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1 Dec, 2014

Al-Quds, Konya Declared Islamic Tourism Capitals for 2015, 2016

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 01 December 2014 (09 Safar 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.




OIC economy ministers meeting wraps up work in Istanbul

Istanbul, Nov 28, IRNA – Session of Economy and Trade ministers of member-states of OIC Standing Committee on Economic and Commercial Cooperation ( COMCEC) wrapped up its work here on Friday.
In the final declaration, which was read by Turkey’s Development Minister Cevdet Yilmaz, it said that session of COMCEC approved holding the fifth Health Tourism Conference in 2015 will be hosted by Islamic Republic of Iran in the city of Mashad and asked for active participation of member states in the conference.
Necessity of forming a trade negotiation committee to consider issues related to trade preferential tariff and offering list of related goods in this field were among other contents of the final declaration.
Continuation of holding working groups related to trade, tourism, agriculture, transportation, banking and stock market and declaring holding time for events were emphasized in the declaration.
Also promotion of banking and stock market cooperation among Islamic countries and necessity of holding training courses were emphasized, too.
The session started its work on Thursday in presence of ministers, officials and experts from 57 member states of COMCEC in Istanbul.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the opening ceremony of the session.
COMCEC was founded in 1981 and officially started its work in 1984.

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Trans-Sumatra railway in sight

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, November 27 2014 – The Transportation Ministry is preparing a 2,168-kilometer railway linking Aceh in the northern part of Sumatra to Lampung on the southern tip of the country’s longest island as part of the medium-term development program.
The feasibility study for the development of the Trans-Sumatra railway is expected to begin next year.
According to the government’s 2015-2019 National Mid-Term Development Plan (RPJMN) draft released by the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) last week, the 2,168-kilometer railway will stretch from Aceh to Lampung, connecting Sumatra’s major cities, seaports and airports to ease traffic and reduce logistics costs.
The Transportation Ministry’s director general for railways Hermanto Dwiatmoko said that the government would prioritize the feasibility study and land-acquisition process for the Pekanbaru-Dumai section in Riau.
“We’ve decided to prioritize this section because we’re planning to construct it alongside the Trans-Sumatra toll road’s Pekanbaru-Dumai section to simplify the land-acquisition process,” Hermanto told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. “The feasibility study may take up to one year but we will speed up the land-acquisition process in cooperation with the local administration.”
In October, the previous government conducted the ground-breaking ceremony of the initial 15.8-kilometer Medan-Binjai section of the 2,700-kilometer Trans-Sumatra toll road.
The second stage of construction of the total 24 sections will stretch 22 km from Palembang to Indralaya in South Sumatra, and will be followed by the Pekanbaru-Dumai and Bakauheni-Terbanggi sections.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Tuesday visited Lampung to review in detail the plans for the construction of the Trans-Sumatra toll road and railway. “We will start the construction of both the toll road and railway across Sumatra next year,” he said at Bakauheni port as quoted by Antara.
Jokowi said he would listen to reports from the governor of Lampung regarding preparations for the development projects. He expressed hope that the planning would be closely linked with the development of long-term integration and connectivity between regions, so as to lower logistics costs.
The government has set a target of reducing the country’s logistics costs from the current 23.4 percent of GDP to 19.2 percent in 2019.
Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro previously said that the Sumatra railway was one of the government’s priority projects to integrate freight transportation outside Java.
“Sumatra has railways, but they are scattered everywhere in Medan, in Padang, in Lampung; we want to connect these railways, more for freight than for passengers,” he continued.
The government will need a total of Rp 5.5 quadrillion in investment for infrastructure projects between 2015 and 2019 with Rp 283 trillion for railway development, according to Bappenas. The agency aims to complete the Rp 65 trillion Trans-Sumatra railway project by 2025.
Hermanto said that the government would also prioritize the southern Java double-track railway and the Makassar-Pare-Pare railway in South Sulawesi next year.
National Development Planning Minister and Bappenas chief Andrinof Chaniago said the new administration would not prioritize high-speed rail over the next five years.
“High-speed rail is deemed unrealistic within the near future. We will concentrate more on the development of railways, seaports and airports,” he said recently.
The Indonesian and Japanese governments had previously agreed to conduct a detailed feasibility study on adopting Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed rail technology connecting Jakarta and Surabaya.
Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan said construction of neither the Jakarta-Surabaya high-speed rail link nor the Jakarta airport express train from Halim Perdanakusuma Airport to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport would be financed from the state budget.

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Saudi Arabia, Egypt to bolster tourism ties

Cairo, Arab News, 28 November 2014 – The Kingdom plans to boost tourism ties with the Arab world, particularly Egypt, at the 17th Conference of Arab Tourism Ministers taking place in Cairo this week, said Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.
Prince Sultan arrived in Cairo on Wednesday night and was welcomed by the Egyptian Minister of Tourism Hesham Zaazou, the Saudi Ambassador to Egypt and the Arab League Ahmad Al-Qattan, and Fahd Al-Fuhaid, president of the Jeddah-based Arab Tourism Organization.
Before leaving the airport, Prince Sultan spoke to reporters about the Kingdom’s relations with Egypt. “My visit here is to express our continuous support as Saudis for Egypt and its people, not only to attend the conference,” he said.
“The visit is a reflection of the deep concern of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman for the well-being of Egypt and its people, and to build on the already strong and long-standing ties between the two brotherly countries,” he said.
The conference, chaired by the Iraq tourism and antiquities minister, Adel Al-Shershab, will discuss 18 items including an Arab tourism strategy, and streamlining the flow of tourists between countries in the region by looking at issues such as visas.
There would also be discussion on security issues, decision on the annual Arab tourism capital, and a prize for top restaurants.

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Malaysia To Produce Caviar

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 (NNN-Bernama) — The sturgeon is a fish that is probably lesser known than its roe (eggs), which when salt-cured becomes the luxury food that is caviar.
Countries near subtropical and subarctic waters normally produce this expensive and rare delicaccy but now Malaysia is planning to become the world’s second largest producer of caviar through an aquaculture venture by government agency Felda.
The project will be a sturgeon farming complex known as the Felda Caviartive Blue Dream Park in Kuala Tahan, Pahang state. SPECIES
Sturgeons have been constantly hunted for their precious roe, where its market price is between RM9,000 and RM16,000 a kilogramme. There are only 28 species of sturgeons left in the world today, four of them possibly extinct due to extensive illegal fishing.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature over 85 per cent of the fish are at risk of extinction making them the most critically endangered of all species. The sturgeons found in the Caspian Sea are among those nearing extinction. The sea bordering along Iran is the producer of the world’s best caviar.
Today, the international trade and harvesting of all species of sturgeons are regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The sturgeon is not a fish native to Malaysian waters. In fact, it is one of the fish species banned under the Fisheries Act 1985. The regulation is to prevent the introduction and spread of new diseases to Malaysian waters, which could threaten the biodiversity balance, habitat and the native fish species to the country.
Cognisant of such issues, the people of Kuala Tahan noted with apprehension the news of the construction of a 20-hectare sturgeon farming complex in the region.
They are worried of the destruction on nature as they have heard that the project would take up part of the Taman Negara Forest Reserve, where many of the locals depended on ecotourism activities for a living.
Felda’s Strategic Resources Deputy General Manager Muhammad Sufi Mahbub addressed the concern by saying that the land awarded by the state government for the project was not inside the forest reserve, but next to it.
“The area was selected by the state government itself. Felda will ensure its environmental conservation by only cutting down 60 per cent of the trees in the area.
“For every tree felled, Felda will pay a compensation to the state government that will itself open the tender for the felling of the trees,” he said.
The Director General of Fisheries had given a written permission to import four species of sturgeon, namely the Siberian, Amur, Sterlet and Bester into Malaysia last June.
Its Impact Risk Assessment stated that the species brought in were only those that fed on pellets and spirulina, thus quashing claims that the fish is a predator that would destroy the natural habitat of fish native to the Kuala Tahan River.
“Indeed there are sturgeons that feed on fries, but these four species are not those types. They also spawn earlier than those in the Caspian Sea, producing roe within three to four years,” Muhammad Sufi explained.
The ponds to be built would be 27 metres above sea level and fenced. Research conducted in the past 30 years showed that the biggest flood to strike Kuala Tahan was 23 metres deep. The possibility of future floods reaching 25 to 27 metres in depth was probably nil, he said.
“Even if it did happen, the fencing around the pond would prevent the fish from swimming out.
“In the event the fishes are accidentally released into the river, it will not be a grave concern. The species requires a temperature of 16 degrees Celsius to spawn, while the minimum temperature at our rivers is 22 degrees Celsius,” he said.
The FC Blue Dream Park project in Kuala Tahan is now in its final stages and awaiting the results of the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment report before it can be launched next year.
Felda would explain the report to the people of Kuala Tahan once it is out, he said.
The RM150 million project will be in collaboration with South Korean company FI2C Hassed (M) Sdn Bhd. The farming complex among others will house breeding ponds, an exhibition area, aquariums, a research and development centre and a resort.
Caviar’s high market value has prompted many countries like the United States, Russia, Italy, Iran, Korea and China to go into sturgeon aquaculture commercially.
The United Arab Emirates is the world’s largest caviar producer at 35 tonnes of caviar annually.
Malaysia has the potential of becoming the second largest producer of caviar through the sturgeon-farming project, which will be expanded to 11 other Felda regions nationwide. “Our aim is to produce 30 tonnes of caviar annually with a projected profit of RM360 million,” he said.
The project is expected to generate over 30,000 job opportunities for the new generation of Felda settlers and local community of Kuala Tahan and Hulu Tembeling.

