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17 Nov, 2014

Istanbul’s giant mosque to be “women-friendly,” architects say

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 17 November 2014 (24 Muharram 1436). Pls click on any of the headlines below 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.


Stories in this dispatch. Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story:


Galal Zekri-Chatila to cycle every inch of Egypt in 5 months

Ingy Deif, Wednesday 12 Nov 2014, (AhramOnline) – Galal Zekri-Chatila aims to travel every inch of Egypt by bike, along the way promoting positive values and encouraging Egyptians to get outside and discover the beauty of the country.

His first big trip was a hike to the Suez Canal city of Ismailia in 2008. Then came his first solo cycling trip, 100 km to the Red Sea resort town of Ain Sokhna. Later he also cycled alone to Nuweiba through the Sinai Peninsula.

Now the college student going for an unprecedented experience: cycling around Egypt in five months, covering more than 8,000 km. The project is called Egypt on 2 Wheels, and will kick off on 22 November.

The adventure will take Galal to the four corners of the country, covering over 45 cities: Saloum, Siwa and the other four oases of the Western Desert, along with Marsa Alam, Shelatin, Halayeib, the Sinai Peninsula and the Nile Delta.

“The idea isn’t about setting a record but revealing the hidden beauties of our nation,” says Galal. Along the way he plans to film a short adventure movie, write a book and take as many photos as possible.

He’s been preparing for a long time – physical training to make sure he’s up for it. He has also been planning the daily course, studying the weather and wind patterns, the location of each stop as well as telecom towers so he stay connected online.

He’ll take the semester off from university classes. “Life doesn’t end at a bachelor’s degree,” he says. Ahram Online will be following the young adventurer along the way. Stay tuned.

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Edible Oils Exhibition In Iran In Jan 2015

TEHRAN, Nov 11 (NNN-MNA) – The first International Exhibition of Olive, Edible Oils, Olive Oil, Oilseeds, Machinery and Related Technology will be held in January here.

Iranian Trade Promotion Organization said the exhibition is from 27 to 30 January, 2015.

The exhibition will host domestic and foreign corporations, institutions, managers and related professionals in Imam Khomeini (RH) Grand Mosalla in Tehran.

Iran is among countries rich in olive farming with its northern region cultivating a major part of olive products in the country.

The exhibition is aimed at providing an opportunity for investment and introduction of modern technologies to the industry.

Candidates interested in participating in the exhibition can contact the headquarters at 98-21- 44293768-9 or for more information visit the website www.tamexco.ir. — NNN-MNA

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Malaysian Minister Nazri To Propose Visa Fee Waiver For Chinese Tourists

SHANGHAI, China Nov 14 (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz is expected to propose the waiving of visa charges for Chinese tourists to attract more tourists from China to visit Malaysia next year in conjunction with the Malaysia Year of Festival 2015 (MyFest 2015).

He said the move aimed to help achieve the target of MyFest 2015 to attract 29.4 million tourist arrivals and tourism receipts totalling RM89 billion next year.

Nazri said he would propose the idea to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak after returning home.

“Maybe we can try it next year for tour groups from China who visit Malaysia via travel agents,” he told Malaysian journalists here Friday.

Nazri said currently, a total of six Asean countries, namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines have offered visa fee waiver schemes for Chinese tourists.

“Whereas we are only offering visa-on-arrival (VoA),” he said, citing tourists from India and China in Singapore are eligible to apply for VoA at the Sultan Abu Bakar Complex (KSAB), Tanjung Kupang, Johor beginning Nov 1.

Prior to this, only five air entry points offered the VoA facility, namely the Bayan Lepas International Airport, Penang; Senai International Airport, Johor; Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Sabah; Kuching International Airport, Sarawak; and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA and KLIA2).

Nazri is leading a Malaysian delegation comprising representatives from the State Tourism Authorities of Sabah, Sarawak and Johor, as well as industry players including Malaysian travel agents and the Malaysia My Second Home Association here to promote MyFest 2015 in conjunction with the China International Travel Mart (CITM) 2014 in Shanghai, which began Friday and ends on Nov 16.

Earlier, Nazri had paid a courtesy call on chairman of China National Tourism Administration, Li Jinzao.

The two leaders discussed the tourism industry of both countries, including the MH370 tragedy in March this year.

As both countries have solid bilateral relations, Li expressed his confidence that Malaysia’s tourism industry would gradually recover.

Meanwhile, Nazri said apart from continuing to encourage Malaysians to visit China, Tourism Malaysia will also continue to participate in the CITM, which Malaysian exhibitors have been joining for the 16th consecutive year since 1998.

China is Malaysia’s largest inbound tourist source besides neighbouring countries where Malaysia has attracted some 1.79 million Chinese tourists to Malaysia last year, an increase of 14.9 per cent compared to 2012.

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Sign language interpreters to help tourists in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH, Saturday 15 November 2014, (Arab News) – The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has come up with a set of guidelines to assist people with special needs, particularly those with hearing impairments, at tourist sites across the Kingdom.

“The SCTA has issued a circular to the different tourism sectors operating under it to include a list of telephone numbers of approved interpreters of sign language for the hearing-impaired to aid them whenever the need arises,” said the director general of licensing and quality assurance at SCTA.

He said the circular comes from Prince Sultan bin Salman’s concern for people with special needs and implementation of the recommendations particularly aimed to facilitate employees with hearing impairments in the tourism sector. Prince Sultan is the president of SCTA. The goal is for sign language interpreters to be within reach in order to facilitate communication with the hearing impaired if the need arises, he explained.

The list of contact numbers of approved sign language interpreters will be available at all SCTA branches across the Kingdom. The official further said that the circular was sent to all tourism operators, tourist accommodation facilities, travel and tourism agencies, tour operators, timeshare facilities and operators of tourism events in the Kingdom.

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International Aviation Industry Exhibit to open in Kish November 18-21

Tehran, Nov 15, IRNA – The 7th Exhibit of of International Aviation Industry will be held on Kish Island in southern Iran on November 18-21, Secretary of the Exhibit Bijan Bonakdar said on Saturday. Some 20 foreign companies will in the international exhibit.

Speaking to reporters, Bijan Bonakdar said the latest Iranian achievements in producing light and ultralight aircraft, helicopters, drones and amphibians will be put on display in the exhibit.

Despite problems created by Western sanctions on Iran, 20 companies from Russia, Ukraine, France, Italy and the UAE are to attend Kish Air Show alongside 100 Iranian companies, Bonakdar said.

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Pakistan, Afghanistan vow to bury the past; boost security, trade ties

ISLAMABAD, November 16, 2014 (APP) : Looking to overcome years of mistrust and hostility between the two nations, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani promised on Saturday to boost security and trade ties.The two neighbours have accused each other in the past of harbouring anti-government insurgents across their shared border, and bilateral relations were often tempestuous under the previous Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

But less than two months after taking office, Ghani is paying his first state visit to Pakistan, and the warm words used by himself and Nawaz Sharif at a joint news conference suggested both sides were making a conscious effort to reset relations.“We have overcome obstacles of 13 years in three days,” said Ghani. “We will not permit the past to destroy the future.”Nawaz called Ghani a “dear brother” and said the two nations had signed agreements to improve train and road links, increase trade and explore defence, border and energy cooperation.

Nawaz also assured the Afghan president that Islamabad would support Kabul’s endeavours for peace, stability and prosperity.“Our security and future prosperity remain interlinked,” he said. “I … reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for the intra-Afghan reconciliation process that the new government is initiating,” he said.

Nawaz said that a peaceful, prosperous and united Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s interest. Nawaz said Pakistan was committed to upgrading cooperation in border security, defence, Afghan reconstruction, capacity building, parliamentary exchanges and cultural links.

Both the leaders said they were eager to build a robust economic partnership, which they aim to achieve through expansion of trade promotion, investment, improving infrastructure and enhancing their energy collaboration. “The two finance ministers have signed the document that advances the realisation of this vital goal,” the PM said.

Nawaz also shed light on the fact that connectivity and regional economic cooperation were indispensable elements of their engagement. Ashraf Ghani expressed similar views for the two countries. “We have a shared vision that Pakistan and Afghanistan will serve the hearts of Asia to ensure that economic integration in Asia becomes a reality and does not remain a dream,” he said. He termed the partnership between Afghanistan and Pakistan an important pillar of Afghanistan’s foreign policy.

He also mentioned the benefit the two countries could reap. “We have begun a comprehensive dialogue on security so that all dimensions of our mutual security can be discussed, can be delineated, benchmarked processes can be arrived to build confidence.”

He said the most fundamental part was that the governments and peoples of Afghanistan and Pakistan were going to shape the narrative – the narrative that is going to define the future. “In this narrative, our people particularly the poorest of our people, the most neglected of our people are going to become stakeholders in a prosperous economy and in stable and peaceful countries.”

Ghani said, “Our faiths are linked because terror knows no boundaries. Any instability in Pakistan affects us and any instability in Afghanistan affects you, and that’s where I think our common understanding of new threats will enable us to delineate pathways where actions will be concrete and speak louder than words…”

He said this renewed attention on ensuring that whatever is agreed upon was implemented and implemented consistently. He invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to visit Kabul and said both the countries remained committed to working together for peace, security and prosperity for their people. “We look up on your next visit to prepare, to take even more gigantic steps. Steady, systematically and with a clear sense of direction and vision, we will move forward in the region and the world,” he said.

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Pakistan born boy, 5, becomes world’s youngest Microsoft IT specialist

ISLAMABAD, APP, November 14, 2014 – Pakistani-Briton Ayan Qureshi, who has only just started going to primary school, successfully completed the assessment to become the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional on the planet.

A five-year-old kid broke the previous record of six and a half by passing the exam at the age of five years and 11 months. Microsoft’s stringent exam is normally taken by adults after they graduate from university because it was so highly regarded by employers. The school kid from Coventry almost missed out on the chance to write the test after shocked invigilators thought he was too young to take the exam that is meant for adults after they graduate from university.

Officials from Birmingham University called Microsoft’s American headquarters to check if he was allowed to write the exam. The five-year-old completed the test well within the time limit of two hours, The Mirror reported. In doing so he has set a new world record for the youngest person ever to pass a Microsoft exam – at the age of five years and 11 months, beating the previous record held by six-year-old Mehroz Yawar, also from Pakistan.

Ayan, who was born in Lahore, before his family moved to London in 2009, lives in Coventry with three-year-old brother Rayn, his father Asim Qureshi and mother Mamoona.

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Pakistan inaugurates pavilion at Indian trade fair

14 November 2014, New Delhi, November 14 (IANS) – Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit Friday inaugurated his country’s pavilion at the India International Trade Fair (IITF) and said such fairs can boost bilateral trade. This year, more than 100 Pakistani companies and exhibitors are taking part in the fair offering a range of goods including spices, textiles and handcrafted products.

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Jokowi Showcases His Maritime Axis Vision On World Stage

Sabtu, 15 November 2014, Jakarta (Antara News) – New Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, during his debut at the APEC Summit and the East Asian Summit (EAS), highlighted his vision of transforming Indonesia into a global maritime axis before several world leaders.

“Indonesia, a maritime nation, wants to become a global maritime axis, which can bring prosperity to its people,” he affirmed during the plenary session of the 9th EAS held to coincide with the ASEAN Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, on Nov. 13, 2014.

