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29 Jun, 2015

Hindu Man Writes First Biography of Prophet Muhammad in Marwari

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Shamsi

A compilation of stories of interesting events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 29 June 2015 (12 Ramadaan 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.




Algerian Airline Charters Additional Aircraft, Plans Additional Flights For Summer

ALGIERS, June 22 (NNN-APS) — Algerian national flag carrier Air Algerie is chartering additional aircraft and scheduling additional flights for the coming busy summer season, an airline official says.

Thus, two high-capacity aircraft and two medium-lift planes are being chartered for the period from June 22 to Sept 20, 2015, said the AIRLINE’S head of the commercial division, Zohir Houaoui.

The current fleet of Air Algeria consists of 47 aircraft, four of which were recently acquired, as part of its programme of acquisition of 16 new aircraft by the end of 2016 to increase its fleet to 59 planes.

Air Algerie recently purchased two Airbus A 330-200 planes with a capacity of 251 seats each and two ATR 72-600 aircraft with a capacity of 66 seats each.

The summer season, which coincides this year with the month of Ramadan, and the Umrah and the Hajj pilgrimage season, is the peak travel period of the year for Air Algeria, and, especially for the transportation of members of the Algerian community abroad who return to spend holidays in the country.

“The flow of passengers is more important in the second half of the summer season, which will require additional flights from Aug 15 to Sept 3, in order to ensure the return of Algerian citizens,” said Houaoui.

For this purpose, 138 additional flights are scheduled during this period with a capacity of 23,834 seats, an increase of 45 per cent compared with the change for the previous summer season.

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Air Arabia Named Best Low-Cost Airline In Middle East

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, June 24 (NNN-WAM) – Air Arabia has been named the Best Low-cost Airline in the Middle East, at the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards, which took place at the Paris Air Show this year.

Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported that, this was the second time in three years that Air Arabia has won the coveted award, following its previous victory in 2013.

The world’s largest airline passenger satisfaction survey is conducted every year, to decide the winners of the Skytrax World Airline Awards.

The Award for the Best Low-Cost Airline is based upon an assessment of customer satisfaction of the product and staff service standards provided by the airline, in both the cabin and airport environments.

“We are delighted to be once again named the region’s top low-cost carrier,” said Adel A. Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer of Air Arabia.

“Winning the Skytrax award is particularly pleasing, as it is based on levels of customer satisfaction, which is the criteria Air Arabia values above all others. We thank survey participants for their positive feedback and hope to make their next experience of flying with Air Arabia even more enjoyable.”

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China Helps Rehabilitate Cultural Palace Of Abidjan

ABIDJAN, June 23 (NNN-XINHUA) — A major cultural centre in Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire, which was destroyed in the country’s 2010-2011 post-election violence, has been rehabilitated and renovated with financial support from the Chinese government.

The renovated Culture Palace of Abidjan was handed over to Cote d’Ivoire’s government over the weekend ar a ceremony presided over by Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan and China’s Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire, Zhang Guoqing.

The Culture Palace was bestowed to Cote d’Ivoire’s government as a gift from China and inaugurated in 1990. Its rehabilitation work began in June 2013 and cost 48 million US dollars.

The palace now presents a new face, with its theatre hall of 2, 800 seats, concert hall of 1,500 seats, art room of 600 seats, training room of 300 seats and multi-purpose hall of 700 seats.

Duncan used the opportunity to praise the excellent relationship between Cote d’Ivoire and China, which has seen work on a number projects completed such as a centre for research and fight against malaria, a hydro-electric dam, the expansion of the Abidjan port, an Olympic stadium, several academic and health centres and the rehabilitation of public offices.

Zhang said the rehabilitation of the Culture Palace not only symbolized the friendship between the two nations, but also demonstrated the “total end” of the post-election violence and a “renewal of Cote d’Ivoire”.

Zhang added that the renovated Cultural Palace had been equipped with modern sound and lighting systems.

The ambassador hailed the close co-operation between China and Cote d’Ivoire in international affairs, and the fruitful relationship in economic, commercial, education, health, agriculture and infrastructure sectors.

He promised the Chinese government’s support to promote Cote d’Ivoire’s social and economic development.

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Cameroon Trains New Generation Of Clean Energy Entrepreneurs

YAOUNDE, June 26 (NNN-AGENCIES) –Cameroon’s higher education institutions are training students to develop entrepreneurial businesses using solar power and other renewable energy technologies, aimed at tackling electricity shortages and creating jobs.

As climate stresses, including drought and floods, worsen entrenched poverty, the government is working with universities to find new ways of resolving those twin problems.

According to Maurice Aurelien Sosso, rector of the University of Yaounde 1, one popular programme offered by a number of universities is training for solar energy technicians.

The renewables sector in the West-Central African nation lacks human resources to plan, design, install, monitor and maintain energy systems – but demand is growing, Sosso noted.

“The constant rise in energy costs, the problem of persistent (power) blackouts and most importantly increasing awareness of climate change have pushed the business of renewable and alternative energy use in Cameroon to grow tremendously in the past few years,” he said.

The ministry of higher education introduced a training programme – dubbed “Solar Technicians Made in Cameroon” – in 2013, and several universities have since started running related courses.

“We think harnessing these specialised training opportunities is needed as a sustainable solution to the economic development deficit in the country, especially in the area of energy supply,” said Minister of Water and Energy Basile Atangana Kouna, while visiting a certified training programme at the University of Yaounde 1 in April.

Cameroon faces urgent problems of energy shortages, rural poverty and climate change, which require investment in people and infrastructure development, he added.

The training at higher education institutions, including the University of Buea, the Catholic University Institute of Buea and the University of Yaounde 1, will not only help the country meet its energy needs but could also lift the national development bar higher, the minister said.

“Cameroon’s engineers and entrepreneurs hitherto lacked the skills needed to develop clean energy projects like solar power and biogas production,” he noted.

Before graduates could only get that kind of training at foreign universities – which few could afford. “Now this training opportunity is on their doorstep, they should … grab it,” he added.


Environmental experts say the initiative will make Cameroon better able to combat the effects of global warming and poverty.

“The training will soon reach a magnitude that can significantly enhance Cameroon’s fight against climate change and promote job creation especially for the youths,” said Samuel Nguiffo, director of the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) in Cameroon.

Clean energy initiatives are part of Cameroon’s efforts towards becoming an emerging economy by 2035.

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Iran Readies Ground For Foreign Investors

KHORRAMABAD, June 22, (NNN-IRNA) – Governor General of the mid-western Lorestan province said situation for presence of foreign investors in the province is ripe.

Hoshang Bazvand in a meeting with Swedish Ambassador to Tehran Peter Tejler said that tourism industry is among important areas of the province and there is readiness for cooperation with Sweden in this issue.

He added that investors from private sector of Sweden can visit the province and find out about opportunities and advantages of Lorestan for investment.

Bazvand also said that 32 oil fields have been identified in the province, feasibility study on 18 regions done and that 150 million barrels of oil reserves has been estimated in six regions, the capacity of which is suitable for Swedish private sector.

The governor general said 23 percent of decorative stones of the country is from Lorestan and the province has an acceptable agricultural situation in spite of drought and in producing some types of grains it has the first rank in the country.

In the field of tourism, Lorestan has more than five thousand registered historical sites and with its natural and scientific geo-parks has been chosen as capital of geo-tourism of Iran.

Lorestan by having more than 103,000 students in higher education and existing natural geo-parks provides an opportunity for establishment of ties between universities of Lorestan and Sweden.

He also expressed readiness for sisterhood of Khorramabad city with one of Swedish cities.

Peter Tejler in a 2-day visit to mid-western province of Lorestan is to find out about opportunities and capacities of the province.

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Malaysia To Benefit From China’s Maritime Silk Road

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia June 23 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia’s location in the centre of Southeast Asia and the country’s position in holding the Straits of Melaka is a incomparable advantage in the construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Under China’s economic initiative, “One Belt, One Road”, the Chinese government planned to increase its involvement in Southeast Asia via its investment in the infrastructure and linkages associated with the region.

“Therefore, Malaysia should leverage on its strengths to play a vital role in support of China’s economic initiative, as well as, benefit from the opportunities created by the latter,” said HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mukhtar Hussain.

He said Malaysia can play a strategic role in making ASEAN a key part of China’s initiative and the Asian infrastructure investment bank set up, by tapping on the country’s chairmanship of ASEAN and taking note of China’s interests in partnering with ASEAN.

“Chinese entrepreneurs can make use of Malaysia’s strength of “Going Global” strategy and use Malaysia as a getaway for China to ASEAN Economic Community, discover more business opportunities and create a win-win situation,” Mukhtar added in a statement.

Last year, trade between the two countries stood at US$102 billion and Malaysia remained China’s largest ASEAN trading partner for six consecutive years since 2008, it said.

Malaysian and Chinese governments signed a five-year plan to strive for US$160 billion by 2017, by expanding trade, investment, tourism, education, financial and infrastructure.

China is expected to open up ASEAN route of the Trans-Asian Railway, in order to link up Southeast Asia countries as well as allow goods to be sent in both directions: east to Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia and other places; west to reach Central Asia, the statement added.

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World Bank Grants $55 Million For Palestinian Development

WASHINGTON, June 21 (NNN-WAFA) – The World Bank Board of Governors authorized the transfer of $55 million to replenish the Trust Fund for Gaza and West Bank from which the World Bank has, since 1993, provided assistance amounting to $970 million.

A press release issued by the World Bank on Friday said that, “The World Bank has helped strengthen institutions of a future state while also helping build an economy that can create the jobs and opportunities needed by citizens.”

It stressed that, “Forthcoming grants will continue to support investment in municipal services, water and sanitation, energy, as well as social protection, health and education.

