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29 Sep, 2014

Islamic Fashion Market estimated at $322 billion by 2018

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Shamsi

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 29 September 2014 (05 Dhul Ḥijjah 1435). Pls click on any of the headlines to go to the story.




Malaysian handicraft store Karyaneka has launched its first online portal and mobile application, which allows customers worldwide to purchase Malaysian-made handicrafts of outstanding craftsmanship. Karyaneka teamed up with two leading local e-commerce portals, FashionValet.com and Groupon.com to set up the online portals: http://www.karyaneka.my and http://www.karyanekastore.my. The full catalogue of its products includes pewter, woodcarving, silver brassware, Malaysian fabrics like songket and batik, and many more. This initiative was made possible through its partnership with Tukul Cipta Industri Sdn Bhd (TCI). Executive Director of TCI Abdul Munaf Dr. Sultan believes that this new venture will help the globalisation of the local arts and crafts industry. TCI will also introduce Karyaneka through various platforms such as online sales, vending machines at strategic tourist spots and kiosks, online and offline catalogue-based sales as well as boutiques in major cities around the world. Currently, the catalogues are available at all hotel rooms in the Klang Valley. The initiative aims to bring Malaysia’s heritage to greater heights internationally, even to London, Paris and New York City via the Karyaneka International boutique cafés, which will create a positive impact on Malaysia’s arts and crafts industry.

For more information, visit Karyaneka’s website at http://www.karyaneka.my and http://www.karyanekastore.my.


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.




18,000 British Muslims to perform Haj this year

Dubai (IINA) 28 Sep 2014 – The British Foreign Office announced that about 18,000 British Muslims are expected to perform Haj this year, and promised to provide consular services for them.

The Foreign Ministry said, in a report received by the German news agency (DPA), that the British Consulate-General in Jeddah provides various consular services to the British pilgrims.

According to the report, the British Foreign Office has allocated a guide manual for the British pilgrims, and launched an awareness campaign through its social networking sites, titled “Knowledge before traveling”, urging those who intend to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Haj to take all the preparations and comply with the requirements and procedures launched annually by Saudi Arabia.

The British Embassy in Saudi Arabia has set up an open dialogue session to answer questions on support provided to British nationals during Haj. Questions can be sent to the embassy’s Twitter account, using special Haj hashtag.

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World Muslims ignore wars and viruses to congregate in Makkah

Makkah, Saturday, 03 Dhul Hi 1435/ 27 September 2014 (IINA) – From war-ravaged Iraq and Syria to Ebola-hit Nigeria and dozens of other nations, pilgrims are converging on Makkah for the annual pilgrimage of Haj, the world’s largest Muslim gathering.

In a couple of days, about three million believers will congregate in the holy sites in and around Makkah to obey the commands of Almighty Allah. “This is like a beautiful dream. I will never forget these moments,” Iraqi pilgrim Kazim Ibrahim, 69, said after reaching the holy city of Makkah. While Ibrahim and other pilgrims are united by a common religious bond, this year’s Haj comes with Muslim nations drawn together by widespread revulsion toward the self-declared Islamic State militants.

Saudi Arabia and four other Arab states have joined Washington in launching air strikes in Syria against the militants, who have declared a “caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria and committed brutal atrocities. Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal has branded IS “evil” and said the militants have distorted the image of Islam and Muslims.

Saudi Arabia is waging a different kind of battle to protect pilgrims from two deadly viruses, Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The deadliest Ebola epidemic on record has infected more than 6,200 people in west Africa and killed nearly half of them.

The Kingdom is hardest hit by MERS, which last weekend claimed the life of a 27-year-old Saudi man in Taif, about 80 km east of Makkah. This brought to 317 the number of MERS deaths in Saudi Arabia since it first appeared in September 2012.

With such a large group of people concentrated in a limited area for a short time, “the Haj season constitutes a factor increasing the likelihood of outbreaks or epidemics of infectious diseases,” acting Health Minister Adel Fakieh said in a statement. The ministry has created a “command and control center” to direct its Haj health operation.

The center assigned eight emergency consultant doctors to stand by for treatment of newly landed pilgrims’ heart attacks and other critical illnesses, said Fouad Hussain Sindi, the medical director at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, the Associated Press reported.

In another first, the command center ordered 15 “isolation rooms” established at the airport, Sindi said. Fewer than 30 people, including some with severe respiratory symptoms and Nigerian pilgrims with fever, were sent to isolation as a precaution and then released, Sindi told AFP in a telephone interview. There have been no suspected cases of Ebola or MERS among pilgrims, he said.

Saudi Arabia has not allowed pilgrims to come from three West African nations hardest-hit by Ebola — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Sindi heads a team of 640 doctors, technicians and other medical staff at the airport. Among their tools are thermal cameras that detect high body temperatures.

The ministry advised elderly people and those with heart, kidney and other chronic diseases not to make the pilgrimage. “But they come… The Kingdom gives them instructions but unfortunately in some countries they are not following the instructions.” The biggest challenge is posed by pilgrims who do not wash hands or take other preventative health measures as advised, Sindi said. “We are worried” about the spread of infection, Sindi said.

In recent years, the pilgrimage has almost been incident-free thanks to multi-billion-dollar safety projects by the authorities. Saudi media said 85,000 security and civil defense officers will be on duty for the Haj, which lasts five days.

It is among the five pillars of Islam and all capable Muslims must perform the Haj at least once, the high point of their religious life. After landing in Jeddah many grateful pilgrims prostrate themselves in a gesture of thanks to God, while some of the women ululate to express joy that their dream has been realized.

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Indonesia calls on global community to adopt blue economy concept

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 28 September 2014 – Indonesian Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Sharif Cicip Sutardjo has called on the global community to pay serious attention to marine resources by adopting the concept of “blue economy”.

The concept could be realized by changing the direction of development policies to keep the balance between economic growth and environmental conservation, he said in a press statement released here on Sunday.

The “blue growth” initiative was one of the ways to preserve marine and fishery resources in a sustainable manner to increase income and open job opportunities for the people, he said.

He said the “blue growth” initiative which is incorporated to the institutional framework of sustainable development by strengthening the pillars of natural resources and action plans was agreed upon at the Voluntary Global Alliance meeting held in Jakarta on September 10, 2014.

At the meeting the global alliance declared Indonesia as the axis of the global blue growth, he said.

In addition, the alliance was also of the view that Indonesia had played an active role in international forums by taking strategic steps to start concrete actions with regard to blue growth fundamentals.

The concrete actions were reflected by Indonesias participation at various global forums including the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Rio+20 in Rio de Janeiro and Asia Conference on Ocean Food Security and Blue Growth (ACOFB).

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Qatar Tourism Authority to Host Eid Al Adha Celebrations

DOHA, Qatar, Sept 22 (NNN-QNA) – A wide range of activities for families and people of all ages, are in the final stages of preparation for the Eid Al Adha celebration, organised by Qatar Tourism Authority, as part of Eid Celebrations in Qatar, reports Qatar News Agency (QNA).

Building on the success of the Ramadan in Qatar campaign and the Qatar Summer Festival, the Eid Al Adha activities will start from the first day of Eid and continue for seven days.

During this period, Qatar will host a variety of events, activities and shows, for the whole family.

Commenting on the preparations, Rashed Al Qurese, Director of Marketing and Promotion, at Qatar Tourism Authority, said that a new slate of activities were planned for Eid Al Adha.

He said that previous Eid events were well received, drawing residents and visitors from across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia), to attractions in malls and venues around Qatar.

“We’re certain that everyone in the family will find something of interest, during this year’s Eid Celebrations in Qatar.”

Three categories of activities will be available during the Eid period, namely, entertainment and cultural shows, activities at key locations around Doha and activities sponsored by partners that are specially tailored for the period.

Last year saw shows and performances in Qatar’s malls – held for the first time in Qatar, including the Smurfs, Made in the Ice Age, the children’s favorite Ben 10, among others.

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Dubai Int’l Airport Records 6.6 Million Passengers In Aug

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Sept 23 (NNN-WAM) – Passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport has bounced back from a three-month slump, to reach a record 6.6 million passengers in Aug, this year.

Monthly passenger traffic stood at 6,648,058 last month, up 10.8 percent, compared to 5,999,375 in the same period last year, Emirates News Agency (WAM), reported.

The hub returned to full operational capacity in Aug, following a runway upgrade project that reduced the airport to a single runway for 80 days and cut capacity by 26 percent.

Year-to-date passenger traffic, as at the end of Aug, totalled 46,479,919, an increase of 5.7 percent, compared to 43,971,839 passengers during the first eight months of 2013.

Aircraft movements in Aug registered 31,214 movements, a rise of 0.1 percent from 31,198 recorded in the corresponding month last year.

From Jan to Aug, aircraft movements totalled 227,110, down 6.4 percent from 242,571 during the same period last year.

Average passengers per movement in Aug rose to 219.7, up 5.2 percent from 208.9 in the same month in 2013, reflecting a move by airlines to larger aircraft.

Monthly cargo volume rebounded by 4.3 percent, reaching 192,902 tonnes in Aug compared to 184,877 tonnes in the same month last year.

Year-to-date cargo reached 1,560,869 tonnes in the Jan-Aug period, down 2.2 percent from 1,596,772 tonnes in the same period last year.

“It’s good to return to more robust growth figures, resulting from full capacity and ongoing network expansion, after being constrained to a one-runway operation for nearly three months,” said Dubai Airports chief executive officer, Paul Griffiths.

“The numbers are far more indicative of the growth trend we expect to see for the remainder of the year and will be crucial in our journey to the top of the list of the world’s busiest international hubs,” he said.

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Malawian Airlines To Fly To Nampula And Tete In Mozambique

LONDON, Sept 24 (nnn-AIM) — Malawian Airlines has announced that it will introduce scheduled services to Mozambique from November.

The airline will fly twice a week to the northern city of Nampula, and three times a week to the western city of Tete. The flights to Tete will also stop at the Zimbabwean capital, Harare.

Malawian Airlines is 51 per cent owned by the government and 49 per cent owned by Ethiopian Airlines, which runs the company under a management contract. There is already a daily Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to the Mozambican capital, Maputo.

Malawian Airlines began operating in January 2014 following the financial collapse in December 2012 of Air Malawi. It currently has international flights to Johannesburg, Harare, Lusaka and Dar es Salaam.

The airline’s fleet consists of one Boeing 737-800 and one Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft.

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Arab Air Traffic Set To Double By 2026

MANAMA, Bahrain, Sept 25 (NNN-BNA) – The Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO), said, air traffic could hit the half-a-billion mark by 2026.

Secretary General of AACO, Abdul Wahab Teffaha said, AACO had carried as many as 101.1 million passengers through Middle East airports in 2000.

“This increased to 268.1 million in 2013, and we expect it to reach more than half-a-billion by 2026,” he said, while addressing Arab Aviation and Media Summit in Ras Al Khaima.

He pointed to the huge jump in traffic handled by Arab air carriers, a jump from 101.1 million in 2000 to 268.1 million in 2013, to justify his bullishness about the Arab Carriers.

He also warned, “Jealousy is expected especially with the growth of Middle Eastern carriers. Western carriers were growing before, at our expense for eight years. It was only in the last two or three years that the Middle Eastern carriers have started to enjoy this growth.”

In 2000, AACO members’ share of passengers on trans-Arab routes stood only at 5.4pc. At 2013, this reached 12.9pc.

“This is a large percentage already, especially if you consider that most international carriers are active here in the region,” he said.

This growth has brought about the ire of the American and European carriers, who claim that it was at the expense of their own market shares.

Other challenges faced by the home-grown carriers are weak air transport management, outdated regulatory-regimes, shrinking middle-class in some countries and archaic restriction on movement of people and goods. There is also a limited involvement of private sector in the region.

Mr. Teffaha added, “We have Schengen visa renewable for five years. Why can’t we have something similar here in the Gulf or in the region?”