As a nation located between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Indonesia must affirm itself as the worlds maritime axis, he stated. He emphasized that in order to meet the goal, Indonesia will rebuild its maritime culture.

“Living in a country with more than 17 thousand islands, the Indonesian people must be able to see and understand that our identity, prosperity, and future will be determined by how we manage the oceans,” he noted.

Indonesia is located right in the middle of the strategic change process geographically, politically, and economically, he stressed. The country’s three archipelagic sea lanes (ALKI) are the world’s maritime traffic “lanes.”

Its position as the global maritime axis will unfurl opportunities for Indonesia to establish cooperation, both regionally and internationally, for the welfare of its people, according to Jokowi.

He stated that the government was committed to safeguarding and managing marine resources with emphasis on achieving marine food sovereignty through the development of the fisheries industry with fishermen as its main pillar. “Our maritime wealth will be exploited for the greatest benefit of our people,” he noted.

Infrastructure, such as sea tolls, deep sea ports, shipping industry, and maritime-based tourism, will also be built to support the nations aspiration to become a global maritime axis.

Jokowi also highlighted the importance of maritime diplomacy that will facilitate better cooperation between Indonesia and its partnering countries in handling future global challenges. “Together, we must solve conflicts at sea such as illegal fishing, the violation of maritime borders, piracy, border disputes, and marine contamination,” he remarked.

Another agenda is to build a maritime defense force, he revealed. “This is needed not only to protect our sovereignty and maritime wealth but it is also our responsibility to ensure maritime and shipping security and safety,” he emphasized.

Jokowi said he had decided to introduce his vision on maritime axis in the EAS as Indonesia considered the summit to play a vital role in maintaining security, stability, and economic prosperity in the region.

“Indonesia is aware that a major transformation is going on in this 21st century. The world’s geo-economic and geo-political center of gravity has shifted from the West to East Asia. The Asian nations are rising,” Jokowi said.

Having enjoyed an annual average economic growth of seven percent and a total GDP of around US$40 trillion, the East Asian region is the most dynamic region economically, given the fact that some 40 percent of the global trade takes place in the region.

The EAS plenary session was attended by ten leaders of the ASEAN member nations: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong of Laos, Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, Prime Minister U Thein Sein of Myanmar, President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand, and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam.

Other leaders attending the summit were Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia, Prime Minister Li Keqiang of China, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, President Park Geun-Hye of South Korea, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand, and President Barack Obama of the United States.

In his first appearance at the APEC Forum held in Beijing, on Nov. 10, 2014, Jokowi also spoke at length about the nations maritime agenda.

“We want to build a sea toll. What is a sea toll? Sea toll is a maritime transportation system to lower our transportation cost. In the coming 5 years, we want to build 24 seaports and deep sea ports. As you know, we have 17 thousand islands, so we need seaports and deep sea ports. And this is your opportunity (to cooperate in the development of) 24 seaports and deep seaports,” he informed some world leaders, including US President Barack Obama.

Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi had earlier remarked that she would push for the realization of the vision to make Indonesia the world’s maritime axis.

The concept would be put forward in bilateral, regional, and international meetings in a bid to realize the maritime vision of the government, Marsudi, Indonesias first woman foreign affairs minister, recently stated. “We will seek to carry out the programs and mission put forth by the president and push for their realization,” she remarked in her first news conference as the new foreign minister.

As the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia is keen to be on the frontlines in mainstreaming the maritime issue and to raise it as a global issue in multilateral forums such as the UN, ASEAN, Indian Ocean Rim Association, and the Pacific Islands Forum.

The programs are in accordance with President Jokowi’s vision to revive Indonesia’s past maritime glory. While speaking during a discussion on Indonesia’s self-reliance as a global maritime axis held in Jakarta, on Nov. 13, Director of Archipelago Solidarity Foundation Engelina Pattiasina stated that the public had the right to obtain further information on Jokowis maritime axis concept.

Jokowi should elaborate on the direction and implementation of the maritime axis concept he had announced during the July 2014 presidential election campaigns.

“One of the Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla (JK) presidential ticket’s missions, as per their election campaigns, was to make Indonesia a self-reliant, advanced, and strong maritime state whose priority will be of key national interest,” she added.

Engelina, who is also a former member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) faction in the House of Representatives (DPR), pointed out that the maritime axis concept takes into consideration international, regional, and domestic dimensions and covers multi-sector interests.

Indonesia must be consistent with its vision to emerge as the main player in the global maritime sector as it has all the resources required to become a global maritime axis, she noted.

“The challenge before the Jokowi-JK government is to come up with an idea to increase Indonesias bargaining power in the global maritime sector as it is located in the global maritime axis,” she added.

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Kuwait Takes Part In Islamic Conference Fair In Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Nov 10 (NNN-KUNA) – The Fifth World Biz and Muslim World Biz Exhibition and Conference got underway here on Monday, with participation of Kuwait’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry and a large number of Kuwaiti companies and authorities.

The Kuwaiti Ministry has set up a special pavilion at the fairground, promoting its activities, key projects and enterprise in the Gulf country.

Organisers affirm that its participation in the major Islamic event is significant, particularly with respect to boosting commercial exchanges with other member countries, of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Government departments, companies, conglomerates and factories from 35 countries are taking part in the conference-fair event, scheduled to proceed till Nov 14.

The inaugural ceremony will be attended by Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, OIC Secretary General, Iyad Madani, and other prominent Islamic personalities. According to organisers, 40 memoranda of understanding will be signed during the event.

Value of transactions, forecast to be worked out during 30 sessions, are estimated at USD 300 million. The forum is designed to showcase Malaysia as a regional hub for debating development in the Islamic world, aiding the OIC member states hike economic growth, hopefully by 20 percent (USD 250 billion) by 2015.

Other objectives are, exploring new joint investment opportunities and domains, bolstering inter-Islamic trade cooperation and hiking commercial exchanges among these states. Its agenda is long, encompassing diverse issues, such as air and land cargo, logistical matters, developing higher education and tourism.

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Global Muslim Lifestyle Platform To Expand In Britain, Turkey

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 (NNN-Bernama) — Zilzar.com, the world’s first global Muslim lifestyle marketplace e-commerce platform, targets to boost its presence in more countries such Britain and Turkey by next year, said Chief Executive Officer of Zilzar Tech Sdn Bhd, Rushdi Siddiqui.

He said the company’s vision was to have a halal ecosystem from a wider user base covering buyers, sellers, bloggers and entrepreneurs.

The e-commerce platform encompasses 57 Muslim countries with a population of two billion, plus the 100 million Muslims outside the Muslim world.

“We are embarking on something ambitious globally. We want to address all the needs of the stakeholders in the Muslim life space,” he said at the Fifth Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) World Biz Trade Exhibition and Conference here.

Rushdi, who is also the founder of zilzar.com, said the company’s objective was to fill the marketplace by addressing the needs of micro and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), export-ready SMEs and entrepreneurs.

“If we can empower the SMEs to bring their products and services to new markets, we can help them grow their trade. I want to address their needs, I want to educate them, and I want to make them part of the halal ecosystem,” he told Bernama. “So if you happen to make a product or service encompassing the Muslim lifestyle, you are welcome. We are taking a holistic approach to address all eight sectors of the Muslim lifestyle. We want them to be connected, communicate and trade with each other,” he added.

The eight sectors are food and beverage (F&B); Islamic finance; clothing and fashion; travel and tourism; media and recreation; pharmaceutical; cosmetics; and logistics. He said all products, especially in F&B, cosmetics and pharmaceutical sectors, must be certified with halal certification before they could be sold on zilzar.com.

Additionally, the e-commerce site provides consumers with various content and information including news, institutions, education and others. Rushdi added: “So, it’s partly Facebook, Twitter, Wall Street Journal, partly Alibaba…Lots of different things coming into one particular platform.”

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Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival To Be Held In Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Nov 8 (NNN-WAM) – The Purebred Arabian Horse Racing fraternity is assembled in Abu Dhabi, for the finals of the Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival events, on the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival, which be held over a 20-day period, starting from Nov 20, 2014.

Along with this announcement, of the much-awaited Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival, Ms Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairwoman of Ladies Racing Committee, in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR) and Chairwoman of Apprentice Jockeys & Racing in IFAHR, made further announcements at a press conference and later at the Gala Welcoming Dinner held in the middle of the desert in Al Wathba region.

Confirming the Triple Jewel leg for the US part of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup like the Triple Crown of the same series currently being held in Europe, Ms Sawaya also announced a boost to the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Apprentice World Championship (IFAHR) series which will now stage nine races in 2015.

Ms Sawaya also announced the inclusion of the Italian Endurance Festival, under the umbrella of the Sheikh Mansour Festival from the coming year.

Meanwhile, a two-day Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Conference for Education and Training continues today (Saturday), before the grand finals of the Festival’s flat races tomorrow Sunday.

Ms Sawaya said, “The Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival at the Al Wathba Camel Racetrack is a feast of cultural and entertainment activities that includes camel races, horse parades, falconry competitions, camel milking competition, a heritage village, folkloric performances, a traditional souk, Emirati handicrafts exhibition, a fun park for kids, an innovative ladies tent, and an exhibition of classic cars.”

“There are exhibits too from the General Women‘s Union and the Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care. The Festival also promises a major fireworks show and a concert with top Emirati and Arab performers on the opening night,” she said.

“We are all inspired by our father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” Ms Sawaya added during a brief visit to the ad hoc heritage village, the venue of the festival.

“Arabian horse races in the UAE date back to 100 years when Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa brought Rabdan to ink the intro of a fascinating story, through which we are sailing right now,” she said, while briefing the audience of the Arabian racing legends in the UAE, which were bred by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

“All-time great Alanudd and Maha set the best example of the quality of breeding that has characterised the industry by that time. They are the grandmothers of the stallions that dominate the breeding world at the stud farms of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs in France and elsewhere,” she said.

Earlier, Ms Sawaya addressed an international press conference, which was held in the heart of the desert and attended by the IFAHR chief, Sami Al Boenain and top officials of the sport and sponsors.

“Apart from the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship and the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Apprentice Championship, the festival has introduced the Triple Crown in Europe and Triple Pearl in America, to support the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup series, that carries the name of the father of the nation,” she added.

The Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, in association with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR and Emirates Arabian Horse Society, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Bahrain Cultural Days Kicked Off In Cairo

CAIRO, Egypt, Nov 14 (NNN-BNA) – Bahrain Cultural Days got underway in Cairo yesterday, and will continue till Nov 23. The event features a fine arts gallery, bringing together seven artists, three concerts by Mohammed bin Fares band, and the announcement of Bahrain Book Award 2014, which is dedicated to Egyptian authors, on the role of arts in developing societies.

Speaking at a press conference, Egyptian Culture Minister, Dr. Jaber Asfoor, praised the function, which sheds light on the richness of the Bahraini culture. He stressed strong and deep-rooted relations between Bahrain and Egypt, commending the efforts of the Bahrain Culture Ministry, spearheaded by Culture Minister, Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, in promoting Arab culture.

Shaikha Mai thanked her Egyptian counterpart for the warm welcome accorded to the Bahraini delegation, emphasising the importance of culture for societies, and expressing happiness about dedicating this year’s Bahrain Book Award to Egyptian Authors.

