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27 Oct, 2014

Saudi King Orders Free Treatment For Disabled People

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 27 October 2014 (03 Muharram 1436). 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.



Egypt’s royal jewellery now on display at Alexandria museum

Cairo, AlAhram Online, 19 Oct 2014 – In the elegant Alexandria district of Zizinya stands the Royal Jewellery Museum, its neoclassical architecture welcoming its visitors after three years of closure. The museum shut its doors shortly after the outbreak of the January 2011 uprising for security reasons.

After all, the museum includes a collection of over 900 pieces of jewellery from the family of Mohamed Ali, the founder of modern Egypt.

The museum reopened on Sunday – refurbished, with new touches inside – in the presence of Antiquities Minister Mamdouh El-Damaty, Alexandria’s governor and other top officials from the ministry.

El-Damaty said the re-opening is part of the ministry’s goal to open up other museums after restoration periods. He added that the jewellery museum contributes to Egypt’s important story from when it was a monarchy.

Indeed, the building itself is part of that era. Ahmed Sharaf, head of the ministry’s museums section, said the museum’s edifice was originally built as a summer palace for the family of Zeinab Fahmy, wife of a descendant of Mohamed Ali.

Upon her death Fahmy left the palace to her daughter, princess Fatima El-Zahraa, who added an east wing that was connected to the rest of the building by a corridor. An Italian architect did the interior design of the palace.

Following the 1952 revolution – and the end of the monarchy – the palace was taken over by the government, though El-Zahraa was allowed to live in it during her lifetime. In 1964, she left Alexandria and handed the palace to the government for good.

When she died in 1983, the palace was used briefly as a presidential rest house. Former president Hosni Mubarak issued a decree in 1986 designating the palace as a new museum for the royal jewellery collection.

The museum includes some 11,550 artefacts, 924 of which are on display, that were once the personal possessions and gifts belonging to the family and descendants of Mohamed Ali.

Among them are magnificent pieces owned by Mohamed Ali himself and his son Said Pasha, as well as members of the family up to King Fouad and his first wife, Princess Shuvekar. Queen Nazli, mother of King Farouk, Egypt’s last king, and Farouk’s wife, Queen Farida, also owned valuable pieces that are now in the museum, some of them designed and created by the French firm Boucheron.

The collection includes a luxury chess set owned by Mohamed Ali, a coffee set inlaid with silver and embellished with gold, a set of gold glassware decorated with 977 diamonds and a number of medals and decorations. Gold cosmetics boxes and other items engraved with the initials of Queen Nazli are also among the jewels created by the French house of Van Cleef and Arpels. Other notable pieces include a set of jewels owned by the sisters of King Farouk, princess Fawzia, first wife of Reza Pahlavi, the former shah of Iran, and Princess Fayza.

There is an Indian-inspired set originally owned by Queen Nariman, the second wife of Farouk. Jewels belonging to Princess Samiha and Princess Qadriya Hussein Kamel are also on show, as are medallions worn by Prince Youssef Kamal and Prince Mohamed Ali Tawfik.

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Egyptian developer SODIC to invest $336 million in 2015, sees property boom

Cairo, Reuters, 20 Oct 2014 – SODIC, one of Egypt’s largest listed real estate developers, plans to invest 2.4 billion Egyptian pounds ($336 million) in 2015 and is hunting for new projects as the sector recovers from three years of turmoil, its managing director said.

Egypt’s once-booming construction sector was hit hard by the 2011 revolt that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule but ushered in a period of economic and political volatility.

Many large real estate contracts were canceled in the wake of the revolt and investment dried up.

Three years on, the economy is showing the first signs of recovery, bringing an uptick in demand for property in the Arab world’s most populous country.

Speaking at the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit, Ahmed Badrawi was bullish, saying it was a good time to invest in the sector with SODIC likely to have made 2.5 billion pounds worth of investments by the end of this year.

“We are also targeting investments worth 2.4 billion pounds next year,” he said, adding that the figure could rise if SODIC takes on new projects on the Mediterranean coast or elsewhere.

“The market is strong and that is why we are investing strongly…We are planning for the next five years. We see this as the right time to expand strongly inside Egypt and that is why we have bought the new land and increased our capital.”

SODIC will complete a deeply discounted 1 billion pound capital increase on the Egyptian stock exchange on Thursday.

Badrawi said two-thirds of that money would be invested in a new project in the upscale Cairo suburb of Heliopolis, while the rest would be dedicated to new land SODIC is seeking to buy either on the northern coast or outside the sprawling capital.

SODIC plans to begin construction and offer the first phase of units in the mixed-use development on its 1.3 million-square meter site in Heliopolis before the end of the year.

It won rights to the land earlier this year and is targeting sales of 300-600 million pounds in the first phase and 9 billion pounds from the whole project, which it has yet to name.

Badrawi said SODIC had also won a 2010 auction for 63,000 square meters of land in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura where it plans to build a mall at a cost of 310 million pounds. It expects to take control of the land this year.

Badrawi said SODIC, also known as Sixth of October Development and Investment Co, was currently working on eight projects. Its portfolio comprises 11 million square meters, including 3.6 million meters that have yet to be exploited.

Its existing projects include West Town, a residential neighborhood in the Sheikh Zayed City area west of Cairo. Earlier this year, it ended a dispute with the government, agreeing to pay 900 million pounds over seven years after a revaluation of its vast Eastown project in Cairo

Badrawi said he was confident the company could consolidate its return to profit following losses of 447.13 million pounds in 2013 as it wrote off canceled contracts and investments in Syria.

“We wanted to get rid of all our problems from the previous period and we succeeded in this. The figures from the second half of this year will not be dissimilar from the numbers in the first half,” he said.

In the first half of 2014, SODIC made a profit of 90.53 million pounds on revenues of 635 million pounds.

In May, U.S. private equity firm Ripplewood acquired a near 10 percent stake in SODIC, in anticipation of an economic recovery following three years of upheaval.

Despite billions of dollars that have poured in from Gulf countries in the past year, Egypt’s economy grew a meager 2.2 percent in the 2013/14 fiscal year ended in June.

But demand for housing remains strong and officials have said Egypt needs around 500,000 new units a year to meet demand. New satellite towns have sprung up around Cairo in recent years, many offering plush amenities away from the busy center, while billboards advertising coastal holiday homes dot the capital.

Badrawi said sales had reached 2.2 billion pounds so far this year and could exceed 2.7 billion by the end of 2014 after it brings the next phase of its West Town project to market next week and sells the first units in Heliopolis later this year.

“The real estate sector is growing strongly. There is a big shortage of property in Egypt and demand outstrips supply. We offered a phase in one of our projects two weeks ago and demand for units was fierce…I am very optimistic about this sector.”

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Bahrain New Visa Fees Come Into Force Oct 25

MANAMA, Bahrain, Oct 23 (NNN-BNA) -Bahrain Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (NPRA) ministry, today has affirmed that the fee unification with the Foreign Ministry, will be in effect on Oct 25, 2014, the beginning of the Islamic new year (Hijri year). The fee amendment will mainly cover foreign visitors, but with a slight effect on Bahraini citizens, while fees at the King Fahad Causeway will remain unchanged.

NPRA has also announced that more facilitations will be introduced in 2015.

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Etihad Airways Named One Of The World’s Most In-Demand Employers

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Oct 23 (NNN-WAM) – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been recognised as one of the world’s most attractive employers on LinkedIn’s ‘Global 100 InDemand Employers’ list, reports Emirates News Agency (WAM).

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network on the Internet, announced the rankings at its 2014 Talent Connect conference, held in San Francisco Wednesday night.

Etihad Airways was ranked as the 82nd most in-demand employer, among other notable companies, including Google, Apple and Expedia.

Ray Gammell, Chief People and Performance Officer of Etihad Airways, said that, being named as one of the world’s most in-demand employers was a tremendous accomplishment.

“This is testament to our more than 22,000 people from over 140 nationalities, who make Etihad Airways the organisation it is,” he said.

The ‘Global 100 InDemand Employers’ ranking is a list of the world’s most sought-after employers, chosen based on billions of interactions from LinkedIn’s more than 313 million members.

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Photographic Exhibition Centre Opens In Oman

MUSCAT, Oman, Oct 21 (NNN-ONA) – The Exhibition Centre of the Fédération Internationale de l’Art Photographique’ (FIAP) in the Middle East, was opened last night, at the Omani Photography Club (OPC) of the Sultan Qaboos Higher Centre of Culture and Science, after OPC has been recently selected as a centre of FIAB Middle East exhibition. The exhibition runs until the 20th of next month.

Ricardo Busi, President of FIAP, sponsored the opening of the exhibition centre in the presence of Dr. AbdelMunim bin Mansour al-Hasani, Minister of Information.

Ricardo Busi expressed his happiness for this visit and the opening of the centre, which is the first of its kind in the region and third in the world, after FIAP centres in Italy and Turkey, and will be followed by three other centres in China, Argentina and Slovenia.

He stressed the importance of having an approved centre and its important role as a cornerstone for further opportunities and progress for Omani photographers, by giving them the opportunity to contact and communicate with the various activities to be carried out by the Centre of shows, workshops and forums.

The FIAP President praised the level of Omani photographers, their international distinctive presence and enrichment of various activities of FIAP.

Sayyid Ibrahim bin Said al-Busaidi, Governor of Al Buraimi, Chairman of the Board of OPC and the official representative of the Sultanate at FIAP said, “The ambition to contribute to a wider range in spreading the message of photography as an art and a human message, is partly achieved with the adoption of OPC, to be an accredited centre for art exhibitions in the Middle East and become an important station in the map of the world for photography, amateurs and professionals.”

He added, “We also look forward that our colleagues in the Sultanate and our brothers in the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East share with us the activation of OPC and to strengthen its role to spread the message of Arab Photography and in line with the values and aspirations of future generations.” He offered his thanks to all the participants from all sisterly states in the first exhibition.

On the Middle East photographers exhibition, Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Busaidi, Director of OPC and Director of FIAP exhibitions centre in the Middle East, explained that the exhibition is the first of events of FIAP exhibitions centre in the Middle East, where 73 photographers from 6 countries from the Middle East, who hold medals and titles of FIAP, participate in the exhibition.

The opening ceremony included presentation of a number of FIAP medals to members of OPC and honouring of participants in the exhibition. The OPC also honoured the young photographers who recently won the World Cup in the 36th FIAP Youth Print Biennial 2014, held in the German City of Cologne.

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Malawian Airlines Seeks Fifth Freedom Rights From Zimbabwe, Mozambique

HARARE, Oct 21 (NNN-NEW ZIANA) — Malawian Airlines is in the process of securing fifth freedom traffic rights from Zimbabwe and Mozambique to enable it to pick up and drop passengers between the two countries, says its sales and marketing executive here, Kingston Mbape.

The Fifth Freedom allows airlines the right or privilege, in respect of scheduled international services, granted by one state to another, to put down and take on, in the territory of the first state, traffic coming from or destined to a third state.

Malawian Airlines, formed in July 2013, is a result of a joint venture with Ethiopian Airlines.

Mbape told New Ziana here over the weekend it intended to fly from Harare to Tete in Mozambique using the same flight that connects Lilongwe, Blantyre via Tete. “We are actually working on acquiring the Fifth Freedom traffic right to enable us to pick passengers from Mozambique into Harare and vice versa and also pick passengers from Tete to Lilongwe and vice versa,” he added.