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Uganda To Roll Out Wildlife Tourism Plan

KAMPALA, Sept 26 (NNN-NEW VISION) — Uganda’s wildlife and tourism sector is targeting to harness more attractions such as culture to expand the revenue stream for the communities and the country.

This is contained in the Tourism Master Plan (2014-2024) launched here Thursday at Hotel Africana, during the wildlife and tourism sector review meeting. The master plan was developed with funding provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with consultation from various tourism stakeholders.

“The master plan emphasizes product development and domestic tourism,” according to a statement from the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.

The tourism sector has been expanding and is one of the top revenue earners for the country. The development of culture tourism will diversify Uganda’s tourism products. Currently, Uganda relies on wildlife attractions, particularly mountain gorillas.

The master plan will also enhance communication in the tourism source markets as part of the strategy to increase visibility in order to attract more tourists to Uganda.

At the meeting, challenges such as poaching, encroachment on protected areas were discussed. Oil and gas have also been discovered in some protected areas, including Murchison Falls National Park, and could pose threats as well as opportunities to the sector.

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Zanzibar, Comoros For Close Tourism Cooperation

ZANZIBAR, Sept 19 (NNN-DAILYNEWS) — ZAanzibar and the Comoros have identified the tourism sector as among the key areas for enhancing close cooperation between the two countries.

Isles President, Dr Ali Mohamed Shein made the announcement during an interview with Comoro National Television here saying the two countries share certain similarities which are ideal for tourism.

He said that Zanzibar and the Comoros form part of the recently launched WIOCC project which among its objectives was to strengthen tourism among participating parties.

Dr Shein gave an example of Mitsamihouli beach with similarities and qualities found in coastal areas of Nungwi, Kizimkazi and Kiwenga.

The president is visiting the Comoros at the invitation of President Dr Dhoinine Ikililou which looks at cementing relationship between the two countries taking into consideration the long historical and blood relations between them.

He was moved by the reception given and hospitality accorded by the residents of Mitsamihouli, he also attended afternoon prayers at Mitsamihouli grand mosque led by Zanzibar Chief Kadhi Sheikh Khamis Haji.

After the prayers, Dr Shein urged Mitsamihouli residents to nurture and cherish their historical and brotherly relations with their brothers and sisters in Zanzibar.

On his part, Sheikh Mouendhu Msaidie, Imam of the mosque, thanked Dr Shein for visiting and praying at the mosque, saying it was a sign of respect and love between the people of Mitsamihouli and Zanzibar.

Sheikh Mouendhu also thanked the people of Tanzania for their kindness and warmth whenever they received Comorians in their country.

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Kuwait Hosts Art Exhibition To Mark Int’l Day Of Peace

KUWAIT, Sept 21 (NNN-KUNA) – Sunday Sept 21, is the United Nation’s International Day of Peace. Contributing to raising public awareness of the importance of peace regionally and globally, among all peoples in the world, some 70 plastic artists, including Kuwaitis, are individually holding an exhibition entitled “Talk Love and Act Peace,” in Kuwait.

It is the third time such an event is being held in Kuwait.

“We are trying to highlight the agony of people, who have been suffering from many abuses in the entire world and the Arab region in particular,” Amira Behbehany, one of the participating artists and the event’s organiser, told KUNA in an interview.

“Art has a noble message that could help the vulnerable people by many means; by advocating and funding them,” she added. “The art purifies the human souls. We are holding non-profit events. This is not the first one to be held in Kuwait, expressing people from different aspects.”

Behbehany pointed out that the exhibition is to be held at the Life Centre building, in Shuwaikh block 2.

The “Peace One Day – Global Truce 2012 Art Exhibition” was held in Kuwait for the first time, and its revenue worth KD 7,000 (about USD 24,500) was allocated to children in the world, she added. “The sum was distributed to children by the United Nations,” she said.

‘The Peace One Day’ was an international day of peace and ceasefire. It aimed to make all the people aware of peace regionally and globally.

The second event entitled “In The Name Of Peace” was held in 2013. Its revenue was about KD 10,000 (about USD 35,000) and allocated for orphans.

“About 13 children from Gaza participated in the event, with a number of pieces. They portrayed the Palestinians’ suffering, especially the children, who came under Israeli fire in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip,” she said. “I focus on children, particularly Kuwaitis, to help them overcome their obstacles.”

Behbehany started her career as a formative artist in 2003, saying that it is important to convey sufferings of people by any kind of art, including formative art, music and dancing.

“Art unites everybody under one roof,” she pointed out, saying that Kuwait is the first Arab country which celebrates the International Day of Peace.

“Art is part of my life, I express human minds and human attitudes,” she said, adding, art should serve humanity and achieve its noble goal.

She added that art is very important as it provides opportunities for self-expression, bringing the inner world into the outer world of concrete reality. Art is a language that has a common sense to all people, by which all people penetrate racial, cultural, social, educational, and economic barriers and enhance cultural appreciation and awareness, she explained.

Concerning preparations for today’s event, she said, it needs coordination with the participants. “The event needs huge efforts. I have been preparing for this event for about nine months. I and my little team do everything. We have no sponsor,” she added.

“But a friend of mine said: ‘Don’t let money stop you.’ I develop a theory for each exhibition. I make studies and try to do something different. I delve into the inner side of people, to voice their sufferings. This is the message that I must deliver.”

She said, “In 2011, I traveled to UK to speak with the founder of Peace One Day for a few minutes, to prove that Muslims and Arabs believe in peace and are ready to help the vulnerable people in the entire world,” she recalled.

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LEAD STORY: Islamic fashion market estimated at $322 billion by 2018

Dubai, Wednesday, 29 Dhul Qaada 1435/ 24 September 2014 (IINA) – There is a huge gap in the global Islamic clothes, fashion and design market in the absence of major Islamic brands capable of meeting the requirements of the Muslim population, especially women, a research note by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry based on a study by Thomson Reuters revealed.

The Islamic clothes, fashion and design market is an emerging industry with huge potential, and is one of the core sectors of the Islamic economy. The findings of the report are therefore of significant interest to the market, especially since the 10th World Islamic Economy Forum is scheduled to be organized in Dubai on Oct. 28-30, 2014 by the WIEF Foundation and Dubai Chamber.

Commenting on the report, Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chamber, said: “While the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world represent about 23 percent of the world’s total population, the market does not have any prominent Muslim clothing brand. As a result, the Muslim population is not yet catered for in terms of their clothes and fashion aspirations. The gap in the market is currently addressed by the main players of the global clothes fashion industry, who are not equipped to fully attend to the requirements of the Islamic customer base.”

Al Ghurair added: “The research note findings are of relevance to Dubai considering that it aims to become a global center for Islamic fashion and design as a key pillar of the Dubai Capital of Islamic economy initiative launched in 2013. The lack of a global Islamic clothing brand presents a unique opportunity for local fashion designers and companies to leverage Dubai’s status as a trendsetting center and make use of its successful retail sector to establish global Islamic clothing brands.”

Currently, no single local Muslim brand dominates the market. However, within the 57 countries that form the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries, local clothing companies have managed to establish their presence, producing local dresses based on local cultural preferences.

The gap in the international Islamic clothes, fashion and design market is significant in the light of the Dubai Chamber report finding that the global Muslim population spent $224 billion on clothes in 2012, accounting for about 10.6 percent of the global spending in the garments sector. Globally, spending on clothing and footwear reached about $2.1 trillion in 2012 and this figure is expected to reach $2.9 trillion by 2018. Spending by the Muslim population is expected to grow from $224 billion in 2012 to $322 billion by 2018, comprising about 11.2 percent of the global spending, the report noted.

Further, the report pointed out that the global Islamic clothes, fashion and design market is larger than most top global clothing markets such as China, with customer spending worth $221 billion, Japan with $111 billion, Russia with $106 billion and Germany with $101 billion in 2012. The only exception is the US, which is the biggest market in terms of expenditure on clothing and footwear recording $494 billion in spending in 2012.

Among the Muslim majority countries, Turkey recorded the highest spending on clothing in 2012 worth about $ 24.9 billion, followed by Iran with $ 20.5 billion. Other prominent nations in this group are Indonesia with $ 16.8 billion, Egypt $ 16.2 billion, Saudi Arabia $ 15.3 billion, Pakistan $ 14.4 billion and the UAE with $ 10.2 billion.

Interestingly, the report shows that there is a significant Muslim clothing market within Europe, the US and Canada. Collectively, Muslims within these countries spent about $ 21 billion on clothing and footwear in 2012, making the western Muslim clothing market the second biggest after Turkey. The report states that the OIC countries recorded a trade surplus in clothing products of about $ 35 billion in 2012 with $ 59 billion of clothes exports and $ 24 billion in clothes imports.

Within the OIC, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries were the top importing countries with cloth imports worth about $ 11.4 billion in 2012 led by the UAE with estimated cloth imports of about $7.2 billion in 2012, followed by Saudi Arabia with $ 3 billion.

The top clothes exporter within the OIC group is the group of South Asian countries with total clothes exports valued at $25.9 billion in 2012, led by Bangladesh which exported clothes worth $ 22 billion during the year. The report highlights Turkey as the second major clothes exporting country within the OIC group with $14 billion followed by Indonesia with $7.2 billion.

Highlighting the potential regions for Islamic clothes industry, the report states the Asia Pacific has the highest number of Muslims with about 985.5 million people accounting for about 24 per cent of the region’s population. The Middle East and North Africa has the highest concentration of Muslims where about 93 per cent of its approximately 341 million inhabitants are Muslims.

According to the report, the main segments of the global clothing industry value chain that are directly influenced by the emerging Islamic clothing needs and, therefore, present ample potential business opportunities are: clothing manufacturers, specifically manufacturers of women’s wear, distribution channels or retailers, including those online, and designers. The report also identifies marketing, media and financial services in the industry as areas offering lucrative business opportunities.

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Global Islamic Economy Report to be launched in December

Khaleej Times – 26 September, 2014 – The Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, or DIEDC, in partnership with Thomson Reuters, have announced that the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2014 will be launched this December.

The report will present new insights into the development of the Islamic economy, particularly focusing on key players, geographic trends and the challenges and opportunities in each segment of the Islamic economy.

The report will also highlight key local and global findings of the Global Islamic Economy Indicator, or GIEI, a numeric measure representing the overall health and growth of the Islamic economy. An independent multi-dimensional barometer, the GIEI defines the development of the global Islamic economy beyond the growth of its assets, focusing on awareness, governance and social metrics.

Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, chairman of the DIEDC board, said: “The UAE, and more specifically, Dubai’s Capital of Islamic economy model, mandates us to assume a leadership role in developing knowledge and cultivating an understanding of the Islamic economy and the various forces driving its growth. The 2014 State of the Global Islamic Economy report provides fresh insight into the challenges and opportunities emerging within economic sectors that are critical to the long term prosperity of Muslim majority countries and the wider global economy.”

Commissioned by the DIEDC, the 2013 edition of the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report that was also developed in association with Thomson Reuters was a ground-breaking report that, for the first time, took a holistic view of the global Islamic economy across the seven key Islamic economy sectors, highlighting the convergence opportunities globally. The report, which was launched at the Global Islamic Economy Summit in Dubai in November 2013, received industry-wide attention regionally and globally and has been used as a reference point for understanding the impact of the Islamic economy on the global economy.

Essa Kazim, secretary-general of the DIEDC, said: “The State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2014 will be a guiding tool for all stakeholders and investors to further understand the huge economic potential, as well as the challenges of building an Islamic economy hub. The findings of the 2014 report will define a new wave of opportunities for commerce within the Islamic economy.”

Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, chief executive officer of the DIEDC, said: “The State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2014 will catalogue the developments that have taken place within the Islamic economy over the past 12 months, as well as providing a comprehensive picture of the important trends that are gathering momentum across the full spectrum of the Islamic economy. I am confident that its findings will help facilitate investments and industry growth, providing a solid framework for businesses to assess and evaluate market opportunities for each sector of the Islamic economy.”

