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5 Jan, 2015

The Muslim Green: American Muslim Market Study 2014-15 released

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 05 January 2015 (14 Rabee’ al-Awwal 1436). Pls click on any of the headlines to go to the story.




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

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


The Islamic Tourism Centre in Malaysia has launched a vibrant new website presenting Malaysia as a prime destination for Islamic tourism and a global halal hub. The website offers a wealth of information on Mosque trails, Islamic Museums, Ramadan & Eid-ul Fitr, Muslim-Friendly Tour Highlights, as well as a Muslim Visitor’s Guide, Halal Directory and Souvenirs Directory. Located strategically at the heart of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is well-known for its natural beauty and diverse cultural landscape. At its social core are three of Asia’s oldest civilisations – Malay, Chinese and Indian – as well as the ethnic communities of Sabah and Sarawak, resulting in a unique and inspiring blend of cultures. With an abundance of halal food, prayer facilities and Islamic attractions, Malaysia perfectly caters to the needs of Muslim travellers. The ITC plays a pivotal role in bringing Malaysia to the forefront of Islamic tourism. It works with industry players to build their capacity in Islamic tourism, thus ensuring that the needs of Muslim visitors are better served. ITC has also taken several initiatives in standardising industry’s best practices through research, seminars, workshops and industry outreach programmes. Now is the perfect time to experience the country’s multitude of Muslim-friendly tourism products – Islamic architectural heritage, halal gastronomic delights, vibrant Islamic festivals and world-class Islamic events – all guaranteed to give visitors an incredible time.

Click here to see the fabulous new website

For more information about what makes Malaysia one of the most popular destinations in the Islamic world, as well as on planning your next holiday or MICE event in Malaysia, please click: http://www.tourism.gov.my/ or http://www.tourismmalaysia.gov.my

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/friendofmalaysia

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

Blog: http://blog.tourism.gov.my


Watch Islamic Travel Newswire Executive Editor Imtiaz Muqbil’s landmark TEDx lecture on “Peace through Tourism” on YouTube — the first travel industry journalist in Bangkok invited to speak at this prestigious forum. CLICK HERE.




World Islamophobia Congress to be held in Turkey

The World Islamophobia Congress will be organized in Ankara, Republic of Turkey on 29-30 April 2015 by the coordinating efforts of Prime Ministry of Republic of Turkey, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), Presidency of Religious Affairs of Republic of Turkey, Statistical, Economic, Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), General Secretariat of Developing 8 Countries (D8), Marmara University and Institute of Strategic Thinking.

Religious Affairs Foundation of Republic of Turkey, Turkish Standards Institution (TSE) and Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD) are also among the supporters of the Congress.

During the Congress, eminent scholars from a wide range of disciplines will discuss the legal, political, sociological aspects of Islamophobia. The Congress will also provide a great opportunity for establishing an intellectual network with academicians, activists, experts from different countries.

For more information, please visit http://www.worldislamophobiacongress.com

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Saudi Govt plans to expand low-cost Haj programs

Jeddah: Arab News, 3 January 2015 – Minister of Haj Bandar Hajjar has announced that the government plans to expand the country’s low-cost Haj programs.

Hajjar said that officials are working to set up programs that would ensure control over the fees charged for citizens and residents going on Haj.

The minister made the announcement on Thursday during a briefing at his office on the operational plan of the General Administration of Local Pilgrims for the coming year. This included a review of the efficiency of last year’s operational plan.

Hajjar urged officials to start preparing and allocating camps for pilgrims as soon as possible, and complete all procedures to link agencies and service providers electronically.

He also called for the expansion of media and awareness programs, the eradication of fake Haj offices, and the development of procedures related to the booking and issuing of licenses. He said officials should also provide the public with more information on train services, the Jamarat bridge and slaughterhouses.

At the meeting it was also announced that 18 ministry committees have started preparations to oversee the election of tawafa officials, including ensuring that all voter information is accurate and voters are eligible to participate.

This comes in the wake of the committee recently releasing the names of eligible candidates and voters on the ministry’s website.

The minister is expected to inaugurate next week the 11th annual ceremony to honor 125 field groups, 22 administrators and 10 mutawwifs who excelled in service provision during Haj last year.

According to mutawwif Zohair Sedayo, vice president of the organizing committee of tawafa companies, the ceremony aims to encourage excellent service provision for visitors and pilgrims.

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SCTA launches travel, tourism associations

RIYADH, 3 January 2015, Arab News – The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) launched three travel and tourism associations on the sidelines of its recently concluded annual staff meeting here.

The associations were launched jointly by Prince Sultan bin Salman, SCTA president and Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, minister of commerce and industry.

During the meeting SCTA also announced the names of members of the board of directors of the three aforesaid associations namely the Saudi Accommodation Association, Saudi Tourist Guide Association and Saudi Travel and Tourism Association, whose establishment was approved by the Council of Ministers on May 26, 2014, the media said on Thursday.

In his comments, Prince Sultan: “The establishment of these associations reflects the culmination of the decisions passed by the national economy and the private sectors which marks an important phase of cooperation and partnership between the public and private sectors.”

Remarking on the monitoring role of the associations the prince said: “These associations will be helpful in monitoring the tourism activities and will also be very useful in the development work to achieve our objectives.”

Speaking on the occasion Al-Rabiah hailed the tremendous efforts of SCTA in the foundation of these associations.

He asserted that this is a new experience in the domestic economy and will have significant outcomes for the support of the tourism sector.

Prince Abdullah bin Saud, chairman of travel and tourism association, also commended SCTA’s initiative in the establishment of professional tourism associations saying, “The inauguration of the three associations has come within the framework of partnerships adopted by SCTA with the members of the local communities and the public and private organizations.”

“Undoubtedly, the establishment of these associations will contribute to the implementation of many of the future projects that are expected to enhance tourism activity across the Kingdom through the utilization of SCTA’s potentials in the form of its technical support and professional advisory for the promotion and performance of these associations,” he added.

