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6 Jul, 2015

First Brunei Islamic Fashion Exhibition aims to unite local designers

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Shamsi

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 06 July 2015 (19 Ramadaan 1436). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




malaysia logo

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, 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.



21,000 Quranic, religious titles presented at Int’l Exhibition in Iran

Tehran, June 26, IRNA – Some 21,000 Quranic and religious titles are presented at the 23rd Tehran International Quran Exhibition.

Rajabali Salarian, director of the sales section, said 210 booths at the exhibition have presented the different books from Iran and other countries.

He noted that the foreign publishers attending the international Quranic event are from Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

Salarian added that the visitors have received the section very well in the first few days since the exhibition was launched.

The 23rd Tehran International Holy Quran Exhibition was inaugurated at the Sacred Defense Garden Museum in the Iranian capital city on Wednesday.

It welcomes visitors until the 27th day of the holy month of Ramadan (July 14).

The exhibition is annually mounted by the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance during the blessed month of Ramadan with the aim of stimulating development and promotion in concepts of the Noble Quran.

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Malaysian groups to publish Shariah Registered Financial Planning and Wealth Management books

KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 (Bernama) — Malaysian Financial Planning Council (MFPC) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with (IBFIM) on collaboration to publish Shariah RFP Text Books on the 16th June 2015 at Perdana Hall, Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort. The MoA was signed by MFPC’s President, Md Adnan Md Zain and IBFIM’s Chief Executive Officer, Dato Dr. Adnan Alias.

During the event, MFPC’s President, Md Adnan Md Zain expressed his pleasure on signing the MoA with IBFIM. He said by collaborating with IBFIM, IBFIM will construct the Shariah Registered Financial Planner (RFP) modules in the form of books and there will be an additional book entitled Readings in Islamic Personal Financial Plans, Shariah Wealth Management and Case Studies to be published. Registered Shariah Financial Planners will be well-positioned to service their clients and meet their portfolio needs, and these text modules will serve as a reference and will be widely available to enhance Islamic Financial Planning.

This new Shariah RFP text module features fully updated information to reflect the current changes in the market sphere. First written by industry leading practitioners in 2008, the work has been further enhanced to correctly reflect the exponential changes Islamic Finance has undergone over the recent years as the industry has seen the introduction of many new Islamic financial products in the market place.

In line with IBFIM’s mandate to increase the pool of bankers and Takaful operators who are knowledgeable and competent, IBFIM is accountable to promote Islamic Financial Planning in this initial MoA for a period of three years agreement between IBFIM and MFPC. The new Shariah Registered Financial Planner (RFP) text book features seven modules, completely updated information on the current marketplace. It has been designed to help individuals, to understand more about Shariah Financial Planning by underlining the core of the subject. It also serves as a guide to prospective Shariah financial planners to understand the Islamic consciousness of their prospective clients.

Shariah RFP Programme consists of 7 Text Books;

Module 1: Fundamentals of Shariah Financial Planning

Module 2: Risk and Takaful Planning

Module 3: Shariah Investment Planning

Module 4: Zakat and Tax Planning

Module 5: Shariah Estate Planning

Module 6: Retirement Planning

Module 7: Applications in Shariah Financial Planning

Furthermore, a reading book launched by MFPC on Readings in Islamic Personal Financial Plans, Shariah Wealth Management and Case Studies has a marked distinction from available literature on Islamic finance. This augurs well for Malaysia’s thrust to be an Islamic Finance hub.

MFPC is an independent body set up with the noble objective of promoting nationwide development and enhancement of the financial planning profession. MFPC provides an evolving set of Best Practice Standards and Code of Ethics that must be adhered to by Registered Financial Planner (RFP) and Shariah RFP designees. This requirement is aimed at ensuring that the public will be served with the highest quality of financial planning services. MFPC was registered on 10th of March, 2004 under the Societies Act, 1996. The Registered Financial Planner (RFP) programme was launched by the Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Y.Bhg. Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz in November 2002.

The RFP designation was approved by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) as the prerequisite qualification to apply for the Financial Advisers’ License and Financial Advisers’ Representative License. RFP designation was also approved by Securities Commission Malaysia for the application of the Capital Markets Services License (CMSL) in view of the introduction of the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007.

Please visit: www.mfpc.org.my

Since 2001, IBFIM has been conducting training programmes as well as extending business and Shariah advisory services. IBFIM’s tagline “Your Islamic Finance Solutions Partner” manifests its close rapport with the industry and its wide range of services.As market leader, IBFIM’s certification programmes are developed, moderated and recognized by the industry. The programmes cover four disciplines: banking, takaful, capital market and wealth management. IBFIM’s Islamic Finance Qualifications are mapped out in an innovative Progression Route which in itself is a motivation for industry personnel to enhance their competencies in moving up the corporate ladder.

IBFIM’s stock screening methodology is best practice, serving clients seeking truly Shariah compliance. IBFIM is the market leader in Shariah advisory for Shariah-based funds and in Shariah audit. IBFIM has helped in the conversion and establishment of Islamic financial institutions.

Please visit: http://www.ibfim.com/

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Malaysian National Oil Company creates opportunity to turn personal stories into short film

KUALA LUMPUR, 26 June (Bernama) — PETRONAS has launched a digitally-lead communications campaign that seeks to crowd-source and create a Hari Raya Aidilfitri short film, a new approach to creating memorable advertisements for the festival. Reaching out to the Malaysian public for their fondest Raya memories in its “Raya Treasures” campaign, a lucky participant stands the chance of becoming part of PETRONAS’ festive communication heritage, with their personal Raya story being made into a short film.

“For the past two decades, PETRONAS has been bringing Malaysians together through its festive communications by celebrating the values, traditions and cultures that make up our nation,” said Liz Kamaruddin, Senior General Manager, Group Strategic Communications Division of PETRONAS. “While keeping to that focus, this year’s Raya Treasures campaign takes a very different approach as we would like to see Malaysians play a more active role in reaching out to each other,” she added.

Over the years, PETRONAS’ festive communications have been highly anticipated across the country, as it incorporates and highlights elements that celebrate the beauty of multi-ethnic Malaysia. Many of its campaigns have been key to sparking positive conversations and have brought Malaysians, regardless of backgrounds, closer together.

“At PETRONAS, we believe that the memories and lessons that we individually experienced yesterday, define who we are today. Collectively, these stories define us as a community and a nation; these memories are a treasure trove of lessons that possess various ideals, values and practices that has seen us through bad times and good times, and have helped us grow as a community. We believe that the Raya Treasures Campaign will inspire Malaysians to appreciate and treasure their personal stories and the stories of others,” Liz explained.

PETRONAS’ Raya Treasures Campaign calls on all Malaysians, regardless of background, to share their memorable Hari Raya stories. From now until 3 July 2015, Malaysians can submit their stories and memories by emailing them to digital.comm@petronas.com.my, or by hashtaging #RayaTreasures with their submissions on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Instagram. From the stories submitted, a winner will be selected, with the winning entry being produced as the PETRONAS’ festive short film.

To kick off the campaign, PETRONAS has released a short video clip featuring writer, director, actor, comedian, singer, songwriter and presenter, Afdlin Shauki, calling upon Malaysians to share their stories in the Raya Treasures Campaign.

For more information and to watch the PETRONAS Raya Treasures Campaign video, please visit the PETRONAS Brand Channel – www.petronasofficial.com/festive/raya2015.

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Isfahan, candidate for capital of World Muslim youth in 2016

Isfahan, July 1, IRNA – Deputy head of Isfahan province Department of Sports and Youth for Cultural and Youth Affairs on Wednesday announced candidacy of Isfahan city for capital of the World Muslim Youth in year 2016.

Mohammad Masoud Karimi told IRNA that Iran intends to introduce a candidate for the capital of the Muslim World in 2016.

He said Tabriz, Mashad, Shiraz and Hamedan are among the candidates.

‘Different standards and norms have been taken for the candidate city.’

Karimi said that Isfahan has all standards and added that in 2006 Isfahan was introduced as cultural capital of the Muslim World and in year 2009 as Islamic Iran cultural and civilization capital.

He said that Isfahan has sisterhood treaty with 14 cities of the world.

Istanbul was introduced as capital of the Muslim World Youth in year 2015.

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350 exquisite artworks on display at Tehran Int’l Quran Exhibition

Tehran, July 1, IRNA – More than 2000 works of Quranic arts were sent to the secretariat of the 23rd Tehran International Quran Exhibition, head of the exhibition said.

Hojj. Mohammad Reza Heshmati, also the culture ministry’s Quran and Etrat Deputy, added that 350 of the submitted works were selected and are on show at the Quranic event.

He noted that the artworks are in different fields of arts such as calligraphy, painting, photography, calligraphy-painting and sculpture.

Hojj Heshmati noted that special attention has been paid to the art section in this year’s exhibition.

The 23rd edition of Tehran International Holy Quran Exhibition was launched in the Iranian capital city on Wednesday, June 24.

The Quranic event is annually mounted by the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance.

It is organized during the blessed month of Ramadan with the aim of stimulating development and promotion in concepts of the Noble Quran.

The expo showcases the latest developments and achievements in Quranic sciences, activities and products.

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Swiss Airline Launches Algiers-Geneva Direct Service

ALGIERS, June 29 (NNN-APS) — A regular direct flight from Algiers to Geneva was inaugurated Saturday by the Swiss airline company Swiss.

The Swiss airline, created after Germany’s Lufthansa bought the former Swissair, returns to Algeria after a 20-year absence and will operate three Algiers-Geneva flights a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Swiss, Lorenzo Stoll, one of his company’s objectives in resuming its services to Algeria is to meet not only the demand of the Algerian community in Switzerland, whose number is quite important, but also that of the Swiss people wishing to travel to Algeria.

“We decided to open this service since we witnessed a hole in our destinations,” added the official who noted that the leaders of the airline company realized the importance of opening a service to Algiers to be one of the gateways into Africa.

Swiss Ambassador in Algeria Muriel Berset Kohen said the inauguration of the flight would help to increase and facilitate the flow of people between the two countries, especially for businessmen.

The Chairman of the Algerian-Swiss Chamber of Industry, Allain Rolland, stressed the importance of economic relations between Algeria and Switzerland, adding that the new service would help promote them further.

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Indonesia: East Nusa Tenggara Province Promotes World Wonder Tourist Icons

KUPANG, E.Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, June 30 (NNN-Bernama) — The East Nusa Tenggara provincial administration is promoting world wonder tourist icons such as Komodo and Lake Kelimutu along with other nautical and natural tourist sites, reports Indonesia’s Antara news agency.

“Since these two famous tourist icons are set as The New Seven Wonders Of Nature, East Nusa Tenggara has become the tourist gateway of Indonesia besides Bali,” Head of Tourism and Creative Economy Office of East Nusa Tenggara Marius Ardu Jelamu stated here, Monday.

He said komodo, scientifically known as Varanus komodoensis, living in Komodo National Park, which includes three islands: Rica, Padar and Komodo, has attracted worldwide attention as an ancient species that still exist today.

This ancient reptile has been highlighted by the government while organizing national and international events in its efforts to make East Nusa Tenggara a leading tourist site in Indonesia. Sail Indonesia, which has been held since 2009, was organized by the name of Sail Komodo in 2013.

According to Jelamu, the Komodo National Park has beautiful underwater flora and fauna, small islands with attractive beaches, and biodiversity.

“Komodo National Park was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1986 and a World Heritage Site in 1991,” he remarked.

Besides Komodo, Lake Kelimutu, which is also famous as the Lake of Three Colors, is one of the natural wonders located approximately 66 kilometers from Ende City.

Located in the National Park, Kelimutu National Park lies at a height ranging between 1,500 and 1731 meters above sea level. This lake has three colors: red, blue, and white that constantly change to green, light green, and black, among others.

The color change is caused by iron and sulfur salts and minerals contained in the water of the lake as well as volcanic gas activity and sun exposure.

With regard to the cultural attractions being promoted by the administration are the graves of the Kings located in East Sumba and in some villages such as Prailiu, Pau-Desa Watu, Hadang, Praiyawang, and Rambangaru, among others.