The State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2014 is expected to reinforce the growth opportunities in the Islamic economy, particularly in the finance, halal and lifestyle segments. Growth of Islamic financial assets continues to outstrip growth of conventional financial assets at 15-20 per cent per annum and is predicted to hit $ 2 trillion in 2015. Meanwhile, global expenditure by Muslims on halal food and lifestyle products is forecast to grow by 65 per cent by 2018, to reach $ 2.46 trillion.

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Malaysia’s Herbal Industry Expected To Grow By Rm29 Bln By 2020

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 (NNN-Bernama) — The local herbal industry is expected to grow at 15 per cent per annum and to be worth RM29 billion by 2020 as its products gained popularity, buoyed by consumers propensity towards a healthier lifestyle, the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) said.

Its deputy chief executive officer, Dzulkifli Mahmud said herbal industry is a promising industry and Malaysia is well positioned to become a key global player as it is blessed with rich biodiversity, cultural background and trade links.

He said herbal industry had contributed towards production of diverse products ranging from healthcare, food, cosmetic and personal care products.

The global herbal market is valued at US$70 billion for nutraceuticals and US$20 billion for phytomedicine with an average growth rate of between 15 to 20 per cent annually, he told reporters at a sneak preview of the eighth Herbal Asia Trade Fair 2014 Tuesday.

Herbal Asia 2014 Project Director Safinah Yaakob said the fair would focus on facilitating business linkages as Malaysian herbal industry players were poised for the export market.

She said to date, 100 booths had been taken up by companies from Taiwan, Argentina, Fiji and Malaysia to showcase their products, machineries and technologies.

“The trade show is expected to generate RM8 million in sales compared with RM5 million last year when the focus was on consumers,” she added.

The Herbal Asia Trade Fair 2014 themed ‘Go Herbal, Go Green, Natural is Now’ will be held at the Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre from Oct 9 to 11 and it is open to the public only on the last day.

Among events arrayed at the fair are a business dialogue, a career fair, industry tours and farm visits and a healthy cooking competition.

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Malaysia Holds Products And Cultural Festival In Beijing

BEIJING, Sept 25 (NNN-Bernama) — The week-long Malaysian Products and Culture Festival, which started Wednesday, is expected to generate 500,000 yuan in sales, up 60 per cent from a year earlier.

Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) trade commissioner, Shawn Sim Kok Aun, said last year, the festival recorded a total sales of 300,000 yuan.

“It is expected to attract over 3,000 visitors,” he told Malaysian journalists after officiating the opening of the event here.

Also present was deputy chief of mission of Malaysian Embassy in China, John K. Samuel.

The festival, which is co-organised by Matrade and Parkson (Fu Xingmen) Shopping Centre Co Ltd, is under the Malaysia Kitchen Programme which aimed to create awareness among Chinese consumers on Malaysian products.

Chief operating officer of Parkson Retail Group Ltd, Low Kim Tuan, said apart from that, the event also aimed to promote Malaysian culture and brands. He said the annual event has been held in Parkson Beijing for more than a decade.

“Following good cooperation between Matrade and Parkson, we hope to introduce more Malaysian products into the Chinese market,” he said, adding the Chinese consumers had expressed confidence in Malaysian products, especially durian products,” he said.

Low said as long as Malaysian products were of good quality, the Chinese consumers would continue to buy them.

Parkson Retail is expected to open its third shopping centre in Beijing by year-end. Currently, it has shopping malls in 38 cities in China.

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Malaysia Minister To Lead Investment Mission To S. Korea, Japan

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 (NNN-Bernama) — Minister of International Trade and Industry, Mustapa Mohamed will be leading a Malaysian trade and investment mission to Seoul, South Korea from Sept 29-30, 2014 and Tokyo, Japan from Oct 1-2, 2014.

The minister will be accompanied by a business delegation comprising eight local companies and representatives from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) and Malaysia Innovation Agency (AIM).

In a statement, MITI said the objective of the mission included updating the business communities in Korea and Japan on Malaysia’s economic development and business opportunities, while exploring more opportunities especially in the services segment, food products, chemicals and chemical products and biomass.

The mission also targets to enhance bilateral economic cooperation and foreign direct investment (FDI) from the two countries in sectors such as electrical and electronics, green technology, automotive and information technology and communications.

In 2013, Malaysia’s trade with Korea increased 13.7 per cent to US$18.04 billion (RM56.91 billion) from US$16.20 billion in 2012.

Korea is Malaysia’s seventh largest trading partner, ninth largest export destination and seventh largest source of imports.

From January-July 2014, total trade between Malaysia and Korea rose by 11.4 per cent to RM35.00 billion (US$10.76 billion) against RM31.41 billion in the corresponding period in 2013.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s trade with Japan in 2013 fell 6.6 per cent to RM136.11 billion from US$47.20 billion in 2012. Exports decreased by 4.4 per cent to US$25.31 billion while imports decreased by 9.6 per cent to US$17.89 billion.

In 2013, Japan was Malaysia’s third largest global trading partner, third largest export destination and third largest source of imports.

Japan continues to be Malaysia’s top source of FDIs since 1980.

As at Dec 31, 2013, a total of 2,510 manufacturing projects were implemented with total investments of US$22.70 billion, which created 332,352 jobs.

In 2013, total FDIs in the services sector from Japanese investors amounted to RM22.3 billion, while a total of 32 manufacturing projects totalling US$272.4 million were implemented.

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Malaysian Food Products Seek Foothold In Latin America

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysian food products have made inroads into the Latin America market through a promotion drive carried out by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corp’s (Matrade).

Eight Malaysian companies had showcased their products at a specialized marketing mission in conjunction with the three-day ExpoAlimentaria 2014 in Lima, Peru, in August this year.

The event was held in conjunction with the ExpoAlimentaria 2014, one of the largest food fairs in Latin America.

Among Malaysian products, which were well received during the fair, included Nata de Coco jelly pudding and beverage, cereal bars and marshmallows, Matrade Trade Commissioner in Chile Noor Ezzwanee Ahmad said in a statement.

She said Malaysian products have potential demand in the Peruvian market based on interactions with visitors and food product importers at the fair.

“Many of them are looking for new products from other countries to be introduced to the region and had asked for Malaysian products like confectioneries, including pudding, cakes, biscuits and wafers, to be brought in,” she said.

For Blossom View Sdn Bhd, one of the participants, the fair enabled the company to promote its bird’s nest products in Latin America, using Peru as a gateway.

Another participant, Central Vista (M) Sdn Bhd, a corn snacks manufacturer, said the mission enabled the company to seek new market opportunities and identify new customers.

Latin America imported RM105.6 million of processed food from Malaysia in 2013 with cocoa and cocoa preparation accounting for 32.4 per cent of the market, followed by margarine and shortening (31.9 per cent) and prepared/preserved vegetable and fruits (19.5 per cent).

At present, most of the supermarkets and grocery chains in Latin America import 60 per cent of their products and the grocery retail market in Peru is expected to be worth RM64.52 billion by 2018.

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Libraries to be opened in Azerbaijan mosques

islam.ru / 20 Sep 2014 – An executive director of Fund of Education under the Azerbaijani President Oktay Samedov Azerbaijan announced that it will be organized special libraries for muslims in the mosques of the country, SalamNews news agency reports.

Samedov said that it is necessary to consider mosques not only as a place of worship but as a place where believers can read about the history of Islam and personalities of Islam. Such practice exists in many countries abroad”, – said A. Samedov.

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Metro project to bring Riyadh on par with world’s great cities

Arab news / 23 Sep 2014 – The $22.5 billion metro project — called King Abdulaziz Project for Riyadh Public Transport — is a linchpin of the Saudi capital’s modernization program. It will be the backbone of the Saudi capital’s public transport system and a key component of growth.

“The project will redefine the concept of public transportation, providing Riyadh residents and visitors with a world-class transportation system,” said the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) which spearheads the project.

The Riyadh Metro, which is expected to be completed in less than five years, will also place the Saudi capital on par with the world’s modern cities in advanced countries whose railway projects have played a key role in industrialization and modernization.

With the great promise of the project for the residents of the capital city, Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, governor of Riyadh, said: “There are many indirect benefits for this project. It will save a lot of time for Saudis and expats and will have a huge economic impact.”

He said that the metro will ease traffic congestion and reduce pollution by cutting the number of vehicles on the city’s roads.

The project is also expected to create jobs and elevate living standards in the wake of an improved transport system described as “second to none.”

The Riyadh Metro is significant indeed and this is underlined by the full-page ads taken out in major newspapers to explain and disseminate basic information about the project which was launched in 2013 by the then Riyadh Gov. Prince Khaled bin Bandar, who is now the deputy defense minister.

“The efforts of the ADA in this regard is highly appreciated by the residents. Talk to them about it , particularly those who drive to work daily, and they show you the thumbs-up sign,” said Saad Al-Bazei, a Shoura member and an author in Arabic and English.

He said that residents will no longer use their cars to go to work or any other place in the city and would just commute through the Metro project.

As a result, there will be less pollution and the residents will have a city that indeed befits its name, which means “garden.”

Eric P. Asi, a senior engineer at Nardeen Lighting, said: “I enjoy driving to work with the existing road network from my residence on Sitteen Street to the Second Industrial Area but commuting through the Riyadh Metro will be more practical and sensible.”

Resty S. Sibug, a mechanical engineer and the Riyadh area manager at Saudi TKT, which is an electro-mechanical contractor at the Riyadh Metro, said: “The project is exciting indeed. It brings to mind similar transportation facilities in Dubai, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Toronto, San Francisco, Paris and Switzerland.”

Work on the project is under way. It includes 756 metro cars, 85 stations, 6 metro lines and 176-km. network. It will also include 3,853 bus stops and stations, 24 bus routes, 1,150 km network and 956 buses.

Three foreign groups have been awarded contracts to build the project.

These groups include the US Construction company Bechtel Group Inc., Spain’s FCC and Italy’s Ansaldo STS.

Bechtel heads a consortium that include AECOM Technology Corp. and Germany’s Siemens which were awarded to build two rail lines.

Another consortium — headed by Spanish construction firm FCC and including France’s Alstom Transport and South Korea’s Samsung C&T Corp. — will build three rail lines worth $7.82 billion.

A third group, led by Italian Ansaldo STS, won a $5.21 billion contract to build the remaining rail line. The group comprises Canadian firm Bombardier and India’s Larsen & Toubro Limited.

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‘Viva Palestine’ film festival in Malaysia

WorldBulletin / 24 Sep 2014 – One of the important features of the Palestinian cause has always been art and cinema in which their sufferings and struggle for freedom and justice are portrayed

The third film festival held in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, shares the same aim of deploying Palestinians’ message to people all around the world. Four Palestinian female artists who attended the festival with their works are working on creating awareness on the fight for peace, justice and independence taking place in their homeland.

Surely, the last Israeli attacks targeting Gaza have given special meaning to their artistic works on the Palestinian cause and interest towards the artists have risen sharply.

Viva Palestine, a non-governmental organization based in Malaysia, organized the event which focuses this year on a female approach to the Palestinian problem. Specifically the focal point of movies are peace, justice and freedom in Palestine as Dr. Datuk Musa, the head of Viva Palestine said in his opening speech.

The event is not composed of only movies. It also includes a ‘bazaar’ in which traditional Palestinian dresses, foods and other accessories are sold. All the revenue will be sent to Palestine.

Deputy Head of Viva Palestine Siti Jamila said “In this third annual film festival, our aim is to present Palestinian culture with its all aspects.” Another woman who attended the festival from Italy, Jasmine Perni, said about Siti Jamila “She helps us a lot by reaching out to the Christian community in Malaysia.

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Saudi Arabia: A dream travel destination for centuries

Islam.ru / 25 Sep 2014 – The incredible land of Saudi Arabia has been a dream travel destination for centuries and millions of people visit the Kingdom each year from around the world to see this wonderful land.