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Iran’s economy minister calls for promoting tourism among Islamic states

Tehran, Nov 27, IRNA – Iran’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayebnia on Thursday called for expansion of tourism industry among Islamic states. He made the remarks in the 30th Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC) in Istanbul, Turkey.
World economy is now improving and it seems that in the years 2014 and 2015 the pace of such progress to be accelerated much more but still unemployment rate is on the agenda including OIC member states, he said. Tourism industry plays significant role in employment opportunity, he underlined.
Islamic states are possessing natural, geographic, historical and cultural attractions for tourism, Tayebnia said. All should endeavor to increase their share in tourism marketplace, he said.
He expressed the hope that COMCEC would help expand financial, commercial and economic cooperation between Islamic countries.
Ministers and economic experts from 57 economic countries have taken part in COMCEC.
COMCEC was established in 1984 with the aim of broadening and coordinating economic cooperation among tyhe OIC member states.

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LEAD STORY: Al-Quds, Konya Declared Islamic Tourism Capitals for 2015, 2016

27/11/2014, The Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Iyad Ameen Madani, announced the choice of Al-Quds Ash-Sharif and Konya in Turkey as the capitals of Islamic tourism for 2015 and 2016 respectively.
In his speech to the General Assembly of the Standing Committee on Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC), one of the OIC organs, at Istanbul on Thursday 27 November 2014, the Secretary General recalled the important resolutions of the last coordination meeting held in Jakarta, Indonesia on 2 and 3 June 2014 and presided over by the chair of the Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers, where the capitals of Islamic tourism for the next two years were chosen after a consideration of the nominations submitted by Member States.
Madani focused on the utmost importance of institutional reforms and improving synergy and coordination among various OIC institutions. He said that work was going on to develop a new OIC programme of action (2016-2025), in coordination with OIC institutions. He expressed the hope that allocation of sufficient resources, result-oriented focus and strong institutional capacities would boost the renewed efforts towards enhancing the OIC’s dynamism and capacity to confront contemporary developmental challenges.
The President of the Republic of Turkey and chairman of COMCEC, Recep Tayyep Erdoghan, had on Thursday 27 November 2014 in Istanbul inaugurated the 30th session of the COMCEC General Assembly in the presence of the OIC Secretary General, relevant ministers of OIC Member States and heads of OIC affiliated institutions.
In his speech, the Turkish President explained that the OIC Member States had in recent years taken major steps at the level of trade and development indicators with their share of global trade having increased by 50% in the last decade. He also mentioned that internal trade had made progress in the same period, with intra-OIC trade growing by more than 50%. While the real average global growth rate was 7.2% between 2000 and 2012, the growth rate in the OIC Member States for the same period was 5.4%, the President said.
He added that despite the good performance of the economy, trade development among OIC Member States still required further steps to be taken by Member States concerned to give effect to the Trade Preferential System, the legal procedures of which was completed in 2011.
In his speech, the President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Dr Ahmad Mohamed Ali, stressed the need for the OIC institutions, including the IDB and COMCEC, to support the new OIC programme of action.
The General Assembly of COMCEC is held every year to review the economic and development activities of OIC Member States in the previous year. The current session of the General Assembly which began on 265 November 2014 is focused on the role of public and private sector companies in the development of the tourism sector in OIC Member States.
The General Assembly also discussed developments in the global economy, with particular reference to the OIC Member States, the expansion of intra-trade in the OIC, promoting the role of the private sector in economic cooperation, developing means of transportation and communication, developing a sustainable and competitive tourism sector, increasing productivity in the agriculture sector, sustaining food security, eradicating poverty and supporting financial cooperation.

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Iranian researchers invent alternative for chemotherapy

TEHRAN, Nov. 29 (MNA) – Using nanotechnology, Iranian researchers have developed a cancer cells annihilator device which can destroy cancer cells in an non-invasive procedure.
In an interview to Mehr News, the head of knowledge-based Pars Nano System Company Reza Saber said they could manage to build a system of hyperthermia or the cancer cells annihilator device which kills the damaged cells without harming healthy ones.
He said the device, using nanoparticles and the resulting heat from the strong and powerful magnetic field, destroys the cancer cells in the body.
Tehran University of Medical Sciences faculty member Reza Saber explained that a Patton (receptors) is connected to the drug nanoparticles, saying that metallic nanoparticles with magnetic properties such as iron or Fe2O3 are produced by connectivity to the cancer cells Patton (receptors) in vitro.
He added that the nanoparticles are later supplemented to the target tumor or the cell culture. Cancer cells are then destroyed using a powerful magnetic field and heat around the target cells.
Reza Saber announced that the related tests are implemented in Imam Khomeini Hospital’s research laboratories and will be adopted on the animals in near future.
Pointing out that cancer cells are destroyed at temperatures above 42°C, Saber said this device would kill the cancer cells by using magnetic nanoparticles and generating heat without any damage to the healthy cells.
Tehran University of Medical Sciences faculty member Reza Saber added that these devices and procedures may become an appropriate alternative for the chemotherapy by which the healthy cells are destroyed during the treatment.

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Arab Countries Import Half of their Food

