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17 Aug, 2015

Orlando Airport To Open $250,000 Muslim Prayer Room

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 17 August 2015 (02 Dhul Qa’dah 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, is witnessing 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.



Orlando Airport To Open $250,000 Muslim Prayer Room

ORLANDO (CBS Tampa), August 13th, 2015 — WKMG-TV reports the airport will spend $250,000 to build the “Reflection Room” where Muslims can pray. The airport decided to build the room after Emirates Airlines announced it will make non-stop flights from Orlando to Dubai.

malaysia logo

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

“These rooms provide travelers an opportunity to pray in their own way and have peace before they take on a long flight,” Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, told My News 13.

Many Muslims currently pray in public at the Orlando airport. Carolyn Fennell, director of public affairs at the airport, says the “Reflective Room” will give them a much more suitable place to pray.

The airport has a chapel in Terminal A and is expected to open an interdenominational chapel in the near future, My News 13 reports. The “Reflection Room” is scheduled to be open by Sept. 1.

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Austrian energy giant views Iran as ‘great opportunity’

Berlin, August 12, IRNA — Austrian energy giant OMV on Wednesday called the removal of Iran sanctions as ‘a great opportunity’ to invest in Iranian lucrative industry, according to German press reports.

Presenting half-year company financial figures in Vienna, new OMV chairman Rainer Seele pointed out that his company has been engaged in Iran’s energy sector for quite some time.

We are not a newcomer in Iran. We have in the past been engaged in Iran.

We have built up business ties and we know the country and this is something we can build on, Seele said.

He ruled out Iranian gas exports for Europe, saying Iran was primarily focused on using its gas production for domestic consumption and exporting gas to its neighboring countries.

Iran has repeatedly welcomed European investments in its energy sector as well as a transfer of energy know-how and technology.

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Foreign companies ready for participating in Mahallat Int’l Stone Exhibit

Khomein, August 12, IRNA – Companies from Russia, China, Italy, Spain, Germany, Turkey and Persian Gulf littoral states have voiced readiness for taking part in the Eighth Mahallat International Stone and Mine Exhibition slated for October.

Director of the exhibition’s public relations and international affairs, Akbar Safarzadeh told IRNA Wednesday that the firms will display their modern technologies and stone processing equipment during the upcoming event.

Since Iran’s economy has entered post-sanctions era, the exhibition will seek to forge communications with foreign companies and pave the way for participating in industrial projects, he said.

Stone processing machinery, rough stones, mine extracting machinery, stone cutting equipment and relevant industries are among the major sections of the exhibition, Safarzadeh said.

Introducing new technologies and achievements, encouraging producers to focus on export-oriented industrialization, finding markets for Iranian stone and study weak and strong points of it are among the objectives of the exhibition, he said.

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China and Pakistan sign cooperation agreements worth over 10 billion yuan

URUMQI, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) — China and Pakistan on Wednesday signed 20 cooperation agreements, worth 10.35 billion yuan (1.6 billion U.S. dollars), and issued the “Karamay Manifesto” on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major project in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

More than 300 officials and delegates from companies, think tanks and social organizations witness the signing of the agreements at the closing ceremony of the first China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Forum held in the oil-rich city of Karamay, north Xinjiang.

The two-day event featured forums on topics including city-to-city and industrial cooperation, and youth exchange.

The two countries pledged to boost bilateral economic development through energy and power projects, and will also cooperate in education and health care.

According to the Karamay Manifesto, the CPEC Forum will continue to be held regularly. It praised the significance of the Belt and Road Initiative and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative for the political trust, economic cooperation and cultural exchanges of the countries along the road.

The CPEC will link Gwadar Port, Pakistan, with Xinjiang by way of highways, railways as well as pipelines. It is among the six economic corridors crucial to China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.

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Kalla praises Islamic schools’ contributions to RI’s development

The Jakarta Post, Surakarta, August 09 2015 – Vice President Jusuf Kalla said Indonesia’s education institutions, including Islamic boarding schools, must provide quality education that stays up to date with current developments as it would be likely for deviant ideologies to try and capture the minds of the youth.

He also praised the developmental roles that Islamic boarding schools have played by providing quality religious education and general knowledge to their students.