The graves, which are usually situated in front of the king’s house, are made of megalithic stones, covered by a rectangular stone with four poles measuring approximately 1.5 meters in height.

“The traditional house in East Sumba is also interesting to visit,” Jelamu said.

He explained that this house has a high tapering roof with heirlooms stored within it. This custom home is divided into two separate sections for males and females.

“The traditional house is surrounded by interesting megalithic graves,” he added.

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Qatar Airways to Increase Frequency To 12 Popular Destinations

DOHA, Qatar, July 1 (NNN-QNA) – Qatar Airways has announced network frequency increases, to multiple destinations across its global network, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

The Qatar national airline is adding frequencies to its popular routes – Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Peshawar (Pakistan), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Belgrade (Serbia), Sofia (Bulgaria), Asmara (Eritrea), Djibouti (Djibouti), Najaf (Iraq), Luxor (Egypt), Salalah (Oman) and Zanzibar (Tanzania), all of which are launching over the coming months.

The increases in frequency will provide business and leisure travellers to and from these destinations with more flexibility and greater choice to connect onto Qatar Airways extensive global network, covering Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North and South America.

From July 16, Qatar Airways will increase its frequency on the Doha-Dubai route with one additional daily flight, taking its capacity to 15 services a day to Dubai International Airport (DXB), which also takes the total frequency to DXB and Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) to 19 flights a day.

Dubai has the highest frequency in the airlines’ route network and this popular Gulf destination is currently served 126 times a week.

Flights to destinations in the Middle East have also increased with an additional daily flight during Ramadan to Jeddah.

Qatar Airways will also be strengthening its commitment to Pakistan.

The popular Far East destination of Kuala Lumpur, which is currently served 21 times a

week, will have three additional flights from July 2 to Aug 29, helping to supplement busy travel demands during this summer season.

The Sofia-Belgrade linked route, which is currently served with five flights a week, will see an increase to daily flights when it adds two more flights.

Starting from July 1, Qatar Airways will initially operate five weekly flights to Zanzibar via Kilimanjaro, and commencing Oct 1, the airline will offer an additional two weekly flights making it a daily operation to Zanzibar.

Expansion in Africa includes one additional weekly flight to both Asmara and Djibouti from July 1 and July 3 respectively.

Service to Luxor in Egypt will increase with one more weekly flight effective from Nov 1, 2015 to March 20, 2016, while Najaf in Iraq will be operated with two additional weekly flights from July 15 taking its frequency to 10 weekly flights.

From Sept 18, four additional weekly flights will be launched to Najaf making it a double-daily operation.

In addition, Qatar Airways will operate three more weekly flights to popular tourist destination, Salalah from Oct 6.

Qatar Airways has expanded rapidly during its 18 years of operation and today serves 147 destinations around the world with a 161-strong fleet of modern, state-of-the-art aircraft including the A350 XWB for which it is the global launch customer.

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LEAD STORY: First Brunei Islamic Fashion Exhibition aims to unite local designers

Borneo Bulletin Online – July 04, 2015 – WITH the official opening of the 1st Brunei Islamic Fashion Exhibition (BIFEX) 2015 recently at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas came the soft launching of Brunei’s very own Brunei Islamic Fashion (BIFASH) – a community for Brunei’s local Islamic fashion designers and entrepreneurs.

malaysia logo

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

BIFASH was founded and established this year by Mia Suria, founder and designer of Hijab Maryam, who has set the community up as a social platform to provide online, as well as offline, exposure exclusively for Bruneian Islamic Fashion designers and entrepreneurs through its soon-to-be-launched website portal, www.bifash.co.

In an interview with the Weekend Bulletin, Mia Suria expressed her belief that the community will be able to unite all Bruneian designers as it will act as a great marketing stage to promote their products both locally and globally.

Furthermore, Mia Suria said that BIFASH has opened doors and given opportunities like providing growth for local businesses as well as act as a platform for local brands in the industry by increasing the awareness to the public of their existence.

“The products are Bruneian-made and people need to appreciate them as well as start recognising their presence and efforts,” said Mia Suria. “I find that it’s really important to support locals.”

Through BIFASH’s collaboration with Songket Wedding in co-organising BIFEX 2015, Mia Suria voiced that the exhibition is an important initiative to encourage Bruneian local businesses and brands to meet standards in order to stand out, as well as to create a deeper and better understanding of Islam through an entrepreneurial perspective.

With currently a total of 10 Bruneian local designers and entrepreneurs offering products that are Syariah compliant, BIFASH’s missions are to bring together such designers under one community to collaborate instead of compete with each other; to showcase Bruneian-made products; to empower Bruneian Islamic fashion designers; to unite as one instead of trying to be the only one; and mainly to promote the beauty of modesty and moderation.

BIFASH also envisions to share their love of hijab, inspire Muslimahs to dress with modesty, as well as to encourage Muslimahs to don hijabs as a lifestyle.

“The main idea behind BIFASH is not to just have a business to make money, but also to make a difference in the world and the hereafter,” added Mia Suria. “I need to get other Bruneians on-board as well to give them exposure and opportunities because I know we are able to make it internationally.”

During the interview, the Weekend Bulletin also had the opportunity to speak to two of the fashion designers who have become a part of BIFASH.

The first designer was Nisa Masir, Co-Designer and Co-Founder of Covered by Annisa which started in 2009, who expressed her enthusiasm over being a part of the community as it has given them the ability to build and improve their brand.

“We can collaborate with other designers, and as we don’t have any fashion background this will enable us to learn from each other,” said Nisa.

Nisa added that BIFASH supports the Muslimah trends of the moment and being in a business, designers and entrepreneurs need to support each other, rather than compete, because it will give them the ability to further develop through their different styles.

On giving advice to aspiring designers who are interested in being a part of BIFASH, Nisa believes that they will need to find their own niche as everyone has their own style and signature.

“This is something that you are passionate about and it is something you can bring your own identity to, with that they will hopefully be successful,” added Nisa.

Meanwhile, Hajah Naqiyah binti Dato Paduka Haji Ishaaq, Founder and Designer of El Jumana Boutique, expressed that she felt good being a part of BIFASH as they are finally able to meet people who understand each other through similar objectives and principles such as being fashionable in a modest way.

“In BIFASH we can educate ourselves and each other because as business people we also talk about how we can enhance our businesses,” added Hajah Naqiyah.

El Jumana Boutique is one of the few that have managed to penetrate the outside market in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and will soon be taking up discussions with Zalora Malaysia to sell their products in the online shop.

With the experiences she has, Hajah Naqiyah urges aspiring designers to not be afraid of what others have to say about their product as businesses have many trials and errors as well as fall-backs. She believes that it’s important to learn and not make the same mistake twice.

The El Jumana founder and designer also stated that networking is very important, especially when a designer plans to bring their designs abroad, and BIFASH plays an important role in that it can help with networking with people who have common interests.

Moreover, mentors, doing hard-work and using the social media are part of the key to having a successful business for Hajah Naqiyah.

“Don’t be afraid of spending a little money because it is an investment which can help your business,” said Hajah Naqiyah. “If you want to copy, steal like an artist and make it your own by improving what you copy through finding your signature item and work from there.”

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Malaysia Airport Passenger Movements Expected To Grow

KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) expects to revise upward its passenger movements at Malaysia’s airports before year-end from the current forecast of 85.8 million.

Its managing director, Badlisham Ghazali, said MAHB saw healthy growth from across Asia-Pacific region and expected the trend to continue for the next couple of years.

“In addition to benefitting from the current cheaper ringgit, this is the best time for foreigners to visit Malaysia.

“We will still monitor the situation. If the trend continues for the next couple of months we will revise our target before year-end,” he told a media briefing after the celebration of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)’s 17th anniversary here today.

Meanwhile, he said, All Nippon Airways, the Japanese airways will fly into KLIA in November.

For the first five months of 2015, KLIA registered a total of 20.1 million passenger movements and continues to welcome new and returning airlines.

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Pan Borneo Highway Boost For Sarawak State Economy – PM Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia July 1 (NNN-Bernama) — Najib Tun Razak today expressed optimism that the Sarawak stretch of the Pan Borneo Highway would trigger intensive economic growth and transform the life of the people in the state.

The prime minister said the highway would also help realise the government efforts to bring development to the people as the road links the major cities in the state and connects to a highway in Sabah.

“It is my dream to see balanced development and a reduction in the development gap among peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak become a reality,” he said in his latest post on his blog, www.najibrazak.com.

Najib yesterday witnessed the signing of an agreement for construction of the 1,090-km-long Sarawak stretch of the Pan Borneo Highway among the federal government, Sarawak government and Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd (LBU) in Putrajaya.

The accord was signed by Works Ministry secretary-general Zohari Akob; Sarawak state secretary Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani and LBU chairman Abang Ahmad Urai Hakim Abang Mohideen.

Works Minister Fadillah Yusof; Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem and Chief Secretary to the Government Dr Ali Hamsa also witnessed the signing of the agreement.

The first phase of construction of the highway involves a 773-km alignment, and work on it is expected to begin in September.

The Sarawak stretch is part of the 2,239-km Pan Borneo Highway that will eventually link the major cities of Sarawak and Sabah.

Najib said that just like the North-South Expressway in the peninsula, the Pan Borneo Highway would open up development opportunities and improve inter-city links. The Pan Borneo Highway is being constructed at a cost of RM27 billion and it is expected to be completed in 2020.

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Tourism grows in Lebanon despite tension

Tuesday 30 Jun 2015 – Jbeil, Lebanon (IINA) – Lebanon is experiencing growth in tourism despite the myriad of political problems, The Lebanese Daily Star reported, citing Lebanese Tourisim Minister Michel Pharaon.

“Despite all the problems facing the country, tourism witnessed a growth of 25 percent over the past nine months,” Pharaon said during a ceremony at the Sports and Culture Club in the Jbeil district town of Qartaba.

He said the growth was owed to civil society, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, as well as the Lebanese Army’s role in fighting terrorism along the border with Syria.

Pharaon warned that recent attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France should put more responsibilities on “our shoulders.”

Pharaon also warned of the “grave danger” Lebanon would face if the fighting escalates in Syria’s Homs province and near Damascus, “which could lead to a new wave of refugees.”

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Djibouti to establish its first wind farm

Friday 03 Jul 2015 – Djibouti, (IINA) – In a bid for energy independence, resource-scarce Djibouti will be getting its first wind farm, news agencies reported.

The country’s Energy Minister Ali Yacoub Mahmoud and Vice-President of Shanghai Electric Group Chen Shuyu signed an agreement for the construction of a 60MW wind power installation in Djibouti on June 23 .

The project, whose feasibility study was done by Djibouti electricity authority, will be constructed in two phases of 30 MW each, Xinhua reported.

The project will also include the construction of two electric lines with a 230 KV capacity in northern Djibouti.

The minister noted that his country aims to be a regional and commercial hub.

“This new project is also in line with our national strategy of achieving energy independence, while also guaranteeing clean, cheap and accessible energy across the national territory,” the minister said.

In 2013, Djibouti signed an agreement with Shanghai Electric for the construction of a power transmission line linking Djibouti and Ethiopia, the minister said.

Djibouti is a tiny Muslim nation located on the east African coast.

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MPL has been tasked to develop the lagoon of Dhiyaneru especially for Safari yachts

Sun.mv – June 28, 2015 – Economic Minister, Mohamed Saeed has said that the development of the Dhiyaneru lagoon near Aarah as a temporary harbor for safari yachts has been assigned to the Maldives Ports Limited (MPL).

“Dhiyaneru has been given to MPL to develop as a harbor for safari vessels for temporary use.” Minister Saeed said.

He said that the MPL is preparing to offer services required by the safaris at Dhiyaneru.

Minister Saeed said that there would be a yacht marina by the end of the second phase of the Hulhumalé Development Project and that would be a permanent harbor for safaris.

“If the safaris increase and the demand exceeds, the Dhiyaneru lagoon can be used at any time.” Minister Saeed said.