Global Arab Network, 27 November 2014 — The 2014 annual report of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) on Food Security in Arab countries, which will be launched today in Amman, points out that the Arab region imports about half the food it needs. However, the Arab countries can boost their food production, primarily by improving productivity and irrigation efficiency, in addition to regional cooperation.
AFED’s annual conference convenes today at Le Meridien Hotel in Amman, under the patronage of King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein. Some 1000 leaders in agriculture and food production are participating, including 75 ministers, heads of organizations and development funds, senior strategic experts, and CEOs of major corporations in the Arab world.
The report notes that, in their quest to enhance food self-sufficiency, Arab countries face serious challenges emanating from a backdrop of constraining factors, including aridity, limited cultivable land, scarce water resources and population growth, in addition to serious implications of climate change. Weak policies, insufficient investment in science and technology in agricultural development and lack of regional cooperation have contributed to the impoverished state of agricultural resources and to their inefficient use and low productivity. The food deficit is underscored by a self-sufficiency ratio of about 46 percent in cereals, 37 percent in sugar, and 54 percent in fats and oil.
Food and water are inextricably linked. The Arab region faces the dilemma of water scarcity, reflected in the fact that the annual renewable water resources per capita are less than 850 cubic meters, compared to a world average of about 6000 cubic meters. This regional average masks the widely varying levels among countries, of which 13 are classified in the severely water scarce category, at less than 500 cubic meters per capita. The situation is so alarming in six of these countries, with availability of renewable water less than 100 cubic meters per capita, that this report has created a special “exceptionally scarce” category for them.
Water scarcity in the Arab region is accentuated by the utilization of about 85 per cent of total water withdrawals for the agriculture sector, which is characterized by low irrigation efficiency and crop productivity. Immense pressure has been exerted on the scarce water resources, including non-renewable groundwater, as reflected in the high rates of water withdrawals for agriculture, averaging about 630 percent of total renewable water resources in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, reaching about 2460 percent in Kuwait. According to FAO, countries are in a critical condition if they use more than 40 percent of their renewable water resources for agriculture and could be defined as water-stressed if they extract more than 20 percent of these resources. Based on this definition 19 Arab countries could be defined as water-stressed, because their current abstraction rates from their renewable water resources for agriculture greatly overshoot the defined limits.
Improving the self-sufficiency aspect of food security requires an all-inclusive regionally integrated approach, recognizing the interdependence of the food-water-energy nexus, and a new paradigm of agricultural sustainability, based on economic, social, and environmental considerations. Within this framework, a number of options can be identified to enhance the food self-sufficiency ratio, particularly through the efficient utilization of available agricultural resources, in addition to livestock and fisheries resources. These options include the following:
Producing more agricultural outputs with less water is an option of significant importance for enhancing food security in water-scarce countries. It depends on the right type of canals used to deliver water to the field, more efficient irrigation methods, such as sprinkler and drip irrigation, raised broad-bed planting and the level of farmer organization and discipline.
Average irrigation efficiency in 19 Arab countries is below 46 percent. It is estimated that raising this figure to 70 percent would save about 50 billion cubic meters of water annually. With an irrigation requirement of 1,500 m³ of water per ton of cereals, this would be enough to produce over 30 million tons, equivalent to 45 percent of cereal imports with a value of about US$11.25 billion at 2011 import prices.
Boosting Crop Productivity: Crop productivity in the Arab region is generally low, particularly that of staple cereals, averaging about 1,133 kg/ha in five major cereal producers (Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, Sudan, and Syria), compared to a world average of about 3,619 kg/ha. Ongoing research by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) has shown considerable increases in wheat yield at demonstration fields versus farmers’ fields in both irrigated and rain-fed systems in countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Sudan, Syria, and Tunisia. For example, raised-bed planting in Egypt resulted in a 30 percent increase in grain yield, 25 percent saving in irrigation water, and 72 percent in water use efficiency.
Work in some developing countries has shown that yields can be increased two to three times through rain-water harvesting, compared with conventional dry farming. Increasing average rain-fed cereal yield from its current level of about 800 kg/ha to two to three times would add between 15 to 30 million tons of cereal to current annual production of about 51 million tons in the Arab region.
Improving water productivity and reuse
In addition to increasing irrigation efficiency, water productivity can be increased in either economic or physical terms, through the allocation of water to higher value crops or by achieving ‘more crop per drop’ of water, respectively. Water productivity can be enhanced by a combination of factors, including improved agricultural practices, such as modern irrigation methods, improved drainage, conservation agriculture or no-till farming, utilization of the available improved seed, optimizing fertilizer use, innovative crop protection techniques, and effective extension services. In addition, water productivity can be further improved by shifting consumption habits towards less water-intensive crops of similar nutritional value.
Wastewater remains largely untapped for agricultural use in Arab countries. Only about 48 percent of municipal wastewater of about 14,310 million cubic meters annually is treated, with the remaining amount discharged without treatment. The amount used for agricultural irrigation does not exceed 9 percent of the treated wastewater in countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, while countries use about 37 percent of treated wastewater for agriculture.
Where food production is heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture and freshwater resources are declining rapidly, the alternative of water reuse for irrigation in Arab countries should be encouraged and supported. According to FAO, by converting from rain-fed to irrigated agriculture, it is possible not only to increase yields of most crops by 100 to 400 percent, but can also allow for the growth of alternative crops with higher income and value.
Reducing post-harvest losses (PHL)
The main causes of these losses are attributed to improper methods used in the harvesting, processing, transportation, and storage of the crops, as well as inefficient import supply chain logistics. It is estimated that the annual losses of grains in Arab countries amounted to about 6.6 million tons in 2012. In addition, loss in imported wheat in some Arab countries translates to about 3.3 million tons due to inefficient import logistics. The combined value of grain PHL and wheat import losses amount to about US$3.7 billion at 2011 import prices, which represents 40 percent of the wheat produced in all Arab countries in value terms. This is equivalent to about four month worth of wheat imports.
Development of livestock and fisheries
Arab countries have considerable livestock and fisheries resources. They are almost self-sufficient in fish, but about 25 percent of meat demand is being met through imports. This percentage is expected to increase in the future driven by population, wealth and urban growth.
Producing feed locally has resulted in the deterioration of non-renewable water resources, and the degradation of rangelands and feed resources. In the face of high aridity and vast areas of marginal land, pastoralists and rain-fed livestock production systems remain the most resilient, thus policies supporting their movement and access to grazing lands are needed. More so, well integrated crop and livestock production systems at various levels provide opportunities to increase overall production, diversity, and economic sustainability of both sectors.
The fisheries sector in Arab countries has a great potential not only to meet domestic demand, but also to be exported. In 2013, fish exports amounted to 912,460 tons, with a value of about US$3 billion. However, there is potential to further growing these exports. Most importantly, there is a need for investing in the fishing industry and, among other things, enacting laws and legislation with respect to fishing in natural grounds and in fish farming activities. Shared governance of fisheries stocks in Arab countries is also crucial, since cross maritime borders are impacted by the health of entire watersheds.
Fish is not a less important source of protein intake than meat. Consuming fish should be encouraged to reduce excessive consumption of meat for economic and health reasons, as well as considering the impact of livestock production on the scarce water resources and the environment. In general, an awareness campaign is needed to encourage consumers to adapt their food consumption habits towards healthier patterns, and more conducive to the sustainability of agricultural resources.
AFED’s report asserts that cooperation among Arab countries based on comparative advantage in agricultural and financial resources is a key option for enhancing food security at the regional level. To be effective it requires an approach based on the harmonization of national agricultural strategies and policies; more investment in science and technology and agricultural development; regulations, measures and incentives conducive to the efficient use of resources; and the conservation of the productive bio-capacity of land and water resources which constitute the cornerstone for food production at the national, sub-regional, and regional levels.
Main facts and figures in AFED’s 2014 report on Food Security in Arab Countries
– Food imports of Arab countries amounted to US$56 billion in 2011, projected to shoot up to US$150 billion in 2050. Staple cereals constituted about 63 percent of the total.
– Cereal productivity in the Arab region is generally low, averaging about 1133 kg/ha in five major cereal producers (Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, Sudan, and Syria), compared to a world average of about 3619 kg/ha. Egypt is an exception, with an average of 7269 kg/ha.
– The annual renewable water resources per capita in the Arab region are less than 850 cubic meters, compared to a world average of about 6000 cubic meters.
– The combined value of grain post-harvest losses and wheat import losses amount to about US$4 billion at 2011 import prices, which represents 40 percent of the wheat produced in all Arab countries in value terms. This is equivalent to about four month worth of wheat imports.
– 85 percent of fresh water is used in agriculture, with an average irrigation efficiency below 46 percent in 19 Arab countries, compared to a world average of 70 percent. Raising this figure the world average would save about 50 billion cubic meters of water annually, enough to produce over 30 million tons of cereals, equivalent to 45 percent of cereal imports.
– The report emphasizes the high rates of water withdrawals for agriculture, averaging about 630 percent of total renewable water resources in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, reaching about 2460 percent in Kuwait.
The average annual renewable water resources per capita in the Arab region is less than 850 cubic meters, compared to a world average of about 6000 cubic meters. 13 countries are classified in the severely water scarce category, at less than 500 cubic meters per capita. The situation is so alarming in six of these countries, with less than 100 cubic meters per capita, that the report has created a special “exceptionally scarce” category for them.
– Only about 48 percent of municipal wastewater of about 14 billion cubic meters annually is treated. The amount used for agricultural irrigation does not exceed 9 percent of the treated wastewater in countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, while GCC countries use about 37 percent of treated wastewater for agriculture.
– Work in some developing countries has shown that yields can be increased two to three times through rain-water harvesting, compared with conventional dry farming. Increasing average rain-fed cereal yield from its current level of about 800 kg/ha to two to three times would add between 15 to 30 million tons of cereal to current annual production of about 51 million tons in the Arab region.
– Arab countries, as a group, are self-sufficient in fish, but about 25 percent of meat demand is being met through imports. The report calls for increasing the production of fish and poultry and promoting their consumption instead of red meat, in addition to a shift towards less water-thirsty and more nutritive crops. This requires changes in food consumption habits.

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GCC-British Economic Forum: The Private Sector – Challenges & Opportunities

Global Arab Network, 27 November 2014 In continuing efforts to strengthen cooperation between the United Kingdom and the Arab world, the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) is organising the GCC-British Economic Forum – The Private Sector: Challenges & Opportunities, Global Arab Network reports according to a press release.
The event will take place on Thursday 4th December 2014 at the Landmark Hotel in London involving a full day conference followed by a Gala Dinner.
The Forum will highlight the growing importance of GCC-British relations bringing together senior figures from the UK and the Gulf region to discuss options for future cooperation. Government officials, senior executives and decision makers from both the Gulf region and the UK will meet to discuss new opportunities emerging in a range of key economic sectors, including investment.
The event will offer many opportunities for high profile B2B and B2G networking and has already attracted the keen interest of both British and Gulf companies that are seeking to develop their business activities in these strategically important markets.

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Palestine Trade and Business EXPO 2014

Istanbul, Turkey-24.11.2014-The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) are organizing the first Palestine Trade and Business EXPO 2014 at the Istanbul Congress Center (ICC), alongside the 30th Ministerial meeting of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC). The EXPO will be inaugurated on 27 November by the President of Turkey HE Recep Teyeb Erdogan, the Deputy Prime Minister of Palestine HE Dr Mohamad Mustafa, and the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) HE Iyad Madani, along with the presidents of IDB Group and TOBB and other senior officials.
The EXPO 2014 will provide an opportunity to major Palestinian business owners and traders to exhibit their services and products to participating delegates and attendees of the COMCEC Ministerial meeting which is scheduled to take place in Istanbul on 27-28 November 2014. Among the aims of the EXPO 2014 is to showcase Palestine as a promising investment destination.
The EXPO 2014 will also aim to strengthen the business and trade ties between Palestine and OIC countries by attracting investment and trade into Palestine. Furthermore, the EXPO 2014 will represent a unique opportunity to Palestinian and OIC investors, business people and policymakers to network and establish business relations with their counterparts and other leading representatives from the business and trade communities in order to explore the many investment and trade opportunities that Palestine offers.
According to Dr Ahmad Mohamed Ali, the President of IDB, “building the business and trade capacity of the Palestinian people will contribute greatly in addressing the challenges faced by Palestinians. As an economic institution, IDB will work hard with global partners, to present this important face of Palestine”.
Within the EXPO framework, a special side event on investment and trade in Palestine will be organized on 26 November 2014 at the Hilton Bosphorus Hotel where the Palestinian Investment Authority will present available business and trade opportunities as well as success stories on doing business in Palestine.

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13th Islamic Countries Conference on Statistical Sciences

Date : 18-21 December 2014 Venue : Bogor Indonesia

The Islamic Countries Society of Statistical Sciences (ISOSS) is organizing, with support from the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), the 13th Islamic Countries Conference on Statistical Sciences (ICCS-13) in Bogor, Indonesia on 18 – 21 December 2014.
The main objective of the Conference is to bring together research workers and practitioners in statistical sciences from all over the world and Islamic Countries and highlight the contributions of Muslim scholars to the development of statistical sciences. The Conference will also focus on the strengthening of a central information system by establishing data banks and centres of information and encourage statistically developed countries to technically support Islamic Countries in developing and transferring of statistical technology.
The Conference will also promote the application of statistical sciences in fields such as computer and information technology, robotics and artificial intelligence whereas the establishment of training centres to promote statistical education and coordinate and unify courses in statistics at all levels of education in Islamic Countries will also be discussed.