Most of the visitors have historically been Muslims undertaking pilgrimages to perform their religious duty of Haj and Umrah, however, there are others in substantial numbers who come to experience the scenic beauty spread across the beautiful. Of course the citizens and expatriates have been traveling to experience domestic tourism.

Apart from the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, the most favorite and popular destinations of religious tourism in the world with around two million pilgrims performing Haj every year and millions performing Umrah around the year, the Kingdom offers both natural and historical wonders, from the mountain resorts of Taif and Abha, the majesty of ancient Nabatean tombs and the historic Jeddah and Madain Saleh in Madinah province to the multicolored coral reefs of the Red Sea.

Majed bin Ali Al-Sheddi, director general of information and official spokesperson of SCTA, in this context recently pointed out that the number of visitors to the Kingdom, which exceed 14 million in a year, are mostly Haj and Umrah pilgrims, as Haj and Umrah are the two important religious rites that the Kingdom is proud to serve their seekers and saves no efforts in their service.

The others who visit the Kingdom are for the various purposes of work and along with the citizens these residents constitute the visitors for domestic tourism, which is witnessing rapid growth.

A recently released report for 2014 by the Tourism Information and Research Center (MAS), the statistical arm of the SCTA, revealed that the number of domestic tourist trips during the current summer (June to August), were over 5.8 million, compared to 5.5 million tourist trips during the same period last year, registering a growth of 5.4 percent.

The report also said that the expenditure by domestic tourist trips for current summer was over SR6.2 billion, compared to SR 5 billion during the same period last year with a growth rate of 24 percent.

Moreover, the statistical data for the current summer (June to August) indicates that the number of outbound tourist trips have reached 5.5 million with a growth rate of 2 percent.

Moreover, the outbound trips expenditure, as per the report, has exceeded SR 29.6 billion, compared to SR 22.3 billion for the same period in 2013, registering a growth rate of 32.7 percent.

Furthermore, with the ongoing multi-sectoral rapid developments under the visionary leadership of Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, the Kingdom has entered a new phase of comprehensive development with focus on travel and tourism sector under the able leadership Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of SCTA, with the tourism commission entering a new stage of comprehensive tourism development, through which it focuses on a number of vital sectors and job and investment opportunities at its forefront.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council projections, the Saudi travel and tourism sector has the potential to generate an income of more than $48 billion (SR180 billion) by 2022.

Commenting on domestic tourism Al-Sheddi underlined, “As SCTA strongly believes that the most important tourism that it should focus on is the domestic tourist, it persistently seeks

to meet its aspirations and is committed to provide highly integrated tourism experience in a manner that suits the Kingdom’s status, name and displays the level of its progress.”

He asserted that thousands of expatriates of different nationalities also constitute an important tourism market.

Meanwhile, in a major step forward to develop geo-tourism in the Kingdom, Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) joined with the SCTA to review the list of geological sites in the Kingdom

and work out a comprehensive formula on it and the two government agencies have begun work to determine a number of sites for development under the geological tourism project.

Geo-tourism is a kind of tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place, its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents and in tourism industry parlance it is considered as a niche market and significantly growing at the global level.

SCTA explored the international experiences for utilizing them in the development of geo-tourism in the Kingdom, as the tourism sector is witnessing unprecedented growth and handsomely contributing to the national GDP and job market with new opportunities for the Saudi youth.

This new dimension of tourism is under serious consideration to take the tourism sector to new highs by transforming deserts in the Kingdom from empty wastelands into a source of revenue generation and employment opportunities.

Commenting on geo-tourism, Osama Al-Khelaiwi, director general of tourism sites development, SCTA, recently said: “Development of geo-tourism is a strategic goal for SCTA as it has promising future and indeed a source for domestic and international tourism in the Kingdom.”

According to him two projects will be selected as model and a nucleus for the development of geological tourism in the short term and also will locate a geological site for registration

in the UNESCO’s list as the first geological park in the Kingdom.

Notably, the World Tourism Organization (WTO) in a report recently announced that Saudi deserts have a huge potential and appeal when it comes to environmental and geo-tourism.

“For a country like Saudi Arabia, where a huge segment of its geographical area is covered by desert, there is great potential to develop geological tourism,” the world tourism body said.

Interestingly, according to the annual report of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) for 2012-2013, the tourism sector is set to create about 1.3 million jobs by 2015 and about 1.8 million by 2020, offering direct employment opportunities in its sub-sectors and indirect jobs in areas induced by tourism-related activity.

The 49th SAMA report released recently said: “The SCTA evaluation has confirmed the tourism sector’s ability to provide a growing number of direct jobs in the tourism sub-sectors as well as indirect employment opportunities induced by tourism activity in other economic sectors linked to the tourism sector, in addition to job opportunities that could be developed in subsequent periods as a result of the economic spending cycle in all the sectors that are related to tourism development.”

The report also refers to the SCTA’s efforts in the development of the hotel sector, as the number of hotels operating in the Kingdom by the end of 2012 reached 1,098 of different grades, and the number of furnished residential units in the Kingdom by the end of 2012 reached 1,971, distributed across various cities in the Kingdom.

The biggest share of these are found in the Makkah province reaching 522 units (26.5 percent), followed by the Riyadh region (26.3 percent) with 519 units.

Significanlty, in order to promote local tourism SCTA has come together with the commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) to strengthen ethical part and work for the rapid development of the tourism sector by jointly working on ways to enhance cooperation and integrating efforts in the tourism events and festivals across the Kingdom and has signed agreements with several public funds such as the Saudi Credit and Saving Bank, the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, Agricultural Development Fund, Centennial Fund and the Human Resource Development Fund to finance the tourism medium and small enterprises.

The cooperation between SCTA and the Saudi Credit and Saving Bank and a number of other funds have resulted in the financing of a number of tourism and heritage projects worth over SR250 million.

They include Masjid Al-Haram, Makkah; Masjid e Nabwi, Madinah; Entertainment cities boosting local cities; Scenic beauty of Abha; Resort city of Taif; Historic Jeddah; and A collage on Saudi Tourism

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Erdogan attends New York’s ‘Love of Prophet’ exhibition

WorldBulletin / 25 Sep 2014 – ‘Ask-i Nebi, Love of the Prophet,’ an exhibition presenting works of art inspired by Muslims’ love for the Prophet Mohammed, has been opened to New Yorkers.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, opened the exhibition that was brought from Istanbul last Sunday. The exhibition was first opened in Istanbul for the birthday of the Prophet in April.

Composed of unique examples of calligraphy and ornamentation, the exhibition was presented in Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia for the memory of the Prophet’s 1,443rd birthday.

In New York, the exhibition – which is organized by TIKA in collaboration with Yildiz Holding – can be visited in Turkish House.

Along with President Erdogan, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus President Dervis Eroglu, Turkey’s Anbssador in DC Serdar Kilic, Turkish Ambassador to the UN Halit Cevik and Turkey’s Consul General in New York Ertan Yalcin attended the opening.

The theme of the exhibition reflects the international aspect of Muslim world: “Love of the Prophet from Hejaz to Istanbul”.

The 41 pieces include verses of the Quran and Hadiths that were produced in different styles and techniques by several well-known calligraphy masters like Mehmed Ozcay, Hasan Celebi, Huseyin Kutlu and Ali Toy.

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King Abdullah orders renovation of Al-Azhar Mosque

Jeddah, Saturday, 25 Dhul Qaada 1435/ 20 September 2014 (IINA) – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has ordered renovation of Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo at the Kingdom’s expense.

This was announced by Saudi intelligence chief Prince Khaled bin Bandar, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

“I have handed over a message from King Abdullah to the chief of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, expressing his appreciation for Al-Azhar and thanking its authorities for awarding him an honorary doctorate degree,” he said.

Speaking about his talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi, Prince Khaled said it covered issues of mutual concern. He also handed over a message from the king to El-Sissi on matters concerning the Arab and Islamic world.

Al-Tayeb hailed King Abdullah’s efforts to stabilize Arab world. He said the doctorate was much less than what the king deserved for his support to the Ummah.

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Turkish heritage site Ephesus doubles earnings

İZMİR – Anadolu Agency – The monthly earnings of the ancient site of Ephesus, on the UNESCO temporary list of World Heritage Sites, increased to 8 million Turkish Liras in July and August.

Ephesus, one of Turkey’s headline tourist sites, brought in 4 million liras in the first six months of the year, an increase of 16 percent compared to the same period of last year.

Ancient sites across the province of İzmir, including the Bergama Museum, the Yamaş Houses, the Agora, the St. Jean Monument and the Acropol attracted more than 1.9 million visitors between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31 this year. Among them, Ephesus was by far the most popular.

After Ephesus, Bergama, which was put on the UNESCO list this year, came next in terms of visitor numbers. Some 16,545 people visited Bergama in the first eight months of the year, compared to 14,219 during the same period last year.

İzmir’s Culture and Tourism Director Abdülaziz Ediz suggested the ministry’s rearrangement works in Ephesus and Bergama over the past two years had influenced the increase in the sites’ visitors and earnings.

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Lake Bafa, haven for animal and plant observers

MUĞLA – Anadolu Agency – The observation terraces built in the Lake Bafa Natural Park, which is home to rich biological diversity in terms of species of birds and plants, have contributed to the increase in the number of visitors.

National Parks Muğla Branch Director Kamil Uslu said Muğla had many protected areas and its nature park is visited by nearly 2 million tourists every year.

He said one of the most important protected areas was Lake Bafa and the Nature Park and added, “It is home to unique natural beauties, biological diversity and many species of birds and fish. We explain this value to visitors and try to protect the area.”

Uslu said they had been working on projects to introduce natural parks in the region and draw more visitors and that Lake Bafa park is among the wetlands with international importance.

Uslu said while protecting the areas in the region, they were keeping them open for people to enjoy, adding, “Our main principle is that nature is for humans. A natural area is nothing if people cannot make use of it. The Directorate of Nature Conversation and National Parks Muğla Branch has built observation terraces in the nature park. Visitors are able to observe Lake Bafa and the wild animals living on the islets in the lake.”

Uslu said Lake Bafa was part of the Aegean Sea until the 3rd century and later it separated from the sea and became a lake. “The natural park is home to 261 species of birds, 22 species of reptiles and 19 species of mammals. The lake and its vicinity provide a habitat for many species of birds, which are under threat of extinction, for their reproduction,” he said.

He said Bafa was one of the lakes in Turkey with one of the youngest ecosystem structures, and that its cultural and historical structures and rich biological diversity have increased the value of the region.

Uslu said the ancient cities of Heraclea and Latmos were also within the borders of the natural park and those areas were first degree archaeological sites.

“The Lake Bafa is a place of accommodation, especially for migratory birds. As well as local migratory species, the birds that migrate to African and Middle Eastern countries come to the lake to rest. We have determined various endemics in the forested areas around the lake. The area is home to many species of orchids. The lake has many areas for terrestrial and aquatic species for their nutrition, nesting and sheltering,” said Uslu.

He said the islets in the lake were also very important for aquatic birds. “The bottom structure of the lake is rich in terms of plant species. This is why snakefish and sea snakes can live there. The lake’s flora has a population of various plant species that are rare in Turkey. The Beşparmak Mounts, where we can see hundreds of plant species, is home to mullein, which is a world endemic species, as well as 12 orchid species.”

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Hadrianopolis Church mosaics to open after years of restoration

KARABÜK – Anadolu Agency – Unique floor mosaics that have been unearthed in a church, called Church B, in Hadrianapolis’ ancient city in the Eskipazar district, will be opened to visitors.

The mosaics are considered as magnificent as those in Gaziantep’s ancient city of Zeugma. They depict many animals, such as horses, elephants, panthers, deer and even griffons, mythical creatures. The mosaics are protected and have been undergoing restoration since their discovery.