Minister Saeed met with the Liveaboard Association of Maldives and shared the news of a safari harbor.

According to the Liveaboard Association, the major talking points at the meeting was to find a safe harbor for safaris, forgiving the duty charges on safari building materials, a system to recognize luxury yachts and taking steps against people selling false vacations.

“Our Association was formed to discuss a harbor with the government.” The President of the Liveaboard Association, Hassan Haleem said.

He said that different people of Liveaboard have worked to find a dedicated harbor.

“A longtime dream of ours is fulfilled now.” President Haleem said.

There are 165 Safari yachts in the Maldives.

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Hidden history revealed in Ermenek

KARAMAN – Anadolu Agency – Best known for coal, the ground beneath the southern Anatolian district of Ermenek is continuing to reveal priceless artifacts from humanity’s prehistoric era, as well as more recent ancient civilizations.

Ermenek Mayor Uğur Sözkesen said the district in the Taurus and its vicinity had been a settlement for people since prehistoric ages thanks to its geographical features that enabled inhabitants to shelter and hunt.

Historical artifacts that have been unearthed during excavations suggested that the city had a history of 4,500-5,000 years, said Sözkesen. “It has seen the traces of the Hittites, Akas, Babels, Persians, Romans, Byzantines and Turks. All these traces can be seen clearly without much effort. It is also possible to find unknown sites and remains in the region.”

The mayor said that as part of the work initiated to unearth the historical artifacts in Ermenek, excavations had started this year in three spots under the consultancy of the Karamanoğlu Mehmetbey University (KMU) Archaeology Department.

“One of these excavations is the Germanicopolis excavation. This is a graveyard on the skirts of the Firan Castle in the district. The rock tombs here date back to the third century B.C. We believe that that there were tombs from notable people in the area. Lots of findings here have shed light on the unknown pages of history. After being registered by the Karaman Museum Directorate, the findings were collected by Burdur University for examination. Mass graves have been found. Eight-10 people are buried in a single grave.”

Sözkesen said that besides the Firan Castle, there were also Asar and Mennan castles, overlooking the Ermenek Valley. “Work will be carried out in these castles. When the work is done, the district will become a tourism center.”

The Karaman Museum director and head of the excavations, Abdülbari Yıldız, said works had been continuing in Yukarıçağlar and Gökçeseki, as well as the city center, that had revealed necropolis areas in three spots.

Yıldız said they had found many burial chambers carved in rocks and sarcophagus covers through the slope in the ancient city of Sibide in Yukarıçağlar.

“Some of the rock tombs have figures that are roughly processed. A marble sarcophagus from the third century B.C. has been unearthed. The sarcophagus was damaged in the ancient age. It has an inscription on its front façade and wreath on both its sides. We expect to find other sarcophagi like this,” he said.

Yıldız said they had also found exciting artifacts during excavations in Gökçeseki. “We have found eight Roman-era marble sarcophagi on a three-ladder platform. In the southern part of the area, ceramic garbage was uncovered. Here, there were lots of broken ceramics and glasses as well as nine busts of emperors and senators made of limestone. We think that this was a place where gifts were collected during visits to graveyards. It is possible to find ancient-era garbage in excavations.”

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Ancient city of Perge rich in sculptures

ANTALYA – Anadolu Agency – Archaeological excavations, which have continued for the last three years in the ancient city of Perge, located in the southern province of Antalya, have revealed 13 rare sculptures. Among the recently discovered sculptures were the Roman emperor Caracalla and a number of Greek gods and goddesses, including moon goddess Selene and fortune goddess Tykhe, as well as a detailed horse sculpture.

The sculptures have come to the light in the ancient city of Perge, which lies within the borders of the Aksu district, 17 kilometers away from Antalya city center.

For the last three years, the Antalya Museum has been carrying out excavations and the 13 sculptures found during this process have been put on display in the Perge Hall inside the museum.

The head of Perge excavations and Antalya Museum Director Mustafa Demir said the Perge excavations had been conducted by Istanbul University and handed over to the museum by the Culture and Tourism Ministry in 2012.

He said they had reached the gate opening to the necropolis (large cemetery) in the end of the western street of the ancient city between 2012 and 2014.

“We continued this work this year, too. We focused on the rehabilitation of the field on the northern-southern street for visitors to walk easily. One of the structures that made us very pleased during the work was a fountain next to the northern bath. We found the Caracalla sculpture inside this fountain structure. The Caracalla sculpture is the only in the world found as a whole,” Demirel said.

Among the sculptures found in this area were mythological gods and goddesses as well as a horse sculpture and an Aphrodite sculpture, said Demirel, adding the Perge Hall had been opened on May 18 for the display of these artifacts.

He said they had been working for the last two years with the support of Cultural Heritage and Museums General Director Abdullah Kocapınar, adding a nearly 350-square-meter area in the ancient city had been excavated in three years.

Sculptures unearthed in three years:

Caracalla: A sculpture of Roman Emperor Caracalla, who lived between 188 and 217. The nearly 220-centimeter high sculpture is the only sculpture of the emperor that still survives as a whole.

Horse: A 130-centimeter high sculpture found in front of the F5 Fountain in the western street. The anatomic details of the horse are depicted very clearly.

Selene: The daughter of Hyperion and Theia, the sister of the sun goddess Helios and the down goddess Eos. She was the goddess of the moon. The sculpture is two meters high.

Nemesis: The daughter of night goddess Nyks. The 170-centimeter tall sculpture wears a transparent, one-shouldered dress.

Tykhe: Named Fortuna in Latin, Tykhe was the goddess of fortune, considered a honored person and the main goddess of Perge.

Helios: The son of Hyperion and Theia and the god of the Sun. Being likened to Apollo, Helios is depicted as a strong and handsome man.

Asclepius: He is the son of Apollo and the god of health. The sculpture wears a one-shouldered dress and carries a ferula in his left hand and a plate of medicine in his right hand.

Aphrodite: The goddess of love and beauty. The body was found in its entirety; the head, right hand, left arm, legs, feet and pedestal were found in different pieces and merged.

Priest: The sculpture has two snake reliefs on its neck. The dressed sculpture has a horn-of-plenty in his right hand.

Athena: The goddess of intelligence, arts, strategy, inspiration and peace. Depicted as dressed and armored, the sculpture has very fine details.

Dressed woman: A headless female sculpture, wearing a long dress and a coat.

Dressed man: A headless male sculpture, holding a sword.

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Last Northern Anatolian amphitheater to be unearthed

TOKAT – Anadolu Agency – The last amphitheater of the northern Anatolian region will be unearthed in an excavation in Turkey’s province of Tokat. The amphitheater is located just east of the historic castle of Zile, a city with a long Roman history and battle that prompted Roman Emperor Julius Caesar’s famous phrase, “veni, vidi, vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered).

Zile Mayor Lütfi Vidinel said Zile was home to many ancient castles. He said that the Roman people had built meeting places in the shapes of amphitheaters, as “these meeting areas are half-rounded places with steps.”

Vidinel said they had been working on these areas and applied to the Culture Ministry’s Directorate of Museums for further excavation help. He said beginning the excavations would be a long process, adding, “We have applied to start excavations in the area. We hope to unearth the part of the amphitheater, which now lies underground … Some legal regulations need to be completed. We set to start excavations in the amphitheater by the end of 2015 or in the beginning of 2016.”

Vidinel said the city’s hopes to increase the number of tourists in the region by using the amphitheater “just like the previous civilizations did in the past,” presenting concerts, plays, and other entertainment in the old arena.

According to historical documents, Caesar waged a bloody battle against Pharnaces II in Zile’s region of Altıağaç. Although both sides suffered losses during the battle, Casesar turned it into a quick Roman victory, thus inspiring the words “veni, vidi, vici,” sent via letter to the Roman senate. He also built a stone tablet and inscribed these words upon it.

In 2012, the municipality of Zile announced the acquisition of a 10-year Turkish patent license for Caesar’s famous saying. According to Vidinel, it took two and a half years to acquire the patent.

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Ancient granaries found in Denizli

DENİZLİ – Anadolu Agency – Structures from 1,900 years ago have been unearthed during archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Tripolis, located in the western province of Denizli’s Buldan district. The structures were used as granaries, according to officials.

The archaeological excavations have been ongoing in Tripolis, located on a triangle of Phrygia, Karia and Lydia.

The head of the excavations, Pamukkale University Archaeology Department member Associated Professor Bahadır Duman, said this year’s work had begun in the ancient city in March, adding a surface survey proved the region dated back to 5,000 years ago and had been reestablished in the 2nd century.

“The area of granaries is one of the fields where we are working this year. It is made up of two buildings attached to each other. Tripolis is located along a plain watered by the Menderes River. Therefore, these granaries show us that agricultural activities were also carried out in the ancient ages. We analyze these structures with the support of academics from biology and geology departments. We are working to find out what kinds of grains were produced there,” he said.

Duman said they estimated the granaries were built in the Roman era. “We expect to find other granaries. We have made geo-radar work. First examinations show that there were more granaries,” he said.

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Museum to bring Trojan treasures back

ÇANAKKALE – Anadolu Agency – Turkey will soon welcome back some of the priceless treasures of Troy from countries scattered around Europe following the completion of a museum to house the artifacts in the ancient city in the country’s northwest.

“With a new $25 million tender that will be made in the coming days, we will focus on the ‘fine work’ of the museum. The ministry is also working on projects to bring back the Troy treasures in other countries. When the museum is finished, it will pave way for their return,” Culture and Tourism Director Kemal Dokuz recently said.

Construction started last year and when it is finished, works will be accelerated for the repatriation of the Troy treasures from some European countries and Russia.

Located in Tevfikiye village, the Troy Museum is set to be finished by the end of next year. The ancient city receives more than 500,000 visitors every year.

Most parts of the museum construction has been completed. The building will have a closed area of 10,000 square meters, including exhibition halls on a 3,000-square-meter area. Artifacts unearthed in Troy and other archaeological sites in Çanakkale will be displayed at the museum.

Ancient Troy, which received UNESCO world heritage status in 1998, will grow in importance once the museum project is done, according to officials.

It is expected that the number of visitors will exceed 1 million and that Trojan artifacts that were smuggled abroad will return to the country.

According to data from the Culture and Tourism Ministry, Troy ranked ninth on a Turkish list of most-visited museum and ancient sites and eighth on a list of most-profitable sites, Dokuz said. “Troy is a very important brand of Çanakkale. Everyone knows Troy in the world.”

Dokuz said this important brand should be promoted in the best possible way, adding that the ministry had initiated the museum project to promote the treasures of Troy.

The official said the main goal in Troy was to attain the status of the Hagia Sophia Museum, which tops the list of visitor numbers to Turkey, or at least to grab one of the top three places.

The museum is critical in Troy’s efforts to reach the goal, Dokuz said. “When the artifacts return to the country and are put on display at the museum, we believe that Çanakkale will have more importance in Turkish tourism.”

Dokuz said the ancient city’s entrance gates, the surroundings of the Trojan Horse and walking routes had been rearranged. “Three million liras was spent for this rearrangement. Now visitors will be more comfortable when walking around the ancient site. They will get more information about the region.”

Trojan Treasures were smuggled abroad in the 1870s by amateur German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemannn, and they are now in 44 countries, especially Russia.

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Ottomans’ first Paris mission lives on in memories

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency – More than 200 years on, there is little physical indication that Paris’ L’Hôtel de Monaco once served as the Ottoman state’s first mission to France, but the memories continue to live on, even if no tangible reminder remains.

“Unfortunately, today there is no sign that the Ottomans used this building in the past. But its memory is still kept,” said Polish Consul General to Paris Agnieszka Kucinska.

Poland now uses the old L’Hôtel de Monaco as its embassy in Paris, and Kucinska recently hosted Turkish Parliament National Palaces guide Osman Nihat Bişgin, who has researched the related of the historical building, at the site.

“The Ottoman state was the only one that recognized Poland as a country during its division, and was using this building as the embassy at that time. This is really important to us. Even though we don’t have an Ottoman artifact here, we still have the traces of our good relations,” she said.