He further underscored that these associations are expected to attain great success because they have been established in conjunction with the issuance of a set of resolutions which aim to support national tourism.

These resolutions are eventually crowned by the approval of the King Abdullah Project for Preservation of the Kingdom’s Cultural Heritage, which constitutes an umbrella for the promotion of national heritage and investment in various tourism and heritage sites in the Kingdom.

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ONE association to lobby UNESCO for Turkish historical assets

Established for the protection and international promotion of Turkey’s cultural and historical assets, ONE Association’s first target is to get the famous Göbeklitepe archeological site onto UNESCO’s world heritage list

“When I became a member of Venetian Heritage, a nonprofit organization to protect the heritage of the city, I was able to witness their work. I was very impressed by their work both in Italy and in America. I thought Istanbul and Turkey deserve similar protection and promotion,” said Demet Sabancı Çetindoğan a prominent businesswoman, explaining what inspired her to found ONE Association.

Çetindoğan was lucky since she was able to set to the road with like-minded friends and acquaintances that shared her ideas. She recruited İlber Ortaylı, one of Turkey’s most prominent historians, as well as other prominent figures like Çiğdem Simavi, Sevda Elgiz, Serpil Ayaslı; all very familiar with international and cultural promotion.

As is the case with other formations set within other historical cities of the world, ONE has been first and foremost established to protect and promote the cultural assets of Turkey’s historical cities.

What makes ONE differ from the other associations is that most of them are dedicated for the national promotion of historical assets, according to Çetindoğan, who is currently the chairperson of the association.

“We deal with this issue on a global scale. We see these assets as the world’s common heritage. This is not just a tourism or culture project, or a matter of promotion. We also see it as a matter of awareness.

The association’s first project is to get the famous Göbeklitepe archeological site on UNESCO’s world heritage list. Despite its historical richness, only a dozen assets from Turkey are included on the UNESCO world heritage list in comparison to 49 from Italy, 45 from China and 44 from Spain. This was also a motivating factor for Çetindoğan to found the association.

On Jan. 21, the association will organize an event in Paris to host UNESCO permanent representatives, as well as the representatives of the media where Professor Ortaylı will give a briefing about the Göbeklitepe site. The decision will be made in 2016. In the meantime, ONE will also lobby to keep Istanbul on the world heritage list. Large infrastructure works undertaken by the government have created concerned in UNESCO, which has been warning Turkey that Istanbul could be excluded from the list.

“It is not only important to get onto the list, but it is also important to stay there,” said Çetindoğan.

It is important to have this type of association since it requires working with the government and local administrations, which in turns provide an opportunity for dialogue where policies that could be harmful to the country’s historical assets could be discussed, according to Çetindoğan.

ONE is an acronym that stands “Old, New, Eternal,” whereas in Turkish, it stands for “Ortak Nesiller Entegrasyonu,” the “Integration of Joint Generations.”

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Turkish exports reach all-time high in 2014

ANKARA, Anadolu News Agency – The 2014 exports of Turkey increased some 4 percent last year, reaching $157.6 billion, a record in the history of the modern republic, according to figures released by Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TİM) on the first day of the new year.

Although the figure remained slightly below the government’s target at $160.5 billion, the record, which came at a time when Europe, its core market, is facing shrinkage risks and neighbors are challenged by internal tensions, was welcomed by the business organization and the economy minister.

Car sales have been a major drive, netting $22.3 billion, with textiles and chemicals following.

Minister Nihat Zeybekci also confirmed the figure was a record, noting Germany ($14.9 billion), Iraq ($10.7 billion), the U.K. ($9.7 billion), Italy ($7 billion) and France ($6.4 billion) topped the list of top markets.

Istanbul-based businesses shouldered some $68 billion portion of the Turkish exports last year, followed by Bursa ($12.7 billion), Kocaeli ($12.4 billion), İzmir ($8.9 billion) and Ankara ($7.5 billion).

“I would like to congratulate our exporters, who have broken a record despite political unrest in our close region and economic problems in many parts of the world,” the minister said in a written statement.

Turkey’s exports to Russia, which is facing a large depreciation in local currency and economic problems with Europe due to the ongoing Ukraine crisis, fell 15 percent last year as sales to neighboring Iran also dropped 10 percent.

In the first five months of the year, exports to Iraq had increased some 11 percent. However, the clashes in the country driven by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants turned the tide, as Turkish exports to it fell 11 percent in the year end.

TİM Chairman Mehmet Büyükekşi said in a written statement that the overall increase could reach some 8 or 9 percent, adding one percentage point to the national income, if these elements did not hurt the sales.

Büyükekşi also said exports to European Union countries slowed down in the second half of the year.

“We continue exporting at our maximum ability for sustainable peace, considering the fresh developments and emerging opportunities,” he said.

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16 types of extinct birds in Europe live in Golestan province

Gorgan, Jan 2, IRNA – Despite inflicted damages, still very rare types of a broad spectrum of birds live in forests of Iran’s Golestan province, including 16 types that are now extinct throughout Europe, managing director of Golestan Department of Environment said Thursday.

“This province with its very active and sensitive ecosystem is hosting 30% of the animal species and 24% of the plant types of the country,” said Esmail Mohajer, who had attended the Golestan Branch Office of IRNA.

Highlighting the need to preserve every single species of animals, birds and plants that have still remained intact from distinction in Iran, he reiterated that Golestan forests are among the few remaining breathing habitats of the plants and animals, that should be preserved free from any type of viewpoints and approaches.

“This province resembles a small sample of the entire Iranian nature, blessed with the existence of mountains, the sea, jungles, and even deserts, all in the expanse of one single province, so that presently 114 types of migrating birds are spending their winter in this region, some of which even lay and breed eggs here,” said the Golestan province DOE chief.

Mohajer said that Golestan, due to its provision of appropriate food and the required peaceful surrounding for the migrating birds has always possessed a special status among the Iranian northern provinces and even hosted migrating birds from the frozen and polar region of Siberia.