Karabük University archaeologist Ersin Çelikbaş said that work for the mosaics’ protection had been continuing since 2010, in order to prevent their destruction. Restoration has also been focused on Church B, one of the earliest churches in Anatolia, he said, noting that its roof was covered and the mosaics were restored and cleaned. Çelikbaş said the production method of the mosaics was the same as that used in Zeugma. The area is now ready to be opened to tourism.

Çelikbaş explained there were four figures in the mosaics. “The figures depict the rivers of Euphrates, Tigris and Nile, as well as a fourth river, but we have not proven its existence yet. The figures carry the horn of plenty, which is the symbol of abundance, and fish are seen in these rivers. These are the only examples in Anatolia,” he said, citing other examples in Tunisia and Libya.

He also noted a cattle figure in the church, whose face is reflected in the water from which it drinks. “This is the only example,” he said. “Therefore the mosaics here are unique in the world. This is why we are focused on their protection.”

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Art International to open with a diverse program

Hurriyet Daily News – The second edition of Art International kicks off today, bringing together 78 international and local galleries. Speaking about the fair’s artistic framework, the art director of the fair Stephane Ackerman said the founders of the fair, Sandy Angus, Yeşim and Hüseyin Avunduk supported him in presenting art projects with important aesthetic and social value, in collaboration with renowned art professionals.

Even though Ackerman agrees that an art fair is definitely a commercial platform he said, at the very same time, it should give room for more independent artistic creation, such as cutting edge performances, video art, poetry etc. “Moreover, as an artistic director of Art International, I am pleased that we can host for the second consecutive year a section dedicated to nonprofit spaces, art collectives and initiatives,” said Ackerman.

The fair this year offers access to exciting new art from Turkey, Europe, the U.S., the Middle East and beyond. When it comes to choosing the galleries and balancing the local and international galleries, the fair director Dyala Nusseibeh said: “Our selection committee meets throughout the year to review applications in great detail, taking on board the history of the gallery, applying the quality of the presentation being proposed and how relevant the works are for the audience and collectors at our fair.”

Nusseibeh added that the committee is also thinking about the fair as a whole. “So, if they think we should be encouraging more gallerists from certain countries, they help us reach out to them.”

According to Nusseibeh, this year the fair has ended up with a great balance, with galleries coming from 24 different countries. Several North American and East Asian galleries are participating, and there are European galleries coming from diverse places, like Helsinki and Plovdiv as well as the major art centers, like Paris, Berlin and London.

This year, the fair is giving extra importance to the nonprofit areas. “I believe the fair has a very considered approach to the nonprofits, since we are talking about a large and diverse range of entities, Art International prefers to collaborate with curators and artists, so there is more independence in the selection and curatorial processes,” Ackerman said.

For this year’s “Alternatives” section, Ackerman worked in collaboration with curator Özge Ersoy and artist Merve Ünsal. They have invited 49A, 5533, Bağımsız Sanat Derneği, Bandrolsüz, collectorspace, PASAJ, Protocinema, Reccollective, Sütüdyo, SPOT and Torun to accomplish specific projects. While 49A interprets the social and commercial space of the art fair by having artists take photographs on the fairgrounds, Bandrolsüz, which is an art collective that focuses on artist books, will have some of their own work on display. A photocopy machine will be available to make copies of the books.

On the other hand, SPOT is displaying and selling stationary objects designed by the artists and other cultural producers who have participated in their production fund. Sütüdyo has designed a questionnaire that plays with notions of what people are drawn to in art. Protocinema’s booth will be a continuation of their exhibition that is taking place simultaneously at a grocery store, Özge Bakkaliye, in Galatasaray. Atalay Yavuz’s artistic interventions, sculptures, and installations in the store will be extended into the space of the fair, employing the same display mechanisms and visual tropes.

The fair will also host performances. Among them, Erdem Taşdelen’s investigation into left-handedness as a socio-historical phenomenon, results as a performance. The performance consists of Taşdelen giving a lecture that is roughly 45-minutes-long in Turkish. Taşdelen is the sole performer and in it he will be talking about some of the things he has found in his research, scientific theories about left-handedness, where the discrimination against it comes from and how it took shape and how discrimination is built into the very languages we communicate with.

Taşdelen is not left-handed himself. ”But I could say that I’ve been doing this work in solidarity with left-handers. I became interested in this topic because of my father, who was born left-handed, but was forced by his family to learn to write with his right hand. I didn’t know much about this when I was a child, so I decided to ask my father questions about the phenomenon.”

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Istanbul recreated in the memory of an English artist

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency – An autistic man with an extraordinary talent is drawing Istanbul using his photographic memory after a 45-minute helicopter tour of the city.

English artist Stephen Wiltshire, 33, will complete his pencil drawing on a huge canvas at the entrance of a shopping mall within five days, using only his mental images of the city’s historic heart.

Wiltshire said he had never visited Istanbul before his helicopter tour. “What attracted me most is the mosques and the historical peninsula. I will enjoy drawing a panoramic image of Istanbul,” he said.

Wiltshire has his own gallery in London and received an award from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth in 2006 for his contribution to the art world.

He said he has drawn Rome, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Madrid, Dubai, Jerusalem and New York City, adding that the Big Apple was his favorite city to draw.

“New York City’s hectic life, skyscrapers and yellow taxis get me excited. I’ve drawn it many times and enjoy it every time,” he said.

Wiltshire was only three years old when his parents were informed by doctors that he is autistic. He was unable to speak until he reached the age of four, but the first word he uttered was “paper.”

“I started to draw when I was five. I drew churches and old buildings in my hometown, London. And then I was interested in drawing taxis, buses and lorries. Finally I started to draw cities from above,” he said.

Wiltshire’s work will be available to view at the entrance of the Palladium shopping mall in Ataşehir, on Istanbul’s Asian side.

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Malay as Language of Archipelago, Minister Calls

Saturday, 20 September 2014 BruDirect.com – BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: The South East Asia Literature Council (MASTERA) need to uphold and revitalise the glory of ancient Malay literary works, people’s literature and narrations containing the traditional culture and closely linked to community assimilations.

Through these measures, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah, explained, MASTERA become a society that will reach the target groups and venture deeper into the local literary world.

The Minister is confident that with the increase in MASTERA members, the positioning of MASTERA will be stronger and inevitably, more major agendas will be jointly implemented specifically to uphold the glory of the Malay Language as the language of the archipelago through literary activities.

MASTERA will be more progressive and has the potential to transcend the archipelago’s geographical limits in its efforts to bring Malay literature to the universal international literature world. This is in line with the aspiration in the titah of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in conjunction with Golden Jubilee of the establishment of the Brunei Darussalam Language and Literature Bureau which states that the Malay Language is a huge language, a language that meets all conditions as well as has the potential to become one of the world languages, and questions why the people are barren with regards to the efforts and ambitions towards that aspiration.

Yang Berhormat Pehin made the speech at the opening of the 20th MASTERA Conference and the presentation of the MASTERA Literature Award last night. The function ran concurrently with the launch of the latest books published by MASTERA 2014 namely ‘Five Years of MASTERA 2000-2004’ and Translation of Selected Literary Works: Poems.

Yang Berhormat Pehin also witnessed the signing of the Joint Proclamation of the Membership of Thailand’s Malay Language and Literature Bureau in MASTERA among the MASTERA delegates from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

At the function, the MASTERA Literature Award was presented to honour and acknowledge literary figures that have provided excellent contributions in the development of the literary world in their respective countries. Among the recipients was Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran Dr Hj Md Yusof Pg Hj Abd Rahim, with his pen name Yura Halim, as the recipient from Brunei Darussalam.

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Bangladesh’s first ‘Site Museum’ to be set up in Bikrampur

MUNSHIGANJ, Sept 20, 2014 (BSS)- Awami League presidium member Dr Nuh-ul-Alam Lenin said here today that the country’s first site museum would be set up at the newly excavated thousand years’ old Buddhist Monastery at Raghurampur in Bikrampur.

“There will be display of articles and relics of old civilization including the country’s oldest boat excavated here. The planned site museum to be set up at the birthplace of sage Atish Dipankar would be of immense importance for many reasons. It would be a place of attraction also for other countries,” he said.

The central leader of the ruling Awami League said that the land for setting up of the museum has already been purchased besides the newly excavated archaeological site and work on the museum project would likely be started in January.

Lenin said this while speaking as the chief guest at the inauguration of Agrasar (Advanced) Bikrampur Bhaban at Malopara in Munshiganj district headquarters.

Gnanpeeth Swadesh Kendra executive president Principal Sukhen Chandra Banerjee chaired the function, also addressed, among others, by Prof Dr Md Anwar Hossain, a teacher of Microbiology Department of Dhaka University, Prof Probir Kumar Ganguly, educationist Md Shahjahan Miah, Principal Jahangir Hasan and president of Munshiganj Press Club Meer Nasiruddin Ujjal.

Lenin, also president of Agrasar Bikrampur, hoped that the newly inaugurated building would be the best utilised for research works in the region of Bikrampur.

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Bangladesh celebrates World Tourism Day

DHAKA, Sept 22, 2014 (BSS) – Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) has chalked out series of programmes to celebrate the World Tourism Day on September 27 like elsewhere on the globe under the theme “Tourism and Community Development”.

“Like previous years, we have chalked out various programmes for Dhaka and the districts marking the day,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BTB Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir told journalists at a press conference at BTB’s conference room here today.

The day’s programme will begin with a colourful rally. Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon and state minister for CHT Affairs Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing will lead the rally, starting from Matsha Bhaban at 8.30 am to TSC of Dhaka University via Doel Chattar. The BTB will also arrange colourful rallies and discussion meetings on various aspects of tourism in different districts with tourist attractions.

The BTB, the National Tourism Organization (NTO) will be responsible for organizing all the programmes under the supervision of Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry in collaboration with tourism related stakeholders including Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) and different associations of the tour operators, hotel and motel owners and travel agents, Kabir said.

The BTB CEO said this year theme of the day is very important especially for Bangladesh as tourism industry can play vital role in community development of the country.

Additional Secretary of civil aviation and tourism ministry Abu Hena M Rahmatul Munim also spoke at the press briefing.

As part of the celebration, The BTB will organise debate competition on tourism at TSC Cafeteria of Dhaka University with support from Dhaka University Debating Society at 3 pm.

The BPC and BTB along with other stakeholders will hold a roundtable discussion on this year’s theme of the day at Hotel Abakash at Mohakhali at 4pm.

The Bangladesh government will arrange a special reception with souvenirs for the foreign tourists, who will arrive at Hajrat Shahjalal Airport on the day.

The BPC will organize food festival at its outlets along with other renowned hotels from September 26 to 28 to mark the day.

The national daily newspapers will publish special supplement while television and radio will broadcast various programmes marking the day.

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Bangladesh launches mobile apps of public services

DHAKA, Sept 24, 2014 (BSS) – The government today launched mobile applications (apps) of various services to make it available at the hands of the people.

State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Zunaid Ahmed Palak opened 25 mobile apps for use by the people at a function held at the auditorium of Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC).

From now on people can download free of cost the 25 public services including online submission of driving license of BRTA, Information about Dhaka Zoo, Right to Information Act (RTIA) and ICT Division in their mobile phone and use it.

“This time we want to reach public services to the hands of the people and the launch of 25 mobile applications is a step toward that desire and goal,” the ICT state minister said adding the government will develop all public services for ensuring peoples easy access on it.

He said in line with its Digital Bangladesh as charted out in the Vision 2021 the government first took step to reach services to the doorstep of the people by setting up over 4500 Union Information Service Centers (UISCs).

The government did the task very successfully and over 4 million people have been receiving services from these UISCs each month, Palak said.

The ICT state minister said the number of mobile phone subscribers has increased to over 11 crore while the number of internet users has stood at 4 crore 50 lakhs–of which 33 percent used internet in mobile phone.

Palak urged the mobile phone operators to manufacture smart phone in the country and this obviously contributed to reduce the price of smart phone.

“The mobile phone operators should launch internet package at low price for increasing the number of users and that would actually give good dividend due to surge of users,” he said.