“In the highly unpredictable operating environment, institution strengthening to build the foundation of a strong Palestinian administration and to improve service delivery has been central to the Bank’s program,” said Steen Lau Steen Lau Jorgensen, World Bank Country Director.

“In parallel, the Bank emphasizes private sector development as the key driver for economic and employment opportunities,” He said.

The release said that, “Development assistance will balance short-term stabilization and reconstruction activities with operations and analysis that promote sustainable growth, adding that, “The World Bank will maintain dialogue with the Palestinian authority and donors to develop longer-term opportunities to unleash the Palestinian entrepreneurial spirit, engine for growth with social justice.”

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Ramadan festival kicks off in Jeddah’s historic district

Thursday 25 Jun 2015 – Jeddah (IINA) – Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, and Jeddah Governor Prince Mishal bin Majed recently opened a Ramadan festival in the historic Balad district of Jeddah.

The festival, Ramadanna Kida 2 (Our Ramadan Was Like This), which features many traditional aspects, will continue throughout the holy month. Prince Mishaal stressed the importance of presenting the image of the historic district and Ramadan’s beautiful atmosphere that prevailed in the region decades ago. Prince Mishaal said the Jeddah historic district deserves all appreciation because of its deep historical legacy, and the Ramadan festival gives all the glimpse of the past into the cultures and heritage of the Kingdom.

The festival is open every day from 10 p.m. after Taraweeh prayers until 2 in the morning. The festival has 50 cultural, heritage and entertainment activities held in various parts of the area, with the extension of 1,000 meters in the area of the festival that are decorated with more than 5,000 Ramadan lights. There are activities for all age groups and all segments of society which will connect the present to the past. In addition, there are 26 activities that tell about Ramadan in Jeddah over the past 68 years, including a visit to the Jeddah library, Bashan Cultural House, Museum of Zia Aziz Zia, the historical exhibition of the elite of Makkah.

Organizers expect more than 1 million guests and visitors during the month of Ramadan. The glimpse of past Saudi culture, history and traditions will keep the local community and young generation relate to the past. The festival includes commercial, social, cultural, religious, sport, environment and heritage activities of Hijazi heritage to promote the Kingdom as the house of culture, literature, Arabian and Islamic history, while preserving heritage and the cultural treasures.

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US Muslim media redeems Islamic image

Thursday 25 Jun 2015 – Michigan, (IINA) – Offering a window into Muslims’ life in Ramadan, a recently founded Dearborn company has produced its first Ramadan commercial, displaying a glimpse into Muslim lives and traditions during the holy month, news agencies reported.

“A part of the message is to show that Islam is very diverse,” said Wissam Bazzi, of Dearborn Heights and founder of Piximotion. “Islam in the mainstream media is not the only perspective.”

The 30-second clip features Muslims of various backgrounds, including scenes of families gathering for Iftar, the time to break fast. The commercial highlights thankfulness, discipline and family as some of the key components of what makes Ramadan a special time for Muslims.

The commercial, ends with the message: “It’s Ramadan. A month of human values. From your Muslim friends and neighbors, happy Ramadan.”

Featuring the special time of Ramadan, the project shows the humanity of Muslims, Bazzi added.

The Ramadan commercial is airing in 74 zip codes in Michigan and southern Florida for Comcast Cable customers. More than $5,000 in funds for the commercial were raised through crowdfunding site LaunchGood and about $25,000 were raised altogether. Bazzi said the interest was so great that people even stopped into his office to support the project.

“It’s a beautiful effort of our whole community coming together. The unification of so many different individuals,” Bazzi noted.

Supporters will be glad to hear that the project doesn’t end when Ramadan does. Bazzi said they are planning for a bigger commercial next year.

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Authorities approve construction of mosque in Australia’s Maroochydore

Friday 26 Jun 2015 – Maroochydore, Australia (IINA) – A proposed Maroochydore mosque, previously opposed by more than 200 protesters, has received approval from the Sunshine Coast Council, ABC News reported.

The Sunshine Coast’s Islamic community bought the two-storey house in Church Street from Uniting Care last year and lodged an application for a mosque.

Planning portfolio Councillor Christian Dickson said the application was assessed and managed in accordance with the requirements of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 and the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014.

A rally against the proposal was held last year and saw more than 200 people attended, but premier Campbell Newman and opposition leader Anastasia Palaszczuk condemned their actions.

Federal MP Mal Brought previously urged locals opposed to the mosque to learn more about Islam, rather than succumbing to misguided fear and hatred.

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LEAD STORY: Hindu Man Writes First Biography of Prophet Muhammad in Marwari

OnIslam & News Agencies Thursday, 25 June 2015 CAIRO – Inspired by the ideas and life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), a Hindu man decided to write the first-ever biography of Islam’s Prophet in Marwari, a regional language in Rajasthan’s Shekhawati region.

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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.

“When I was a kid, our teachers would tell us to read books as part of our course. Since those days I spent a lot of time reading. I read Muhammad’s biography too and I thought that I should write about this amazing personality,” Rajeev Sharma was quoted in various Indian websites.

Sharma was born in 1987, in Kolasiya, a village in Jhunjhunu of Rajasthan. He started his own library in his village when he was in 9th standard, Muslim Mirror reported.

Being a good reader, he got the chance to read the biography of Prophet Muhammad whose ideas and life had a great impact of Sharma who decided to translate it into Marwari.

“I didn’t consider religion to be a big deal here. If we think about our past, all religions would live with mutual harmony. It is recently that the intolerance levels have increased,” Sharma was quoted as saying.

Sharma claims that his book, Paigambar Ro Paigam, represents the first original biography about the life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in “Marwari.”

The 112-page biography the first in Marwari is available at “Ganv Ka Gurukul”, an e-version of a library established by Sharma when he was barely in his 9th grade in his village Kosiya.

The passionate bookworm studied Naturopathy in the city and started selling herbs which earned him some money to run the new version of the library.

Having a similar fascination for the Noble Qur’an, Sharma said he is planning to translate it in Marwari as well.

“Paigambar Ro Paigam is already being appreciated by many. I have already received several thousand hits on my website for this. People across the globe have downloaded it,” Sharma said.

There are some 180 million Muslims in Hindu-majority India, making up 13 percent of the country’s population. Christians make up less than 3 percent.

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Marrakech to host the 7th edition of World Connect in October

Sunday 21 Jun 2015 – Marrakech, (IINA) – The largest international network in the air transport industry Air Promotion Group (APG), with a membership of more than 180 companies, will hold on October 28-30 the 7th annual airlines distribution conference, World Connect, in Marrakech.

Attendees from over 65 countries around the globe, the world’s top leaders in the sector of air transport, will take part in this international event to discuss current problems in the airline industry.

The theme of this year’s conference will be “air transport, opportunities, trends and commercial strategies.” This conference will bring together representatives from the world’s most influential companies in the sphere of air transport and aircraft manufacture, including ATA, ARC, Boeing, Amadeus, Airbus, ADP, UATP and SITA.

Last year’s World Connect conference was held in Monaco and drew more than 400 participants, including 95 directors of airline companies and 50 managers of travel agencies.

Highlights of the conference will include a discussion on geopolitical and economic trends of air transport, a concluding session devoted to new distribution capabilities, and presentation of an award to the top airline company based on voting by 2800 travel agencies from 50 different countries.

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Iran to hold 23rd International Qur’an Exhibition

Tuesday 23 Jun 2015 – Tehran, (IINA) – Iran is preparing to hold the 23rd edition of its International Qur’an Exhibition, hosting Iranian and international scholars and artists in the capital Tehran, according to media reports.

In this edition of the event, about 20 artists from different countries, such as Iraq, Syria, Indonesia, Turkey, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, will display their works.

The art section of the exhibition will hold various workshops and display paintings, calligraphy works, calligraphy paintings, conceptual artworks, and photographs by 114 veteran and young artists.

Visitors will also get the chance to see a number of exquisite Qur’anic manuscripts and take part in forums held to illustrate the role of the Holy Qur’an in building an Islamic lifestyle.

The 2015 International Qur’an Exhibition will be held from June 24 to July 14 at Tehran’s Holy Defense Museum.

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Tourist yacht arrival in Maldives increases after two years

Sun.mv – June 22, 2015 – Haa Alifu Uligamu Council has said that the arrival of tourist yachts and cruise liners in the island has increased after a stagnant period of roughly two years.

Arrival of tourist boats per year in Uligamu dropped from 100 to 10 two years ago.

Vice President of Uligamu Council Ahmed Ziyad Hassan told Sun Online that the decrease was due to the introduction of MVR 2,000 as Inward and Outward fees by Maldives Customs Service, and the presence of pirates in the region.

He said that the number has increased from 10 last year to 52 so far this year; and is expected to pick up to 100 over the next few years.

The vessels normally anchor off Uligamu harbour for about three days, allowing tourists to disembark and visit the island, Ziyad said.

“They buy fuel and also visit normal shops. We don’t have any shops designed for tourists,” he told Sun Online.

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Fly Dubai to begin flights between the Maldives and Sri Lanka for USD 160

Sun.mv – June 27, 2015 – Dubai’s low budge airline, Fly Dubai has decided to sell tickets between the Maldives and Sri Lanka for USD 160 (MVR 2467).

Managing Director of the Maldivian agent of Fly Dubai, Inner Maldives, Mohamed Firaq told Sun Media today that they have decided to start the flights on 3 September with three return flights a week.

“The highest fare is at USD 160 for return, since it’s local carriers, meals won’t be provided but package would be included.” Firaq said.

The usual price for flights between the Maldives and Sri Lanka are about USD 180.