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Regional Workshop on ‘Tourism Statistics and Tourism Satellite Accounts’

Date : 02-04 December 2014 Venue : Ankara Turkey

The Regional Workshop on Tourism Statistics and Tourism Satellite Accounts will be organised by the SESRIC in collaboration with the UNWTO on 2-4 December 2014 at SESRIC Headquarters in Ankara, Turkey. The Workshop will be organized within framework of the 2013-SESRIC-0111 Project which is among the successful final projects selected for the Project Cycle Management (PCM) Programme Funding of the OIC Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC).
The Regional Workshop on Tourism Statistics and Tourism Satellite Accounts will be attended by the experts of the National Statistics Offices, relevant Tourism Authorities of the OIC Member Countries and international agencies. The Workshop will focus on tourism statistics from the perspectives of demand and supply sides, tourism satellite accounts, tourism industries, and employment in tourism industries.
2013-SESRIC-0111 Project Summary (http://www.sesric.org/imgs/news/image/988ReportOICStatComThematicSessionTourismStatisticsfinal.pdf) (http://www.sesric.org/imgs/news/image/988ReportOICStatComThematicSessionTourismStatisticsfinalAR.pdf)
Draft Agenda (http://www.sesric.org/imgs/news/File/1050
DraftAgendaEN.pdf) (http://www.sesric.org/imgs/news/File/1050DraftAgenda_AR.pdf)
further details: http://www.sesric.org/event-detail.php?id=1050

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Training Course on ‘Culture Statistics’ in Senegal

Date : 25-26 November 2014 Venue : Dakar Senegal

In accordance with its 2014 Annual Work Plan and within the framework of the Statistical Capacity Building (StatCaB) Programme, SESRIC organised the training course on ‘Culture Statistics’ at the National Agency of Statistics and Demographics (ANSD ) in Dakar, Republic of Senegal on 25-26 November 2014. The course was conducted by Mr. Kouadio Marcel Kouakou, Assistant Director of Statistics and Informatics Department at the Ministry of Culture and Francophone Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire with the participation of relevant officials of the ANSD.
As defined in the Classification of Statistical Activities (CSA Rev. 1 – October 2009); culture statistics – a statistical activity category under the Demographic and Social Statistics domain – deal with cultural activities in society, like theatre, cinemas, museums, libraries, mass media, book production, sports, etc., including expenditure and financing of culture.
The training course on ‘Culture Statistics’ also included discussion sessions together with group activities and focus on the following topics:
Culture Statistics: Concept and Variables
Framework of Culture Statistics
Culture Statistics Indicators and Their Interpretation
Documents of a Cultural Statistical Study
Stages of a Cultural Statistical Study
Overview of the Culture Statistics Variables

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China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s Foundation Stone Laid

Islamabad, November 30 (QNA) – Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday performed the groundbreaking of a section of motorway in the country’s northwest, signaling the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor agreement.
The 60-km-long 4-lane fenced Hazara Motorway in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province will cost 33 billion rupees (297 million US dollars) and will be completed in two years, according to (Xinhua) news agency. Officials told the prime minister at a briefing that the project will create hundreds of thousands of job opportunities, possibilities of new business ideas, and socio-economic uplift of the whole region.
The prime minister also announced the construction of a railway track to link Hazara with Karachi and Quetta while another track will be constructed to link Hazara with Muzaffarabad.
Sharif said at the groundbreaking ceremony that the completion of the motorway project would “change the fate of the people of Hazara Division and bring prosperity to the area.”
He said the government has inked agreements with China worth billions of dollars in the energy sector which would end the power shortage in the country. (QNA)

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Morocco to Launch Direct Flight to China in 2015

Beijing, 28 November 2014, morocco world news – Morocco will launch an air route to China in a bid to encourage Chinese investment in Morocco, Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Logistics, Aziz Rabbah, said Friday.
Rabat and Beijing are keen to promote their cooperation in all fields, including air and sea transport to boost trade business, Rabbah told MAP on the sidelines of the Moroccan-Chinese Business Forum.
He also expressed the Kingdom’s readiness to engage in partnerships with China to step up the pace of the implementation of major projects, including railways, ports, airports and logistics zones, calling for a “smart partnership” with China.
In this regard, he underlined the need to set the foundations of a Chinese industry in Morocco, emphasizing the importance of the agreements signed during the forum, held under the theme “promising prospects for an excellent strategic partnership”.

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World Tourism Cities Federation to Open African HQ in Casablanca

Beijing, 28 November 2014, Maghreb Arab Presse – The World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) will open its African headquarters in Casablanca in September 2015, Managing Director of the Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT) Abderrafie Zouiten, said Friday in Beijing.
“Morocco has been chosen to host the African headquarters of this international organization, whose president is the mayor of Beijing,” Zouiten told MAP on the sidelines of the Moroccan-Chinese business Forum.
The official added that an agreement was signed on the sidelines of the Forum, between ONMT and China to create an office in Casablanca, which will allow the two countries to develop cooperation relations with the African continent.
World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) is a non-profit, non-governmental international mass organization organized voluntarily by tourist cities of all countries and regions, non-governmental organizations, associations and enterprises related to tourism.
Under the theme of “Tourism Makes City Life Better,” the WTCF promotes coordinated economic and social development of World Tourism cities, enhance urban development, elevate the image of cities, strengthen inter-city international exchanges through tourism and innovate the mechanism of member cooperation.

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First Francophonie Economic Forum plans more development

DAKAR, Senegal, November 29, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Initiated by Senegalese President S.E. Macky Sall and organised by APIX and Richard Attias & Associates, the first Francophonie Economic Forum (http://www.forum-economique-francophonie.com) will bring together over 1000 political and economic decision-makers from five continents at the Dakar International Conference Centre (DICC) in Senegal on the heels of the 15th Summit of Heads of State of the Francophonie.
The forum aims to promote trade and interconnections in territories in the Francophonie. It will bring together economic players in the Francophonie and, in turn, transform this linguistic solidarity into economic opportunities and joint development prospects.
The objective is to create a true common vision for the Francophonie by 2024, notably with the creation of an Economic Institute of the Francophonie.
The program of this first Francophonie Economic Forum will focus on two principal themes: how to activate the tremendous potential of the Francophone economic community, and how to put Africa at the centre of this emergence.
The subjects to be addressed by participants include:
(+) Opening of borders between Francophone countries
(+) Establishment of a legal framework to promote trade within the Francophonie
(+) Deployment of concrete tools to support entrepreneurship and promote innovation, platforms for inclusive economic wealth creation
(+) Development of Public-Private Partnerships in Francophone Africa to support infrastructure development
(+) Implementation of investment programs in Senegal, the host country of this first Forum, and more broadly in Francophone territories
Some of the many political and economic leaders who have already answered the Senegalese authorities’ call to take part in discussions on a Francophone Economic Zone:
(+) S.E. Macky Sall, President of Senegal
(+) Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux and President of the Urban Community of Bordeaux; former Prime Minister of France
(+) Jean-Jacques Bouya, Minister to the Presidency of the Republic in charge of Land Use Planning and of the General Delegation for Major Projects, Republic of the Congo
(+) Thierry Breton, CEO, Atos and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Bull; former Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry, France
(+) Brahim Benjelloun-Touimi, Board Member and Deputy Managing Director, BMCE Bank, Morocco
(+) Amadou Ba, Minister of the Economy, Finance and Planning, Senegal
(+) Joaquim Chissano, Former President of the Republic of Mozambique
(+) Makhtar Diop, Vice President for the Africa Region, World Bank, United States
(+) Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, Canada
(+) Stéphane Volant, Company Secretary, SNCF, France
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the 1er Forum économique de la Francophonie (FEF).

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Middle East Regional funding boom for plane deliveries: Boeing

Africa Manager – Boeing, a leading aircraft manufacturer, said today that commercial financial institutions in the Middle East are increasingly funding the region’s record number of airplane deliveries.
Boeing forecasts that airlines in the Middle East will require 2,610 new airplanes over the next 20 years, worth an estimated $550 billion. While one-third of that demand – 900 airplanes – will replace today’s fleets, 66 percent of the demand is expected to be driven by the rapid fleet expansion in the region.
Tim Myers, vice president and managing director of Aircraft Financial Services for Boeing Capital Corporation, said bank funding for airplane deliveries is becoming a global industry and the Middle East is playing an increasingly significant role.
“Last year alone, more than 65 per cent of all deliveries to airlines in the Middle East were funded from within the region,” Myers said. “Over the past few years we have seen great success by Middle Eastern banks and investors providing sources of financing for the Middle Eastern carriers, but they have been expanding outside the region by providing equity, debt, Islamic Financing options and more.”
Myers and Jeff Johnson, president of Boeing Middle East, hosted more than 180 of the region’s leading aircraft financiers and investors at its annual conference in Dubai.
“The health of the Middle East’s air travel industry and the sustained performance of commercial aircraft assets continue to create good investment opportunities, which was well reflected in the strong attendance at our financiers and investors conference,” Johnson said.
“This regional growth is not expected to slow down in the near future,” Johnson added. “Dubai air traffic has been consistently growing between 5 and 7 per cent annually, higher than the global average of 3.5 per cent. Abu Dhabi International Airport reported a 21.7 per cent year-over-year traffic increase in July, and the Hamad International Airport in Doha has handled more than 2 million passengers since its opening in April. With key regional players making significant leaps in aerospace infrastructures, I have no doubt that the Middle East will continue to outpace other markets in travel industry growth for some time.”
This traffic growth is being matched by growth in local aircraft asset financing. “We are particularly pleased to see increasingly greater diversification in the source of funding as airlines seek to finance these new airplanes,” Myers said.
The Dubai conference is one of five that Boeing hosts in major aircraft financial centres annually to provide market updates and address investor questions on aircraft investment opportunities.