Additional Secretary of ICT Ministry Kamal Uddin Ahmed presided over the programme while Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Ambassador (retd) Mohammad Faruk, Secretary General of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) Russell T Ahmed, Main Curator of Dhaka Zoo Enayet Hossain, CEO of Multimedia Content and Communication Ltd. SM Ashraf Abir, CEO of Ethics Advanced Technology Limited MA Mobin Khan spoke.

Representatives from mobile operators including Teletalk, Grameen Phone, Axiata representatives from private mobile companies including Symphony and government officials from different ministry and organization also took part in the event.

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15,000 Visitors Targeted at Timeless Indonesia Festival

22 September 2014 Badung, Bali (ANTARA News) – The Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel (Asita), Bali, has set a target to attract 15 thousand foreign tourists during the Timeless Indonesia Festival 2014 in K-land beach, Badung district, Bali, on November 9 to15, 2014.

“We have been communicating with several travel agents to invite their guests to visit the Indonesian Timeless Festival,” Chairman of Balis Asita, I Ketut Ardana, noted here on Monday.

The Timeless Indonesia Festival 2014 is being held for the first time in the island and has a unique concept as compared to the other festivals.

The festival will showcase numerous artistic creations, special foods, and unique souvenirs of the seven provinces in Indonesia.

Committee Chairman of the Indonesian Timeless Festival Karlinda Syaha stated that the festival is a gateway to promote the tourism potential of Indonesia, since the event has the participation of seven provinces such as East Kalimantan, West Nusa Tenggara, North Sumatra, North Sulawesi , East Java, South Sulawesi, and Bali.

“We chose Bali as the venue for the festival because the number of foreign tourists visiting the island continues to increase from time to time,” she stated, adding that Bali is considered to be the gateway for international tourists visiting Indonesia.

In the meantime, the committee of Kelan customary village promotion, Kadek Andi Asmara Jaya, has welcomed the event as it will help to promote the tourism potential of the village.

“The festival will attract the people to visit the K-land beach as the event is uniquely different from other events,” he pointed out.

He was optimistic that the Timeless Indonesia Festival 2014 will promote K-land beach as the new tourism destination in Bali.

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New airport to be constructed in Tambrauw, West Papua

22 September 2014 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Directorate General of Civil Aviation Eddy Santoso Wibowo announced that the Tambrauw district of West Papua Province will soon have an airport in Werur, which will be relatively closer to the Raja Ampat tourism destination.

“The construction will start next year,” Santoso noted after the signing an agreement between the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the local administration of Tambrauw on the construction and development of Werur Airport here on Monday.

Santoso remarked that the agreement to provide transportation facility in one of the regions in West Papua is in its nascent stage.

“The construction work on the project will begin next year and will be completed within about three years. We will survey the grounds. The construction is initiated with the signing of a memorandum of understanding and then the environmental impact analysis will be done,” he remarked.

Santoso stated that the Werur Airport will also trigger the growth of the local economy.

He explained that the government will provide Rp30 billion, or about US$2.5 million, from the state budget for the construction of the airfield.

In the meantime, Gabriel Asem, the head of Tambrauw district, remarked that the administration has budgeted Rp9 billion, or about US$752 thousand, for the construction of the airport and Rp3 billion, or about US$250 thousand, for acquiring the land for the airport.

The airport needs a land area of 200 hectares, including for its runway, taxiway, and the apron. The area of the runway is 500 x 23 meters, while the runway strip is 520 x 60 meters.

The Werur Airport will facilitate the locals and tourists to reach Raja Ampat and other locations in West Papua.

So far, people travelling to West Papua have used air transportation via the Dominique Edward Osok Airport in Sorong.

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Houses of Indonesia as outlets to promote products in China

23 September 2014 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi said there are four outlets to promote Indonesian products in China. The outlets called House of Indonesia will promote furniture, textile and other Indonesian commodities in that country, Bayu said here on Tuesday.

“The four outlets will become a permanent promoting agents that will also sell Indonesian products in China mainly furniture,” he told reporters. The outlets are located in different places in that country – in Shanghai, Nanning, Tianjin and Yiwu, he said.

The outlets are owned by Indonesian businessmen, Chinese businessmen or jointly owned by Indonesian and Chinese businessmen, he said.

“The one in Shanghai is owned by and Indonesian businessman and the one in Nanning owned by Chinese businessman. The Houses of Indonesia in Tianjin and Yiwu are joint ventures,” he said.

He said the House of Indonesia which is owned by Indonesian businessman in Shanghai is located in a shopping mall , and the one in Nanning is in a separate building. He said classy products from Indonesia are higher in demand among high class people in China such as furniture.

Cheap furniture even if the quality is competitive would not sell in that country, he added.

Rich people in China make up only for 1-2 percent of the population, but it could mean 15 million-20 million people, he said.

He said Indonesia’s furniture exports to China has increased fast in the past 5 years, growing by 20.5 percent per year on the average since 2009.

Based on data at the trade ministry, the country’s total exports of furniture were valued at US$1.74 billion in 2013, down slightly from US$1.76 billion the previous year. Exports of furniture to China alone were valued only at US$24.3 million or 1.4 percent of the total exports.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Association of Furniture and handcraft makers (AMKRI) said the country’s exports of furniture could rise to US$5 billion annually in the next five years.

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ASEAN farmers market in Czech promotes Indonesian culinary arts

24 September 2014 London (ANTARA News) – Indonesian “diaspora,” in collaboration with four embassies of the ASEAN countries, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, promoted their local culinary arts in the ASEAN Farmers Market held in Prague, Czech Republic.

The market showcased some typical Indonesian street food such as kue lumpur (mud pie), rissole (small croquettes filled with minced meat or vegetables), lemper (glutinous rice filled with meat or chicken), tempeh, wajik (sweet steamed sticky glutinous rice), kerupuk (deep fried crackers), and bubur sum-sum (soft porridge with brown sugar sauce).

Third Secretary of Indonesian Embassy in Prague Fitriyani Riduan informed Antara London on Wednesday that it was the third time that Indonesia was participating in the farmers market held in Dejvice Square, Prague.

The participation of ASEAN embassies got a positive response from Prague Mayor Marie Kousalikova, who officially welcomed the ASEAN Farmers Market, witnessed by the ambassadors of ASEAN member countries, diplomats, and locals.

Kousalikova lauded the ambassadors for their continuous participation, solidarity, and concern for Prague.

Indonesian Ambassador in Prague Emeria W.A. Siregar stated that the participation of the Indonesian embassy has been a strategic step in strengthening people-to-people relations between both countries through the promotion of culinary arts.

She also emphasized that the participation of the ASEAN member countries in Farmers Market 2014 was aimed to promote ASEAN in Czech Republic and to welcome the ASEAN Community 2015.

The farmers market is part of the ASEAN Committee in Prague (ACP) event, which had earlier organized an ASEAN Film Festival on September 9-12. Later, the committee will hold ASEAN Family Day on September 27.

The farmers market in Dejvice Square is the oldest and one of the largest traditional markets in Prague, which is visited by around 10 thousand people.

The market sells various fruits and vegetables procured from the local farmers. It also sells typical Czech cuisines. The market opens every Saturday, from March until December throughout the year.

The visitors, who are basically locals, also buy some typical Indonesian plants such as chilies and lemon grass, whose seeds were specially imported from Indonesia and then cultivated by an Indonesian “diaspora” in Czech.

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Papua promotes Ugimba and Carstensz as tourist destinations

23 September 2014 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Papua province has offered to promote Ugimba Village in Intan Jaya District and Carstensz Pyramid as tourist destinations in a bid to empower the local communities.

Indonesian Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Mari Elka Pangestu launched the two tourist sites in Jakarta on Tuesday as the leading tourism destinations in the province.

“These leading destinations were expected to empower the communities around the tourist attractions that play an important role in the implementation of the sustainable tourism program,” the minister affirmed.

According to Pangestu, the establishment of the two destinations was part of the ministrys program to increase the contribution of tourism to boost social welfare, particularly for those living in the villages.

“The establishment of Ugimba Village as a tourism destination will play a key role in empowering the communities and conserving the Carstensz Pyramid, which is well-known as the only area in the tropical region to be covered in snow throughout the year,” she stated.

Regent of Intan Jaya Natalis Taboni, who was also present during the launch event, noted that the common climbing track of Carstensz, which comprises the Sugapa-Ugimba-Carstensz route, allows the climbers to visit Ugimba before they commence to conquer the peak.

It is expected that it will encourage the development of facilities for the Ugimba residents, he stated.

“All this time, Ugimba residents have helped tourists from all over the world such as the United States, Russia, and Germany to climb the Carstensz Mountain,” he remarked.

He promised to encourage the development of Ugimba as a tourist destination.

The establishment of Ugimba Village as a tourist site was initiated by the local residents with the contribution of the Somatua Foundation, which submitted the demand to the government.

Ugimba offers spectacular views of its surroundings such as the Kemabu River, Nabu River, and several endemic species of animals and plants such as Dingisco and local orchids.

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Stamps of Tintin at Indonesia’s Komodo Island launched in Brussels

24 September 2014 London (ANTARA News) – Two stamps depicting cartoon character Tintin in Indonesia’s Komodo Island and Kemayoran (Jakarta) were recently launched in Brussels, Belgium, to commemorate 65 years of Indonesia-Belgium relations, an Indonesian Embassy official in Brussels stated on Wednesday.

Riaz Saehu, the counselor at the Indonesian Embassy in Brussels, noted that the special stamps portraying the iconic scenes of Tintin spending time in Indonesia have been created through the joint cooperation between the Indonesian Embassy in Brussels, Herge and Moulinsart Museum.

The last one is the company owning the copyrights of Tintin character, and Belgium’s Post Company (B-Post). The stamps will be used for correspondence by the Indonesian Embassy in Brussels, Belgium.

The launch event of the two stamps was attended by Indonesian Ambassador to Belgium Havas Oegroseno, Belgium’s Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Van Dessel, diplomats from Indonesia and Belgium, and some local famous figures.

Ambassador Havas emphasized that the bilateral relations between Indonesia and Belgium have been fruitful during the past four years, which is apparent by the large number of investments made by Belgium companies in Indonesia.

Both countries have also agreed to establish a master degree program for Islamic Study, which will be taught at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Havas also highlighted the signing of the Indonesia-the European Union’s Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation this year, which was ratified by the European and Indonesian parliament members.

The agreement is expected to boost people-to-people contact, cooperation in trade, investment, and education sectors between Indonesia and the European Union.

Tintin is a cartoon character created by Belgium-born Georges Remi or popularly known as Herge. Not many are aware of the fact that Indonesia featured in Tintin’s cartoon serial titled Flight 747 to Sydney.

In the story, Tintin along with his friends, Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus, are leaving London and heading for Sydney.

Before Sydney, Tintin and his friends landed at Jakarta’s Kemayoran Airport and decided to take a tour of the city. Tintin also visited Komodo Island in the East Nusa Tenggara province, the original habitat of the komodo dragon.

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Uganda: Animals On Parade in Mbale

The Observer – 26 September 2014 – The Uganda Tourism Board has announced it will tomorrow join the rest of the world to celebrate the annual World Tourism day with an animal exhibition.

Its purpose is to foster awareness among communities on the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic impact,î a statement from the board said. UTB is the government’s tourism marketing and promotions agency and, as part of its mandate, it aggressively promotes domestic tourism across the country.

In Uganda, World Tourism day celebrations are rotated on an annual basis across the regions of the country, to encourage equitable participation and visibility. This year’s celebrations will be held in the eastern region at Mbale stadium, under the theme: “Tourism and Community Development.”

Throughout this week, there have been several events in Mbale town and the stadium, including exhibitions depicting the region’s culture, natural and historical attractions, heritage, dance, drama and music, leading to the climax tomorrow. The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre will showcase some of its animals such as lions, leopards, ostriches, peacocks, monkeys, bushbucks, pythons and crocodiles.