The building, which Monaco Princess Marie-Catherine de Brignol had architect Alexandre Brongniart build in 1777, was used by the permanent ambassador, Seyyid Ali Efendi, at the end of the 18th century.

Bişgin said it was very important to them that the building was used by Ottoman ambassadors in the past.

Noting that the 600th anniversary of Turkish-Polish relations were recently celebrated, Kucinska said: “This building symbolizes the centuries-old friendship between Turkey and Poland. This relationship is stronger today.”

Kucinska said that as part of cultural heritage days, the embassy opens its door to the public one day in September every year, hosting 3,000 people last year.

Nearly 700,000 Polish people are now living in France, Kucinska said. “In this building we organize conferences, attended by famous Polish writers. Also, the fashion shows of famous Polish designers are held here. Normally, embassies do not host such events.”

The consul general said that besides the Ottomans, the building had been used by the British and Austrians, and that famous composer Frederic Chopin gave a public concert in the building at the time of the Austrian ambassador’s residence.

Bişgin said Seyyid Ali Efendi was the first permanent ambassador to reside at the L’Hôtel de Monaco between 1797 and 1802.

Bişgin said the estimated term in office was three years when Seyyid Ali Efendi was appointed as the ambassador.

“Unfortunately, problems in Egypt occurred. The French army landed in Egypt and the Egypt campaign started. Then we can say that Seyyid Ali Efendi stayed here like a political prisoner. But his building was not taken from him; he continued staying there. Later, the peace settlement was signed and Seyyid Ali Efendi demanded his passport,” Bişgin said.

Bişgin said Seyyid Ali Efendi drew great interest when he took office. “Everyone wanted to see him. This place is very close to the National Assembly building. Therefore, they wanted to keep him close to themselves. They wanted to control his visitors. When his mission ended, the embassy building was not taken from him. He was a kind of slave but they thought to use him as a political trump and he was kept as an official in the eye of France,” he added.

Bişgin noted his happiness that the L’Hôtel de Monaco was currently serving as the Polish embassy. “I was very happy when I heard that the building was in a friend’s hand. I wrote to Polish Consul General to Istanbul Grzegorz Michalski. He helped us get in touch with Kucinska.”

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İzmir ‘model village’ takes visitors back in time

İZMİR – Anadolu Agency – A retired teacher living in İzmir’s Selçuk district has established a “model village,” featuring a Central Anatolian village from the 1940s, but more help is needed to ensure the replica has a chance to grow.

“We started recreating our village and then wanted it to become a museum. We increased the number of compositions. When we first started, we created the whole village with small-size people and their customs,” said Ayhan Çetin, who established his village on a field that he rented from the Treasury.

Çetin said that after retiring, he started establishing the model village by working 15-hour days with his wife, finally finishing it after 25 years.

Çetin said he wanted to add new sections to the model village, which is located on a field in Pamucak on the Selçuk-Kuşadası highway, adding that he established 70 percent of the village on the field.

Çetin was born in Akviran village, currently Akören district, in 1940 in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, and depicts the daily life of villagers there in his model village.

He said they had first prepared a model village composition in a 1/6 scale depicting the daily life of villagers on a closed area of 500 square meters, and then created life-size movable sculptures of village artisans and shops in the garden.

Çetin said the idea of recreating the village emerged when he and his wife started making small dolls as a hobby.

He said they had created everything in the model village without any support.

“We created the shops of my village in the garden. Nobody helped us. I brought the tools here from my village. Even the containers you see here were the ones used in my house between 1940 and 1950. You can see my village here in all its aspects; from our saddle-maker neighbor Tevfik to our shoe-maker, blacksmith, hammersmith and barber, as well as all things that our mothers used to do. I tried to depict our mothers weaving carpets, kneading dough and the like. I put motors in the chests of the sculptures,” Çetin said.

He said the model village had slowly grown in fame, now hosting visitors from throughout the Aegean and as far away as Istanbul and the northwestern province of Tekirdağ.

Noting that he served as a guide for visitors, Çetin said: “Student groups have particularly shown great interest. We are very busy from March to April and May. It ends in the first week of June. Now the schools are closed and we are calm. I am very pleased to introduce this place to children because there is information of three or four books here. The number of visitors sometimes reaches 50,000.”

Çetin said he had projects to extend the model village but was encountering difficulty because the space is limited. The creator said he had spent the last five years unsuccessfully attempting to rent or buy around two decares of land belonging to the Treasury next to the village.

“I will create a rendering plant, tailor and a coffee house. Preparations are done. I started creating a mill and it will be done in the coming days. I have problems of space and nobody helps me. I offer more money for rent but nothing happens. I hope someone helps me rent or buy this land. And visitors will be able to see all elements of our village,” he said.

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Bangladesh working to develop Jamdani textile industry

DHAKA, July 1, 2015 (BSS) – Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu today said the government is working to expand Jamdani industry like Muslin industry.

“The Jamdani of Bangladesh has already been acknowledged as part of the world heritage…the government is working relentlessly to develop the industry like muslin industry,” he said.

He was speaking as the chief guest while inaugurating a ten-day jamdani exhibition at National Museum premises at city’s Shahbag area jointly organized by Bangladesh Small and Cottage industries Cooperation (BSCIC) and the Museum.

BSCIC Chairman Ahmed Hossain presided over the programme while State Minister for Textile and Jute Mirza Azam, Industries Secretary M Masharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and Director General of Bangladesh National Museum Faizul Latif Chowdhury also spoke.

Amu said, “The government has set up Jamdani industrial city and research centre on 20 acres of land at Noapara of Tarabo union under Narayanganj with a view to enhance the traditional Jamdani industries.”

“Out of 409 plots, 399 industrial plots have been distributed among entrepreneurs for setting up their industries,” he added.

A total of 38 Jamdani Sarees manufacturers taking part in the fair which will remain open for the people every day from 10 am to 8 pm.

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Bangladesh forms working group to add UNESCO heritage sites

DHAKA, July 1, 2015 (BSS)- The government has formed a working group to work for inclusion of country’s archaeological sites in the world heritage list of the UNESCO.

The working group will determine Property Zone (core zone) and Buffer Zone of the archeological sites that will help those sites to be enlisted under the heritage sites, a press release said here.

The Archeological Department with the direction of Cultural Affairs Ministry formed the 10-member working group with archaeological department director general and deputy director (administration) as convener and member secretary respectively.

The group started its formal activities for the first time at Shalban Bihar archaeological site at Moynamoti in Comilla today. Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor was present at the site to observe the activities of the group.

The property zone is the core area of an archaeological site where no structure would be built without any particular cause.

The buffer zone is a marked area surrounding archaeological site from where the site will be maintained and managed. The structure that can be damaging for the site, would not let be built at the buffer zone.

The members of the committee will visit all the archaeological sites of the country to mark the property zone and the buffer zone, the release said.

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Ornamental stitching brings self-reliance to rural women

RANGPUR, July 2, 2015 (BSS) – Thousands of rural women have been achieving self-reliance successfully in Rangpur division through ornamental stitching, embroidering and spangling on female clothes in recent years.

The successful women earn double incomes before the Eid-ul-Fitr and Durga Puja festivities and they are passing the busiest time now following huge demand of their handworks.

According to the successful rural women, their home-based embroidery works add additional values to the female clothes being marketed at higher price in the country’s sophisticated markets, including capital city.

According to sources in different NGOs, about 42,000 rural housewives, divorcees, unemployed young girls, adolescents, students and widows are now engaged with this profession and 23,000 of them have already achieved self-reliance.

The rural females with assistance of different NGOs and government organisations have now adopted embroidering, spangling and ornamental stitching on saree, three pieces and other female clothes as profession to change their fortune.

Head of Programme Coordination of RDRS Bangladesh Monjusree Saha said the rural women have won over poverty in Rangpur region through ornamental stitching works to dream better future for their children and participate in building a middle income nation.

Over 2,250 unemployed and distressed women, victims of domestic violence, divorcees, widows and physically challenged women have so far achieved self-reliance through ornamental stitching with assistance of RDRS Bangladesh alone, she added.

One of the pioneering entrepreneurs of spangling industry Chand Mia of village Chandkuthi Danga in Rangpur said he has expanded the venture generating employment for many poor women and created expert ‘Chumki’ and embroidery artisans.

“I supply simple saree, various ‘Chumki’, anti-pipe, ‘dhania puthi’, ‘tire puthi’, pet-pipe, ‘phooljori’, ‘laljori’, ‘sadajori’, ‘dhole Chumki’, stitching inputs, yarns and threads to the women to make those more attractive through ornamental needle works,” he said.

He said most of the housewives, school and college going girls belonging to poorer families, have been setting up the ‘Chumki’ during their off periods in between daily normal activities to earn additional incomes sitting at own homes.

“Each of the saree is being sold in Dhaka markets at Taka 7,000 to Taka 26,000 on an average while the saree made by more skillful hands is sold at higher prices of up to Taka 40,000 in the capital city markets,” he said.

As the venture continues expanding faster, most of the women of all ages in the village have turned into craftspeople to decorate saree with ornamental stitching and embroidery to earn minimum Taka 800 to 1,000 weekly.

Craftswomen Shamima, Marjina, Sohana, and Mollika of the village said they have achieved self-reliance through ornamental needle works to earn Taka 2,500 and 5,000 monthly with double incomes before Eid-ul-Fitr and Durga Puja festivities.

Similarly, about 1,000 women of all ages have changed fortune through embroidery, ‘jari’, ‘puthi’ and spangling works on saree, three-pieces, scarf and other female clothes in seven villages under Sadar upazila of Thakurgaon in recent years.

Widow Sufi Begum, students Chompa, Sabiha and Sadeka of Shibganj village narrated as how they won over abject poverty through conducting needlework on saree and other female clothes at leisure periods.

Local entrepreneur Mamuni Begum said she supplies inputs to around 500 women of all ages of these villages and they earn excellent wages every week through ornamental stitching, embroidery and spangling on saree those are being at Dhaka.

Executive Director of Northbengal Institute of Development Studies Dr Syed Samsuzzaman said the local entrepreneurs started such initiatives in scattered ways at the initial stage several years ago in the region.

“But, these home-based ornamental stitching work has now turned into a growing cottage industry sector and many entrepreneurs have launched small-scale enterprises in association with local traders and entrepreneurs to change the rural economy,” he said.

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Bangladesh Railway undertakes special measures to carry Eid-passengers

RAJSHAHI, July 2, 2015 (BSS)- The West Zone of Bangladesh Railway has undertaken special measures to carry the home-bound passengers ahead of the forthcoming Eid-ul-fitr celebration.

“We are taking all-out preparations to transport the passengers and to make their journey safe and hustle-free,” said Engineer Khairul Alam, General Manager of the Zone while talking to BSS here on Thursday.

The zone, headquartered in Rajshahi, will operate two-pair special trains on Dhaka-Parbatipur-Dhaka and Dhaka-Khulna-Dhaka routes on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. This special train service will begin three days ahead of Eid and continue till five to seven days after the festival.

Besides, additional one or two bogies will be added to the other trains specially the intercity ones running between Dhaka from before seven day of the Eid-day, he informed.

He said selling of advanced ticket for the inter-city trains will be launched from 9th July and added that strict measures were taken to make the activities of advanced ticket selling free from all sort of black-marketing and other irregularities.

The GM said that the zone has been operating 110 trains, including 36 inter- city and 26 express trains, on different routes under Paksey and Lalmonirhat divisions also connecting the capital Dhaka.

The zone, covering Rajshahi, Rangpur and Khulna divisions, has been operating 141 trains including 50 intercity ones on different routes including the capital Dhaka at present. Eight commuters or shuttle trains are being operated on various short-distance routes which are very popular among the passengers.

In this context, he said five inter-city trains are at present running between Dhaka and different parts of the zone like Dinajpur, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Khulna and Rajshahi.

He said that the law enforcing agencies including RAB were informed to take necessary step for addressing any sort of unfair means and extortion during the pre and post railway Eid-journey.

