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27 Apr, 2015

First Central Asia Water Museum opens in Bishkek

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Shamsi

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 27 April 2015 (08 Rajab 1436). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




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Click on the image to get a full list of all the great festivals and events right across Malaysia this year.

The fabulous Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015, or MyFEST 2015, as will witness an endless celebration of festivals, events and happenings. MyFEST 2015 is set to make Malaysia the top-of-the-mind tourist destination, encouraging tourists to stay longer in order to enjoy the festival offerings nationwide. Themed “Endless Celebrations”, the year-long calender is packed with festivities of every genre; for instance cultural festivals, shopping extravanganzas, international acclaimed events, eco-tourism events, arts, music showcases, food promotion and other themed events. The Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015 campaign leverages on smart partnerships in line with the National Blue Ocean Strategy that nurtures stakeholders engagement, support and participation. The symbiosis enables Malaysia’s tourism efforts to be competitive and to remain one of the prime contributors to the socio-economic development of the nation. As Malaysia is blessed with various cultures, the new campaign seeks to showcase and celebrate Malaysia’s bountiful, diverse cultures and various festivities. The design for Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015 logo depicts a traditional musical instrument known as the Rebana Ubi. The drum is a musical instrument which can be associated with Malaysia’s multicultural society, in line with the spirit of 1Malaysia. Therefore, the logo design reflects an important part of the country’s heritage, traditions and culture.

For a full listing of all the great festivals, activities and events this year, pls click on this link


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

Click here to see the fabulous new website

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

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

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

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


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



Egypt Tourism ministry targets 20 million tourists, $26bn income in 2020

22/04/2015 (MENAFN – Daily News Egypt) The Ministry of Tourism is seeking to increase Egypt’s annual tourist influx to 20 million tourists and raise tourism income to $26bn by 2020, according to a cabinet statement Tuesday.

Minister of Tourism, Khaled Rami, met with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb to review a report on the ministry’s strategic plan for the coming phase.

Earlier in April, Rami told Daily News Egypt that Egypt is targeting a 20% growth in tourist numbers next winter, and 15% next summer. He noted that the country’s tourism income was 7.5bn in 2014, a growth of 1.6bn compared to 2013.

The report showed that the tourism sector contributes 11% to the country’s GNP, and also participates in providing 7% of foreign currency.

The ministry aims to attract tourists with higher spending powers, and increase touristic sales over the Internet. It is also looking to develop and strengthen partnerships with airlines and tour operators to cover the expected increase in tourism flow.

Rami added that the ministry will work on redesigning and developing touristic areas while also working on enhancing the service quality offered at those destinations.

The ministry’s strategic plan also involves intensifying marketing campaigns and customising them to reach and attract different countries and cultures.

The Tourism Ministry further plans to shed light on Egypt’s undiscovered wealth, which include medical tourism, deserts and oases tourism, eco-tourism amongst others. Rami also indicated that the ministry aims to target promising markets as the countries of Scandinavia, china, India, USA and Japan.

The ministry will also follow up on the ongoing plans for growing hotel capacity which is authorised by Egypt’s Tourism Development Authority (TDA).

The plans involve expanding hotel capacity over a space of 64m sqm, with an expected total of approximately 142,875 rooms. Expansion plans are to be implemented in the areas of the Gulf of Aqaba, Ain Sokhna, Ras Sedr, the North Coast and the Red Sea.

The progression of the establishment and development of Ras Sedr airport over a space of 20m sqm, as well as the development of the Ras Banas airport will be managed, according to the ministry’s long term plan.

The currently available rooms plus the ones that are being established will raise capacity for the coming years to accommodate about 34 million tourists, Rami highlighted.

Allocating lands for investors with distinctive projects that do not exist in Egypt could be the main focus in the coming phase, which will add value to the country’s tourism sector, Rami added.

He also said that this step could decrease the TDA’s income by a small rate, however it will aid in raising the quality of the implemented projects.

After lifting the travel ban and the improvement in stability in Egypt, the country’s tourism is gradually returning, a recent report by Collier International for global real estate, said.

The report said that growth rates at Red Sea hotels in Sharm El-Sheikh are increasing, and demand on Cairo hotels in March is gradually going back to the pre-revolution period.

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Iran to host Urban Film Festival to honor Derakhshandeh

Tehran, April 25, IRNA – Noted Iranian filmmaker Pouran Derakhshandeh will be honored on the sidelines of the Fifth International Urban Film Festival to be held in Tehran later this month.

She will be honored for her lifetime artistic achievements, Iran Daily reported.

Director, producer, screen writer and researcher Derakhshandeh graduated in film directing from Tehran’s School of Television and Cinema in 1975.

Her latest drama ‘Hush! Girls Don’t Scream’ received great attention worldwide. Among her other works are: ‘The Little Bird of Happiness’ (1987), ‘Passing Through the Dust’ (1988), ‘Lost Time’ (1989), ‘A Love Without Frontier’ (1998), ‘Candle in the Wind’ (2003), ‘Eternal Children’ (2006), ‘Endless Dream’ (2010).

Meanwhile, an exhibition of film posters and pictures will be held along the festival scheduled for May 24 -June 2. The event will showcase 60 photos and 10 posters of movies produced after 2011.

IUFF has been organized due to importance of advertisement in cinema and its undeniable role in attracting different ranges of audiences.

The Fifth International Urban Film Festival, organized by Art and Cultural Department of Tehran University, will be held from May 24 to June 2.

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Iranian Food Pyramid published

Tehran, April 25, IRNA – The Health Ministry has published the Iranian Food Pyramid to promote healthy eating, said Dr. Zahra Abdollahian, the head of the ministry’s Department for Diet Improvement. Abdollahian said the food pyramid sets guidelines to reduce salt, sugar and oil consumption, Iran Daily reported.

“The Iranian Food Pyramid has been devised based on World Health Organization’s recommendations issued on World Health Day themed ‘Food Safety: From Farm to Plate’ this year,” she said.

‘According to WHO, every individual must have a daily balanced diet and dietary diversity to have a healthy body and mind.’

Abdollahian noted that the Iranian Food Pyramid not only includes the five basic food groups, but also foods with the same nutritional values that could replace the basic foods.

She said the five main foods are bread and whole grains, milk and dairy products, vegetables, fruits and meat.

‘Iranians are using too much oil, sugar and salt, and less milk and dairy products,’ she said, stressing that unhealthy eating is behind the surge in the number of people suffering from chronic diseases.

Abdollahian warned about the growing prevalence of obesity due to high consumption of fast foods.

‘Diabetes, high blood pressure, cancers and high blood cholesterol levels are blamed on obesity,’ she said. The official said the Health Ministry will oversee food production in the current Iranian year (ending March 20, 2016) to ensure they are healthy and observe the guidelines of food pyramid with regard to the permissible amount of salt, sugar and fat.

‘Bakeries have been ordered to reduce salt since last year (ended March 20, 2015) and are obliged to continue to observe the policy this year,’ she said.

Abdollahian said every individual must consume at least 400 grams of fruits a day, as they contain high amounts of fiber and antioxidants essential to stay healthy and away from diseases.

Deputy Health Minister Dr. Ali Sayyari said 10 million Iranians have high blood pressure and seven million are diabetic. The official warned that 50 percent of individuals are not aware they have high blood pressure or diabetes.

‘Every year, 83,000 die as a result of high blood pressure, which could be prevented by eating right, pursuing a healthy lifestyle and undergoing regular and low-cost examinations,’ he said.

Sayyari said 25 million are either obese or overweight. ‘Obesity is the main reason for premature deaths,’ he said.

The deputy minister noted that smoking is another main cause of death among Iranians. ‘More than five million spend $3 billion every year on smoking, who are at grave risk of cancers,’ he said.

Sayyari said between 3,000 and 4,000 slum dwellers will be covered by health insurance this year to receive free health services.

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Silk Road and China-Iran cooperation

Tehran, April 25, IRNA – More than two thousand years ago, a famous Chinese envoy Zhang Qian in Han Dynasty explored the Silk Road lying across the Asian-European nations. Since then, people from countries along the road gradually turned this business road into a network of trade, culture, technology and civilizations.

Iran and China, countries both with thousands years of civilization, are among the major players along the ancient Silk Road. Though it, grape, broad bean, pomegranate, spinach, onion and other special products were introduced into China from Iran, and China’s tea, ginger, mulberry, peach, apricot and orange were brought into Iran. Iran has been an important market and transportation hub of Chinese silk and chinaware. The incense and jewelry made in Iran are warmly welcomed in China. Furthermore, one of China’s cultural symbols, the lion, was also passed through Iran to China. Its Chinese pronunciation, SHI ZI, was actually originated from the Farsi language. It goes without saying that the ancient Silk Road is a significant factor in not only prospering economic ties between the two countries, but also promoting exchanges of civilizations between the east and west.

In October 2013, Chinese president Mr. Xi Jinping put forward the strategic initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (the Belt and Road). After more than one year’s preparation, the initiative has come to the stage of implementation. In March 2015, the Chinese government issued the Visions and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. As stated in the paper, the initiative aims at strengthening policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds. It intends to create a new regional cooperation platform and draw the related countries to make plans together and benefit together.