The IRNA provincial managing director, too, announced the national news agency’s full time readiness for broadcasting the environmental concerns of the DOE officials in the meeting.

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Muslim Students’ Int’l Quran Contest in Iran

Tehran, Jan 2, IRNA — The fifth edition of the International Quran Competition for Muslim Students kicked off in a ceremony in the Iranian capital on Thursday afternoon.

The ceremony was attended by high-ranking Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, as well as Quranic figures and foreign dignitaries.

It began at the conference hall of Tehran’s Milad Tower with recitation of verses from the Quran by Majid Faqih, winner of the recitation category in the previous edition of the competition.

It was followed by a speech delivered by Hamid Reza Tayyebi, head of the Iranian Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research, who said the competition aims to enhance Muslim unity, promote learning the Quran and get Muslim students acquainted with the Quranic activities of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

President Rouhani also addressed the opening program, stressing the importance of having strong connection with the Quran, especially among the youth and university students.

The international competition will run for four days and the 66 participants from 47 countries vie for the top prizes in the categories of memorization and recitation categories.

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LEAD STORY: The Muslim Green: American Muslim Market Study 2014-15 released

(DinarStandard media release) – The American Muslim markets unique opportunity is part of a fast growing global Islamic/Muslim lifestyle economy representing $2 trillion in consumption (2013).

DinarStandard conservatively estimates the American Muslim population in 2013 to be 5.7 million, with 1.7 million households. The estimation uses the ASARB 2010 Religious Congregations and Membership Study as a baseline. DinarStandard estimates that the aggregate American Muslim disposable income in 2013 was $98 billion.

The 2014-15 Study builds on DinarStandard’s 2011 Report on the American Muslim consumer market. The purpose of this study is to equip retailers, startups, small businesses and mid to large-sized business marketers to:

(+) Evaluate the demand profile of American Muslim market, its dynamics and current activity

(+) Capture American Muslim consumer needs and wants focused on food (Halal), finance, education and retail segments through original and well represented survey based-insights

(+) Evaluate key global Islamic/Muslim market opportunity areas

(+) Leverage case-studies and best practices based communication and engagement strategies.

DinarStandard 2013 estimate based on global Muslim consumer expenditure on food, clothing, travel, media/recreation, pharmaceutical/cosmetics core sectors. These Muslim lifestyle sectors include global ‘Halal’ food, family-friendly travel, modest clothing, Halal pharmaceutical/cosmetics, media, education and recreation sectors. These are core sectors and their ecosystem that are structurally affected by Islamic values driven consumer lifestyle and business practices.

Download a free copy of the Study’s Executive Summary: http://www.dinarstandard.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/AmercanMuslimExecutive-Summary-2014_DinarStandard.pdf

Purchase Full study: US $1995 (Includes a 124 pages print copy and a secure PDF digital copy with data spreadsheet.)

Non-Profits 10% discount; US $1,495 (Print copy only)

Contact to be invoiced for check payment or bank transfer: http://advisory.dinarstandard.com/about-us/contact/

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Erdogan: ‘New Turkey’ vision cannot be stopped

December 31, 2014, ANKARA – Turkey’s rise will not be hampered by those who commit treason or their international supporters and our 2023 goals will be reached, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in his New Year message on Wednesday.

“Sometimes the treasonous among us or our external foes would express their resentment out of our building a new, big Turkey which is a leader in its region and the world,” he said in an online statement from the official website of the Turkish presidency. “We will not pay attention to those who commit treason nor bow to the dark circles that control them.”

“Just as we marched fearlessly and determinedly throughout our history, we will head to the future as a powerful, honorable and influential country, an arbiter,” he added.

Erdogan targeted ‘coup plots’ revealed at the end of 2013, saying that the popular presidential elections on August 10 were the best response to such initiatives against the popular will.

“Everybody has seen that Turkish governments can no longer be replaced via means other than the ballot box. Plots, conspiracies, pitfalls and immoral coup initiatives will melt into the air in the face of the popular will,” he said.

“Turkey will not bow to any threat or blackmail, especially regarding the solution process. Those who depend on street protests, conflicts, blood and tears to carry out their politics will get the proper answer through democracy and law,” the Turkish president said.

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Bishkek will host an exhibition of live tropical butterflies

Bishkek, December 28 / Kabar /. An exhibition of live tropical butterflies “Happy tropics” will be open in Bishkek, December 30, 2014 at the Sports Palace.

“The exhibition of live tropical butterflies is long awaited in CIS. This time it arrived in our city significantly updated,” said organizers of the exhibition.

The organizers tried to bring and show as much as possible the most striking and rare species of butterflies, as well as to make more accessible the feeding process of butterflies, caterpillars pupate and excretion processes butterflies.

The exhibition runs until 9 February.

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Link Between Afghan, Europe Universities Via Silk-Route

December 29, 2014 – Kabul (BNA) The most expensive NATO civil project in Afghanistan, the Silk Route is expected to connect Afghanistan universities to those of the regional and European ones, the financial support of which was set to be made by the European parliament, an official said the other day.

Lailuma Sadid in Brussels, Prof Walter Kaffenberge, in charge and founder of the project said the project was expected to be led by the European parliament after 2014.

The project had been estimated to cost some 10.6 million euro that had already been signed between the VIZADA Networks and the NATO public diplomatic board, under which some Afghan provincial universities would access link with a number of European and Asian universities.

Kicked off in 2006, the project had been named as Silk Spiritual Route, securing online-link between Kabul and some other scientific institutions universities.

Walter believed the costly NATO financed civil project in the country, Silk-Afghanistan would take over 10.5 million euro to complete.

The first step to link Afghanistan universities of some 8 provinces such as Kabul, Balkh, Jauzjan, Herat, Khost, Nangarhar, Bamyan and Herat would further help Afghan students access to the regional and European universities and their favorite libraries and text-materials after the project was developed.

According to him, some 100 Afghan universities’ IT-related youth, are now under short-term training in different countries, a program will remain fruitful for the Afghan students, teachers and scientists.