Firaq said that 800-737 planes would be used for the trips and the ticket sales would start in the next ten days.

Fly Dubai started flights to Maldives two years ago.

Fly Dubai is a worldwide airline travelling to over 20 destinations.

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Fossils in Cappadocia to live on in geo-park

NEVŞEHİR – Anadolu Agency – A geo-park is set to be built in Cappadocia to display fossils that were unearthed during construction by the Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) last year in the Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir’s Gülşehir and Ürgüp districts.

“This bed dates back nearly 9 million years ago. We have so far unearthed the fossils of horses, oxen, rhinos, giraffe, elephant, pigs and other small cattle,” said Gazi University Archaeology Department Professor Okşan Başoğlu, who is supervising excavations on the area, adding that a three-footed horse had even been found in the area.

Başoğlu said the Nevşehir and Ürgüp region was home to a rich fossil bed and that they would start working on a topographic map to build a geo-park.

“The geo-park project’s center will be Gülşehir and Ürgüp. The beginning spot of the work will be Gülşehir because we have a very important geo-site here. The first bed of the River Kızılırmak is in Tuzköy, dating back 3 million years ago. It can be seen with the naked eye. It should especially be protected,” she said.

Başoğlu said a team of 13 people had started to search for fossils in the Yaylacık area. “This fossil bed was found last year during TOKİ’s road construction. We initiated salvage excavations but then we saw that the bed extended to the right and the left; it was impossible to rescue it,” she said.

Başoğlu said the region was home to a rich fossil bed and that the region’s climate was once similar to that of Africa.

“We will extend this year’s work into a five-year process because fossils come one after the other and it seems that it will take a long time,” Başoğlu said. “We have also carried out excavations that started with a cabinet decision in Sofular. This work started at the same time, and we want to continue simultaneously. We will finish work in Gülşehir and Yaylacık and move to Sofular.”

Başoğlu said the fossils were delivered to the Nevşehir Museum Directorate for registration and then taken back for cleaning.

She said they were continuing scientific work on the fossils. “Their species should be determined Later on, we will display (them). If possible, we want to display these fossils in an open-air environment.”

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Hidden tunnel near ‘Dracula’s dungeon’ opened in northern Turkey

TOKAT – Doğan News Agency – The first 30 meters of a hidden tunnel, near what was described by a Turkish expert as “Dracula’s dungeon,” has been opened in northern Turkey after it was discovered during restoration work on Tokat Castle.

The tunnel in the province of Tokat, known as Ceylanyolu, is estimated to be 350 meters long. Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Abdurrahman Akyüz said they were excited to find the end of the hidden tunnel.

The restoration work was started in 2009 with the aim of opening the castle to tourism. Some restoration was completed the following year before work again resumed in 2014. As part of the project, the bastions of the castle, which were used for defense in the Seljuk and Ottoman eras, were reinforced.

Food preparation areas, a military shelter, a secret tunnel to the Pervane Bath in the city center and two dungeons were found during the restoration conducted under the supervision of three archaeologists.

Archaeologist İbrahim Çetin, who works on the excavations, claimed last year that Wallachian Prince Vlad III “The Impaler,” who was also known as Dracula and lived between 1431 and 1476, was held captive in one of these dungeons during the early 15th century.

Most historians say Vlad III was kept in captivity in Romania. The exact length of his period of captivity is open to debate, though indications are that it was from 1462 to 1474.

Akyüz, on the other hand, said the tunnel in Turkey’s Tokat went through the city center, and added, “We are excavating the tunnel with the museum. We have made progress. Since it has an angle of 45 degrees, it is hard to remove stones and earth. We think that this tunnel was closed in the past to prevent possible danger.”

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Glass terrace drawing visitors to Ulubey Canyon

UŞAK – Anadolu Agency – Though not for the faint of heart, a new glass terrace cantilevered over the western province of Uşak’s Ulubey Canyon has been attracting a large number of brave visitors since it opened last month.

“The glass terrace was finished in a year as part of the Park Canyon Project. It is set up on an area of 135 square meters. A 125-square-meter part of this surface is covered with glass, 112 square meters of which is transparent. The Grand Canyon in the U.S. has 90 square meters of transparent glass. With this feature, the Ulubey Canyon Glass Terrace is the world’s largest glass terrace,” said Ulubey District Gov. Mehmet Aksu.

The 76-kilometer Ulubey Canyon is reputedly the world’s second longest after the Grand Canyon, the district governor said.

The glass terrace, which has already drawn 40,000 tourists since it was opened in May, was designed as a shipboard, said Aksu.

He said most of the visitors were nature lovers from neighboring provinces and that they would reach the first-year goal of 100,000 visitors within a short time.

A center of attraction

Aksu said the canyon was a very important tourist attraction in the province and that park officials would initiate projects to make it easier to reach the canyon floor.

“The Park Canyon Project has been financed by the Zafer Development Agency and Ulubey Union and Village Delivery Service. It had a cost of nearly 1.5 million Turkish Liras, and we have completed its first leg. We plan to increase the number of visitors and make the region a center of attraction. The İzmir-Ankara highway runs through our city. We want travelers between İzmir and Ankara to visit the glass terrace by giving a short break. We have lots of visitors from the neighboring provinces such as Denizli, Afyonkarahisar, Kütahya and Manisa. We have been working on a series of project to promote the glass terrace to foreign tourists,” he said.

Aksu said the Ulubey canyon were very suitable for various nature sports, adding that visitors would be able to engage in sports like jogging, bicycling and mountaineering on the ground of the canyon and at the same time visit the ancient city of Blandus. “The glass terrace was set up on the highest spot of the canyon.”

He also called for investors to come to the district, saying the region was in need of accommodation places.

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Uber crosses Bosphorus with boat service

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet Daily News – Smartphone technology company Uber is set to go intercontinental by carrying passengers back and forth across Istanbul’s central Bosporus strait via water-taxis.

The service, called UberBOAT, will appear on the smartphone app when a user stands near the coastline of the city’s famous waterway.

Uber, which has recently faced harsh criticism in several countries, said it will launch UberBOAT in cooperation with the luxury maritime transportation company Navette–Tezman Holding, in a written statement on June 25. The application will allow users to call on private speed boats for journeys on the Bosphorus, it added.

UberBOAT will be incorporated in the Uber application and can be utilized the same way as other Uber services, charged according to the distance.

Uber’s water-taxi service will start at 50 Turkish Liras ($19) and boats will have a passenger capacity of from seven to 10 individuals. Users are able to split the fare among themselves with the tap of a button, in the same way as other Uber services, the company stated.

Uber users will see the UberBOAT option on the vehicle menu when they are by the seaside. If there is an available boat nearby, users can set their pick-up location and the captain will call to confirm the ride, after which a speed boat will arrive.

“We launched UberBOAT in the city that bridges two continents in celebration of our one year anniversary and provide a reliable and comfortable transportation option. We aim to help users reach their destinations with a comfortable and fun journey. Our aim is to expand Uber with progressive services,” said Uber’s International Expansion Manager Lokman Kuris.

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Govt increasing tour operators’ skill targeting tourism year

DHAKA, June 20, 2015 (BSS) – The government has started to train young tour operators to increase their skills to provide quality services to huge numbers of foreign tourists, expected during the “Tourism Year” to be observed in 2016.

“As per the government decision we are taking preparation to attract one million foreign tourists here in tourism year. As part of our preparations, we are imparting skill development training to the tour operators,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) Akhtaruzzaman Khan Kabir told BSS today.

Despite having wide range of tourism products, he said the country’s tour operators could not utilize those due to absence of proper marketing strategy.

“Side by side international tourism promotion, we have to ensure that we are able to provide quality services to the foreign tourists,” he said.

Last week, the BTB has imparted training to a group of young tour operators targeting the tourism year. “We will continue the process,” Kabir said.

The top official of the country’s national tourism organization (NTO) said they are taking all kinds of initiatives to give a boost to the tourism industry exploiting the occasion of Tourism Year.

The BTB is preparing a policy guideline titled “visit Bangladesh campaign” to make the tourism year a success, BTB sources said.

The campaign divided its task into four stages – preparatory, Pre-year promotion, celebration and evaluation. Apart from planning of pre-year promotion, the BTB has already made a draft event calendar for the tourism year, the sources said.

The government will organize an international conference on Buddhists Tourism circuit in the capital in October to attract foreign tourists to visit historic Buddhist places in Bangladesh.

Ministers from 13 Buddhists dense countries and high officials of World Tourism Organization (WTO) will attend the conference.

The high officials of the BTB are expecting that the conference will help attracting a good numbers of foreign tourists here during the tourism year.

In the proposed budget for 2015-16 fiscal year, Finance Minister AMA Muhith allocated Taka 200 crore to celebrate the year

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Akhaura, Agartala railway project by Dec, 2017

DHAKA, June 20, 2015(BSS)-The Indian para statal organization, NITI Aayog, has decided to commission a proposed 15-km India-Bangladesh railway project along Tripura by 2017, a top state official of Tripura said on Friday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina discussed the issue during the former’s visit to Dhaka on June 6-7 about a Rs 575 crore (USD 90 million) railway project.

It was finalized in January 2010 during Hasina’s meeting with the then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.

“NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog, last week, decided in a meeting in Delhi to put in place the vital railway project between India and Bangladesh by December 2017,” Tripura Transport Secretary Samarjit Bhowmik told a news agency.

Bhowmik, who attended the NITI Aayog meeting, said: “The alignment and other technicalities of laying the track to link Agartala railway station with Bangladesh’s Akhaura railway station would be changed. A final report on the new alignment will be submitted to the centre by June 30 for sanction of funds.” NITI Aayog’s advisor Animesh Singh presided over the Delhi meeting, where officials of ministries of railway, development of northeastern region (DoNER) and external affairs and the Tripura government participated.