This initiative will not only add energy and vitality to the ancient Silk Road, but will also give new impetus to China-Iran cooperation. In recent years, Chinese president Xi Jinping and his Iranian counterpart President Rouhani have held several meetings and reached important consensus on strengthening bilateral relations. Under their guidance, China-Iran cooperation has seen a quick development in almost every area. China and Iran are both counties with important regional influence and comparative advantage. Closer and broader cooperation between the two countries will surely benefit the two peoples.

China and Iran have been enjoying long-term traditional friendship. The Belt and Road initiative will create a historic opportunity to deepen and broaden our cooperation and development. Particularly in the fields with established advantages such as transportation, telecommunication infrastructure, energy and resources, trade and investment, early harvests could be expected. I believe the Belt and Road initiative will bring a brighter prospect of cooperation between the two countries, and start a new chapter of friendship between the two peoples.

By Pang Sen, Chinese Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran

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Iranian Culture ministry to set up orchestra organization

Tehran, April 23, IRNA – The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance is to establish an umbrella organization to include Tehran Symphony Orchestra and Iran’s National Orchestra following their merger.

Speaking on the sidelines of one of Tehran orchestra rehearsals, Ali Moradkhani, the ministry’s art director, said that it is to bring up an ensemble of musicians who can perform on different occasions.

‘This way, we will have a group to deal with rather than individuals. Therefore, anybody who can cooperate in this project can join the group.’

He noted the idea will require further attention and focus before it can materialize.

Moradkhani lauded Tehran orchestra’s progress, saying the ensemble’s performance has improved a lot compared to what he had earlier seen.

‘We are required to provide full support for the group’s conductor, Ali Rahbari, to help him continue the same positive trend.’

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Iran, China to cooperate in reconstruction of Beijing historical sites

Tehran, April 22, IRNA – China’s cultural attaché to Iran in a meeting with head of Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT) asked for RICHT cooperation with Beijing Municipality to preserve and reconstruct the historical sites and monuments of Beijing.

Chinese Cultural Attaché Du Sian King Seyed held talks with Head of Cultural Heritage Research Center Mohammad Beheshti on the request and they agreed that Iranian Center would cooperate with Beijing Municipality in restoring the city’s rich historical texture.

Beheshti welcomed cooperation by Center with Chinese universities and institutions; ‘we have three official protection layers: by law, by registering in national and international site lists, and by technical protection,” he told Chinese official.

“We could provide advice on research; however, on actual operational phase, Chinese delegation should seek cooperation from Cultural Heritage Organization as the authority to issue such permissions,” Beheshti said.

He cited Don Huang cave research delegation and exhibition in China of Iranian National Museum pottery items as good opportunities to work with Chinese officials.

Beheshti pointed to the history of Iran-China relations as tracing back to Parthian period, saying, “The archeological findings clearly prove Chinese footprints in the Kish Island.”

The head of Research Center added that the Center would cooperate with Chinese delegation in underwater archeology.

Du Sian King for his part, said that restoration of Beijing historical texture was a matter of concern for the Municipality as well as Chinese government.

“It is a good example of cultural exchange is white and blue pottery works and now, Iran’s National Museum is the richest in displaying the fine Chinese pottery and porcelain,” said King, “until the T’ang Dynasty, only white porcelain was produced; however, Iranians introduced the craft of making blue porcelain to China,” he added.

Head of Research Center’s Public and International Relations Office Monir Khalafi, too, said that the Center would welcome collaboration with Chinese officials in Chinese Academy of Sciences, Silk Road Research Center, and Dun Huang cave research delegation.

“The Nanjing University has signaled its interest in Iron Age archeology in North Khorassan province,” he added.

They also agreed that Chinese cultural attaché provide the Center with information on Chinese universities and institutions with specialty in culture and heritage.

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Project Qatar 2015 Opens May 4 at QNCC

Doha, April 20 (QNA) – The 12th edition of Project Qatar will feature over 2,000 companies and brands from 40 countries, exhibition organizers said Monday.

The four-day international exhibition showcasing construction, technology and building materials products and services opens May 4 at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC).

Around 1130 exhibitors and 21 national pavilions will display products spread over seven QNCC halls and an outside area, covering 41,500 square meters of exhibition space. The show is also expected to attract over 50,000 professional visitors, organizers said.

Cyprus will participate for the first time. Ten companies will exhibit products under the aegis of Cyprus’ Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism. Representatives from Austria, South Korea and other participating countries and sponsors spoke at a press conference held today by the organizers. (QNA)

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Qatar Airways Increases Flights to 10 Destinations

Doha, April 19 (QNA) – Qatar Airways has responded to the continuous rise in passenger demand with an increase in the frequency of weekly flights to 10 of its most popular destinations throughout the Middle East and Europe. The airline, which currently flies to 146 destinations around the globe, will implement the frequency increases over the next few months for a mix of business and leisure destinations.

Commencing May 16, 2015, the airline will permanently increase weekly frequencies to seven destinations within its network. These include Ta’if, Saudi Arabia; Basra, Iraq; Najaf, Iraq; Gassim, Saudi Arabia; Ankara, Turkey; Zagreb, Croatia and Athens, Greece. The airline will also increase the weekly frequency of flights to an additional three destinations during the peak summer period, to meet the increase in demand over the holiday season: Alexandria, Egypt; Salalah, Oman and Larnaca, Cyprus. These additional flights will be seasonal only and the routes will revert back to their regular schedules from September 15, October 4 and October 24 respectively.

The permanent frequency increases will see Ta’if, Zagreb and Ankara begin daily flight services commencing May 16, July 1 and July 3 respectively. Meanwhile, the service to two Iraqi destinations will double from four to eight flights per week with Basra beginning on May 16 and Najaf on June 2, while 10 flights per week will be offered to Gassim as of July 17.

The most significant increase in frequency is the launch of an additional daily service on June 1 to Athens, bringing the number of weekly flights to the popular holiday destination up from 14 to 21 per week.

To help meet the demand of summer holiday travel, Qatar Airways will increase the number of flights per week to another three destinations. Service to Alexandria will increase to 14 flights a week from June 1 to September 15; flights to Larnaca will increase to a daily service from June 3 to October 24; and flights to Salalah will increase to 13 flights per week from July 13 to October 4.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said: “Qatar Airways is committed to developing access to a number of destinations within our network which are popular with both our business and leisure travellers. Our most current frequency increases in the Middle East and Europe will provide our passengers with more flexibility and choice when it comes to planning their travel for both themselves and their families.” (QNA)

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Green Building Conference Opens Next Week Monday April 20, 2015

Doha, April 20 (QNA) – Qatar Green Building Council’s (QGBC) inaugural two-day conference on sustainability opens at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) April 27, organisers said Monday.

A member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), QGBC will host leading sustainability and green building experts from Qatar and the world.

The conference and exhibition will promote new research and innovative best practice that advance sustainability in the built environment. It will also address challenges and opportunities of implementing sustainability aspirations promoted in the Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV2030).

The event embodies QGBC’s pledge to help achieve the sustainability objectives and support Qatar Foundation’s commitment to promote green best practice and environmentally sustainable infrastructure towards the successful long-term delivery of the QNV2030. (QNA)

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Baku to host Caspian Agro 2015 exhibition

Baku, April 23 AZERTAC – From the 21st-23rd of May, the 9th Azerbaijan International Agriculture Exhibition, Caspian Agro 2015, which is the biggest regional forum of producers of agricultural products and foodstuffs, will be held in Baku. Over the years, the exhibition has established itself as a reliable platform for annual meetings between industry experts, demonstrations of machinery and equipment, as well as goods and services for the agricultural industry.

This sector of the economy is being closely followed by the leadership of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, has been attending the exhibition for several years, enabling him to acquaint himself with the innovations that manufacturers and distributors are offering to the Azerbaijani market. Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture of Azerbaijan has been providing intensive and invaluable support to the Caspian Agro exhibition for many years. What is most encouraging is that the exhibition has been included in an Action Plan to mark the “Year of Agriculture”, approved by the President of Azerbaijan Republic, Ilham Aliyev. This has served as a positive impetus for the development of the Caspian Agro 2015 exhibition and has attracted even more attention to it as the industry’s annual event.

The Caspian Agro 2015 exhibition will occupy two pavilions of the Baku Expo Center and an outdoor area. This year, the total number of exhibitors will exceed 250 companies, including manufacturers and distributors of agricultural products and equipment from France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the US, Turkey, Ukraine and others.

For the first time, the exhibition will also be attended by companies from Sri Lanka and Jordan. The exhibition will be attended by many new companies that are taking their first steps towards harnessing Azerbaijan’s agricultural market. Information tours to the Caspian Agro exhibition will be organised, as a matter of course, for entrepreneurs and farmers from various regions of Azerbaijan, with the aim of familiarizing them with the latest agricultural equipment and technology. In general, the exhibition will cover the most critical fields of agriculture and provide an opportunity to get acquainted with a number of new products.

These include equipment for poultry, greenhouse equipment, irrigation systems, equipment for the livestock sector, substrates, pet and fish food, seeds, fertilizers, among others. The great thing about the exhibition is that Azerbaijani companies can participate on a par with foreign manufacturers from the same sector.

The exposition of agricultural machinery will be significant and will be located inside the Baku Expo Center, as well as in the outside area. Here, the attendees will see different agricultural machinery for harvesting, plowing, and sowing, as well as combinations of different applications for all types of works from manufacturers and distributors such as Klever, Rostselmash (Russia), Ganja Automobile Plant, Motor Sich (Ukraine), New Holland (Italy), Sampo (Finland), Fliegle (Germany), Maschio Gaspardo (Italy) among others. The Grand Motors Company (Azerbaijan) is the registered sponsor of the Caspian Agro 2015 exhibition.