The press conference was attended by Bahraini Ambassador to Egypt, Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, intellectuals, artists and media persons.

Shaikha Mai inaugurated Bahrain Fine Arts Gallery, in Mohsin Shalan Hall, at the Modern Art Museum, in the presence of her Egyptian counterpart and the Bahraini Ambassador to Egypt.

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Oman to hold Tourism Conference 2014

MUSCAT, Oman, Nov 10 (NNN-ONA) – The two-day conference, associated with the International Travel and Hospitality Fair 2014, organised by Oman International Trade and Exhibitions company, in collaboration with al Event Management International, will be held on Dec 14, under the theme: “Tourism Investments in Oman.’

Elite speakers will focus light, on the latest challenges and developments facing travel, tourism and hospitality sector, the role of public and private sectors in promoting tourism in the Sultanate, and the role of the Sultanate as one of the future tourism destinations.

Speakers will present a number of working papers, on the status of Oman on the world tourism map, the challenges and opportunities for Oman tourism sector, the role of Oman International Conventions and Exhibitions Centre, digital involvement of passengers with Oman as a tourism destination, approving the digital communications culture with passengers, hotel development perspective, developing business tourism for 2020, and the operational preparations for the new airports and their role in enhancing tourism in the Sultanate.

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Oman Sohar Airport Set For National Day Launch

MUSCAT, Oman, Nov 10 (NNN-ONA) – Sohar Airport, the sultanate’s fourth commercial airport is all set to become operational on Nov 18, the 44th National Day.

Like Duqm airport, which was launched on Renaissance Day, ahead of its schedule, Sohar Airport, too, will become operational well before its expected launch date.

The Ministry of Transport and Communication, has made all arrangements for the airport’s opening.

A statement by the ministry said, “Early opening of the airport comes, after the completion of all civil works, in the first and second phases, including construction of the 4km runway, aircraft taxiways and 30km airport service roads and other related utilities.”

The work also included mass grading, connecting asphalt roads, water channel, an underground reservoir, stormwater collection ponds, utility networks, duct banks, electrical substation building, guard house building, boundary and security fences.

“Work, like airfield lighting, engineering and installation of fuel hydrant system, design and construction of a sewage treatment plant, landscaping and irrigation works, are also completed.” On May 25, the first trial flight landed at the airport to check the runway, its lighting systems and navigation systems.

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Ethiopian Airlines To Launch Flights To Doha From December

ADDIS ABABA, Nov 13 (NNN-ENA) — National flag carrier Ethiopian Airlines says it will start flying to Doha, Qatar, three times a week beginning Dec 2, 2014. With the new service, travellers to and from Doha will enjoy convenient and seamless connectivity options with minimum layover in Addis Ababa given Ethiopian Airlines’ extensive network in Africa covering 49 destinations, the airline said in a statement here Wednesday.

Convenient connections will be available to and from cities such as Johannesburg, Nairobi, Kinshasa, Lagos, Accra, Dakar, Dares-Salaam and Entebbe, it added.

The Addis-Doha service will bring the total number of the airline’s international destinations across five continents to 84 and the city will mark the 10th Ethiopian destination to the Middle East. Ethiopian is a global Pan-African carrier currently serving 84 international destinations across 5 continents with more than 200 daily flights using the latest aircraft such as the Boeing 777s and Boeing 787s.

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Malawi Airlines Begin Flights From Lilongwe To Beira, Mozambique

MAPUTO, Nov 13 (NNN-AIM) — Malawi Airlines has launched flights between the Malawian capital, Lilongwe and Mozambique’s second largest city, Beira in the central province of Sofala. The first flight from Lilongwe touched down in Beira at about 2 pm on Tuesday. Malawi Airlines plans to fly to Beira twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. In addition, the Malawian carrier is also operating flights from Lilongwe to Tete and to Nampula.

The ceremony to inaugurate the new service to Beira was chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Sofala provincial government, Claudina Mazalo, who said flights between Malawi and Beira were crucial because of the boom in coal production in the Zambezi Valley.

Mazalo was quoted by the Beira daily Diario de Mocambique as referring to the strong performance of the financial, transport, and construction sectors, and the growth of investment in both mining and agriculture.

“As a result there are countless business opportunities available for Malawi and other countries of the SADC (Southern African Development Community),” she said. Malawian business people who had interests in Mozambique would find their lives made easier by regular flights between the two countries.

The representative of Malawi Airlines, Ken Banda, said he was pleased to add Beira to the list of the company’s southern African destinations, alongside Johannesburg, Harare, Lusaka and Dar es Salaam.

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Malaysia To Register Positive Growth In Chinese Tourists For Q4

SHANGHAI, China Nov 14 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia’s tourism sector is expected to register a positive growth in Chinese tourist arrivals in the last quarter of the year due to year-end holiday season and the increased confidence of the Chinese people.

While acknowledging Malaysia’s tourism had been hit hard since the disappearance of flight MH370 last March, Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz believed the situation had since improved.

“The Chinese tourist arrivals dropped significantly in May and June, which registered a 35% year-on-year growth compared to the same period last year,” he said. Nazri was speaking to Malaysian journalists here after attending the opening ceremony of China International Travel Mart (CITM) 2014 in Shanghai, beginning Friday which ends on Nov 16.

He is leading a Malaysian delegation comprising Tourism Malaysia’s officials, travel agents and hoteliers here to promote Malaysia Year of Festival 2015 (MyFest 2015) in conjunction with the CITM 2014.

However, Nazri said the growth in August had increased to 2% year-on-year, signalling the improvement and confidence of the tourists in Malaysian tourism industry, with a positive growth expected for the last four months of the year. He was optimistic the visit of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to China in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties in May this year had helped improve the confidence of Chinese tourists to visit Malaysia.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had said the Chinese government would make efforts to resume the number of Chinese tourists to Malaysia, he said. Malaysia has attracted some 997,000 Chinese tourists from January to July this year, a drop of of 11.8 per cent from last year’s 1,130,000 Chinese tourists.

Malaysia has initially targeted two million Chinese tourists this year.

Tourism Malaysia figures showed a Chinese tourist would spend RM515 per day, or RM3092 per trip when visiting Malaysia last year. Nazri said Tourism Malaysia had intensified the promotion in second-tier cities in China, namely Sichuan, Chengdu and Wuhan to bring back the confidence of Chinese tourists to visit Malaysia.

“The government is working very hard to attract more visitors to Malaysia, hopefully more Chinese visitors will visit the country next year for MyFest 2015,” he added.

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Saudi Arabia has a successful Zakat collection system: Minister

Riyadh, 19 Muharram 1436/ 12 November 2014 (IINA) – Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that is interested in collecting Zakat officially, Minister of Finance Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf said here on Tuesday after inaugurating the 5th Annual Conference of Tax Forum for Middle East and North Africa.

Zakat is a practice of taxation and redistribution obligatory for all Muslims who are able to do so based on accumulated wealth. Assaf said that the tax system in the Kingdom is one of the best in the world, but the more important issue is the experience of the Kingdom in Zakat collection as it collects Zakat in trade items officially. He said the Kingdom’s hosting of the tax forum is an opportunity to inform the world about the tax system and Zakat collection. The forum is being organized by the Department of Zakat and Income and International Center for Taxes and Investment. Assaf expressed optimism over the Kingdom’s robust economy, especially in non-oil sector. He highlighted the Kingdom’s continuing policy of giving priority to spending on human development and infrastructure sectors to diversify the economy and create jobs for citizens.

He pointed out that the Kingdom has been able to strengthen its fiscal position by building reserves and reducing the ratio of public debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to less than 3%. The Kingdom will continue to implement structural reforms to promote strong growth, encourage economic diversity, raise citizens’ employment, and advance the march of sustainable development, the minister said. He said the Kingdom has achieved remarkable progress in building financial institutions enjoying flexibility and durability. These policies supported by tax flexibility have contributed in attracting foreign investment.

On the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the minister said that it is a US Act, the implementation of which was announced in July this year. He said that some countries are signing agreements with US for the application of this Act. FATCA is a United States federal law that requires US citizens, including individuals who live outside the United States, to report their financial accounts held outside of the US, and requires foreign financial institutions to report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about their US clients.

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Palestinians remind world of their own wall

Ramallah, 16 Muharram 1436/ 09 November 2014 (IINA) – Palestinian youth have dug a hole in Israel’s separation wall with the Palestinian territories, as a symbolic gesture to mark 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Armed with hammers, a group of Palestinian activists on Saturday created a cavity in the wall that crosses through the West Bank village of Bir Nabala, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, braving tight Israeli security measures. “It doesn’t matter how high the barriers will be, they will fall. Like the Berlin Wall fell – The Palestinian wall will fall,” the Palestinian activists who organized the event wrote in a statement according to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency. The collapse of the Berlin Wall a quarter century ago is a key event in the breakdown of communism and the preface to Germany’s reunification in 1990.

During its 28-year existence, the Wall served as a symbol for communist oppression. Palestinians refer to the current wall separating the West Bank from Israel as the “apartheid wall”. Israel began work on the sprawling barrier in 2002 and has defended its construction as a crucial protective measure, pointing to a drop in attacks inside Israel as a proof of its success.

But the Palestinians say the wall is a land grab. Large tracts of Palestinian land have been confiscated by the Israeli government to build it. When complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the West Bank. The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) said that the construction of the wall caused “unnecessary suffering” to the Palestinian people. It “cut social ties and isolated villages from their farmland and citizens from their livelihoods,” the organization said.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that “the construction of the wall, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law”. The International Committee of the Red Cross stated that the Israeli barrier “causes serious humanitarian and legal problems” and goes “far beyond what is permissible for an occupying power”. The Palestinian activists, in footage filmed by the Palestinian TV, said that the aim of their act was to stress that Israel’s construction of the wall will not prevent Palestinians from reaching Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa mosque, one of the Islam’s holiest sites. They called upon people to be ready to take part in the “Intifada (uprising) of Jerusalem”, which they said would be “the final, fateful intifada to liberate Palestine”.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 as part of its capital in a move never recognized internationally, while Palestinians want it to be the capital of a future state. Tension has been running high in the occupied East Jerusalem following weeks of clashes around the compound housing al-Aqsa mosque. The unrest was triggered by the attempts of hardline Jews to storm into the Muslim-run sacred site. Since Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, Jewish worshippers have been allowed to visit – but not pray – at the site.

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Maldives grants duty exemptions for resort refurbishment material

Sun.mv – November 12, 2014 – The government has decided that no duty would be levied on items imported for refurbishment of resorts for the next three years.

Speaking at a press conference by the Economic Council on 10 November, Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adeeb said that the government’s policy was to encourage the introduction of new resorts, and that items purchased for refurbishment of resorts would be exempt from import duty for three years with effect from 1 December 2014.

“(It has been decided that) material imported for refurbishment of operating resorts, new resorts, and resorts where construction has been suspended, would be exempt from import duty. The purpose is to boost construction,” said Adeeb.

He said that this move would expedite the development of new resorts, and as more resorts open, income would increase for the country through taxes.

Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed said that the duty exemption for resort refurbishment material would benefit small and medium-sized firms, as well as operators of luxury resorts.

Adeeb also assured that the Tourism Goods and Services Tax (TGST) would not be increased beyond 12 percent. He said that the Green Tax, which was earlier announced at 10 percent from next year onwards, would be imposed at the rate of $6 from November 2015.