“We are committed to provide safe, reliable, cost-effective and time efficient rail transport service everywhere in the zone through modernizing, expanding and maintaining rail system in a manner which supports government strategies for economic, social and environmental development,” Engineer Alam asserted.

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PM inaugurates construction of Cox’s Bazar Int’l Airport

DHAKA, July 2, 2015 (BSS) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today inaugurated the construction of an international airport in tourist city Cox’s Bazar saying the airport would be a hub of connecting East and West.

She said after establishment of the BBIN (Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal), road connectivity the trans Asia rail link will get shape without delay as four South East Asian countries- Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) have envisaged building an economic corridor to expedite their economic growth.

Sheikh Hasina said this while inaugurating the construction of the Cox’s Bazar International Airport through a video-conference with ministers, local representatives and officials concerned at Cox’s Bazar airport premises.

Housing and Public Works Minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain, Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon also spoke on the occasion from Cox’s Bazar side.

Secretary of the Civil Aviation Ministry Khorshed Alam Chowdhury briefed about the Taka 578 crore project saying the existing runway of Cox’s Bazar airport would be extended to 9000-feet from 6,675-feet in length while in the width the runway would be expanded to 200-feet from 150-feet under the project.

Besides, airfield lighting system would be set up for night operation of the flights, she said adding that the facilities would enhance capacity of the existing airports to operate wide-bodied Boeing-777 from the airport. To facilitate road communications with Cox’s Bazar a bridge would be constructed on the Bak Khali river, she said adding that the project would be completed in 30 months.

Sheikh Hasina hoped that the BBIN road transit would get shape within six months when four countries would enjoy the facilities of movement of their passenger and goods carrying vehicles across their borders.

Pointing out the World Bank’s recent report on Bangladesh’s success in becoming a lower-mid income country the Prime Minister said Bangladesh within two to three years would be a middle income country.

She said Bangladesh could continue its economic growth over the last few years amidst many obstacles including political disturbances and heinous conspiracy to thwart out the pace of development.

“It’s the success of Bangladesh,” she said adding that none would derail the country from its aspired goal to be a prosperous and peaceful country in South Asia.

Highlighting the importance of Cox’s Bazar as a tourist destination and its geographical location, the Prime Minister said the world’s longest sandy beach surrounded with scenic beauty should be developed as an attractive one for local and foreign tourists.

Besides, Cox’s Bazar has become an important strategic place for us in the backdrop of establishing Bangladesh’s sovereignty on new maritime territory in the Bay of Bengal. “Cox’s Bazar airport can also be used for refueling of the continental jet planes,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the proposed rail line connecting Chittagong and Gundhum of Cox’s Bazar would begin very shortly as the feasibility study of the project and land acquisition has already been completed.

Mentioning the projects taken by her government in Cox’s Bazar district the Prime Minister said the Ultra Super Critical Thermal Power Plant in Matarbari and an economic zone in Sabran would change the whole development scenery of the tourist city and it would play massive role in socio-economic development of the area.

Sheikh Hasina said the government has taken adequate plan for rehabilitation of the people to be affected by the projects so that they can enjoy all basic facilities for their livelihood, health and education.

“Cox’s Bazar has been neglected for long ….., it’s over,” she said a division of Bangladesh Army has been constituted in Cox’s Bazar. A marine aquarium would be constructed in Cox’s Bazar, she announced.

At the beginning the Prime Minister expressed her profound sympathy to the people of Cox’s Bazar for loss of lives and property due to recent flood. She said the government has already sent necessary relief materials for the flood victims. “The destroyed roads would be reconstructed soon after the monsoon,” she said.

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36 heritage sites preserved in Brunei

Borneo Bulletin Online – July 04, 2015 – Since the Antiquities and Treasure Trove Act 1967 came into force, as many as 36 historical buildings and archaeological sites have been put in the gazette in the country to protect and preserve them.

However, not many people in the country know all the sites that have been thus preserved by the Museums Board. Prior to 1967, there was no legislation for the protection and preservation of historical buildings and archeological sites.

In 1967, when the law was passed, it officially marked the beginning of the protection and preservation of historical building as well as monuments and archeological sites in Brunei Darussalam and also regulated the sales and exports of antiques.

The first site to be gazetted under the law by Brunei’s Museums in 1967 was some 120 hectares of historical areas in Kota Batu. In 2006, another 27 historical sites and royal Mausoleums have been gazetted

In 2010, another three sites were protected under the legislation – Jeti Kuala Tutong, Jambatan Clifford / Rangas and Batu Tarsilah.

A year later in 2011, an additional five sites and historical monuments were gazetted namely Rumah Semaun, Rumah Jerambak, Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque and Bahtera Mahligai, Bangunan Dewan Majlis and Makam Sultan Abdul Momin.

In all, 29 sites and monuments have been gazetted in Brunei-Muara District, three sites and monuments in Belait District, two in Tutong District and the remaining two in Temburong District.

The act provides for the control and preservation of ancient and historical monuments, archaeological sites and remains and antiquities and to regulate the law relating to treasure trove and for the matter connected therewith.

The Department of Museums is celebrating its golden jubilee this year, creating yet another milestone in the history of its half century of preserving and upholding the heritage and culture of Brunei Darussalam through the theme ‘Museums and Archives for a Sustainable Society’ and tagline ‘MyMuseums, MyHeritage’.

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Algeria: Air Algerie Receives 3rd A330-200 Airbus

Algerie Presse Service (Algiers) – 1 July 2015 – Algiers — The national airline company Air Agerie received Wednesday at the international airport of Algiers its third A330-200 Airbus, acquired as part of its acquisition programme of 16 new aircrafts by the end of 2016 for the renewal of its fleet, said the company in a communiqué.

Comprising a new cockpit equipped with an in-flight entertainment system and more spacious seats, this new 250 to 300 seat passenger plane also includes 18 business class seats, 14 in premium class and 219 in economy class.

“This new acquisition will offer a better profitability to Air Algerie and a better comfort to passengers,” said the company in a communiqué.

Air Algerie initiated a programme to renew its fleet, providing for the acquisition of seven (07) Airbus in 2015 and eight (08) Boeing by the end of 2016.

The purchase of this new fleet is valued at $1.073 billion.

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Tunisia: Set of Urgent Measures to Be Taken for Tourist Sector

Tunis Afrique Presse (Tunis) – 29 June 2015 – Tunis — An inner cabinet meeting will be held, Monday afternoon, to decide urgent measures for the tourist sector after the terrorist attack perpetrated, Friday June 26, 2015 in a hotel unit of El-Kantaoui (Sousse), Cabinet Chief of the Tourism and Handicrafts Minister Nabil Bziouche underlined.

He said, during a meeting with the press held Monday in the Tourism Ministry to present the “International Ramadan Iftar meal” due for July 2, 2015 in The Kasbah square, that the measures to be taken today will concern training, further training of the hotels’ security officers and the study of the impacts of the last terrorist attack in Sousse.

He said that it was agreed, during a working session held, Saturday between Minister of Tourism and Minister of Interior, the materialisation of a working programme for training of hotel and hotel units executives, the aim being to further sensitise concerning the importance of security to be able to inform the security authorities in case of suspicion of persons.

He noted that the units stemming from the Ministry paid 485 visits of control to the hotel units, after the terrorist attack of Bardo of last March 18.

Bziouche said that the Ministry examines the change of the communication strategy and the promotion of the destination after the Sousse attack, underlining that this strategy will be flexible and changing according to the current events.

The Tunisian tourism will resist despite the attack and the tourist and cultural events will continue, he said.

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Nigerian Tourism Agency Tasks Film Producers On Ijaw Culture

Leadership (Abuja) – 1 July 2015 – The director-general of Bayelsa State Tourism Development Agency, Mrs. Ebiere Irene Musah, has tasked Ijaw film makers to reflect moral uprightness and fairness which she described as the hallmark of Izon people in their works.

She gave the charge at the World Ijaw Film Makers Day, organised under the aegis of ‘Izonllywood’ at the Ijaw House, Yenagoa on June 27, 2015, telling the audience “Izon” means truth.

Represented on the occasion by the deputy rector (administration), International Institute of Tourism & Hospitality, Yenagoa, Mr Piriye Kiyaramo, the Tourism boss expressed delight that Izonllywood, which started like a simple dream a few years ago, was beginning to gather steam and take shape.

She lamented that “over the years, we have come to see how the movie industry within and outside Nigeria has compromised the moral fabric of society on the altar of profit and modernity”.

Musah contended that the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa had succeeded in using the instrumentality of the motion picture to tell their stories, strengthen their language and propagate their culture, and said that the Ijaw, being the fourth largest ethnic group in the country, could use Izonllywood to transmit the essence of the Ijaw ethnic nationality to the younger generation.

While stressing the need for cultural and moral balance in the art of movie production, she applauded the birth of Izonllywood, describing it as an idea that would outlive the present generation.

The DG used the occasion to canvass support from all Ijaw in ensuring that the ideals of Izonllywood are sustained. She called on Ijaw sons and daughters in the movie industry within and outside Nigeria to come up with initiatives that would create opportunities for the training of talented Ijaw youth in the movie industry.

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Promote Positive Image of Uganda, Minister Tells Media

The Monitor – 1 July 2015 – Kampala — The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, has pleaded with the media and Ugandans to churn out positive stories that can promote the country’s image and attract tourists.

Tourism minister Maria Mutagamba said as the government struggles to increase the visibility of Uganda’s tourist attractions globally, efforts are undermined by failures in other sectors.

“Most of you travel abroad. All they know about Uganda is (former president Idi) Amin and Ebola. It is your role to erase that image to show that Uganda is a country with tourist attractions, fortunes, best climate and filled with opportunities,” Ms Mutagamba said.

She made the remarks yesterday while inaugurating the Tourism Communication Working Group (TCWG) comprised of information officers in the ministry and its six agencies, including Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Hotel Tourism and Training Institute (HTTI), Uganda Wildlife Tourism and Training Institute (UWTTI) and the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO)

The minister emphasised that while tourism is public sector-led, it is private sector-driven and highly dependent on perceptions.

According to the tourism board, current tourist arrivals into Uganda have reached 1.4 million as of 2014 records, up from 600,000 in 2006. These numbers have also seen the country’s earnings from tourists arrivals go up to $1.4 billion (about Shs4 trillion) in 2013-2014, up from $600,000 (about Shs2 billion) realised in 2006.

Ms Mutagamba observed that according to government’s Vision 2040, tourism should bring into the national coffers $12 billion (about Shs39 trillion) and hence become the number one foreign exchange earner. “That’s our yardstick. That’s our milestone. We need to know our roles so that we can hit the target.”

Ms Mutagamba said local tourism still remains low and blamed some cultural practices which discourage children from visiting outside family.

Ms Emma Nahayo Mugizi, the chairperson of the TCWG, described tourism as a fragile sector highly affected by either negative or positive information. “What happens in health, security, education and energy directly affects the number of tourists coming in a country,” Ms Mugizi said.

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Algeria: Training, Quality Services Requirements for Tourism Development

Algerie Presse Service (Algiers) – 29 June 2015 – Algiers — Minister of Planning, Tourism and Craft Industry Amar Ghoul, insisted Sunday in Algiers, on the importance of training and providing quality services for the development of tourism and the economy outside hydrocarbons.

During a ceremony held on the occasion of National Tourism Day (25 June), the Minister reiterated the need for training the tourism personnel, improving the quality of services offered to enhance a sector which may be the solution to the economy based on oil revenues.

Another condition on which relies the development of tourism in Algeria, which possesses huge potential, is the extension of the tourist areas, while focusing on the exploitation of available products.

The minister noted that the exploitation of tourism potential needed new mentality and the combined efforts of all services representing sectors in the local administration, elected officials and citizens to promote “Destination Algeria.”

The creation of the National Tourism Day is part of the priority actions for the development of the sector, resulting from the recommendations of the conference on Local Tourism Development, held in December 2011 in Algiers.

A National Prize “tourist features” will be awarded annually on October 22, on the National Press Day, to the best journalistic work.