“We are hoping that by the first of November if all goes well we should be operating that route. At the moment we pride ourselves that we are a safe airline with a 100 per cent performance and we want to give what the customers want.”

Currently, Malawian airline is operating regionally but has plans to go international. Early this year, Qatar Airways secured the Fifth Freedom traffic rights in the Ivory Coast and Cyprus whilst Tanzania objected to RwandAir’s quests for the same right.

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Govt Plans To Divide Bangladesh Railway Into 4 Zones: PM Hasina

DHAKA, Oct 23 (NNN-BSS) — Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said considering geographical condition and needs of the people of the country Bangladesh Railway (BR) will be divided into four zones for development of the rail sector.

She said the eastern and western zones of Bangladesh Railway were constituted during British era considering the needs of that time. So the railway would be demarcated as north, south, east and western zones for development of the sector and services.

Pointing out her government’s plan to expand and improve the railway network all over the country, she said particularly all sea and land ports should be connected with railway network considering communications of people and transportation of goods and promotion of trade and investment as well. “From now on, all railway line would be constructed dual-gauge,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina also said her government has rescued the railway sector from the conspiracy of some donor agencies and BNP-Jamaat clique. “All future development projects of the railway would be undertaken not as prescribed by donors but according to the needs of the country,” she said.

The prime minister was addressing the officials of the Ministry of Railway at Rail Bhaban here today.

Sheikh Hasina came to the Railway Ministry as part of her plan to monitor the implementation of the development programmes, giving solution to remove the barriers on implementing the projects, exchange views with the officials concerned to expedite the activities of the ministries. The Prime Minister is going to visit different ministries in every Sunday and Thursday.

The prime minister said her government has established Railway Ministry with allocation of necessary budget as the rail service, like water transport, is very important modes of communications and carrying goods at a very low cost.

“The World Bank always opposed construction of a rail-bridge on the Jamuna River saying that the bridge would not be viable. But after verifying all data and information, we were determined to construct the bridge,” she said. “Now, World Bank itself has given proposal for construction of a separate rail bridge on Jamuna River,” she said adding her government has a plan for construction of the separate rail bridge on the Jamuna River. Moreover, she said, her government has a plan to construct a multipurpose tunnel from Bahadurabad Ghat to Balashi Ghat to facilitate communications between Gaibandha and Jamalpur.

Sheikh Hasina said rail communication plays a very important role for national, regional and international connectivity. “So we have to take plans supplementary to the initiative for connecting Bangladesh with the Trans Asian Railway Network and Asian Highway Network,” she said.

The Prime Minister asked the ministry to expedite the process of implementing railway line from Dohajari to Gundum, Cox’s bazaar saying the existing project proposal would be revised for constructing a dual-gauge railway on this route instead of meter-gauge line.

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Joint Malaysia, Indonesia Plan to Make An ASEAN Car

JAKARTA, Oct 21 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia and Indonesia will soon join forces in the automotive industry to make the Asean car a reality, says Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. He said the project would be a dream come true as newly-appointed Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, has expressed interest in pursuing the idea mooted by Malaysia.

National car maker, Proton Holdings Bhd, is expected to be involved in the project. “A feasibility study of a possible joint production of the Asean car by Malaysia and Indonesia will be undertaken and it (the idea) was welcomed by President Jokowi who wants the idea to be pursued further.

“This means Proton and Indonesia will launch the Asean car as a viable project after in-depth studies,” he told Malaysian journalists here today at the end of his two-day visit to the Indonesian capital to attend the swearing-in ceremony of President Jokowi.

The prime minister also hoped Indonesia, under the new administration, would continue to adopt an open economy via its existing policies, to further expand bilateral trade between the two countries.

The Prime Minister also hoped Malaysia and Indonesia could integrate not only people-to-people relationships but also on the political and economic front to maximise profits accruing from the cooperation.

Najib said Malaysia aspired to see the relations grow since it would assume the Asean chairmanship next year.

Jokowi got down to work today as the seventh president of Indonesia after taking his oath of office at the People’s Consultative Assembly, the highest constitutional body, to lead the country of 250 million people.

The former governor of Jakarta took over from Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who had been the president since 2004.

Najib was accorded the honour of being the first of the foreign heads of government to arrive at the Istana Merdeka, the president’s official residence, to call on Jokowi and convey his congratulations.

The prime minister arrived in Indonesia on Sunday at the personal invitation of Jokowi, 53, to attend the historic event for Indonesia with his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and joined 18 foreign dignitaries and nine heads of government during the ceremony.

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Kenya’s first Islamic University aiming to bridge Muslim-Christian divide

Thursday 23 Oct 2014 – Nairobi (IINA) – Umm University, which has two campuses; Thika and Kajiado, is the first Islamic University in Kenya.

Funded by Kuwaiti Development Group, the University’s main campus in Kajiado was officially inaugurated in the same week which marks the anniversary of last year’s Westgate bombings, carried out by Somali al-Shabab-linked militants, in the capital Nairobi.

Umma University offers courses in Bachelor of Science Computer Science, Business Management, Information and Communication Technology, Islamic Shari’ah, Islamic Banking and Finance and Islamic Studies.

18-year old Business Management Student, Yasmine Abdirahim expressed excitement over getting an opportunity to combine her Islamic and secular studies.

The university opens the floodgates to Muslim and non-Muslim individuals and communities to access quality higher education.

Plans for the university, 80 km south of Nairobi, initially sparked fear amongst the traditional local Maasai population who thought that such an Islamic institution would bring terrorism to their doorsteps.

“However, we have our own people working there and we have had our own people sending their children to those institutions,” Maasai Community leader Ole Kaika said. “Now we know about the University, that it’s a public institution like any other,” he added.

The university’s Vice Chancellor Professor Shaukat Abdulrazak said rather than being a center for hardline Muslims, the University, which is open to all faiths, rejects Islamic extremism.

“This is a manifest that Muslims can work very closely with the Christians,” Abdulrazak said. “We want to use this university to foster and forge partnership linkages and tolerance, to be able to live in harmony with other communities, other ethnicities and other religious people as well,” he added.

Muslims in Kenya represent around 40 percent of the total population, but when considering the chances and facilities rendered for such a great community, it will be evident that they are not covered in that area.

Umma University will help to bridge the gap between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Consequently, this will create stability in the country

Bishar Mohamed is a Kenyan Muslim of Somali ethnicity living in Kajiado. He believes that the moderate Muslim population is being unjustly tarred as a result of the al-Shabab terrorist attacks. “We are stigmatized by other Kenyan communities, sometimes even by the government,” Bishar said.

The local high school teacher believes the university and similar institutions can help eliminate prejudices and present a more accurate reflection of Islamic ideals. The Kuwaiti financiers of Umma University, who also operate universities in Zanzibar and Mogadishu, have expressed their intention to open several more universities in Kenya.

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Muslim hijabi hipsters fusing fashion with faith

Kuala Lumpur, Saturday, 23 Dhul Hijjah 1435/ 18 October 2014 (IINA) – Muslim women from Kuala Lumpur to Los Angeles who wear the Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab, have had to get creative.

By fusing both their sense of fashion with their faith, this growing group is reinterpreting traditional notions of what it means to dress conservatively. They’re spawning a new market for niche fashion brands and finding unexpected supporters among some mainstream brands, as well as from conservative Christian and Orthodox Jewish women who also dress modestly.

“We want to be current in fashion and adhere to the tenets of our faith,” said Ibtihaj Muhammad, who owns Louella, a fashion brand catering to women who combine modest dressing with fashion. The Los Angeles-based brand has sold nearly 4,000 pieces since its launch three months ago.

Muhammad, a professional athlete and member of the United States fencing team, said she struggled trying to find long-sleeved, floor-length dresses to wear when she traveled on speaking tours on behalf of Team USA and the State Department. Her line, which include floor-length sheer cardigans and dresses, ranges from $45 for a colorful, Picasso-inspired print cardigan to $100 for a pink lace, empire-cut dress.

Though there are countless Muslim-owned companies around the world making clothes that cater to women who wear the hijab, many are selling traditional black-flowing robes known as abayas. “I just got tired of spending money and chasing this idea of this perfect modest dress,” she said.

Some mainstream designers also have started to cater to this growing demand for stylish modest wear. This summer, DKNY released a collection during Ramadan that sold exclusively in the Arabian Gulf. Karl Lagerfeld also brought his Chanel Cruise Collection this year to Dubai, unveiling designs inspired by the rich culture and patterns of the Middle East.

Still, the market is ripe for more investment said Albert Momdijan, founder and CEO of Dubai-based Sokotra Capital. “The Muslim population is the second largest population in the world with roughly 1.8 billion people so it’s a large population that you definitely cannot ignore. And 50 percent are below the age of 25,” he said. “It’s a young population, it’s a growing population and it’s a large addressable market.”

The hipster hijabi movement is the byproduct of a young generation of Muslim women coming of age. It grew organically and continues to take on new meaning by the women who embrace it. Summer Albarcha coined her photo-sharing Instagram account “Hipster Hijabis” in 2012, when the teenager from St. Louis, Missouri was just 16. She now has almost 23,000 people following her on Instagram. Her loyal following prompted New-York based label Mimu Maxi, run by two Orthodox Jewish women, to send her one of their popular maxi skirts to model.

The collaboration caused a stir, with many Jewish customers blasting Mimu Maxi for featuring a Muslim woman in hijab. Albarcha says the experience only reaffirmed the universal struggle women of all faiths and backgrounds have when trying to find stylish conservative pieces to wear. “It came out that our ideas of wanting modest fashion and in promoting it is something really similar and something we have in common between our religions,” she said. “We should both be working together to embrace this idea and expand it.”

There are also challenges from within the Muslim community, as well. Women in hijab wearing eye-catching styles often find themselves at odds with conservatives who say hijab should be about covering a woman’s beauty and concealing it from strangers. “People are resistant to change and people like to keep things the same,” said fashion blogger Maria Al-Sadek. “It’s just like a stigma to be stylish and resemble Western wear sometimes.”

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Malaysia to host Islamic Arts & Culture Festival

Sunday 19 Oct 2014 – Putrajaya (IINA) – Malaysia will host for the second time the “International Islamic Arts and Culture Festival”. The festival scheduled to take place from October 30 to November 2 in Putrajaya (25 km south of Kuala Lumpur), themed ‘Wonders of the Islamic World’ will be highlighted with 200 programs and interesting activities, Malaysia news agency (BERNAMA) reported.

Secretary General of the Ministry of Federal Territories, Datuk Adnan Ikhsan, said the support received from foreign embassies and participation of foreign nations in the festival was a recognition for Malaysia.

“Foreign countries participating at the festival’s pre-launch here, Thursday include Kyrgyzstan, Egypt, Oman, Palestine and Yemen,” he said.

The festival will feature events like the Wonders of the Muslim World Exhibition, International Islamic Forum, Muslim Women’s Fashion Show, and International Islamic Book Expo.

PressTV also reports that 20 Iranian artists will showcase their works in diverse fields such as calligraphy, painting, miniature, music and Iranian cuisine.

The festival is programmed to host over 100,000 visitors from the arts and culture, academia, professionals, business services and foreign mission communities and participation of 10 Islamic countries such as Palestine, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, and Yemen.

“The Putrajaya International Islamic Arts and Cultural Festival (PIIACUF) is aimed at pioneering the values of Islam through the perspective of a moderate society where arts and culture takes center stage in delivering the messages of Islam to the world.”