He added that Green Tax would not be collected from tourists staying at guest-houses, and that the income from this tax would be used to find solutions to the problem of waste management in Thilafushi.

Minister at the President’s Office Mohamed Hussain Shareef said that efforts were ongoing to secure foreign aid to attract more foreign investment. He said that he was confident that aid would be received for the Bridge Project and the project to develop the international airport.

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LEAD STORY: Istanbul’s giant mosque to be ‘women-friendly,’ architects say

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet Daily News – Istanbul’s planned Çamlıca Mosque will be a “female-friendly mosque,” according to its two female architects, Bahar Mızrak and Hayriye Gül Totu, who have a budget of around 150 million Turkish Liras for the project.

The new mosque, which will be the largest in the history of the Turkish Republic, will use “positive discrimination for women,” said Metin Külünk, the construction engineer and president of the mosque’s foundation.

“There will be a separate place for women to perform ablutions and an elevator to take them to where they can pray. Women will also be able to use a convenient childcare room,” Külünk told Anadolu Agency.

Intended for a 3 hectare area in the Üsküdar district of Istanbul, the Çamlıca Mosque will also include a special area for the disabled, a platform from where visitors can observe prayers, an Islamic art gallery and museum, a library and a car park for 3,500 vehicles. A tunnel will also be constructed between the mosque and the nearest residential area to allow more people to reach it and avoid traffic congestion, according to daily Cumhuriyet. The three-kilometer-long tunnel will connect Çamlıca Hill and Libadiye Crossing, and was discussed in a recent Istanbul Greater Municipality meeting.

The municipality council’s members from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) refused to discuss the tunnel proposal, while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) members voted “yes.” The project will soon be voted on by the municipality.

Yunus Can, a municipality council member from the CHP, told daily Cumhuriyet that congestion will be inevitable at the entrances of the tunnel and it will not be prudent spending for the common good.

The controversial mosque, which is seen as one of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s signature projects, has been widely criticized for its location atop the green Çamlıca Hill and for being an incredibly large project that does not appear to fill a need for locals in the area. The project managers have said they want the mosque to be seen from most parts of the city and also say it will have the highest minaret.

Meanwhile, in Denmark, a female-friendly mosque is also planned to be built in the country’s second-largest city, Aarhus. Construction will begin in 2016 if the local municipality agrees on “a decent location for the mosque,” said the project’s Turkish architect, Metin Aydın.

He said the mosque’s design was a combination of Ottoman Islamic architecture and the local traditions of Denmark and Scandinavia.

Facilities at the mosque will include a separate prayer space for 600 women in the central hall and services such as a car park and playground for children that will “create the possibility for more women to go to the mosque.”

Recognizing that traditionally more men visited mosques than women, Aydın said “we want to change this; we want women to be equal in terms of having the possibility of going to mosques.”

Planning began in 2000 and since then all locations put forward for the 3,000 square-meter space have been turned down by the Aarhus Municipality, said Aydın, claiming that the only obstacle they faced was “political.”

“The mosque in Aarhus will belong to all Muslim men and women, because the community here includes people of very different origins: Turkish, Danish, African, Middle Eastern, Kurdish and people from the Balkans.”

The building will cost approximately 6 million euros.

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Santa Claus visitors exceed half million

ANTALYA – Hurriyet Daily News – The Santa Claus Museum in the southern province of Antalya’s Demre district was visited by more than half a million people in the first 10 months of the year, according to new figures released by the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

The museum and its surroundings is the most visited and profitable site in Antalya.

Some 508,488 visitors have come through the museum’s doors this year, producing 5,324,780 Turkish Liras in revenues, up from 500,175 people in the same period last year.

However, visitors to the ancient city of Myra in Demre were on the decline this year compared to last year. In the first 10 months of the year, 411,144 people visited the ancient site and provided 560,244 liras revenue. The number of visitors was 434,696 in the same period last year, adding 4,619,691 liras to the state’s coffers in revenue.

According to information from the Culture and Tourism Ministry, over the last three years, there was no remarkable increase in the number of tourists visiting museums and ancient sites affiliated with the ministry. The increase in museum and ancient site visitors was nearly 12 million between 2003 and 2010, but only 1 million after 2010.

Since 2010, the ministry has transferred ticket sales for nearly 150 museums to the Turkish Travel Agencies Union (TÜRSAB), which resulted in an increase in ticket prices. Prices rose at the Ankara Ethnography Museum from 5 to 10 liras and at the Konya Mevlana Museum from 3 to 5 liras.

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Turkish airline companies fly high, setting ambitious targets

ISTANBUL – Reuters – Turkey’s national carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) and low-cost carrier Pegasus have posted higher-than-expected net profits in the third quarter of the year, due to a rise in passenger numbers and lower oil prices, as they set ambitious goals for the coming years. Analysts expect an increase in the companies’ net profits during the fourth quarter, as they will be benefiting from the decrease in oil prices.

THY CEO Temel Kotil also announced Nov. 11 a number ambitious goals, including establishing another permanent fleet in Istanbul. “We will establish a permanent fleet in the Sabiha Gökçen Airport of Istanbul,” he said at a press meeting yesterday, adding that the company’s main hub will be the third airport after it is opened in 2017 with an initial 90 million passenger capacity.”

“We’ll be transferring our 100 airplanes to the Sabiha Gökçen from our main base in the third airport, which will still have 300 THY airplanes,” he noted.

THY’s third-quarter net profit almost doubled compared with the same period from last year. The carrier reported a net profit of 1.37 billion Turkish Liras ($607 million), up from 705.1 million liras a year earlier and an above average forecast of 1.16 billion liras in a Reuters poll of analysts. Sales rose to 7.17 billion liras in the quarter, the company said in a statement to the Public Disclosure Platform (KAP) late Nov. 10. That was a 26 percent rise from a year earlier, and beat the poll forecast of 6.89 billion liras.

In the first nine months of the year, the airline’s passenger numbers rose 14 percent to 41.4 million passengers, it said in an e-mailed statement. Pegasus posted a net profit of 250.6 million liras ($110.4 million) in the third quarter of the year with a 118 percent of increase from the same period of the previous year, above an average forecast of 222 million liras from a Reuters poll.

The company’s income from its sales increased up to 1.11 billion liras in the first nine months of the year by a 33 percent of increase from the same period of the year before. The number of passengers traveling with Pegasus rose to 15.02 million in the first nine months of this year, a 19.4 percent of increase from the same period of the previous year, the company said in a written statement on Oct. 31.

“We cannot maintain 10 percent more growths unless we move some of our flights to the Sabiha Gökçen Airport,” said Kotil, adding that they aimed at making as many flights as possible to each part of Turkey and Europe in the coming period. “We will also establish a network in the Middle East and Central Asia. We have long term growth plans through the Sabiha Gökçen Airport,” he said.

The planned third airport of Istanbul will be the world’s third largest airport by 2021, after the airports in Bejing and Jakarta, Kotil said.

“The airport will have the potential to reach 200 million passengers by 2030,” he said.

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Istanbul once again the capital of arts

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News – The ninth edition of Contemporary Istanbul (CI), a leading international art fair, opens today. Celebrating Istanbul’s exciting and dynamic art scene, the fair takes place at the Istanbul Congress Center (ICC) and the Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Center (ICEC).

Featuring the best in contemporary art in Europe, the Balkans and Middle East, the fair offers opportunities to discover Istanbul and its young, vibrant art scene, as well as consider the future of contemporary art. With 104 galleries and 520 artists from 22 countries, the fair also includes a unique “Plug-in media section” that explores the latest, most avant-garde developments in the contemporary art scene worldwide.

“With our ninth edition, we are confident to say that we have provided the art foundation, the ground of a generation. The CI stands truly behind the new and contemporary Turkish Art: We are not for yesterday, not even for today – but for tomorrow. That is also why we have opened the door for the other countries of the region – and when I say region, I mean a very large one: the Middle East, Balkans, Caucasus and East Mediterranean, as well as Europe,” said Ali Güreli, chairman of the CI.

Among the galleries participating this year are Paris’ Galerie Lelong, New York’s Marlborough Galleries, Madrid’s Galerie Javier Lopez, London’s Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Berlin’s Galerie Kornfeld, and Rome’s Galleria Russo.

CI Editions is the CI’s new initiative, aimed at promoting the various formats and conceptual dimensions of art editions and multiples. Through its limited program, the CI presents opportunities for new groups of art lovers to collect and creates a valuable asset for all collectors.

For the second year, Plug-in, the New Media Section of the CI, will showcase the best in digital art and design. The Plug-in section focuses on a wide range of genres that make up the digital art and design scene: sound and light installations, video art, interactive and generative design, indoor mapping projects, robotic designs and more.

This year’s focus on Chinese art includes internationally celebrated artists such as Liu Bolin and Liu Dao. The subject of Chinese contemporary art is also featured in the CI dialogues program, with discussions such as “The Future is Now – Contemporary Art in China” and “Art Scene, Market, Institutions in China.”

In addition, the “Now You See” exhibition offers a view of Chinese video art through the eyes of the collector Dr. Michael I. Jacobs, who has been collecting these works in depth since 2010.

The CI’s talk series, CI Dialogues, creates a platform for constructive debates around today and tomorrow’s art world. CI Dialogues for 2014 will gather international art professionals, artists and collectors for a program that complements the second year of the Plug-In Istanbul and New Focus sections.

Speakers include Robin Woodhead, Chairman of Sotheby’s International; Pascal Odille, Art Beirut & Singapore Art Fair Artistic Director; Emilio Alvarez, Loop Art Fair Director; Guillaume Levy Lambert, Collector and Founder of The MaGMa Collection; Haro Cümbüşyan, Collector; and Lauré Raibut, Manager of Chinese Contemporary Art at Christies Hong Kong.

Curated by Dr. Marcus Graf, CI has a new exciting side exhibition. CI 90 Minute Shows is the CI’s new ambitious site-specific exhibition project, whereby every 90 minutes a solo show by a visual artist will be assembled, opened, celebrated, mediated, discussed, recorded and again dismantled in order to clear the space for the next artist. This project constitutes an experimental platform for alternative artistic and curatorial practices. In a shipping container-like space of 50 square meters, 20 artists will primarily present time and site specific installations, as well as process-oriented works throughout the four days of the fair.

Simultaneous with the CI, Art Istanbul Art Week is a week-long celebration of contemporary art that runs throughout Istanbul, with participating events from institutions, cultural centers, museums and galleries. Along with this year’s Istanbul Design Biennial, these two events bring the entire city to life for a wide international audience. Among the more than 40 cultural organizations participating in these events are SALT, Borusan Contemporary, the Sakıp Sabancı Museum, The Museum of Innocence, Arter, Istanbul Modern, and the Istanbul Foundation for Arts and Culture.

Glasstress, the unprecedented exhibition of the best contemporary art works in glass first opened in 2009 as an official event of the 53rd International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. In 2015, it will join Contemporary Istanbul for the fair’s 10th anniversary edition.

Among the participating artists are Erdağ Aksel, Jean Arp, Tracey Emin, Jan Fabre, Murat Morova, Vik Muniz, Orlan, Ardan Özmenoğlu, Javier Pérez, Seçkin Pirim, Jaume Plensa, Koen Vanmechelen, and many others.