The celebration of National Tourism Day was also an opportunity to honour several personalities, namely President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika for all his efforts for the promotion and the development of tourism.

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Egypt’s Mons Claudianus archeological site to be developed into a museum

Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 2 Jul 2015 – Today, the Ministry of Antiquities chairman board meeting approved to develop the Mons Claudianus archaeological site into an open air museum to exhibit the quarrying process used in Egypt during the Roman era.

Mons Claudianus is an area for granite quarries and houses a garrison, a quarrying site, a complete workers settlement with a horse stable and a granite water container.

Fragments of granite items have also been found, along with broken columns and a number of engraved ostraca (broken pottery).

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online that during the Roman era, the area was called Granodiorite and it was used as a mine to collect construction materials.

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WB to allocate $200M to Uzbekistan for reconstruction of roads

03 July 2015 – TODAY.AZ – The Board of Directors of the World Bank (WB) approved the allocation of a loan to Uzbekistan in the amount of $ 200 million to implement the project of reconstructing local roads last week, the WB representative office in Tashkent told Trend.

The project worth $ 240 million envisages the overhaul of 10 sections of local roads with a total length of 90 kilometers in Tashkent region at the first stage, a representative of the office said. The second stage envisages the similar work in three areas of the Fergana Valley – Andijan, Namangan and Ferghana.

The project implementation period is four years.

The funds will be allocated from the International Development Association’s funds (IDA, the WB structural unit) in the form of an interest-free loan for 35 years, including a 10-year grace period with payment of fees.

At present, the total length of roads is about 150,000 kilometers in Uzbekistan. Some 45,000 kilometers of them account for main highways, including 3,200 kilometers – highways of international importance and 18,800 kilometers – highways of national importance.

As many as 20 international transport routes run through Uzbekistan.

Annually, 220 kilometers of roads are laid and reconstructed and 400-450 kilometers are overhauled in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan became a member of the World Bank in 1992. In total, the WB allocated around $2 billion worth loans to Uzbekistan for implementing projects in the field of privatization, financial sector development, modernization of agriculture, electricity sphere, improving social infrastructure, health and education.

WB intends to allocate a total of $1.3 billion to Uzbekistan to implement 15 investment projects in the sphere of energy, transport, melioration, petrochemistry, textile industry, processing of agricultural products and increasing the quality of medical services in 2012-2015 in accordance with the WB partnership strategy with Uzbekistan.

Currently, the total volume of the bank’s current liabilities in Uzbekistan exceeds $1 billion.

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Baku prepares for Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2016

03 July 2015 – TODAY.AZ – Preparations for the Formula 1 Grand Prix, to be held in Azerbaijan in 2016, are on schedule, according to the Baku Grand Prix company.

The urban highway project in the center of Baku has been designed by Hermann Tilke’s architectural firm.

The repair work will consist of several stages, Baku Grand Prix said. The main road construction work is planned for 2016.

The project has already been prepared and submitted to the International Automobile Federation. Once the project is approved, construction work will begin.

The competitions in Baku will be distinguished by their uniqueness, as the Azerbaijani capital, along with Monaco and Singapore, will each host a street circuit.

The Baku race will overlap Seaside Boulevard and make a circle around the Old City, a national historical and architectural preserve and the most ancient part of Baku.

Thus, spectators and guests can observe the entire city during these competitions. Taking into account that Formula 1 is one of the world’s most popular television, the broadcasts will display the streets of Baku to the world.

The length of the route in Baku will be 6 km with 8 right and 12 left turns. The speed on the track will reach 340 km/h.

There will be an extremely narrow uphill section at the old town wall that will reward pinpoint accuracy and courage, and an acceleration section that will extend nearly 2.2km along the promenade where cars will be seen going at high top speeds. This is expected to create an incredible spectacle for race fans on the track and the viewers at home.

The track will start and finish near Government House and covers all the landmarks of the capital city, medieval Old City, modern iconic skyline, and spectacular views across the Caspian Sea.

Earlier, the CEO of Tilke Engineering, Hermann Tilke said he is absolutely thrilled up by the Baku European Grand Prix project.

“We have created a challenging street circuit, in terms of engineering and design, and one that thrives on Baku’s very attractive urban atmosphere and its great combination of history and 21st century style. The historic city centre, the beautiful seaside promenade and the impressive government house all are combined in a way to provide the perfect backdrop for a spectacular new track,” he said.

Formula One, the world’s fastest motorsport championship is already very popular in Azerbaijan as a spectator sport.

Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov earlier said the active support of the young drivers should be expected.

“Of course, we would like to see stages (of the F1) held under our flag, to have our drivers participating, teams and sponsors. We see a great potential in this project,” he said.

The minister expressed assurance that Azerbaijan would be interested in participating in the most prestigious racing series.

As for the stage in 2016, he expects more than 11,000 foreign fans arriving in Baku.

Azerbaijan is expected to spend between $66 to $86 million on the organization of the first stage.

Baku has deep experiences in hosting international motor racing and has been hosting racing series for the past two years. This year, the Baku World Challenge will take place on November 1-2.

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Jirtdan Puppet Theatre Festival due in Baku

03 July 2015- TODAY.AZ – The 3rd International “Jirtdan” Puppet Theatre Festival will be held in Baku on November 15-20.

The festival will be co-organized by the Azerbaijan Culture and Tourism Ministry, International Association of Puppetry UNIMA, and the Azerbaijan State Puppet Theatre named after Abdulla Shaig.

Within six days the country’s capital will host the multi-genre festival, to be filled with colorful performances of puppeteers from around the world.

It will be held under the state program entitled “Azerbaijani theater in 2009-2019,” which aims to ensure the preservation and development of the rich heritage and artistic traditions of Azerbaijani theater.

Last year, the festival attracted puppeteers from many popular international puppet theaters, including the British Puppet Theatre Dorset and an Italian Puppet Theatre called “Teatro Verde Burattini.”

Every nation has its own verbal folklore for children, many created by adults, and some even spontaneously created by children themselves in response to a situation.

“Jirtdan” is one of the most popular and beloved fairy tales in Azerbaijan. Jirtdan, meaning “tiny” in Azerbaijani, is about a child, much too small for his age, who finds strength in being intelligent.

This fairy tale closely resembles the German story of Hansel and Gretel, in which a brother and sister lose their way in the forest and finally outsmart and escape an evil witch who intends to eat them.

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Azerbaijan plans to create agro-centers in Russia

01 July 2015 – TODAY.AZ- Azerbaijan plans to create national agricultural centers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other regions of Russia, Azerbaijani Agriculture Minister Heydar Asadov said in an interview with the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

“The most important component of the government strategy on diversification of the Azerbaijani economy is designated to optimizing the structure of non-oil exports, in particular by increasing the volume and range of agricultural products, and improve its competitiveness in foreign markets.”

“For the optimal solution to this problem, it is planned to encourage the introduction of modern technologies in the recycling process, reduce costs, and increase farm productivity, including by improving the mechanisms for issuing subsidies. The quality issue comes to the fore in order to increase the demand for new markets,” he said.

The minister added that as for the export geography, today post-Soviet countries especially Russia remain a traditional market for Azerbaijani agricultural producers.

“Active cooperation was established with relevant government agencies in Russia. In particular, Russian consumers will be offered a wide range of animal products along with the fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, grape wines. And first of all it is provided to expand the supply of poultry and eggs,” said Asadov.

The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Russia this January-May amounted to $799.4 million, an increase of 5.8 percent from the same period in 2014, the Azerbaijan State Customs Committee reported.

At the same time in the first five months of this year, the export of Azerbaijani goods to Russia reached $138.6 million.

Foreign countries are now showing an increasing interest in the agricultural products of Azerbaijan, which has focused its efforts on developing the sector, declaring 2015 as the Year of Agriculture.

Agriculture is one of the largest sectors of the country’s economy. It has great potential and attracts both local and foreign entrepreneurs.

High quality Azerbaijani products have been in demand in neighboring countries for quite some time, however, the country did not previously have the capacity to export these products in large quantities.

Azerbaijani produce has become attractive to Russia after western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis in late 2014. Through Russia, Azerbaijan can enter the Eastern Europe’s markets.

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Kazakhstan takes measures to attract foreign investors

03 July 2015 – TODAY.AZ – Kazakhstan, the largest economy in the Central Asian region, is keen on attracting foreign direct investment in various sectors of its national economy.

Recently, speaking at a Kazakh-Italian business forum in Milan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev said the country has decided to extend a unilateral visa-free regime for a year for citizens of Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Hungary, Monaco, Singapore, Australia, Norway, Sweden and Finland, 10 countries actively investing in Kazakh economy.

This is not the first such step. Kazakhstan had introduced a unilateral visa-free regime for citizens of the U.S., the Netherlands, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Korea, and Japan starting July 15, 2014.

The creation of a favorable investment climate has been and remains one of the main priorities of Kazakhstan. The country primarily focuses on the countries whose representatives will not only make sound investments and bring effective management when entering the Kazakh market, but also introduce completely new technologies into production, which will make the country’s industrial enterprises much more competitive.

Analyses show that Kazakhstan is on the list of top countries in terms of foreign direct investment, which amounted to $180 billion in 2013. According to estimates by experts and investors operating in the country, today Kazakhstan has created the best investment conditions in the Central Asian region.

The World Bank has recognized Kazakhstan as a country favorable for investment. It maintains a low international debt while its currency reserves exceed $100 billion.

Some 10 special economic zones operate in Kazakhstan. Entrepreneurs enjoy full support and tax preferences in these zones.

Investors in priority sectors (metallurgy, petrochemical, oil refining, engineering, construction materials, and food production sectors) are exempt from corporate income tax and land tax for a period of 10 years, and the property tax for eight years.

The stability of tax legislation is guaranteed for investors. The government provides investment subsidies up to 30 percent for construction and the procurement of equipment.

According to the Kazakh law “On Investments,” investors are exempt from customs duties on the import of equipment, its components and spare parts, raw materials and supplies, as well as kind grants of not more than 30 percent of the total investment in fixed assets.

Kazakhstan is also focused on the creation of an open labor market. The country grants the right to employ a foreign labor force beyond the quota for a period of more than one year for construction contracts, reconstruction, or completion of a construction project.

Kazakhstan also continues institutional reforms aimed at improving the business climate. An international financial center will begin operating next year in Astana.

The country also offers legal regulation for investment issues based on English law, with the proceedings in English involving foreign judges.

The government also considers the exemption of foreign investors from the payment of corporate and individual income taxes for 10 years.

In Kazakhstan, foreign businessmen do not need to go to the state agencies for the relevant documents, since the Ministry of Investment and Development handles these claims.

Kazakhstan has also created an investment climate monitoring system. The Council of Foreign Investors, envisioned by the Kazakh president, addresses strategic issues, while the Council for Improvement of Investment Climate, created under the prime minister, is engaged in improvements on tax legislation and customs duties. Kazakhstan’s investment ombudsman is focused on resolving investor problems.

Kazakhstan plans to transfer to the e-government platform to eliminate all contact between civil servants and investors. It will be possible to obtain all permits online thanks to the electronic document management system.

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Free visa policy will boost tourism to East Nusa Tenggara

2 July 2015 Kupang (ANTARA News) – Head of Tourism and Creative Economy Office of East Nusa Tenggara Province Marius Ardu Jelamu is optimistic that the visa-free policy for 30 countries will increase the number of tourist arrivals to the province.

“We are optimistic that the policy will increase the number of tourist visits to East Nusa Tenggara,” Jelamu affirmed here on Thursday.

Since June 9, 2015, the Indonesian government officially applied a visa-free policy for 30 countries, which is expected to boost foreign tourist visits up to 20 million by 2020.

“The visa-free policy is the most effective breakthrough to boost foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia,” Jelamu noted.

Of the national target of 20 million tourist arrivals to be achieved by 2019, the provincial office expects to attract 600 thousand tourists to visit East Nusa Tenggara.

According to Jelamu, 600 thousand refers to the number of tourist arrivals, which reached 530,945 of the target of 550 thousand tourists in 2014.