He said offering online educational terms for the Afghan teachers and students was too important, as in April 2010, the link was secured between some universities in Kabul and province and one of the German economics’ universities.

He noted that the sixth round of the Afghan students’ graduation from one of the Netherlands’ universities was marked, with the minister of defense of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan, during his 3 day visit to the NATO’s main office in Brussels at the threshold of the NATO member countries defense ministers meeting signing their certificates, in February 2010.

Hereinafter, both Afghan universities’ teachers and students in the provinces would avail from the eased online way, with the students helped to access video-conferences system in the center and big cities of the country.

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India To Increase Assistance To Afghanistan

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 – Herat (BNA) Acting governor of Herat Asiluddin Jami has praised India for its role in completion of reconstruction projects such as Salma dam.

Acting governor of Herat in a meeting yesterday with Indian ministry for external affairs delegation said India, providing plenty assistance to the people of Afghanistan, is from among friendly countries of Afghanistan. Jami also recalled of local government’s serious will related to providing a new location for Indian consulate to Herat, saying that the new location would be equipped with further facilities.

Acting governor of the province also instructed directorate of Herat municipality to adopt urgent measure for processing permission document of the location.

Meanwhile, head of Indian delegation also assured of his country’s continued cooperation and assistance to the people of Afghanistan, stressing that the cooperation would remarkably increase. It is said that the new location determined to be the Indian consulate is located in one of the best recreational and green spots of Herat city.

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Afghanistan can now dispatch 2,000 Electronic Passports per day

December 31, 2014, Kabul (BNA) The process of distributing electronic passport had been started last year, with the capacity of distributing 2,000 passports to the applicants each day.

Interior Ministry’s passport admin chief, Alhaj Sayed Omar said, the process could help fight corruption and prevent the loss of time.

The process could be passed, with delivering the applications to the related office, with the created four boards assessing them under the designed commission in the first day.

The applicants are submitted a form in which blank spaces should be filled in Dari and English and the specified sum can be delivered to the related banks’ nearest branches in second day, and the third day would be the time for receiving the passport.

The applicants across 34 provinces can also easily receive their passports in their own provinces, within five days, with the provincial police office taking over their documents and IDs and freely transporting to the center by any of the country’s air aviation, he added.

He said the people were satisfied with the newly adopted procedure as well it helps the holders of the newly designed electronic passports to be respected by the border police of all countries, in the international airports. The holders are checked by special machines like an American under the same rule, he continued. According to him, his office can distribute some 2,000 electronic passports, but beyond it would create headaches for the distributing committee. He called commitment of the National Unity Government (NUG), creation of commissions for preventing commissioning, conducting workshops and seminars for rising the capacity of the staffs and implementation of the operational plans the reason behind his admin success in this task and win satisfaction of the suppliants.

The challenges he faced in distribution of the electronic passports, were lack of the people awareness to fill the form and failure of some of them to have IDs (Tazkira), as he called having Tazkira a need helping them get easily the newly issued electronic passport. He asked the applicants not take their children as according to him, the office will not bring under 14 children under biometric process. He also asked the government for helping his office uproot corruption.

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Banana Island Resort inaugurated in Doha

Doha, January 01 (QNA) – Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani inaugurated on Thursday the Banana Island Resort Doha.

The inaugurating ceremony was attended by a number Ministers and guests. The Prime Minister toured the resort and was briefed on tourist facilities and services, accommodation units and playgrounds, recreation centers as well as marina basin and indoor botanical garden.

Built on 162000 square meter in the Arabian Gulf, Banana Island Resort Doha is the touristy favorite destination for Qatari and expat families, as well as tourists visiting Qatar from around the world.

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ISESCO holds training session on techniques of conducting web-based surveys

Rabat, 24/12/2014 – The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) held a training session on using ICTs to conduct web-based surveys for the staff of English-speaking Member States’ National Commissions, at its headquarters, in Rabat, on 25-27 December 2014.

The session was designed to help Member States’ national commissions qualify their staff and develop their professional capacities in ICTs; train them in the latest methods and procedures of using open source software and benefiting from web technologies to successfully conduct web-based surveys; and share expertise among national commissions in this field.

The programme featured presentations on survey software and their capabilities as well as hands-on training in the tasks of creating surveys, multilingual surveys and surveys with conditional questions, the tasks of administering and publishing surveys, and the tasks of working with responses and results of the surveys created and using them in reports, presentations and studies.

Will take part in this session a number of staff members in the national commissions of Uganda, Pakistan, the Gambia, Kazakhstan and Nigeria in addition to some staff members working at ISESCO directorates and divisions.

The session will be supervised by Mr Amine Arrahmane Achargui, in charge of ICTs Division at ISESCO’s Planning, Information and Documentation Centre.

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Abu Dhabi Uses Egypt To Launch Its ‘Out Of Africa’ Tourism Campaign

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Dec 30 (NNN-WAM) – Abu Dhabi has launched its first outbound tourism promotional drive in Africa, targeting leading travel operators to encourage more visitors to the emirates.

For the first time in Africa, a delegation from Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, and supported by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, TCA Abu Dhabi, held a dedicated tourism workshop in Cairo, attracting 120 leading travel agents and tour operators, from across the Egyptian capital.

The move follows hard on the heels of a 15-strong Egyptian trade familiarisation trip to the emirates, when the Arab Republic’s top outbound producers discovered the destination’s hotels and attractions in Abu Dhabi City and Yas and Saadiyat islands.

The African insight into Abu Dhabi’s expanding attractions, hospitality and destination portfolio comes as TCA Abu Dhabi aims to open up the continent’s burgeoning outbound market and win over a greater share.

“We see significant potential from Africa overall and Egypt in particular. With Saudi Arabia currently accounting for the lion’s share of Egypt’s outbound market, with people travelling for Haj and Umrah, there is opportunity for Abu Dhabi’s emerging Halal tourism stopover propositions to take hold,” said Mubarak Al Nuaimi, Director Promotions and Overseas Offices, TCA Abu Dhabi.

