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8 Dec, 2014

Malaysia sets up Malay Language Development Centre in China

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 08 December 2014 (16 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.




Trial run for planned Guwahati-Dhaka bus service

NEW DELHI, Dec 6, 2014 (BSS) – Indian government plans to introduce regular passenger bus services to Dhaka from Guwahati in Assam via Shillong in Meghalaya. For this purpose a joint technical survey and trial run will be arranged on 10-11 December from Guwahati to Dhaka to study and finalize the routes.

The trial run and route survey will be carried out jointly by delegations from India and Bangladesh by way of a dry run of the service to assess route conditions and other technical parameters.

The trial run will conclude at Dhaka on 12 December and delegations are expected to submit the report on the details and feasibility of the regular bus services to the authorities, said a press release issued by Road Transport and Highway Ministry here today.

This will be in addition to two passenger bus services to Dhaka already operating from Kolkata in West Bengal and Agartala in Tripura.

Negotiations with Bangladesh for starting the bus services from Guwahati and Shillong have been underway for the past several months and have gathered momentum.

The proposed bus service covering approximately 500 kms starting from Guwahati will be taking the Shillong- Dawki (Meghalaya) and Tamabil – Sylhet – Dhaka (Bangladesh) route.

The official Indian delegation for the trial run will be led by Shri W. Blah, Superintending Engineer of Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. The delegation will also have representatives from the Ministries of Finance, Home Affairs and External Affairs apart from the State Governments of Assam and Meghalaya.

The trial run is scheduled to begin at 9 am on 10 December from Guwahati.

The Bangladesh delegation consisting of 7 senior officials for the trial run will reach Guwahati on 9 December and proceed to Dhaka on 10 December by bus along with the Indian delegation.

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Iranian Handicrafts capable of competing in global markets

Hamedan, Dec 5, IRNA – A deputy at Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Ministry says Iranian handicrafts and entrepreneurs are capable of competing at international markets and presence in major exhibitions.

Hasan Talaei, speaking at the inauguration ceremony for handicrafts and capabilities of entrepreneurs of Hamedan Province termed the level of the exhibition very high and said this demonstrated the capacity and capability of the artists and entrepreneurs.

He said a website should be considered for introducing capabilities of the province as through the site a good market can be created for the handicrafts.

Also speaking at the ceremony, director general of the Cultural Heritage Department of the province said the number of active fields of art in the province indicates capacities of the province.

Reyhan Soroush Moqaddam said currently 155 fields of art are active in Hamedan province, adding that an outstanding number of these fields have national insignia and seal of authenticity.

The official said that 33,450 people are working at handicrafts workshops and given that export of handicrafts amounts to $2 million or 10% of non-oil exports from the province, the employment share in the province should increase from 3.4% to 15%.

The exhibition of handicrafts and capabilities of entrepreneurs of Hamedan Province which was opened today will be open to the public up to Sunday, December 7.

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ASEAN Regional Forum Meeting On Preventive Diplomacy held in Melaka, Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 (Bernama) — As Chairman of ASEAN 2015, Malaysia will also helm the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) for the inter-sessional year 2014/2015. In preparing for the work of ARF in 2015, Malaysia and Japan are co-hosting the ARF Inter-Sessional Support Group Meeting (ISG) on Confidence Building Measures (CBM) and Preventive Diplomacy (PD) in Melaka from 2 to 3 December 2014. The meeting was preceded by the ARF Defence Officials’ Dialogue (DOD) which was held on 1st December 2014.

Since its inception in 1994, the ARF has been the primary forum for dialogue and cooperation on political and security issues between ARF Participating Countries which has led to significant contributions towards confidence-building measures and preventive diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region. The forum comprises 10 ASEAN Member States, 10 ASEAN Dialogue Partners as well as Bangladesh, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste.

The ARF DOD is an avenue for defence officials to share best practices in areas of collective regional security interests. The ARF ISG on CBMs and PD is one of the main meetings under ARF framework that focuses on practical cooperation and initiatives under the four priority areas of the ARF namely Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC), Maritime Security (MS), Disaster Relief (DR), and Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (NPD).

As part of Malaysia’s commitment to implement the Hanoi Plan of Action to realise the ARF Vision Statement, Malaysia together with several ARF Participating Countries will be co-organising several initiatives to promote comprehensive and sustainable security through dialogue and cooperation with the view to contribute to the establishment of an ASEAN Political-Security Community in 2015. The list of initiatives are as follows:

· ARF Disaster Relief Exercises (DiREx) 2015

· ARF Workshop on Combating Wildlife Trafficking in Asia

· ARF Seminar on Counter-Piracy and Armed Robbery in Asia

· ARF Workshop on Multi-Year Strategic Exercise Planning for Disaster Relief Exercises

· ARF Workshop Cyber Security Capacity Building

· ARF Workshop on Counter-Radicalisation

· ARF Workshop on Maritime Security

The outcomes of these initiatives will be reported to the 22nd ARF Ministerial Meeting which will be held in Malaysia in the third trimester of 2015.

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LEAD STORY: Malaysia Sets Up Malay Language Development Centre In China

BEIJING, Dec 2 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has announced the establishment of an Internationalisation of Bahasa Melayu Centre in China in the effort to make the language as an international language to be expanded worldwide.

He said the centre set up in Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) here with the university acting as the leader and Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka as the secretariat for the Malaysian government.

“The government (Malaysia)’s effort is to uplift the Malay language and make it a lingua franca at international level,” he said when launching the Malay Language Development Programme at BFSU, Tuesday.

He said more universities in China were offering Malay language courses which contributed enormously to better understanding among the people of China and Malaysia as well as enhancing the economic value of the language.

He said the expansion of Malay language in China was commendable as seen by the increase in the number of universities here offering Malay language degree courses.

Apart from Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), there are now seven other universities offering such courses at degree level, he said.

They are Peking University, China Communications University, Guangdong Foreign Studies University, Guangxi Nationalities University, Yunnan Nationalities University, Louyang Military Academy and the latest addition, Tianjian Foreign Studies University.

He said he was informed several more provincial universities were planning to to start Malay language programmes.

Muhyiddin said he appreciated the contribution of the China Radio International (CRI) through its Malay language section as it acted as a bridge which linked various listeners in the world through its interactive Malay language broadcast.

The Malaysian government, he said had been extending assistance since 1996 in the form of sending DBP language officers to several universities and CRI.

In addition, assistance such as reference and teaching materials as well as Chinese Malay language teaching staff training programme in Malaysia were also being provided, he said.

BFSU which offers Malay language degree courses since 1961 has since produced numerous diplomatic officers, broadcasters, lecturers, journalists, intepreters and teachers proficient in the Malay language.

The government of Malaysia set up a Malay Studies Chair in BFSU in 2007.

Muhyiddin said the cooperation between Malaysia and China in education also included the Malaysian Education Ministry sending students to take up Mandarin language courses especially in BFSU.

Earlier, Muhyiddin was awarded the Honourary Doctor of Letters degree by BFSU president Professor Long Peng for the contribution of the Malaysian leader in education.

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Public Forum In Malaysia to mark Int’l Day Of Solidarity With The Palestinian People

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 (Bernama) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia in collaboration with the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR), Malaysia will be hosting a Public Forum to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 4 December 2014. The Forum, themed Palestine: United for Peace and Statehood will be held at the Auditorium, IDFR.

Dato’ Hamzah Zainudin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia is scheduled to deliver a Keynote Address which will be followed by a panel discussion by three distinguished panellists namely, Dr. Anwar H. Al-Agha, Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Malaysia; Dr. Maszlee Malik from the International Islamic University of Malaysia and Mr. Jufri Joha, Vice President of Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM). The panel discussion will be moderated by YBhg. Tan Sri Mohamed Jawhar Hassan, Chairman, Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), Malaysia.

The Forum is aimed to create greater public awareness and understanding on the Question of Palestine namely, their right to self-determination, the right to independence and sovereignty and the right to return to their homes and property.

Apart from providing a platform for the various stakeholders from the public sector, academia or civil societies to exchange their views and explore new ideas, the event manifests the solidarity of the Government and people of Malaysia with the Palestinian people and our full support to the Palestinian Cause.

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UAE Space Agency Launches Social Media Platforms On 43rd National Day

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Dec 3 (NNN-WAM) – The UAE Space Agency has officially launched its social media platforms, in line with the country’s 43rd National Day celebrations.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google will all be regularly utilised by the Agency, to keep followers, fans and members of the general public informed, on the UAE’s space exploration programmes.

Director General of the UAE Space Agency, Dr Mohammad Nasser Al Ahbabi, commented, “National Day provides us with an annual opportunity to look back at the achievements that have been made and look forward with ambition and hope. The UAE Space Agency is proud to launch its social media platforms on this special day, recognising the importance of communication, dialogue and cooperation in realising our dreams.

“Our projects have begun and we want to keep the public and the youth updated on the progress that is being made.

“The UAE youth are the backbone of the nation, the key to our future and are ranked highest for having a sense of optimism about the future of their country.

“It is part of our mission to inspire young people and prepare them for the future, taking on board their creativity and national pride that will serve our country. We want to communicate with them all about opportunities that exist for space exploration and invite them to join us in engaging ideas and working together to succeed with our plans.”

The UAE Space Agency was established by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in July 2014. Once the Agency was established the Mission to Mars was announced, which will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s formation.– NNN-WAM

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Bangladesh, Bhutan focus on transit & trade

DHAKA, Dec 6, 2014 (BSS)- Transit, trade gap and cooperation in trade, tourism and other social sectors got prominence at the official talks between Bangladesh and Bhutan today.

The two countries reached consensus to reduce trade gap and strengthen connectivity as well as boost ties in power, water resources, health and other areas of economic and social sectors.

Visiting Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led their respective sides at the meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) here this afternoon.

“At the official talks, the two countries recalled their historic relations and agreed to move ahead with all endevour to tap future prospects,” PM’s press secretary Shameem Chowdhuri said.

Finance Minister A M A Muhith, Commerce Ministter Tofail Ahmed, Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali, State Minister for Health Zahid Malek, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid were in the Bangladesh delegation. Visiting Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bhutan Rinzin Dorje and Minister of Economic Affairs Norbu Wangchuk and senior officials were present.

Shameem Chowdhuri said the talks were held in a cordial atmosphere where the two leaders elaborately discussed their excellent bilateral relations putting emphasis on enhancing connectivity to boost the ties.

Both the countries agreed to bridge the existing trade gap through the expansion of trade and commerce, he said.

Sheikh Hasina said transit is one of the prerequisite for increasing export-import between the two countries. Transit with India is indispensible both for Bhutan and Bangladesh.

Sheikh Hasina urged Bhutan to raise the issue with India bilaterally to create an environment of resolving the issue on tripartite basis, Shemeem Chowdhuri said.

She said Bangladesh has already allowed Bhutan for using the Mongla Seaport, Syedpur Airport and existing air lifting facilities at Lalmonirhat aerodrome.

On this day in 1971, Bhutan recognized new born independent Bangladesh and it was the first country to do so, Sheikh Hasina recalled saying for this people of Bangladesh are sincerely grateful to the government and people of Bhutan.

She requested her Bhutanese counterpart to take steps for importing more consumable items particularly pharmaceuticals, seasonal vegetables, readymade garments, jute and jute products, leather goods, toiletries and chemicals to reduce the trade gap which is disproportionately in favour of Bhutan.

The Bhutanese Prime Minister expressed his interest to recruit more doctors from Bangladesh and requested Sheikh Hasina to provide education opportunity for more Bhutanese students in Bangladesh.