The country’s public policy is aimed at expanding the non-oil sector. The agricultural sector is developing intensively and it contributes towards increasing Azerbaijan’s export potential. New technologies and exchange of experience are vital preconditions for the production of high quality export products. All of these opportunities are provided, on an annual basis, by the international Caspian Agro exhibition. Thus, the exhibition enables the establishment of an international cooperation in a short space of time. It also promotes a greater volume of investments and introduces the latest technologies into Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector.


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Egyptian leader inks Nile Document

CAIRO, 24 April 2015, MENA — President Abdel Fattah el Sisi signed on Thursday the “Nile Document” to protect the Nile River. Under this document, President Sisi will join the “Nile Guards” Committee to protect the river from any infringements and pollution.

Presidential Spokesman Alaa Yousef said the president was keen to launch this campaign at the grassroots level to protect the only lifeblood of the Egyptians, namely the Nile.

He added that this campaign targets raising awareness among Egyptians of the importance of protecting the Nile River.

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Emirates Islamic bank enhances Dubai to be Islamic economics capital

23 Apr 2015 Abu Dhabi, (IINA) – Emirates Islamic Bank listed on the Dubai Financial Market, announced Wednesday its results for the period ending March 31st, 2015, reflecting the success of the Bank’s growth strategy, WAM reported.

Emirates Islamic’s coverage ratio improved to 97%, compared to 90% at December 31st, 2014, highlighting the bank’s pragmatic approach not only to capture market share but focusing on further solidifying its financial base.

For the first three months of this year 2015, Emirates Islamic announced a net profit of AED194 million, an increase of 106 percent over the same period last year. Total Income (net of customers’ share of profit) grew by 58% to AED 666 million compared to AED 420 million in the same period of 2014.

Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Islamic Jamal Bin Ghalaita, said, the results for the first quarter of 2015 are another milestone on the road to success. We have achieved consistently positive results over the last three years, driven on the back of growth in our core business segments, namely personal, corporate and business banking.”

“At Emirates Islamic, we recognize that Islamic banking will be a key pillar in the growth of the nation’s economy and we aim to play a leadership role in its development across the financial sector, ultimately moving towards making Dubai the global capital of Islamic economy.”

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Central Asia can become center of world trade

Bishkek, April 23 / Kabar /. Central Asia has the possibility to become the center of world trade again. Director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies (NISS) of Kyrgyzstan Talant Sultanov told, speaking at the International Conference “Transport corridors of Eurasia: new ways of cooperation” in Astana, organized by the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies.

Central Asia has historically been the center of world trade through the Silk Road, but with the development of sea trade routes, countries with access to the sea have obtained this opportunity, he said.

Today, the region has the possibility to be back the trade center through deeper integration and cooperation within the framework of new initiatives, in particular, the concept of the Economic Belt of the Silk Road and the New Silk Road, said Sultanov.

Also, the head of the NISS said that in early May, Kyrgyzstan will sign an agreement on accession to the Eurasian Economic Union.

Unfortunately, the level of cooperation and inter-regional trade remains low. Lack of cooperation leads to missed opportunities for all countries. However, the joint coordination and cooperation will lead to positive results and open up new opportunities, he said.

The conference was attended by leaders of think tanks and leading experts from Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Turkey.

The participants discussed the important issues of cooperation between the countries of Eurasia on the development of transport corridors, they also considered the role of countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia in the Trans-Eurasian transport corridor, infrastructure projects implementing in the countries of the region, the role of the transport corridor in increasing trade between the countries and attracting foreign investment to the region and etc.

On the results of the conference, Strategic Studies Institutes of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan and Turkey signed a joint declaration on cooperation.

One practical results was that the leading Institutes for Strategic Studies decided to work more closely to strengthen the cooperation between the countries that are part of the Turkic Council.

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LEAD STORY: First Central Asia Water Museum opens in Bishkek

Bishkek, April 22 / Kabar /. The first Water Museum in Central Asia, supported by the OSCE Center in Bishkek and Small Grants Programme of the Global Environmental Facility/UNDP in Kyrgyzstan was opened in the premises of the Kyrgyz National Agrarian University (KNAU) in Bishkek today.

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Click on the image to get a full list of all the great festivals and events right across Malaysia this year.

“Water scarcity, lack of access to water, and pollution threaten socio-economic development and political stability; and are potential triggers for tensions and conflicts,” said Senior Economic and Environmental Officer at the OSCE Centre in Bishkek Yulia Minaeva. “The Museum is important as water is a strategic resource and an essential element of national and regional security.”

Co-coordinator of the Small Grants Programme in Kyrgyzstan Evgeniya Postnova said: “Awareness of effective and sustainable ways of using water, and the protection of aquatic ecosystems is of extreme importance. It is a priority we all share.”

The OSCE Centre in Bishkek, as part of its project on education in water security and the green economy, and the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environmental Facility/UNDP in Kyrgyzstan have supported the establishment of the Water Museum since 2012. The project was initiated by the Public Association “AKMEN” and it took four years to construct.

The Museum offers unique exhibits, equipment and interactive displays, of interest to both children and adults.

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Construction of EXPO-2017 facilities under way In Astana

24.04.2015, Construction of EXPO-2017 exhibition complex began exactly one year ago. 30% of all work is completed by now. “Kazakhstan” pavilion will be a symbol of EXPO-2017; it will be built in the form of a full sphere. This building will be one of the most complex structures ever built in the world. Durable high-tech glass with double layers will be insulating it from the outside temperature and sound. In addition, there will be wind turbines that provide separate electricity supply to the building. The culmination of construction and installation work will be accomplished this year. In general, the works will be finished in October 2016. After that, more than 100 countries participating in the international exhibition will begin equipping their pavilions.

Murat Omarov, Deputy Chairman Of Board, ‘Astana Expo-2017’, said: – In fact, there are no more than five buildings of such kind in the world. Namely, they are a glove building in Shanghai and somewhere in Atlanta and in America if I am not mistaken. I mean the buildings with integrated wind turbine. Besides, solar panels will be everywhere. That is, it is also for the needs of power generation for the internal needs of the building. Students will pay more attention to development of technologies and to studying technology after our exhibition. We think that Kazakhstan will receive this technological breakthrough exactly after our exhibition.

23 countries and 3 international organizations have officially approved their participation in EXPO-2017 by now. They are Germany, Turkey, Israel and India and many others countries.

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Exhibition held to showcase Kazakh traditional art

24.04.2015, Exhibition of contemporary Kazakhstan’s art named ‘All nomads’ was opened in one of Moscow galleries. The exhibition features works of recognized classics. Paintings acquaint Russians with the works of the masters of the new generation. This exhibition is believed to reflect the current state of the art in the country. The project has brought together installation, video art, painting and drawing. The exhibition was named in honor of the work of Sergei Berdnik called ‘All nomads’, representing a unique fusion of artistic traditions. Young authors tell about close ties between Asia and Europe, nomadic culture, post-industrial society, Islam and paganism.

Nick Ilyin, Art Critic, said – These are recent works of artists who are not well known in the West. Interesting and inaccessible, so I believe that such exhibitions are successful.

Mariana Gogova, Curator Of Exhibition said:- The development of modern art in Kazakhstan can be estimated high, because there are really bright names that are well known. Contemporary Art in Kazakhstan features modern directions and at the same time it reflects national identity, those colors that are unique for each country.

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Heritage conservation school, University Paris 8 seal cooperation agreement

23 April 2015, ALGIERS- A scientific and educational cooperation agreement on the conservation of cultural heritage was inked Thursday, in Algiers, between the National School of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties and French University Paris 8.

The agreement is aimed at intensifying the scientific cooperation between the two universities in the fields of digitization, research and development of cultural properties.

The agreement is about university teaching, continuing education for the sector’s executives, production of documents and applied research, said the director of the National School of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties, Samia Chergui.

The chairwoman of University Paris 8, Danielle Tartakowski, stressed the importance of international cooperation.

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Sharjah hosting Children’s Reading Festival

SHARJAH, 24th April, 2015 (WAM) — A renowned drama therapist is presenting a five-day workshop titled “I Will Tell You My Story” as part of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF 2015), currently being held at the Sharjah Expo Centre.

The festival, which is in its 7th edition, is organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and will continue its diverse range of fun activities until May 2nd.

Presented by Dr Dalal Makari – a Syrian writer, poet and artist – the “I Will Tell You My Story” workshop is designed to revive the importance of books in education and cognitive development, as well as to cultivate a love of reading among children while igniting their imagination and creativity in writing.

Dalal skillfully managed to captivate the audience’s attention through her practiced techniques. A favourite among these methods was her expertly executed show of shadow play, an ancient form of storytelling and entertainment coupled with the masterful use of light, colours and puppets.

The workshop aims to help children express their different ideas as written stories, enabling them to translate their dreams and sufferings and turn their imaginations into reality. Dalal started her constructive workshop by teaching participating children how to turn negative energy into positive energy and pass it on to one another.

The workshop “I Will Tell You My Story” is organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and will take place today (Friday), and Saturday, Sunday and Monday, at the Culture Hall of the Sharjah Expo Centre, from 5-7pm.