The NITI Aayog meeting was held to remove the roadblocks on the Agartala-Akhaura rail project along Tripura capital Agartala. Of the 15 km, 5 km fall in Indian territory and the remaining in Bangladesh.

“On the Indian side, some portion of the track is likely to be elevated,” the official said.

Bhowmik said that India’s External Affairs Ministry would provide funds to lay track in the 10-km Bangladesh territory.

State-owned Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) is expected to lay the tracks on both sides of the border. The Northeast Frontier Railway is the nodal agency for the project, for which alignment of rail line and other technical details were earlier finalized by officials of both India and Bangladesh.

Tripura Transport Minister Manik Dey said: “The new railway connectivity between the northeastern state and Bangladesh will boost socio-economic, trade and business ties between the two countries. After the commissioning of the railway project, Tripura would act as a corridor to the southeast Asian countries.”

Dey told a news agency: “It would become cost-effective to ferry men and material between the two countries and between mountainous northeast region and other parts of India via Bangladesh once the railway project is completed.”

The 1,650-km distance between Agartala and Kolkata would be reduced to only 515 km once the rail track is constructed through Bangladesh.

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More allocation, investment to boost tourism in CHT stressed

DHAKA, June 23, 2015 (BSS)- Speakers at a dialogue today put emphasis on increased budgetary allocation as well as investment in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) to boost tourism in the region.

Unnayan Shamannay organized the dialogue “Proposed National Budget 2015-15: CHT Perspective” at Jatiyo Press Club.

Ushaton Talukdar, MP, CHT Affairs Secretary Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura, ndc and former Secretary Nasir Uddin, among others, spoke on the occasion with former Bangladesh Bank Deputy Governor Ibrahim Khaled in the chair.

Ushaton Talukdar said more allocation in the national budget is needed for the backward communities in the CHT region.

He also stressed ensuring investment- friendly environment in the CHT to boost up tourism.

Referring to the government’s plan about tourism in CHT, Naba Bikram Tripura said the government has been working to include the people of backward communities into the mainstream of development.

“The development partners would invest nearly $300 million in the areas for the development of local people especially for their social safety, education and health,” he added.

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Bangaldesh tourism minister calls for improved hygiene of street food

DHAKA, June 24, 2015 (BSS) – Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon today laid emphasis on ensuring hygiene of street food for promoting culinary tourism to foreign tourists.

“With our diversified and traditional food we have all elements to promote culinary tourism internationally, but for that we need to ensure food hygiene first,” he said while visiting the ongoing iftar hygiene campaign at Shahbagh in the capital.

Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) launched the campaign two days back for ensuring hygiene of iftar items, cooked by the food venders at streets of the capital.

“We have launched the campaign as lots of Dhaka city dwellers used to and love to buy their iftar from street small vendors but the food that are consumed after a long fasting not that much hygienic,” BPC Chairman Dr Aparup Chowdhury said.

Under the eight-day campaign, the instructors of BPS’s National Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (NHTTI) are giving hygiene training to 200 street food venders of Shahbagh, TSC, Nilkhet, New market, Elephant road, Science laboratory, Dhanmondi and Kolabagan in the capital.

As per the campaign, food vendors from Shahbagh to Science laboratory intersection displayed iftar items today cooked in a hygienic way as per the training they received in the last two days. During the visit, Menon distributed apron, t-shirt, caps and gloves to street food vendors at Aziz Super Market.

Side by side conducting mobile court, the minister said the government would like to create awareness and train the food vendors to maintain hygiene of food.

Menon said the campaign will be continued even after the month of Ramadan and it will be expanded to outside of the capital.

The Minister was accompanied by Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary Khorshed Alam Chowdhury.

The BPC is conducting the campaign with the support of BRAC Chicken Enterprise and Tourism and Hospitality Management Department of the Dhaka University, Daffodil University and IBAIS University.

The BPC chairman told BSS that buying of variety types of iftar from street are the tradition of Dhaka city and also part of the culinary tourism of the country

“The tourism tastes are different from person to person, some love to enjoy natural beauty, some to witness traditional culture, some to experience lifestyle of people and there are some who love to enjoy local exotic food,” he said.

“As we account our tempting iftar and other exotic street food items as product of culinary tourism, we should ensure hygiene of the food,” he said.

BPC chairman said the government has declared 2016 as tourism year and set a target of attracting one million foreign tourists under the visit Bangladesh campaign next year.

“We are conducting the hygiene campaign so that we would be able to promote culinary tourism during the tourism year,” he said.

Dr Chowdhury said this the first ever initiative to create awareness on ensuring hygiene of street food and we have the plan to cover all over Dhaka as well as Bangladesh round the year.

He said BPC is uploading photographs of the campaign on their website and Facebook page regularly.

“We have already started to get very good feedback from foreign tourists across the globe,” he added.

The street food vendors also welcomed the initiative and said the campaign will help them to provide healthy food to the customers.

“It’s a good initiative from the government. Mobile court used to visits us and realize fines but never tell us how we could maintain food hygiene,” manager of Zafran restaurant of Aziz Super Market said.

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Abu Dhabi’s Rotana Jet Starts Regular Flight to Dhaka

DHAKA, June 25, 2015 (BSS)- Abu Dhabi based airline ‘Rotana Jet’ started their operations to Dhaka today.

The inaugural flight operated by an Airbus A319 touched down Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) this morning with 108 passengers on board and the return flight left Dhaka with 102 passengers for Abu Dhabi.

A ceremony was organized at HSIA to mark the launching of Rotana Jet’s Dhaka flight. Chairman of Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh Air Vice Marshal M Sanaul Huq was the chief guest on the occasion, a press release said here.

Rotana Jet will initially operate three weekly flights on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Flight from Abu Dhabi will arrive Dhaka at 6.35 am and the return flight will leave for Abu Dhabi at 7.35 am. Flights will be operated by Airbus A319 with 120-seat capacity.

The airline plans to operate to Chittagong Shah Amanat Int’l Airport from July 2 next.

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Protection of ethnic community cultural heritage stressed

RAJSHAHI, June 28, 2015 (BSS) – Speakers at a ceremony here said the issue of ancestral festival and cultural heritage of the plain ethnic minority people should be given importance for protecting those from further degradation.

They termed the culture of the ethnic communities as heritage, resource and integral part of the society, so all quarters should take the responsibility to protect it.

The observations came at the prize-giving ceremony of a daylong issue-based competition of the ethnic minority children and cultural function. Rajshahi Divisional Ethnic Community Cultural Academy organised the programme at its auditorium in the city to mark the historic Santal Revolution and Sidhu-Kanu Day- 2015.

Convener of Adibashi Affairs Parliamentary Caucus (AAPC) Fazley Hossain Badsha, MP, addressed the session as the chief guest with SM Shamim Aktar, Deputy Director of the academy, in the chair.

Principal of Rajshahi Court Degree College Prof Shafiqur Rahman, retired district cooperative officer Suryia Hembrom, Presidium Member of Jatiya Adibashi Parishad (JAP) Anil Marandi, JAP District Unit President Bimol Chandra Rajoad and Executive Director of Adibashi Sangskritik Unnayan Sangstha Raj Kumar shaw also spoke.

Lawmaker Badsha viewed that cultural practices and other ancestral entertainment of the ethnic communities are gradually diminishing due to various reasons and called for protecting the cultural heritage from further degradation.

He said he had been with the ethnic community people in the past and will remain with them in future also. He assured her cooperation for the development of them.

He underscored the need for undertaking effective measures towards the livelihood development of the plain-land ethnic people as they are adjudged as most vulnerable and underprivileged section of the society.

Badsha said Bangladesh is an instance of communal harmony as people of all the religions have been celebrating their respective religious and cultural festivals freely for long.

He observed that the present government is very positive and cautious to uphold the dignity. As a result, the country is now being widely adjudged as a unique example of communal harmony as people of all religions live with equal rights alongside peace and tranquility.

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Bangladesh’s first ‘oil museum’ to be built in Chittagong

CHITTAGONG, June 28, 2015 (BSS) – The state-owned Meghna Petroleum Limited (MPL) is going to set up country’s first-ever ‘oil museum’ in the commercial capital, Chittagong with basic objective to get the people familiar with different kinds of oil and their prolonged history.

Design of a Tk 40 crore project, financed by MPL itself is now waiting for approval from Chittagong Development Authority (CDA), MPL sources said.

Managing Director (MD) of MPL Dr Sharif Ashrafuzzaman said the preliminary official work of the project is about to finish while work of the building is expected to begin very soon.

Terming the museum as a national asset of Chittagong as well as of the whole country, the MPL MD said the structure of the museum to be built in city’s commercial hub and adjacent to the World Trade Centre, Agrabad, would be one of the tallest and most attractive buildings in the city.

According to the project profile, construction work of the 20-storied museum building is expected to begin shortly after the approval of the design by CDA.

The museum will be located on the first floor of the building while the other floors will be housed for different commercial organizations including banks, insurance offices and restaurants.

Project sources said the museum would provide information about different kinds of oil, their history, condition of oil in different countries, history of the discovery of furnace oil in the sub-continent, advent of different oil companies in the country and their activities, oil exploration activities in Bangladesh, oil fields in

Bangladesh, reserve of oil in the country, and achievements and possibilities of oil resources in Bangladesh.

A highly placed source of MPL said the museum would create awareness about the bad impact of wasting oil resource and make people aware of utilizing it.

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Govt signs $505m loan deal with ADB for improving railway

DHAKA, June 28, 2015 (BSS) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government today (Sunday) signed agreement for $505 million loan to further improve the country’s railways that will help the national economy and boost subregional trade.