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UAE aims to become ‘most innovative nation’ in 7 years

Africa Manager – The UAE aims to become one of the most innovative countries in the world in the next seven years under a national strategy launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The National Innovation Strategy will focus on seven sectors: renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space.
Its first phase includes 30 national initiatives to be completed within three years. These include new legislation, innovation incubators, investment in specialised skills, private-sector incentives, international research partnerships, and an innovation drive within government.
“Our target is to be among the most innovative nations in the world. The competitiveness race demands a constant flow of new ideas, as well as innovative leadership using different methods and tools to direct the change,” said Sheikh Mohammed at the launch of the strategy.
“This innovation strategy is a national priority for our programme of development and progress. It is a primary tool to achieve Vision 2021 and an engine for the growth of distinctive skills and capabilities across the nation. We have always called for creativity in every field: this strategy is a concrete step to implement that vision. These initiatives around innovation will enhance quality of life in the UAE and take our economy to new horizons,” Sheikh Mohammed added.
The first track will anchor a stimulating environment for innovation in the form of supportive institutions and laws. It will shape specialised entities such as innovation incubators as well as technological infrastructure to fuel innovation in all sectors. It will also focus on research and development in various fields.
The second track will develop government innovation by institutionalising innovative practices with the support of an integrated system of modern tools. The strategy requires all government entities to reduce spending by 1 per cent and to dedicate the savings to research and innovation projects. National training and education programmes on innovation will also be launched.
The third track will encourage private sector innovation by stimulating companies to establish scientific research centres, to adopt new technologies, and to develop innovative products and services. The UAE will attract pioneering international firms in key innovation sectors, establish innovation communities and zones, and support applied research in areas of national priority. It will also enhance the UAE’s position as an international centre to test new innovations.
The fourth track will qualify individuals with highly innovative skills by concentrating on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, including the creation of educational material for schools and universities. The aim is to establish a national culture that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship through partnerships between the public, private and media sectors.
“Innovation today is driven by effective institutions, strong policies, specialised skills, and an economy where all sectors work together to discover new ways to conduct business. A flexible and creative economy based on a national culture of innovation is the fastest and most sustainable way to reinforce the UAE’s competitiveness on a global level,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
Current annual investment in innovation is worth Dh14 billion in the UAE, of which Dh7 billion goes to research and development. Innovation spending will rise significantly in the years to come.
The National Innovation Strategy includes 16 indicators to measure progress. Government-sector indicators include the percentage of innovative ideas and the proportion of budget allocated to innovation. Private-sector indicators include R&D investment and the knowledge profile of the workforce. Global indicators include an overall measure comparing countries’ innovation capabilities, as well as indicators for the protection of intellectual property, the creation of patents and the availability of scientists and engineers.
In the field of renewable energy, the strategy will establish a new organisation to facilitate decentralised power generation projects such as small-scale solar installations. The strategy will also encourage innovation in the renewables industry while also supporting applied research in clean technology.
In transportation, the strategy will stimulate innovation in air and sea travel as well as logistics. The aim is to provide new products and services, make procedures more effective, and save time. The strategy will also focus on unmanned drones.
In education, the strategy will establish labs in schools and universities as part of a drive to equip students with targeted skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, perseverance and adaptability.
In health, the strategy will promote advanced technologies in healthcare services. It will stimulate the growth of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries while also working with strategic partners to support medical research.
On the topic of water, the strategy will seek innovative solutions to the challenge of water scarcity. Finally, the strategy will support space technology for the purpose of exploration as well as satellite communications and specialised research on terrestrial applications.

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Afghanistan Inaugurates Cricket Academy Building

Kabul (BNA), November 23, 2014 – The cricket academy building was inaugurated in Sarobi district, Kabul city this morning. According to BNA report, in the academy cricket players will train the game with professional method and there is a convenient area for exercising of players.
Farid Hotak spokesperson of Cricket Board told BNA correspondent, the academy has made in 3 jiribs of land from the budget of Cricket Board, which has three places for exercises, a big hall and all facilities for cricket players. In inaugural ceremony of the academy Dr. Noor Mohammad Murad head of executive cricket board, a number of officials of the board and athletes were attended.

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37 Afghan Teachers Receive Training On Cultural Heritage

Kabul (BNA), November 29, 2014 – A total of 37 teachers received two-month training course on Cultural Heritage organized by the Ministry of Information and Culture. The course completed yesterday, BNA reported. The course was financed by South Asia Foundation (SAF), head of Center for Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Information and Culture, Suliman Ahmadi said, adding holding such courses would help teachers to train new students.

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Trade Helps Bring Peace Among Nations: Dr. Raheen

Kabul (BNA), November 29, 2014 – Acting Minister of Information and Culture, Dr. Sayed Makhdoom Raheen in opening ceremony of Daudzai Group Business Center held the other day said that trade was effective in bringing peace among the nations.
BNA correspondent reported, in the ceremony attended by a number of representatives of people in Lower House and Upper House of Parliament and national traders of the country, Dr. Raheen said, “Our country has old history in trade and Kabul city was center of international trade between South Asian, Central Asian and European countries for centuries, adding I hope trade itself is effective in bringing peace among nations.”
Raheen further said opening of Daudzai Group Business Center was one of the big economical steps in the country where the group had worked before in delivering trading services and provided services in education and culture sections. In the ceremony, chairman of Daudzai Group said the center has been constructed in seven floors and by having more than 2000 shops and 100 apartments was in the services of our countrymen. He asked the National Unity Government to make efforts in connection with encouragement of investors in the country and addressing of the national traders’ problems so that investors could invest in the country.

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Cultural Cooperation Can Bring Nations Closer: Khalili

November 30, 2014, Kabul (BNA) – Sayed Musadiq Khalili the deputy on cultural affairs of the Ministry of Information and Culture has said that cooperation in cultural field can bring nations closer. He made the remarks in a conference for preparation of SAARC summit in Nepal, BNA correspondent reported.
In the conference, “Expectations from 18th SAARC summit” in Kathmandu, Khalili stressed for strengthening cultural relations among the SAARC member states. He also said that selecting Bamyan as cultural capital of SAARC in 2015 is an opportunity for developing cultural relations between Afghanistan and member states of the entity, adding peace and security in Afghanistan can guarantee durable stability in the region.
Khalili also noted that Afghanistan with the cooperation of SAARC states can link south Asia to central Asia which is important for boosting trade and economic activities in the region. Expressing concern over the vulnerable condition of the historic monuments in Afghanistan, Khalili added that some 1200 monuments which are parts of cultural heritages are facing destruction, calling upon SAARC member states to help for their preservation. Speaking at the conference, the foreign minister of Nepal besides stressing for boosting trade, economic and cultural relations among the member states also emphasized for more active role of SAARC with regard to the issues of Afghanistan.

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Muslims discovered Earth is round 700 years before Galileo, Turkey’s science minister

ISTANBUL, November/29/2014, Hurriyet Daily News – Muslim scientists working around 1,200 years ago were the first to determine that the Earth is a sphere, Turkey’s science, industry and technology minister, becoming the latest Turkish official to inform the world about apparent scientific firsts on the part of Islamic world.
Speaking at a reception for business leader in the Central Anatolian province of Konya late Nov. 28, Minister Fikri Işık stressed the contributions of the Islamic world to science throughout history. “Some 700-800 years before Galileo, 71 Muslim scientists led by al-Khwarizmi convened by the order of the Caliph Al-Ma’mun and revealed that the Earth is a sphere,” he said. Işık added that a copy of the original document is currently in the Museum of Islamic Science and Technology in Istanbul.
The museum was founded by Fuat Sezgin, a Turkish professor emeritus on Arabic-Islamic science who was recently referred by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, too. During a speech on Nov. 18, Erdoğan quoted Sezgin’s theories for his controversial claim that the American continent was “discovered by Muslim sailors” some 300 years before Christopher Columbus.
The concept of a spherical Earth remained a matter of philosophical speculation until the 3rd century BC, when Hellenistic astronomy established the spherical shape of the earth as a physical given.
Galileo Galilei, on the other hand, was put to trial and convicted by the Roman Catholic Inquisition in 1616 and 1633 for his support of heliocentrism, a theory which is not directly related to the notion that the Earth is a sphere. Heliocentrism, the theory that the Earth was a planet that revolved around the Sun, contradicted geocentrism, the Aristotelian view that the earth was the center of the universe, which agreed with a literal interpretation of the Bible.
Around 830 AD, Caliph Al-Ma’mun commissioned a group of Muslim astronomers and geographers to measure the distance from Tadmur (Palmyra) to Raqqah in modern Syria. They calculated the Earth’s circumference, reaching to numbers very close to the currently modern values.
Today, the war-torn Raqqah is known as the stronghold of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.

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OIC Stresses Importance of Union in The Face of Challenges Facing Muslim World

Jeddah, 25/11/2014, OIC News – The Headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jeddah hosted the second meeting of the Executive Council of the Islamic Broadcasting Union (IBU) on 25 November 2014, preparatory to the third meeting of the IBU General Assembly held on 26 November 2014.
The Meeting was inaugurated by the Minister of Hajj and Acting Minister of Information and Culture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Dr Bandar Bin Muhammad Hajaar. He highlighted the huge role entrusted to the IBU under the Islamic joint media action in the light of the challenges facing the Muslim world.
The Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Mr Iyad Ameen Madani, in his address welcoming the Minister, said that it had become undisputable in the contemporary world that the media has the upper hand in all facets of life. He drew attention to the importance of joint media action which has become a requirement for countering the intensive misrepresentation campaigns against Islam and Muslims, a situation that calls for dynamic action to scale up the work of the IBU.
For his part, the Director General of the Islamic Broadcasting Union, Dr Mohammed Salem Ould Bouk, presented a report of the IBU’s work in the preceding two years and the efforts being made to upgrade its work. He reported that the IBU had succeeded in signing agreements with several member states in addition to partnerships established with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO), the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and others.
The Meeting discussed the report on the activities of the IBU and its financial report. At the end of its meeting, the Executive Council issued a number of recommendations that would be discussed by the 3rd meeting of the IBU General Assembly on Wednesday.

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New railroad to link Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan

TEHRAN, Nov. 29 (MNA) – Iran’s cabinet will visit the northeastern province of Golestan to inaugurate troika railroad. Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet members will be in Golestan province on Tuesday in his tenth so-called provincial visits; the visit will have also inauguration, along with two other presidents, namely, of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan as countries hosting the railroad connecting Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
Gorgan-Inche-Boroun railroad connects three countries; it is 908km, with 88km built in Iran, 120km in Turkmenistan, and longer 700km in Kazakhstan, and flanks the east of Caspian Sea, connecting CIS railroad to Persian Gulf and Southeast Asian countries.
Gorgan-Inche-Boroun is part of a railroad project starting in Uzun in Kazakhstan and passing along the east of Caspian Sea reaches to Turkmenistan and through Atrak basin enters Iran in Inche-Boroun border post. The first phase of the building of Inche-Boroun has been constructed in 3,000 square meters and the next phase will cover an area of 9,000 square meters. The building includes passenger space, customs office, police station and prayer hub.
The railroad will also facilitate the goods transit in the whole region, shortening the north-south route by 600km, thus decreasing time and costs of good transits.
The railroad will be a breakthrough in the region, since it connects to the Iran-Turkey railroad in west and in south, it connects to Pakistan and Bandar Abbas railroads and in southwest to Iraq; it also connects Kazakhstan to Russia and north, and farther northeast to Uzbekistan, and through it to Kirghizstan and Tajikistan.