Etihad Airways currently operates 21 weekly flights from Cairo to Abu Dhabi International Airport, while Egypt Air operates 11 flights a week from the same city.

More than 100,000 Egyptians have already checked into Abu Dhabi’s 157 hotels and hotel apartments this year, cementing the market as one of the emirate’s top 10 hotel guest performers.

“Egyptian travel industry representatives have been left impressed by our product diversity and are interested to develop packages to Abu Dhabi, and through collaborative travel trade endeavours with Etihad Airways, we look forward to a sustained period of growth,” added Al Nuaimi.

TCA Abu Dhabi’s African push comes as Etihad Airways plans daily flights from Entebbe in Uganda starting this May.– NNN-WAM

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Royal Air Maroc Carries 16 Pct More Passengers On African Routes

RABAT, Dec 31 (NNN-MAP) — Nearly 1.3 million passengers travelled to African destinations with Morocco’s flag carrier, Royal Air Maroc (RAM), during the period from November 2013 and October 2014, a 16 per cent year-on-year increase.

During the same period, RAM operated 16,285 flights on 32 African routes, the airline said in a statement here Tuesday.

The bulk of this increase was ascribed to nine air links, namely flights connecting Morocco to Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Guinea, Nigeria, Algeria, Tunisia and Gabon, RAM noted.

Thanks to these regular connections, RAM could carry 782,000 passengers on these routes, the statment added.

These results were achieved despite unfavourable circumstances which affected air travel in the continent, notably those relating to the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease, RAM said, recalling that, out of solidarity, the Moroccan company maintained flights to the countries hit by the pandemic.

The performance was also reflective of RAM’s commitment to supporting Africa’s development efforts in line with the solidarity policy led by the Kingdom in the continent, the statement said. — NNN-MAP

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Etihad Airways To Codeshare With Aerolineas Argentinas

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Dec 31 (NNN-WAM) – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has signed a codeshare agreement with Aerolineas Argentinas, one of South America’s leading airlines.

Effective Feb 1, 2015, the agreement will offer Etihad Airways’ guests, greater access to South America via Aerolineas Argentinas’ Buenos Aires hub.

As part of the agreement, Etihad Airways will place its ‘EY’ flight code on Aerolineas operated flights, across the Argentinian airline’s extensive domestic network, as well as, to key destinations in South America, including Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay.

Guests will be able to travel on Etihad Airways’ marketed flights to Buenos Aires, and from there to 20 popular destinations in South America, including Asuncion, Bariloche, Bahia Blanca, Comodoro Rivadavia, Cordoba, Mar del Plata, Mendoza, Montevideo, Rio Gallegos, Rio Grande, Rosario, Salta, San Juan, Santiago de Chile and Ushuaia.

Flights under the codeshare agreement can be booked from mid-Jan 2015, via travel agents or through the airlines’ sales offices and contact centres.

Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan, said, “Codeshares are a fundamental pillar of Etihad Airways’ strategy and our new commercial partnership with Aerolineas Argentinas is a significant development for both airlines. We are now able to enhance our business and leisure travel offering between the UAE, Argentina and onwards to the strategically important South American market.”

Aerolineas Argentinas’ President and CEO, Mariano Recalde, said, “We are delighted to sign this agreement with Etihad Airways, which offers its passengers enhanced connectivity within Argentina and the Southern Cone of the Americas, through the extensive Aerolineas network.”

In June 2013, Etihad Airways launched non-stop flights between Abu Dhabi and Sao Paulo, the airline’s first destination in South America. The flights currently offer 3,360 seats per week between the two cities and connect to 31 destinations across North Africa, the Arabian Gulf, the Indian Subcontinent and Asia.– NNN-WAM

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Oman Four- And Five-Star Hotels’ Revenue Hits Usd 384.9 Million In Nov 2014

MUSCAT, Oman, Dec 31 (NNN-ONA) – The total revenue for 4- and 5-star hotels in Oman increased by 10.5% by the end of Nov 2014, reaching RO 148.24 million (USD 384.9 million), compared with RO 134.21 million (USD 349.05 million), during the same period in 2013.

The occupancy rate for these hotels also increased by 4.4%, rising to 59.9% compared with 57.4% in the same period last year.

The recently published “Main Indicators for 4 & 5 Star Hotels” report, issued by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), revealed that guests from Europe topped the list of hotel guests, representing 34% of the total number of guests, by the end of Nov, 2014, with 238,592 guests, compared to 178,119 guests, during the same period in 2013.

Omani guests followed with 206,092 guests, compared to 173,490 guests during the same period in 2013, representing 29.4% of the overall guest number.

Meanwhile, the number of GCC nationals, among the guests of 4- and 5-star hotels in the Sultanate was 95,151 in the 11-month period of 2014, compared to 85,404 in the same period last year, representing 13.6% of the total number of guests.

Further down the ranking saw guests from Asia come next, with 74,914 guests, compared to 53,655 last year, representing 10.7% of the total guests. This was followed by guests from other Arab countries, recording 27,984 guests this year (representing 3.9%) compared to 20,045 guests by the end of Nov last year. The rest of the guests represented different nationalities from other countries.

Guests from African countries recorded the highest increase rate in the same period by 59.4%, while non-Omani GCC nationals recorded the lowest increase rate with 11.4% in the same period.– NNN-ONA

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Indonesia Sets Ambitious Foreign Tourist Arrival Target

JAKARTA, Indonesia Dec 31 (NNN-Bernama) — Indonesia`s tourism sector is shining again, encouraging the government to set ambitious goals for the coming years after meeting its international tourist arrival targets over the past several years, reports Indonesia’s Antara news agency.

International tourist arrivals over the past few years have recorded some seven to eight perc ent increase. So, the government is optimistic that it will achieve its ambitious targets. It has set a target of 10 million tourist arrivals in 2015 and 20 million by 2019.