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IDB Group Organizes the Preparatory Seminar for the 5th Global Review of Aid for Trade

Amman, Jordan—April 2015: Under the patronage of Jordan’s’ Minister of Trade and Industry, H.E Maha Ali, the Islamic Development Bank Group has organized the Preparatory Seminar for the 5th Global Review of Aid for Trade (AfT), on “Reducing Trade Costs for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth”, which took place at the Kempinski Hotel, Amman from 21st to 23rd April 2015.

The Seminar was held in preparation for the 5th Global Review of AfT which will be held at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland from June 29th to July 2nd in which it will cordially welcome representatives from Islamic Development Bank (IDB)-Group Member Countries.

The recently held workshop has the primary objective of highlighting the role of the IDB Group as well as draw attention to member countries needs and experiences in reducing trade costs to ensure their collective sustainable growth. Furthermore, the seminar provides a rare opportunity for these countries to discuss and analyze the role of IDB Group in its various financial programs.

The workshop has also provided a key opportunity to discuss the IDB’s involvement in the implementation of financial programs. Moreover, all decisions and recommendations made during the workshop will be highlighted at the 5th Global Review of AfT being part of the IDB’s areas of involvement, where Members have been introduced to some subjects that will be discussed during the international forum.

The Seminar on “Reducing Trade Costs for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth” further welcomed several prominent regional and international experts along with organizations partners affiliated with the IDB that have the objective of facilitating trade growth. Additionally, several key speakers from trade Ministries, Private Sector and International Organizations were invited to take part in the event.

Dr. Walid Al-Wohaib, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), member of the IDB Group, today presented one of the major trade capacity development initiatives for Arab countries: Aid for trade Initiative for the Arab States (AfTIAS). In presenting the initiative, Dr. Walid Al-Wohaib said that with the support of six donors (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, State of Kuwait, Kingdom of Sweden, Republic of Egypt, IDB, ITFC and UNDP), five United Nations specialized agencies, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the ITFC is providing a platform to assist Arab countries to mobilize resources to accelerate the pace of trade reforms and enhance competitiveness in global and regional markets in a manner that addresses the challenges of unemployment, particularly youth unemployment and provides momentum for the full realization of the Pan-Arab Free Trade Area (PAFTA). The League of Arab States (LAS) is collaborating closely with the ITFC in the implementation of the initiative.

Dr. Al-Wohaib went on to add: The AfTIAS will help Arab countries to mobilize resources to expand trade beyond current levels, boost economic growth and employment, reverse deindustrialization, and ultimately achieve poverty elimination and human development outcomes.

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Ad campaign and security measures as Tunisia hopes to save tourist season

Global Arab Network, The Arab Weekly – Still smarting from a attack that killed 21 foreign tourists last month, Tunisia is hoping to save the summer season with new security measures and an ad campaign touting its safety as a destination, but industry leaders are glum.

Tourism, which accounts for 7.0 percent of the country’s economy, was already suffering from the fallout of Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, when gunmen attacked the capital’s Bardo National Museum on March 18, killing tourists from around Europe and further afield, as well as a policeman.

Radhouane Ben Salah, president of the Tunisian Hotel Federation, said that “it’s difficult to be optimistic for the tourist season, but we will try to save the situation somewhat.

“The most worrying thing is the halt to reservations for the summer,” said Ben Salah, fearing a wash-out.

The drop in bookings has been precipitous. Former colonial power France is the number one source of Tunisia’s visitors, and its National Union of Travel Agencies says bookings are off by 60 percent since the museum attack compared with a year earlier.

Mohamed Ali Toumi, president of the Tunisian Federation of Travel Agencies, has stressed that reassuring tourists of their safety is key. And Tourism Minister Salma Rekik announced last week a raft of measures aimed at preventing another deadly incident.

The country will pump up security at tourist sites and on the routes to them, as well as at airports and on all means of transportation.

And riding the wave of international solidarity after the Bardo slaughter, Tunisia is playing up its image and attractions for tourists.

The authorities have launched a hashtag-TUNISIAILLBETHERE poster campaign in major cities across Europe with the support of a host of celebrities.

A website shows photos of happy individuals — men and women, old and young — holding up a sign with that message in Tunisia’s signature red and white colours, or alternatively in Dutch, French, German, Italian or Polish. More campaigns are anticipated as the summer draws closer.

Meanwhile, hoteliers and travellers say deeper problems have been left untouched for many years.

Even before the Bardo attack, the outlook for 2015 was looking dismal.

First-quarter revenues were down 6.8 percent on a year earlier, as arrivals slumped 14.2 percent and the number of hotel room stays fell 10.7 percent.

“We weren’t optimistic before the Bardo incident given that the security situation wasn’t 100 percent stable, but on top of that there are problems of cleanliness and the debts of tourist entities,” said Toumi.

The hotel federation’s Ben Salah said the sector is paying the price for not having revitalised its image from one of almost solely a sun-and-sea destination.

“Since the 1990s no political will has been shown to diversify the tourist products on offer or to improve the fragile infrastructure,” he said.

Tourism in the vast Sahara desert has been limited to visits to a handful of oases and camel rides over the dunes, while Tunisia has failed to feed a growing appetite for cultural tourism and thalassotherapy spas, said Ben Salah.

Additionally, access to archaeological sites rich in Roman, Numidian and Punic history remains restricted because of an inadequate road network, limited transportation and a shortage of hotels.

Maintenance of existing infrastructure and waste-disposal add to the challenges.

Even the island of Djerba, the jewel in the crown of Tunisian tourism, made headlines last year for the garbage left piling on its streets because of the lack of a treatment plant.

Jalel Henchiri, head of the region’s hotel association, said the problem was being handled and “the situation will improve at the start of the season”.

Toumi is fed up with talk of garbage and mosquitoes. “We must move, change, finance. We have a beautiful country that deserves better than this,” he said.

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ISESCO chief to attend 3rd Baku Global Shared Societies Forum

Rabat 24/04/2015, The Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, will take part in the 3rd Global Shared Societies Forum to be held in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, on 28-29 April 2015, on the theme “Building Trust in the Emerging World Order.”

Dr Altwaijri will participate, as keynote speaker, in the panel on “Inter-faith Dialogue as a Tool for Trust-building,” scheduled for April 29th.

The Forum, which will bring together a host of Azerbaijani and international political and academic personalities, will discuss topics and issues related to the fight against terrorism, ethnic and religious conflict resolution, democracy development, education reform, and environment preservation.

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DG of Afro-Arab Institute for Culture and Strategic Studies visits ISESCO

Rabat 23/04/2015 – The Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, this morning in his office, met Dr Mohamed Salem Sofi, Director General of the Afro-Arab Institute for Culture and Strategic Studies (AAICSS), based in the Malian capital Bamako.

Talks between the two sides tackled ways to enhance cooperation between ISESCO and the Institute in the areas of common interest under ISESCO’s action plans for 2013-2015 and 2016-2018, and in line with the cooperation agreement co-signed by the two sides in 2005.

The Afro-Arab Institute for Culture and Strategic Studies, formerly the Afro-Arab Cultural Institute, is a governmental institution founded by the African Union (AU) and the League of Arab States (LAS) by virtue of a resolution of the first Afro-Arab Summit held in Cairo in March 1977.

The AAICSS, run by a Board of Directors composed of five members from the ALS and five others from the AU, operates in the fields of culture, social development, education, scientific research, information and communication.

For the record, ISESCO Director General visited the AAICSS, with its various facilities, and met with its officials on the occasion of the official working visit he made to the Republic of Mali on 2-3 February 2015.

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Azerbaijan’s tourism promoted at 13th Tour Expo Daegu Gyeongbuk

Gyeong Ju, April 24, AZERTAC – Azerbaijans Embassy to South Korea has arranged a booth at the 13th Tour Expo Daegu Gyeongbuk exhibition to promote the countrys tourism potential. The booth highlighted must-see places, cultural, historical monuments, hotels and tourism facilities in Azerbaijan. Visitors were handed magazines, brochures and other material about Azerbaijan.

The Tour Expo Daegu Gyeongbuk is aimed at promote foreign tourism resources and products for Korean travelers and travel industry professionals.

More than 1,000 foreign and domestic travel professionals from 20 countries, 200 travel-related organizations, heads and representatives of foreign diplomatic missions accredited in South Korea and more than 100,000 general visitors participated in the event.

Vice Governor of Gyeongsangbuk-do, Lee In-Seon, visited Azerbaijan’s booth.


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Azerbaijan’s tourism potential highlighted in Rome

Rome, April 24, AZERTAC – The Italian capital of Rome has hosted a conference entitled “Tourism as a bridge between Azerbaijan and Italy” organized by the Council on State Support for Non-Governmental Organizations under the President of Azerbaijan and Classis-Project organization.

The conference highlighted Azerbaijan`s tourism potential, and participants discussed projects aimed at developing tourism sector in Azerbaijan, and also explored ways of expanding cooperation between the two countries.

Speakers hailed the growth in the number of flights on the route Baku-Milan-Baku and Baku-Rome-Baku as a manifestation of good cooperation. The conference featured presentation of “Mysterious Azerbaijan” web portal and “Via della seta” (“Silk Road”) magazine.


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“Salah-Bey” dress rehearsal very successful in Constantine

CONSTANTINE, Friday, 24 April 2015 11:08 – The “Salah Bey” play rehearsal directed by the Regional Theatre of Constantine (TRC), chosen to inaugurate the Theatre Department program of “Constantine, the capital of Arab Culture 2015”, was very successful Thursday on the boards of the TRC.