He laid importance on cooperation of Bangladesh, Bhutan and India for harvesting clean and sustainable energy through exploiting the existing opportunities.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh would be happy help Bhutan overcome its scarcity of human resources particularly in health sector. She requested Tshering Tobgay to revise their remuneration package to encourage Bangladeshi doctors to go to Bhutan.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pointed out the spiritual relations between the two countries and laid importance on exchange of religious tourists.

Pointing out the recent victory in a football match by Sheikh Jamal Football Club in Bhutan, Sheikh Hasina said sports may be another area for cooperation between the two countries.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay congratulated Sheikh Hasina for becoming the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the third time. He also commended the role of Bangladesh Prime Minister in leading the country towards prosperity and at the global forum as well.

The Bhutanese Prime Minister lauded the role of PM’s daughter Saima Hossain for the cause of disabled persons particularly those suffering from autism.

The Prime Minister invited her Bhutanese counterpart to come to Bangladesh along with his spouse next time and visit the tourist town of Cox’s Bazar.

Sheikh Hasina also invited the King of Bhutan to visit Bangladesh at his convenient time.

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New industries being set up to create jobs in Bangladesh

CHUADANGA, Dec 6, 2014 (BSS)-Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu has said new industries are being set up in the country to create huge employment opportunities for economic growth and make Bangladesh a middle income country by 2021.

“China, Japan, Korea and India have expressed their keen interest to set up different kinds of industrial units in Bangladesh where enormous job opportunities would be created for our youths,” he said while inaugurating sugarcane crushing season of Darshana Sugar Mills on Friday.

A function was arranged on the mills premises with Managing Director Azizur Rahman in the chair.

Whip Solaiman Haque Zoarder, lawmakers Ali Ashghar Togor and Nabi Newaj and chairman of Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation Mahmudul Haque Bhuiyan also spoke on the occasion.

The minister said the government is working relentlessly to boost industrial and agricultural production for attaining the cherished goal of becoming the middle income country in 2021.

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Dhaka Apparel Summit-2014 to boost export earnings to $50bn by 2021

DHAKA, Dec 6, 2014 (BSS) – The first ever ‘Dhaka Apparel Summit 2014’ begins tomorrow at Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC) aiming at preparing a roadmap to fetch $50 billion by 2021 from apparel export. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the three-day mega event of the country’s prime export earning sector.

Organized by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the event is bringing together the garment manufacturers and exporters, leading global brands, investors, experts and policymakers at a platform where they would find the way of expediting the immense prospect of apparel sector.

There would be several panel discussions on topics like environmental sustainability, products and market diversification and global tariff structure, which will benefit local apparel makers to be enriched and knowledgeable about latest apparel technologies and fashion.

“The major objective of organising this event is to branding Bangladesh and developing an effective roadmap to help increase earnings from RMG export to $50 billion by 2021 when the country will be celebrating golden jubilee of independence,” BGMEA President Atiqul Islam told a press conference today.

Besides the major focus on the way of increasing of export earnings, the three-day summit will address the environment and safety of the garment industry and its employees and workers. The issues, related to get greater access of local apparels to the global market, will be heighted in three particular programmes to be held during the event.

On the sideline of the event, a safety expo styled ‘Bangladesh Building and Fire Safety Expo, 2014’ will also be held, where safety equipment producers will display their products to make it familiar to the factory owners.

Brands, fashion designers, sourcing executives and experts from home and abroad are expected to attend the summit to share their experiences and gather knowledge about Bangladesh’s apparel industry.

A number of international experts including Tyler Gillard, legal expert at the OECD Investment Division; Wilma Wallace, deputy general counsel and vice president Gap Inc; Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher; Prof Arnold M Zack, arbitrator and mediator, Prof at Harvard Law School; Avedis H Seferian, president & CEO of Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production are participating in different sessions of the summit.

According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the export earnings from RMG sector crossed $30 billion-mark for the first time at the end of the past 2013-14 financial year.

BGMEA expects that the earning would increase substantially in the coming years with coordinated efforts to develop further the country’s premier export earning sector.

Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (a group of north American apparel companies), GTZ (German Technical Co-operation) and American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) will be providing necessary support to BGMEA to organise the event.

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Etihad Airways marks inaugural flight to Dallas/Fort Worth

ABU DHABI, 4th December, 2014 (WAM) — Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has commenced a non-stop service between Abu Dhabi and Dallas / Fort Worth, the airline’s sixth destination in the United States.

Guests onboard the inaugural flight were presented with a commemorative certificate, while an official ribbon-cutting ceremony took place last night at Dallas / Fort Worth Airport, hosted by the airport’s Chief Executive Officer, Sean Donohue.

A senior delegation from the airline, as well as dignitaries, including Abdulla Alsaboosi, Consul General of the UAE and Geert Boven, Senior Vice President, The Americas, Etihad Airways also participated in the inauguration ceremony.

The introduction of the Worth route further bolsters Etihad Airways’ US network and meets growing demand from travellers in the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent. The new service will also help strengthen the economic links between Abu Dhabi and the US, providing enhanced access for the technology sector and oil and gas industry.

Guests flying to Dallas/Fort Worth from Abu Dhabi International Airport will enjoy the enhanced convenience of the purpose-built United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility at Terminal 3.

Abu Dhabi is one of few airports outside the US to offer pre-clearance, which allows all immigration, customs and agriculture inspections to take place in Abu Dhabi prior to departure. Guests then arrive in the US as domestic passengers, allowing for faster processing.

Etihad Airways’ three flights a week service to Dallas / Fort Worth is operated using a three cabin ultra-long range Boeing 777-200LR, configured to carry 237 guests, with eight First Class suites, 40 Business Class flatbed seats, and 189 Economy Class seats.

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UAE accounts for 86 percent of GCC licenses for economic activities

RIYADH, 5th December, 2014 (WAM)–The UAE scored the highest cumulative increase in the issuing of licences to GCC citizens, granting some 35,006 licences in 2013, accounting for 86 percent of the total licences granted to the Gulf Cooperation Council for Arab States (GCC) to run businesses.

The number of licences granted to citizens of the GCC to operate a variety of businesses surged to 40,753 licences in 2013, compared with 11,095 licences at the end of 2004, an increase of 267 percent.

According to a report prepared by the information sector of the GCC General Secretariat, Kuwait was ranked second with 3,453 licences, accounting for 8 percent, the Kingdom of Bahrain came in third place with 1,118 licences at 3 percent, Saudi Arabia granted 494 licences, while the number of licences issued by Sultanate of Oman was 426 licences, as Qatar granted 256 licences.

Citizens of Saudi Arabia topped the list in number of licences obtained for operating businesses in other Member States, with 18,658 licences representing 46 percent of the total issued licences, followed by the citizens of Kuwait, who received 6,851 licences representing 17 percent. The citizens of the Sultanate of Oman received 6,081 licences, representing 15 percent of the total licences, the citizens of the Kingdom of Bahrain were issued 5,948 licences, representing 14 percent of the total licences, followed by Qataris and Emiratis at the rates of 6 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

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EUBAM Rafah Concludes 1st High Level Seminar for PA Agency for Borders and Crossings

RAMALLAH, December 3, 2014 (WAFA) – The European Union Border Assistance Mission for the Rafah Crossing Point (EUBAM Rafah) conducted the first high-level seminar for senior Officers from the Palestinian Authority General Administration for Borders and Crossings (GABC) to enhance their capabilities on project management, said a press release issued by EUBAM Rafah Press and Public Information Office.

The seminar, which was held in the West Bank city of Ramallah, took place in the context of the Mission’s work with its Palestinian counterparts on maintaining their preparedness for a possible redeployment to the Rafah Crossing Point (RCP).

The five-day course also focused on some basic skills in the areas of human rights, gender, rule of law, and trafficking of human beings. The course was highly praised by the attendees, compromising 10 officers from GABC.

EUBAM Rafah has been working with the Palestinian Authority since it was launched in late 2005 to monitor the operations at the RCP, between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. It suspended its operations at the RCP after Hamas took over Gaza Strip in 2007.

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No alcohol service class for Turkey’s tourism students

ANTALYA, December/05/2014, Hurriyet Daily News — Turkey’s National Education Council accepted a proposal to abolish a class that teaches tourism students how to serve alcoholic drinks on Dec. 5.

Turkey’s National Education Council accepted a proposal to abolish a class that teaches tourism students how to serve alcoholic drinks on Dec. 5.

After adopting a proposal to increase the duration of religious education schooling and recommend compulsory Ottoman language classes, a committee of Turkey’s National Education Council has accepted a proposal to abolish a class that teaches tourism students how to serve alcoholic beverages.

Eğitim-Bir-Sen, an education sector trade union with conservative views, put forward the controversial proposal for tourism high schools, which was initially rejected in a vote in commission meetings in the southern province of Antalya on Dec. 5.

However, the proposal was accepted by the commission in a second vote in the afternoon, according to Ahmet Gündoğdu, the chair of Eğitim-Bir-Sen. Unions protesting the proposal stormed out of the meeting in the afternoon, daily Radikal reported.

The proposal will now be voted on by the General Assembly of the National Education Council on Dec. 6. If approved, it will be sent to Turkey’s National Education Ministry as an official proposal.

The president of the Touristic Hotels Operators and Investors Union, Timur Bayındır, said the move will have negative consequences for the sector if finalized. “Imam training schools or engineering schools have certain curricula for these professions. Tourism schools have their own curriculum too. This should not be interfered with,” Bayındır said.

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Acclaimed director Fatih Akın’s latest film to hit Turkish theaters

ISTANBUL, December/05/2014, Hurriyet Daily News — The latest movie from Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akın, “The Cut,” hits Turkish movie theaters on Dec. 5. As Akın’s first movie in English, “The Cut” centers on an Armenian father who travels from the 1915 Ottoman Empire to the U.S. in search of his daughters.

The 138-minute drama stars French actor of Algerian descent Tahar Rahim who is best known for his role in the 2009 award-winning French movie “A Prophet,” as well as French-Moroccan singer and actress Hindi Zahra, French-Armenian actor Simon Abjarian and Turkish actor Bartu Küçükçağlayan.

Along with Akın, Armenian-American screenwriter Mardik Martin, who has also worked with legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese, penned the screenplay of the drama.

“I know very well that Turks would not accept a film about an Armenian hero. This is why I used the genocide of Native Americans to develop empathy with them,” Akın has said about the film.

The film, which competed for the coveted Golden Lion award at the 71st Venice Film Festival, had an estimated budget of 16 million euros, according to the website imdb.com.

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Turkish businesspeople want visa requirements eased

ISTANBUL, Hurriyet Daily News, December/03/2014 = Turkish industrialists have called for an easing of visa requirements abroad, in order to foster economic and trade relations with more countries. Last year, the EU and Turkey reached an accord in December 2013 to eliminate visa requirements for Turks within three years.

Turkish businesspeople have called for an easing of visa requirements from the consulate generals of 37 countries, in order to foster economic and trade relations with those countries, in a press meeting hosted by the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ISO) on Nov. 3.

The ISO representatives voiced their demands to countries from the United States to China, Brazil and the EU, and specifically addressed European envoys during their meeting with members of the Istanbul Consular Corps (ICC).

“We see the potential membership of Turkey to the EU as the most crucial modernization project of our country by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the establishment of our republic. Turkey has made many efforts to become an EU member for the last 50 years, but the EU’s approach here disappoints Turkey, causing a decline in the commitment of Turkish public and business circles about the membership process,” said ISO head Erdal Bahçıvan.

Bahçıvan said Turkey could make significant contributions to develop many sectors in Europe if visa requirements were loosened. He also noted that Turkish businesspeople have complied with the requirements of the Customs Union for 18 years, but they suffer from the heavy visa requirements that they face.