Terrorism had once hampered Indonesias tourism sector. Incidents such as the 2002 Bali 1 bombing that killed 202 people, the JW Marriott explosion that claimed 12 lives in Jakarta, the 2004 Australian embassy blast that killed 9, and the Bali 2 bombing that killed 23 all had marred Indonesias image as a secure nation for several years.

However, the success of the Indonesian government`s fight against terrorism in the country has restored confidence among foreign tourists to visit Indonesia. Over the past few years, the country has managed to boost its tourism sector that has recorded some seven to eight per cent growth.

Last week, Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said the country`s tourism development in 2014 has been encouraging. So, the Ministry of Tourism has set a target of 10 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2015, or an increase of some seven to eight per cent from that of 2014 figure.

The Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) has revealed that foreign tourist arrivals in the country this year has reached 9.3 million, which is higher than its moderate target of 9.2 million. Therefore, the ministry is optimistic that by the end of 2014, the number of foreign tourists will rise to 9.5 million.

In 2013, Indonesia met its target of 8.6 million foreign tourist arrivals; the figure was 8.044 million in 2012.

Considering this upward trend, the minister is optimistic that foreign tourist arrivals in the coming several years will be high, and thus the target of 10 million arrivals in 2015 and 20 million by 2019 will be met.

The minister also expressed optimism with regard to the development of domestic tourism.

“The number of domestic tourists can reach 254 million. Thus, in addition to the foreign exchange of US$12.05 billion earned from international tourists, domestic tourists can contribute up to Rp201.5 trillion. This will open employment opportunities for 11.3 million people in the tourism sector,” the minister noted.

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Emaar announces new organisation structure to drive company into next era of growth

DUBAI, 31st December, 2014 (WAM) — Global property developer emaar properties has announced its new organisational structure to drive sustained value creation for its stakeholders, and to power the growth of the company with a focus on professional project management, timely delivery and world-class customer service.

Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties, said the new organisational structure draws on the Dubai Plan 2021 announced by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

“As Dubai builds its future as a smart, sustainable city and a preferred place to live, work and visit, Emaar is creating a fresh template for its sustained growth and value creation. In today’s maturing property market, our priority is to manage and deliver our projects efficiently through our team of experienced professionals. They are supported by a new cadre of young professionals, led by Emaar’s core values of developing quality-driven projects, timely delivery and excellent customer service while further enhancing the value of our masterplannned communities.”

Alabbar added that Emaar, under its new organisational structure, will continue to develop prime real estate assets in its home-market of Dubai and other high-growth international markets, as well as strengthen its competencies in shopping malls & retail, and hospitality & leisure.

“Among the key strategic directions defined by the new organisational structure are our concerted efforts to strengthen Project Management in Dubai. A seasoned professional has been appointed to head Emaar’s Project Planning and Programming Department for developing appropriate project management programmes and ensuring the timely completion and on-schedule delivery of Emaar’s projects,” he said.

Alabbar added that in today’s age of incredible advancements in information technology and the enormous reach of social media networks, it is essential for any company to analyse customer’s behaviour on regular basis and implement proactive strategies. As part of this, Emaar has established a Customer Relationship Management department, which will be responsible for developing customer loyalty to the company’s products and services by regularly analysing internal and market data.”

“The organisational structure highlights our strategy of honouring merit and encouraging talented professionals to join us in our ambitious growth journey,” said Alabbar. “Our iconic projects in Dubai are the result of global collaborations with some of the world’s brightest talents.” With assets of AED 64.93 billion (US$ 17.68 billion) as of 2013 end and an impressive land bank of over 226 million sq m in high-growth international markets, Emaar has launched several new major projects this year, which received strong investor response.

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Boeing delivers Etihad Airways’ First 787-9 Dreamliner

EVERETT, 1st January, 2015 (WAM) — Boeing has delivered Etihad Airways’ first 787-9 Dreamliner sporting the airline’s new “Facets of Abu Dhabi” livery which was revealed at a ceremony earlier this year.

The colours are reminiscent of the desert landscape, inspired by the culture, Islamic design and architecture motifs of the United Arab Emirates.

The airplane is the first of the 71 Dreamliners that the national airline of the UAE has on order which includes 41 787-9s and 30 787-10s. Etihad Airways will also be the first airline in the Middle East to operate the 787-9.

“We are confident that the additions of the 787 Dreamliner to our growing fleet will enable us to continue to add vital long-haul destinations from our Abu Dhabi hub,” said Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer for Etihad Airways. “We will first use the aircraft on routes to cities such as Dusseldorf, Washington D.C., Mumbai, Brisbane and Moscow and will have over 70 within the fleet, once our order is complete.

“The aircraft meets our requirements on these routes and will enable us to continue to provide the highest levels of customer service to the guests we welcome on board,” he added.

In addition to bringing big-jet ranges to midsize airplanes, the 787 provides airlines with unmatched fuel efficiency, resulting in exceptional environmental performance. The family uses 20 to 30 percent less fuel with 20 to 30 percent fewer emissions than the airplanes they replace. The airplane also has more cargo revenue capacity, a 20 to 45 percent advantage over replacement airplanes.

The 787-9 can carry 280 passengers 8,300 nautical miles (15,372 kilometers). The 787-10, launched in June 2013 and is in development now, will fly 323 passengers up to 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 kilometers), or more than 90 percent of the world’s twin-aisle routes.

“We are excited to see the 787 footprint grow in the Middle East with airlines such as Etihad Airways investing in the Dreamliner as part of their fleet strategy,” said Marty Bentrott, vice president, Sales for Middle East, Russia and Central Asia, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Etihad Airways has already made a considerable impact with its new and innovative interiors offering to passengers, and we look forward to the 787 playing a key role in delivering on its promise of quality and profitability.

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Shurooq promotes Sharjah’s investment opportunities in India

SHARJAH, 20th December, 2014 (WAM) — The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), has successfully concluded its participation in the Trade Mission to India last week.

Shurooq’s participation comes in line with its ambitious strategy to highlight Sharjah’s diverse business potential and investment opportunities and to promote Sharjah as a leading business and investment hub in the region and entire world.