Mohammad Mejbahuddin, Senior Secretary, Economic Relations Division (ERD), and Kazuhiko Higuchi, Country Director, Bangladesh Resident Mission of ADB, signed the agreement on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB respectively, at a programme at ERD, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka.

“The assistance will help railways better serve needs of people and movement of goods, and help improve domestic and subregional trade,” said Higuchi.

He said this project would also help improve the overall railway transport system in Bangladesh, and aims to reduce transport costs and improve logistics of strategic corridors, such as Dhaka-Chittagong link, for subregional trade.

The South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Railway Connectivity: Akhaura-Laksam Double Track Project will help upgrade the 72-kilometer Akhaura-Laksam section of the Dhaka-Chittagong railway corridor to a double track dual-gauge railway line, along with modern signaling equipment.

The existing track will be upgraded in accordance with the requirements of the Trans Asia Railways network. Eleven railway stations will be reconstructed with special facilities for the elderly, women, children, and disabled. The project will also support capacity development for the permanent project management unit to be established in Bangladesh Railway and for accessing climate mitigation funding.

The Akhaura-Laksam section is part of a major subregional corridor and of the Trans-Asia Railway network. The project was endorsed by the SASEC Trade Facilitation and Transport Working Group in a meeting held in Singapore on 30 October, 2013.

The total project cost is $805 million. The European Investment Bank (EIB) will co-finance the project with $175 million while the government will provide $125 million. The project will be executed by Bangladesh Railway and is expected to be completed by 2022.

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SN Bose Museum inaugurated at DU

DHAKA, June 28, 2015 (BSS)- SN Bose Museum was opened at the Physics Department of Dhaka University (DU) today. DU Vice-Chancellor Professor AAMS Arefin Siddique inaugurated the Museum as the chief guest at a function at the department.

Chairman of Physics Department Prof Md Azizur Rahman presided over the function while former professors of the department Dr Mohtasham Hossain, Dr. Harun-or-Rashid, Dr Ajoy Roy, Dr Md Aminur Rashid, Professor AFM Yusuf Haider and Professor Shamima Chowdhury were present, among others, on the occasion.

Prof Arefin in his speech recalled the outstanding contribution of late Professor SN Bose to develop physics education and research at both home and abroad.

He is well known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, the VC said.

The VC said that Prof SN Bose was very much close to famous scientist Albert Einstein. The class of particles that obey “Bose-Einstein statistics, boson, was named after SN Bose”, he added.

The VC hoped that the young generation would be encouraged by this museum.

SN Bose was a professor of Dhaka University Physics Department. Easy chair, book-self, revolving chair, clock, corresponding letters between Bose and Einstein and many other things used by SN Bose have been displayed in this museum.

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Uganda: Kigezi Tourism Queen to Be Crowned This Weekend

By Samson Baranga

The Observer (Kampala) – 26 June 2015 – Tomorrow evening, at White Horse Inn, Kabale, Miss Tourism Kigezi will be crowned.

That will be the start of her journey to possibly becoming Miss Tourism Uganda 2015, as Patricia Babirye’s reign comes to an end. Miss Tourism Uganda has become the country’s official tourism ambassador and represents the country at tourism events locally and worldwide.

Already the West Nile and Karamoja clusters have been toured, and the winners, who will be representing their respective clusters at the grand finale, crowned. Karen Nyagan, a student at Mubs pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Procurement and Supply Chain Management, was crowned for the Karamoja cluster.

She hopes to promote the unique culture of the Karimojong. Celestine Acheng and Grace Nyagan were first and second runner- up, respectively. Sheila Princess Obila, 22, took the West Nile crown. She plans to increase tourism traffic to the sites in West Nile and use tourism to change her people’s livelihoods. Jildah Angeyango and Rachael Aneker were first and second runner-up from that cluster.

Action returns this weekend with the Kigezi cluster.

There are nine regional tours to be covered before the grand finale later this year. However, not all the regional representatives will be at the finale. The contestants will have to go through training at Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) and tough elimination stages.

Their knowledge of the sector, conservation and strategies for both promotion and growth will determine who gets a shot at the finale. Babirye, a student at Kyambogo University, was crowned last year and went on to represent Uganda in Miss Tourism International. Roberta Jean-Marie Magooba and Nora Atim are the reigning first and second runner-up respectively.

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Chinese Airline Taps Into Uganda Market

The Observer (Kampala) – 24 June 2015 – It is going to get easier for Ugandans to fly to China, after China Southern Airlines (CSA) signed a deal with Kenya Airways to increase the number of flights to Asia’s biggest economy.

Kenya Airways and CSA recently signed a code-sharing agreement, which will provide 20 flights a week between the Nairobi and Guangzhou route. Guangzhou is rated the best commercial city in China.

The flights are slated to start on August 5, 2015, operating every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Nairobi-Guangzhou non-stop services will be the Airline’s second route to Africa.

According to Wells Zheng, the senior vice president of marketing CSA, Uganda and Kenya’s strategic position on the continent, with Nairobi being a major commercial and transport hub, is attractive for the airline to grow its clientele.

“We expect to see continued strong growth in demand for air transportation through Nairobi to the rest of Africa as more Chinese expatriates and businesspeople pitch tent on the continent. We are banking on the increasing intensity of trade between China and Africa to build traffic for our new route,” said Wells.

The launch of the airline, however, comes just a month after the United Arab Emirates national carrier, Etihad Airways, joined the fleet of airlines at Entebbe international airport, also eying the growing traffic to the Far East.

In the last six years, China has become Africa’s largest trading partner with trade volumes between the two growing significantly, now valued in excess of $221.8bn a year.

John Kagoro, the director Airport at the Civil Aviation Authority, said recently that airlines had decided to enter Uganda as the country moved towards oil production.

Wells pointed out that more people in China are heading to Africa for tourism.

“We had three million passengers going to Africa for tourism purposes, and Uganda is one of the destinations that we want to explore and develop,” he said.

In 2013, the number of outbound Chinese tourists was 98 million, an 18 per cent increase from 2012. The expenditure of outbound Chinese tourists reached $128.7 billion in 2013, a 26.8 per cent jump from 2012.

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Nigeria’s Huge Untapped Tourism Potential Lies in Wait

Vanguard – 24 June 2015 – “Utilizing the tourism opportunity in the local communities will fetch government huge revenue.” The traditional ruler of Ilara in Epe, Lagos State, Oba Akeem Adesanya, on Wednesday said that over 80 per cent of Nigeria’s tourists sites were untapped. Adesanya told newsmen in Lagos that Nigeria had over a thousand of such sites that needed to be properly harnessed to generate patronage.

According to him, the situation is due to the absence of a robust policy to attract huge private investments to the sector. “The only way government can exploit the huge tourist potentials in the country is to engage private partnership. “Government cannot harness the nation tourism resources alone but with the support of the private investors, ” Adesanya said.

He mentioned some of the untapped sites to include beaches, wild life parks, monuments, event centres, galleries, festivals, museums, airports among others. “All these tourism potential can contribute 30 per cent to the nation’s economy, if well harnessed and properly funded.

“Visitors and tourists do visit the country day by day to see if there is a new thing, new place and a development in the tourism industry. Adequate funding would facilitate foreign exchange earnings,” the monarch said. He noted that Eredo, Epe local government area has vast land for government to build a mini zoo, relaxation centre and parks.

Nigeria stand at the on going ITB Travel fair in Berlin Germany. The world’s largest travel fair proclaims another sell out year with even more exhibitors than last year and the return of big hitting names

Adesanya, therefore, urged the Lagos and Federal Governments to provide incentives that would attract private investors to exploit the country’s enormous tourism potentials.

“With the involvement and support of private investors, stakeholders and Non-government Organization, Nigeria’s tourism would grow and the country would be a preferred tourism destination in the world. “There are lots of tourism potentials in rural areas and within communities that government can utilize.

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Air Algerie Charters Aircrafts, Plans More Flights for Summer

Algerie Presse Service (Algiers) – 21 June 2015 – Algiers — National airline Air Algerie plans to charter aircrafts and schedule additional flights for the summer season, an Air Algerie official told APS. Thus, two high-capacity aircrafts and two medium-lift carriers were chartered for the period from 22 June to 20 September 2015, said the head of the commercial division of Air Algeria, Zohir Houaoui.

The current fleet of Air Algeria counts 47 aircrafts, of which four (4) have been recently acquired, as part of its program of acquisition of 16 new aircrafts by the end of 2016.

Its fleet will increase to 59 aircrafts.

Air Algerie recently purchased two (2) Airbus A 330-200 aircrafts with a total capacity of 251 seats each and two ATR 72-600 aircrafts with a capacity of 66 seats each.

The summer season, which coincides this year with the month of Ramadan, Umrah and the Hajj season, is the “peak” period of the year for Air Algeria, and, especially for the transport of the members of the Algerian community abroad who come spending holidays in the country.

“The flow of passengers is more important in the second half of the summer season, which will require additional flights from 15 August to 3 September in order to ensure the return of Algerian citizens,” said Houaoui.

For this purpose, 138 additional flights are scheduled during this period with a capacity of 23,834 seats, an evolution of 45% compared to the previous summer season.

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Egypt Tourism Ministry Seeks to Promote S. Sinai Tourism

Egypt State Information Service (Cairo) – 22 June 2015 – Tourism Minister Khalid Ramy has unveiled a package of projects to promote tourism in South Sinai governorate.

In statements on Sunday 21/6/2015, Ramy said that 119 surveillance cameras were installed across the governorate to provide security for tourists and citizens alike.

He noted that five vehicles were purchased to secure tourist groups on their tours in the governorate.

“A project is underway to use solar-powered lamp posts along the road linking between Nabaq and Montazah cities,” Ramy said.