Malaysia had earlier hosted Iranian art and calligraphy exhibition of the Holy Qur’an at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in 2011.

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Fifth Ministerial Conference on Women to be held in Baku

Monday 20 Oct 2014 – Baku (IINA) – Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Iyad Madani will inaugurate on Monday the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Women’s Role in Development of OIC Member States, in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan.

The two-day Conference is being held under the auspices of Azerbaijan’s First Lady Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva. The theme of the conferene is “The Role of Women in Sustainable Development”. It will address a variety of issues such as women’s empowerment; eradication of poverty; raising women’s participation in decision making mechanisms; providing equal opportunities for women in society including access to quality education, health care and enhanced participation; and the elimination of all forms of discrimination including combating violence against women.

This is the fifth OIC Ministerial Conference on women. The first was held in Turkey in 2006, which laid the groundwork for the vision and objectives of the OIC regarding women’s empowerment, which in turn was materialized in the form of an OIC Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women (OPAAW) adopted in the second conference held in Egypt in 2008. The third conference (Iran, 2010) set the mechanisms for implementing the OPAAW, and the fourth (Indonesia, 2012) further expanded on the strategy for implementation.

The advancement of women is a priority issue in the OIC’s agenda. The General Secretariat has taken a series of measures to implement the directives mandated by the Ten Year Program of Action adopted by the Extraordinary Islamic Summit in Makkah in 2005 including the establishment of the Department of Family Affairs exclusively devoted to issues concerning women, family, children and youth. Another major step in furthering the cause of women in the OIC Member States was the establishment of the OIC Independent Permanent Commission on Human Rights (IPCHR). This Commission, inter alia, is mandated to ensure the rights of women in OIC member countries. It is expected to make specific recommendations for ensuring the full participation of women in development.

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LEAD STORY: Saudi King Orders Free Treatment For Disabled People

Jeddah, Monday, 26 Dhul Hijjah 1435/ 20 October 2014 (IINA) – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has instructed the Ministry of Social Affairs to pay the treatment costs of people with disabilities at rehabilitation centers.

Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Prince Salman Center for Disability Research (PSCDR), made the announcement in a media statement on the sidelines of the Fourth International Conference on Disability and Rehabilitation in Riyadh. Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, inaugurated the event on Sunday, which coincided with an award ceremony for the winners of the Prince Salman Award for Disability Research. The event brought together various prominent personalities and experts both from local and international institutions.

According to organizers, 1,323 participants from 24 countries attended the event, aimed at further enhancing services to the disabled by providing further scientific studies and technological advances in the field. PSCDR recently announced the names of the winners, which included Fowzan S. Alkuraya, a Saudi professor of human genetics at Alfaisal University’s College of Medicine, in recognition of his distinguished work in the fields of health and medical sciences.

The pedagogical and educational sciences area was awarded to Ann P. Turnbull and Rutherford Turnbull, two US professors who co-founded and co-directed the Beach Center for Disability. Hugh M. Herr and Prof. Margaret G. Stineman, another two US faculty members, won the award in the rehabilitative and social sciences domain. “Such awards would encourage scientific research to explore effective solutions to the global issue of disability and investment in science and technology,” he added.

Former Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said the prestigious award was named after the crown prince, thanks to his keen interest in disability issues. “It seeks to realize their aspirations, as well as encourage the efforts of local, regional and global efforts to enrich science and knowledge in the areas of disability,” added Dr. Al-Rabeeah, the award president.

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Kurdish peace bid allows for rediscovery of prehistorical paintings in Hakkari

VAN – Anadolu Agency – Rock paintings in Hakkari from 10,000 years ago have been examined for the first time since 1960, when they were first discovered. The paintings shed light on prehistorical human activity in the area

Academics have succeeded in returning to rock paintings dating back 10 millennia for the first time in 54 years after an end to hostilities in the eastern province of Hakkari made it possible to visit the alpine meadow where the art is located.

“This place was discovered in 1960 but archaeologists have not come here since then,” said Istanbul University Van Region History and Archaeology Center Director Erkan Konyar.

“After 50 years, an archaeology team visited the area this year for the first time. We are examining the rock paintings. They are very important in terms of the prehistory of the region. They are the earliest examples of rock paintings. They depict mountain goats, wild deer, snakes and humans. The paintings were shaped according to the conditions and needs of the era,” Konyar said.

“Rock paintings indicate that there were settlements here. They are very simple rock paintings made by migrant groups. Chronological examination show that these paintings were artistic creations of people who lived here 10,000 years ago,” the academic said.

The paintings, which are located in the Norduz area’s Trişin meadow, were inaccessible for 54 years due to fighting between the Turkish military and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A slow-moving peace process has resulted in an end to active fighting in the area, facilitating the archaeologists’ return to the region.

Konyar, who is working in the region with his own archaeological team in collaboration with the Van Museum Directorate, said the simple paintings made by migrating groups in the region would provide significant data for history.

He said the alpine meadow was located among the mountains, 3,000 meters above sea level.

The region is home to hundreds of rock paintings, some of which are already under protection, he said, while adding that necessary measures should be taken to protect the rest of the region as well.

The rock paintings have been photographed and documented, he said, noting that work would continue in the area.

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Medusa to gaze once more from mosaic in Southern Turkey

BURDUR – Anadolu Agency – She may no longer turn people into stone, but Medusa continues to arrest onlookers; now, even more people will have a chance to glimpse at mythology’s most famous gorgon with completion nearing on the restoration of a mosaic at the ancient city of Kibyra in southern Turkey.

The mosaic of Medusa, the female mythological creature with snake hair and sharp teeth who turned all that gazed upon her to stone, was discovered in 2009 in Kibyra in the southern province of Burdur’s Gölhisar district. About 95 percent of the mosaic remains despite being around 1,800 years old.

Düzgün Tarkan, an academic from Mehmet Akif Ersoy University Archaeology Department, who is member of the archaeology team in the region, said the Medusa mosaic covered the orchestra ground of a 3,600-person capacity Odeon structure in the ancient city.

He said the mosaic had been covered upon advice from Culture and Tourism Ministry experts so as to protect the artifact from winter conditions. “This year, after getting the necessary allocation from the ministry, we decided to work on the mosaic so as not to lose more time,” Tarkan said, adding that an Istanbul-based company had been working on the restoration of the mosaic for two months, with one month remaining.

He said they believed that the mosaic had suffered from a large fire in the ancient era. “In its original, it was covered with a wooden roof. This is why we believe that the timbers that fell during the fire burned the mosaic for days. The marble pieces that form the mosaic received great damage. Now we are merging them and the broken pieces are being attached to the mosaic.”

The mosaic was built as a protection mechanism, as many believed that even the face of Medusa could turn one to stone, he said.

“This is the first time we have seen it in Kibyra. It is made of marble and this is why it is different. It is unique in the world in terms of its creation technique,” he said, noting that it was also remarkable that the mosaic had survived in its original location, something that rarely occurs.

“They are generally protected as a few broken pieces. Medusa is in its original place and this is very important for the country’s archaeology and culture,” he said, adding that the mosaic would be surrounded with glass after the restoration and displayed for visitors.

The mosaic is 11 meters in length and its widest part is 4.35 centimeters, according to Tarkan.

Archaeological excavations in Kibyra have been continuing since 2009, unearthing artifacts and relics of historical significance. The city, which was a regional power in the Hellenistic period, was founded in 330 B.C.

In Greek mythology, Medusa was a monster, generally described as having the face of a hideous human female with live venomous snakes in place of hair. Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone. Most sources describe her as the daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. Medusa was beheaded by the hero Perseus, who used her head as a weapon until he gave it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. In classical antiquity, the image of the head of Medusa appeared in a device that fends off evil known as the Gorgoneion.

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Ara Güler opens exhibit in Berlin

BERLIN – Hurriyet Daiy News – Celebrated Istanbul photography artist Ara Güler has opened an exhibition in Berlin featuring 200 of his pieces depicting the lives of Istanbul residents since the 1950s.

Güler, 86, attended the opening of the exhibition, “The Eye of Istanbul – Retrospective 1950-2005” at the directorate of the Social Democratic Party (Willy-Brandt-Haus) together with Turkish Ambassador to Berlin Hüseyin Avni Karslıoğlu, Greens Party co-chair Cem Özdemir and party deputies.

Curator Hasan Şenyüksel said the photos had been chosen from among 14,000 works by the legendary photographer.

Güler has staged hundreds of exhibitions of his work all over the globe and has interviewed and photographed numerous celebrities, from Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill to Arnold Toynbee, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Besides many other awards, he was honored with the Culture and Arts Grand Award of the Culture and Tourism Ministry in 2011.

The exhibition will run until Jan. 25, 2015.

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Belgian actor Van Damme to build movie studio in Istanbul

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet Daily News – Legendary Belgian actor and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme arrived in Istanbul on Oct. 20, amid plans to build a movie studio in the city. Van Damme, who has a huge fan base in Turkey due to the popularity of his action movies in the 1990s, has acquired a 400-hectare property in Istanbul’s western district of Büyükçekmece. According to reports, the movie studio project will amount to $350 million.

The 54-year-old actor, who attended the 51st Antalya Golden Orange festival last week, has visited Istanbul several times since 2011 to scout possible locations for the studio. In recent months, the “Death Warrant” actor has held several meetings with local officials in his bid for a “building warrant.”

Van Damme is expected to issue a press statement regarding the project in coming days.

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Tourism blooming in eastern Turkey thanks to Kurdish peace bid

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet Daily News – The Kurdish peace process has helped boost the tourist flow to eastern and southeastern Turkish provinces that were roiled by violence in previous years, a report issued by Turkey’s top tourism organization has found, underlining the significance of peace amid tension on the country’s southern borders.

According to the “Resolution Process and Regional Tourism Report” released by the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), the number of local and foreign tourists visiting the region reached 1.5 million in 2012, and surpassed 2 million in 2013.

The resolution process, also known as the peace process, refers to the government-led initiative aimed at ending the three-decade-long conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The increasing tourism to eastern and southeastern provinces has also given a boost to touristic facilities in the region, whetting the appetite of entrepreneurs who want to take a share in the growing market, the report also found.

The number of licensed touristic facilities in the eight most popular provinces in the region has almost doubled over the past 13 years, rising to 188 in 2013 compared to 102 in 2000. The bed capacity has also recorded an impressive 165-percent increase from 11,272 to 29,935 over the same period, the TÜRSAB report stated.

The development of tourism in the region has also triggered a remarkable increase in air transportation to the eastern and provinces.

The domestic passenger number flying to and from 16 airports in the region was 3.8 million in 2007, while international passengers were only at 148,000. In 2013, however, the number of airports reached 19, with the domestic passengers number rising to 10.5 million and the international passengers number reaching 484,900, according to the report.

TÜRSAB Chairman Başaran Ulusoy said tourism was one of the main sectors providing employment opportunities to the region, underlining that the boost in the sector had already triggered investments in other industries and increased interest in the long-neglected east of the country.

“Tourism has unfolded the real potential of these provinces and has begun to attract other investments,” Ulusoy was quoted as saying in the report.

He said the tourism sector aimed to raise the number of local and foreign tourists visiting region to 5 million by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Republic.

However, concerns over the sustainability of the peace process have recently escalated over deadly protests and tension sparked by the situation in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, which has been under siege from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadists for over a month.