“This constitutes the biggest obstacle in developing mutual economic and trade relations between Turkey and the EU. It is an unacceptable obstacle for us, Turkish businesspeople, not to be able to move freely in the EU in the framework of the Customs Union deal, although our products are without any restrictions in these countries, with which we conduct almost half of our trade,” he said, adding that they found the latest memorandum of understanding on easing visa requirements with the EU in December 2013 “very promising.”

The EU and Turkey reached an accord aimed at eliminating visa requirements for Turks within three years last year. In exchange, Ankara agreed to receive back illegal migrants who transited through Turkey before arriving in the EU.

“Turkish industrialists who mainly visit Europe should be given visas more easily and they should be granted multiple entry visas over longer time frames during this three-year transition period,” Bahçıvan said.

The ISO head stressed that Turkey will face bigger problems economically if it is excluded from the planned transatlantic trade deal between the EU and the U.S.

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Qatar Airways flies between Bangkok and Doha four-times daily

03 Dec 2014, DOHA, Qatar – It was just last month that Qatar Airways announced that its newly received A380 aircraft would be ready for touchdown in Bangkok, Thailand, in January 2015. Responding to high demand for the state-of-the-art aircraft, Qatar Airways has brought forward the arrival date of the A380 to Bangkok to 5 December 2014.

In the wake of the overwhelming success of its inaugural service to London Heathrow, followed by a second service to Paris, Qatar Airways now operates its third A380 route to Thailand, just in time for holiday travellers to experience the airline’s five-star service over the festive season.

The additional capacity offered to passengers with the introduction of the A380 operated on one of the airline’s four-times daily services gives passengers the opportunity to experience the latest aircraft to join the Qatar Airways fleet.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Bangkok is an ever-increasingly popular destination for holiday makers and Qatar Airways is pleased to be providing additional capacity on the route.” The airline’s A380 superjumbo is operated in a tri-class configuration of First, Business and Economy cabins and includes a total of 517 seats.

The First Class cabin features eight seats on the upper deck in a 1-2-1 configuration. Each seat features a 90” pitch with a fully lie-flat bed, 26” HD in-flight entertainment screen and direct aisle access. The First Class cabin also features exclusive spa-like bathrooms with luxurious amenities to ensure passengers enjoy a comfortable and leisurely flight.

The Qatar Airways A380 Business Class cabin features 48 seats on the upper deck in a 1-2-1 configuration, each with an 80” fully flat bed, 17” HD in-flight entertainment screen and direct aisle access.

There are two Economy Class cabins on the Qatar Airways A380, with 56 seats on the upper deck in a 2-4-2 configuration, and 405 seats on the main deck in a 3-4-3 configuration. Each Economy Class seat is 18.5” wide with a 32” pitch and features a 10.6” in-flight entertainment screen.

The upper deck also features a spacious inflight lounge offering Premium passengers an escape from the typical airplane environment, which is unique to the A380.

Another key feature of Qatar Airways’ A380 service is its in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity available across all classes of travel.

Qatar Airways has received three of its 13 A380s on order to date.

Doha (DOH) and Bangkok (BKK) Daily Flight Schedule (all times local)

Depart DOH QR828 at 01:25, arrive BKK at 11:35

Depart DOH QR836 at 01:55, arrive BKK at 12:10

Depart DOH QR832 at 08:35, arrive BKK at 18:45

Depart DOH QR822 at 21:00, arrive BKK at 07:10

Depart BKK QR837 at 01:40, arrive DOH at 04:55

Depart BKK QR823 at 08:35, arrive DOH at 11:50

Depart BKK QR829 at 19:55, arrive DOH at 23:10

Depart BKK QR833 at 20:45, arrive DOH at 23:55

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Qatar Airways to take delivery of the first A350 Xwb in Jan 2015

04 Dec 2014, Doha, QATAR – Qatar Airways and Airbus announce the highly anticipated date of the official delivery of the first of its 80 Airbus A350 XWB aircraft on order, set to take place in Toulouse, France.

The A350 XWB is a family of mid-sized wide-body airliners designed to enhance fuel, operating costs and environmental efficiencies during medium-to-long haul airline operations and features the very latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies.

The first commercial service will be deployed on the Frankfurt route from January 2015.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “The delivery of our first A350 XWB aircraft, as global launch customer, is a highly anticipated event in the relatively young history of Qatar Airways and the second significant fleet milestone for our airline, having recently taken delivery of our A380 aircraft.

“Qatar Airways is committed to offering our passengers the very best five-star experience when it comes to travelling, not only in terms of the custom-built comfort features across all of our cabins and the service on board, but with the investment and expansion of our modern fleet. The arrival of this new generation of aircraft type represents a moment of great symbolic national pride for the State of Qatar, and I know its delivery will be met with excitement at its new home Hamad International Airport, which was built for advanced aircraft types such as this.”

The introduction of the A350 XWB into service will signal a new frontier in aviation history as this will be a brand new aircraft type projected for the industry for the next decade.

Over 70 percent of the A350 XWB’s weight-efficient airframe is made from advanced materials combining composites (53 percent), titanium and advanced aluminium alloys. The aircraft’s innovative all-new Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) fuselage results in lower fuel burn as well as easier maintenance.

Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 17 years of operation, to the point where today it is flying a modern fleet of 142 aircraft to 145 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.

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Iran, Russia to ease visa issuance

Moscow, Dec 7, IRNA – Iranian Embassy in Russia announced here Saturday the two countries’ foreign ministries will soon sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on making visa issuance procedure easier on both sides.

The MOU will be signed following the meeting between the two counties foreign ministers earlier this year that led to the easier issuance of visas for the two countries’ merchants and industrialists.

The applicants in that respect need to have introduction letters issued by their country’s chamber of commerce.

The staffs of two countries’ scientific, research, academic and cultural centers, including university students and professors, and some other fields, such as agriculture activists can get long term, fast visas.

The two countries’ tourists, too, are included in the easy visa issuance groups in the MOU.

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Gulf-Morocco forum focuses on investments, partnerships

Casablanca, 08 Safar 1436/ 01 December 2014 (IINA) – The Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting (GOIC) took part in the 4th GCC-Morocco Investment Forum and Expo in Casablanca, on Nov. 28-29.

The event was held with the support of King Mohammed the Sixth. It was organized by the Federation of GCC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FGCCC) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Arab Gulf Agency for Media and Communications. GOIC Secretary-General Abdulaziz bin Hamad Al-Ageel presented a paper on qualifying human resources, research and innovation and their impact on economic and industrial development. Al-Ageel said the number of workers in the GCC industrial sector reached 1,379,257 workers in 2013, and commended GCC countries’ endeavors to qualify human resources, notably skilled and highly qualified workers. “These countries believe in the key role of skilled workers in the development of manufacturing and knowledge-based industries,” said Al-Ageel.

The GOIC secretary general highlighted the organization’s efforts in the area of industrial investments. He opined that Gulf and Moroccan businessmen have the opportunity to benefit from industrial studies and investment opportunities prepared by GOIC, while skilled Moroccan workers benefit by getting jobs in the GCC industrial sector. Moreover, GCC and Morocco industrial investment forums are to target specific industries and strategic partnerships are to be built between Gulf and Moroccan investors in promising industrial sectors in Morocco such as industries supporting solar applications, food industries, pharmaceuticals, recycling, metals, automobile and aircraft spare parts industries.

According to Al-Ageel, Moroccan expertise is highly valuable to promote GCC industrial investments in African countries, for Morocco is the gate to Africa. It is key to encourage Moroccan businessmen to benefit from the positive investment environment in GCC countries and to cooperate with GOIC in order to promote industrial investment opportunities in the Kingdom. As to the fields of cooperation between the GCC and Morocco, Al-Ageel said: “Emphasis is on scientific research and human resources training, by offering training courses and qualifying Moroccan human resources. GCC countries have valuable partnerships with global research centers and universities with a broad expertise in various fields and capable of attracting international skills and know-how. Moreover, Moroccan scientific research centers can be financed through GCC scientific research funds and major industrial companies or investors. Skilled Moroccan labor force is to find job opportunities at research and innovation centers and knowledge oases. Qualifying human resources, research and innovation and training all have a positive impact on economic and industrial development.”

The GOIC secretary-general called upon GCC countries and Morocco to exchange expertise in the area of researches published in French; several Moroccan researchers and scientists work in France and Switzerland, both developed countries in the area of scientific research. The forum focused on promoting investments and partnerships between GCC countries and Morocco in several sectors like agriculture, food security, industry, tourism, pharmaceuticals, human resources, scientific research, innovation, training, transport and railways, energy, metals and SMEs.

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Bahrain to develop central Shariah board for Islamic banks

Manama, 10 Safar 1436/ 03 December 2014 (IINA) – Bahrain’s central bank is setting up a central Shariah board to help oversee Islamic finance products in the Kingdom and will introduce new rules to strengthen governance in the sector, central bank governor Rasheed al-Maraj said.

Traditionally, Islamic banks have practiced self regulation to ensure the Shariah-compliance of their products, but a centralized model is increasingly being favored across the global industry. Shariah boards are groups of scholars who rule on whether financial instruments follow religious principles, such as bans on interest payments and pure monetary speculation. The central bank will introduce new Shariah governance rules to expand the internal Shariah review and audit functions, while making it mandatory for banks to have an independent external Shariah audit. “Good governance is a pervasive theme of our times and for Islamic banks its importance cannot be over-emphasized,” Maraj said at an industry conference in the capital Manama on Tuesday.

Bahrain’s central bank already has a Shariah board but its scope is limited to vetting its own products, while a country-level Shariah board would help limit product discrepancies, speed the design of new products and boost investor confidence. “A central Shariah board is also being established to help the industry achieve consistency in Shariah opinions and set the direction of product innovation,” Maraj said, without giving a time frame. Last month, Indonesia’s capital market regulator signed an agreement with the country’s national Shariah board to strengthen oversight of the Islamic finance industry. In October, Oman’s central bank set up a Shariah supervisory board to help oversee the sultanate’s Islamic banking industry. The United Arab Emirates has also said it plans to follow a centralized approach, backed by specific legislation, although it has not given a timetable for such plans.

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Gunung Kidul to develop city park

Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta (ANTARA News) Jumat, 5 Desember 2014 – The Gunung Kidul district government in Yogyakarta has planned to develop a technology-based city park to boost tourism in the district, an official noted.

Irawan Jatmiko, the head of environmental impact control office, stated here on Friday that the development of the city park, situated across the Gunung Kidul district office, will commence in 2015 at the cost of Rp360 million from the 2015 regional budget.

“When completed, the park will be equipped with a video-tron to showcase the tourism attractions in Gunung Kidul district for the tourists and visitors to enjoy,” Jatmiko remarked.

He noted that the technology-based city park will have WiFi network, numerous garden chairs, ornaments, and decorative lighting to add to the beauty of the Wonosari city center.

He revealed that apart from the city park, a culinary arts center will also be built near the park.

“We are currently discussing the project with a third party, who would like to support the development,” he stated.

With its splendid caves and beaches, Gunung Kidul has several new tourism destinations that have lately been developed.

The ten geosites in Gunung Kidul district have been recognized as national geoparks by the Geology Agency of the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, and they will be promoted to be included in the International Geopark list under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The ten geosites are now called the Mount Sewu National geopark that covers Mount Nglanggeran, sediment sea of first miosen era Sambipitu, Pindul cave, Kali Suci complex, ancient cave Luweng Jomblang, Siung Wediombo beach, dry ancient valley Sadeng, Bleberan waterfall, Jlamprong cave, and Luweng Cokro cave.

Gunung Kidul is a barren district in Yogyakarta but has unexplored landscape.