The four-day B2B event, organised by the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry, was an opportunity for Shurooq to introduce its rich portfolio of ground-breaking projects to Indian investors and keep the Indian business community well informed about the many options, advantages, and incentives that Sharjah has to offer.

Commenting on Shurooq’s participation, Mohammed Juma Al Musharrakh, Head of Investment Promotion at Shurooq said, “Our participation in the Trade Mission to India mainly aimed to promote Sharjah’s business potential and highlight the diverse range of promising business opportunities and benefits for investors, especially in light of the facilities and incentives provided by various government authorities in the Emirate.” He pointed out that the authority made use of the four-day event to conduct a series of B2B and matchmaking meetings with prominent businessmen and key business leaders and stakeholders in the Indian business community, with the aim of attracting Indian investors as well as corporate and SME companies to Sharjah.

Al Musharrakh said, “The meetings were dedicated to strengthening the already close economic, cultural, and social ties the UAE is proud to have with India, a fact that is not surprising considering that over 42.5 per cent of the work force in the UAE are Indian nationals, constituting the largest residents community in the UAE.” “We discussed possible means to enhance mutual cooperation as well as ways to further strengthen and expand the already well-established business relationship between Sharjah and India,” adding “We look forward to setting up many new mutually beneficial ventures,” he added.

The UAE and India share a robust and long-standing friendship and trade ties. Bilateral trade between the UAE and India reached a record high of $75.4 billion in the 2012-13 period. UAE exports to India totaled $39 billion, while imports stood at $36 billion, making the UAE India’s largest trading partner for the year, a relationship all forecasts indicate is set to continue well into the next two decades.

The authority also conducted a meeting with Hinduja Group – a multi-billion dollar, transnational conglomerate, whose activities span across three core areas, including investment banking, international trading, and global investments. The two sides exchanged views on a number of topics of common interest and discussed possible ways to further strengthen business ties.

On the final leg of its 4-day business tour, Shurooq held a meeting with representatives from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) an association of Indian businesses which works to create an environment conducive to the growth of industry in the country. Both sides explored ways to help build business partnerships between Emirati and Indian businessmen and investors and encourage them to set up joint ventures for their mutual benefit.

Shurooq’s key mission is to provide facilities and incentives to help overcome obstacles facing investment activities in the emirate, evaluate investment-related infrastructure projects, and lay down the necessary plans to complete such projects.

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Dubai Chamber Roundtable focuses on Leadership in the Islamic Economy

Dubai, 15th December, 2014 (WAM): Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in cooperation with Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and strategic partner Thomson Reuters, organised the ‘Global Islamic Economy Summit Roundtable Series II, highlighting the importance of leadership for the development of the Islamic economy, at the DIFC Conference Centre recently.

The event, covering three sessions, explored topics: Islamic Finance and its Role in the Islamic Economy, Building Out the Islamic Economy Beyond Islamic Finance, and The Next 10 Years: Elevating the Islamic Economy onto the Development Agenda in the Muslim World.

It was held as a prelude to the second Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES) taking place in Dubai next year under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and in line with his Dubai: Capital of Islamic Economy initiative.

Presiding were, Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC and Secretary General and Board Member of DIEDC; Hamad Buamim, President and CEO, Dubai Chamber; and Dr Sayd Farook, Global Head of Islamic Capital Markets, Thomson Reuters. The event was attended by local and international business leaders and experts in Islamic finance.

In his welcome address, Buamim said: “Our roundtable series seeks to gather information and potential of opportunities going forward. We are seeking to explore how growth can be facilitated through greater interaction and unification at sector and bilateral level and examining how issues such as innovation are influencing consumer choices.

“Unification, standardisation and innovation are issues that we have touched on in the past and continue to need to be addressed. For Islamic finance, innovation is the catalyst for major change that will lead to new business. Meanwhile, knowledge sharing and talent development are key issues that we need to focus on,” Buamim said.

Kazim, giving a keynote address, said that Dubai is offering the world a model to follow in terms of the Islamic Economy. He said that since the ‘Dubai: Capital of Islamic Economy’ initiative was announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, many new investments had been made by various stakeholders across the emirates. He said that the DIEDC would not have made as many achievements without the support and efforts of its partners across the various sectors of the Islamic Economy.

Dr Farook, addressing delegates said: “We have to follow through with the recommendations of the Islamic Economy and engage with you as captains of industry in a meaningful dialogue. We have to take the lessons already learned to focus on new markets and new opportunities. One area we must target is Islamic finance and the lack of capital for SMEs which is limiting growth in emerging markets across the Islamic Economy.”

The first session, led by Dr Adnan Chilwan, CEO, Dubai Islamic Bank, explored the topic ‘Islamic Finance and its role in the Islamic Economy.’ Speakers, including Badr Buhannad, Senior Vice President, Audit & Risk Management, Dubai Silicon Oasis, and Khaled Al Aboodi, Islamic Cooperation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), talked about the limited diversification of Islamic banking and how other sectors of the Islamic economy operate in separate arenas with limited interaction. The discussion focused on the way Islamic finance can facilitate growth in the Islamic economy and positively impact all its stakeholders.

The next session, ‘Building Out the Islamic Economy – Beyond Islamic Finance,’ focused on modern Muslim consumers who are more informed, more sophisticated and more selective in their choice of products.

Panellists included Dr Jonathan Wilson, from the University of Greenwich in the UK and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Islamic Marketing; Dr Hassan Bayrakdar, Managing Director, Raqam Consultancy; and Muhammad Chaudry, President & CEO, Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, who asked if it is enough for an Islamic economy company to just provide a halal alternative to an existing product or are consumers demanding more?

Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre led the final session discussions which explored the next decade and how to elevate the Islamic Economy in the Muslim world’s development agenda. Focusing on the OIC Programme of Action (established in 2005) and Islamic Development Bank’s Vision 1440H (established in 2006), which are ongoing plans to further the development of Islamic finance, speakers discussed ways to forge international cooperation and build cross-border growth in the Islamic economy.