Referring to the countrywide clashes that led to the deaths of some 37 protestors, Ulusoy promised that “the recent incidents will not stop (us from reaching) our objectives.”

Particularly condemning the destruction of museums and culture centers during the protests, he said “the attacks hurt the tourism sector.”

“The places that house these assets, which are presented to world culture and heritage and boost Turkey’s prestige, should be treated delicately/ We promote this region in tourism with our historical artifacts as well. People shouldn’t damage their own property,” Ulusoy said.

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Minister Proposed Sustainable Transportation Master Plan

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 BruDirect.com BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Efficient road service network and connectivity plays key supporting roles to achieve Wawasan 2035. The Minister of Communications,Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdullah Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, made the speech at the National Forum, Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS) entitled Master Plan for A Sustainable Land Transportation System for Brunei Darussalam.

The Minister underscored that as a sector that affects all segments of the population, the Land Transport Master Plan has gone through a process of intensive consultations with various stakeholders.

The Master Plan has identified four strategies namely reducing car dependency, keeps traffic moving, Achieving a Sustainable Society and Strengthening Governance.

Yang Berhormat Pehin added that in the pipeline is the establishment of the Land Transport Authority, which will further promote the development of the land transport sector in a regulated and sustainable manner. The commitment and efforts of all stakeholders are needed to make the land transport system a stimulus to sustainable economic and social development in Brunei Darussalam.

The forum commenced with the CSPS consultants delivering a presentation on the recently completed Land Transport Master Plan. It was attended by some eighty individuals with interests.

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Brunei Launches Mosques Cleaning Campaign

26 October 2014 BruDirect.com BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Cleanliness is demanded by Islam and all Muslims should observe personal hygiene and cleanliness of the environment, more so of our places of worship such as Mosques and religious halls. The Mosque is a place for performing prayers in submission to Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala, and a Centre of Activities for the Muslim community.

In conjunction with the New Year 1436 Hijrah, the Mosque Affairs Department, Ministry of Religious Affairs, has held Cleaning Campaigns at Mosques, Suraus and Religious Halls throughout the country.

The Cleaning Campaign at the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Silver Jubilee Mosque in Kampong Jangsak, was officiated by the Minister of Religious Affairs, Yang Berhormat Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr. Haji Mohammad bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahman.

The ceremony also included a talk on The Importance of Mosque Cleanliness,” delivered by a Religious Officer from the Syariah Faculty of KUPUSB, Dr. Haji Noralizam bin Haji Aliakbar. Earlier, the mass Fardhu Subuh prayer and a Pre-dawn Lecture on The Advantage of Preserving Cleanliness,” were held at the mosque.

The Cleaning Campaign was also held at the Mohamed Bolkiah Mosque in Kampung Serusop. The campaign was launched by the Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs, Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Bahrom bin Pengiran Haji Bahar. The ceremony was also highlighted with Tazkirah or religious talk after the mass Fardhu Subuh Prayer, followed by Kuliah Subuh (Pre-dawn Lecture).

In the Belait District, the focus of the cleaning campaign was at the Zainab Mosque in Lumut, Kuala Belait. The campaign there was launched by the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Dato Seri Setia Awg Haji Abdul Aziz bin Orang Kaya Maharaja Lela Haji Mohamad Yussof.

Among those present were a member of the Legislative Council, Yang Berhormat Haji Mohamad Shafiee bin Ahmad who is also the Ketua of Kampong Lumut Satu, and the Belait District Officer, Awg Haji Haris bin Osman.

According to the Belait District Mosque Officer, Haji Haslan bin Haji Hishamudin, the cleaning campaign held in conjunction with the Hijrah New Year celebration, formed the start of a self-transformation which he hoped would be beneficial to the community, as observing cleanliness is demanded in Islam.

Meanwhile, in the Tutong District, the main focal point of the cleaning campaign was the compound of the Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque in Tutong Town. The campaign was launched by the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Awg Haji Mohamad Abdoh bin Dato Seri Setia Haji Abdul Salam.

Before the campaign began, the congregants performed the mass Fardhu Subuh Prayer, which was followed by the Kuliah Subuh. The programme also included a religious discussion on “The Importance of Keeping Mosques Clean”. Also held at the function was a collection of donations for the Tutong District Orphans Fund and the Tutong District Mosque Takmir Activity Fund.

Among those present were a Legislative Council Member, Yang Berhormat Haji Ramli Bin Haji Lahid and the Tutong District Officer, Awg Wardi bin Haji Mohammad Ali.

The Cleaning Campaign was also held at the Utama Mohamad Salleh Mosque in Bangar Town, Temburong. The campaign was launched by the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Awg Haji Harun bin Haji Junid.

The aim of the campaign was to instil the spirit of voluntary work and cooperation among mosque officials, members of Mosque Administrative Committee, Mosque Congregants and local residents in together preserving the cleanliness and sanctity of the holy place of worship.

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Bangladesh Minister: “Martial arts can help girl children combat harassment”

DHAKA, Oct 25, 2014 (BSS) – Information Minister Hasanul Huq Inu said children need to be trained in the martial arts to combat harassment.

“A battle is on to protect the girl child. One needs to build up resistance for that. Girl children need to be trained in self-defense along with their academic pursuits,” he told a roundtable meeting organized by the Bengali Daily Jugantor and Nari Udyog Kendro, a NGO.

Others who spoke at the meeting included the acting editor of Daily Jugantor Saiful Islam, Nari Udyog Kendro’s executive director Mashuda Khatun Shefali and Jugantor deputy editor Rafiqul Islam Ratan.

Inu said that the government should make karate, kung-fu mandatory in schools, because the knowledge of such arts makes one self-assured and confident.

The Minster said girls receiving such training would be able to fight back eve teasers instead of fleeing from them. He also appealed to law enforcers and civil society to come forward to combat the menace.

Girls from Kishoreganj where Nari Udyog Kendro has a program described their personal experiences in combating sexual harassment.

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Bangladeshi frequent flyers vote for the best and brightest

DHAKA, Oct 20, 2014 (BSS) – Singapore Airlines has been voted the best airline, Emirates the best cargo airline, Novo Air the best domestic airline and Kuala Lumpur the most popular destination for 2014 by the frequent fliers of Bangladesh.

The frequent flier opinion poll was conducted by travel trade publication the Bangladesh Monitor. The representatives of the airlines received the “Monitor Airline of the Year 2014 awards” at a gala ceremony last night at a city hotel.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon spoke as the chief guest and Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary Khorshed Alam Chowdhury as special guest while Bangladesh Monitor Editor Kazi Wahidul Alam conducted the ceremony.

The minister said growth of the country’s aviation sector has been increasing year by year that proves Bangladesh has all potentials to become a regional aviation hub.

He said the government is relentlessly working to turn the national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines into modern and profitable airlines.

Menon said the government has procured numbers of new aircraft and will procure more in the next few years. “We will resume domestic operation of Biman Bangladesh Airline soon,” he said.

Noting that initiative has been taken to improve the ground handling of the country’s airports, the minister said ground handling will be extensively improved by next year.

As per the frequent fliers poll, Singapore Airlines also won Best Business Class, Best Long-Haul Airline and Best Frequent Flyer programme awards.

Emirates Airline won the awards for best economy class and best in-flight entertainment programme.

Best short-haul airline award went to Bangkok Airways while the best budget carrier award to Malindo Air.

Thai Airways was awarded for best in-flight meal in economy class, while Turkish Airlines for the best in-flight meal in business class. Best air express company award went to DHL Express.

Special jury board’s award went to Biman Bangladesh Airlines for commendable hajj operation in 2014.

A total of almost 2,147 frequent fliers expressed their views on their favourite airlines while an independent jury board composed of professionals from different sections of the corporate world, media, travel and hospitality trade reviewed the data collected and their passed their judgments.

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Bangladesh to modernize more airports in phases

PABNA, Oct 21, 2014 (BSS) – Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon today said the government has already turned Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet Airports into international standard, saying they have a plan to modernize more airports in phases.

About Ishwardi airport, the minister said that this airport has not been closed rather flight movement has been temporarily suspended due to problem of Biman flights.

The minister was speaking as the chief guest at a two-day Lalon Festival at Muktijoddha Rafiqul Islam Bokul poura auditorium here.

Menon said that the government will give cooperation to observe such festivals in different places across the country.

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President to join 10th World Islamic Economic Forum in Dubai

DHAKA, Oct 24, 2014 (BSS) – President Md Abdul Hamid leaves Dhaka for Dubai on October 27 on a three-day official visit to attend the 10th World Islamic Economic Forum. The President will visit Dubai at the invitation of Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali.

Briefing newsmen at his ministry today, he said the Bangladesh President will address the forum scheduled to be held in Dubai on October 28-30 as a key-note speaker.

The president’s joining the forum is a significant event that would brighten Bangladesh’s image in the Islamic world, the minister said.

“President by joining the forum would have the opportunity to exchange views and hold discussions with the leaders of UAE and others member states,” he added.

Heads of state and government of a number of countries including the Malaysian Prime Minister will join the forum, the foreign minister said.

The President is expected to return home on October 29 after concluding his three-day official visit to UAE. Foreign minister and high officials of Bangabhaban and the foreign ministry will accompany the President during his visit.

The President also joined the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum held in London in October 2013.

Foreign Secretary Md. Shahidul Haque and Secretary (bilateral) Mustafa Kamal, among others, were present at the briefing.

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N. Sumatra’s fruit exports rise 68 percent to us$149 million

Sabtu, 25 Oktober 2014 Medan, N Sumatra (ANTARA News) – One of provinces in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, North Sumatra, recorded a 68.75 percent surge in its fruit exports in the first seven months of the year to US$149.57 million, fueled by rising demand and prices.

“Fruit exports were valued at US$88.639 million in the same period last year,” chief of the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) in North Sumatra, Wien Kusdiatmono, said here on Saturday.

Malaysia, the Netherlands and Japan were the primary markets for the fruit exports. Besides crude palm oil and rubber, fruits are one of the provinces 10 key commodities. Furthermore, fruit exports in the January-July period constituted 2.72 percent of the provinces foreign exchange coffers, which reached US$5.494 billion.

According to the Chief of the North Sumatra chapter of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), Ivan Iskandar Batubara, banana and mangesteen from the province had high demand in the foreign markets.

In the 1990s, mangesteen became one of the provinces key export commodities due to high demand in Japan and Europe, he noted. Since then, the export of mangesteen continued to fall as farmers were unable to meet the high demand for the tropical fruit, he explained.

“The government and businessmen need to play a bigger role to support fruit and vegetable producers, who have great potential to sell their products in the international market,” the Kadin official said.

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Sail Tomini to promote tourism in C. Sulawesi

Kamis, 23 Oktober 2014 Palu (ANTARA News) – International maritime event Sail Tomini 2015 is expected to help promote tourist destinations in Central Sulawesi Province, in particular around Tomini Bay. “Therefore, Sail Tomini should be designed differently from previous sail events,” Suaib Djafar, a tourism industry observer, a doctorate graduate of the University of Padjajaran, said here.

The implementation of Sail Tomini should cover three aspects, Culture, Adventure, and Nature or CAN, he added. Parigi Moutong District, the location of Sail Tomini peak event, is a heterogeneous region where local tribes such as Tomini, Tinombo and Moutong, live side-by-side with migrants such as Balinese, he said.

During the event, Balinese culture and arts should be promoted as well, so audience could see that Central Sulawesi is like a miniature Indonesia, he added.