He added that the Tourism Development Authority has funded a project to upgrade the entrance to Saint Catherine city.

Ramy noted that coordination is underway between the Tourism Ministry and South Sinai City Hall to finalize these projects as soon as possible.

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President Jokowi calls for more tourism promotions

24 June 2015 – Jakarta (ANTARA News) – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has urged for an increase in tourism promotional activities to attract more foreign and domestic tourists.

“The president has asked the minister of tourism to maximize the countrys tourism promotional activities to attract more foreign tourists to Indonesia,” Chief of the Presidential Communications Team Teten Masduki said in a press statement here on Wednesday.

While chairing a limited cabinet meeting at the Presidential Office, President Jokowi stated that the slowdown of the national economy should be countered with a rise in the number of tourist arrivals so it can support the national economy.

“Even with slow economic growth, the tourism sector could contribute to foreign exchange in a relatively short time,” the president was quoted as saying.

To increase foreign tourist visits, the president issued Presidential Decree Number 69/2015 on free visa travel. However, according to the head of state, other breakthroughs are still needed to raise foreign tourist arrivals and to earn fresh funds.

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Singapore to launch halal travel guide book

24 June 2015 – Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Singapore Tourism Board has launched a lawful (Halal) travel guide book for Muslim travelers from Indonesia.

“In connection with the 50th Independence Day, we have compiled a Halal travel guide book for Muslim travelers from Indonesia,” Executive Director of the Singapore Tourism Board for Southeast Asia Edward Koh stated here.

Singapore has become one of the worlds best travel destinations, according to the Mastercard Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2015.

The criteria in GMTI survey covers a wide range of factors including suitable places for Muslim families, the level of service and availability of facilities for Muslim travelers, good choices for accommodation, the number of tourist arrivals, choice of menu and Halal food, among others.

“We also provide a wide selection of Halal food and facilities, which has helped us become one of the attractive destinations for Muslim tourists,” he remarked.

He stated that Singapore offers a wide range of Halal food that has been certified by the Halal Certification Agency.

Director of the Singapore Tourism Board for Indonesia Michele Wooi noted that Singapore has a lot to offer to Muslims tourists, and the compilation of a Halal travel guide book is a testament to this fact.

“Singapore is a friendly place for Muslim travelers and has several sites linked to the history of Islam,” Wooi affirmed.

A total of 108 Muslim tourists visit Singapore generating US$145 billion in revenue and accounts for 10 percent of the worlds total tourism economy.

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VP Kalla opens Batik Nusantara 2015 exhibition

24 June 2015 – Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla opened the “Gelar Batik Nusantara 2015” exhibition at the Jakarta Convention Center here on Wednesday.

Organized by the Indonesian Batik Foundation and PT Mediatama Binakreasi, it will be held from June 24 to 28 with the theme, “Batik Uniting Nations.” The expo will showcase thousands of coastal batik motifs and those of the best Indonesian batik collectors.

“The popularity of batik is more widespread now than ever before,” the vice president said in his opening address.

Kalla noted that batik was no longer merely a traditional dress but had undergone innovations for the international market and had been adapted by several countries.

He explained that innovations in batik first started being made on the island of Java, but now, it has evolved in various regions across the Indonesian archipelago.

Furthermore, besides being a cultural factor that serves to unify the nation, batik has also developed in a number of neighboring countries such as India and Malaysia, the vice president remarked.

In addition, he pointed out that since batik was recognized as a World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO in 2009, its reach continues to increase.

Kalla opined that as batik has become part of both official and casual clothing, there are challenges, as well, in terms of productivity and innovation.

According to the vice president, batik has been transformed from a form of traditional art into a masterpiece of global standard. It is also one of the cultural products of Indonesia that people are proud of and want to preserve.

Therefore, Kalla emphasized that the Gelar Batik Nusantara 2015 exhibition is expected to be able to open market opportunities and attract entrepreneurs, investors and institutions to develop batik as an international product.

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Free visa policy has positive impact on tourism: President Jokowi

24 June 2015 – Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The free visa policy, which has been implemented for the citizens of 30 countries this year, will have a positive impact on the tourism industry in Indonesia, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) stated.

“Actually, I have signed a free visa policy for 30 countries several weeks ago. I think it will have a positive impact on the countrys tourism industry,” President Jokowi remarked while presiding over a limited cabinet meeting at the presidential office here on Wednesday.

However, Jokowi noted that breakthrough efforts are still necessary to achieve a significant growth in the tourism industry.

“Thus, the major increase in tourism can generate fresh revenue for the state,” he explained.

Earlier, Tourism Affairs Minister Arief Yahya stated that the free visa policy has become an important step to help Indonesia to achieve its target of tourist arrivals.

According to Yahya, the tourism ministry will continue to implement strategic and effective measures to realize the target of foreign tourist arrivals and domestic tourist travels that have been set by the government.

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Qur’an-inspired Pesticide Replaces Harmful Chemicals

OnIslam & Newspapers Sunday, 28 June 2015 CAIRO – Showing the miraculous nature of the holy Qur’an, a Muslim researcher is set to launch a Qur’an-inspired project to replace the traditional chemical treatments of pesticide by an organic formula.

“Our aim is to explore this miracle, portrayed in the Qur’an, through modern science, and to see if ultimately we can use the pumpkin to develop a natural product that can serve as an alternative to current insecticides,” associate Professor at Canadian University Dubai (CUD) Dr. Marwan Shaban told The Gulf Today on Sunday, June 28.

Shaban was speaking about his project which is inspired by the Qur’an miracles of Prophet Jonah, or Yunus, (peace and blessings be upon him).

The ground-breaking research will assess the antiseptic qualities of pumpkin in a bid to develop a new organic form of pesticide that can replace traditional chemical treatments.

Prophet Jonah was sent to a community in Iraq’s Nineveh to call people to worship One God.

His story is mentioned in the Qur’an and it is mentioned that he left his people and ran away from his duty.

He was swallowed by a whale and lived in the whale’s belly for several days. Then he repented and Allah accepted his repentance.

The nutritional and healing properties of the pumpkin helped Jonah to recover after being expelled from the belly of the whale.

“The research will apply nanotechnology techniques to test the effect of the pumpkin properties on insects, and to explore if they could be synthesized to create a new bio product that would function as an effective pesticide, but without the unwanted side effects that often come with chemical solutions.”

Quran Studies

Scheduled to kick off in July, the project is co-sponsored by Canadian University in Dubai (CUD) and the University of Malaysia Perlis, according to Shaban

The Qur’an-inspired project by Shaban is not his first.

The Muslim researcher has several Arabic publications focusing on nature in the Qur’an, including the botanical world, the insect kingdom, and the rivers featuring in the Holy Quran.

Last December, the world’s first ever copy of herbal Qur’an has been revealed in Dubai, three decades after its creation by a Turkish doctor.

Manufactured by Turkish Unani Doctor Hamdi Taher over a period of 22 years between 1957 and 1979, the hand-made herbal Qur’an was produced from 200 “high potency” herbal mixtures prepared according to Unani medical system.

The Qur’an is a revelation from God, the creator of the worlds, so He is the original author.

There is only one Qur’an which is in Arabic, with many of its translations in several languages.

There could be multiple translations by different authors in the same language such as English.

The Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) through the archangel Gabriel who helped the Prophet memorize the Qur’an, as reported in several authentic Hadith narrations.

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Spirituality Fills Bangladesh Mosques in Ramadan

By Ferdous Ahmad Bhuiya,

OnIslam Correspondent Thursday, 25 June 2015 DHAKA – Millions of people assembled in thousands of mosques during the month of Ramadan throughout Bangladesh, where mosques chalked out various Islamic programs and activities to achieve spiritual and eternal peace during the month of Ramadan.

“There are lots of programs in Baitul Mukarram mosque, the national mosque in Bangladesh that is operated by the Islamic Foundation, to achieving Islamic spirit and to create an Islamic environment during the month of Ramadan,” Rafiqul Islam, deputy director of Bangladesh Islamic Foundation, told OnIslam.net.

Bangladesh is home to over 250,000 mosques, including 6,000 in the capital.

These mosques are usually operated by locals, with no government aid or assistance offered to them.

At the start of the holy month of Ramadan, special programs are arranged at different mosques which turn into spiritual and teaching centers.

At Baitul Mukarram mosque, special classes are arranged throughout Ramadan after the Dhuhr and Asr prayers for interpretation and recitation of Qur’an.

“Another special program is Qiyamul Lail (night prayer) which will begin on 20 Ramadan, during which imams will recite the whole Qur’an during prayer within seven days only,” Rafiqul Islam said.

Hafij Maulana Shamsul Haque, chief Imam of Purana Paltan Mosque in Dhaka, noted that his mosque arranges annual Taraweeh prayer on three levels.

“There are three types of salatul Tarabi held in our mosque each night in support of the sociable scope for different kind (of) fasting peoples,” Haque told OnIslam.net.

The first, held at the main floor of the mosque, is for all fasting Muslims, which includes reciting the noble Qur’an during prayer. The second, held at the third floor, is arranged for people wishing to pray with short verses from the noble book.

A special prayer is also held on the sixth floor for people wishing to recite the whole Qur’an within the last 10 days.


Along with spiritual programs and special prayers, Bangladesh mosques offer iftar meals to thousands of Muslims throughout Ramadan.

“We have various types of programs in our mosque during Ramadan month for local Muslims,” Abul Kashem, secretary of Masjidul Aqsa at Sabujbag in Dhaka, told OnIslam.net.

“Our three main programs are Salatul Khatme Tarabi (Taraweeh prayer), Iftar meals for who present at the mosque during the iftar period and Qur’an teachings for children.