“Education must be dynamic so that it keeps up to date with the current developments as education is important for the future,” said Kalla during the 33rd anniversary of the Assalam Islamic modern boarding school in Surakarta on Saturday.

The Vice President said that the education that all Assalam students had received would be useful to help them face problems in the future. He later explained that the spread of radical ideologies by the Islamic State (IS) movement was an example of old-fashioned education that was no longer in line with developments in the current era.

“Islam is a religion that respects followers of other religions. The Assalam Islamic boarding school has also adopted a similar principle,” praised Kalla.

He further said all Assalam students and alumni must be able to give solutions to various problems Indonesian people were currently facing. They should care for people facing life’s hardships.

“In facing drought, for example, there should be breakthroughs on how we can prevent and overcome its impact. There should be strategies so that farmers can still cultivate their land,” said Kalla.

He said it was hoped that in the future, the Assalam Islamic modern boarding school would not only provide Islamic education to its students but also could allow them to boost their creativity.

During the visit, Kalla, who was accompanied by wife Mufidah Jusuf Kalla, also attended the launch of an Assalam book entitled Beningnya Mata Air Islam (The Clearness of the Islam Spring) and inaugurated the Assalam Center building.

Kalla and his entourage also visited a creative economy exhibition held at the school. Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo and Sukoharjo Regent Wardoyo were among the officials attending the Assalam school’s anniversary celebration.

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Iran carpet industry seeks revival with lifting of sanctions

Tehran, Aug 11, IRNA – Iran’s famed carpet weavers are busy at work following the country’s historic nuclear deal with world powers, anticipating a boost in exports as sanctions are set to be lifted in the months ahead.

‘The Persian hand-woven carpet is Iran’s ambassador. I’m delighted that the ambassador is in the process of resuming work in the U.S.,’ exporter Jila Rassam Arabzadeh said this week. ‘The Persian carpet is like the Iranian flag, known all over the world. Let our flag fly.’

The landmark July 14 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — is meant to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting crippling international sanctions. As part of the deal, the U.S. will resume imports of Iranian carpets, which were halted in 2010.

Persian carpets were the Iranian non-oil commodity that suffered most as a result of sanctions.

The U.S. market had made up one-fifth of Iran’s carpet exports. Hamid Kargar, president of Iran’s national carpet center, said producers in the Islamic republic are already making carpets with Americans in mind and are hopeful that trade will resume next year.

‘People in the carpet business have begun to produce carpets suiting the taste of the American market, receiving orders and negotiating with customers,’ he said. ‘Since 2010, we lost one-fifth of our exports because we were deprived of the U.S. market. Our rivals replaced Iran. However, we expect that Americans will welcome Persian carpets again because of its unique designs and colors.’

Iran exported $330 million in Persian carpets last year. Exports account for two-thirds of Iran’s carpet production, which now stands at over 5 million square meters (53 million square feet) a year.

The Islamic republic was once the world’s biggest carpet exporter but the industry has been hampered by the sanctions and competition from cheaper Indian, Pakistani and Chinese copies of traditional Iranian patterns.

Arabzadeh, the carpet exporter, said she is preparing to respond to a variety of American customers.

‘Americans and Canadians prefer light colors but the older generations go for darker ones. We are reassessing to meet the demands of our American customers,’ she said.

Hand-woven Persian carpets can range in cost from several thousand dollars to multi-million dollar floor coverings fit for palaces.

In 2000, Iran shipped a giant hand-woven carpet to the king of Oman worth $5.2 million. In 2006, Iran produced the world’s largest hand-woven floor covering, worth $8.5 million, for the Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.

Iran is also seeking to resume exports of pistachios, another major Iranian non-oil commodity.

However, in past decades, the U.S. itself has become a major pistachio producer and Iranian imports face 300 percent duties. The tax was imposed to protect American producers, according to Mohsen Jalalpour, head of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce.

He’s confident, though, that Iranian pistachios have a special advantage.

‘Americans like the taste of Iranian pistachios more than that of their own,’ he said.

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Iran to hold ‘Iran Project’ expo in Ashghabat Aug. 19-21

Tehran, Aug 11, IRNA – Iran is to hold a second specialized exhibition in Turkmenistan in diverse areas, including oil and gas industries as well as engineering and technical products and services.

Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industires, Mines and Agriculture announced on Tuesday that the Second Specialized Exhibition on Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals, Water and Electricity, Construction Industry as well as Engineering and Technical Services, named ‘Iran Project’ will be held in Ashgabat from August 19-21.

The capacity of the expo will reportedly be used to pave the way for goods-for-gas barter between Iran and Turkmenistan.

Iran and Turkmenistan are determined to further enhance economic ties and increase the volume of bilateral trade to $60 billion by the next ten years.

Iran’s first specialized exhibition in Turkmenistan was held in August 2014 with the participation of 125 Iranian companies presenting their products and services.

During the opening ceremony of the expo, Iranian Vice-President for Science and Technology Affairs Sorena Sattari said deepening and boosting ties with Turkmenistan is important for Iran.

He underlined that by developing constructive interactions, the two countries can be a model of good-neighborly relations in the region.

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The many shades of Islamic craftmanship on display in Delhi

Hindustan Times, New Delhi, Aug 11, 2015 – Stars in Bollywood films are often seen tying wishing threads at Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, popularly known as Ajmer Sharif. The significance of the same is, however, ­depicted in the calligraphic scroll by contemporary artist Yusuf Husen Gori.

The exhibit showcasing the artist’s work illustrates traditions of roshni (light), langar, music and mannat — synonymous with sufi culture in India. The handmade paper artwork, that is estimated to last for atleast 300 years, is accompanied by exhibits that portray intricate craftsmanship of Islamic art.

The ongoing exhibition Islamic Art and Craft: Indo-Iranian Enterprise for Preservation and Promotion—by Iran Culture House, displays fine examples of Islamic culture. “Most of the exhibits are made by ­contemporary Indian artists under the supervision of Iranian experts,” says Sahiba Zaidi of Premchand Archives. Placed right at the entry of the gallery, a huge Quran makes it difficult for us to believe that the same is true.

“Considered as the biggest Quran in India till date, it was damaged during the torrential rains in Gujarat and is now being restored by contemporary artists,” she adds. A few steps ahead is another big exhibit, but this is just one folio (8×4 feet) of Quran. “Once ­complete, this will be the ­biggest Quran in India. All this is done by girls,” says Zaidi, feeling the thick golden rope bordering the folio of this Quran in making.

The framed calligraphic phrases, to be hung on walls, have the sheen of real gold, twisted and twirled threads of zardozi. “There is no ­presence of images in these calligraphic texts since Islamic culture prohibits it,” she explains, as the creatively written words on camel skin awe the onlookers.

To add to the visual treat are the astrolabes (used to measure time in olden times) and few wall plates that too display Islamic calligraphic art. “When we keep the art form alive, only then can we keep the tradition alive,” adds Zaidi.

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Partially Egyptian-made train gets first test-run

Cairo, 8 Aug 2015, Alahram online – Egypt’s national rail service will trial a new, partially Egyptian-made train on Saturday afternoon, sending the train on a test-run between Cairo and Alexandria.

Nagwa Albeer, the spokesperson for Egyptian National Railways, told Ahram Online that the train is the first train that has been produced with “greater than 50 percent Egyptian contribution” to operate on the country’s railways.

The fully air-conditioned train is the product of a joint manufacturing project between the state-owned Arab Organisation for Industrialisation and a Chinese company, which made the train body.

The new train also has a VIP section where seats on the Cairo-Alexandria route will cost LE100, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

The rest of the tickets run at LE65 a piece.

Ahmed Hamed, the head of Egyptian National Railways, told Al-Ahram Arabic website that the train will not be in service until technical evaluations of its safety have been completed.

Saturday afternoon’s trial run will take place without any passengers.

Egypt has suffered a number of costly train accidents in recent years, often attributed to the outdated equipment and infrastructure.

In 2013, six train crashes took place in Egypt, leaving dozens killed and injured.

The country’s worst train disaster took place in 2002, when a fire aboard a train headed from Cairo to Aswan killed 361 people.

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Emirates announces ‘world’s longest’ flight to Panama

Agence France Presse, 13 August 2015, DUBAI, UAE: Dubai’s Emirates Airline announced Thursday it will launch the world’s “longest non-stop flight” in February from the bustling Gulf emirate to Panama City, lasting more than 17 hours.