Its landscape has a specific geological texture. There are some karst (chalk or marble land layer) mountains, caves, beaches, and other tourism attractions.(*)

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27 ambassadors to attend 10th anniversary commemoration of Aceh tsunami

Banda Aceh, Aceh (ANTARA News), Jumat, 5 Desember 2014 — As many as 27 foreign ambassadors are set to attend a ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the deadly earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of Aceh province on December 26, 2004.

Head of the Aceh Provincial Culture and Tourism Office, Reza Pahlevi, said here on Friday that the ambassadors confirmed their plan to attend the event, which will take place at Blang Padang Square in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh.

Pahlevi added that the event’s organizing committee had, so far, extended hundreds of invitations to domestic and foreign dignitaries to attend the event.

The 27 foreign ambassadors expected to attend the ceremony represent friendly countries that assisted Aceh in its post-tsunami rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, he pointed out.

In addition, representatives from 34 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also look set to attend the event, Pahlevi affirmed.

“The NGOs and donor countries will become participants of the disaster expo at Blang Padang,” he noted.

According to the head of the provincial tourism office, the Aceh government expressed its gratitude to the national and international communities that assisted the province in the post-tsunami rehabilitation and reconstruction phases.

Aceh bore the brunt of the 8.9 Richter scale magnitude undersea earthquake and the tsunami that followed on December 26, 2004, which left more than 200 thousand people dead.

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Indonesian travellers during X’mas holidays projected at 14 million

Jakarta (ANTARA News), Sabtu, 6 Desember 2014 – The number of passengers who will travel using public transportation during Christmas and New Year holidays is estimated to reach 14 million, according to the directorate general of land transportation of the ministry of transportation.

“The increase in the number of passengers can reach 14 million this year,” Acting Director General of Land Transportation Sugihardjo told a press conference here on Friday.

Sugiharto said that in 2014 the number of passengers is predicted to increase by 4.88 percent to 14,047,912 from 13,392,788 in 2013.

Of the modes of transportation, Sugihardjo said train will get the biggest number of passengers reaching 3.85 million passengers followed by air transportation with 3.72 million passengers, land transportation 2.94 million, inter island waterway transportation service 2.60 million and sea transportation 0.91 million passengers.

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Indonesia’s rattan products expected to undergo robust growth

Jakarta (ANTARA News) Sabtu, 6 Desember 2014 — Indonesias rattan-based products will get another boost with the inauguration of the National Rattan Innovation Center in Palu, Central Sulawesi province, which claims to be the largest rattan producer in Indonesia.

“Our rattan industry has yet to be developed to its maximum potential. The Central Sulawesi National Rattan Innovation Center is, however, expected to boost the development of national rattan industries through the availability of new rattan furniture designs and services,” Industry Minister Saleh Husin said after inaugurating the rattan innovation center on Saturday.

The building of the first Indonesian rattan innovation center is located in an industrial area within Palus Special Economic Zone (KEK).

Central Sulawesi province is the biggest rattan producer in Indonesia, contributing 60 percent of the worlds rattan supplies. This makes Indonesia the worlds largest rattan producer.

Considered the worlds largest rattan exporter, Indonesias rattan resources are available in tropical forests across ten provinces. Central Sulawesi claims being the biggest producer among them all.

Indonesia was a major exporter of raw rattan products in the past, but it stopped its raw rattan exports in 2011, encouraging local industries to process the commodity at home to gain added values before they are exported.

Although many rattan farmers and collectors complained about the ban on raw rattan exports, arguing that rattan industries are not able to absorb their produce, the value of Indonesias processed rattan-based exports have continued to increase since then.

The trade minister issued decree number 35/2011, banning the export of raw rattan in an effort to increase rattans added value. Since then, the decree has had a positive impact on Indonesias rattan-based product exports.

Data from the Indonesian Rattan Handicraft and Furniture Industry Association (Asmindo) revealed that Indonesias rattan exports in 2010 were valued at US$137.9 million, a 9.6 percent increase when compared to those in 2009. However, figures dropped by 17.6 percent to US$113.6 million in 2011 due to the global economic crisis.

Other data also indicated that the value of Indonesias rattan-based exports in 2011 was recorded at US$113.6 million. This began to increase after the trade ministers decree was issued. The exports continued to increase in value, and in 2012 and 2013, it stood at US$202.6 million and US$262.5 million, respectively.

In 2014, the Asmindo set a bold export target of more than US$1 billion.

Asmindo Chairman for West Java, Sumartja, stated recently that Cirebon, a rattan-producing district in the province, is expected to contribute to the national export target this year.

“Indonesias rattan-based product exports are expected to meet the target, which is set at over US$1 billion this year,” Sumartja was quoted as saying by Bisnis.com online media last April.

According to the Indonesian Rattan and Wood-Based Furniture Association (AMKRI), Indonesias rattan-based furniture and handicraft exports continued to increase despite the ban imposed in 2011. This year, national rattan product exports are expected to increase by 8 percent from that in 2013 when it stood at US$262.5 million.

AMKRI Chairman for East Java, Nur Cahyudi, noted that the ban on the exportation of raw rattan affected the performance of the countrys rattan exports positively.

Exports of raw rattan, which saw a decline when the decree was first imposed, is now encouraging, he affirmed.

Cahyudi pointed out that Indonesia’s rattan-based products were exported to China, the United States, Japan, Germany, and the Netherlands, among other countries. Last years exports increased by 30 percent to US$262.5 million from US$202.6 million in 2012, he added.

The AMKRI chairman further noted that East Javas contribution to the national exports accounted for 30 percent of the total. Recently, the East Java chapter of AMKRI organized exhibitions in California in the United States and in Guangzhou in China to measure buyers interest.

In contrast to rattan processing industries, rattan farmers and collectors complained about the ban on raw rattan exports.

Farmers and collectors in Kotawaringin Timur district, Central Kalimantan, asked the president to lift the ban.

“We hope the president revokes the ban, or at least allows us to export semi-finished rattan products, which will encourage us again and enable us to absorb more workers,” Dahlan Ismail, a rattan grower and collector in Kotabesi sub-district of Sampit, Central Kalimantan, remarked last week.

He added that when the government issued the ban on raw rattan exports through the trade ministers decree number 35/2011, the rattan industry underwent a gloomy period. This had had significant social impacts as it had crippled businesses in the sector.

Thousands of tons of raw rattan in Central Kalimantan rotted due to the absence of buyers as industries at home were only able absorb a limited volume of raw rattan. The waves of workers layoffs that followed could not be prevented.

“We hope the decree on the ban on raw rattan exports is lifted, or at least revised to allow the export of semi-finished rattan products,” Ismail emphasized.

In the face of this problem, an Asmindo executive once suggested the establishment of a buffer stock agency like the logistics board Bulog. Bulog has the task of collecting farmers rice and distributing it to the people as and when they need it.

A similar buffer stock agency is needed to accommodate farmers raw rattan and ensure stocks for rattan-based manufacturing industries.

The problem of rattan stocks has pit rattan farmers and rattan-based industries against each other over the last few years.

When the government allowed raw rattan to be exported in accordance with a decree issued by the trade minister in 2009, rattan-based manufacturing industries complained of shortages of raw material. Now, with the trade ministers 2011 decree, it is the rattan farmers who complain.

“What is needed now is government assistance in marketing and roads that will allow rattan farmers and collectors to carry out their business in villages smoothly,” 52-year-old Mardan, a rattan collector and farmer in Tumbang Munjul village, Seruyan district, Central Kalimantan, pointed out.

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65 percent of Turkey’s tourism facilities need renovation

ANTALYA – Anadolu Agency — Some 65 percent of tourism facilities on Turkey’s coasts need to be renovated to compete with other facilities around the Mediterranean, even though nearly half of Turkey’s hotels are less than 10 years old, according to a recent report by the Touristic Hoteliers Association of the Mediterranean (AKTOB).

“Turkey must concentrate on the renovation of its high-quality touristic facilities to be able to prepare for the future and to compete with other touristic countries, including Spain, Greece and Egypt,” stated the report.

Such renovation work is currently compulsory in Spain, and Greece has made significant investments to renew its touristic facilities over the last two years, as has Egypt, added the report, which is titled “Tourism of the Future, the Future of Tourism.”

Over 44 percent of hotels are under 10 years old in Turkey, making the country one of the Mediterranean countries with the newest hotels.

Around 41 percent of hotels are less than 10 years old in Spain, while this figure is 21 percent in Portugal, 19 percent in Italy, 18 percent in Greece, and 8 percent in Germany.

The youngest hotels are in the Mediterranean city of Antalya, where 65 percent of hotels are less than 10 years old, while Istanbul has the oldest hotels in Turkey with only 29 percent less than 10 years old.

Hotels on Turkey’s coastline should be renovated once a decade, and once every 15-20 years in larger cities, according to the report.

“The tourism sector has the potential to create over $9 billion for new infrastructure investments and acquisitions, among others,” the report added.

AKTOB also predicted that advance reservations will be needed to see several popular international tourist sites by 2030, including the Grand Bazaar, Myanmar, Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower and the Vatican, among others.

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33.5 million foreign tourists visited Turkey in 10 months

ANKARA, Anadolu Agency, November/25/2014 — Over 33.5 million foreign tourists visited Turkey in the first 10 months of 2014, representing a 5.57 percent increase from the same period last year, the Tourism Ministry revealed on Nov. 25.

Around 3.5 million foreigners visited the country in October, a 1.09 percent increase compared to the same month in 2013.

Germans topped the list with a share of 14.36 percent of foreign tourists, followed by Russians with 13.03 percent and Britons with 7.48 percent.

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Jakarta targets 2.5 million international visitors in 2015

Jakarta, 5 Dec 2014, Head of Jakarta’s Tourism and Culture Office, Arie Budhiman told the Jakarta Business Tourism Business Forum (JTBf ) 2014 that Indonesia’s capital city expects to receive 2.5 million international tourist arrivals next year 2015, up from this year’s expected 2.3 million.

Meanwhile, on a separate occasion, Minister for Tourism Arief Yahya, said that nation-wide, Indonesia is expected to reach its target of 9.5 million foreign arrivals this year, whereas, for next year 2015, the target will be accelerated to reach 10 million. This surpasses the expected average growth in the Asia-Pacific of between 2% to 4% only.

The JTBF was held from 2-5 December participated by invited buyers from 30 of Indonesia’s provinces and 6 ASEAN countries, that included Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Arie Budhiman further added that to attract increased visitors , Jakarta will focus on product development, improvements and additions to tourism infrastructure and facilities, and boost participation and empowerment of communities to be more involved in tourism activities and businesses.

Jakarta is already a favorite shopping destination, with most popular malls and shopping centers being the Tanah Abang wholesale textile market, Thamrin City, center for Batiks and Muslim fashion wear, Mangga Dua shopping center and over one hundred luxurious malls spread over this megapolitan city.

Before 2018, Jakarta will have an additional nine super de-luxe hotels which are: (1). Fairmont Jakarta, (2) St. Regis Hotel, (3). Westin Hotel, (4). W Hotel, (5) Raffles Hotel & Residences, (6). Rosewood Jakarta, (7). The Langham, (8). Waldorf Astoria, and (9). Sofitel Luxury Hotels.

At present Jakarta is busy renovating and developing Old Batavia – Kota Tua that was once the seat of the VOC Dutch East Indies Company. Around Fatahillah Square are a number of Museums such as the Jakarta History Museum, the Wayang Museum, Bank Mandiri Museum, Bank Indonesia Museum and more. Meanwhile, communities and the private sector surrounding Old Batavia have been drummed up to become actively involved in events and weekly activities on the Square, so that this once almost deserted area has now come alive. Active conservation plans are also underway to rebuild delapidated privately owned buildings, to become commercial areas yet preserving their “old colonial heydays atmosphere” through creative and innovative development. Visitors to the square can now also enjoy a number restaurants serving many kinds of cuisine.