The event will continue until Nov. 16.

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Turkey’s biggest export: TV dramas

A recent poll showed Turkish actress Tuba Büyüküstün to be one of the most popular names in the Arab world, and her bootleg Barbie dolls have become collectors’ items in Russia. A familiar name on TV screens in Turkey for over a decade, Büyüküstün has won awards from Serbia and Montenegro to Monte-Carlo. Her popular TV drama “Asi” has been screened in 67 countries.

Büyüküstün recently made a live appearance on MBC, Saudi media tycoon Sheik Waleed al-Ibrahim’s Dubai-based pan-Arab television network. A widely known rumor is that the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is one of her biggest fans, and now she has been shortlisted for the Best Actress award at this year’s International Emmys.

In just over a decade, Turkish television dramas have become a cultural phenomenon, both in Turkey and in as many as 40 countries, economically crucial and an indisputable soft power tool in the face of changing dynamics in global politics. The productions are becoming bigger, with ensemble casts, high-priced global stars, gaudy costumes and set decorations. And the stories? Well, they continue to be melodramatic, repetitive, and often polarizing.

The Culture and Tourism Ministry’s numbers show how television dramas have become a powerhouse over the last decade. Over 15,000 hours of television drama have been sold over the past two years to 75 countries, bringing in an income of nearly $200 million. In 2007, that number was merely $1 million, while the projected income for the year 2023 is $1 billion.

Nearly 100 Turkish TV series have crossed borders to the Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Arab world, and even to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sweden. Old and new favorites like “Yaprak Dökümü” (Fallen Leaves), “Bir Istanbul Masalı” (An Istanbul Tale), “Annem” (Mother), “Gümüş” (Silver, or “Noor” in the Arab market) and “Kurtlar Vadisi” (Valley of the Wolves) have found their way into primetime TV in countries as diverse as Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Russia and Kazakhstan.

In 2012, Macedonia flirted with a law restricting the broadcast of Turkish dramas. “They’re all fascinating, but to stay under Turkish servitude for 500 years is enough,” said Macedonian Minister of Information Society Ivo Ivanovski at the time. In a survey carried out by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) in 16 Middle East countries, three out four people have now seen a Turkish television drama.

While a few of the dramas portray a more realistic picture of Turkey’s middle classes and their lives, nearly all of the popular dramas pose a strikingly close resemblance to Latin soap operas and telenovelas that were once, in the 1980s, the crowns of Turkey’s popular culture. Turkish television dramas often juxtapose the lives of glamor in Istanbul’s big mansions and the feudal oppression of rural lives. They feature dangerous love stories and power games with all the classic archetypes of a soap opera.

The distinct class differences in most of these dramas are clear-cut, often fantasized accounts of class differences that are far from reality. The rich are obscenely rich with dubious morals, while the poor are often honorable with strong morals. The stories often take place in the world of the rich, with mansions, cars, clothes, and parties taking center stage – things that are otherwise invisible to the eyes of the so-called “99 percent.”

For viewers outside Turkey, these television dramas definitely serve to boost the tourism attraction for the country, and especially Istanbul.

“I love the Turkish series because they are so romantic, and because of their amazing nature – the sea and the mountains. I think this kind of nature attracts people to go and visit Turkey,” says Merna Hossam, an Egyptian social media specialist, in a piece on the news site, yourmiddleeast.com. “Also they have clean places and clean buildings, watching the Turkish series in general gives me a feeling of calm and comfort.”

Researcher Mohamed Zayed attributes the invasion and the immense popularity of the Turkish series in the Arab world to a dramatic void. One of Zayed’s interviewees, Dalia Ahmed, says of her fascination with Turkish dramas: “I was attracted to the series because they have different plots, the sceneries are stupendous and the music is out of this world. They present many songs of their heritage, to the point where we use these songs as ring tones for our phones. The acting performances are so good and the good looks of their leading characters are a plus too.”

Judging by the increasing popularity of Turkey’s TV actors across borders, the good looks definitely seem to be a plus.

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Turkey’s immortal city gets new lease on life

ADANA – Anadolu Agency – Misis (Mopsouestia) might be outshone by Rome, but the ancient city on the banks of the Ceyhan River in southern Turkey is just as old as the old imperial capital, while arguably trumping Rome’s moniker of “the eternal city” with its own title, “the immortal city.” Some 7,000 years after its founding, archaeological work at the site is now revealing the traces of antiquity.

The city is located right next to the Ceyhan River, 27 kilometers east of the center of the southern province of Adana on the historic Silk Road. As part of a project titled “The Infinite City: Misis,” made by Yüreğir Municipality, excavations have been continuing in the area, headed by Professor Anna Lucia of the National Research Council at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and Professor Giovanni Salmeri of Pisa University.

Structures such as city walls, stadiums, caravanserais and theaters are being unearthed during the archaeological works in the ancient city, which was first settled seven millennia ago.

As well as the artifacts underground, unearthed mosaics, an ancient stone bridge, city walls, aqueducts, baths, ancient stone tombs and the Havraniye Caravanserai make the city unique and significant.

Salmeri said excavation work on the area was being carried out by expert teams from Italy. The Pisa University professor said Misis was a very old city and that they had found remains from the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, early Hittite, Roman and Byzantine eras. “People and history are living together here. This place will become a culture and archaeological park in two or three years,” he added.

Salmeri said the professional excavation teams were working to shed light on the history of the region with pieces unearthed in excavations. “We have found pieces from the Neolithic age. Our analyses show that they are from 7,000 years ago. The ancient city of Misis hosted various civilizations,” he said, adding that the second stage of this year’s works would end in the next few days.

The archaeological work is helping augment the collection of the nearby Misis Mosaic Museum. In the museum various periods can be viewed in chronological order, and floor mosaics belonging to a basilica located within the boundaries of the Misis Ancient City are exhibited in situ.

The ancient city was discovered in 1956 and the mosaic area was revealed by Professor Dr. Theodor Bosset and Dr. Ludwig Budde from a German archaeology team who were carrying out excavations at that time on the Misis Mound.

The project, “The Infinite city: Misis,” includes the construction of a new housing project by The Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ). Agricultural activity will continue in the area, but not at the excavation site itself, and a set of incentives will be offered to local farmers by the Agriculture Ministry, permitting daily life to continue at Misis.

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Uzbek economy continues to flourish

Centralasiaonline.com 2014-11-13 TASHKENT – The year is shaping up as an economic success story for Uzbekistan. The nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose by 8.1% during the first three quarters of 2014, the government reported November 2. It also recorded satisfactory growth in international trade, manufacturing and small business.

Uzbekistan achieved those feats even though the global economy stagnated, economists said. “Many developing countries are running a budget deficit,” Economy Ministry spokesman Mamadali Fattakhov said. “We’re proud of running a surplus. This year it was about 0.1% of GDP.” That surplus “(will let us) increase spending on social welfare next year,” he said.

The government is also trying to keep struggling companies from folding.

“We … are carrying out a series of measures to modernise lending to businesses. We’re devising individual programmes for companies losing money,” Fattakhov said. “This year we restored 119 money-losing companies to profitability … at a cost of about $230m (551.2 billion UZS).” The manufacturing, agriculture and service sectors recorded 8.4%, 6.8% and 14.7% growth, respectively, the government said.

That performance is welcome as the government carries out a policy of import substitution, namely, standing up domestic manufacturers so that Uzbekistan won’t have to keep importing various goods and technologies.

The government is implementing a Programme for Localisation of Production from 2014 through 2016, Fattakhov said, noting that almost $850m (2 trillion UZS) in import-replacing goods were produced this year.

For example, a sugar refinery this year began operation in Angren. The government also is attracting more foreign investment. So far in 2014, the country has drawn about US $2.1 billion (5 trillion UZS) of foreign investment, a more than 20% increase over the first three quarters of 2013.

Parliament, meanwhile, is discussing an “On Investment Activity” bill, which includes measures to protect investors’ rights and property, and could spark more investment, Nurali Kuziyev, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, Investments and Trade, said.

The government is also heeding the complaints of small business. In April, President Islam Karimov signed a decree aimed at improving the business climate. It gave small businesses various privileges, while eliminating bureaucratic procedures that hindered them and reducing the frequency of inspections by officials.

As a result, the share of the GDP pie comprised by small businesses increased to almost 53% from 47%. The increase was attributed to the fact that more than 20,000 small businesses and 280,000 jobs there, were created, Fattakhov said.

Access to loans is helping small businesses prosper.

“This year I borrowed $20,000 (47.9m UZS) from Microcreditbank,” Vladimir Lianozov, of Tashkent Oblast, said. “I started my own business. We make locally sourced jams and jellies. It’s going well … also, under the new law, we’re free from inspections for three years.”

More business means more revenue which, in turn, leads to higher spending on community facilities, wages for civil servants, and pensions. The government this year spent “about $127m (303.8 billion UZS) building and reconstructing schools,” Fattakhov said. And since January 1, pensions and the average salary have grown by almost 16% and 17.7%, respectively.

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Asia-Pacific free trade area launched

DHAKA, Nov 11, 2014 (BSS) – Nations in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) bloc decided to conduct a two-year study to speed up formation of a free trade zone to spur growth. In sync with other Chinese initiatives in the region like the “Silk Route Belt” the free trade zone would also include five more countries: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mongolia, Tazakhstan and Kazakhstan, the Chinese official news agency Xinhua reported.

Speaking at this year’s APEC summit in Beijing, Xi said the 21-member forum had agreed that economic integration was the “driving force” behind sustained strong growth and APEC “should continue to play a leading and coordinating role in pushing forward this process.”

APEC, which also includes the US, China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Canada, groups countries which account for 40 percent of the world’s population, 54 percent of its economic output and 44 percent of trade.

Xi urged members to speed up the trade liberalization framework called the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). APEC had approved work towards the establishment of FTAAP, which Xi said was a “historic step.”

“Currently, the global economic recovery still faces many unstable and uncertain factors. Facing the new situation, we should further promote regional economic integration and create a pattern of opening up that is conducive to long-term development,” Xi said.

“We should vigorously promote the Asia-Pacific free trade zone, setting the goal, direction and roadmap and turn the vision into reality as soon as possible,” the Chinese president said.

Xi was quoted by state news agency Xinhua on Monday as saying that FTAAP “does not go against existing free trade arrangements which are potential pathways to realize FTAAP’s goals.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed China’s efforts this year on crafting a roadmap for the FTAAP scheme.

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Russia keen to start Dhaka-Moscow direct flight

DHAKA, Nov 11, 2014 (BSS) – Russia has shown its keen interest to commence Moscow-Dhaka direct flight for increasing connectivity with Bangladesh to explore more trade and investment opportunities.

This was revealed today while Russian Ambassador in Dhaka Alexander A Nikolayev called on Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon at his secretariat office here.

During the meeting, the minister discussed various matters related to aspect of Dhaka-Moscow direct air connectivity.

Terming the proposal of Dhaka-Moscow direct flight as time befitting, the minister assured that he will consider the matter after conducting an evaluation study on the new air route.

Menon also urged the Russian entrepreneurs to make investment in the country’s tourism sector as presently an investment friendly atmosphere is prevailing in the country.

The minister expressed his gratitude to Russia for its immense contribution during the country’s War of Independence. Menon expressed his hope that the existing excellent bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Russia would be further strengthened in the days to come.

