucleus of future annual ‘dates festival’.

The next editions of the festivals will showcase how the new technologies can boost the production of dates.

Qatar Foundation has launched a QR15m date palm research to improve the genetic traits of local verities of dates. The ministry will announce more funds during the next festival to boost production.

The Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar and the Biotechnology Centre at the Ministry of Environment are working to develop Qatar as an emerging leader in date palm horticulture and biotechnology applications.

The strategic plan is to stimulate research for advanced technology and knowledge transfer, sustainable and improved date production systems, productive date varieties and to investigate health benefits of date-enriched food diets.

In 2010, Qatar had an estimated 144,000 date producing palm trees spread across 335,000 hectares.

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Salalah sees increase in tourist numbers

Times of Oman – 14 August, 2014 – More than 268,386 local and international tourists visited Salalah between June 21 and August 11, which is 73.4 per cent more compared to the last year, reveals the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).

Last year, 154,815 visitors had visited Salalah during the same time period. This year, of the total visitors, Omanis accounted for 72.7 per cent, while UAE nationals accounted for 12.5 per cent, and people from other GCC states 4.7 per cent.

According to the updated figures, 76,595 visitors flew to Salalah, 67,631 coming via domestic flights and 8,964 via international flights, while the total number of visitors travelling to the Dhofar region by road stood at 191,791.

The NCSI data revealed that 241,180 visitors during this period were GCC citizens, 64,187 of whom arrived via air, (56,937 domestically and 7,250 internationally), while 176,993 arrived by road.

Omanis comprised a majority of these visitors, standing at 194,997, while the UAE citizens at 33,473 were in second place, followed by 5,638 visitors from other non-GCC Arab nationalities.

The total number of visitors from Asian countries stood at 19,619 with an additional 99 from Africa, 1,233 from Europe, 402 from America, 104 from Australia and New Zealand, and 111 from other nationalities.

Excluding the GCC nationals, other nationalities topping the list were Indians with 12,582 visitors, followed by 4,380 from Pakistan, 1,327 from Yemen, 1.202 from Egypt, 1,185 from Bangladesh, and the rest from other countries like Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, Algeria, Iraq, Palestine, Comoros Islands, Japan, Iran, China, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Nepal, Ethiopia, Cameron, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

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