“We have been serving iftar meals for 70-80 peoples per day at the time of Iftar at this mosque during the month of Ramadan,” Kashem added.

Mufti Harunur Rashid, Imam of Masjid ul Aqsa, announced plans for a daily lecture for worshippers who attend traweeh prayer at the mosque.

The daily theme for discussion is the teachings and aim of Ramadan and to create unity of the Muslim Ummah for the peace of mankind, according to Harunur.

Bangladesh is the world’s third-largest Muslim majority nation with a population of over 170 million.

Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.

In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.

It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur’an.

Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.

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Expo highlights verses from Holy Quran

The Peninsula – 28 June, 2015 – Katara, in collaboration with Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, is hosting an exhibition under the theme ‘Verses from the Holy Quran’. It includes over 60 paintings, each with some verses of the holy book.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim Al Sulaiti, General Manager, Katara, and Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani.

Al Sulaiti said the exhibition includes some Quranic verses which talk about peace and the paintings are from a collection at the museum. The expo aims to say to Muslims and non-Muslims that Islam is the religion of peace and tolerance, he added.

Sheikh Faisal said the exhibition also aims to highlight the important of peace in Islam. The next exhibition will be about women in Quran and their position in Islam, he added.

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SCTA partners with key ministries for agri-tourism development

Arab News – 26 June, 2015 – The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) is making a concerted effort to diversify and fully develop agri-tourism in the Kingdom in collaboration and coordination with its partners including the Ministries of Interior, Municipal and Rural Affairs, and Agriculture, and the Agricultural Development Fund.

Moreover, the chief tourism body is also coordinating with related organizations in the private sector to benefit farmers in the Kingdom as well as tourists, an SCTA spokesman said on Thursday.

According to the official, agri-tourism involves agriculture-based operations or activities that bring visitors to a farm or ranch, and is a niche tourism product that is considered a growth industry in many parts of the world.

One of the major themes in the SCTA’s strategies is its effort to diversify and develop tourism products in the Kingdom. “It enjoys a considerable tourism potential and represents a fertile environment for future development and investment in the Kingdom,” he noted.

He further pointed that the initiative aims at contributing to the development of tourism activities, programs and products on agricultural farms, creating elements of entertainment, enjoyment and education for the tourist.

“We believe this will revive tourism activity, and create additional income and employment for Saudi youths,” the spokesman observed.

He added that the initiative will lead to a diversity of national tourism destinations that can be visited by tourists during different periods of time throughout the year.

Moreover, it is also expected to meet the increasing need to create new employment opportunities for local community members in rural areas and improve their living standards.

Furthermore, agri-tourism will also contribute to strengthening coherence between city dwellers and residents of rural areas by introducing the homeland’s potentials and accomplishments in different areas, culturally, socially and educationally.

Agri-tourism will not bring any change in the established agricultural activity, but will instead offer an additional activity through which farmers can receive visitors on their farms, and offer useful and interesting programs and activities.

SCTA recently granted agri-tourism membership licenses to a number of farm owners in Riyadh province to develop agri-tourism in the region.

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Iran linking Iraq with Silk Road

Islamic Republic News Agency – 26 June, 2015 – Iran and Iraq have agreed to connect their railways, opening a new route to link with the much-coveted Silk Road.

Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi travelled to Basra on Thursday to begin construction of a railway track to connect the Iraqi city with Iran’s Khorramshahr.

Iran has finished the line on its territory for a length of 12 kilometers from Khoramshahr to Shalamcheh on the border, with 32 km of the track left to Iraq to complete.

With the completion of the track between Shalamcheh and Basra, Iran will hook up with the eastern Mediterranean nations. For Iraq, the route will provide an access to the Central Asia, Russia and China.

Iraqi Transport Minister Baqir Jabr al-Zubeidi said the project will play a vital role in promoting Iraq’s trade and facilitating transport via the Silk Road and expand its reach to China, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

For the project, the Iranian side has also undertaken to build a 700-meter train bridge over the Arvand River with a moveable deck to provide higher clearance for transport flowing below. It will connect the Iraqi island of Sindbad with Iran’s Arvand Kenar.

Akhoundi said he expected the project to be tendered next week and the integration of the railways to take place in the next 20 months.

Currently, as many as 20,000 Iranians use the Shalamcheh border crossing daily to travel to Iraq. Akhoundi said this number rises to 50,000 during special occasions, such as Shia religious anniversaries.

Iranian pilgrims travel to Karbala, Najaf and Baghdad to pay homage to Shia Imams which are buried in Iraq. Iraqis visit Iranian cities of Mashhad and Qom for pilgrimage.

“With the operation of this railway track, we hope the situation will get better for travelers. It will also connect us to the eastern Mediterranean nations and lead to a transformational change in transit of goods and passengers,” Akhoundi said.

Last week, a delegation of Iranian traders visited Baghdad to discuss investment opportunities in the two neighbors.

According to state figures, annual trade stands at $ 13 billion.

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Kuwait Airways takes delivery of first A330-200 planes

Gulf Today – 26 June, 2015 – Kuwait Airways has taken delivery of its first A330-200, becoming a new operator for the type. In February 2014, Kuwait Airways announced the lease of 12 Airbus aircraft including 7 A320ceo and 5 A330-200s in addition to the purchase of 25 aircraft including 10 A350-900 and 15 A320neo Family aircraft marking the start of a major fleet renewal plan.

Kuwait Airways’ first A330-200 accommodates a three-class configuration of 17 full-sleeper first class modules, 30 very high-comfort business and 165 latest standard economy seats, a combination that shows a clear attention to comfort and efficiency detailed in the features that also include the latest Entertainment systems, and Connectivity throughout the cabin.

“The delivery of our first A330-200 marks a key milestone towards enhancing our fleet,” said Al Rasha Al Roumi, Kuwait Airways chairperson. “The addition of this highly efficient aircraft to our fleet ultimately translates to unbeatable operating costs, best-in-class services, unrivalled comfort and will maintain our schedule integrity and assist in increasing our load factors” “We are pleased to welcome Kuwait Airways as a new A330 operator,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers.

“With the A330, Kuwait Airways will benefit from the aircraft’s low operating costs, proven reliability and great passenger appeal – as well as high levels of technical commonality with its existing A320 fleet,” he said.

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Etihad seals deal to promote tourism in Australia

Gulf Today – 26 June, 2015 – Etihad Airways has signed a deal worth $ 23 million (A$ 30 million) to promote Australia among leisure and business travellers in some key overseas markets.

The new ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ – signed at the Australian Tourism Exchange in Melbourne – extends an existing three-year deal worth $ 9.3 million (A$ 12) million which expires this year.

Tourism Australia Managing Director, John O’Sullivan, said the new deal highlighted Etihad Airways’ commitment to the Australian market.

“We are delighted to further strengthen our relationship with Etihad Airways. This is a landmark agreement which will provide valuable support for Tourism Australia’s global campaigns and marketing activities, as well as some of the industry’s most important trade and business events.”

“Through their strong global footprint, particularly within Europe and their global partnerships, Etihad Airways is now one of Tourism Australia’s most important aviation partners, actively supporting some of our most important international campaigns and playing a critical role feeding traffic to Australia’s key international gateways,” O’Sullivan said.

Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan, said: “Today’s announcement of a further $ 23 million over five years to promote Australia overseas reinforces Etihad Airways’ commitment to the Australian market. It’s pleasing to see our continuing investment in Australian tourism attracting more and more visitors each year and delivering economic benefits to tourism operators Australia-wide.”

Lindsay White, Etihad Airways Vice President for Asia Pacific South and Australasia was present during the event.

“Etihad Airways and its partner airlines — notably airberlin, Alitalia, Air Serbia, Air France/KLM and Virgin Australia – offer a combined network of more than 180 cities throughout Europe and Australia, positioning us as enablers of sustainable tourism growth, and offering consumers greater choice and better connectivity,” James added.

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Saudi Tourism firms boost services amid tough competition

Arab News – 27 June, 2015 – The Kingdom is witnessing a healthy competition in the field of tourism, with local and international firms trying to make a mark in the market with different types of offers.

Some companies have begun to create new programs based on scheduled visits to archaeological sites that have a religious character, along with land and sea trips with certified guides and high quality services.

Other firms have attempted to integrate entertainment, shopping and business through the establishment of commercial complexes that contain hotels, spas, meeting halls and entertainment facilities.

Muhammad Ramadhan, travel and tourism manager at ‪a firm, said: “The company seeks to let visitors experience traditional tourism, as we offer religious trips to mosques, the Hira cave and heritage places in Makkah and Madinah, for families and individuals.‬

Service quality and program diversity are the most important challenges of domestic tourism.”

Muhammad Assiri, marketing director at Red Sea Mall, said that the shopping experience has extended to social development and entertainment, as the design of shopping centers with meeting halls and hotels facilitates combining business, entertainment and shopping.

“Last year, we received the tourism excellence award as the best shopping experience in the Kingdom through presenting more than 62 local and international events for social responsibility, thereby playing an active role in tourism, in addition to providing areas allocated for children.”

Muhammad Alawi, CEO of Red Sea Mall, said: “Commercial complexes are an important part of the tourism industry and a comparative advantage to attract tourists.

The concept of tourism depends on offering a rich and distinctive experience which includes offering shopping, marine and heritage activities to find new and different experiences.”

“Millions of tourists leave their countries every year to search for new experiences. The provision of tourism opportunities in the Kingdom to activate religious tourism and attract tourists from Gulf and Arab countries is the right approach and the perfect replacement,” he said. Alawi said the deficiencies in services around heritage and aesthetic areas, and limited transport options are significant factors that weaken local tourism, calling for a radical change, along with tourism investment development.