Another focus for development are Pulau Seribu – the Thousand Islands on Jakarta’s doorstep in the Bay of Jakarta, especially the more remote northern islands which are still free of pollution carried by the rivers and ships anchoring at the harbor. Investors are warmly welcomed.

Jakarta will also continue to host events and exhibitions. The annual Jakarta Marathon held in October was also well participated by foreign visitors. Other crowd getters are JakJazz, and concerts by visiting world superstars.

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Bintan Marathon 2014 : run along the scenic Trikora Beach

The enchanting island of Bintan in the Riau Islands Province will be swarmed with runners as the Bintan Marathon 2014 takes place on 7th December 2014 along the scenic Trikora Beach at the northeastern coast of the island.

All are invited to join, from children of minimum 11 years of age, to highschool students and adults. Bintan Marathon is open to both Indonesians, as well as foreign participants who are required to show passport or KITAS identity card.

Organized by the Bintan Regency, the race will be divided into 4 categories: a Full Marathon (42km) for men general runners, Half Marathon (21km) for women general runners, 10k for students and general runners, and 5k for highschool students and general runners. The race will start in front of the iconic building of the Culture and Tourism of Bintan Regency at Jalan Pantai Trikora Street km 36, Teluk Bakai and follows the route along Trikora Beach passing Hotel Agro, Bintan Trikora Beach Resort, and Bintan Cabana Beach Resort marking the 5 K , 10k and 21 k distances before turning back to reach the Finish line at the Office of Culture and Tourism building.

Registration fee for 5 K is Free; for 10 K is Rp. 50,000 ; for 21 K is Rp. 100,000 and for the 42 K is Ro, 150,000.

For more information email to: bmadmin@bintanmarathon.com

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Indonesia hosts RS:One World Windsurfing Championship 2014 in Bintan

RS:One World Championship 2014 the world’s championship for Windsurfing will be hosted for the first time in Indonesia, at the beautiful Trikora Beach on the north eastern coast of the island of Bintan from 15 – 20 December 2014.

Organized by the Indonesian Sailing Federation in collaboration with the Trikora Beach Club and Neil Pryde Ltd., the event is supported by the regional government of Bintan Island Regency in the province of the Riau archipelago.

Already more than 60 participants from 11 countries are confirmed to join the championship.

“RS: One is an exciting, ISAF approved one-design racing class by NeilPryde. One sail-one board competition, the same equipment. It’s the rider that makes the difference” (http://www.internationalwindsurfing.com/windsurfingcompetion0001v01news1080.htm)

The event is multi-format racing and is an “open entry” event. Men and Women will race separately so that awards for championship will go both to the Best Man and Best Woman to win the “2014 RS:One World Champion”. Participants will be categorized in the “Espoir” category for those under 22 years, and “Master” for those 40 years and above.

Trikora Beach is a kilometers long stretch of white sandy beach that fringes the north eastern coast of the island of Bintan, facing the South China Sea.

The Windsurfing Championship at Trikora Beach Bintan is planned to become an annual event, which is expected to an attract increasing number of participants to Trikora and the many wonders of Bintan and the Riau Islands.

Today Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air and Sriwijaya Air serve daily flights from Jakarta to the modern Raja Haji Fasibilillah airport of Tanjung Pinang, largest town on the island, and capital of the province of the Riau Archipelago.

Situated right opposite Singapore, about an hour’s ferry ride away, there are daily ferries that depart from the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal in Singapore both to the city of Tanjung Pinang or to the Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal of Bintan Resorts in the north of Bintan.

There are a number of hotels along Trikora Beach. For a list of accommodation along Trikora Beach, Tanjung Pinang or in Bintan Resorts check out : http://www.indonesia.travel/en/destination/1082/trikora-beach

For more information on the Windsurfing Championship log on to : www.trikorabeachclub.com.

For Notice of Race : http//internationalwindsurfing.com

Trikora Beach Club is located at: Km. 40 Desa Teluk Bakau, Bintan, The Riau Islands.

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Djakarta Warehouse Project 2014 keeps up the beat

Clubbers, party goers, dance enthusiasts, and urban nightlife junkies be prepared! The metropolitan capital Jakarta is about to be stormed with massive vibes of an urban music fiesta as the Djakarta Warehouse Project 2014 is set to blast the stages at theJakarta International Exhibition Center, Kemayoran from 12th to 13th December 2014.

Entering its 6th edition this year, the exceptional music festival stretches its sensation into a two days fiesta of great music, electrifying vibe, and spectacular atmosphere.

Organized by Ismaya Live, the Djakarta Warehouse Project (DWP) is considered Indonesia’s biggest and leading annual dance music festival. This year, the festival will be held in multiple arenas within the Jakarta International Exhibition Center (JIExpo)and will feature some of the most prominent names in International and Indonesia’s own electronic and club music scene. Completed with dramatic settings and decorations, this upbeat music fiesta will indulge the audience with various dance music genres including electronic, house, progressive, techno, trance, drum and bass, to dubstep.

Among the world’s renowned names in electronic music that will decorate the lineup are: Skrillex, Steve Aoki, Rasmus Faber, Nicky Romero, Kaskade, New World Punx Duo, Above and Beyond, Life In Color, Showtek, and more. From Indonesia’s own dance music scene, the festival will present: Winky Wiryawan, MC Yacko, Joyful Noise Project, Avve, Astronaughty, Midnight Quickie, Trillions, and more.

Starting from a warehouse space, Djakarta Warehouse Project is marking its foot on cement as the biggest annual dance music festival in Indonesia. This year, Djakarta Warehouse Project will continue the use of the latest digital technology to enhance the cool modern ambience and give party-goers an out-of-this-world party experience. The use of captivating visuals, sounds, and other exciting features will surely give the audience a one of a kind experience.

More information available at: http://djakartawarehouse.com/

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Saudia Inaugurates new office in Manila

In the presence of Mr. Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al-Hassan, Saudi Ambassador to the Philippines, Governor of Makati and a party of Philippine senior officials, Eng. Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, Director General of SAUDIA inaugurated the airlines’ new office in Manila on November 26, 2014.

Mr. Abdul Aziz Al-Hazmi, CEO of Saudi Airlines Company, senior executives of the organization and a large number of prominent personalities including foreign diplomats, media personnel and travel and tourism executives also attended the inauguration ceremony.

In a statement on the occasion, Mr. Al-Hazmi said, “the new SAUDIA office which is located in Zuellig Building in Makati Avenue of Manila is designed by Saudi engineers following the latest architectural designs and standards.” He also added that, “the new office is surrounded by embassies, airlines’ offices and corporate headquarters.”

The new Manila office is built to reflect the airlines’ new visual identity. “Our new strategy is to keep all departments including sales, marketing, reservation and finance under one roof for the benefit of passengers and visitors, and the office will have 15 staff members.” Al-Hazmi pointed out.

SAUDIA is considered one of the first Middle Eastern airlines that provides direct flights between Manila and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As a fact, the national carrier started operating flights in 1982 with two weekly flights, which has now grown into 11 per week.

SAUDIA has been using B747-400 for operating its Manila flights. From January 2015, the company intends to operate B777-300 in the sector.

The number of passengers carried by the airlines between the two countries has risen from 43,388 in 1982 to 403,254 in 2013. During the past nine months of 2014, SAUDIA transported 341,532.

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SAUDIA Launches Qassim-Dubai flight on January 1

SAUDIA will launch a new international flight from Qassim to Dubai on January 1, 2015 as part of its efforts to expand its operations on busy routes to meet the needs of passengers.

“We intend to operate 12 nonstop flights weekly offering 1,056 seats to passengers,” said Mr. Abdul Aziz Al-Hazmi, CEO of Saudi Airlines Company.

He said Qassim is the fifth destination in the Kingdom to provide direct flights to Dubai, after Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Madinah, offering 74 flights to one side.

He said SV592 would leave Qassim at 15:25 pm while the return flight would leave Dubai at 19:25 pm every day, except Tuesday.

SAUDIA operates 92 flights weekly between Qassim, Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Madinah, offering 10,692 seats to passengers. From the beginning of 2015, the national flag carrier will offer 11,286 flights from Qassim, showing an increase of 5.55 percent.

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Two more B777-300ERs set to join SAUDIA fleet

SAUDIA is expected to receive two Boeing 777-300ERs during the month of December 2014 to strengthen its domestic and international fleet, provide more seats to its customers and boost its competitiveness in the global aviation industry. The first of the two aircraft will land at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah on December 4.

The Business Class of the new aircraft has been provided with most modern and highly comfortable seats installed for the first time. The seats can be turned 180 degrees to use as a complete bed. The new aircraft will have only Business Class (with 30 seats) and Guest Class (351 seats) and the move was aimed to provide wider space for passengers of the two classes.

It is also provided with telecommunication and Internet facilities, which make passengers keep connected with world while in the space. It is also provided with advanced audio and visual entertainment systems for customers enjoy their trip on SAUDIA flights.

SAUDIA’s fleet modernization drive coincides with the massive projects being implemented by the General Authority for Civil Aviation to expand and modernize its domestic and international airports. The new King Abdulaziz Airport is designed to become a major hub in the world. HH Prince Fahd bin Abdullah, president of GACA and chairman of SAUDIA, is spearheading the modernization drive of both the Kingdom’s civil aviation and its national flag carrier.

SAUDIA will receive six more Boeing 777-300ERs and 8 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. First of the state-of-the-art Dreamliner will join the SAUDIA fleet for the first time by end of 2015. SAUDIA’s new aircraft are arriving in the Kingdom from manufacturing companies on the basis of a timeframe. Its employees have played a significant role in inducting them to its domestic and international feet quickly.

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El-Nemr immerses Sharjah Gallery in subtle qualities of the intangible

AlAhram Online, 4 Dec 2014 – The first piece we encounter in the entrance to Sharjah Gallery is a photograph aptly titled “Map.” The second, “The Dictionary of Imaginary Places.” They give the visitor clues by which to explore Rana El-Nemr’s stream of thought.

With refined intuition and introspection, El-Nemr deals with the intangible — a subtle quality she finds in the spaces she encounters, be they urban, literary, personal or imaginary.

This subjective quality in turn opens these spaces up to having malleable margins and meanings that El-Nemr refers to as inner voids. Assembled in Streams of Synonyms is her journey in conversation with these voids.

Though highly personal in her approach, El-Nemr’s oeuvre examines the relationships of people to their surroundings, providing an invitation for reflection.

“I leave little clues into my process to connect with viewers,” El-Nemr revealed to Ahram Online.

Like a conceptual treasure hunt, or a physical mind map, the exhibition’s leaflet walks you through the space, with the title and location of the different works indicated on the floor plan of the gallery.

“What is perceived is both transient and perpetual,” the artist writes as part of the text in one of eleven different pieces in the exhibition.

Using phrases like “structures of meaning,” “constructed scenes” and “scapes of the imaginary,” El-Nemr creates a dynamic snapshot of how the artist takes in the world around her and within her.

With the notion of perception as a space with physical properties, the shape of these voids compared to mysterious black holes, where the intangible can be placed, reconstructed, combined, or left as fragments pending a trigger.

In the scope of the exhibition, reality is dealt with not as a fixed thing to be hit or missed, but rather as a parallel field that is just as floating as the imaginary world we all have inside us. To El-Nemr, the experience of both the private and the public is intimate, “in the sense that its discovery or creation is the result of the unique encounter of subjectivity with a space,” she writes in her artist statement.

Even with all these clues, the key to the exhibition is contemplation, spending time with the pieces and feeling the connections, noticing the subtle conversations between them.

“Multiplicity creates a possibility for association,” El-Nemr writes.