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Japan to hold ONE Asia Joint Concert in Brunei

30 November 2014, Borneo Bulletin Online – THE Embassy of Japan in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) will be organising the ONE Asia Joint Concert at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas on December 3.
Set to begin at 7.30pm, the concert will see traditional ensembles from both countries and is part of the year-long celebrations commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Brunei-Japanese bilateral friendship.
Performing for the Japanese side will be the top orchestral group in Japan, AUN J – which comprises eight young Japanese instrument players. The group has received great acclaim from not just across Asia, but Europe as well.
The upcoming concert will essentially mark its second year as part of continuous efforts to ensure the ONE Asia Joint Concert is not a fleeting event, but the robust core of an exchange of Asian networks.
The goal of the concert is to highlight the importance of exchanging Asian roots, culture and tradition through music – an ambitious goal which was realised by both the Japanese and Brunei committees.
The concert will see a group of five Bruneian youthful artistes under the auspices of the Culture and Arts Section of the MCYS – two of whom will be joining the ONE Asia concert entourage in Myanmar, as part of the ONE Asia tour this year.
The concert is open to the public and tickets can be collected at the Japanese Embassy Office in Kiulap. Ticket holders will be guaranteed seats, however, individuals without tickets will be allowed to enter, but seats will not be guaranteed.

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New Port Said Museum plans 18-month reconstruction

Port Said, Egypt, 27 November, 2014, Al Ahram Online – The neo-Mameluke building of the old Port Said Museum once stood on the south-eastern side of Port Said City overlooking the Suez Canal, its collections bearing witness not only to the ancient history of the region but also to the building of the canal itself.
The building was demolished in 2009 and the site is now empty. However, this week it was announced that a new museum was being built on the site, opening to the public within the next 18 months.
Ahmed Sharaf, head of the museums sector at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the original building had become dangerous and could not be restored. Cracks had spread throughout the walls, and its foundations had been eaten away by underground water.
The museum was originally built in 1963, displaying a collection of nearly 5,000 artefacts from the ancient Egyptian period through to modern times. Most of the pieces had been found near Port Said, while some had been carefully selected from Cairo’s main museums, such as the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, the Museum of Islamic Art, and the Coptic Museum.
In 2008, the museum was closed for restoration. Architect Al-Ghazali Kesseiba drew up a restoration plan and the project was put out for tendering.
However, exaggerated estimates were presented by the contractors, and in 2009 the project was handed over to the National Defence Council which agreed to the budget approved by the Ministry of Antiquities of some LE11 million.
The museum’s architectural features and equipment were removed and placed in storage until the completion of the construction work. However, the building was then demolished since it was found to be in a very poor state of conservation and unstable architecturally.
“It was not a safe building to host one of the country’s treasured collections,” commented Sharaf, adding that a decision had been made to build a better building more suited for the Museum’s mission.

In 2010, consultants were hired to identify the best construction style and materials for the new building, bearing in mind the particularities of the soil and location. However, shortly after this the project was stopped as a result of budgetary problems following the 25 January Revolution.
But earlier this week Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty embarked on an inspection tour of the site and gave the go-ahead to the project. Eldamaty announced that the construction of the new museum would be completed within 18 months in order to put Port Said back firmly on Egypt’s tourist map.
Eldamaty said that the construction came within the framework of plans to connect the archaeological sites and monuments located around the Suez Canal in an attempt to spruce up development projects along the planned New Canal. The new building will be a two-storey structure, the collections being presented chronologically.
Among the most important objects on display will be a marble head of the Pharaoh Menkawre, a wooden sarcophagus of a New Kingdom priest, clay and decorated glass vessels from the Graeco-Roman era, and a collection of kohl containers and linen and wool clothes from the Coptic period.
A collection of Ottoman tiles ornamented with foliage decorations will also be on show, along with a relief of a former local ruler, Abdel-Aziz Ben Al-Garou, and a collection of gold and silver coins from the Fatimid era. Objects associated with the former monarchy will also be on display, including the khedive Ismail’s carriage.
During his visit, Eldamaty announced that the ministry would also be restoring the bronze statue of French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps who developed the Suez Canal that once stood at its entrance. “For the first time since 1956, the statue and its base will be renovated and joined together,” Eldamaty said, explaining that the statue and base would now be erected in front of the museum.
During the minister’s visit to the site of the new museum plans were also announced to restore the Port Said lighthouse. Built in 1869 and one of the first such structures to use reinforced concrete, this stands 56 metres high and is one of the only original buildings still standing in Port Said.

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Al Jazeera network launches Palestine Remix website

MENAFN – The Peninsula – 30/11/2014 – Al Jazeera Media Network has launched” Palestine Remix” an interactive website aimed at telling Palestinian stories.
The website was launched yesterday at Hilton Doha Hotel, as part of the activities to commemorate the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
November 29 commemorates the adoption of the United Nations Partition Resolution 181 (II) in 1947 calling for the establishment of both a” Jewish State” and an “Arab State” in the Palestinian region. But so far only Israel became a state in 1948.
“Palestine Remix” allows users access to some of Al Jazeera’s best documentaries on Palestine. It enables people to cut-and-paste the footage to tell stories or part of stories with, and share it immediately through different social media platforms.
The remix tool is built-in simplistic video editing software that allows users to build their short films in minutes. The project also boasts interactive maps and timelines which allow users to truly understand the Palestinian issue and contextualise it.
“This project is not just about telling the important story of Palestine. It’s about creating new ones. We want to give you a new way to understand, tell and share stories about Palestine. That’s why we created Palestine Remix: to put the power of storytelling into your hands,” said Rawan Damen, Palestine Remix’s Project Manager.
The database provides the user the ability to watch the full documentaries with their full transcripts, which allows the visitor to click on a word in the transcript and go directly to that point in time in the film, saving a lot of real time searching in films.
The user can also pick and choose, mix and match the extracts of different films or view the full films in a coherent context, in addition to searching the full transcripts using any word, name, place or concept. The database contains 84 hours in the 4 languages, with more than 250 people, 580 places and a timeline that spans for 215 years. It also provides drone footage of iconic places in historic Palestine: Jerusalem, Acre, Gaza and many others.
Palestine Remix is the first of its kind on the Palestinian issue, has a special mobile user friendly version and will be a mobile application before the end of this year, said Damen.

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Abu Dhabi Airport handles 1.68m passengers in October

MENAFN – 29/11/2014 – The number of passengers travelling through Abu Dhabi International Airport increased 17.4 percent to 1.68 million in October over a year earlier, Gulf News reported.
The latest data released by the management Abu Dhabi Airports showed there were 13,700 aircraft landings and take-offs in October, 15.2 percent more than the 11,891 in October 2013.
The amount of cargo handled at the airport increased 16 per cent to 72,170 tons, according to Abu Dhabi Airports. Meanwhile, the top five routes were Bangkok, Doha, London Heathrow, Manila, and Bahrain.

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Qatar calls for creating Common Islamic Market

MENAFN – The Peninsula – 28/11/2014 – Speaking on behalf of all Arab countries, Qatar’s Minister of Economy and Commerce, H E Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed Al Thani, yesterday at the Ministerial Session of the 30th COMCEC meeting in Turkey proposed to establish a “Common Islamic Market” among the member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
“Given the rapidly changing global economic outlook, OIC members should cope up with the situation by creating strategic economic alliances, which requires deeper economic integration among the member countries,” Sheikh Ahmed told in his address at the ongoing meeting of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC).
The Minister said that creating an economic alliance among OIC members is not an optional thing but has become a necessity at a time when the world is divided into different economic blocks.
“If we want to protect our present and future interests, it is very important to study and take practical steps about establishing a Common Islamic Market by agreeing first to establish a Free Trade Agreement among the OIC member countries and remove all tariff and non-tariff barriers gradually,” he said.
According to Sheikh Ahmed, removal of trade barriers among the OIC member countries are expected to be one of the key issues of discussion at the COMCEC meeting.
The meeting, which coincided with the 30th anniversary of COMCEC’s establishment, was opened by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Ministers and high level delegates from the 57 member countries of OIC are attending the three-day event which is scheduled to end today.
Established by OIC in 1981, COMCEC is the main multilateral economic and commercial cooperation platform of the Islamic world. It serves as a forum to address the common development problems and provide solutions to them.
Sheikh Ahmed, acknowledging the efforts made by Turkey over the last three decades in translating the objectives of the forum into a reality, said that it is a chance for all of us to assess the successes made, and look forward for ways and means to materialize the goals we are yet to achieve.
He also expressed his confidence at COMCEC that it has the ability to develop a new course of action for 2016-2025 to enhancing volume of trade and sustainable development which requires peace and political stability in the member countries.
He reiterated that peaceful environment and political stability are some of the key elements for attaining sustainable development, which can be achieved through establishing an independent State of Palestine with Al Quds as its capital. And all OIC members must support the cause of Palestine for peace and tranquility in the region as a whole.
He also noted that Arab countries have already adopted the recommendations of COMCEC for mutual cooperation in order to facilitate trade by pushing forward multilateral and plurilateral trade agreements among the member countries.
The Minister highlighted that the unified tariff system adopted by Gulf States eventually helped in implementing a Common GCC Market, which can be further expanded to OIC member countries. He also suggested to establish big joint companies, with especial focus in the services sector, for mutual growth and development.
He noted that due to the efforts of OIC and COMCEC, trade among the member countries increased from 14 percent in 2004 to 18.4 percent in 2013.