The Russian envoy apprised the minister that Russian government is providing assistance to Bangladesh for setting up Ruppur Nuclear Power Plant here.

Russia has already supported to setup nuclear department in the Dhaka University and providing scholarship to students of that department for creating skilled human resource to run the nuclear power plant.

He said Bangladesh has huge potential in flourishing its aviation and tourism sector.

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Brunei Princess Launches Oman Cultural Week Exhibition

Wednesday, 12 November 2014 BruDirect.com BERAKAS, BRUNEI-MUARA: Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday consented to officiate the Oman Cultural Week Exhibition at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas.

The exhibition is to commemorate the 30th Diplomatic Cooperation Ties between Brunei and Oman. Among those presents were the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah and his Deputy, Datin Paduka Hjh Adina Othman.

In his welcoming speech, the Chairman of Oman’s Public Authority of Radio and Television, The Sultanate of Oman, Dr Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Harasi, as the head of the delegation, among others, touched on the cooperation ties and bilateral relations that has been forged for the past three decades.

The event was concluded with the traditional dance and musical performances from the two countries which featured the culture of each country. During the cultural week, three main activities are to be held which involve the delegations from the two countries in art and heritage exhibition as well as cultural performances and seminar. The exhibition is running until this Saturday.

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Russia discusses investment in Indonesian railways

12 November 2014 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Russia has voiced its interest in investing in several major projects in Indonesia such as the development of railway tracks and aluminum factories in the country.

“We also discussed cooperation in the latest technologies such as the development of Russian satellite technology in Indonesia and the participation of Russia in the development of nuclear power plants,” Matvienko, the Federation Council chairman of the Russian Federations Federal Assembly, stated after a meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla here on Wednesday.

He affirmed that during the meeting with the vice president, they discussed efforts to enhance economic cooperation between both countries and to boost two-way trade to US$2 billion.

Matvienko said Russia was also interested in President Joko Widodos idea to develop a maritime axis in the Asia-Pacific region as Russia and Indonesia are part of the region.

“In order to realize this idea, Russia is ready to assist Indonesia in trade and investment and the maritime sector,” he stated. Besides efforts to boost trade and investment cooperation, he remarked that Russia also called on Indonesia to cooperate in fighting international terrorism.

“Russia sees Indonesia as an important and key partner in the Pacific region,” he noted. Kalla emphasized that Indonesia and Russia enjoyed sound relations in the fields of politics, trade and investment. “We discussed steps to carry out all forms of cooperation, and they will be followed up by visits of other delegations,” stated the vice president.

During the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Beijing on Monday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo offered investment opportunities to Russia at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

“We have invited investors from Russia to invest in the energy, power plants, railways, irrigation, food, and manufacturing sectors,” the Indonesian head of state said.

He noted that the good relations developed between the two countries, so far, need to be further nurtured in the future.

Indonesia and Russia have been strategic partners since April 21, 2003, after they signed an agreement in Moscow. Since then, the two nations have developed cooperation in the fields of economy, trade and investment, including the manufacture of heavy equipment and satellite-based communication equipment. They have also cooperated in the development of security systems, information technology, and transportation.

“I am convinced that relations between the two countries as strategic partners will further improve in the future,” he affirmed.

He added that the strategic Indonesia-Russia partnership has covered wider areas and “it is hoped that if can be further developed and increased in the future.”

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Nigeria: Board Urges Citizens to Promote Tourism

Leadership (Abuja) – 13 November 2014 – Mr Tony Nzekwe, the General Manager of Enugu State Tourism Board, on Thursday reiterated call on stakeholders to strengthen tourism industry to promote socio-economic development.

“Tourism is a rapidly growing phenomenon and has become one of the largest industries in the world,” Nzekwe noted in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday. “It is a tool to create jobs and offers new employment opportunities.”

The general manager said tourism played positive role in the socio-economic and political development in destination countries.

“We must all work together to promote tourism as an alternative strategy for sustainability and diversification of the economy.

“Over-concentration on oil sector has profound implications for the economy,” the general manager said.

He therefore stressed the need to promote tourism and sustain the current government transformation in the agriculture sector. Nzekwe called on wealthy Nigerians to invest in tourism.

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Uganda: Tourism Expo On This Weekend

The Observer (Kampala) – 13 November 2014 – This weekend Ugandans who get time to go to the Uganda museum will have the chance of getting to know their country better in the first-of-its-kind Uganda International Tourism Expo.

The expo has been designed to be a flagship annual tourism exhibition for Uganda, and it will bring together the tourism fraternity from the hotel, tour and travel sectors, the investment and conservation sectors and support sectors such as banking, insurance and ICT.

According to the reigning Miss Tourism, Patricia Babirye Ntale, “The vision of the expo is to have Uganda attract the world to network with the private sector and also encourage domestic tourism.” She added that the expo “is not just about the source of the Nile, the big five or the chimpanzees but, rather, also about informing other people about our rich cultures and history.”

The theme of the expo is ‘Celebrating people and culture.’ Other activities on the cards will include quad biking, bouncing castles, special draws and a host of local artistes, including Chameleone, Iryn Ntale and Bobi Wine, have been lined up to perform.

Entrance to the expo is free. However, as a way of controlling some areas, a charge will be levied. The expo is organized by tour operators, Ngaali Uganda, and sponsored by Airtel, SMS Media, Uganda Wildlife Authority, ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and KCCA.

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Govt Releases Result of Classified Hotels in Lagos

Vanguard – 14 November 2014 – Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has made public the result of the hotels classification exercise done by the state government for hotels operating in the state.

Fashola had last year inaugurated two committees-Hotel classification and grading ratification and Appeal committee and Hotel classification and grading review committee-chaired by Mr. Gbolahan Elias and Mr. Larry Segun-Lean respectively, to ensure that the hotels in the state were graded accordingly. The governor announced the result at the weekend during the launch of the book, ‘Lagos a visitor’s guide,’ which chronicled the location of hotels, eateries and other tourist centres in the state, held in Victoria Island axis of the state,

The governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, explained that the result did represent the entire hotels in state, saying “We have graded 50 hotels in the state. They represent the first phase of the exercise.”

Fashola said that the hotels were graded between one and five stars, noting that the classification will benefit the government and the owners of the hotels in the state.

According to him, “The benefit of registration is immense. For instance when Lagos had the Ebola Virus Disease crisis, because we had the data’s of the schools we were able to tackle the deadly disease within the school environment.

“If we have the same data with hotels, we will be able to do the same. With the registration, classification and others, we would be able to provide security for any establishment in the state. We will know where such company is located and how to navigate to its location. And if there is need to increase the facilities in such area. It will be a win-win game,” he added.

Fashola however, warned hotels owners not to relent in upgrading their facilities, saying “We will not stop to visit your hotels, to ensure that you conform to standards that have earned some of you the grades today.”

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Nigeria’s Arik Air Plan Flights to Milan, Rome

The Guardian – 14 November 2014 – ARIK Air has commenced discussions with the government of Italy on how to consolidate the traffic approvals and bilateral rights to enable it begin flights into Milan or Rome next year.

The Chairman of the airline, Sir Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, disclosed this on Monday, when the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Fulvio Rustico paid a courtesy visit to the airline.

However, Rustico stated that the Italian government would be delighted to grant Arik Air the necessary approval to enable it implement the remaining 50 per cent of the bilateral air services agreement Nigeria signed with Italy on the Lagos, Milan, Rome, routes.

He described Arik Air is a formidable carrier that would boost the economic and diplomatic relationship between the two countries.

According to him, the airline has demonstrated capacity for growth as a link between African and Europe as the airline to watch. He said his visit to Arik Air was to have first hand workings of its operations to facilitate further negotiations for cooperation.

Arumemi-Ikhide said the airline is not in a hurry to conclude arrangements for flights into Italy, until it takes delivery of two additional side body A330-200 aircraft to boost its operations next year.

He added that the airline has remained committed concluding all bilateral air agreements to ensure its planned flights into Italy, France and other destinations in Europe is in concrete terms.

“Arik Air has the potential to serve the two countries, which remains very high. We are convinced that our negotiations would see to the commencement of flights by Arik Air very soon, on our side, we are looking forward to the actualisation of the remaining fifty per cent of the bilateral air services agreement on the Nigerian side.

“Now that Arik Air has been designated, we look forward to the beginning of flights to enhance robust relationship between us. We discussed a lot of potentials on Arik’s coming to Italy. What I saw at the airline facility is fantastic. We are going to work together as business partners to ensure the relationship between the two countries remains robust”, said the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria.

Furthermore, Arumemi said:” The Italian ambassador to Nigeria has expressed willingness to work with Arik Air, and on on our part, we are working hard in how to begin flights into Italy next year. That would depend on our delivery of two aircraft, and the conclusion of bilateral agreements with the relevant authorities. We are not in the hurry; we are prepared to commence the flights by next year after the necessary things would have been done. We are looking at Milan, Rome, Amsterdam, Paris and other routes in Europe.”

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Uganda: Museveni Urges Western Tourists to Emulate Birds

The Observer (Kampala) – 14 November 2014 – Right from the word go, President Museveni was armed with information to challenge Western perceptions of Africa, a continent he marketed as the world’s best tourist destination.

“I want to ask you one question,” a combative Museveni began his speech at the 39th Africa Travel Association (ATA) conference on Wednesday. “Why are birds more informed than human beings? I ask this because in winter, many of the birds come from the northern hemisphere and come here to the equator. They stay here for some time and when it’s warm again in the north, they go back.”

Opening the ATA conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala, Museveni urged Western tourists to emulate the birds. “Some parts of the world are warm, other parts are cold, and human beings who live on either zone should try and take advantage of the other zones,” he said.

“In Europe, people go to the Mediterranean coast; I visited some of those destinations like Spain. Spain is very hot in summer. Uganda would be a better destination.”

Running under the theme, Tourism is everyone’s business, the five-day conference has attracted tourism players from across the globe. Founded in 1975, ATA is a non-profit association based in the USA, whose major aim is to promote travel and tourism to Africa.

According to the Africa Tourism Monitor report released during the conference, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) projects that international arrivals to Africa will rise to 134 million in 2030, an increase of 106 per cent from the 2013 level of 65 million arrivals.

The report, jointly prepared by ATA, African Development Bank and New York University, attributes this projected rise to an influx of new visitors from emerging economies in Asia, central and eastern Europe, all seeking to experience Africa’s cultural heritage, wildlife and landscapes.

The most popular African destinations in 2013 were the North African countries of Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia, while South Africa and Zimbabwe were the leading destinations in sub-Saharan Africa.

The conference, according to the minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Maria Mutagamba, comes at a time when Africa has to demonstrate to the rest of the world that it is a safe place to visit, amid threats to the tourism sector such as Ebola and Marburg outbreaks, as well as terrorism.

“We need to address critical issues affecting tourism and one of them is the media which has potential of killing or marketing a destination,” Mutagamba said. “What drives tourism is the perception that tourists have about a destination.”

Museveni told delegates that Africa is a huge and diverse landmass, with 30 million square kilometres of land. “There are maps which are printed these days showing the whole of United States, China, India, Brazil, squeezed within Africa and you have spare space for Western Europe,” Museveni said.