Primarily a photographer, this time El-Nemr has chosen a wide array of mediums to express the fluidity of the concept. There is a sculpture installation of a life-sized streetlamp, a sound installation, videos in different formats, in addition to text.

Though at first, the photography may appear random and out of context, we later discover deliberate and careful choices that give pause for thought, making one ponder what the artist was connecting with as she framed the creative scenes.

The images El-Nemr has chosen frequently feature plants, with very rare human appearances on the peripheries.

There is an underlying contrast between the city of cement, solid and supposedly orderly, versus unruly nature, which may be reduced to shadows as in her piece Depot.

Some of the pieces echo and respond to each other. For example, the video titled ‘The Department of Squares and Roundabouts’ can be better understood after reading the text associated with project entitled ‘Extent.’

The world according to El-Nemr is one of quiet contemplation; still shots that do in fact radiate stillness, as she plays with elusive notions and records them.

‘Extent’ features text taken from Alberto Manguin’s book The Dictionary of Imaginary Places alongside five large photography pieces.

The text tells whimsical stories of the city of words and the city of numbers, with princes and kings and miserly aunts. Here, you are clued into the inspiration behind the exhibit’s title, as you learn why the people in the city of words speak in streams of synonyms.

The photography aspect of ‘Extent’ features three photos of imposing red brick buildings stacked side by side, with barren land in the foreground. The two other photos also depict red brick buildings, however vegetation takes up most of the frame, reminding you of the subjectivity of the medium.

The placement of the photos with the text intrigues the viewer, allowing a conceptual play, comparing and contrasting the fictional city of words with these images of realistic Cairo.

The artist came across this book in the middle of her research, and connected with how this unusual dictionary reads as fragments, like still images.

“This is the part of my work that deals with language as a symbolic medium between reality and the imaginary,” adds El-Nemr.

Perhaps the most reflective of the subject’s exploratory nature is the piece ‘Assembled in Streams of Synonyms’, echoing the exhibit’s title.

For this project El-Nemr engages the most mediums under one title by employing photography, video on an LCD screen and video on three small screens, as well as animation.

The abstract animation is the exhibition’s poster in motion, and was created in collaboration with graphic designer Ahmed Aiyad, who designed the poster.

Based on the floor plan of the exhibit, and in line with El-Nemr’s theme of dealing with spaces, Aiyad’s design communicates layers of meaning that are in different dimensions but in conversation with one another.

This exhibit is the third one from the AUC_LAB project, with former exhibits featuring Hassan Khan and Malak Helmy respectively.

AUC_LAB is a series of solo shows as part of the Sharjah Gallery’s mission to link its remote venue with the active art community in Cairo.

As the gallery’s director, Kaya Behkalam, elaborates, “it works both ways, benefiting the art students here by exposing them to contemporary artists, and offering the Sharjah Gallery as a fertile space for artistic dialogue in the region.”

A book series is set to launch soon, titled AUC_LAB Notes on Practice, which will invite writers to respond to and critique each of the exhibits in the series.

Rana El-Nemr will also have an artist talk on Thursday, 4 December, at the Sharjah Gallery, in light of the exhibition.


The exhibition runs until 15 January 2015. Sharjah Art Gallery, The American Universtity in Cairo, New Campus, Gate 1

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OIC Secretary General Welcomes French Parliament Vote for Recognition of Palestinian State

Date: 03/12/2014 – The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Iyad Ameen Madani, expressed his appreciation for the French Parliament resolution to recognize the state of Palestine, indicating that this significant move is consistent with the international will and resolutions of international legitimacy in order to end the Israeli occupation and support the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people including the sovereignty in their independent State of Palestine according to the borders of 4th June 1976, with Al Quds Al Sharif as its capital.

The Secretary General expressed his hope that the French government would take the initiative of recognizing the state of Palestine, emphasizing that this would contribute to enhancing international efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region. At the same time, Madani called upon the rest of the world in favor of the two-state solution to support the draft resolution for ending the Israeli occupation to be presented to the UN Security Council, and to take the initiative of recognition of the state of Palestine in a manner consistent with the UN General Assembly Resolution issued on 29th November 2012.

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ADB’s 1st Private Investment in Tajikistan Supports Small Business Finance Through AccessBank

ADB Media release, 4 December 2014 DUSHANBE, TAJIKISTAN – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved its first private investment in Tajikistan, a package of equity and loans for Access Bank Tajikistan (ABT) to support ABT’s business growth and boost financing for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and services in the regions outside Dushanbe.

The approved ADB financing of up to $11 million equivalent includes an equity investment of up to $3 million equivalent and loans of up to $8 million. The loan comprises a $5 million direct loan and a $3 million B- loan with ADB acting as the lender of record.

“We are pleased to acquire 10% of share capital in AccessBank Tajikistan and look forward to supporting the bank’s expansion to support Tajikistan’s MSMEs especially in rural areas where many enterprises are still unbanked,” said Rainer Hartel, Principal Investment Specialist at ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department. “We are looking for other opportunities to support financial inclusion in Tajikistan.”

Four large banks dominate Tajikistan’s financial landscape but their performance has been undermined by their targeting of state-owned enterprises and implementing government-induced credit programs—resulting in low asset quality.

Entrepreneurs and smaller businesses increasingly rely on second-tier banks and microfinance companies, whose lending ability is constrained by small market share, limited deposit mobilization, constrained and costly overseas borrowing due to Tajikistan’s perceived high country risk, a dearth of qualified staff, and governance issues.

Just 16% of households have access to formal financial services and small businesses lack financing especially in rural Tajikistan, where agriculture provides jobs for two-thirds of the labor force. Private investment is therefore critical to stimulate farm and related services investments and employment.

ABT was set up in 2010 as a greenfield bank to serve low-income and MSME customers. ABT’s current shareholders include Access Microfinance Holding Aktiengesellschaft, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Finance Corporation, and KfW, the German development bank.

Access Microfinance Holding, the majority shareholder, has a strong track record in establishing and managing greenfield banks that target MSMEs in eight low and lower middle-income economies in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Africa. LFS, one of the shareholders of Access Microfinance Holding, is providing management and capacity development services to ABT to boost services to MSMEs and farmers in Tajikistan by widening its regional branch outreach.

As well as providing long-term funds to support ABT’s growth, ADB’s investment package is expected to encourage mobilization of private financing in the finance sector and to stimulate public confidence in the banking system.

A related ADB technical assistance grant of $500,000 will allow ABT to strengthen its outreach to rural areas and boost staff skills, including in risk management.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2013, ADB assistance totaled $21.0 billion, including co-financing of $6.6 billion.

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Bank signs agreement signed to develop Saudi tourist sites

RIYADH: ARab News, 7 December 2014 – The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) recently signed an agreement with Saudi Credit and Saving Bank (SCSB) to finance tourism and heritage sites across the Kingdom and contribute to the creation of a large number of jobs for Saudi youth.

The agreement was signed by Prince Sultan bin Salman, SCTA’s president, and Ibrahim bin Abdul Aziz Al-Henaishil, director general of SCSB, on the sidelines of the 4th National Urban Heritage Forum (NBHF), which concluded Thursday in Asir, an SCTA spokesman said.

Before signing the agreement, Prince Sultan expressed his appreciation of the role played by the SCSB in financing tourism and heritage projects and commended the special partnership between SCTA and the bank.

Prince Sultan referred also to the commitment between his organization and the banking entity in developing diverse tourism activities and projects.

“Supporting such projects will create a large number of jobs for Saudi youth as well as contribute to the development of domestic tourism throughout the Kingdom,” the SCTA official said.

Commenting on the recently signed agreement, Al-Henaishil stressed that it will further enhance cooperation between his bank and the tourism commission.

He described SCTA as one of SCSB’s most important partners.

“This agreement covers all kinds of touristic activities and preserves our heritage. It’s divided into several categories according to the volume of finance and targeted groups, starting with productive families, to small and medium enterprises ending with public projects that have developmental goals,” Al-Henaishil underlined.

He added that through this agreement, SCSB offers loans free of interest according to SCTA’s plans and vision and consistent with the bank’s regulations.

The funding may reach up to SR4 million, he pointed out.

The agreement complements the previously signed document between the two organizations and comes in line with the new finance plans created by SCSB, which require a sponsor authority for financing services,the official added.

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Center opened to guide Indian expatriates on labor problems

JEDDAH: Arab News, 7 December 2014 – A first of its kind service center has been opened in Jeddah to provide Indian expats with legal guidance on labor issues and health and counseling.

Dos Jayakumar, Indian consul for passports, opened on Saturday the “Pravasi Sevana Kendra” in the presence of community leaders representing various cultural and political organizations.

“This is the first time such a help desk is opened in Jeddah,” said KTA Muneer, president of OICC’s western regional committee. The center will operate at Impala Gardens in Sharafiya from 8.30 to 11 p.m. every Wednesday. “Experts will be present at the center to provide various services to expats. We’ll do our best to solve their problems or at least guide them,” he added.

He said Indian Consul General B.S. Mubarak has extended full support to make the center a success.

Muneer said wrong information given by incompetent individuals and agencies was one of the main problems facing expats.

The center’s opening coincides with the International Volunteers Day. Community leaders expressed hope that other organizations would also open similar centers in different parts of the Kingdom.

Professor Ismail Maritheri of King Abdulaziz University, in his speech on volunteerism, emphasized the need to live for others. “What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for others?,” he commented.

Chemban Moideenkutty, a community leader urged the center to provide e-services like Aadhar Card registration and guidance to job seekers.

Chemban Abbas, a volunteer, said: “We have a great example from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in volunteer services.”

The Prophet helped an old woman by carrying a heavy load to her house. “While walking with the woman, she advised him not to follow the new Prophet in the town, without knowing he was the Prophet. When she learned he was the Prophet, she did not hesitate to embrace Islam by declaring the Shahadah,” he said.

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Legendary singer Asha Bhosle to receive Lifetime Achievement Award at Dubai film festival

Abu Dhabi, December 6, 2014 – Legendary Indian singer Asha Bhosle will be honoured at the Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to Indian cinema. Bhosle has recorded more than 12,000 songs for more than 850 films in her 81 years, organisers said.

Known for her range and versatility, having recorded every style of music from film to folk songs, Indian classical music to pop songs, as well as ghazals and bhajans, Bhosle made her acting debut in the 2013 film Mai, at the age of 80, to critical acclaim; and has been awarded numerous accolades. These include being noted as the “most recorded artist in music history” by the Guinness Book of World Records, being awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2000) and the Padma Vibhushan (2008) by the Indian government.

“Asha Bhosle is a stalwart of the Indian music scene, and we are proud to be honouring her. Her work has touched almost every corner of the world: we look forward to welcoming such a legend to Dubai,” said Diff chairman Abdul Hamid Juma.

Bhosle, who also owns the Asha’s chain of restaurants in Dubai, also released a statement: “I am delighted to have been nominated to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award from Diff in Dubai — a place with long historic ties to my country. I look forward to visiting this special film festival, which has done so much work to promote the art worldwide.”

Iconic Egyptian actor Nour Al Sherif will also be given the same honour at the festival.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is dedicated to honouring the world’s greatest film industry actors, writers, directors and producers. Previous winners include Martin Sheen, Omar Sharif, Faten Hamamah, Adel Imam, Jameel Rateb, Sabah, Morgan Freeman, Sean Penn, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Daoud Abdel Sayed, Youssef Chahine, Rachid Bouchareb, Souleymane Cisse, Nabil Al Maleh, Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, Terry Gilliam, Yash Chopra, Subhash Ghai, Michael Apted and Mahmoud Abdel Aziz.

Diff runs from December 10 to 17. For film schedules and tickets, go to dubaifilmfest.com

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Egyptian museum celebrates international disability day

Cairo, AlAhram Online, 2 Dec 2014 – Today the Egyptian museum is to start its three days of celebrations to mark International Day of People with Disability.