East Nusa Tenggara has several world famous sites such as the Komodo National Park located on the western tip of Flores Island, which is inhabited by the giant lizard, Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis).

This surviving ancient animal species was later named as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

The province also has a lake, located at the top of Mount Flores in Ende District, Flores Island, whose color is always changing as well as various natural and cultural attractions spread across the island province.

Nihiwatu Beach in West Sumba is ranked 17th on the list of 100 most scenic beaches in the world and is even considered more beautiful than Hanalei Bay Beach in Hawaii.

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Indonesia launches revitalization program for traditional markets

30 June 2015 Purwokerto (ANTARA News) – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), accompanied by First Lady Iriana Widodo, launched a program to revitalize one thousand traditional markets in 2015.

The launch was held at Manis Market in Kedung Wuluh village, West Purwokerto sub-district, Banyumas district, Central Java province, on Tuesday.

Within the next five years, five thousand traditional markets should be built, the president said.

Modern markets have developed in every corner of the country, while most traditional markets continue to be old, the president stated, adding that some were even 20 to 30 years old.

The revitalization program should not focus on only the physical aspects of the buildings where the traditional markets are located. It should also improve their management to allow small traders access to larger capital, Jokowi pointed out. He also emphasized that the interest rate of community business credits should be reduced from 22 percent to 12 percent.

On the occasion, Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel held a teleconference with the mayors of North Denpasar (Bali), Banda Aceh (Aceh Darussalam) and Bantaeng (South Sulawesi), where traditional markets will be revamped.

The presidential entourage included Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Puan Maharani, Cooperatives and SMEs Minister AAGN Puspayoga, and Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti.

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Kadin asks to boost development of tourism industry

30 June 2015 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The development of the tourism sector must be intensified as it is cheaper than developing the manufacturing field, an official of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) said here on Tuesday.

It also has the comparative advantage of attracting tourists, Deputy Chairman of Kadin Rosan Perkasa Roeslani added.

“The development of industries, especially manufacturing industries, takes a relatively long time and a large budget. However, we already have the requirements for the tourism sector,” Roeslani stated.

Several regions already have an advantage of tourist destinations, with supporting infrastructure facilities and their good management the only remaining requirement.

Roeslani pointed out that based on the governments projection, the tourism sector will serve as the main foreign exchange earner in 2019. “Therefore, we need supporting infrastructure facilities for tourism. Developing ports of international standards that can accommodate overseas cruisers is one of them,” he affirmed.

According to reports, Indonesia has been selected to host the biggest Asia-Pacific tourism and trade exhibition in 2016, the PATA Travel Mart, which will be organized by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

CEO of PATA Mario Hardy visited Jakarta to discuss the event to be held in 2016 with the PATA Indonesia Chapter. In a meeting on Saturday, Hardy set a target of drawing in one thousand delegations from 60 countries to participate in the PATA Travel Mart.

“Jakarta will host the 39th PATA Travel Mart, while the 38th leg of the event will be held in Bangalore, India, from September 6 to 8,” Hardy revealed.

The PATA Travel Mart is the mainstay activity of the association. It is one of the leading trade and travel exhibitions in the Asia-Pacific region. It displays products and services of travel industries in the region.

Earlier, Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya had expressed optimism that foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia will exceed the set target of 10 million and will reach at least the 10.5 million mark.

“Our target of foreign tourist arrivals this year is 10 million, but I am confident it will exceed it by the end of the year because the number of foreign tourist arrivals in six months has reached 500 thousand,” Minister Yahya said on Wednesday (June 24).

Furthermore, Vice President Jusuf Kalla has urged for innovations to develop Indonesias tourism destinations. These innovations should be adopted in various regions in the country to attract foreign tourists.

“Tourism is a very easy business because it does not need huge capital injection,” Kalla remarked during his address at the Indonesia Attractiveness Awards event on Friday (June 12).

He added that tourism did not require large funding as its main capital, beautiful natural landscapes and peoples hospitable nature, was God-given.

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Tourist arrivals in Indonesia up 5.47% in May

2 July 2015 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The number of tourists visiting Indonesia rose 5.47 percent to 793,500 in May from 752,400 in April, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

Cumulatively, the number of tourist arrivals from January to May reached 3.84 million, a 3.85 percent increase compared to the same period last year, BPS Chairman Suryamin said here on Wednesday.

The number of tourists visiting Indonesia via Sam Ratulangi Airport in North Sulawesi rose 34.94 percent, Entikong in West Kalimantan 17.81 percent, and Batam in Riau Islands 11.86 percent.

However, the number of tourist arrivals through Adi Sumarmo Airport in Central Java and Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta fell 42.90 percent and 4.19 percent respectively.

Compared to April, the number of tourist arrivals through Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali dropped 7.34 percent, he said.

“After all, on a yearly basis, the number of tourist arrivals via Ngurah Rai Airport in May 2015 is better because it rose 0.41 percent to 287,100 from 286,000 in May 2014,” he said.

The government aims to attract 10.06 million foreign visitors to Indonesia this year, an increase of 7 percent from the 2014 target.

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Susa, Meymand villages registered on World Heritage List

Tehran, July 5, IRNA – Ancient city of Susa in southwestern province of Khuzestan and Meymand Village in southern province of Kerman were registered as 18th and 19th heritages of Iran on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The dossiers of Susa and Meymand were approved during the ongoing 39th session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany.

Iranian experts including Deputy Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization Mohammad Hossein Talebian, Kerman Governor-General Alireza Razm-Hosseini, and Iran’s Permanent envoy to UNESCO Ahmad Jalali, defended Susa and Meymand cases during the session.

On Susa dossier, the ancient hill was reviewed on the basis of UNESCO’s four selection criteria of maintaining originality, integrity, management and area protection, while on Meymand dossier, the cultural landscape was reviewed.

Meymand is a village of troglodytes (cave dwellers) which has been continuously inhabited for 2,000 to 3,000 years ― making it one of Iran’s four oldest surviving villages.

Two historical sites in Kerman, namely Bam Citadel and Shazdeh Garden, have been registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The 39th session of the World Heritage Committee will run until July 8, 2015.

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Tourism, undiscovered treasure of Iran

Qeshm, Hormuzgan prov, July 4, IRNA – Vice President and Head of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Masoud Soltanifar said tourism is the untouched treasury of Iran.

He said given Iran’s huge potential in tourism areas, the country is preparing itself for a quick leap in tourism industry by providing necessary infrastructures.

He said the government intended to establish wide interactions with the world with the objective of using economic potentials of other countries to give a boost to Iran tourism industry.

Pointing out that President Hassan Rouhani is specially focusing on the issue, his deputy said that seven vast tourist hubs are designed all along Iran’s southern coastline in the three provinces of Sistan-Baluchestan, Bushehr and Hormozgan by the private sector.

Soltanifar further noted that half of the tourists arriving in Iran are heading for pilgrimage sites, adding this indicates the importance of further developing Halal tourism in the country.

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Cinderella has Iranian origins: Author

Tehran, July 4, IRNA – An author of folklore and classical Iranian mythology says Cinderella is an Indo-European account of an Iranian mythological story ‘Fatima’ in the late Sobhi’s ‘Folk Culture.’

In an interview with Mehr News Agency, Mohammad Ali Uloumi, author of several books on Iranian folktales and mythology, said ancient Iranians wrote stories for entertainment and they were immortalized as myths. However, the origin of myths varies: some have origin in and strong influence of the Babylonian myths and folktales of Shusha well before the arrival of Aryans in the Iranian plateau,” he said.

“Others are shared among Iranians, Egyptians and Anatolians, which were shaped by relations fostered during the Achaemenid Era. A third category is Zoroastrian by origin, as manifest in the Avesta,” he noted.

“In Iranian stories, myths have three distinct gods: Anahita, or the goddess of fresh waters; Tishtar, the god of rain, and Bahram, god of war and warfare; it is surprising that after Islam came to Iran, mythological gods retained their original functions in literature, but their names changed,” Uloumi said.

“This is exactly the same period we notice a change in myths in folk stories; Jamshid is rendered Abraham; Shahrbanou is rendered Fatima, which are religious versions of the mythological characters,” he asserted.

On adaptations by continental authors of Iranian culture and literature, Uloumi maintains that Cinderella was an Indo-European adaptation of Fatima Khatoun, which was originally Iranian.

“Myths and folktales are closely interrelated; from a different view, myths are ethnic tales reincarnated in other forms; that is, they have seen a metamorphosis from pure narrative form to a universalistic form and then into popular culture,” Uloumi explains. “For example, the story of Kayoumars was first an ethnic and local tale, which found a universal aspect in Iranian culture.”

To a question on why the nature of literary creation had been relegated to research in the sphere of popular culture, Uloumi lamented the large gap in research into popular culture and folktales. “I feel the significant gap in works of merit in Persian mythology and research in culture and art is a serious preoccupation for me,” he said.

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Imam Square known for splendid monuments

Tehran, July 4, IRNA — Imam Square (Naqsh-e Jahan Square) was built by Safavid King Shah Abbas I at the beginning of the 17th century. It is known for its splendid monuments including Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Qeysarieh Portal and Aliqapu Palace, Iran Daily wrote.

They are an impressive testimony to the level of social and cultural life in Iran during the Safavid era.

Imam Square is one of the historical places that attracts many visitors. It is an urban phenomenon which is an exception in Iran.

Shah Abbas, who reigned from 1587 to 1628, chose Isfahan as his capital, which he magnificently embellished and remodeled. The center of the city included a vast square which was so beautiful and large that it was called Naqsh-e Jahan (image of the world).

It is bordered on each side by four ancient buildings linked by a series of two-storey malls. It is bound by Qeysarieh Portal in the north, Imam Mosque in the south, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in the east and Aliqapu Palace in the west.

Aliqapu was a small Timurid palace (15th century) which was decorated by Shah Abbas and his successors.

Imam Mosque is one of the finest and most stunning buildings in the world. The mosque, whose construction was started in 1612 during the reign of Shah Abbas I, represents the culmination of a thousand years of mosque building and a magnificent example of architecture, stone carving and tilework in Iran.

Its majesty and splendor places it among the world’s greatest buildings, the mosque is an excellent example of Islamic architecture of Iran and a masterpiece of Persian architecture. The mosque’s splendor is mainly due to the beauty of its seven-color mosaic tiles and calligraphic inscriptions.

The acoustic properties and reflections under the dome attract the attention of many visitors.

Aliqapu Palace is located on the western side of Imam Square, opposite Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. It was originally designed as a vast portal. It is forty-eight meters high and there are seven floors, each accessible by a difficult spiral staircase. The building, another wonderful Safavid edifice, was built upon the order of Shah Abbas I.

Ali Qapu is rich in wall paintings by Reza Abbasi, the court painter of Shah Abbas I, and his pupils. There are floral, animal, and bird motifs in his works. All of these architectural elements of Imam Square, including the arcades, are adorned with tilework and paintings.

Imam Square used to be the heart of the Safavid capital. Its vast boulevard was used as a promenade. It was also a place for assembling troops, playing polo and holding celebrations.

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Iran Plans Summer tourism festivals

Tehran, July 4, IRNA – Numerous festivals are held or will be held across Iran during the summer to introduce unique tourist attractions and customs prevalent in every province, said Ebrahim Larijani, the head of Travel Services Coordination Taskforce affiliated to Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

“Each province will hold a cultural or tourism rites during the summer varying from organizing exhibitions to holding music and sport events,” he said.

He added that between three and five events are expected to be held in certain provinces.

“A calendar featuring tourism events in the provinces will be published in journals and newspapers. It will also be distributed among travel agencies across the country. The calendar will provide travelers with information about tourism events in each province,” Larijani said.

Larijani said those traveling to East Azarbaijan province have the chance to participate in ‘Kebab Festival’, which will be held in Bonab during July 5-6.

Meanwhile, Salman Shahmohammadi, the deputy head of Gilan Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department said Wicker Festival, exhibiting handicrafts made of wicker or cane, would be held in the province, which is known as ‘Iran’s Wicker Capital’.