“All these parts of Africa are miracles. You have very cold water next to the Namibian coast when Namibia is a sub-tropical country. We have the huge tropical forests of central and West Africa, the huge rivers: the Nile which is the longest river in the world… and lakes like Victoria which is the second biggest lake in the world, the towering snow-capped mountains on the equator.”

Museveni further noted that there is no continent like Africa because it’s the cradle of humankind.

“All of you here are ex-Africans; either you are Africans or former Africans who became Europeans, Chinese… all of you started here. If you read archeology and history, the reason why man evolved first here was because of the climate condition – because in the forest, it wasn’t easy for those monkeys to become man. But here in the rift valley, at the edge of the forest, the primates started walking upright,” Museveni said.

“Also, Africa is the cradle of civilisation, which started here 6,000 years ago… Moses was here in Egypt. Even Jesus, when the Jews wanted to kill him, he was hidden in Africa. Muhammad, when he had problems with Arabs, he fled to Ethiopia.”

Amina Ali, the permanent representative of the African Union Mission in the United States, said tourism has a big potential to uplift Africa and provide employment for the youths. He urged African states to work towards a single tourism visa so that Africa is marketed as a single bloc.

“Tourists aren’t interested in your limiting borders but touring as many places as they can,” she said.

The ATA executive director, Edward Bergman, thanked Uganda for playing a big role in peacekeeping in Africa, which he said is a crucial factor in building a sustainable tourism brand.

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Number of tourists to Egypt rises by 193% in September

Ahram Online, Friday 14 Nov 2014 – The number of tourists to Egypt rose by a whopping 193 percent last September compared to the same month in 2013, according to the latest official figures.

Egypt welcomed nearly 884 thousand tourists from abroad in September, compared to the 301 thousand in the same period of the previous year, the Information and Decision Support Center reported.

Tourism to Egypt has shown signs of recovery in recent months after three years of political turmoil and militant attacks dealt the sector a series of blows.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was elected last May on a mandate to restore security and stability to country in the midst of terrorist attacks on mostly police and military targets across the country.

Tourist numbers recorded a 76.7 percent increase year-on-year in August, the sharpest rise in three years, after several European countries had announced the removal of travel bans imposed on Egypt in February, when a bomb blast on a tour bus in South Sinai killed three South Koreans and their Egyptian driver and raised concerns about safety in Red Sea resorts.

September’s figure represents an 11.4 percent fall compared to the numbers seen in August 2014, which had exceeded 997 thousand.

The number of nights tourists spent in Egypt in September increased by some 704 percent, to register 8.8 million, compared to 1.9 million nights during the same month of the previous year.

Tourists had spent a total of 11 million nights in the country in August 2014.

Egypt’s tourism sector is a vital source of national income, contributing some 11 percent of the country’s gross national product.

Egypt welcomed a total of some 4.7 million tourists in 2010, before the country’s January 2011 revolution. By 2013 this number had shrunk to 9.5 million.

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Ashiq Festival kicks off in Azerbaijan

13 November 2014 – TODAY.AZ – The grandiose opening of the second International Ashiq Festival was held in Baku on November 12. Co-organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Culture and Tourism Ministry and Ashiqs Association, the festival opened at the Azerbaijan State Musical Theatre.

Some outstanding performers from Turkey, Iran, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Russia, as well as all regions of Azerbaijan, are participating in this splendid festival.

Addressing the event, Vagif Aliyev, deputy Culture and Tourism Minister briefed the participants about the significance of the festival.

Saying that Ashiq art is one of the branches of Azerbaijani folk art, Aliyev underlined that the government always pays special attention to this field. He noted that Azerbaijani Ashiq performers are always awarded with honorable titles and they are provided with all opportunities for giving concerts.

He also said that 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.

From November 13 to 17, Azerbaijani regions including Yevlakh, Gadabay, Shamkir, Qazakh, Tovuz and Ujar will host the grandiose event.

“The festival offers great opportunities to promote and publicize our national Ashiq art on the international level, enhance the role of Ashiq art and promote Azerbaijani Ashiq singers across the world,” said Zalimkhan Yagub, chairman of the Azerbaijani Ashiqs Union.

The chairman noted that the inclusion of this immortal art in the list of cultural treasures not only opens up new horizons for Azerbaijanis, but also increases people’s responsibility. “The festival covers the entire Turkic world,” he added.

The first International Ashiq Festival was held in Azerbaijan in 2010 attracting lots of attentions.

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Azerbaijan Cycling Federation to organize art exhibition

12 November 2014 – TODAY.AZ – The contest of the best painting, sculpture and decorative art will be held in Baku on December 24-26 at the Park Boulevard Trade Centre in Baku Boulevard.

Co-organized by Azerbaijan Cycling Federation (ACF), the General Administration of Baku City Youth and Sports Azerbaijan State Art Academy and State Youth Organization the exhibition is aimed to promote the cycling sport and support the talented youth.

The best artworks approved through the contest, will be exhibited during the event, which will announce its winners on December 24at 18:00 in Park Boulevard.

The contestants will get cash prizes in the amount of 500, 300 and 200 manats, respectively for the best three artworks. Besides that, the participants will have some gifts and presents. The frame side of the pictures should be 60x80cm. The pictures should be submitted to the Azerbaijan State Art Academy till December 20.

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US National Cathedral Hosts Friday Prayer

OnIslam & Newspapers Tuesday, 11 November 2014 CAIRO – Washington National Cathedral has announced plans to host Muslim Friday prayers this week, reflecting a solid interfaith relation between America’s Muslim and Christian faith leaders.

“We want the world to see the Christian community is partnering with us and is supporting our religious freedom in the same way we are calling for religious freedom for all minorities in Muslim countries,” Rizwan Jaka, a spokesman with the prominent ADAMS mosque in Sterling, Va., one of the co-sponsors of Friday’s service, told The Washington Post. “Let this be a lesson to the world.”

Known for presidential funerals and other major spiritual services, the Cathedral hosts this week Friday, Jumm`ah, prayers for the Muslim community for the first time. The Cathedral, part of the Episcopal Church, has a long history of high-profile interfaith events.

By hosting Friday prayer, organizers said Monday, November 10, that they are seeking to make a statement by having Muslim leaders come and hold their midday service in such a visible Christian house of worship.

The prayer service will begin around 12:20 and is for invited guests only. The event developed out of a relationship between the cathedral’s director of liturgy, the Rev. Gina Campbell, and the South African ambassador to the United States, Ebrahim Rasool, who is Muslim.

The two worked together on a memorial service for Nelson Mandela, Jaka said. “This is a dramatic moment in the world and in Muslim-Christian relations,” Rasool said in a prepared statement.

“This needs to be a world in which all are free to believe and practice and in which we avoid bigotry, Islamophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Christianity and to embrace our humanity and to embrace faith.”

The two faith leaders have cooperated previously in preparation for Mandela service. “There was a lot of tension in trying to get that to a manageable size and (to be) a beautiful thing, with all the competing interests,” she said Monday.

“He got the cathedral — he understands what it represents in the United States; he made the connection to the power of a cathedral to shape relationships, community, conversation, to do deep, important things,” she said.

Though Muslims have held prayer services in different synagogues or churches, Campbell said the cathedral is different. “This is the place where we bury our presidents, where we bury our national heroes,” she said.

The service will be attended by about 100 Muslims who will bring prayer carpets. It is being co-sponsored by the cathedral, Rasool and several Muslim spiritual and advocacy groups: ADAMS — whose full name is the All Dulles Area Muslim Society — the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, Muslim Public Affairs Council and Masjid Muhammad mosque in Northwest Washington.

Rasool will deliver the Friday khutbah, or sermon, during the prayer service which will be held in a part of the massive cathedral “with arches and limited iconography, almost mosque-like,” a statement from the cathedral said.

Jaka noted that three of ADAMS’s 22 weekly services are held at two synagogues and a church.

ADAMS is hosting a fundraiser for Christian religious freedom in Pakistan, and it regularly hosts non-Muslim speakers. “Deep relationships come out of prayer,” Campbell said in the statement. “Different connections come out of being in prayer — beyond the political or academic.”

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Haitham, WTO chief discuss tourism projects

Oman Tribune – 11 November, 2014 – Sayyid Haitham Bin Tariq Al Said, Minister of Heritage and Culture, on Monday received in his Office Dr Talib Al Rifai, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), who is currently visiting the Sultanate.

The meeting discussed ways of promoting and consolidating cooperation between the Sultanate and the organisation within the framework of the national strategy for the development of tourism and employment of heritage and archaeology in enriching tourism sector because of its social, cultural and investment returns.

Ahmed Bin Nasser Al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism, and Omar Abdul Ghaffar, Regional Director for the Middle East, in the tourism organisation, attended the meeting.

Al Mehrzi also received Al Rifaie and his accompanying delegation. They discussed viewpoints on the organisation’s role in supporting and promoting tourism industry and its related sectors around the world.

The meeting also discussed the most important aspects of cooperation between the Sultanate and the tourism body through supporting the Sultanate’s ambitious plans to build a global tourist destination, as well as benefiting from the organisation’s expertise and experiences within the Omani Strategy Project for Tourism 2015-45.

During the meeting, a visual presentation was given on the development of the tourism sector in the Sultanate and the Sultanate’s efforts in upgrading the sustainable tourist development.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Bakri, Minister of Manpower, received Al Rifai and his accompanying delegation. The meeting exchanged viewpoints on the organisation’s role in supporting the tourist sector in the Sultanate, in addition to discussing and reviewing cooperation areas between both sides.

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Dubai plans $689m IPO as it steps up tourism push

The Peninsula – 12 November, 2014 – A Dubai company plans to launch a $ 689m initial public offer of shares this month as it builds a $ 2.9bn amusement park complex which is key to the emirate’s drive to expand as an international tourist destination.

Dubai Parks and Resorts, part of the government-owned Meraas investment group, said on Tuesday it would sell 2.53 billion shares or 40 percent of its outstanding shares between November 17 and 30, at a price of Dh1 each.

The company has started work on three linked theme parks that it says will help Dubai meet its target to double annual tourist numbers to 20 million in 2020 from 10 million in 2012, and treble tourism income over that period.

The 16 million square foot project on the outskirts of Dubai is to feature three theme parks: Motiongate, based on films made by DreamWorks Animation and Sony Pictures, LEGOLAND Dubai, and Bollywood Parks.

Hotel, shopping and other entertainment facilities are also planned, with completion scheduled by September 30, 2016.

Meraas estimates the project will cost a total of about Dh10.5bn, funded through Dh4.2bn of debt arranged by Goldman Sachs, and Dh6.3bn of equity. The equity will include the IPO proceeds, plus Dh2bn in cash and Dh1.78bn in land and previous expenses funded by Meraas.

The Dubai Parks IPO marks a revival of equity offers in the United Arab Emirates; they dried up as the global financial crisis erupted five years ago, but are now being buoyed by a strong rebound in the UAE economy and markets. Several offers have occurred this year and drawn heavy investor demand, including the $1.6bn IPO of Emaar Malls Group. Emirates Financial Services, Goldman Sachs and HSBC are acting as joint global coordinators for the Dubai Parks IPO, with EFG Hermes and Shuaa Capital also involved.

Ten percent of the offer will be allocated to retail investors, 25 percent to those wishing to buy a minimum of 5 million shares each, and 60 percent to institutions ordering at least 10 million shares. The remaining is reserved for the Emirates Investment Authority.