Besides, cultural aspect is crucial to respond to the vision of “Great Indonesia” and to “mental revolution” in particular.

Parigi Moutong also offers beautiful scenery of its nature, agro-tourism, authentic culinary, and cliff climbing. “Parigi Moutong has one of the best cliffs that I have ever known. We should promote it internationally,” he said. Durian fruit agro-tourism should also be introduced to participants of Sail Tomini, he said.

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Thousands hold dzikr rituals to welcome Islamic New Year in Indonesia

Sabtu, 25 Oktober 2014 Medan (ANTARA News) – Thousands of residents of the provincial capital of Medan City, North Sumatra, flocked to Merdeka Square for prayers to welcome the Muharram 1, Islamic New Year 1436 Hegira.

During the commemoration, the government of Medan organized a joint grand prayer and dzikr rituals that were attended by thousands of Muslims from different sub-districts of the province.

The congregations from the sub-districts were directly led by the Mayor of Medan City, Dzulmi Eldin, and preachers Tuah Sirait and Ahmad Wijayanto. In his sermons, preacher Sirait appealed to the Muslims to submit to God.

“Lets observe a moment (of silence) and ask God to pardon our sins and the mistakes we have made. May God pardon our sins,” he said. He also asked the people to always seek pardon and enlightenment from God so that they are blessed with good luck.

“We have to constantly move our tongues while reading dzikr and asking for forgiveness. Lets leave behind our worldly lives for a moment and seek Gods blessings,” the religious propagator said.

Earlier, Mayor Eldin noted that besides enlivening the Islamic New Year celebrations, the mass prayers were also held to seek Gods blessing for Medan City so that God always protects it and ensures comfortable lives for its residents.

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Gambia: Gov’t Hailed for Efforts Towards Creating ‘Tourist Haven’

The Daily Observer (Banjul) – 21 October 2014 – The Tourism and Culture minister has hailed the government of The Gambia for its efforts in transforming the country into a ‘tourist haven’. He hence hastened to challenge investors to tap the available opportunities and invest in the country’s tourism sector.

Benjamin A Roberts made the statement Thursday at the official opening of the maiden edition of the International Tourism Investment Forum 2014 that took place in Kololi.

The minister underscored that the investment forum is one of the strategies adopted by the Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) in partnership with the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) to achieve the requisite industrial growth envisaged under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and in line with the aspirations of Vision 2020.

To transform the Gambia into the envisaged “tourism haven”, he said, it requires concerted efforts from both within and outside the country, adding that it is their ardent belief that investors have a critical role to play to realise the country’s investment aspirations in tourism.

Roberts used the opportunity to reflect on a previous two-day In-Country International Tourism Stakeholders’ Forum that brought together six PRs and marketing firms representing the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and its satellite institutions in key European and West African markets where Destination Gambia is marketed aggressively.

The forum, he noted, also witnessed the participation of some of the players in the industry; such as international tour operators, the in-country ground tour operators, tourism associations, hoteliers and general managers of hotels amongst other.

The idea of that forum, he indicated, was to bring under one roof all the key stakeholders of the Destination with the aim of conceptualising a unified strategy to achieve the objectives enshrined in the Vision 2020 blueprint.

“These objectives are to increase tourism arrival numbers to 500,000 from the current 170,000 mark and to increase the tourism’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the current 16% level to 25% by the year 2020,” he disclosed.

The minister however stressed that the tourism product suite must be enhanced to consolidate gains and to meet the targets.

He said: “It is a clear testimony that as a tourism destination, it recognised the need to enhance our product suite in efforts to give tourists the ultimate holiday experience; be it nature, culture, culinary, gastronomy, leisure or expedition”.

Roberts opined that in spite of the significant achievements registered in the tourism industry, there is the need to not only enhance the existing products, but also introduce ones; a drive he said, Tourism Investment Forum sought to explore.

Amidst the toughening global competition, he enjoined the investors and stakeholders at the forum to seriously enhance and further develop the tourism product suite.

The minister noted that the government of The Gambia has undertaken adequate measures to create the conducive economic and business environment to create profitable, viable and sustainable business in the country. He further noted that the recent achievement intended to ease the cost of doing business in The Gambia – the creation of the Single Business Registration Window – has made it possible for all business establishment processes to be realised under a one-stop shop.

He concluded by asserting that beyond these achievements, GIEPA has also undertaken to streamline all central government and local municipal taxes to avoid any incidence of double taxation.

The minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, Abdou Jobe, lauded the significant achievements registered in the tourism sector in the recent past. He cited the sprouting of hotels and tourist resorts with global aim of creating value for money, as testimonies of the growth of the sector.

As the Ministry responsible for investment promotion and facilitation, Minister Jobe assured that it will continue to pursue strong partnerships with other ministries and agencies to advance the development of the tourism value chain at all levels.

“As we seek to deepen and widen the collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, GIEPA and GTBoard will continue to work together in identifying global marketing investment opportunities in Destination Gambia tourism industry in the pursuit of the national priorities,” he assured.

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Gambia: Over Nine Million Ultramodern Tourism House Foundation Stone Laid

The Daily Observer (Banjul) – 20 October 2014 – Activities marking the 20th anniversary of the July 22nd Revolution have been so far marked by the inauguration of multi-million Dollar and Dalasi projects, and on Thursday, it was the laying of the foundation stone of another significant project.

Thursday’s event was the official ground breaking ceremony of an ultramodern complex in the Tourism Development Area, financed at the tune of US$225,000 (equivalent to D9,056, 250). Designed to accommodate offices of The Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the facility is expected to be completed in a period of 24 months.

It was presided over by the Foreign Affairs minister, Bala Garba Jahumpa, on behalf of President Jammeh Babili Mansa.

In his inaugural address, Jahumpa, widely known as ‘Action Man’, expressed his utmost joy to lay the foundation stone for the construction of a building that he said will house the affairs of the most indispensable and viable sector of Gambia’s economy.

Further speaking about the laying of the foundation stone, the Minister said is not an accident that it coincided with the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the July 22nd Revolution. He said the advent of the Revolution has seen the country’s tourism industry progress and developed greatly, making the sector to constitute between 16 and 20% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He described the tourism industry as a great avenue for the employment of Gambians and non-Gambians, saying statistics have revealed that since the advent of the July 22nd Revolution, over 100, 000 Gambians and non-Gambians have been employed directly and indirectly in the industry.

The minister said it is a wise decision for the Ministry of Tourism and GTBoard to build their head offices in Kololi, given that it is the natural habitat of the Ministry and its satellite institutions. He called on every Gambia to thank and express appreciation to President Jammeh for the many foundation stones that have and continue to be laid, coupled with inaugurations.

Speaking earlier, the Tourism and Culture minister, Benjamin A. Roberts, thanked the president of The Gambia for the confidence he has reposed on him to man the affairs of the sector.

Minister Roberts, a former director general of GTBoard, reflected on his earlier days at the GTBoard when the idea for building a head office was conceived.

The minister assured that the project will make a massive difference in the economy, not to mention the employment it will create in the process.

He expressed his appreciation to each and everyone, especially the senior management of the GTBoard and his predecessor, Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, now Gambia’s ambassador to Malaysia; the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Modou C. Joof, for their support to this project. He thanked the tourism stakeholders in general for their support.

The chairman, board of directors of the GTBoard, Bakary K. Jammeh, delivered a comprehensive statement about the gains of the tourism industry under the Jammeh administration and its prospect for the future economic development of The Gambia.

Jammeh said these “world class” hotels, award-winning eco-tourism lodges, top-end and exquisite hospitality facilities that have mushroomed across the Tourism Development Area, have not only added value to tourism product, but also led to the creation of thousands of jobs for Gambians as well as providing the much needed foreign exchange for the government and people of The Gambia.

He said the complex will be a multi-purpose commercial building that will also accommodate 19 commercial shops.

The National Assembly member for Serrekunda West constituency delivered the vote of thanks, whilst PS Momodou C. Joof chaired the ceremony.

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International Tourism Investment Forum held in Gambia

The Point (Banjul) – 20 October 2014 – The International Tourism Investment Forum which brought together local and international stakeholders in the country’s tourism industry opened yesterday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel. The aim of the forum is to showcase investment opportunities in the tourism sector of The Gambia, and it would run from 16 to 18 October 2014.

The three-day forum was organised by the Gambia Tourism Board, GT Board, in collaboration with the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion, GIEPA.

In his opening statement, Benjamin Roberts, Minister of Tourism and Culture, said the forum coincided with the end of a two-day International Tourism Stakeholders Forum to which they invited six of their public relations and marketing firms representing them in key European and West African markets where they aggressively market Destination Gambia.

The forum also witnessed the participation of some of their international tour operators, the in-country ground tour operators, tourism associations, hoteliers and general managers of hotels, among others.

The forum was designed to bring under one roof all the key stakeholders in Destination Gambia, with the objective of conceptualizing a unified strategy to achieve two objectives.

That is, to increase our tourism arrival numbers to 500,000 from the current 170,000 mark; increase the contribution of Tourism to Gross Domestic GDP from the current 16 percent level to 25 percent by the year 2020.

The Tourism and Culture Minister further said it was no coincidence, therefore, that immediately after the end of the two-day international stakeholders’ forum, they are holding yet another maiden international tourism forum, but this time with exclusively focus on investment in tourism.

“This is a clear testimony that we as a tourism destination, recognize the need to enhance our product suite in an effort to give tourists the ultimate holiday experience – be it nature, culture, culinary, gastronomy, leisure, or expedition,” Tourism Minister Roberts added.

According to Minister Roberts, over the years, significant achievements have been registered in the tourism industry.

Notwithstanding, they are very much aware of the need to further enhance and introduce new tourism products, and this investment forum seeks to help them achieve those aspirations.

Abdou Jobe, Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, said significant achievements have been registered in tourism in The Gambia in the recent past, and notable among them is the sprout of hotels and tourist resorts with the global aim of creating value for money.

The Ministry of Trade shall continue to pursue strong partnerships with other ministries and agencies to advance the development of the tourism value chain at all levels, Jobe declared.

“As we seek to deepen and widen our collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency and the Gambia Tourism Board, we will continue to work together in identifying and globally marketing investment opportunities in the Gambia tourism industry in the pursuit of our national priorities,” Trade Minister Jobe continued.

As the country marches ahead with the transformation of the tourism industry, in general, and, in particular, the tourism product, the Trade ministry would continue to focus on existing efforts and strategies that could expedite the realization of national ideals in the tourism industry, he said.

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Nigeria: FCT Sets for 2014 Abuja Carnival Says Director FCT Tourism Department

Leadership (Abuja) – 21 October 2014 – Mrs Irene Elegbede, the Director of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Tourism Department, says the nation’s capital is set to host the 2014 Abuja Carnival. Elegbede made this know in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.

She said that the theme for the 2014 Abuja Carnival is “Building an enduring creative nation”.

The director said that the event would showcase a lot of side attractions which would include, street music rally, durbar, cultural parade, children fiesta and many more.

“There will be many activities to showcase the various cultures of the country. It will also include street music, rally, craft exposition, Nigerian cuisines, durbar, cultural parades and dances, children fiesta, command performances and many more. “Children across the country will also participate just like previous editions. The carnival will hold between the 24 and 27 of Nov. 2014,” she said.