Directed by Tayeb Dehimi from a text of scenarist Saïd Boulmerka, the play opens with the character of Salah, aged 16, who arrives one day, perplexed and hesitant at the port of Algiers from Izmir (Turkey). A psychic appears and predicts a radiant and dazzling future before her face darkens as she “sees” terror on the lines of the young newcomer’s hand.

Saleh, energetic, resourceful and getter, begins his new adventure as a waiter in a cafe before joining the army of Janissaries who transfer him to Constantine.

As brave as ambitious, Salah shows his military qualities in the battle of Beylick of Constantine against the Bey of Tunis.

His prowess earned him the accession to beylick of Constantine after his marriage with the daughter of Bey Ahmed Bey El Kolli.

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British Council to start English lessons in Algiers

23 April 2015, ALGIERS- The English lessons given to students in the Cultural Centre, British Council, will start next Sunday before the official inauguration of the centre, a few days later, announced Wednesday the centre manager Martin Daltry.

In a press conference held jointly with British ambassador to Algiers, Andrew Noble, Daltry said that 500 candidates, who have already passed the level test, two weeks earlier, will start the lessons next Sunday in the British Council center in Hydra (Algiers).

The official inauguration of the centre is planned for 6 May, a source close to the centre told APS.

A session of intensive training for 14 English teachers was provided by trainers from the University of Cambridge in March 2014, in anticipation of the reopening of the Centre.

Last September, the British Council launched English online courses for the benefit of Algerians.

Daltry pointed out that, through this initiative, the center “intends to encourage the Algerian students to join more than 50,000 students around the world,” by enrolling to online courses designed for intermediate levels.

A governmental institution in the UK dedicated to the teaching of English, British arts and culture, the British Council is present in a hundred countries, including Algeria since 1962.

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Africa-Asia Summit wraps up with adoption of declaration on Palestine

JAKARTA (Indonesia), Thursday, 23 April 2015 – A declaration on Palestine was adopted Thursday at the end of the 2015 Asia-Africa Summit and the participants reaffirmed their full support to Palestinians’ fight for the independence from Israeli occupation.

“We deplore the fact that 60 years after the Bandung Conference (First Asia-Africa Summit), Palestinians remain deprived from their rights, freedom and independence and that millions of Palestinians continue to live under occupation and as refugees,” said the Summit’s final declaration.

The leaders of Asian and African countries reaffirmed their “full support to the just fight of Palestinians to regain their inalienable right to independence, notably the restoration of their sovereignty and the establishment of the State of Palestine with Al-Quds-East as a capital.”

The only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, added the text, is an agreement that puts an end to the illegal Israeli occupation that started in 1967. And a just, sustainable and total solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is imperative to reach peace and security in the region.

The declaration called on Israel to fully respect the 4th Convention of Geneva on the occupied Palestinian territories, including Al Quds-East, and strongly deplored the Israeli military aggression in the Gaza strip in July-August 2014.

Algeria was represented by a delegation led by the Speaker of the Council of the Nation (Upper House of Parliament) Abdelkader Bensalah, who represents the President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika at the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Bandung’s Africa-Asia Conference.

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Utility Vehicle Fair from 26 to 29 April in Oran

ORAN (Algeria), 21 April 2015 – The 8th Utility and Industrial Vehicle Fair of the West (West VUVI 2015) will take place from 26 to 29 April at Mohamed Benahmed Convention Centre in Oran, said organizers.

“This economic event aims at meeting the needs of transport professionals in machinery and materials of all kinds,” the director of the Fair Abdelkader Rezzoug told APS.

The new 2015 edition will spread over more than 5000 square meters with the presentation of complete range of brands marketed in Algeria, he said.

A space devoted exclusively to customer service, spare parts, accessories and technical control is scheduled as part of this event, said the source.

This fair, which usually attracts more than 1,000 visitors, is organized by the “Somex International Plus” Society based in Algiers, in partnership with the direction of CCO.

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Bangladesh achieving best economic progress among South-Asian states

NEW DELHI, April 24, 2015 (BSS) – Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said here today that Bangladesh has surpassed different states of the South-Asian region in economic progress and the country has surpassed even neighbouring India in development in various social sectors.

“Bangladesh is one of the 11 fast developing countries in the world,” the minister said revealing various surveys conducted recently while participating at a seminar on the “Global exhibition on services” here in the Indian capital.

The Confederation of Indian Industry in collaboration with Commerce Ministry of India organised the seminar on the occasion of world exposition of the service sectors also addressed by state minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak.

Highlighting on Bangladesh’s development activities in various sectors, Tofail Ahmed said, “Under the bold, farsighted and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has been progressing fast as all the economic indexes of the country have been indicating pragmatic progress.”

The minister said, “After the national polls of 2008, Prime Minister disclosed her vision-2021 for economic development of Bangladesh and work on implementation of the vision has now been going on in full swing with an ambitious target to transform the country into a middle-income state by 2021.”

Seeking assistance for economic progress of Bangladesh, Tofail Ahmed said that as the largest state of the region, India can play a vital role in extensive economic development of the region.

“We have to take initiative to implement the WTO Agreement for economic development and flourishing trade and commerce in the region,” the minister said urging the participating states of the region to identify the sectors of cooperation including ICT, health, tourism, energy and other fields.

Speaking at the seminar, Zunaid Ahmed Palak urged the participating countries to invest in Kaliakoir Hi-Tech Park as Bangladesh is felicitating at least 12 incentives to the investors in this park.

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Aromatic, fine rice production prospect in Barind bright

RAJSHAHI, April 24, 2015 (BSS) – There has been a bright prospect of boosting aromatic and fine quality rice production in vast Barind tract as it is endowed with many native fine and aromatic rice varieties, which have enormous demands both at both home and abroad.

Agriculturists, traders and farmers said the area comprising Rajshahi, Natore, Chapainawabgonj, Naogaon and Dinajpur is traditionally familiar to producing rice and high yielding varieties to meet the gradually increasing demand of local consumers.

High price and increased demand of fine and aromatic rice have created interest among farmers about paddy cultivation, they added. Agriculturist Abu Muhammad Musha here told BSS that the net return was higher for Basmoti compared to BRRI dhan34 and 50 in Boro season. Basmoti was more profitable compared to the other varieties.

Chinigura or Chiniatab rice production is most profitable among different Aman rice varieties in Baraind Tract. Although average yield of Kataribhog was comparatively lower than Pajam and BR11 but net return was 19 percent higher than Pajam and 21 percent higher thanBR28.

Low market price, lower yield and insect and disease infestation were problems faced by the farmers in terms of producing and marketing of aromatic rice. Another problem of aromatic rice cultivation was lack of quality seed.

Milling problem was found acute for aromatic rice as special rubber huller is needed.

Govt. as well as private organizations and companies should contact with the aromatic rice growers to ensure the price before harvest. Necessary measures should be taken to export more aromatic rice to the abroad where the demand of aromatic rice is comparatively higher to encourage the growers.

In an effort to assist for increasing production and export of fine and aromatic rice, Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) had implemented a three-year programme titled “Fine Rice Production and Marketing” in five districts of the region till June 2012.

ATM Rafiqul Islam, Deputy Manager (Agriculture) of BMDA, said quality paddy seeds were procured from farmers and supplied among the interested ones under contract farming system during the project tenure.

The project was very successful one as the BMDA has ensured irrigation facilities for cultivation of the paddy.

As many as 9,000 farmers and 700 staff were involved in raising 390 demonstration plots through need-oriented field level training for cultivating and producing aromatic varieties- Chiniatop, Kalijira, Kataribhog, Jirashail, Basmati, BRRI-34 and BRRI-50.

The programme gave agricultural inputs like seed, fertilizer and pesticides to the farmers, he added. But the programme was not extended after its tenure ended in last June.

BMDA, at present, is providing irrigation facilities to around 7.42 lakh hectares of land in Aman season and 3.84 lakh hectares of land in Boro season. “To cultivate these lands in both the seasons, 43,645 tonnes of seeds are required every year,” he said.

For the sake of sustainable crop production alongside encouraging the farmers in crop farming including the fine rice Abu Sayeed, a local grower, said quality seed production should be enhanced at the farmers’ level.

He said the government should take immediate step to restart the programme for greater national interest.

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Poor women become income-generators in Rajshahi city

RAJSHAHI, April 25, 2015 (BSS)- More than 1,500 women have come together from the poor and extreme poor communities like sweeper, chamarpara (tanner) and Jelepara (fishermen) for eradicating their long-lasting poverty and economical uncertainty in the city.

Most of them have become moneymakers through various income- generation activities like sewing, embroidery, paper-bag making and some other food productions.

They attained some knowledge on how to become self-reliant after thwarting poverty. Side by side with changing their fortunes they, eventually, have now become social contributors as the present society receive their services in many ways.

“Momentum of our works has been enhanced to a greater extent with the increasing demand of finished products for households,” said Rupa Rani, community leader of sweeper colony. She said, “These works are very new for us as our community people both males and females are habituated in sweeping and cleaning toilets, drains, footpaths and other activities in the city”.

Presently, there is no shop and service- delivery center where the paper-bags aren’t used,” Radha Rani Halder, deputy chief of fishermen community, has said. “We receive many orders for making paper-bags as its demand has gradually been rising,” she added.

She said many of the women pass their sleepless night to supply the ordered goods like ladies-ware and paper-bags especially in ahead of any religious or community festival or ceremonies.