Mahmoud El-Halwagy, director general of the museum, told Ahram Online that the celebration aims to increase cultural awareness among children through organising workshops about the importance and magnitude of ancient Egyptian civilization.

Workshops for blind, deaf and mute children will be held, as well as tours of the museum.

On Thursday, which is International Day of People with Disability, the museum will welcome children free of charge.

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Vatican Envoy to Attend Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, December 6, 2014 – (WAFA) – A Vatican envoy arrived Saturday noon to Bethlehem to attend the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Cardinal and Archbishop of Umbria Gualtiero Bassette convoy arrived at the Manger Square in Bethlehem coming from St. Saviour’s Convent in Jerusalem to attend the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Cardinal Bassette was received by Palestinian officials, including Minister of tourism and Antiquities Rula Maayah, Governor of Bethlehem Jebrin al-Bakri, Presidential Advisor for Christian Affairs Ziad al-Bandak, Mayor of Bethlehem Vera Baboun and a host of other clergy and representatives of the Catholic parish.

Upon his arrival, Cardinal Bassette entered into the Church of St. Catherine and then visited the Nativity Grotto.

Expressing his delight about this visit, Cardinal Bassette said: “As I am visiting Bethlehem, which is flooded with joy and delight, I feel pleased with this warm and cordial reception amidst this lovely and joyful atmosphere.”

The lighting of the Christmas tree would be led by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah at 6:00 p.m.

It is expected that the ceremony would be attended by thousands of Christian Palestinians from across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, together with a host of consul-generals and ambassadors.

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Persian calligraphy workshop held in Istanbul

Ankara, Dec 6, IRNA – Istanbul held a workshop of Nastaliq calligraphy style for interested figures in the Persian-language education center.

The session, warmly welcomed by the center’s Turk students, was held on the calligraphy of Persian works by noted Iranian poets including Hafez, Saadi and Rumi.

The educational course is held by Iran’s consulate in Istanbul and supervised by distinguished master of Persian calligraphy Masoud Fazeli Moghadam.

One of the participants Buket Bostancı said that despite cultural differences, nations can expand their ties through arts while another one noted that the historical mission of art is approaching people and deepening affection.

The art lovers asked the Iranian center to continue such educational workshops.

During the opening ceremony of the workshop the cultural attaché of Iran’s consulate in Istanbul Javad Amini said: “The art of calligraphy expresses spiritual concepts.”

Considered one of the highest Islamic art forms, calligraphy became an indispensable part of Persian society in the beginning of the Islamic era so that it was not only practiced by professional artists but also by royalty and nobility.

In the 11th century six basic calligraphy styles became popular, which were referred to as, Naskh, Thuluth, Muhaqqaq, Rihani, Tauqi, and Riqa.

Nastaliq and Cursive Nastaliq are known as the most attractive Persian calligraphy styles, broadly used in copying Arabic words, romantic and epic Persian poetry and literary manuscripts.

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Shiraz hosts national confab on Ashura literature

Shiraz, Dec 6, IRNA – The 10th National conference on Ashura literature was held in the city of Shiraz on Thursday with the participation of 150 Iranian poets and researchers.

“A total of 89 articles from 26 provinces were submitted to the event’s secretariat of which 26, from 11 provinces, were accepted and 15 works were presented at the conference”, the event’s secretary said. “The conference was held with an aim to introduce Ashura culture and literature,” Morteza Mousavi added.

Elsewhere, university professor and Ashura researcher Mohamamd Reza Sangari said: “Following Ashura, the poet’s poems, writings and elegies introduced the event better.”

The conference honored 26 selected poets of Ashura literature.

Ashura marks the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shia Imam, and his loyal companions who were martyred in the plains of Karbala in modern Iraq on the 10th of the lunar month of Muharram.

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Tehran museums offer free day for students

Tehran, Dec 6, IRNA- The museums of Tehran province will be free for students on Dec. 7, on the occasion of Student’s Day in Iran, an official said.

“The museums of Tehran’s Cultural Heritage administration and some museums of Tehran’s municipality including Reza Abbasi, Carpet, Abgineh, The Stone and Iranology Museum of Azadi Tower, as well as Film Museum of Iran will be free for students”, head of Tehran’s Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization said.

Rajab-ali Khosrow Abadi also added the Museums of Post and Telegraph, Dr Sondouzi, Geology as well as Vaziri Caved Museum and Saba Music Museum will be free for the students.

“The plan will indeed encourage the students to visit museums”, he noted.

Student’s Day marks the anniversary of the murder of three Tehran University students on Azar 16 or December 7, 1953 by the security police of the former Pahlavi regime.

The police opened fire on the students protesting the resumption of Iran’s relations with Britain and a visit by then US vice President Richard Nixon to Iran, following a coup staged by the CIA and the MI6, which toppled the government of then Prime Minister Mohammad Mosadeq.

Every year Iranian students mark the day by organizing or attending different ceremonies and events. They believe that the day belongs to everyone, not just students.

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Pakistani student’s poster design features among 100 best in the world

Poster for Tomorrow was formed in 2009 in Paris by a group of artists encouraging people, both in and outside the design community, to create posters which would stimulate debate on human rights issues.The theme for this year’s competition was the universal right to fair employment with exhibitions held across the globe in 30 countries.

For the first time in six years, an entry from Pakistan made it to the top 100 posters. Sara Nisar’s “Understand the Difference” was selected amongst 4,301 entries from 133 countries which were judged online by a jury of 100 artists. The 22-year-old Nisar, who is a second-year Visual Arts student at Karachi University, was moved by the plight of the children working in the torturous brick kiln factories in Pakistan and aimed to show the two different worlds that exist in the country.

“My poster is a super imposition of two children — both having very different futures. Some children do get a chance to have a secure childhood while others do not get the care, comfort and security that they deserve. This variation is not just class-based, it happens amongst privileged children as well, many do not get the childhood that they deserve,” Sara, who made it to the top 100 on her first attempt, says.

Sara has an interest in using art as a medium for social activism and she believes that for a country like Pakistan, which has a low literacy rate, design is a medium to reach out to everyone.

“Design is a way for me to talk to people; to fulfill a social cause that is so close to me.”

The purpose of this year’s theme was to make raise awareness about the rights of workers; from the small boy working in a sweatshop to the woman being paid less than her male colleagues or the physically challenged man denied an office job because of his wheelchair.

In Pakistan, the exhibition featuring the top 100 posters was held at the Arts Council, Karachi on Friday.

See all the posters here: http://www.dawn.com/news/1148514/poster-for-tomorrow-pakistani-students-design-features-among-100-best-in-the-world

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Jordan-Malaysia to launch joint ventures, says Malaysian envoy

Amman, Dec. 6 (Petra) — Malaysian Ambassador to Jordan Zakri Bin Jaafar said Saturday that the ongoing educational cooperation between his country and Jordan is one of the most successful instances of cooperation between the two countries.

Speaking to Petra, the ambassador, who just began his tenure, indicated that 3,200 Malaysian students are studying Arabic and Islamic law, dentistry and medicine specialties as well as Islamic banking in Jordan.

In contrast, the envoy pointed out, more than 1,000 Jordanian students are pursuing their postgraduates studies in certain technical disciplines, such as information technology, in the Southeast Asian country.

Referring to Malaysian investments, Bin Jaafar explained that some Jordanian-Malaysian investments in the food field will be launched, noting that a Malaysian energy company will start a joint venture in oil shale exploitation in cooperation with Jordanian and Estonian companies.

The trade volume between the two countries until August, 2014 amounted to $149 million, compared to $220 million during the same period last year, the envoy said.

Bin Jaafar stressed that ties between the two countries, dating back to more than 40 years, have not only become very strong but also see a remarkable development year after year.

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Dubai Islamic Bank signs US$230 million aircraft financing deal with Air Arabia

19 November 2014 — Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) and Air Arabia announced today the signing of an aircraft financing deal to facilitate the delivery of six new Airbus A320 aircrafts in 2015.The signing ceremony was held in the DIB head office in the presence of senior executives from both parties. The US$230 million Ijara facility will finance the delivery of a new aircraft every two months starting January 2015, the program culminating with the final unit being handed over by the end of the year.

Commenting on this deal, Dr. Adnan Chilwan, CEO of Dubai Islamic Bank, said: “Though Islamic finance is fast gaining acceptance around the world in every facet of banking and finance sector, it is particularly seen to be prolific in driving the infrastructure development in key home markets. Aviation sector for any country forms a critical piece not just in supporting logistics, trade and tourism but also in giving a boost to the overall economy. Partnering with entities like Air Arabia which bring about an innovative mix of quality and affordability to the travel and tourism sector is closely aligned to our own strategic agenda of increasing the penetration of Islamic finance across all sectors of the economy. This Ijara facility is another milestone in our collaboration with Air Arabia, epitomising the bank’s commitment to make Islamic finance a household name in every industry segment in the UAE and beyond. We are confident that this deal will contribute to the growth of the local economy by bringing value to both organisations and we look forward to supporting Air Arabia’s expansion plans in the future”.

Adel Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia, said: “We are glad to have our 2015 aircraft financing requirement done through a local Islamic bank, which reflects the trust and confidence we have in the local banking and finance industry. Two key elements of Air Arabia’s successful business model are our modern fleet of aircraft and our efficient use of financing to support capital expenditure requirements. The facility arranged by DIB satisfies both requirements and will ensure we have the necessary infrastructure in place to serve our ever growing customer base across the region.”

Air Arabia has now received 29 of the 44 A320 aircraft it ordered from Airbus in 2007. Each new addition to the Air Arabia fleet is equipped with Sharklet wingtips made from light-weight composites that help to significantly reduce fuel burn and emissions by improving aerodynamics.

Being the first Shariah-compliant commercial bank, DIB leads a pioneering role in driving the global uptake on Islamic banking with an unmatched experience of over four decades. The award-winning Islamic bank has been recently presented with the Best Islamic Bank of the Year award by the 2014 Business Excellence Awards, the Best Sukuk House of the Year award by EMEA Finance Middle East, and the Deal of the Year award by the Islamic Finance News Awards among others thus recognising its solid expertise. Also capitalising on strong position in the corporate banking space, DIB was a lead arrangers and bookrunner on a number of facilities to the leading companies in the UAE. The bank offers a comprehensive suite of Shariah-compliant banking structures spanning a wide array of sectors underpinning the robust economic development in the UAE including the funding of commercial aircraft fleet.

Air Arabia, recently named amongst the Global Growth Companies (GGC) by the World Economic Forum, has seen its route network expand rapidly in 2014 with the addition on new routes such as Cairo in Egypt, Antalya in Turkey, Tbilisi in Georgia, and Samara in Russia. The low-cost airline pioneer now serves 100 destinations from its four hubs in the UAE, Morocco and Egypt.

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Air Astana Celebrates AAPA Membership At Assembly Of Presidents in Tokyo

19 November 2014 — Air Astana received a special presentation during today’s opening ceremony of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines’ 58th Assembly of Presidents in Tokyo to celebrate the carrier becoming the newest member of the association. The gift presentation was made by Andrew Herdman , Director General of the association to Peter Foster, President of Air Astana, at short ceremony witnessed by more than 200 air transport industry delegates and guests attending the event.

Air Astana officially became a a full member of the Association in June 2014, and this first time that it is attending an Assembly of Presidents in this capacity.

Mr. Peter Foster, President of Air Astana said, “We are delighted to become a full member of AAPA. AAPA has established itself internationally as a well-respected and authoritative voice of Asia Pacific carriers. Indeed, the Association is doing an excellent job in engaging with government and other stakeholders on a number of issues important to Asian airlines, including market access, safety, security and environment. This momentous occasion marks another milestone in Air Astana’s development, and we look forward to contributing meaningfully to the work of AAPA to strengthen the collective standing of Asia Pacific aviation internationally.”