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Uganda: Tourism Enables Nwoya to Build Sh136 Million Hostel

The Observer (Kampala) – 22 October 2014 – Residents of Koch Goma sub-county in Nwoya district have something to smile about from neighbouring Murchison Falls national park.

The completion of a hostel valued at Shs 136m at Koch Goma Secondary School could change the fortune of the entire area. The funds used for the hostel construction are part of Shs 448m revenue sharing funds received by the district, which neighbours Uganda’s largest park, for the financial year 2013/14.

Commissioning the hostel recently, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Board of Trustees Chairman Benjamin Otto said he was happy that the money had been put to good use and that the facility would go a long way to improve learning conditions for the students around the area. Otto reiterated UWA’s commitment to disburse the 20 per cent of entry fees into a national park to the neighbouring communities.

“(UWA) is committed to implementing strategies that will improve the relationship between the communities neighbouring the protected areas and the national parks, management, since we are entrusted with the obligation of preserving our natural heritage,” Otto said.

“It gives me pleasure to learn that you have shown a leading example by putting these funds to good use in order to improve the livelihoods of your community.”

The Wildlife Act of 1996 requires UWA to pay 20 per cent of park entrances to the local governments of communities living adjacent to protected areas as a way of dealing with the challenges they face. Many communities neighbouring national parks do not have basic services such as clean water and standard toilets.

According to Otto, in the year 2013/14, UWA disbursed Shs 448m to Nwoya district, up from Shs 81m in 2010 and Shs 107m in 2009. Earlier in 2008, Shs 100m was disbursed for the construction of Koch Goma elephant trench to stop elephants from raiding community plantations, while in 2007, the district received Shs 74m.

Accounting to the community, the district chairperson, Patrick Okello Oryema, said the balance of Shs 312m for the year 2013/14 was used for similar projects in Purongo and Amuru sub-counties, including a classroom block, cultural centre and support to a vocational skills centre in Koch Goma. Oryema noted that the communities appreciated tangible projects such as schools instead of livestock schemes, which were usually mismanaged.

Tom Okello, the Murchison Falls conservation area manager, appreciated the support extended by the Nwoya community in preserving the integrity of the park and advised the students against getting involved in illegal activities such as hunting for game meat.

Otto said: “… it is also our deliberate policy to ensure that communities neighbouring protected areas, like you, get the first priority in employment by the authority as wardens, rangers and other support staff, and (through) other forms of indirect benefits like the sale of products to the hotels, crafts and other items to the visitors.”

Otto said UWA would continue to put in place a number of interventions to minimise the conflicts between humans and the wildlife. He said they would do this through digging of elephant trenches along the boundary with the park to stop elephant raids on the plantations, training wildlife scouts to monitor, manage and drive back stray animals to the protected areas and use red chilli cakes, burnt oil and repellent strings to repulse elephants.

“We are also strengthening community-based wildlife conflict mitigation methods by use of community scouts who are trained and equipped to handle problem animals, and deployment of more rangers at the protected area community interface,” Otto said.

He also appealed to the Nwoya leadership and the community to resolve the boundary conflicts at an area called Agung to enable UWA plan for a trench along this line.

“Some farmers have been contesting the boundary line in that area and yet the boundary has not been changed since 1952,” he said.

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Gambia: Travel and Lifestyle Industry Role in Tourism Development Highlighted

The Point (Banjul) – 23 October 2014 – Daphne Groeneveld, a social media consultant responsible for the roll out and management of Dutch Gambia Facebook and contact with the travel bloggers, has said the travel and lifestyle industry play an important role in tourism development.

Ms Groeneveld was speaking recently at a two-day in-country tourism forum held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.

She said they are Boutiquepr agency established in 2000 and working exclusively for the travel and lifestyle industry, adding that Baltus Communication is a full-service public relations company working exclusively for the travel and tourism industries.

“We are located in Den Haag, the governmental capital of Holland, 50 km south of Amsterdam in the Netherlands,” she said.

They offer a wide range of services to their clients, whether it’s public relations, consumer promotions, marketing activities, branded content, representation or events, she added.

With 15 years experience in travel, public relations and communications, they are well-positioned to promote and market holiday destinations and products.

According to her, Baltus Communications is a member of Travel Lifestyle Network, an international network of independent PR agencies specializing in travel and tourism.

“We investigated the Dutch travellers to The Gambia and learned that each year about 20,000 Dutch travel to The Gambia with the main reason being winter sun,” she stated.

In general, older travellers above 40 or older visit; not many young couples come to The Gambia, she added.

Sunshine, beach life and relaxed atmosphere for a good price level are the main interest for the success for their holiday, she noted.There are exceptionally high number of repeaters, many involved in voluntary work, community work, and they did not come across any other destination where there is so much commitment for supporting local people.

The Gambia participated at the Dutch ‘Vakantiebeurs’ Dutch WTM / ITB in January 2014, she said. During one week, Dutch holidaymakers visited the fair to get inspiration and information for their upcoming holiday, she said, adding that this year the fair was visited by 117,000 people.

To create an extra buzz and lively stand, they arranged an African hairdresser to make braids and they communicated this via social media and the recently created Facebook for Gambia.

The Gambia Tourism Board was partner at The Hague African Festival 31 May and 1 June 2014. The African Festival is a yearly event in the centre of The Hague with the aim to create more interest in African culture, music, dance and food. It is visited by around 10,000 people with interest in Africa.

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Nigerian Airports Handled 57.55 Million Passengers in Four Years

Daily Independent (Lagos) – 24 October 2014 – A total of 57,550,193 passengers used 22 Nigerian airports between 2010 and 2013; statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics have shown.

The report titled Summary Report of Passenger Traffic: 2010-13 and Q1, 2014 which was released by NBS in Abuja on Thursday showed that the number of passengers handled by the airports attained its peak in 2011 with a total of 14,899,958 passengers.

In 2010, a total of 13,891,677 passengers passed through Nigerian airports, increasing by 908,281 passengers or 6.5 per cent in 2011 to reach 14,899,958 passengers.

There was a drop in 2012 of 5.19 per cent or 773,168 passengers to give a total of 14,116,790 passengers, a figure which was to grow by 524,978 passengers or 3.72 per cent in 2013, reaching 14,641,768 passengers.

In 2010, domestic passenger travel stood at 10,753,725 passengers, increasing by 549,491 passengers or 5.11 per cent in 2011, yet decreasing by 1,627,356 passengers or 14.4 per cent in 2012 to reach a total of 9,675,860 passengers.

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Algeria, Cyprus Examine Tourism Cooperation Opportunities

Algerie Presse Service (Algiers) – 23 October 2014 – Algiers — Cooperation opportunities in tourism have been the main focus of the discussions between Minister of Tourism and Craft Industry Nouria Yamina Zerhouni and Cyprian Minister of Foreign Affairs Loannis Kasoulides.

“We have examined the possibility to establish, in the near future, cooperation in the field of tourism, given the long experience of the Republic of Cyprus in the field,” Zerhouni told the press Thursday at the end of the discussion.

Algeria is more interested in training and expertise, said the minister, adding that she expressed to her guest Algeria’s needs for the development of the sector in the country.

“We will examine the proposals that have been presented to us and then we will decide the framework of cooperation and exchanges between the two parties,” explained Zerhouni. “With the aim to strengthen relations between our two countries, we have proposed our experience, our expertise and our advice in the field of tourism,” said the Cyprian minister.

He also underlined the importance of the sector in his country, as well as the tourism potentials of Algeria and Cyprus. Earlier this morning, Kasoulides held discussions with Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra and Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi.

The Cyprian foreign minister, who arrived Wednesday in Algiers for a three-day visit, will also be received by Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal.

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Tourism Targets 25 Percent Contribution to Gambia’s GDP By 2020

The Daily Observer (Banjul) – 20 October 2014 – The chairman of the governing council, Gambia Tourism Board has disclosed that the tourism sector’s primary goal is to see a more robust and dynamic industry that has the capability of contributing up to 25% to the Gambia’s Gross Domestic Product by 2020.

Bakary K. Jammeh made this disclosure on Thursday at the laying of the foundation stone of a modern edifice in Kololi which when completed will be the permanent home of the GTBoard and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. According to Baks, when completed, this edifice will help provide a conducive environment for the tourism sector to thrive as well as create the enabling environment for its personnel. He said this would not only help to save a lot of money that would have been spent on rent, but will most importantly, enable all facets of the tourism trade receive the required attention for the realization of Vision 2020.

Speaking further, Jammeh described the laying of the foundation stone as a historic event which marks yet another important moment in the history of The Gambia’s tourism sector for many reasons, citing the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the July 22nd Revolution, which continues to transform the country and lives of its citizenry. It is also the formal beginning for the Gambia Tourism Board to have its own head office for the first time, he said.

The project, which will take 24 months to complete is being implemented through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework, -an initiative the government of The Gambia promotes in delivering its development agenda.When completed the srructure will have 19 commercial shops comprising five fast food stands; one Large decorated passage with gardens and water fountains; five indoor car parking places; a paved parking area in front of the premises; additional parking in front of the football field; an amusement center with bowling alleys, a laser tag area; cinema halls with large LED advertising screens; the GTBoard head offices with a total floor area of 776 square meters and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture’s offices .

Baks who extoled President Jammeh for his good leadership, vision and boldness in bringing development to every sector in the country particularly the tourism sector, added: “Perhaps I will be right if I say that it is the tourism sector that is most impacted by the July 22 Revolution as government has always placed high premium on the sector, and this reality has been amply provisioned in our various national blueprints for development such as Vision 2020 and the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE).”

He said under the leadership of Babili Mansa, the sector continues to grow. “World class hotels, award winning eco-tourism lodges, top-end and exquisite hospitality facilities that have mushroomed across the Tourism Development Area have not only added value to our tourism product, but also led to the creation of thousands of jobs for Gambians, as well as provide the much needed foreign exchange for the country. The beach nourishment project, roads in the TDA, electrification, and standard security guard post in TDA are amongst the numerous developments that make the ‘smiling coast’ a destination of choice for thousands of visitors every year.”

GTBoard chairman added that the construction of the Kombo Coastal Road and the ultra-modern Banjul International Airport have raised the profile of destination Gambia, and ensured that tourism is anchored on a firm pedestal for further growth and investment opportunities. He noted that as a direct result of these developments, the benefits of tourism have trickled down as new eco-lodges such as Makasutu and Sandele emerged to meet the needs of the dynamic tourism sector and avaviled local population opportunities to benefit from tourism in the country.

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Tourism Firm Taps Into Kampala Nightlife

The Observer (Kampala) – 19 October 2014 – As part of the innovations to market the country’s tourism potential, Kampala city nightlife has become one of the items on the tourists’ menu.

Africa Uzuri Safaris, a tour and travel company, recently launched the product, dubbed ‘Experience Kampala by Night,’ in Mbale during the World Tourism day celebrations. According to Africa Uzuri Safaris officials, ‘Experience Kampala by Night’ is aimed at travellers who come to the country for tourism (safaris), conferences or business visits and happen to spend a night in the city.

Edris Kisambira, the operations manager of Africa Uzuri Safaris, says the product is a new dimension to Kampala’s urban tourism offering.

“It’s about taking visitors out on a well-structured programme of the night in Kampala, a city that has emerged as East Africa’s entertainment capital,” Kisambira explains.

The charges range from $40 to $60 per person depending on the number of people in a group. The trail will involve visits to Kampala’s major entertainment spots.