A hot air balloon, manned by Balloon Tours Limited, a local company, started flights over Mbale area yesterday through to Sunday this week.

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11th Moroccan Tourism Conference to Open Sept 29

Moroccan American Center for Policy – 25 September 2014 – The Moroccan Ministry of Tourism, in conjunction with key government and private sector stakeholders, will open its 11th Tourism Conference on September 29. The conference will focus on two major themes: growing the tourist potential throughout Morocco and strategies for attracting investment to promote tourism development.

Minister of Tourism Lahcen Haddad noted that Vision 2020, the national plan for Tourism, aims to make the most of Morocco’s touristic potential and to ensure fair and equitable distribution of tourism wealth throughout the national territory.”

He will be joined in the opening session by the Prime Minister, as well as officials from the National Confederation of Tourism, the mayor of Rabat, the Spanish Minister of Industry, Energy, and Tourism, and the General Secretary of the UN World Trade Organization (UNWWTO).

Morocco plans to develop at least eight additional tourism destination areas, each having its own distinctive character and distributed among the coastal, cultural, and ecological attractions of the Kingdom. In developing a comprehensive strategy to guide robust and sustainable development, the conference will discuss how to vary the development according to the unique environment of each site, including needed infrastructure, local regulatory governance to protect the environment and guide growth, and the marketing and logistics conditions that need to be addressed.

In surveys that identify perceptions of Morocco, tourism ranks consistently on or near the top, especially in Europe and North America. Vision 2020 seeks to exploit that favorable image by creating even more diverse destinations to appeal to a broader tourist base.

Fortunately, with more than a decade of dedicated analysis and development in the tourism sector, Morocco has learned a great deal about what attracts and holds the interests of travelers. Experts from Marrakech and Bilbao, Spain, will share their experiences and make recommendations for enhancing Morocco’s tourism industry. But none of this is possible without sufficient and targeted financing.

Vision 2020’s goal is to make Morocco one of the top 20 destinations worldwide and a model of sustainable development throughout the region. This can only be achieved through a diverse, high-quality tourism industry that makes the most of what Morocco has to offer and provides the services that tourists demand.

According to the plan, Morocco will double the current number of hotel beds; provide incentives and programs to direct tourism investment to the target sectors of entertainment, sports, and leisure; add value to the presentation and promotion of Morocco’s cultural and artisanal heritage; and develop the right hospitality infrastructure for each of the new sites.

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Gambia Safe Tourism Destination With No Ebola – GCCI

The Point – 24 September 2014 – The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), the umbrella body of businesses in The Gambia, has been working round the clock to project the image of The Gambia and keep the country’s business milieu afloat.

Speaking to The Point over the weekend, both GCCI chief executive officer Alieu Secka and its communication manager, Beatrice Prom, assured the world that The Gambia is one of the safest destinations for tourists, investment and business transactions.

The Gambia is still one of the safest tourism destinations; it is still a very clean and healthy society, and has a lot to offer in terms of tourism, CEO Alieu Secka said.

He made this statement to allay the fears of prospective tourists and the world at large, to re-assure all that Gambia is still Ebola-free and measures are in place to keep the deadly virus at bay.

“Since we don’t have any Ebola, this means we are as safe as any Western country or any other country in the world that is Ebola-free,” Mr Secka said.

He added that even though the country is free of the deadly virus that has plagued West Africa for months now, the GCCI and stakeholders such as the ministries of Health and Tourism are sensitising the people about preventive measures and health safety tips to keep the virus from entering the country.

The GCCI CEO said the presence of Ebola in the sub-region “is a very sad situation,” and the Chamber is in solidarity with countries affected by the virus.

Mr Secka said even though The Gambia is Ebola-free, there is indication that the trending virus in the sub-region could have some negative impacts on the local economy, particularly on tourism and trade.

“We are very concerned about the implications on our traders,” he said.”But as long as we can continue to show to the world that The Gambia is Ebola-free and at the same time we are practising safe health, we will be able to mitigate the impact.”

In addition, he said the chamber will continue to work with the national health authorities, as well as the border posts to find ways and means to mitigate the implications.

The GCCI CEO also said the Chamber supports the government’s move to protect the local community and population, by not allowing entry of people from countries with Ebola.

However, he said: “Certainly, no one takes comfort in the present limitation of access by any nationality.”

He said the GCCI has issued public notices to all members, so that they can practise health safety tips, including hand washing with soap and the use of sanitisers.

Beatrice Prom, GCCI communication manager, said the Chamber has also placed Ebola preventive measures and safety tips on its website and all social media platforms such as Facebook.This is all geared toward raising the awareness of members, since businesses can only flourish in a healthy environment.

“We are very conscious that our members too have to remain vigilant; that vigilance means whatever information that is given by the ministry of Health should be adhered to by everybody so that together we can maintain the Ebola-free status,” Ms Prom added.

She further stated that currently the Chamber is working on organizing its annual mini trade fair, Marche Jula, in collaboration with the Banjul City Council, from 29 November to 20 December.

“It will attract international participants, but already we have written to the ministries concerned to inform them about the activity so that they could give us advice on how to go through. Already, they have told us that countries that are Ebola-affected cannot come to participate, and that is understood. And those that are coming to the fair from elsewhere will be properly screened,” according to the GCCI communication manager.

All these measures, she added, are put in place to ensure The Gambia remains Ebola-free and does not take any chances.

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Nigeria: Ogun Plans World-Class Tourist Centre in Ipokia

Daily Independent – 25 September 2014 – Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, has stated that arrangements have been concluded with a world-class tourist outfit to make Akere community in Ipokia Local Government Area first of its kind tourist centre in Africa.

He said the state government would immediately commence the construction of the 10-kilometre Ipokia-Akere road, which leads into the lagoon, adding that the intention is to transform the community into a tourism hub, which it was originally designed to be.

Amosun, who made this revelation while addressing the people of Ipokia in continuation of his assessment tour of the 20 council areas in the state, said renowned investors, who had succeeded in other parts of the world, would complete the first phase of the tourism project within the next two years.

“We have the longest seashore in this country. One of the world’s tourist outfits have done the designs and planning on all they want to do here. They investors, who were looking for a place that has sea view and seashore, have chosen Akere in this part of the state.”

“They want to make Akere a totally new town. They have done it in other parts of the world. This is their first time in Africa and Nigeria. I am trying to envision what Akere town would be in the next three years. It would no doubt be the number one destination of tourism in Nigeria.

“Without any delay, I have directed the immediate construction of Ipokia-Akere road and Agosasa-Ijofin road respectively as well as a bridge before Agosasa to further open up the local government area and fulfil the promise of constructing two rural roads in each local government area of the state.

The governor, who, thereafter, visited the Akere seashore, noted that it has Badagry area in Lagos to its left, Port Novo in Benin Republic to the right and the oil rich Tongeji Island across the lagoon.

He said President Goodluck Jonathan has promised to expand the naval base of the oil rich island.

While commending the forebears for the initiative to cite a large expanse of palm trees plantation on both sides of the road to the riverine area, he affirmed that the state government would, as a matter of urgency, do the regeneration of the old palms.

The governor assured that Ipokia Local Government Area would be made to have two local council development areas, pointing out that one additional model school would be constructed as a starting point to having a full fledge higher institution.

Chairman, Ipokia Local Government Council, Isiaka Wale Aderounmu, commended the governor for his various development-oriented projects spread across the state.

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Gambian Passport Goes Biometric

The Point – 23 September 2014 – The Gambia Immigration Department under the Ministry of the Interior has introduced a biometric passport effective 22 September 2014.

According to a press release from the Immigration Department, the new biometric passport fee is D3,000 which can be paid at any Ecobank branch in the country.

State TV on Sunday also announced that the purpose for introducing the biometric passport is to make the national document highly secure, to protect it against forgery and ensure it is in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations.

The passport, the release stated, will make border crossing faster and easier, as well as facilitate the process of acquiring a visa for the United States of America, Europe and South Africa, while also elevating Gambian travel documents to international standards, with an e-Gate installed at the airport for automatic border control.

Furthermore, the release stated, the new passport would allow Gambians to enter Gambian territory “in a matter of seconds.”

It announced that all applicants must appear in person at the designated enrolment centres for passport processing.

Gambians abroad “will be able to access” the centres in Belgium, USA, UK and Nigeria.

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Uganda Passes Out New Bird Guides

East African Business Week – 21 September 2014 – Kibale — Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) recently passed out 53 bird guides in Kibale National Park with a reminder to be disciplined and professionalism.

Stephen Asiimwe, the UTB Chief Executive Officer told the guides over 50% of the tourists who come to Uganda are as a result of referrals.

He said bad hospitality due to such factors as poor integrity can lead to negative referrals and Uganda losing out.

“Imagine we have received 33 cases of indiscipline. People rip off clients’money. I urge you to keep high levels of integrity to attract tourism growth,” Asiimwe said.

He told them birding is a gold mine, insisting that they must keep the standards and integrity with in the sector.

“Don’t be in a hurry to compete. Be in a hurry to cooperate. Learn more languages to add value to your birding training,” he said.

The two-week birding training was sponsored by the Uganda Tourism Board, United Nations Development Fund and conducted by the Uganda Safari Guides Association.

Asiimwe said according to Bank of Uganda figures, tourism fetched $1.4 billion, up from $1.1 billion last year. He cautioned the guides, whom he said are the eyes of the sector, to maintain discipline.

He said they will emphasize quality of all services provided to tourists with in the tourism industry.

Timothy Kintu Magambo, one of the graduates said they learnt about ornithology, basically the study of birds.

“We have learnt various skills of birding ecology. The various habitants, flight actions, feeding habits, various bird feets, how to bird on foot, in a car, using boats and at night,” said Magambo.

The graduates learnt about the origin, evolution and ecology in birding, behavior of birds, birds that are nearing extinction, parasitic birds and migratory birds.

He said they were educated on how birds do co-exist with abiotic and biotic ways, various characteristics of birds, nesting behavior, how birds interdepend on one another, presentation and communication skills and paying attention to bird details and observation skills.

Magambo however pointed out that they lack birding equipment’s ranging from binoculars, field guide books, wish lists and pointers.

Herbert Byaruhanga the Uganda Safari Guides Association president said they received over 85 applicants. He advised that Uganda must go into specific tourism product marketing.

Byaruhanga decried the vigorous steps they go through in acquiring training facilities from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) calling upon management to ease on these processes saying their aim is to build capacity for the industry.

“For the last two year we couldn’t use these facilities yet we’re building capacity to see a professionalized sector,” he said.

He said the level of education in birding has increased with Uganda now having over 130 well trained professional bird guides.

Boniface Byamukama, a Uganda Wildlife Authority Board Member affirmed USAGA that they will ensure that entry into the national parks for training purposes or building capacity is free of charge.

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Visitors flock to productive families exhibition in Baha

Arab News – 25 September, 2014 – Large numbers of visitors continue to flock to the families’ exhibition in Al-Baha, the first of its kind in the Kingdom. The exhibition expected to last until next Tuesday is being held at the King Abdulaziz cultural center in Al-Baha.

More than 150 families from various regions of the Kingdom are participating in the exhibition under the aegis of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Development and Social Security Committees at the Ministry of Social Affairs, and the National Program for industries and handicrafts, in addition to ten bodies that are supporting national products and offering discounts on the occasion of the 84th Saudi National Day.

Chairman of the Exhibition Committee Tariq Moaidh Al-Zahrani said that the exhibition is drawing both male and female visitors who mostly arrive in the evenings.

“The exhibition has a number of booths displaying various products such as pottery, fronds, knitted wear, embroidered items, perfumes, handicrafts and accessories for men and women,” he said. He added that the there are also decorative items, fashionable dresses and popular traditional food being sold at the exhibition.

Al-Zahrani explained that with such a high attendance of people, it’s hard to estimate sales revenues. “It needs specific standards and constant monitoring,” he said noting that many participants are calling upon the committee to extend the exhibition for a couple of more days. “Their keenness to extend the duration of the exhibition indicates that they are making good profits,” Al-Zahrani said, adding that this is one of the goals of the National Program.