The carrier will fly daily to Panama’s capital in a passenger flight operated by a Boeing 777-200LR aircraft which can also carry up to 15 tons of cargo, Emirates said in a statement.

The flight between the two trading hubs will last 17 hours and 35 minutes, making Panama the airline’s first destination in Central America, it said.

Currently, the longest flights connect Dallas to Sidney (almost 17 hours), Johannesburg to Atlanta (16 hours 40 minutes), and Dubai to Los Angeles (16 hours 35 minutes).

Previously, the longest flight, lasting almost 19 hours linked Singapore and New York, operated by Singapore Airlines. But it was suspended in 2013 in a bid to cut costs.

Emirates operates a fleet of 235 aircraft, serving 147 destinations in 81 countries.

The airline has the world’s largest fleets of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, with another 274 planes on order worth $135 billion.

In March, US carriers and American aviation labor groups accused Gulf airlines of enjoying interest-free loans, subsidized airport charges, government protection on fuel losses and below-market labor costs that are considered unfair subsidies by the World Trade Organization.

The region’s “Big Three,” Emirates, Qatar Airways and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad, have repeatedly denied the accusations and hit back that US carriers are resentful of competition.

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300,000 e-visas issued to foreign Haj pilgrims

MAKKAH: ARAB NEWS, 12 August 2015 – The Haj Ministry, in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, has issued more than 300,000 Haj visas electronically to Haj pilgrims from abroad, local media said on Tuesday.

Issa Rowaas, Haj Ministry director-general and supervisor of the electronic portal, was quoted as saying that the Ministry closely followed the royal directives on providing electronic visas to Umrah and Haj pilgrims.

“The reason for adopting this system is to increase transparency, as well as follow up on performance. The electronic gateway has made it easier to deal with big numbers of visitors, while the implementation of regulations and conditions related to it have also been eased,” he said.

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Expats in KSA remitted SR1.4 trillion in 22 years

JEDDAH, 13 August 2015, Arab News: Expat remittances from Saudi Arabia rose by five percent or SR4.1 billion to SR81.6 billion in the first six months of this year compared with SR77.5 billion in the same period last year, local media reported.

Expatriate workers in the Kingdom have sent home around SR1.42 trillion in the past 22 years (From 1994 to end-June 2015), according to data and analysis carried out by Al-Eqtesadiah.

Last year (2014) saw the highest-ever value of expatriates’ remittances, which surged by 3.6 percent or SR5.3 billion from SR148 billion in 2013 to SR153.3 billion.

Commenting on the latest figures, London-based James Reeve, deputy chief economist and assistant general manager at Samba Financial Group, said: “The increase is not large enough to have a major effect on the Kingdom’s balance of payments, which is dominated by trade.”

Said Al-Shaikh, group chief economist at the National Commercial Bank, told Arab News: “The pace of economic growth will moderate over the coming few years which will mean the demand for labor will be lessened compared to huge demand from 2004 to 2014. Accordingly, the level of growth in remittances will slow down.”

He said: “The increasing Saudization will also lessen the rate of growth of remittances.”

John Sfakianakis, Middle East director at Ashmore Group, commented: “Expatriate workers have for decades assisted the development of the Saudi economy. The development and construction of the Kingdom wouldn’t have happened had it not been for foreign workers since the early 1970s. Arab workers as well as millions from the subcontinent and Asia have helped the country move forward.”

In June this year, the Al-Eqtesadiah report stated that expatriates in Saudi Arabia transferred an amount of SR13.2 billion to their home countries, down three percent or SR413 million from the SR13.6 billion recorded in the same month last year.

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Air transport development bank proposed

Tehran, Aug 7, IRNA – Iranian aviation officials are studying a plan to create a fund to provide loans enabling domestic businesses to purchase planes.

Maqsood As’adi-Samani, secretary of the Iranian Aviation and Space Industries Association, said on Tuesday a plan for the foundation of a bank specializing in financing aviation has been offered to the relevant authorities, Fars News Agency reported.

As’adi-Samani said the plan envisages the creation of a bank by the IASIA, stressing that the bank will redress the shortfalls in budgets of domestic companies for purchasing planes. The bank will secure loans for Iranian aviation companies renovating their aging air fleet by purchasing planes from foreigners.

He emphasized that this is a shortcoming that needs to be addressed by the banks and financial institutions “as is customary in other countries”.