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Malaysia’s former PM calls for Islamic waqf in OIC states

Kuwait News Agency – 12 November, 2014 – Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi on Tuesday called for adopting the Islamic waqf (religious endowment) concept to push ahead the wheel of development and guarantee basic rights of individuals in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries.

Badawi’s call came in his address to the 5th OIC World BIZ Exhibition and Conference 2014 held here under the theme “Towards excellent global economies.” The OIC has been making great efforts to develop the Islamic economy and it is high time to assist thousands of the poor and the needy in the Muslim World, Badawi said.

He noted that development is a “major element” to realize stability and economic growth, saying that Muslim countries need to cooperate and counter challenges, especially combating poverty and help the needy in the developing Muslim countries.

According to the former premier, Islamic waqf will help firms and businessmen contribute effectively to realizing economic balance in the society.

Amid the rising interest in Islamic economy worldwide in the aftermath of financial mayhems, it is imperative to highlight Islamic waqf and how it can contribute to fostering development and secure people’s basic rights.

Badawi also urged businessmen and entrepreneurs in the Muslim World to invest in education and devote their waqfs for scholars as the “best form of investment for the future.” Meanwhile, Badawi regretted the infighting, violence and conflicts, victimizing innocent people in some Muslim states.

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Muriya promotes ‘Destination Oman’ at World Travel Market

Oman Daily Observer – 12 November, 2014 – Muriya, one of Oman’s leading tourism development companies recently exhibited at the World Travel Market 2014, the leading global event for the travel industry, to develop and create more business with global tour operators and travel agencies.

Building on a successful 2014 season and to further promote tourism in Oman, Muriya showcased the latest developments at its Jebel Sifah and Salalah Beach destinations, the two largest Integrated tourism complexes (ITCs) in the Sultanate, while highlighting the country’s potential to attract tourists from all over the world.

“Our main goal of exhibiting at World Travel Market 2014 is to attract the world to ‘Destination Oman’,” said Bahaa Hefzallah, Marketing Director at Muriya. “Leading the way in the ITCs business, we has been raising awareness on what our developments have to offer and of course what Oman has to offer as an exciting year-round destination.

We explored long-term productive business-to-business deals within key target-markets in Europe and Asia, which will be instrumental in increasing Oman’s exposure and attract more leisure and business tourists.”

Salalah Beach features the five-star Salalah Rotana Resort, the largest single hotel in Oman, with 400-keys, in addition to Juweira Boutique Hotel offering 82 guest rooms.

The destination also comprises of freehold apartments and villas,

to date 77 units have been handed over.

In addition to a 200-berth marina, a number of recreational, commercial and retail outlets opened in the destination including the Salalah based small and medium enterprise, ‘Around the Ocean’ offering water activities and the worldwide diving tour operators, ‘Extra Divers’.As for Jebel Sifah, it also features freehold apartments and villas of diverse architecture and styles, with 82 handed over to date.

In addition, a 150-berth inland marina with a variety of restaurants, cafés and retail venues are part of the destination.

Muriya introduced the first of six hotels planned, Sifawy Boutique Hotel offering 55 luxurious guest rooms and suites, while work on an 18-hole PGA standard golf course is under way.

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Demolition of historical Saudi buildings needs SCTA approval

Arab News – 13 November, 2014 – Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, has directed authorities to refrain from demolishing any historical building without first seeking approval from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA).

The crown prince also called on authorities to communicate with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities about any archaeological site needing to be maintained or restored.

The directive is in line with the royal decree which commits government ministries and agencies to maintain and preserve historical Islamic sites in addition to archaeological and heritage sites, and protect them from removal or demolition and natural causes.

Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the SCTA, expressed his appreciation to the crown prince for the directive.

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Air Arabia net profit jumps 46% in 9 months

Saudi Gazette – 13 November, 2014 – AIR Arabia’s net profit for the first nine months of 2014 stood at AED498 million, up 46 percent compared to AED341 million reported in the corresponding period of 2013. For the nine months ending September 30, 2014, the airline posted a turnover of AED2.8 billion, an increase of 17 percent compared to AED2.4 billion in the same period of 2013. The low-cost aviation pioneer served over 5.1 million passengers in the first nine month of 2014, a 13 percent year-on-year increase. The average seat load factor – or passengers carried as a percentage of available seats – for the same period stood at an impressive 82 percent.

“Air Arabia’s excellent performance for the year to date demonstrates the strength of its underlying business model and the effectiveness of its growth strategy,” said Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman of Air Arabia. “Our focus on expanding both our operational footprint and our route network has created a dynamic platform able to respond to customer demand and seize new commercial opportunities.”

Air Arabia’s net profit for the third quarter of 2014 was AED251 million, up 22 percent compared to AED206 million reported in the corresponding period of 2013. For the three months ending September 30, 2014, the airline posted a turnover of AED1.06 billion, an increase of 25 percent compared to AED854 million in the same period of 2013. Air Arabia served over 1.75 million passengers in the third quarter of 2014, a 15 percent increase compared to 1.52 million passengers in the same period of last year. The average seat load factor – or passengers carried as a percentage of available seats – for the same quarter stood at an impressive 80 percent. “The record third quarter performance is a reflection of the company’s commitment to its core values underlined by its operational efficiency.

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Kuwait, Tajikistan eye closer tourism ties

Kuwait News Agency – 14 November, 2014 – Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for Tourism Affairs Samira Al-Ghareeb and the Ambassador of Tajikistan in Kuwait Zubaydullo Zubaydov discussed here on Thursday how to beef up and cement bilateral cooperation in the domain of tourism.

Speaking to KUNA following the meeting, Al-Ghareeb said she had discussed with the Tajik ambassador direct routes between Kuwait and Tajikistan and how to put the 2013 bilateral tourist agreement in place.

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Commerce and Industry has provided all necessary support and facilities for an exhibition and forum on tourism in Tajikistan due here on November 24, she said.

For his part, the Tajik ambassador said his country has all potentials to be a destination for Gulf tourists, especially Kuwaitis.

In this regard, several Tajik ministers and officials are poised to visit Kuwait by the end of this month to attend the tourism exhibition, he said.

The Tajik ambassador invited Kuwaitis to visit his country in order to enjoy tourist facilities there.

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Tourism industry needs govt support to boost Qatarisation

The Peninsula – 10 November, 2014 – Qatar’s private tourism sector has achieved one of the lowest levels of job Qatarisation due to factors such as culture, tradition and low salaries.

It needs government support to attract locals for sustainable growth and development, say experts and businessmen from the industry.

“Representation of Qataris is very low in the tourism sector, and we would like to see more as they can be the true ambassadors of local culture and tradition. But there are several factors, such as wrong perceptions about the nature of job and low salaries, hindering nationals from joining the industry,” Mohammed Hussain Al Mulla, Chairman, Al Mulla Travel and Tourism company, was quoted as saying by local Arabic daily Al Raya yesterday.

He said: “There is a misunderstanding among locals that working in the industry only means serving the guests. There are a lot of jobs, including administration, accounts and supervisory-related works which can be suitable for locals, but they need to be provided with proper education, training and other attractions to take up jobs in the sector.”

He said the government should invite the world’s leading tourism universities and institutions to open branches to make education and training more accessible and affordable.

With the opening of Hamad International Airport, coupled with large number of hotels, Qatar is emerging as one of the most favourite destinations of tourists in the region.

Abdulaziz Al Emadi, former vice-chairman, Qatar Chamber, said: “The number of local employees in the industry is negligible, especially in the private sector, due to low salaries. However, there is a plan to achieve Qatarisation with government support.”

Hotels comprise an important part of the industry, but there are very few locals to represent the culture and tradition at these facilities, as citizens prefer to take up jobs in other sectors of the energy-rich economy which provide better opportunities and facilities.

“Nearly 60 percent of hospitality businesses do not have national employees, and Qatarisation in the sector is not more than four percent of the labour force,” said Al Emadi.

He said government-backed hotels and companies, such as Katara Hospitality, have achieved good levels of Qatarisation, which can also be achieved in case of private hotels provided if the government supports them.

With more hotel rooms joining the industry, the average tariffs of five-star rooms have declined to QR721 (in 2014) from QR814 last year. However, room rates continue to remain one of the highest in the region.

Despite the opening of new hotels in the recent past, the occupancy rate has increased to 74 percent during the first half of 2014 from over 67 percent during the same period last year.

The combined income of five- and four-star hotels stood at QR1.98bn, up 4 percent growth (year-on-year) and the income of three-star hotels, which are developing fast, reached QR82.51m. The average room rates of four-star to one-star hotels ranged between QR389 and QR212.

Mohammed Kazim Al Ansari, another businessman, said: “Qataris need government support so that they are encouraged to join the sector. “There is also the need to ensure our students receive education and training from the world’s best institutes,” he added.

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Qatari bank to support six innovative tourism projects

The Peninsula – 10 November, 2014 – The Qatar Development Bank (QDB) announced that it is in the final phase of awarding six tourism projects with the support of Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA). With these projects, the country would witness the launch of a total of 25 tourism projects during the first quarter of 2015, Al Sharq reported.

Abdul Aziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa, CEO, QDB said the development bank‘s strategy is to promote the growth of private sector and support the government economic diversification programme.

Luxury Dhow Dining Cruise, Luxury Coach, 4×4 Leasing Company, MICE and Events DMC, Ticketing and Mobile Information Centers and SME Cottage Markets are the six projects under consideration. These projects will be procured via a competitive public tender. QDB will also look favourably upon applications for funding in relation to this project. QDB will offer advisory services to applicants prior and post financing.

These projects are a part of a larger pipeline of projects aimed at filling gaps in tourism. The projects offer a first mover’s advantage since there is a demand for such services, but hardly any players in the market.

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Dubai to host 3rd Global Airport Leaders Forum in May

Gulf Today – 09 November, 2014 – Dubai, one of the world’s fastest growing travel hubs, will host the third edition of its iconic knowledge sharing platform for global aviation industry professionals in May next year.

The two-day Global Airport Leaders Forum (GALF-2015) will be held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) from May 11 and 12 as a co-located event of the 15th edition of Airport Show, the world’s top-notch B2B exhibition for the airport industry.

GALF and Airport Show will be held under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group.

Sheikh Ahmed said: “The importance of airports as global travel hubs has been growing. In Dubai, the massive airport expansions are needed to accommodate the growth in air traffic and airport development continues to play a strategic role in our future growth agenda. The huge and consistent aviation investments will have a positive impact not just for Dubai alone but for the UAE, Gulf region and the world.”

GALF, he said, has been bringing international aviation experts and leaders to Dubai for an unparalleled knowledge and expertise sharing experience which will contribute to our combined efforts towards the sustained growth of the global aviation industry.

Both the events are being supported by Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Dubai Airports, Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects and dnata.

The Forum will assemble the world’s foremost aviation industry thought leaders, experts and decision-makers, making it an ideal global platform to exchange knowledge, share best practices and explore emerging technologies and future innovations.

The 2015 Forum comes at a time when the global aviation industry is continuing its fast growth and transformation, more so in the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf. Aviation infrastructure developments in the run up to the Expo 2020 that Dubai will host and the expansion of the Dubai World Central (DWC) will be on the agenda.

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