He said the festival seeks to promote wooden products particularly objects made of wicker ― produced by artists in the province.

Shahmohammadi said, however, there is a need for more innovative and creative designs to make more money.

“More innovative products will boost employment, encourage the youth to learn the craft and become productive citizens,” he said.

Making things from wicker is very popular in Gilan. People here have been involved in wicker, or cane, weaving industry since 100 years ago. The artists involved in the field produce kitchenware, furniture and decorative items from wicker.

Wicker grows in wetlands and near rivers, mostly in Lahijan and Layalestan townships.

Also, Gilan is home to tea gardens, which are among the attractions of the province.

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1.8mn Iraqi pilgrims visit Iranian holy sites annually

Tehran, July 4, IRNA – Head of Iranian Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Sa’eid Owhadi said on Saturday that some 1,800,000 Iraqi pilgrims visit Iran’s holy sites in Qom and Mashhad each year.

Speaking with IRNA, Owhadi highlighted the Iraqi pilgrims’ enthusiasm for visiting the shrines of Imam Reza (AS) and his noble sister, Lady Fatemeh Masoumeh (SA) in Mashhad and Qom.

He said that the comparative figure about the Iranian pilgrims of the Iraqi holy sites is about 1,400,000 annually.

The Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization chief’s statistics, as he mentioned in the interview, pertain exclusivelt to the Iranian pilgrims during such religious occasions as Arabain.

Owhadi also spoke about the accommodation services provided by the Iranian Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization both for the Iranian pilgrims of the Iraqi holy sites and for the Iraqi guests in Iran.

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App Counts Pilgrims Tawaf in Makkah

OnIslam & Newspapers Thursday, 02 July 2015 CAIRO – Making umrah easier for Muslim pilgrims at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, a Saudi university has developed a new mobile app that keeps track of rounds during the tawaf or circumambulation of the Ka`aba.

“The tawaf application helps you track the number of completed rounds and informs you when your tawaf is complete,” according to information provided on the app store by the developers, Arab News reported on Thursday, July 2.

“The application uses a mix of sensors in your smartphone such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and motion sensors to determine your location within the Haram.”

Though a free Wi-Fi network in available in the courtyards of the Grand Mosque, the Bluetooth was suggested to preserve battery life.

According to Bandar Al-Khazeem, director of the information technology center of the Grand Mosque, the app was developed by the technical innovation center at Umm Al-Qura University.

Offered for free on Google Play Store, the app can be downloaded and connected to the mosque’s system.

It issues an alert when the pilgrim completes the seventh and last round.

Tawaf is one of the Islamic rituals of pilgrimage.

During the Hajj and Umrah, Muslims are to circumambulate the Ka`bah seven times, in an anti-clockwise direction.

The circling is believed to demonstrate the unity of the believers in the worship of the One God, as they move in harmony together around their central shrine, while supplicating to God “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik”.

According to Islamic tradition the Tawaf of the Ka`bah is a depiction of the Tawaf that runs above the Jannat al Firdaws in the seventh heaven where the Arsh (Allah’s throne) is situated.

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Thailand Smart App Lures Muslim Tourists

OnIslam & News Agencies Tuesday, 30 June 2015 BANGKOK – Seeking a larger piece of halal tourism pie, the Thai government has developed a new smartphone app to help Muslim visitors find mosques and halal restaurants in the Asian country.

“This is a very special and historic moment for us, as it marks the launch of a new strategy to more strongly position Thailand as a ‘Muslim-friendly’ destination,” Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Acting Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), told Anadolu Agency on Monday, June 29.

Launched by Thailand tourism authority on Monday, the new app, helps Muslims find mosques, hotels and shopping centers with prayer rooms, and halal restaurants.

Speaking at a press conference to unveil the app, the acting governor said the app can apply to both IOS and android phone systems.

It comes as part of Thailand campaigns to encourage more Muslim tourists to the Asian tourism hub.

The country’s tourism industry is still reeling from a disastrous 2014 when a military coup and months of widespread street protests adversely affected the industry.

“We are seeing increasing investor interest in developing halal tourism hotels,” Juthaporn added.

“All this is good for us because it will create jobs for our emerging younger generation and promote national inclusiveness and integration.”

Thai Muslims make up five percent of the predominantly Buddhist kingdom’s population.

Most Muslims live in rural areas not well served with banking products. Muslims make more than 80% of South Thailand population. Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat are the only Muslim-majority provinces in Thailand.

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Singapore Launches Helpline for Muslims

OnIslam & Newspapers Tuesday, 30 June 2015 CAIRO – Singapore government announced the launch of a new helpline on July 1 for Muslims seeking answers on religious issues, a move hailed as clarifying religious concepts usually misused by radicalized groups.

“We want to save people from being radicalized,” Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said at the Khadijah Mosque yesterday, Strait Times reported on Tuesday, June 30.

“Young persons, like the 17-year-old who was recently arrested, may be vulnerable to radical influences online,” Teo added at the helpline’s launch, just before breaking fast with Muslim community members.

The helpline, launched by Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG), targets those seeking information about extremism and radicalization.

By offering clear answers on religious concepts that are misused by extremist groups, it would also help people seeking advice regarding family members or friends who they suspect have been radicalized.

RRG vice-chairman Mohamed Ali said the helpline can prevent young people from taking in religious information from the wrong sources, and counselors can help clarify doubts.

The helpline, 1800-774-7747, operates from 9am to 5pm from Mondays to Fridays.

Muslims in Singapore are estimated between 450,000 to 500,000, making around 14 to 15 percent of the population.

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Dubai’s theme parks to attract $5b in revenues

Khaleej Times – 04 July, 2015 – The theme park industry is scaling the growth trajectory in the UAE, with the country set to attract multibillion dollar revenues by 2017 through this sector, noted Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, chairman, IEC and organiser of the Deal Show.

Theme parks in Dubai are set to generate close to $ 5 billion by 2020 as the country aims to welcome close to 25 million tourists during that phase. The Dubai Entertainment, Amusement and Leisure (Deal) show is the largest platform for the theme parks and amusement industry in the Middle East and Africa region.

“Entertainment and leisure projects within the UAE and across GCC have boosted the confidence of the amusement and leisure industry manifold. UAE is experiencing this exponential growth because of its quality infrastructure and growing tourism and retail industry sectors. Another key factor is that Dubai is also becoming the Mice capital of the world due to the yearlong calendar of trade events. This also brings in considerable amount of footfall as families merge business with leisure activities and that further propels the theme park industry,” said Falaknaz.

Millions of tourists are set to flock theme parks in Dubai that are slated to open by the end of 2016.

“The leisure and attractions industry in this region is in a very good stage compared to other global markets.

Several projects in this region are at different stages of development which should take shape in the next two years. As pioneers of this industry within GCC, we have a unique product which has worked successfully for nearly two decades — our biggest USP is that we have an original concept which appeals to the locals and GCC visitors, expat residents and international tourists,” said Ahmad Hussain bin Essa, COO of Global Village.

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Kuwait thriving with $188bn of projects currently underway

Kuwait Times – 02 July, 2015 – With $ 188 billion of projects currently under various stages of planning and construction, Kuwait’s construction sector is poised for significant growth.

The demand for high-quality infrastructure along with upscale residential and commercial properties can be seen in several multi-billion dollar projects including:

$ 7 billion Kuwait Metro project

$ 3.3 billion Kuwait International Airport

$ 2.6 billion Subiya Causeway

$ 15 billion Al-Zour New Refinery Project

$ 6.2 billion motorway construction

Ashley Roberts, Event Director of The Big 5 Kuwait, said: “Kuwait has earmarked $ 7.2 billion from its annual budget for 2015-2016 for the construction sector and accelerated the sector’s growth. To leverage the fresh momentum experienced by the Kuwaiti market, our event will highlight state-of-the-art solutions and products for the construction sector. Following two successful editions, we are upbeat that the 2015 event will generate positive results for exhibitors and visitors alike.” The third edition of The Big 5 Kuwait will be held from 14 – 16 September 2015 at the Kuwait International Fair. One new feature is the addition of a hall dedicated to Building Interiors products.

The move is in response to the 2014 Visitor Survey, where 41% of visitors in 2014 requested to see more interiors products. Building Interiors products command a high demand in Kuwait with the combined value of retail, interior and fit-out market standing at $ 31 million.

The new hall will be an exclusive showcase of products from the segments such as bathroom accessories, ceilings partitions, ceramics and porcelain, flooring, sanitary ware, showers, fitted furniture, sinks, bathtubs, and wall coverings. A second new feature is the over 20 free to attend Continuing Professional Development (CPD) accredited workshops. They will be highly educational for architects, interior designers, consultants, procurement managers, contractors, real estate developers, engineers, and government sector personnel who can register the points with their professional association or use it as certificate of attendance.

76% of visitors who attended a workshop in 2014 rated the sessions as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good.’ The Big 5 Kuwait 2015 will provide an ideal venue for regional and international manufacturers and distributors of related goods and services to showcase their products to the now proven lucrative Kuwaiti market. At the same time, offering local buyers easy access to these new and innovative products. The Big 5 Kuwait is the largest building and construction event in Kuwait, attracting visitors from Kuwait, Saudi, Bahrain and UAE.

The Big 5 Kuwait addresses the needs of the country’s burgeoning construction sector. In 2014, it attracted over 5,000 industry professionals, including architects, engineers, interior designers, contractors and developers looking to source products to service building and infrastructure projects during the exhibition’s three-day run. The Big 5 Kuwait complements the growing momentum in the Kuwaiti construction sector by offering new concepts and solutions in building technology.

The Big 5 Kuwait is the largest building and construction event in Kuwait, attracting visitors from Kuwait, Saudi, Bahrain and UAE. The exhibition showcases local and international building and construction products to senior buyers of these products.

The event returns from 14 – 16 September 2015 at the Kuwait International Fair, 40% larger than in 2014. New features include free to attend CPD certified workshops, a Building Interiors hall and an online networking tool. Successful features that are returning include the now extended outdoor Plant Machinery and Vehicle outdoor area and the How to trade in Kuwait seminar.

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Saudi team visits UAE to polish skills in tourism

Arab News – 03 July, 2015 – A delegation from the Kingdom recently visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to explore that country’s successful experience in tourism, in a bid to further develop the sector.

Saudi Arabia has been making all-out efforts to promote tourism, including the latest Umrah Plus move, where pilgrims would be allowed to visit places other than Makkah and Madinah.

The team comprising members of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) Al-Baha branch met officials from Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and discussed various aspects of tourism, an SCTA spokesman said.

Tourism in the UAE is an important part of the government’s strategy to maintain the high flow of foreign cash into the country, said the official, adding that the visit by the SCTA team was very fruitful.

The official said that the learning experiences for the delegation include exploring best practices and activating the joint plans between the partners in the tourism sector, such as municipalities, agriculture department, water and roads departments in order to establish, rehabilitate, develop, operate and manage tourism projects.

He said that the visit by Al-Baha tourism development support team was approved by SCTA president Prince Sultan bin Salman.

The visit is a result of joint efforts between SCTA and Al-Baha governorate to promote tourism in the province.

The official said that Zaher Al-Shihri, director of SCTA branch in Al-Baha, on behalf of members of the visiting team, appreciated SCTA president for his keenness and support to national tourism and for allowing them to exchange experiences on different tourism aspects.

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First privatised airport set to receive pilgrims in Madinah

Khaleej Times – 03 July, 2015 – King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, was scheduled to inaugurate the Prince Mohammad bin Abdul Aziz International Airport.

Saudi Arabia on Thursday officially was to open a billion-dollar aviation gateway aimed at pilgrims, in the kingdom’s first airport privatisation.

Local media said the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, was scheduled to inaugurate the Prince Mohammad bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in the holy city of Madinah.

About two million pilgrims annually visit the western cities of the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah for the Haj, which this year takes place in September.

Madinah’s domestic airport was upgraded to international status because of “the importance and the role of the air transport sector in the service of pilgrims and visitors to the Holy Prophet’s (peace be upon him) mosque,” the website of the airport operator says.

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