About Association of Asia Pacific Airlines

The AAPA is the trade association for scheduled international airlines based in the Asia-Pacific region. The AAPA permanent secretariat is headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with international representation in Brussels and Washington, D.C. Collectively, the region’s airlines carry 948 million passengers and 18 million tonnes of cargo, representing one-third of global passenger traffic and two- fifths of global air cargo traffic respectively, and thus play a critically important role in the ongoing development of global aviation.

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Japanese Delegation Visits Malaysia To Strengthen Tourism Ties

KUALA LUMPUR, 1 December 2014 – A Japanese government delegation paid a courtesy visit to Ministry of Tourism and Culture at Putrajaya recently to exchange ideas on tourism promotion towards achieving higher numbers of tourist arrivals for both countries as well as to forge stronger ties with local tourism counterparts.

The 26-member delegation, representing the Union of Kansai Governments, was led by Governor of Kyoto Prefecture, Mr. Keiji Yamada, and they were welcomed by the Deputy Secretary General (Management) of Ministry of Tourism and Culture, YBrs. Dr. Junaida Lee Abdullah.

“We are pleased that the Union of Kansai Governments wish to establish a wider and closer network of contacts with our Ministry. I really believe that cooperation and forging smart partnerships are vital so that both countries can enjoy an increased two-way tourism flow,” said Dr. Junaida during the welcome address.

Last year, Malaysia welcomed a total of 513,076 Japanese visitors to Malaysia. This showed an increase of 9.2 percent compared to 2012, and it is the highest number achieved since 2004. Tourism Malaysia is eyeing 1 million tourist arrivals from Japan in the near future.

Mr. Keiji Yamada said, “We are preparing to launch more halal tourism products to cater for Muslim travellers and to position Japan as a Muslim friendly country. Apart from this, both countries can work together to promote sports tourism especially with the upcoming Tokyo Olympics 2020 and Kansai World Masters Games 2021. ”

During this trip to Malaysia, the delegation also took the opportunity to promote Kansai’s culture and tourism products to the locals by participating in Kansai Tourism Festival promotion event held at 1 Utama Shopping Complex.

In 2013, there were 176,500 Malaysians who visited Japan, which is a 35 percent increase from 130,300 in 2012. This was attributed to the short term visa exemption from 1 July 2013 and the drop in yen currency.

Members of the Union of Kansai Governments include Shiga Prefecture, Kyoto Prefecture, Osaka Prefecture, Hyogo Prefecture, Wakayama Prefecture, Tottori Prefecture, Tokushima Prefecture, Kyoto City, Osaka City, Sakai City and Kobe City. The promotion of tourism and culture is one of the main areas of focus for this union.

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German cruise ship Aidasol Makes Maiden Call To Port Klang

KLANG, 2 December 2014: Tourism Malaysia, along with the media and cultural troupe, gave a warm welcome reception to 1800 passengers and 650 crew members from the German cruise ship AIDAsol, which made her maiden call today to Port Klang Cruise Centre (PKCC), Pulau Indah.

The cruise ship made a stopover at the cruise terminal in Klang from 7am to 6pm as part of its 13-day one-way cruise tour from 24 November to 7 December, starting from Cochin, India. Before arriving at Kuala Lumpur, the ship had also made a stopover at Colombo, Sri Lanka and Langkawi, Malaysia. It will proceed to Singapore and Ko Samui, Thailand, before arriving at Laem Chabang, Thailand.

After this tour, AIDAsol has two more 14-day round trip cruise tours, which depart on 8 December and 22 December respectively. During both tours, the cruise ship will also make a stopover at Penang and Port Klang Cruise Centre.

The welcome reception by Tourism Malaysia is an effort under its Maiden Call programme, which is its annual activity for ships berthing for the first time in Malaysia. It’s a part of Tourism Malaysia’s efforts to promote Cruise Tourism and also to attract more ship operators to berth in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, in particular.

This programme also aims to promote tourism products in Malaysia through social media, in order to raise the awareness of the Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015 campaign.

Built in 2011, AIDAsol is part of AIDA Cruises’ fleet in the Sphinx class. Spreading over 12 decks, she can accommodate up to 2,174 passengers with the help of 635 crewmembers. Featuring a real birch forest on-board as well a brewery, she has a wide range of facilities, including 8 restaurants and bars, a Spa centre, a state-of-the-art gym and a 4D cinema. Best suited for active and young couples or families, AIDAsol caters to every member of the family.

Over the last few years, Malaysia has seen an encouraging number of cruise ships calling at the country’s ports. Last year, a total of 359 international cruise ships called at the country’s six primary ports, namely Port Klang, Penang, Melaka, Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, compared to 340 in 2012, registering a growth of 5.6%. For the same period, the country received 512,400 cruise passengers compared to 475,990 passengers, signifying an increase of 7.6%.

Developing cruise tourism has been outlined in the Tourism National Key Economic Area (NKEA), under its sixth Entry Point Project (EPP) – Creating a Straits Riviera Cruise Playground. In an effort to capitalise on an international cruise passenger market that has grown at an average of 14% annually in the past 10 years, this EPP will see the development of a Straits Riviera, comprising the six primary ports and other secondary ports.

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Sukuk for vaccine fund ushers Islamic finance into ethical sphere

London, 14 Safar 1436/ 06 December 2014 (IINA) – The latest entrant into Islamic finance is leading the industry in the new direction of socially responsible investment – which could even include the fight against Ebola.

Last week an immunization program secured a $500 million issuance of Islamic bonds, or sukuk, in the largest debut issue ever by a global non-profit organization, under a broader trend to use bond markets to fund development and humanitarian projects. The sukuk from the International Finance Facility for Immunization Co (IFFIm), for which the World Bank acts as treasury manager, is a break from the predominantly commercial nature of most Islamic finance transactions. The deal is part of World Bank efforts to adapt sukuk for use in a variety of ethical pursuits, including advising the Dubai government on a funding strategy for the emirate’s green investment program.

IFFIm, backed by nine sovereign donors including Britain and France, will use the proceeds of its sukuk to finance projects for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and is open to using the format again. “It’s a natural market for us. These kind of socially responsible investments are very much aligned with the core principles of Islamic finance,” IFFIm Board Chair Rene Karsenti told Reuters. The sukuk helped IFFIm diversify its investor base and secure competitive pricing, but also helped raise the profile of GAVI activities among Muslim-majority countries. The sukuk could encourage other non-profits to consider this funding tool, while Gulf countries could be inclined to become GAVI donors themselves, said Paris-based Karsenti, who is also president of the International Capital Market Association.

Founded in 2000, GAVI has financed immunization efforts in 73 countries, with half of its investment directed to 33 Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen, Mali and Indonesia. “Sukuk is not new but what is new here is that it is associated with a socially responsible vehicle. We hope we can lead the way for other similar institutions to use the market.” Islamic finance follows religious principles which forbid involvement in businesses connected with gambling, tobacco or alcohol, but has only recently begun to explore wider social responsibility. Future sukuk from IFFIm could help reinforce that change by financing other high-profile immunization efforts, and GAVI is actively in discussions over taking a role in fighting Ebola when a vaccine becomes available, Karsenti said. “IFFIm could also provide long-term funding in that effort.” GlaxoSmithKline and NewLink Genetics are currently testing experimental Ebola vaccines, and a trial of an Ebola vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is scheduled to start in January.

IFFIm issues bonds designed to bring forward future donor pledges into cash-in-hand today to finance its immunization projects. It has raised $5 billion since 2006 from bonds issued in markets such as Japan and Australia. Islamic finance wants to be part of such efforts as it seeks to boost its ethical credentials: In August, Malaysia’s capital markets regulator introduced guidelines for the issuance of socially responsible sukuk. IFFIm, rated AA by Standard & Poor’s, attracted $700 million in orders for its sukuk, with 85 percent of bids coming from new investors, mainly out of the Middle East and Asia. Despite a limited secondary market, its high credit rating made the issue appealing to Islamic finance institutions, with banks taking 74 percent of the deal. The IFFIm sukuk uses commodities to underpin the transaction and is not tradeable other than at par value.

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German Travel Association Hosted In Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 7, 2014: Over 800 leading German tourism players, who between them have a consumer base in the region of 6-8 million travellers, were in the UAE capital over the National Weekend holiday for the 64th Annual Congress of the German Travel Association (DRV).

The meeting, which took place at the five-star The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort with social events at key Abu Dhabi hospitality destinations, was co-hosted by Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and supported by Germany’s second largest carrier and strategic Etihad Airways’ partner – airberlin.

The congress featured some of the biggest names in the international travel business including CEOs and senior executives from tour operators and travel agencies of all sizes and service providers, including airlines, cruise lines and insurance companies. The congress was presided over by DRV’s new President, Mr Norbert Fiebig and the new DRV Managing Director, Mr Dirk Inger. More than 30 top German media representatives also travelled to Abu Dhabi to cover the event.

Welcoming the delegates to Abu Dhabi, Mubarak Al Shamisi, Director, Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau, a dedicated division of TCA Abu Dhabi, said Germany remains one of the emirate’s leading source markets for hotel guests and with increasing air links, upward momentum looks set to continue.

“Germans are known for their love of travel, as adventure seekers and early adopters of new product — so you should all feel at home here,” said Al Shamisi. “I want to also take this opportunity of congratulating airberlin on its new daily service from Stuttgart to Abu Dhabi. Altogether, airberlin now offers 63 flights per week from Germany to Abu Dhabi jointly with Etihad Airways, flying twice daily from Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich. Thank you for opening up new regional markets for us.”

Al Shamisi said more Germans than ever are checking into Abu Dhabi’s hotels. “Germany is now our third largest overseas source market for hotel guests after India and the UK. In the first 10 months of this year 106,635 Germans stayed in our hotels and resorts — which was up 11% on last year. This all translated into 506,123 guest nights – which was a 9% year-on-year increase – with an average stay of 4.75 nights. Germans actually stay longer than most nationalities beaten only by Russians and Americans.

“With your help, we want to see these figures rise even further – and to ensure that those who do come, stay longer. We have a lot more to do and see here but some things stay the same – our fabulous winter weather and reputation for hospitality. We know we have a greater profile than ever within the German speaking market and hope to also enhance this further. January could see this spike if Germany’s own Martin Kaymer lives up to his ambitions to lift our coveted Falcon Trophy in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship for the fourth time!”

Al Shamisi said many of Abu Dhabi’s tourism providers are highly focussed on delivering tailored product for German guests. “You’ll find German speakers in most of our hotels and German speaking tour guides are now a norm. We have the beaches, the resorts of a standard that Germans appreciate – in fact everything here is now premium, except the price!

“With an average prevailing room rate of just 102 Euro we’re a bit of a bargain at the moment and that’s got to be good news for you and your clients.”

While in Abu Dhabi, the delegates and media attended a number of site workshops on major attractions including Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, an Abu Dhabi city tour and desert experience.

The DRV gathering was one of a series of congresses secured by joint Etihad Airways-TCA Abu Dhabi bids.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “Etihad Airways was delighted to welcome 800 of Germany’s leading travel professionals to Abu Dhabi for the DRV Congress.

“With Etihad Airways’ European headquarters in Berlin and strong offering with our network partner, airberlin, Germany is one of our most important markets and it was fantastic to have this unique opportunity to showcase our Abu Dhabi home to DRV members.

“Etihad Airways and airberlin offer direct flights from Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich and now Stuttgart to Abu Dhabi which provides a platform for DRV members to sell the UAE, and everything this country has to offer, to their customers back in Germany.”

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