The event, sponsored by Dubai Islamic Bank, was the second in a series of three GIES Series Roundtables examining key areas of development for the Islamic economy: Ethical & Islamic Finance, Leadership for the Islamic Economy, and Wholesome and Halal Food.

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Middle East operators cut down plans for new aircraft

Friday, 02 January 2015 — While 9,450 new business deliveries valued at $280 billion are forecast between 2014 and 2024 around the world, a combination of macro political, social and economic influences has, in the short term at least, pushed out five-year new jet purchase plans in the Middle East, with fewer operators planning new jet purchases in the coming couple of years.

Yet this is only half the story and there is in fact reason to remain optimistic about the growth potential of the region’s aviation industry in the short and longer terms, according to Honeywell’s 23rd Business Aviation Outlook.

For one, demand is particularly strong in the large cabin end of the market, fuelled by the region’s desire for long haul luxury travel, and there is also buoyancy in the five year used jet market too, the report said.

These growth areas are, in turn, driving a range of new technologies and innovations in the industry specifically geared towards helping Middle East-based business aviation operators streamline costs, improve operational efficiency and enhance the passenger experience simultaneously.

Component suppliers such as Honeywell, which provides technologies that span cockpit systems, cabin entertainment equipment and engines for virtually every business jet in the sky, will be focusing heavily on technologies and services to lower costs and improve passenger experiences at this year’s MEBA (Middle East Business Aviation) show that opened in Dubai today (December 8) at Dubai World Central.

In particular significant business is expected across its aftermarket services, such as cockpit and cabin upgrades, and its extended warranty programs that make service and maintenance more predictable and cost-effective. These products help operators extend the life and capabilities of their in-service aircraft, meet new European and US mandates, and get more out of what they are already flying today.

With large cabin and VVIP business jets accounting for 55 percent of new jet purchase plans in the Middle East region across the next five years, the passenger experience remains another important topic at this year’s MEBA show.

With Middle East corporate jet passengers flying longer, the need for new entertainment and connectivity systems is paramount and, for charter companies, will become a significant differentiator in what is an extremely competitive market.

At this year’s MEBA, Honeywell will showcase its Ovation Select Cabin Management System, which brings to the cabin 1080p high definition gaming and Blu-ray entertainment, at-seat environment controls and integration with passengers’ personal devices.

It will also have on its booth its new line of JetWave satellite connectivity hardware — on show in the Middle East for the first time. This equipment exclusively supports Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX satellite communications service which, when it goes live in 2015, will bring home and office-like levels of broadband Wi-Fi to the aircraft, over land and sea.

With 10 billion mobile devices for a global population of 7.3 billion people forecasted by 2016, the insatiable appetite for connectivity is clear and consequently in-flight Wi-Fi is set to be one of the hottest trends for Middle East business aviation as we move into 2015, the report said.

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High moral standards of Prophet Muhammad theme of conference in Algiers

ALGIERS-A conference on Sira (life) of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was held on Sunday at the headquarters of the High Islamic Council (HCI) in Algiers, on the occasion of Mawlid Ennabawi celebration.

Hosted by Said Rahmani, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Islamic Sciences (Algiers), the conference focused on the human qualities and high moral standards of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the spiritual existential and universal significance of His message.

“The Sira of the Prophet (PBUH) must be a reference for all Muslims,” Rahmani said.

Many intellectuals and western scholars who have studied the life of the Messenger of God, recognize that “there He is a model and a shining example of tolerance, mercy and wisdom,” said the speaker.

The celebration of Mawlid Ennabawi is an opportunity to refer to the qualities of the Prophet and impart His teachings to future generations.

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Tunisia 7th best tourist destination for 2015

Friday, 02 January 2015 – National Geographic Traveler magazine has ranked Tunisia among the best tourist destinations for 2015. It came in the 7th position in the TOP 20 of the best destinations to visit next year for its sites such as Byrsa Hill, Carthage, the Old Medina, the Sahara, the resorts of Hammamet and Sousse.

The magazine also praised the Tunisian cuisine, which is “an aromatic blend of Middle Eastern, Africa and, Mediterranean influences,” citing in particular the fish couscous and Kabkabou (sea bream with tomatoes and capers).

For shopping, it recommends perfumes, incense, gold and silver jewelry, silk and other gifts that tourists can find in the souks of the medina of Tunis.

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World Expo Milano 2015: Heritage, development at heart of Algeria pavilion

22 December 2014, ALGIERS – Algeria will participate in the World Expo in Milan (Italy), scheduled from May 1 to October 31, 2015 under the theme “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life,” highlighting its cultural heritage and development.

Throughout this participation, the Algerian pavilion, in addition to the tourist and cultural promotion of the country, will issue messages that will focus on two areas, according to officials of the pavilion.

The first heritage line will feature the historical, ancestral, and cultural elements of heritage in relation to the theme of the exhibition which will see the participation of 144 countries.

The second line will cover the development that will highlight innovations and advanced technology in agricultural production. This line relates to the theme of self-sufficiency and food security.

The Algerian pavilion is located in the bio-Mediterranean cluster, which will highlight the Mediterranean food regime and the typical conviviality it reflects.

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Special interest to local development in 2015, says Belaiz

ALGIERS- A special interest will be attached to local development in 2015, said Wednesday in Algiers Minister of State, Minister of Interior and Local Authorities Tayeb Belaiz.

In a statement to the press, on the sidelines of the inauguration of the call centre of his ministerial department, Belaiz underlined that “a special interest will be attached to local development in 2015 once the bureaucracy is curbed.”

“Local development across the different provinces of the country will be among the top daily priorities,” said the minister, adding that a substantial budget has been included in the new Finance Bill to that end.

Belaiz also emphasized the importance of the “participatory democracy” and “the duty and the right of citizens to participate in the management of their affairs and to exercise their right in accordance with the communal and provincial codes.”

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