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Saudis look for new travel destinations

Arab News – 27 June, 2015 – Traveling is no longer limited to a select few. With a rise in the standard of living and good marketing strategy to boost tourism, more and more Saudis look for new travel destinations.

Saudis book their holidays early and are passionate about going abroad, experiencing new cultures and visiting islands. According to the Information and Research Touristic Center (Mas), the amount spent by Saudis going abroad was SR74.5 billion in 2013.

Wafaa Al Fahied, who is a frequent traveler, said: “I am passionate about going to Europe, especially to Austria and Switzerland. Traveling means liberation and getting away from routine and re-controlling my life in a serene atmosphere. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for pleasure and getting to know other cultures and people,” she continued.

Young traveler Abdulrahman said he only travels to the United States in summer, moving from Florida to New York, Alaska and down to California. He said that every summer, he discovers new things and new states, and that he particularly likes what he sees because “every state is different”.

Haifa Khaled, manager of a travel agency in Dhahran, said the trend of young people and families going away is predominantly focussed in Europe, America and Turkey.

One of the reasons for this, she pointed out, is that most of those on scholarships are there which means that their relatives follow suit.

Dakhiel Al Tayyar, manager at the head office of the Al Tayaar for Travel, said that Saudi travelers have increased by 40 percent in the last five years and want to visit new places.

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Master strokes in calligraphy at Dubai International Holy Quran Award

Khaleej Times – 27 June, 2015 – The Islamic & Arabic calligraphy exhibition held on the sidelines of the 19th edition of the Dubai International Holy Quran Award saw a magnum opus by renowned Emirati calligrapher Narjes Noureddine. Noureddine, born in Abu Dhabi in 1975, is one of the most gifted Emirati female artists, and her calligraphy strokes speak volumes of her talent.

Her masterpieces featuring two verses from the holy Quran have left the audience awestruck.

The exhibition is being run in collaboration with the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Dubai Chamber) where the international competition is taking place until Ramadan 18.

Noureddine currently lives in Dubai where her home is her workshop and gallery. She is always found in calligraphy art exhibitions across the region.

Narjes graduated with a diploma in financial studies and worked in the banking sector until 2006 after which she decided to devote herself to the art of Arabic calligraphy. All set to quench her thirst for this art, Narjes is now studying internal design engineering at the college of arts.

She started her journey with this art in the Sharjah Institute for Arabic Calligraphy in 2000. She was later offered space in The Calligraphers’ Studios, where she met popular calligraphy artist Khaled Al Saai who guided her to the secrets of the art leading her to be honoured with a prize from the Sixth Int’l Calligraphy Competition of IRCICA – Istanbul – 2004.

Narjes travelled to Istanbul in 2006 to continue studying the Thuluth style under masters Hassan Chalabi and Davut Bektash. She also travelled to Tehran in 2007 to learn the Nastaliq (Farsi) style at the hands of Master Abbas Akhawain.

Narjes has held many open calligraphy workshops for the public in different events. She participated in several local calligraphy exhibitions organised by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing in Dubai, Sharjah Governments, and other local parties since 2001. She has also dazzled international audiences in Germany, China, Japan, Austria and Lebanon.

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Women’s exhibition attracts leading businesswomen, entrepreneurs

Gulf Today – 27 June, 2015 – The 17th Women’s Exhibition, organized by Thoraya Al Awadhi, Founder and CEO of Thoraya Al Awadhi Group of Companies opened at the Dubai Ladies Club and on Thursday night.

Supported by the UAE Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Emirates Businesswomen’s Council, the event showcases exhibitors this year who hail from Germany, Italy, Sweden, Egypt, Russia, Slovenia, Tunisia, Hong Kong, Turkey, Syria, Denmark, Greece, India, Switzerland and the UAE. The event will continue until Saturday.

Known locally as a successful Women’s Exhibition, it brings together seasoned businesswomen and women entrepreneurs to showcase their products and services as well as create a networking opportunity for small and medium business from the region and abroad. The exhibition is an ideal platform to shop for Ramadan and Eid festive season.

“Our exhibition has grown exponentially year by year and we are committed this Ramadan to provide our exhibitors support to help them grow their business. We hope more entrepreneurs use our exhibition to create awareness of their products and services,” said Founder Thoraya.

Local dignitaries and diplomats attended the event, including Princess Fay Jahana Ara from the RACH Foundation who is a Goodwill Ambassador for BPW India and a UN Representative (ESCWA).

The exhibition has expanded to include fashion, jewellery, spas and wellness to travel agencies, financial services, medical supplies and health products in addition to many other sectors.

Media partners for the exhibition include the Executive Women Magazine and the Lifestyle magazine.

Thoraya Alawadhi Group of Companies is proud of its focused and long-term relationship with clients. Our aim is to work with our clients, embracing their marketing communication strategies to produce events that convey their key messages and values in a diverse and impacting manner.

We also bring a fresh and innovative approach to exhibitions and marketing services. Our attention to detail and quality of work, paired with years of industry experience, makes us the perfect choice of partner to produce outstanding events.

Women’s Exhibition, it brings together seasoned businesswomen and women entrepreneurs to showcase their products and services at the event.

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Hungary plans halal slaughterhouses

Arab News – 28 June, 2015 – Hungary is seeking to set up halal slaughterhouses so that it can sell livestock in the Saudi market.

Saudi businesspeople should invest in and oversee these facilities, said Levente Magyar, minister of state for economic diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He said Hungary has a $ 130 billion food products market.

“We would like to see Saudi-financed slaughterhouses in Hungary for lamb and other animals that can be sold on Saudi markets. They will oversee operations to guarantee impeccable, quality halal procedures,” Magyar told Arab News during a recent visit.

He said the Hungarian agricultural and food sectors are lucrative because they cover 70 percent of the country’s area. This includes animal husbandry and growing vegetables, fruit and grains.

He said Hungary wants to be part of the growth underway in the Kingdom. “We will not miss the opportunity to develop close cooperation. The political foundation has been laid and now is the time for businesses to deliver and capitalize on these assets.”

Magyar underlined Hungary’s commitment to engage with the Arab world and the Gulf region, to identify mutually beneficial economic partnerships. He said the Hungarian government has identified about 12 areas where it can contribute exclusively.

“So the reason I came this time is to follow up on the extremely constructive, deep rooted and excellent political relationship within the framework of cooperation,” he said. “I want the Saudi business community to understand that we are at their service and can present them with specific offers.”

Referring to his meeting with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal during his visit, he said: “He knows how much a cup of coffee costs downtown. He works in the world with an open eye and always looks at the bills when he is in a restaurant. Obviously he is interested from the financial point of view and found out that Hungary has very competitive pricing compared to other European countries.”

He said Prince Alwaleed has a deep knowledge of Hungary and strong personal relations with the Hungarian prime minister. “The important message he shared is about a great gap in our marketing activities here in Saudi Arabia. Although Saudis have a positive attitude toward Hungary, they don’t know much about it,” he said.

He said both sides agreed that “we should come up with a plan on how to better advertise Hungary to Saudi Arabia in various local media and on different platforms, so that Saudis become acquainted with our country.”

“From what I have seen today, Prince Alwaleed is very supportive of the Saudi-Hungarian relationship and wants to promote our image here. He even proposed that his own media empire participates in such a campaign.”

On the second Arab-Hungarian Business Forum meeting held in Riyadh last year, the minister said it was an initiative of the Hungarian government in the form of an open framework policy, which is based on the realization and conviction that the market here, including the Arab and Gulf markets, are undiscovered territory for Hungary.

He said that following the collapse of communism in Hungary, most of their attention was focused toward the West.

“We now have enough energy and capacity to concentrate on these emerging and extremely fast-developing markets.”

He said they have decided to tighten business-to-business and political links with the Arab world.

“The prime minister was here among world dignitaries to attend the funeral of the late king,” he said.

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Abu Dhabi airport passengers up 15 per cent

Khaleej Times – 28 June, 2015 – Abu Dhabi International Airport on Saturday said year-on-year passenger traffic rose 14.9 per cent in May.

In a statement, it said 1,877,440 passengers passed through the airport in May while nearly 15,000 aircraft movements recorded during the month.


The top five destinations from Abu Dhabi International Airport:

• Mumbai

• Manila

• London Heathrow

• Doha

• Bangkok

These destinations account for 16 per cent of all traffic.

The published figures also included the number of passengers to and from Italy, which have grown by 166.5 per cent compared to May 2014 to over 50,000 passengers, as Alitalia’s newly-opened routes to Milan and Venice started to take effect.

In addition, passengers flying to and from the United States also registered similar increase with more than 106,000 passengers last month, translating into 49 per cent growth in traffic compared with May 2014.

In terms of passenger numbers, India topped the list in May with over 305,000 passengers, up by 58.6 per cent from the same period last year.

Cargo traffic also showed healthy growth with a 9.8 per cent increase in overall tonnage to 73,476 compared to 66,944 in May last year.

Eng Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operations officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “May was an excellent month for us, and we continue to see strong growth across all key sectors with both passenger and cargo facilities running smoothly. The ability to handle increases in traffic on this scale, month after month, is a testament to the efforts and experience of our operations team, as well as a clear indication of our national carrier Etihad’s strong continued growth. With this trend forecast to continue, we remain committed to maintaining and improving levels of customer service, in order to ensure an outstanding experience for passengers at Abu Dhabi International Airport.”

In May 2015, the top five destinations from Abu Dhabi International Airport were Mumbai, Manila, London Heathrow, Doha and Bangkok. These accounted for 16 per cent of all traffic.

Currently under way is the multi-billion dollar re-development and expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport designed to increase the overall capacity of the airport to more than 40 million passengers per year.

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