“Iran’s aviation companies are unable to provide all the required funds to buy planes by relying on their current revenues,” said As’adi-Samani.

The official further said the establishment of IASIA’s own bank–which he said could be named the Air Transport Development Bank of Iran–can eventually help with the renovation of Iran’s aviation fleet.

As’adi-Samani emphasized that the required funds for the proposed bank will be provided from the National Development Fund as well as related financial facilities.

“The NDF previously provided funds to companies to buy planes through banks but required guarantees above the value of their assets,” he said. “But this problem has been resolved and the government can now accept planes as guarantees for the loans it pays the companies.”

Iranian officials announced last week that the country plans to place orders with aviation giants Boeing and Airbus to purchase up to 90 planes per year until 2020.

On Tuesday, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran (CAO) Mohammad Khodakarami, announced that the country plans to buy up to 90 Airbus and Boeing passenger planes per year to revamp its aging air fleet.

“Iran is tasked with adding 80 to 90 airplanes to the fleet each year until 300 new ones are in place to renew its timeworn fleet,” Khodakarami said.

Iran needs above 400 civilian aircraft worth at least $20 billion in the next decade to renovate its aging fleet.

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Chinese Symphony Orchestra performs in Iran

Tehran, Aug 15, IRNA – China’s Philharmonic Orchestra Artistic Director Long Yu hoped that the Tehran Symphony Orchestra would stage pieces in his country.

“In a bid to guarantee durable cultural interactions between Iranian and Chinese philharmonic orchestras, I wish to see Tehran Symphony Orchestra in Beijing in the near future,” Long Yu said in Tehran, Tehran-based English Newspaper, Iran Daily, reported.

China Philharmonic Orchestra, headed by Yu, arrived in Tehran on Tuesday to perform joint concerts with Tehran Symphony Orchestra at Tehran’s Vahdat Hall on Thursday and Friday.

“This is the largest Iran-China joint concert ever and it is a great honor for us to perform in Iran,” the Chinese maestro said in a news conference in which the conductor and general music director of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra Ali Rahbari was also present.

Yu added that the Chinese delegation is in Tehran to consolidate cultural ties between the two countries and hoped to meet talented Iranian musicians in China soon.

The orchestra, which is the largest in China, is on a world tour and was received warmly in Iran.

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Kish, UAE discuss tourism ties

Tehran, Aug 15, IRNA – Kish Island and UAE held talks on economic and tourism cooperation in the post-sanction era, said managing director of Kish Free Zone Organization during his recent visit to the UAE.

Winding up a four-day visit to Abu Dhabi, Jebel Ali and Dubai, Ali Asghar Mounesan said that during his trip, he studied tourism facilities as well as port and airport installations in the Persian Gulf Arab state, wrote the Tehran-based English newspaper, Iran Daily on Saturday.

Launching an air cargo center on Kish Island and upgrading airport services were on the agenda of his talks with local economic officials.

Mounesan also briefed potential investors about the facilities provided by his organization and said Kish Island is open to further development in the wake of the lifting of Western sanctions.

Kish, in the southern province of Hormuzgan, is a 91.5-square-kilometer resort island on the Persian Gulf. In view of its free trade zone status, it is considered a consumer’s paradise, with numerous malls, shopping centers, tourist attractions and resort hotels.

Kish Karting Track is one of the largest in the Middle East and one of the first of its kind in Iran. A great array of water sports are also offered to tourists in Kish such as scuba diving courses, jet skiing, diving cruises, water skiing, cruises to other islands around Kish, jet boat rides, cruise fishing boats, pedal boating, banana boat rides and windsurfing.

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Powerman Asia Duathlon Championships to be held in Malaysia in March 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 (Bernama) — The Powerman Asia Duathlon Championships will make a comeback to Putrajaya on Sunday, the 6th of March in 2016, after a 2-year hiatus in the region. The race organizer, E-Plus Entertainment Productions, targets to have around 3,000 participants, including top duathletes from around the world, participating in the run-bike-run duathlon race format.

“Globally, Powerman is considered the pinnacle of Duathlon competition and the sport of Duathlon as a natural progression for runners and cyclists. As running and cycling continue to grow as competitive sports, we are happy the Powerman Asia Championships will be revived to provide a platform for these sportsmen and sportswomen to challenge themselves. Malaysia has hosted Powerman since 2002 and is the natural location to host the Asia Championships,” said John Raadschelders, President of the International Powerman Association.