The city’s rich night attractions include nightclub experience on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and Ndere Troupe’s high-energy music and dance show on Sundays. The offer has also taken on board the famous bar-hopping culture that is famous with the locals and foreign guests.

Speaking during the product launch at Mbale stadium, Stephen Asiimwe, the chief executive officer of Uganda Tourism Board, commended Africa Uzuri for coming up with this unique product. Asiimwe noted that the new product would add to the growing tourism innovations on offer in the country while catering for those who want to savour the city’s rich nightlife.

Asiimwe said Kampala’s entertainment scene is rich and is complimented by the fact that the city is safe and people can enjoy their night out without having to worry about security.

During the day, Africa Uzuri Safaris organises a trip around Kampala for one to see cultural, religious and other sites, a foray to Jinja, 80 kilometres east of Kampala, or a trip to Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC), Entebbe.

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Second International Ashiq Festival due in Baku

24 October 2014 – TODAY.AZ – The second International Ashiq Festival will be held in Azerbaijan on November 10-18. To be co-organized by Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Culture and Tourism Ministry Ashiqs Association, the festival is aimed to promote the art of Azerbaijani Ashiq in the world, to increase the role of Ashiq in the development of the national culture and to bring together performers of Ashiq music throughout the world.

Some outstanding performers from Turkey, Iran, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Russia as well as all regions of Azerbaijan will give splendid concerts. The festival will be held in Azerbaijan State Musical Theatre on November 12. During the period of November 13-17 Azerbaijani regions including Yevlakh, Gadabay, Shamkir, Qazakh, Tovuz and Ujar will host the grandiose event.

The first International Ashiq Festival was held in Azerbaijan in 2010 attracting lots of attentions. The art of Azerbaijani Ashiqs was included in the UNESCO`s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009, as a symbol of national cultural identity that embodies various artistic spheres practiced by poets, composers, singers or actor-narrators, thus uniting in one artistic expression the communities of the entire country.

The art of Azerbaijani Ashiqs combines poetry, storytelling, dance and vocal and instrumental music into a traditional performance art that is a symbol of Azerbaijani culture. Characterized by the accompaniment of the saz, a stringed musical instrument, the classical repertoire includes 200 songs, 150 literary-musical compositions known as dastans, nearly 2,000 poems in different traditional poetic forms and numerous stories.

The regional variations may include other musical instruments, but all are united by a common national language and artistic history. Ashiqs take part in weddings, friendly parties and festive events throughout the Caucasus and appear on concert stages, radio and television, sometimes synthesizing classical melodies with contemporary ones as they continue to recreate their repertoire.

Their art is considered a symbol of national identity and the guardian of Azerbaijani language, literature and music. Ashiqs also help to promote cultural exchange and dialogue.

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Indonesia hosts Iranian cultural programs in Jakarta

Tue Oct 21, 2014 – PressTV – A festival of Iranian culture and arts has been launched in the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta with presenting various programs. The festival was planned in a bid to introduce Iran’s cultural and artistic capacity to the Indonesian visitors.

Organized by Iranian cultural office in Jakarta, the festival hosted a number of Indonesian tourist officials, Jakarta’s handicrafts masters, and several ambassadors of Islamic countries in Indonesia. The festival includes various programs such as exhibitions of traditional costumes and art pieces, calligraphy, and Persian paintings.

The two-day event also displayed Iranian New Year, Nowruz, celebration and its customs. Indonesia and Iran have expanded their cultural exchanges during recent years.

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A collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts recovered from London

Monday 20 Oct 2014 – Al Ahram – After a year of legal and diplomatic negotiations, Egypt is to receive Tuesday a collection of 15 ancient Egyptian objects from London.

Ali Ahmed, head of the Antiquities Recuperation Section of the antiquities ministry said that these objects were monitored last year by the section as they were on the selling lists of Christie’s and Bonham’s auction halls in London.

After examining the photos of these objects and comparing them with the ministry’s registry, archaeologists of the Recuperation Section approved their authenticity. All legal procedures were then taken immediately to stop their sale and remove them from auction halls.

Ahmed told Ahram Online that the objects include a red granite engraving depicting a captive that was a part of king Amenhotep III’s statue found at his funerary temple at Kom Al-Hittan on Luxor’s west bank as well as a collection of limestone women busts from the New and Middle Kingdoms. A New Kingdom painted limestone of a cobra head is also among the recovered items as well as six amulets depicting different ancient Egyptian deities.

Two painted cartonnages, which were stolen from the storage of the French archaeological mission of the Louvre at Saqqara during the lack of security that overwhelmed the country in the aftermath of the January 2011 Revolution are also among the recovered objects. A human-shaped piece of glaze dated to the Greco-Roman era stolen from the archaeological galleries at Al-Qantara East area was also recovered.

Upon its receipt, the items will be sent to the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir where they will be subject to restoration before being shown in a temporary exhibition at the museum.

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Swedish fashion workshop held for Egyptian designers

Wednesday 22 Oct 2014 – Al-Ahram – On the 19th of October, two Swedish fashion experts began a workshop to promote the Swedish experience in innovative fashion techniques, combine modern fashion with multicultural influences and empower the local community, especially females.

Over fifteen fashion students will participate in the seven-day workshop which begins at the privately owned Modern Science and Arts University (MSA).

The first of the instructors is Swedish fashion designer Hans Jansson, who created in 2005, a ready-to-wear-clothing line for women by utilising the craftsmanship of different locals and fabrics of the many countries he visited.

Johansson describes his designs as a marriage between different traditions and cultures while maintaining the sensibility of rare skills and quality work from across the globe.

The collection of Hans Johansson with its multicultural influences, traditional embroideries, and rare materials is exhibited in exclusive art galleries and select stores in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

The second instructor is the associate professor and director of the centre for fashion studies at Stockholm University, Louise Wallenberg. Wallenberg’s recent research focuses on the relationship between fashion industry and early cinema. It also covers transnational and cultural gender ideals specifically the blurred lines of gender and sexuality in the fashion photography of Helmut Newton.

The workshop aims to prepare young aspiring fashion designers to be fully engaged in the fashion business as well as provide them with the ability to plan and market their designs as a step into further engaging the international market.

The workshop, which was organised by the Swedish embassy in Cairo in cooperation with the Fashion Department at the MSA University was launched by Swedish ambassador Charlotta Sparre, who gave workshop attendees a presentation on Sweden as a destination for study and the Swedish higher education system.

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Now, an app for UAE legislations

Khaleej Times – 26 October, 2014 – The UAE Cabinet on Saturday launched the ‘UAE Legislations’ smartphone app featuring 270 of the federal legislations under 21 main entries (topics) including the full text of the Constitution of the UAE; personal status law; and the penal, civil, commercial, financial, investment, human resources, education and research, social security and pensions legislations and their amendments.

The new app was developed by the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs in line with the government’s efforts to embrace the shift to smart services targeting all segments of the public, and to provide smooth access to the country’s legislations.

The free and user-friendly app enables users from government entities, private organisations, lawyers, legal experts, scholars, members of the media and researchers to easily access and browse the database through an attractive interface.

It also features sections such as ‘Search’, ‘Favourites’, ‘FAQs’, ‘Help’ and ‘Contact Us’, and alerts the user to any amendments to the contents of favourited items.

Users can copy and print the legislations and share them through e-mails or SMS messages. The app is available for download on iOS and Android platforms.

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Ankara hosts Iran-Turkey investment opportunities confab

Tehran Times – 25 October, 2014 – The fourth international conference on Iran-Turkey investment opportunities was held in Ankara, the IRNA news agency reported on Friday. Managers of over 50 Iranian privately-owned companies, tens of Turkish companies, and a number of government officials of the two countries participated in the conference.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the conference, Iranian Ambassador to Turkey Alireza Bigdeli said three large trade delegations have visited Istanbul and Izmir cities of Turkey. A 90-strong trade delegation will visit the city of Van, he added.

The value of trade between Iran and Turkey jumped sharply in 2013 compared to the past decade ending 2012. Turkey’s exports to Iran amounted to $ 4 billion in 2013, while the figure totaled $800 million in the ten-year period ending 2012, Murat Akyüz, the chairman of Turkish Exporters Assembly said in May.

He added that Turkey’s imports from Iran soared to $ 10 billion in 2013 from a total of $1.9 billion over the past ten years ending 2012, IRNA reported. Iran is the 10th largest importer of goods from Turkey and the 7th largest exporter of goods to the country, he explained.

Turkey exported mainly jewelry and precious stones, mechanical machinery, as well as plastic and wood products to Iran, Akyüz stated.

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

Iran and Turkey have signed a preferential trade agreement which could pave the way for a hike in the bilateral trade. The agreement was signed during Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Iran in January. At the time, Erdogan said the goal is to boost trade between the two neighbors to $ 30 billion by 2015.

In December 2013, the Ankara ambassador to Tehran said Iran and Turkey have set a long-term target of $ 100 billion for annual trade transactions.

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Iran’s handicraft exports up

Islamic Republic News Agency – 25 October, 2014 – Handicraft exports registered a 41-percent growth during March 21-Sept. 22, against the same period of last year, said a senior official of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO).

Pouya Mahmoudian made the statement in an exclusive interview with ‘Iran Daily’, published Saturday, adding that the value of handicraft exports reached $ 112m in the year ending March 2014.

Given the significant growth of handicraft exports during March-September, she predicted that the figure would increase further by March 2015.

Mahmoudian named Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Turkey, Georgia, Pakistan, Denmark, Turkmenistan, Romania, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Qatar, Ukraine, Russia, Italy, Japan, Tajikistan and Sweden as top markets of Iranian handicrafts.

“Exported handicrafts include qalamkari (hand-painted textiles), woodworks, potteries, ceramics, glassworks, copperware, precious and semi-precious gemstones, miniatures, kilims (flat tapestry carpet) and Zilou (pileless carpet),” she said.

According to the official, handicrafts are divided in two groups, namely ordinary handicrafts and luxury handicrafts.

Mahmoudian noted that the value of luxury handicrafts is very high in auctions and could earn huge forex revenues for the country.

“We intend to launch centers for selling luxury handicrafts across the country. We are also interested in launching luxury handicraft market overseas,” she said.

Mahmoudian said ICHHTO intends to introduce Yazd and Isfahan as candidates for UNESCO Creative City in 2015. “Handicraft items, which carry the brands of creative city, are valued more in global handicraft markets,” she concluded.

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Details of first Bollywood theme park in Dubai revealed

Khaleej Times – 25 October, 2014 – Dubai Parks and Resorts, a Meraas Holding company, announced details of the region’s debut Bollywood Parks Dubai, a first-of-its-kind entertainment destination that will showcase the authentic Indian movie experience in an interactive format.

Located in Jebel Ali, Bollywood Parks Dubai will cover a total of three million sq ft. The destination will host 16 rides and attractions within five movie-themed areas featuring content developed in partnership with Mumbai’s major film studios: Bollywood Film Studios, Mumbai Chowk, Hall Of Heroes, Regal Plaza and Rustic Ravine. Each zone will capture the kaleidoscope of colour, emotion, music and visuals associated with Hindi films.

The experience will kick off at the entrance to the theme park on Bollywood Boulevard where an ongoing site-wide live entertainment fixture combining dance performances, character interactions and street theatre will keep guests energised and engaged. In addition to the themed zones, Bollywood Parks Dubai will offer a variety of retail outlets and themed restaurants integrating vibrant elements that are quintessential Bollywood.