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Emirates to fly A380 to 3 European, US routes

MENAFN – 29/11/2014 — Emirates Airlines announced that it is placing the Airbus A380 onto three of its routes into the US and Europe as of next week, Gulf News reported.
Emirates’ existing daily Dubai to San Franciso and Dubai to Houston services is to now be operated by the superjumbo, the freight said in a statement.
One of the carriers three daily Dubai to Milan services will also now be operated with an A380 starting next week.
Emirates’ A380 network will span to just over 33 destinations with next week’s addition of the superjumbo on existing routes.

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India’s state-owned bank to launch Islamic fund

New Delhi, 06 Safar 1436/ 29 November 2014 (IINA) – India’s largest state-owned bank will launch an Islamic equity fund in December aimed mainly at attracting investments from the country’s 170 million Muslims.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India, the country’s banking regulator, recently allowed the government-owned State Bank of India and three mutual funds to launch Shariah funds. An official said on Wednesday that the bank was expecting to attract an initial 1 billion rupees ($16.4 million) to the fund which will launch on Dec. 1. A large section of India’s Muslim population remains outside the banking system, partly because the Islamic Shariah law prohibits interest. Shares of companies linked to alcohol, tobacco, gambling and casinos and financial institutions that earn interest would be excluded from the fund. “It will be a diversified equity fund, including large cap, mid-cap and small cap funds,” said Dinesh Khara, managing director and CEO of the bank’s SBI Mutual Fund. “We will identify stocks that meet all aspects of Shariah banking laws,” Khara said.
India’s stock exchanges have between 600 and 700 companies that are Shariah-compliant. The new fund has the approval of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, an authority that oversees the observance of Muslim civil laws in India. In May last year, the Bombay Stock Exchange had launched India’s first Shariah index, which tracks the performance of Shariah-compliant companies. These companies have given a return of 46 percent, performing better than the 30-share BSE Sensex index which gave annualized return of 41 percent. India is only the second country outside the Islamic world where a state-owned bank is offering a Shariah-compliant fund. The U.K. issued sovereign Islamic bonds in June. Global Islamic banking assets were estimated at around $1.8 trillion in 2013.

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Islamic Information Ministers conf a suitable opportunity to establish Islamic media

Tehran, Nov 29, IRNA – Member of Assembly of Experts and Leader’s representative in Fars province Ayatollah Asadollah Imani said on Saturday that ICIM is a suitable opportunity to establish Islamic media. The Islamic Conference of Information Ministers is to be held in Tehran on December 3-4.
In an exclusive interview with IRNA, he said all Islamic countries specially the Islamic Republic of Iran believe in establishment of a big media for the Islamic states it is not logical to be dependent on the western media networks.
‘Western media work hard to safeguard the interests of the western governments, but, we should present a different definition in line with the policies and interests of the Muslim World,’ he said.
The Muslim World should establish a unique global news agency for itself and prepare the ground for the purpose, he said. He made clear that the western media are currently involved in shaping the world public opinion.
Tehran is to host the tenth Islamic Conference of Information Ministers on December 1-4. The information ministers will meet in December 3-4 and the meeting of ICIM experts will be held on December 1.

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Iranian film “Melbourne” awarded in Spain

Madrid, Nov 30, IRNA – The highly acclaimed Iranian family drama ‘Melbourne’ has won top prizes at the 52nd Gijón International Film Festival in Spain.
The film, directed by Nima Javidi, bagged the Best Director, Best Script and the Young Jury Prize for Best Feature Film, was awarded at the Spanish festival held on Nov 21-29.
Talking about the film, Javidi said: “Melbourne’ is a sad story about dodging responsibility particularly prevalent in the young generation.”
Javidi’s debut feature film was inspired from his personal experience; “Five or six years ago, I was with friends on a vacation in the mountains and I was left alone with a baby. At some point, I noticed that it wasn’t awaking. I panicked but hopefully in the end everything was alright. Then I imagined what could had happened if something had gone wrong and that’s how I wrote the story.
‘Melbourne’ is about an Iranian young couple’s move to the Australian city from their hometown which is abruptly stopped when tragedy befalls their household; among boxes and cellophane, there is a dead baby in their bedroom.
The cast features Negar Javaherian and Peyman Maadi. The flick also received critical acclaim at the 71st Venice International Film Festival in Italy. The film experienced its international premiere at the festival.
It opened Critics’ Week section of this year’s Venice film festival and had several screening programs, out of competition. The film also attended the 10th edition of Zurich international Film Festival and the 27th Tokyo International Film Festival.
It also participated at the competition section of the 15th International Film Festival Bratislava and recently received the Golden Pyramid of the 36th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF).

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Iranian ambassador to be guest professor at St Petersburg University

Moscow, Nov 29, IRNA – Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mahdi Sana’ie was in a ceremony here Friday titled a full professor of Russia’s state Saint Petersburg University.
State Saint Petersburg University President Nicolai Kropachev, knowing about the academic competence of Ambassador Sana’ie and his university teaching records in Russia, had earlier made the proposal to him as a guest professor.
After receiving his acceptance of the proposal the Saint Petersburg University forwarded an invitation for Ambassador Sana’ie, in which he is requested to teach at least two to three days in each semester in crash courses for the political science and international relations students of that university.
Established in 1724 the State Saint Petersburg University is some 300 years old and is among the most reputable Russian universities.

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Astan Quds Razavi library displays precious manuscripts

Mashhad, Nov 30, IRNA – The Central Library of Astan Quds Razavi in the city of Mashhad is showcasing a collection of exquisite hand-written, lithograph and print books on Imam Musa Kazim (AS), the seventh Shia Imam.
On the occasion of the birth anniversary of the Imam, the library is holding the expo which is also accommodating a copy of the Quran written by the Imam in Kufic script on parchment,” the head of the Organization of Libraries, Museums, and the Documentation Centre of Astan Quds Razavi said.
“The expo is presenting unique print books on Imam Musa Kazim (AS). The works went on display on Nov.29 and will be showcased until Dec. 6”, Mohammad Hadi Zahedi added.
Organization of Libraries, Museums, and the Documentation Centre of Astan Quds Razavi is house to more than 23m data sources. This is indeed making it a great scientific hub in the world of Islam.

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Hakim inaugurates ‘Art of Living’ exhibition in Beirut

27 Nov 2014, Lebanese National News Agency – Trade and Economy Minister, Alain Hakim, on Thursday inaugurated the opening of “Art of Living”, a decoration and art exhibition at Forum Du Beirut, in the presence a huge crowd of businessmen, industrialists, and engineers.
“The Ministry’s support to such exhibitions emanates from its firm belief in the importance of boosting the role and engagement of the private sector in activating the national economy,” Hakim said.
“These exhibitions play an essential role is bolstering the sector and reviving the movement of trade and tourism by means of attracting tourists to Lebanon to take part in such events,” the Minister added.

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Lebanese tourism highlighted at Mediterranean Tourism Forum

27 Nov 2014, Lebanese National News Agency – Tourism Minister, Michel Pharoun, on Thursday shed light on the diversity of tourism in Lebanon, focusing on environmental, cultural and religious tourism in cooperation with non-governmental organizations and municipalities.
Minister Pharoun was speaking during a work session organized by the Mediterranean Tourism Forum, hosted by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Mediterranean Sea “ASCAMI” within the functions of the week for Mediterranean economic leaders, at the Conference Palace in Barcelona.
The Forum, which takes up the challenges facing the tourism sector in the Mediterranean, devoted a lengthy work session to discuss the prospects for Lebanon’s tourism sector, with the participation of concerned touristic figures attending the conference at the invitation of Beirut and Mount Lebanon Chamber, to present their vision in this sphere.
Attending the Forum have been Minister Pharoun, Head of the International Beiteddine Festival Committee, Noura Jumblatt, and scores of touristic, business and economic dignitaries.
“Lebanon, with its characteristics and advantages notably in terms of its services, is capable of being distinctive at the touristic level in the region and to be one of the most important touristic destinations in the world,” said Pharoun.

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Village of Asila – Maritime History and Touristic Attraction

Jaalan Bani Bu Ali, Nov 29 (ONA) — Asila coastal village is one of the most beautiful tourist villages in the Wilayat of Jaalan Bani Bu Ali in South A’Sharqiyah Governorate. The village is 55 km away from the center of the wilayat to the east, and is bordered to the south by Niyabat Al Ashkharah, to the north by al Suwaih, al Hadda, al Bander al Jadeed, al Ruwais, al Khuba and al Daffa. Asila is 75 km away from the Niyabat of Ras al Hadd.
The quite Asila village is located on the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean as it derives from both their smell and breeze that wander among the alleys of its neighborhoods, distinctive for its modern distinguished architecture. It is famous for its abundance Islamic platforms, in addition to a number of historic castles, rising among the mountains.
Asila village is one of the tourist destinations that is visited by tourists from inside and outside the Sultanate because of its moderate climate and fresh air throughout the seasons of the year, particularly the summer where the temperature drops.
Asila village is characterized by its golden beaches, filled with beautiful shells, where the villagers and foreigners play different sports activities, most famous of them are fishing, swimming, windsurfing and others.
The population of the village according to 2010 census is almost four thousands. Fishing is the main traditional profession in the village and an important source of income for the villagers.
Fishermen in Asila and neighboring villagers play an important role in providing domestic and overseas markets in various types of fish. Asila beach was an important marina for some of the various ancient merchant ships that carried goods and dried fish to the East Asia and African countries, as well as the Indian Ocean Rim countries.