Based on the demands, they prepare bags of all sizes but their earning is very scanty. “We got only Taka 20/25 for making every 100 bags. We need a whole day to finish the works of 300 bags,” said Basanti Rani Halder.

Is spite of this, most of the housewives of the disadvantaged community are doing the works with help of their family members to rotate their family wheels.

The community women and children are now compelled to do any kinds of income-generation works for their survival as their ancestral profession of fish catching is on the verge of extinction. With breakthrough of the working atmosphere the women got the chance of uplifting their working- skills.

They have learnt many other things like on how to get safe drinking water and construct and use sanitary latrines as well as on how to literate their children.

Basically, women of the disadvantaged communities weren’t familiarised with the income-generation activities as they were ignorant about on how to elevating their living and livelihood condition, Mukta Mallik, Chairperson of Chamarpara Community, said. “First of all, I got a grant of Taka 4500 from a development project of Rajshahi City Corporation around two years back and since then I have been doing the paper-bag making work”, said Puspa Rani Halder, a member of Jelepara community. Not only Puspa, many others are doing the same as they need extra income to bring happiness in family. “We have provided Taka 4,500 to each of the 500 women for small business as block grants,” Ershadul Haque, Town Manager of Urban Partnership for Poverty Reduction Project (UPPRP), said.

He said the seven-year anti-poverty project is being implemented for improving the living and livelihood conditions of around two lakh poor and extreme poor people, especially women and girls, in the city. UNDP in association with UK aid and UN Habitat extends financial and technical supports to the project.

Razen Mardee, Community Organizer of UPPRP, said income generation activities related to the communities like sweeper and chamar are being adjudged as very effective in terms of educating their children and in-taking nutritious food. Urban food production inputs and some other necessary supports were extended to some of the households to ensure their food security. In addition to construction of some footpath and drains, 13 Deep-tube wells and 130 community latrines were commissioned for ensuring their safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation.

Many of the community people have become familiarised with different livelihood issues like safe drinking water, sanitation, education, health, reduction of violence against women and reduction of early marriage, he added.

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Syrian athlete wins gold in Paralympics championship in Sao Paulo

Brasilia, SANA, 24 April، 2015 – Syrian athlete Mohamad Khaled Mohamad won a gold medal at the Athletics Open Championships held in Sao Paulo as part of the 2015 IPC Athletics Grand Prix.

Mohamad won the medal in the javelin toss event, setting a world record of 43.05 meters.

Throughout his career in Paralympics, Mohamad won several medals in championships, including 4 gold and two silver medals in shot-put and javelin toss the athletics competitions held in February in the UAE, in addition to winning the world championship in shot-put in France in 2013.

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Syrian Job Fair for youths launched

Damascus, SANA, 19 April، 2015 – “Syrian Expertise” volunteer team launched Sunday an exhibition aimed at creating and providing job, training and volunteer opportunities to the Syrian youths in all specializations.

The exhibition, which lasts for two days, provides more than 999 opportunities in different fields and specializations offered by more than 40 companies, associations and civil organizations, according to Alaa al–Aa’idi, the founder of “Syrian Expertise” project.

Among the institutions and bodies participating in the exhibition are Bank of Jordan-Syria, al-Thiqa (Trust) Insurance Company, Sukkar Company for Electronic Industries, Human Resources Management Association, the volunteer initiative for encouraging bicycle riding and Saed (Help) Development Association.

The team of “Syrian Expertise” project, which started in 2011, includes 30 volunteers, who provide their expertise to more than 150 trainers in different fields.

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Syrian pavilion at HORECA 2015 Exhibition witnesses featured turn out

Damascus, SANA, 23 April، 2015 – The Syrian pavilion at the HORECA 2015 Exhibition for Food Industries and Hospitality Services and Packaging has witnessed a distinguished turn out, the Syrian Exporters’ Federation (SEF) affirmed.

The Syrian pavilion at the exhibition, , which was kicked off on Monday in Beirut, includes distinct companies in the food industry.

“Syria’s participation in the exhibition gave the Syrian industrialists an opportunity to display their food products and communicate with exhibitors from other countries in order to promote the Syrian products that meet the approval of foreign markets”, said Secretary of the of Syrian Exporters’ Federation Mazen Hammour.

He stressed that the SEF is determined to take part in the upcoming exhibitions and increase the volume of the Syrian participation in the light of the assessments conducted by the SEF for each show.

The board member of the SEF, Iyad Muhammad confirmed that the Syrian pavilion witnessed outstanding turnout for its good reputation through high-quality food products, competitive prices and possession of many famous brands inside and outside Syria.

“The Syrian industries in various sectors including food began to regain their position in the domestic and foreign markets, “He said, adding that the SEF in cooperation with stakeholders in the public and private sectors seeks to promote the slogan “Made in Syria,”.

The activities of the exhibition, in which a numbers of Syrian food companies participate, will last for April 23rd.

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Salma Hayek in Lebanon to promote Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet”

NNA, 24 Apr 2015 – The Hollywood star of Lebanese origin, Salma Hayek arrives in Lebanon to promote her film “The Prophet” inspired by the masterpiece of the famous Lebanese writer Gibran Khalil Gibran.

This film is a joint production between Lebanon, Qatar, the United States and France and it is for the famous Lebanese composer Gabriel Yared that we owe the music.

The premiere will take place Monday, April 27th at CinemaCity in Beirut Souks where Salma Hayek will be after attending a charity dinner by St. Jude Children Cancer Center.

The Latin star will also hold a press conference and visit the museum of Gibran in Bcharré.

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Turkey’s first Safari Park opens

GAZİANTEP – Anadolu Agency, April/25/2015 – The first safari park in Turkey opened on April 23 in the southeastern province of Gaziantep on an area of 15,000 square meters in the Gaziantep Zoo.

In the opening ceremony, Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin said 25 species of animals were living together in the park. “Camels, reeds, eagles and others are living here. They actually give a lesson to people about how to live together in peace without cages,” she said.

Student groups, who came to Turkey from various places for the April 23 Children’s Day celebrations, performed shows in the Safari Park opening.

The Gaziantep Zoo is home to more than 7,000 animals. It is the first in Turkey, second in Europe and fourth in the world in terms of surface area and the number of animal species. The new Safari Park has some 200 animals of 70 species. The different species have been placed in different area of the park.

Gaziantep Municipality official Celal Özsöyler said the zoo had an area of 1 million square kilometers and was visited by nearly a million people annually. He said they have helped realize new projects to keep the interest in the zoo alive.

“One of these projects is this park,” he said, adding that hundreds of animals were living freely.

“The park has been opened completely with our own resources. Among the animals for now are camels, horses, deer, kangaroos, llamas and fowl. We have put animals in the same places considering if they get on with each other. On specially designed protected vehicles, visitors will be able to see the animals in their natural environment without wire nets,” Özsöyler said.

The Safari Park is expected to draw one million visitors in a year.

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Youths In Johor Blaze New Trails With Petronas’ ‘All About Youth’

KOTA TINGGI, April 21 (Bernama) — PETRONAS has always emphasised on the development of youth and its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) initiative, PETRONAS All About Youth (PAAY) Programme is further testimony of that.

The Johor round of PETRONAS All About Youth kicked off on 6 April with a Boot Camp for students and teachers at Lotus Desaru Beach Resort. Speaking at the closing ceremony, PETRONAS Vice President and Venture Director for Pengerang Integrated Complex, Juniwati Rahmat Hussin said that she was very pleased with the level of passion coming from the students. Juniwati, who is also PETRONAS AAY Project Sponsor for Johor Darul Ta’zim urged the enthusiastic youths to push themselves to excel.

“All of you should grab this golden opportunity, join this programme with an open mind and absorb as much knowledge and experience as you can,” said Juniwati. “Make your parents, teachers, schools and Johor Darul Ta’zim proud of you!”

The competition is open to all secondary schools in six participating states, namely Johor, Kedah, Terengganu, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak. A total of 300 form four students from fifteen schools in Johor Bharu, Kota Tinggi and Muar respectively attended the programme.

The programme aims to nurture and enhance the soft skills of students beyond the boundaries of their classrooms. This concept is in line with Malaysia’s education vision to enhance the potential of students in a holistic and integrated manner in order to produce individuals who are well-equipped intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

Structured as a competition among secondary schools, the programme tests the creativity and leadership skills of the students to come up with ideas that can benefit their communities. The ideas must focus on areas of education, community well-being and the environment; and the students must take the idea to completion within the seven weeks of the competition.

PETRONAS will provide each school team, made up of twenty students each, with a start-up fund of RM2,000.00. A PETRONAS volunteer will be a “buddy” to each team to guide and engage them in brainstorming on project management, time and financial management as well as presentation skills throughout the length of the competition.

At the end of the seven weeks, the teams will be required to make their final presentation on their projects at the state-level finals. Judging will be based on creativity and their project’s originality, impact on community, clarity of presentation and sustainability.

The winning team will be flown to Kuala Lumpur to compete in the Grand Finale in September 2015. The winning school will receive a grand prize of RM50,000.00 and each team member will receive RM1,200.00 deposited into their individual bank accounts listed under the National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN). Individuals in the second and third prize categories will have RM1,000.00 and RM800.00 deposited into their SSPN accounts respectively.