Al-Zahrani said that the Exhibition Committee had helped make the selling process easier for the productive families particularly through the exhibition which had given them a unique opportunity to showcase their products and persuade customers to buy them.

The Exhibition Committee aims to enhance the marketing abilities of families and strengthen their abilities to become active members in the social and national development process.

A large number of participants took part in ten training courses as well as male and female workshops in handicraft-making and projects establishment. Al-Zahrani said that those who acquired workshop certificates from the social security beneficiaries will benefit from financial support from the social security and the Human Resources Fund.

With such enriching experience and nationally-famed products, Al-Zahrani invited all families to come and visit the exhibition and enjoy the enriching atmosphere as well as the beautiful weather of Al-Baha.

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Qatar plans to boost cultural tourism

Gulf Times – 26 September, 2014 – Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) plans to make the country a hub of tourism education through a number of workshops and training sessions in the coming years, Erik Johansson, adviser to QTA, said yesterday.

He also revealed that QTA was planning to develop a cultural village as well as a handicrafts market in the coming years to enhance cultural tourism in the country.

Johansson was speaking at the concluding ceremony of the Cultural Tourism Product Development Workshop organised by UNWTO and QTA for tourism industry representatives from several countries in the Middle East.

“We are planning to renovate many of the cultural sites as they are not fully developed. They need to have car parking, toilets, coffee shops and restaurants, among other facilities. This will be worked out in phases,” he said.

Further, Johansson stressed that QTA is organising at least one or two training programmes every term. “This is an initiative to enhance cultural tourism in Qatar. We want to make Qatar a hub of tourism education.The course will help the delegates assess tourism products, know the status of tourism products in the country as well as enhance tourism supply to the country.”

Around 45 participants from Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon and Sudan participated in the workshop.

The workshop, which lasted five days, provided inputs for the participants to improve cultural tourism possibilities in their countries. All the participants were awarded certificates at the concluding ceremony.

Johansson said the delegates from other countries were taken to different cultural sites in Qatar. “Many of the delegates have given their feedback on these sites and how to improve them to attract more tourists to the country. QTA also has plans to link cultural tourism with neighbouring countries and provide opportunities for tourists to enjoy the entire region.”

He said the training will enable delegates from other countries to enhance their cultural tourism potential. “We want the delegates and participants from other countries to improve their skills to a great cultural tourism development. This will improve the arrival of tourists to their countries and the region as a whole.”

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Qatar to launch special taxis for women, families

The Peninsula – 26 September, 2014 – The Doha-based Profit Group, which launched its new yellow-roofed taxis yesterday, is planning to introduce special taxis for women and families – a first in the country.

This is a new concept in Qatar, which has already been introduced in Dubai and some western countries, P Balasubramaniam, Group Director of Profit Holding Group, told this daily yesterday.

“The idea behind this taxi is to protect the privacy of women passengers who don’t want direct exposure to a male driver,” he explained.

There will be a screen separating the passenger from the driver. Women will not see the driver, but they can move the screen, if they wish so because it will be under the passenger’s control.

The women passenger is also not required to speak to the driver directly. Instead they can communicate through a mike installed in the back seat.

At the end of the trip, the passenger can deposit the money in a tray in front of their seat, which will be transferred to the driver.

The driver can return the balance amount, if any, and issue the ticket using the same system.

The family taxis will also follow a similar system, he said.

“We have a plan to introduce these taxis in Qatar in the near future, provided we get approval from Mowasalat,” said Balasubramaniam.

The company, which has tied up with the UAE-based Cars Taxi Group to launch the new taxis, also plans to introduce “hybrid” taxis that operate both on traditional and environment-friendly, alternative fuel.

The company also plans to operate taxis at Hamad International Airport with approval from Mowasalat, as also taxis catering to people with special needs.

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Oman Ministry of Tourism to participate in aviation summit

Gulf Today – 24 September, 2014 – The Oman Ministry of Tourism has revealed that it will be participating at the 4th Arab Aviation and Media Summit, the only aviation and tourism conference dedicated to media representatives in the Middle East, on September 24, 2014 at the Hamra Convention Center in Ras Al Khaimah, the UAE.

To be held under the theme ‘Aviation & Tourism: Common Vision and Purpose,’ the annual conference will discuss the interdependence of the tourism and aviation sectors and its impact on the Arab region’s social and economic development.

Gamal Sadek, Director, Representative Offices – AGCC Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism, will take part in the Panel Discussion titled ‘MENA Aviation & Tourism: Growth Path Versus Global Trends’ along with Paul-Franck Bijou, CEO of Airbus Prosky, and Andre Herrenschmidt, General Manager of Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah.

The panel will debate key topics such as the impact of aviation infrastructure on tourism growth, necessary measures to overcome challenges and maximize opportunities for growth in the MENA region’s aviation and tourism sectors, as well as regulation of aviation and tourism to better serve the economy.

Salim Al Mamari, Director General of Tourism Promotions, Oman Ministry of Tourism, said: “We firmly believe that aviation and tourism share a symbiotic relationship and the success and growth of one sector positively impacts the other.”

This standpoint is the reason behind the Ministry’s collaboration with different airlines, starting with the national carrier of Oman, to boost tourism in our country, which has reaped benefits for both industries.

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Oman Rail to link proposed industrial, economic hubs

Oman Daily Observer – 24 September, 2014 – A number of major economic, industrial and logistics hubs planned for development in the Dhahirah, Sharqiyah and Wusta governorates of the Sultanate will be connected to the Oman National Railway Network, according to project officials.

Rail connectivity with these proposed industrial parks will help attract infrastructural, industrial and commercial investment in and around these hubs, thereby positioning them as new growth poles for Oman’s long-term economic development, say experts.

Alignments already approved by Oman Rail, the national rail company overseeing the implementation of the national rail system, will see the network skirting an area earmarked for the development of a mega economic hub in Dhahirah Governorate. The project, dubbed the ‘Dhahirah Economic Zone’, is proposed to the linked by rail when Segments 2 and 3 of the national network are taken in hand for implementation.

According to authorities, connectivity between the Dhahirah Economic Zone and the national network will be provided by a 126 km line that runs south from Ibri to the site of the hub. This stretch will be undertaken during Segment 2 of the rail project. A further 116 km stretch will link the Dhahirah Economic Hub with the rail line at Ghaba, with construction envisioned during Segment 3 of the rail project.

Similarly, a new industrial park planned by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) at Al Mudhaibi in Sharqiyah North Governorate is also expected to be linked to the rail network. Connectivity with the network is planned during Phase 3 of the Oman National Rail Project when linkages between Duqm, Sinaw, Ibra and Misfah are executed.

Al Mudhaibi will host, among other projects, a major bus assembly plant planned by a partnership of the Oman Investment Fund (OIF), a sovereign wealth fund of the Omani government, and Mowasalat (Karwa), the national transport company of Qatar. The $ 160 million project will have a capacity to produce around 2,000 buses annually.

More recently, PEIE announced that it has medium and long-term plans to set up a string of new industrial parks in locations that include Thamrait, Haima, Barka and Al Suwaiq, besides the oil producing areas of Marmul and Fahud all of which, coincidentally, are also located along the alignment of the Oman National Railway Project. Rail connectivity with these proposed hubs will be a key value proposition that will underpin their long-term success, it is pointed out.

The 2,135 km national network will be implemented in nine separate segments covering the length of the Sultanate. Conceived as a double track network, the diesel-powered freight and passenger line is proposed to link populated areas, ports, industrial zones, mining clusters and other economic centres — current and future — of the Sultanate.

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GCC hospitality to hit $40b by 2018

Khaleej Times – 25 September, 2014 – The GCC hospitality industry is poised to grow at an annual rate of 9.5 per cent to $ 35.9 billion by 2018 from $ 22.8 billion in 2013, driven by the region’s pro-business environment and increasing appeal to private sector and foreign investments, Alpen Capital said.

The average occupancy rates in GCC hotels are likely to be in the range of 68 per cent and 74 per cent between 2013 and 2018 while average daily rates, or ADR, is likely to be between $ 225 and $ 263 during the same period.

Hospitality projects due for completion in 2014 are valued at $ 8.6 billion compared to $ 3.7 billion in 2013, Alpen Capital said.

Upcoming mega events in Qatar and UAE are expected to be the key growth drivers for the hospitality industry in these countries, Alpen Capital said in its GCC Hospitality Industry report.

“Supported by stable oil prices and continuous government spending, especially on infrastructure upgrade and economic diversification, the resource-rich GCC region’s growth prospects remain favorable. GCC countries continue to maintain a pro-business environment with no or low corporate taxes, which has encouraged private sector investments including foreign investments,” it said. The region is set to host mega events such as 2020 World Expo in Dubai and 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. These coupled with high-profile annual events such as Grand Prix in the UAE and Bahrain are expected to draw a large number of visitors, the report noted.

The reported observed that with state-of-the-art infrastructure facilities, the MICE (Meeting, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) segment has expanded significantly in the recent past. The number of international conferences in the Middle East has more than tripled in the last 10 years.

Governments across GCC region are investing billions of dollars to enhance tourism related infrastructure. In addition, GCC countries are planning to introduce a unified visa that would allow tourists to use the visa issued by one GCC nation to visit all the others, just as a Schengen visa works for most of the European countries, Sameena Ahmad, Managing Director, Alpen Capital said. “We feel that the growth of the sector will be driven by supportive policy initiatives undertaken by GCC governments to enhance infrastructure; thereby positively impacting the continued investor appetite for the region and tourism,” said Sanjay Bhatia, Managing Director, Alpen Capital. GCC airports are expected to handle about 250 million passengers by 2020, it said quoting a study.

Asia has emerged as one of the biggest and fastest growing international tourist markets for GCC nations. Leisure travel in the region is picking up momentum. With $ 23 billion market size, the UAE is the largest market in the region while Qatar has recorded the highest growth in recent past. Many international hotels are entering as well as expanding in the region either independently or through collaboration with local hotels, said the report.

However, there is an oversupply concern, given the fact that some of the GCC countries are adding huge hotel capacities in the run up to the planned mega events.

Despite the recent reforms initiatives taken by the regional governments, many challenges remain for the foreign companies looking to set up business in GCC. These include investor protection concerns, punitive bankruptcy laws, continued ownership restrictions for certain sectors and thrust towards localisation of labor force. Despite these challenges, the GCC hospitality industry’s outlook remains promising, the report said.

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Iranian, Iraqi governors call for promotion of bilateral cooperation

Islamic Republic News Agency – 24 September, 2014 – Governors of Sardasht in Iran’s West Azarbaijan Province and Qala Diza and Rania in Iraqi Kurdistan met and discussed promotion of bilateral cooperation and relations.

Hassan Yussefi-Far, Governor of Sardasht, in a tripartite meeting held on Monday, expressed pleasure over the presence of the Iraqi delegation in West Azarbaijan Province and called for increase in bilateral transactions.

He said in case Kileh in Sardasht becomes an official border market, the city of Sardasht in addition to coming out of the present standstill will be turned into an economic lifeline of West Azarbaijan and even the country which will be highly important in the economic development of the region.

Yussefi-Far said the Iranian side has provided all the required facilities for turning Kileh into an official border market and thus the Iraqi Kurdistan should take the necessary measures for provision of the required infrastructures for an increase in trade transactions and bilateral economic prosperity.

Meanwhile, governor of Qala Diza said that assistance of the Iranian government and people to the people of Iraq, Kurdistan in particular, under tough conditions would not be forgotten by the people and authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran will always remain a brotherly country.

Governor of Rania also said good steps have been taken by the two sides for turning Kileh into a border market place.

Governors of Qala Diza and Rania of Iraq in a two-day visit to West Azarbaijan Province met with provincial officials and held talks on matters of mutual interest.

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