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Palestinian radio anchorman bids for Guinness

Ramallah, Nov. 27 — (BNA): Palestinian radio anchorman Talaat Alawi bade for Guinness record non-stop 50-hours live radio talk show.
Raya Radio Station said that the dialogue was the longest ever in the world which began at Monday 12:00 pm and continued until Wednesday 2:00 pm in a bid to accomplish a new Guinness record of 50-hours non-stop radio talk show broadcast live “On Air”.
A previous 46-hour non-stop talk show was recorded by Lebanese anchorwoman Rima Njeim.
Alawi said that he had hosted many Palestinian VIPs, including President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamad and other Palestinian officials as well as ordinary citizens in his radio talk show.
The Director of the Raya radio station’s longest-recording interview project Nidaa Rishmawi said that they are awaiting “the result” from Guinness within ten days.

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Azerbaijan Tourism Days held in Hungary

Budapest, November 24, AzerTAc – Azerbaijan Tourism Days was held in Hungary on November 21-22 coorganized by Hungary-Azerbaijan Youth Union (HAYU), Youth Foundation under the Azerbaijani President (YFAP) and the Azerbaijani Embassy in Hungary.
Representatives of Hungarian Parliament, Central European Non-Governmental Organizations and active youth attended the event.
Opening the first day of ceremony held in Hungarian Parliament, chairman of HAYU Ibrahim Safarli informed the guests about the Union’s activity, projects, goal and purpose of Azerbaijan Tourism Days.
Then, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Hungary Vilayat Guliyev stressed the importance of deepening relations between the youth of two countries. He said Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s recent working visit to Hungary, the business forum of business leaders, treaties and agreements signed during the visit, are a good example of close cooperation between the two countries.
Member of the National Assembly of Hungary, Chairman of the Hungarian-Azerbaijani Friendship Group of the Inter-parliamentary Union Marton Gyongyosi expressed satisfaction with the rapid development of relations between the two countries in recent years and noted the contribution of such projects to the development of cooperation between two countries.
Representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, Baku 2015 European Games Operation Committee (BEGOC), as well as Hungarian Tourism LTD, Balance Law and Tax Firm and Rixos Hotels companies made different Informative and interactive presentations. The participants were informed about visa, immigration law, also hotels and tourist areas of the country.
The second day of the event was held at the Azerbaijan Embassy in Hungary. The participants got acquainted with the work principles of the building of the embassy and consular department.
There was a presentation on e-visa system on the visit to Azerbaijan, its essence and its working mechanism.
It should be noted that, HAYU was established with initiative of the Hungarian and Azerbaijani young activists living in Hungary, in December 2012.

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AzerTAc co-organizes Day of Azerbaijani Culture in Copenhagen

Copenhagen, November 30, AzerTAc – Azerbaijan State Telegraph Agency (AzerTAc) has partnered with Vatan Society to hold the Day of Azerbaijani Culture in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.
Attended by representatives of the Azerbaijani and Turkish diaspora organizations and Danish public figures, the event highlighted the life and works of great Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajıbayli, and featured performance of his music pieces.
Speaking to the ceremony, chair of Vatan Society Safar Sadigi said such events “play an important role in bringing together our fellow countrymen who live far from Azerbaijan”.
He highlighted Vatan Societys activities, particularly its work to promote the Azerbaijani culture and music in Denmark.
He thanked AzerTAc for presenting national clothes and textbooks to the Society, hailing this as a “sign of government support for Azerbaijanis living abroad”.
Other speakers stressed the importance of preserving and promoting the Azerbaijani cultural values, music and traditions.
Head of the Turkish diaspora in Denmark Bahadur Güler thanked AzerTAc and Vatan Society for organizing the event. “Such events open up wider opportunities for promoting the culture of both Azerbaijan and the Turkic world.”
For two years AzerTAc has co-organized events to promote Azerbaijan
s culture, history, music and traditions abroad in partnership with the country`s diaspora organizations.

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Group Theatre Day 2014 observed in Rangpur, Bangladesh

RANGPUR, Nov 30, 2014 (BSS) – Rangpur divisional unit of Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation (BGTF) in association with local cultural organisations observed the Group Theatre Day-2014 here through various daylong programmes on Saturday.
The programmes included brining out of a huge colourful rally, discussion, performing dance by the artists of different cultural organisations and Rangpur Nattya Kendra staged drama on the Central Shaheed Minar premises.
Led by Sadar upazila chairman Nasima Zaman Bobby, hundreds of the drama artists, dramatists, cultural personalities, professionals, teachers, students and elite, participated in a huge colourful rally brought out in the city to mark the day.
Members of Rangpur Theatre, Sommilito Sangskritik Jyote, Rangpur Nattya Kendra, Sarothi Nattya Gosthi, Nattya Niketan Rangpur, Rangpur Podatik, Chetona Nattya Gosthi, Rangpur Nattya Chakra and other organisations participated in the programmes.
Sadar upazila chairman Nasima Zaman Bobby addressed the discussion as the chief guest with President of Rangpur Podatik and Trustee of the Hindu Kallyan Trust Advocate Rothish Chandra Bhowmick Babu Sona in the chair.
President of Rangpur Nattya Kendra and former Mayor of recently defunct Rangpur pourashava Kazi Mohammad Junnon addressed the discussion as the special guest.
General Secretary of Rangpur Nattya Kendra Razzaque Murad, General Secretary of Rangpur Nattya Chakra Hassan Ali, Vice- president of Rangpur Theatre Nizamul Islam Bablu, drama personalities GM Nazu and Arif Hossain, addressed, among others. The speakers urged the dramatists for creating a social renaissance through writing and staging more street dramas focusing on the War of Liberation to awaken the common people against the severity of fundamentalism, militancy and extremism.
The chief guest called for further enriching Bengali culture through strengthening cultural movement, producing more drama artists and popularising drama to establish non-communal spirit in building a peaceful Bangladesh.

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Algerian East-West Highway’s overall cost stands at $ 13 billion

Algeria Press Service, 27 November 2014, ALGIERS- Minister of Public Works, Abdelkader Kadi said Thursday in Algiers that the overall cost of the 1216-km East-West Highway is estimated at $ 13 billion.
In response to a question from a member of the National People’s Assembly (APN), the Minister of Public Works said that the cost of the kilometre is estimated at 1 billion dinars recalling that this highway spans 1,216 kilometers from the Tunisian borders to the Moroccan ones.
Kadi underlined that the overall project cost was set in the context of the tender, adding that the average cost of the kilometre changes according to the regions and soil quality and reliefs.
The Minister stressed for comparison that the average cost of the km in France varied between 8.8 and 22 million Euros, while in Spain it was between 7.8 and 17.5 million. In Switzerland, the cost can reach 45 million, he added.
Concerning the control of the works, Kadi has admitted some problems especially due to the non-compliance of some engineering offices with their commitments.
The Minister stressed that they banned from working in Algeria and their contracts were terminated.
As for the rehabilitation of rutted sections of the East-West Highway, the minister said that it is assumed by the companies which were in charge of the construction works as it was the case in several sections in the provinces of Tlemcen, Oran, Relizane and Mascara.

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Algerian private airline becomes IATA member

Saturday, 29 November 2014, ALGIERS- National company Tassili Airlines (TAL) has become, since Thursday, a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), TAL told Staurday APS.

IATA “accepted the membership of TAL as a global operator, introducing it into the stage of the international aviation organizations,” said Communication Manager at TAL Karim Bahard.
Sonatrach wholly-owned subsidiary, Tassili Airlines is from now on a “member of the prestigious circle of international airlines through its accession to IATA, comprising about 240 airlines in the world, i.e. 84% of all the world traffic,” said Bahard.
Tassili Airlines also obtained its membership certificate to the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) in early November 2014.

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Kuwait, Cambodia mull bilateral cooperation

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 (KUNA) — Kuwait’s Ambassador to Cambodia Dhrar Nasser Al-Tuwaijri and Cambodia’s Deputy Premier and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hur Namhong discussed the ways of strengthening bilateral relations.
The meeting focused on issues of common interest and means of enhancing cooperation between the two friendly countries, Al-Tuwaijri told KUNA in a statement after the meeting.
The meeting was attended by Cambodia’s senior officials and Kuwaiti Embassy’s Third Secretary Abdullah Al-Muhanna, he added. (end) mam.hm

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Tunisian Min. of Culture inaugurates 25th Carthage Film Festival

TUNIS, Nov 29 (KUNA) — Tunisian Minister of Culture Mourad Sakli opened the 25th edition of the Carthage Film Festival (JCC) on Saturday.
For the first time since its creation, the event takes place outside Carthage city with six cities been selected for screenings: Kairouan, Jendouba, Thala, Gafsa, Medenine and Menzel Bourguiba.
The event, which lasts until December 6, features up to 220 movies from 42 Arab and African countries.
In his address to the opening ceremony, Sakli welcomed the participants and guest, voicing hope for the success of the event.
He said that Tunisia will continue to be a beacon of culture and arts, particularly cinema.
Director of the festival Dora Bouchoucha said in a statement to KUNA the Feature Competition, headed by American director Danny Glover, will start with the screening of Timbuktu by the Mauritanian director Abderrahman Sissako.
“In this edition youth steal the limelight since; we have launched a section called ‘tarshiqat’ which will focus on movies directed by young directors for the first time,” Bouchoucha said.
Fifteen Arab and African films are bidding for the three top awards of the festival; these include two Algerian films (Lyes Salem’s The Man from Oran and Narimane Mari’s Loubia Hamra), an Egyptian film – “Decor” directed by Ahmad Abdullah, a Jordanian film – “Naji Abu Nowar’s Theeb,” a Lebanese one – Ghassan Salhab’s “The Valley,” a Moroccan film – Hicham Lasri’s “They Are the Dogs,” a Palestinian one – Hany Abu Assad’s “Omar,” a Syrian film – Samer Nadjari and Dominique Chila’s “Arwad,” and a Tunisian one – Jilani Saadi’s “Bidoun 2,” she added.

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