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26TH ASEAN Summit held in Kuala Lumpur And Langkawi

PUTRAJAYA, April 22 (Bernama) — The year 2015 will be a historical year, both for ASEAN, and Malaysia as its Chairman, as the world will be witnessing the establishment of an ASEAN Community by end of this year.

All eyes will be on the country when the countdown for an integrated ASEAN begins. This should be an opportunity for Malaysia to elevate its profile to the international community. Convening the meeting in Langkawi therefore would not only boost the island’s tourist industry, but as a suitable venue for hosting or organising international meetings and conferences.

Additionally, apart from the Summit being convened in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi, Malaysia has also chosen several other States such as Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Sabah and Sarawak, just to name a few, as venues for various ASEAN Meetings this year.

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CIMB Young ASEAN Leaders To Protect And Promote ASEAN Heritage

KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 (Bernama) — Running into its third year, CIMB Foundation with the support of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), hosted and brought together 50 of ASEAN’s most outstanding undergraduates from South East Asia’s various educational institutions to take part in the CIMB Young ASEAN Leaders 2015. The event was held at the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations in Kuala Lumpur.

Organised from 21 to 23 April 2015 with the theme ‘Protecting ASEAN Heritage’, the event provided a conducive environment for students, researchers and practitioners who are interested in ASEAN’s heritage, the opportunity to discuss on the promotion, protection and conservation of ASEAN heritage in a lively and robust manner.

In her opening speech, Raja Noorma Othman, Chief Executive Officer of CIMB Foundation said, “ASEAN is home to 10 culturally diverse and historically rich countries. Preserving the ASEAN heritage is one of the key principles under the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community blueprint and as such, commands significant focus for Malaysia as the ASEAN Chair for 2015.”

She continued, “In line with CIMB Group’s mission of being the leading ASEAN franchise and being committed to empowering the communities we operate in, CIMB Foundation with the help of few strategic partners namely University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Air Asia, is championing this initiative as we aim to mould ASEAN’s future leaders and educate them on the significance of our heritage to ensure the values of our cultural heritage are preserved.”

The three-day programme featured a combination of keynote addresses and workshops with industry experts, along with lively panel discussions. It features two full-day workshops and a one-day heritage site visit. The workshops will cover topics such as the importance of heritage conservation, heritage challenges and interventions as well as technical skills in promoting, conserving and preserving tangible and intangible heritage.

Combining both conceptual and practical modules in the context of the ASEAN Social-Cultural Community, the event saw ASEAN heritage experts sharing and exchanging ideas. They include Francesco Volpini who is the Director of Research and Development of Better World Korea and also the Asia Coordination of the UNESCO World Heritage Volunteers initiative, Prof. Dr. Norhayati Ahmad from the Faculty of the Environmental Science Programme, UKM and Prabha Sundram of the University Community Transformation Centre, UKM. In addition to these workshops, there was also a dialog on the importance of ASEAN by YAM Tunku Zain Abidin, Founding President of IDEAS, and Fellow at the CIMB-ASEAN Research Institute.

The event attracted a wide variety of undergraduates from across ASEAN but participants were selected under stringent criteria. One of the criteria requires participants to be working on a community project for heritage conservation. Following the seminar, students are required to team up according to their countries of origin and submit a ‘Protecting ASEAN Heritage’ project proposal. The best developed proposal will be eligible for CIMB Foundation’s seed funding of USD5,000, which will be used to develop the project when they return, ensuring the project proposals will contribute positively to the community.

The programme had, in its successful debut in 2012 and second summit in 2014, gathered a total of 100 university students from the 10 ASEAN countries to step into the shoes of ASEAN policy makers, debating issues relating to the ASEAN Economic integration and forming resolutions that are in line with the ASEAN Economic Community blueprint. Starting this year, CIMB Young ASEAN Leaders will take on a cultural heritage view and subsequently, it will alternate its theme annually, between the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), to encompass a wider scope.

CIMB Foundation is a non-profit organisation set up to implement CIMB Group’s corporate social responsibility and philanthropic initiatives. The Foundation believes in long-term sustainable growth and giving back to society. Its initiatives are aimed at empowering communities in a transparent, measurable and accountable way to enable them to stand on their own. The Foundation focuses on three specific areas: Community Development, Sports and Education. On an annual basis, CIMB Foundation disburses grants of between RM12 million to RM15 million to numerous projects benefiting thousands of people in the communities served by CIMB Group.

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Asian, African Leaders Mark 60th Anniversary Of Bandung Conference

BANDUNG, Indonesia, April 25 (NNN-Xinhua) — Leaders and delegates from some 100 Asian and African countries gathered here Friday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Asian-African Conference, also known Bandung Conference, and signed a Bandung Message to revitalize Asian-African partnership.

Security is beefed up here with police and military officers blocking the way heading to the historic raw white three-story Merdeka Building in the West Java capital, some 150 km south of Jakarta.

A high troupe of Asian and African leaders took a historic walk on the 50-meter-long street, between Savoy Homann, a 19-century grandiose hotel, and Merdeka Building, or the Independence Building — the same route of the then Asian-African leaders at their first summit in 1955 walked from their residence to the meeting venue.

During the commemoration ceremony, leaders and delegates recalled the journey of Asian and African countries have gone through over the last 60 years.

Welcoming speeches were given by leaders from Indonesia, the host, Zimbabwe, co-chair of the conference, Egypt, representing African countries, Myanmar, representing Asian countries, and Venezuela, representing Observers.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for Asian and African countries to continue work towards prosperity by echoing the Bandung Spirit and forging partnerships based on equality.

Asian and African countries must work shoulder to shoulder to create prosperity through economic and trade cooperation, Widodo said.

The Spirit of Bandung, which highlighted solidarity, friendship and cooperation, will bring welfare to people, he said, stressing that the goals of Asian and African countries “must be materialized through cooperation.”

Widodo said that as the Indonesian president, he realized that Indonesia has not been freed from poverty and it is still left behind by developed countries in other parts of the world.

“This problem is also faced by friends in Asia and Africa,” he said.

He thus asked Asia and Africa to carry forward the Bandung Spirit, “continue the struggle of our leaders 60 years ago,” and promote mutual understanding and world peace.

Citing inadequate representation of Asian and African countries in the world’s multilateral system, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe stressed that “time has come for us to revive the Spirit of Bandung” in order to more effectively push the development agenda of the South.

He said that the China-spearheaded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) displays the voice of the South.

Time has also come to consider more options of securing the place of the South in global affairs, of which the AIIB is an example, according to the president.

His speech also tried to draw attention to the fact that trade flows between Asia and Africa have increased rapidly, but in a highly imbalanced way.

One of the major factors accounting for the huge imbalance is the Asian-African trade pattern, in which Africa’s exports are dominated by raw commodities and imports by manufactured goods.

“We can and must correct this unsustainable situation,” he said, stressing that African countries have thus decided to transform their economies through resource-based, value-added industrialization programs and projects.

This economic transformation agenda “offers immense opportunities for deeper cooperation between our countries,” through investment and technology transfers among other exchanges, Mugabe said.

He also underscored the need to “put in place programs that will bring our peoples in direct contact through cultural, sports, academic, business and other exchanges.”

Asian-African solidarity will be devoid of character and substance if it does not express and manifest itself in greater understanding between the two regions’ peoples, he noted.

“The value of our partnership should not be measured purely in trade terms, or monetary terms even, but more importantly, in the solidarity and friendship of our peoples,” Mugabe said.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb and Myanmar President U Thein Sein stressed that the Bandung Spirit is still relevent to address the current challenges.

Venezuelan Vice President Jorge Arreaza said that Asia and Africa should also unite with Latin America and the Caribbean to fight neo-colonialism.

“Economically we must never walk alone, we must do it together as a strong bloc, and assist other small countries in achieving independence, not only politically, but also economically,” he said, calling for a solid bloc among countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbeans.

After the speeches, representatives of Asian and African leaders signed the 41-item Bandung message to revitalize Asian- African partnership.

In the document, leaders of Asian and African countries committed to achieving sustainable development for the two continents by advancing cooperation in a wide range of fields, from combating transnational organized crime and terrorism to promoting tourism, trade, logistics, investment and transportation.

Meanwhile, April 24 has been declared as the Asian-African Day to celebrate solidarity, cooperation and partnership to promote world peace and prosperity, according to the message.

The commemoration is being held after a two-day summit in Jakarta that adopted three important documents: the Bandung Message, the Declaration on Reinvigorating the New Asian African Strategic Partnership (NAASP) and the Declaration on Palestine.–NNN-XINHUA

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Introducing AirAsia’s Barista In The Skies!

SEPANG, April 24 (Bernama) — AirAsia, the region’s leading and largest low-cost carrier is now offering premium handcrafted coffee such as Espresso, Long Black, Cappuccino and Café Latte on board select flights with the introduction of AirAsia’s Barista In The Skies.

T&Co premium handcrafted coffee will be served by AirAsia flight attendants who were trained as professional baristas. The premium coffee are currently available on select AirAsia Malaysia (Flight code: AK) flights that are two hours and above at only RM8 per cup.

AirAsia Head of Commercial, Spencer Lee said, “There has always been a strong demand for premium coffee on board AirAsia flights. Since introducing T&Co’s range of products into our in-flight menu in late 2013, we noticed an upward trend in demand for good coffee. Feedback from our guests is extremely valuable to us and we are proud to introduce our Barista In The Skies who will be serving our guests with premium coffee at very affordable prices.”