Raed Al Nuaimi, chief executive officer of Dubai Parks and Resorts, said: “The cultural impact and appeal of Bollywood is universal with a global fan base of over three billion people. For the first time ever, a theme park in the region will recreate for residents and tourists the unparalleled glamour and extravagance of Bollywood on one stage. Here guests can live, learn and immerse themselves in the delightful fantasy that they get to experience on the silver screen.”

Red Chillies Entertainments, which is owned by Shah Rukh Khan, said: “The UAE is a cultural potpourri. Not only non-resident Indians but Emiratis, Arabs and people from other Asian countries living here are ardent Bollywood fans. We are sure the theme park with its spectacular rides and attractions will successfully bring the Bollywood experience to life.”

Arbaaz Khan of Arbaaz Khan Production said: “The connection between the UAE and Bollywood is without doubt, very strong. Hindi films are very popular with Arabs and thus this region serves as a vital market for Bollywood.”

Aamir Khan from Aamir Khan Productions said: “I am happy to be associated with Bollywood Parks Dubai, a first-of-its-kind endeavour to recreate the magic of Hindi cinema outside of Mumbai. The UAE has always been a big market for Hindi films and I am sure the theme park will prove an instant hit with visitors.”

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Mall of the World to boost local retail, tourism scene

Khaleej Times – 25 October, 2014 – The highly-ambitious Mall of the World project, which caused a sensation upon its announcement in July this year, will capitalise on the projected increase in visitors to the UAE, with experts noting that the project is “perfectly timed”.

David Macadam, chief executive officer and vice-chairman of the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres, explained that the main factor that should be observed, as part of the drive to expand the retail sector in the region, is the number of visitors coming into the UAE.

“The first thing that I would highlight about Dubai’s Mall of the World is that it is perfectly timed,” Macadam said in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times. “Today we have around 10 million visitors coming into the Dubai airports, and we have about 65 to 70 million people coming through the region as a hub.”

“In the future we see about 20 to 25 million people coming through the airports, and what is facilitating that is Emirates airline increasing their fleet, by taking delivery of 1.5 A380s every month. Visitors come into Dubai and spend 3.7 days in the city on average. Part of their experience is visiting and shopping at the various malls located across the city,” he explained.

“If you have 10 million visitors coming in today, then in six years you will have double that number or more, so we need a venue with at least five to six million sqft to add to our inventory to make it a better tourist destination. So that is why we need this new mall.”

Macadam revealed that several malls such as The Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates are known in the industry to be overtrading, and that on some days it is not as comfortable for visitors to shop there as they normally would. At eight million sqft, the retail space that will be available at Dubai’s Mall of the World is double that of The Dubai Mall.

Asked if there would be enough retailers willing and able to rent a space in the new shopping and leisure destination, Macadam answered in the affirmitive.

“When you are putting together a shopping centre you want 70 per cent of the retailers, who are with you, to be assured by the owner to be able to pay the rent. The remaining 30 per cent of the retailers are the ones you want bringing in new ideas and trends. And I think that these are the ones that are lining up today for Mall of the World,” he explained.

He further revealed: “There is a waiting list for retailers looking to get in on the coveted retail spaces in malls such as The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. But, I don’t think that is the complete story here. I think that there is going to be a revolution in shopping habits globally, and I believe that the greatest opportunity can be made here in Dubai. Nowadays, it is not necessarily all about the shopping; it’s also about recreation, leisure, lifestyle, and a way to look at the complete experience.”

“Retail is becoming much more experiential,” Macadam said. “The key to the success of Dubai’s Mall of the World is that there has to be a seamless integration into some kind of an experiential event, which is going to keep drawing crowds over and over again.”

Speaking on the future of retail in the GCC, he explained: “About 65 per cent of the population in the GCC countries today is below the age of 28 years. People who are at that age group are great consumers, and as they grow through the next 10-15 years they are going to be huge consumers. Looking at this particular demographic, its safe to say that there is going to continue to be a huge growth in the retail sector. Gross annual sales in retail will increase at a minimum of five to eight per cent per year over the next five years here in the region.”

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Al Marjan Island lifting RAK tourism

Khaleej Times – 25 October, 2014 – Al Marjan Island is expected to notch up higher growth rates in the coming period as more investors are eyeing investments in tourism, hospitality, shopping, housing and business.

Ras Al Khaimah: Mohammed Ahmed Ruqait Al Ali, chairman of Al Marjan Island Company, has hailed the emergence of Al Marjan Island as a major tourism generator in Ras Al Khaimah, as it houses 45 per cent of the total five-star hotel rooms in the emirate through three leading resorts — Rixos Bab Al Bahr, Double Tree by Hilton and Al Marjan Island Hotel & Spa.

Al Ali added that this ambitious island development comes at a time when the UAE in general and Ras Al Khaimah in particular are moving up the tourism ladder, in terms of number of visitors and the quality of touristic facilities. He said: “Al Marjan Island is expected to notch up higher growth rates in the coming period as more investors are eyeing investments in tourism, hospitality, shopping, housing and business.”

Architect Abdullah Rashed Al Abdooli, managing director of Al Marjan Island Company, added: “Emiratis and UAE residents took up a 23 per cent share of the total number visitors to the island between January and April 2014… and between January and August over 100,000 visitors of different nationalities visited Al Marjan Island.”

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Foreign tourists in Iran to boost production, jobs

Islamic Republic News Agency – 25 October, 2014 – The arrival of foreign tourists in the Islamic Republic can play a great role in increasing production and job opportunities across the country.

Feeling of security is the main factor encouraging a tourist to visit another country, wrote Saturday’s edition of ‘Iran Daily’.

The growing number of foreign tourists in Iran equates a rise in revenues, cultural collaboration and jobs. It is also an appropriate tool to convey the voice of Iranians to the world.

In light of its diverse climatic condition, Iran could be attractive for tourists in every season, wrote the English-language paper.

“Since the beginning of autumn, the number of foreign tourists visiting the historical city of Isfahan exceeded 1,000 a day,” Fereydoun Allahyari, director general of Isfahan Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department, said on Tuesday.

“It is the first time in the past 14 years that more than 1,000 foreign tourists are visiting historical sites and tourist attractions of Isfahan every day.”

Allahyari said most of these tourists are from the Netherlands, Germany, Britain, Italy and Scandinavian countries.

“A large percentage of tourists also come from South Asia and Muslim countries such as Iraq and Lebanon,” he said.

Allahyari noted that the number of tourists visiting Isfahan showed a 160-percent increase year-on-year. Nader Soltani, the head of Isfahan Intelligence Office, said tourists help introduce cultural and spiritual aspects of Iran across the world.

Soltani added that tourism promotion could familiarize peoples of other countries with the realities and advantages of Iran.

“Tour operators should familiarize tourists with the rules and culture of Iran to prevent any problems,” he said.

Yousef Olfati, who is a master of engraved and enameled works in Isfahan, said production of enameled items has thrived this year.

Olfati attributed this to the rise in the number of foreign tourists and directives of President Hassan Rouhani to prioritize handicrafts as gifts.

A report said many German tourists liked the bazaar in Sara-ye Moshir in Shiraz, Fars province.

Mashhad in Khorasan Razavi province annually hosts a large number of domestic and foreign tourists due to the presence of the Mausoleum of Imam Reza (PBUH), the eighth Imam of Shias.

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Islamic finance grows faster than conventional banking

Saudi Gazette – 26 October, 2014 – “Islamic finance is growing at twice the rate of the traditional banking industry in its core markets, which include Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and the GCC countries. The industry currently boasts $ 1.6 trillion in banking system assets,” said Mohammed Mahfoodh Al Ardhi, Chairman of the National Bank of Oman.

He added: “The GCC countries have committed to actively strengthening their positions in the Islamic finance market, with Saudi Arabia currently in the lead. We, at the National Bank of Oman, have been doing significant work in the Islamic finance domain and achieved considerable success as part of the broader plans to diversify Oman’s economy. Bahrain and Dubai are also emerging as notable offshore centers.”

Al Ardhi’s comments were made during a speech and interactive session at London Business School, where he shared his expertise with the faculty, students and alumni.

Highlighting the practical implications of Islamic finance, current industry scenario, as well as opportunities, challenges and criticisms the sector faces, Al Ardhi drew out the distinctions between conventional and Islamic economic models.

“Islamic finance is based upon the fact that money is not a source of potential capital or a commodity in itself but rather a medium, a facilitator, for trade and investment. Islamic finance is consequently built around the principles of risk sharing and shared investment, outlawing speculative activity and behaviors while discouraging debt to ensure the sanctity of contractual undertakings,” he explained.

He elaborated that the Islamic finance system is emerging as the more prudent, non-risky and ethical alternative to its conventional counterpart.

Professor Sir Andrew Likierman, Dean, London Business School, said: “London Business School, through its Executive MBA in Dubai and its close links with leading companies in Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia is committed to working with organizations in partnership to ensure world class leadership and enhance the prosperity of the region. We are delighted that our links with the National Bank of Oman are so strong and appreciate Mr Al Ardhi coming to London to talk to our students here.”

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flydubai opens 2 inaugural flights to Tanzania

Saudi Gazette – 26 October, 2014 – Dubai-based flydubai’s inaugural flights to Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar touched down on Oct. 22 in Tanzania (http://www.flydubai.com). The new routes further underline flydubai’s rapid expansion in Africa, which has seen the carrier’s network double to 12 destinations this year.

flydubai entered the market in 2009 with flights to Djibouti, and in 2011 Addis Ababa became flydubai’s second East African destination. In 2014, flydubai added six new routes to the continent with the start of flights to Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and three destinations in Tanzania.

Commenting on the start of flights to Tanzania, Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer of flydubai, said: “The United Arab Emirates has recognised the immense potential in the emerging markets of East Africa, like Tanzania. We continue to work diligently to support the travel, trade and tourism objectives by strengthening the direct links between the UAE and these African markets.”

The flydubai delegation led by Sudhir Sreedharan, Senior Vice President Commercial (GCC, Subcontinent and Africa), was met with inaugural events held at Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar airports. Among the senior officials who met the inaugural flights were Janet Z. Mbene (MP), Deputy Minister for Industry and Trade, Dr Omary Mjenga, Consul General to the UAE and Samia Hassan Suluhu, Minister of State.

“The pace of flydubai’s expansion in East Africa has picked up. Six of the 23 new routes we have launched this year are to Africa. The potential we see for this market is just the tip of the iceberg as it is still a heavily underserved region. We are very excited about our new flights to Tanzania, which are going to be very popular for our passengers whether for leisure or business,” said Sreedharan.

Tanzania has emerged as a noteworthy trade partner for Dubai recently and ranked among the major non-oil trade partners in Africa last year topping $ 1.86 billion in total annual trade, according to recent figures from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce.

flydubai started operating its new Boeing 737-800 fleet configured with Business Class on its Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar flights from 16 October 2014, providing passengers between Tanzania and UAE with a more convenient, high-quality and reliable service with the option to connect onwards through Dubai’s aviation hub.

In addition to its three routes in Tanzania, flydubai has built up a comprehensive network in Africa with flights to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Alexandria in Egypt, Khartoum and Port Sudan in Sudan, Djibouti’s capital Djibouti, Juba in South Sudan as well as Bujumbura in Burundi, Entebbe in Uganda and Kigali in Rwanda.

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