“As we launch this product today, we have 10 AirAsia Malaysia aircraft that are equipped with the T&Co espresso machines, offering handcrafted coffee by our skilled baristas. As we progress, the machines will be installed into more aircraft across the entire AirAsia network. We are always on the lookout for new products and look forward to offer our guests an enhanced in-flight experience,” added Spencer Lee.

AirAsia would also like to invite all of its guests who have tried the premium handcrafted coffee and the Barista In The Sky experience to share their moments on social media platforms by tagging @AirAsia and @T&Co on Instagram, as well as hashtag #baristainthesky.

T&Co was founded on the basis that ‘because everyone deserves great coffee’, and to create a better coffee experience for everyone, no matter where you are. The T&Co team comprise of a group of travellers, entrepreneurs and all round coffee enthusiasts who have worked to develop a special Altitude BlendTM catered for dull taste buds while flying. High altitude A Grade Robusta beans from South America and Asia are lightly roasted to create an intense blend with a sweeter and more delicate sipping sensation. For more information about T&Co Coffee, visit tcocoffee.com.

Stay updated with the Barista In The Skies activities, as well as AirAsia’s latest promotions via Twitter (twitter.com/AirAsia) and Facebook (facebook.com/AirAsia).

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Malaysia aims to intensify cooperation with Indonesia on halal certification

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 21 April 2015 – Malaysia aims to further cooperate with Indonesia on halal certification, considering the huge potential of the food and dairy products industry, stated Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Dato Sri Mustapa Mohamed.

“Even though the negotiation is already in the final stage, but yet to reach 100 percent,” noted Minister Mohamed during an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia 2015 here on Monday.

Through the cooperation with Indonesia, Malaysia is also eying to become the leading provider of halal certification.

Mohamed acknowledged that there were some barriers that hampered the halal cooperation with Indonesia, one of which concerns halal labeling.

“There are still some problems related to Malaysias halal certificate to be accepted in Indonesia, and vice versa, which has to be solved through halal standardization,” he affirmed.

Besides the halal certification, Malaysia is also committed to increase investment in Indonesia in various sectors, including banking services, infrastructure, telecommunication, and plantation.

The bilateral trade between Malaysia and Indonesia had reached U$20 billion until 2013, but decreased slightly in 2014.

With regard to trade cooperation, Minister Mohamed had met Indonesian Trade Minister Rahmat Gobel to discuss about commodities such as palm, rubber, and cocoa produced by the two countries.

“We have agreed to conduct a ministerial meeting for four or five related ministers to discuss economy and trade,” he stated.

The WEF on East Asia themed “Anchoring Trust in East Asias New Regionalism” is being held on April 19-21 and highlights three program pillars related to the new regional context, new economic context, and new citizen context.

More than 700 participants, representing businesses, public sector, science, arts, civil society, and international organizations, convene at the forum.

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Pak-Vietman ink MoU for trade promotion

ISLAMABAD, Customs Today Report April 24, 2015: Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation for trade promotion between two countries.

The MoU was signed at the conclusion of 3rd Meeting of Joint Trade Commission.

The signing ceremony was held at the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Hanoi-Vietnam in which Secretary TDAP, Rabiya Javeri Agha and Director General Vietrade, Bui Huy Son signed the MoU on behalf of their respective countries.

The Pakistan side was led by Muhammad Shahzad Arbab, Secretary Commerce while the Vietnam delegation was headed by Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Do Thang Hai.

The two sides reviewed the entire gamut of economic relations, identified obstacles and impediments to trade and set forth lines of actions to further develop and promote trade relations between the two countries.

Both sides also agreed that the next Round of Joint Trade Commission would be held in Islamabad on mutually convenient dates in 2016.

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Swiss business delegation visits Iran to expand trade ties

LONDON, Customs Today Report, April 25, 2015: A Swiss business delegation will go to Iran this weekend in the first such visit in 10 years to try and expand trade ties, the finance ministry said Friday.

The team, comprising executives from the pharmaceutical, green energy and services sectors, will be led by Livia Leu, who served as Swiss ambassador to Tehran between 2009 and 2013, it said.

The four-day visit starting Sunday comes after Iran and six world powers agreed on the outlines of a potentially historic deal aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear drive after marathon talks in Switzerland early this month.

Leu, the head of bilateral ties at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, had said after the deal that this was a “very propitious” time to visit the Islamic republic.

Switzerland eased economic sanctions against Iran at the start of last year.

Trade between the two countries amounted to 640 million Swiss francs (620 million Euros, $670 million) last year with the balance heavily tipped in favor of Switzerland.

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Ohoidertaun rock paintings discovered in Kei islands

Ambon, Maluku (ANTARA News), 25 April 2015 – Ancient rock paintings have been discovered in the Ohoidertaun village of Kei islands.

These include at least 400 images, among others of humans, hand prints, trees, and boats, the head of Ambons archaeology office Muh. Husni said on Friday.

“Up to now, the Mesolithic discovery was still the most image-contained rock panting that had been found in the Maluku province,” he added.

According to him, the Ohoidertaun rock paintings have not been studied further, including their age.

“We do not know the age yet. It needs in-depth research. However, according to the number of motive images, we can conclude that the culture at the time was well developed,” Husni said.

So far there are three rock painting sites that have been studied by the archaeology office, namely in Wamkana (South Buru district), Sawai (Central Maluku district), and the Ohoidertaun (Kei islands).

An archaeologist from Ambons archaeology office, Wuri Handoko, said the rock paintings found at the three sites are most likely related to each other, and could explain the human migration pattern in Maluku.

“If we see the landscape, the rock paintings have been found in the coastal areas. It indicates there was a long distance traversed through these areas by the ancient humans,” she said.

A pre-historic expert from Ambons archaeology office, Marlon Ririmasse, said a research team had discovered ancient paintings in a cave where ancient humans lived, located on the Kobror Island of the Aru Island district.

The difference is the motifs was not as good as the ones found in Wamkana, Sawai, and Ohoidertaun.

Ancient paintings in Kobror are shaped geometrically like a man, tree, and a curve with scratch technique using ocher. The tree-shaped image is believed to be the tree of life that symbolizes faith in the Creator, Ririmasse said.

“The paintings on Kobror Island are cave paintings, not rock paintings like the ones found in Wamkana, Sawai, and Ohoidertaun,” he added.

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European Tourists Main Bulk Of Visitors To Pulau Tioman

ROMPIN, April 24 (NNN-Bernama) — Pulau Tioman, an island of the famed legend of two dragons appears to have charmed European tourists as they made up more than half of the foreign visitors here last year.

In 2014, more than 57 per cent or 18,886 foreign tourists out of the 33,090 foreigners who came to the island were visitors from Europe with a large number of them from Germany.

Tioman Development Authority (TDA) general manager Datuk Hashim Mat Tahir told Bernama the rest comprised Germans (5,734), French (4,730), British (4,384), Indians (3,886), Chinese (3,519), Australians (2,764), Americans (2,458), Dutch (2,362), Swedes (1,680) and Iranians (1,573).

Overall, the island received 268,784 visitors last year, a 16 per cent increase from 232,102 in 2013 while in 2012, there were 214,482 tourist arrivals, he said.

However, domestic visitors and those from ASEAN made up 82 per of the overall total in 2014.

Hashim said the number of tourists to the island could be further increased if there were alternative modes of transportation to Pulau Tioman apart from the ferry service from Tanjung Gemok, here or Mersing in Johor.

“About 95.5 per cent of the visitors use the ferry while 4.5 per cent came by air. However the ferry service is disrupted during the monsoon season from November to January,” he said.

He said many were however not aware that Pulai Tioman which is located in the South China Sea has its own airport in Kampung Tekek with a 992-metre runway.

“There was a regular air service to Pulau Tioman operated by Berjaya Air using a De Havilland Dash 7 aircraft with a capacity for 48 passengers but it was discontinued due to the high cost of maintenance and the production of aircraft has stopped.

“For the time being, the charter air service provided by Systematic Aviation Services (SAS) from Subang or Senai, is rather costly as it is based on request,” he said.

Therefore, to ensure tourist arrivals all year round, the late Rompin MP, Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis had proposed extending the island’s airport runway, he said.

Hashim said Jamaluddin saw the runway if extended could accommodate the ATR-72 aircraft used by several low-cost carriers in the country to land directly in Pulau Tioman.

Many however have questioned if there were tourists who wish to visit when the sea is rough and Hashim was quick to reply that some tourists actually looked forward to the monsoon season waves for surfing.

For accommodation, there are 2,089 rooms provided by 78 resorts at Salang, Air Batang, Tekek, Paya, Genting, Mukut and Juara in which 50 per cent are categorised as luxury, 30 per cent moderate and 20 per cent are budget rooms.

“TDA in its effort to improve and raise the standard of existing accommodation to ensure the comfort of visitors, will expand the number of luxury hotels as a lure for international tourists,” he said.

Hashim said apart from enjoying the beauty of 29 kilometres of sandy beaches and sea at warm temperature, tourists could also carry out activities such as snorkelling to marvel at 183 species of coral reefs and various types of fish in the waters of Pulau Tioman.

“One can also go trekking to the waterfall and view the wildlife of the island which included 33 species of mammals, 67 species of birds, 21 types of lizards, and 17 species of amphibians.

“For those who love outdoor and extreme experience, there is rock climbing at Kampung Juara and Kampung Mukut,” he said, adding that development at Pulau Tioman was being carried out carefully to preserve its ecological system.

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