“As we continue efforts in positioning Malaysia as a sports hub in Asia, we look forward to more global scaled outdoor events. In previous years, Powerman has attracted participants from up to 30 countries. By hosting Powerman in Malaysia, we target almost 2,500 international participants and spectators, with an estimated economic impact of RM16 million, generated from tourists’ expenditure. Powerman Asia Championships will not only attract elite competitors with twice the series points versus a regular Powerman race, it will also attract duathletes and fitness enthusiasts from around the region to Malaysia.” added Tony Nagamaiah, General Manager of Malaysia Major Events.

Entrants can expect to race in the Powerman Classic and Powerman Short distances, which offer the challenges of a 10-kilometre run, 60-kilometre cycle, 10-kilometre run, and 5-kilometre run, 30-kilometre cycle, 5-kilometre run respectively.

Participants wishing to compete as a team will also have the option of taking part in either the 2-person Powerman Classic Relay category, which will cover the 10km-60km-10km Classic distance, or 3-person Corporate Sprint category, which will cover the 5km-30km-5km Short distance.

Business Development Director of E-Plus Entertainment Productions, Iskandar Shahril, is confident of the event’s success. “We see tremendous growth in the sports market in Asia. With our increasing commitment towards developing our sports expertise, we believe E-Plus will continue to make inroads into sports business,” he said.

Registrations and pricing announcements for the race are expected to commence in September 2015.

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Malaysian Foreign Ministry Organises Mobile Consular Office Program

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 13 (Bernama) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia will operate a Mobile Consular Office for the East Zone at the Rural Transformation Centre (RTC) Kota Bharu, Kelantan from 14 to 15 August 2015.

The Mobile Consular Office is part of the Ministry’s Public Services Transformation Plan with the aim to bring closer its Consular Services to the public.

Among the services provided by the Mobile Consular Counter are attestation and authentication of documents; application of Good Conduct Certificate; attending to consular complaints; and giving travel advice and guidance for those who intend to travel abroad.

Members of the public especially from Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang are welcome to avail themselves of the opportunity of getting consular services provided by the mobile counter.

Mobile Consular Office for the Southern Zone is scheduled to operate in Johor Baharu, Johor in September 2015 and for the North Zone in Alor Setar, Kedah in October 2015.

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Islamic Development Bank to Promote Financial Services Cooperation with Indonesia

IDB News release, 09 August 2015 – Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (Otoritas Jasa Keuangan / OJK) on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to promote cooperation between the two institutions. The MoU was signed between OJK Chairman Dr. Muliaman D. Hadad and IDB Group Chairman, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali.

The MoU aims at enhancing existing cooperation between OJK and IDB in the areas of research, training and advisory services, Islamic financial services, and exchange of expertise and knowledge with other Indonesian entities and private sector institutions, as well as establishing a special center of excellence for microfinance under OJK in Jakarta.

OJK Chairman Dr. Muliaman D. Hadad, referred to the event as a step in consolidation of the long standing partnership with IDB.

IDB Group Chairman, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, voiced appreciation over four decades of extensive cooperation between IDB and the Republic of Indonesia as a founding member. The IDB Group Chairman emphasized that cooperation with OJK will further pave the ground for materializing IDB’s top priority development programs in Indonesia.

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Training Course on “Poverty Statistics” in Burkina Faso

COMCEC media release – Within the framework of COMCEC project titled “Improving Statistical Capacities of OIC Member Countries in Poverty Statistics”, SESRIC will organise a training course on ‘Poverty Statistics’ at the National Institute of Statistics and Demography (INSD) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on 17-19 August 2015.

The training course aims at building statistical capacity in poverty statistics and overall contributing to the National Statistical Systems (NSS) of the member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) through capacity building programs including short-term trainings.

The Course will be conducted by Mr. Momath Cisse, Expert at National Agency of Statistics and Demography (ANSD) with the participation of relevant officials of INSD of Burkina Faso.

Poverty Statistics includes work on multidimensional methods to measure poverty. The subject area “Poverty Statistics’” is currently classified under the “Multi-domain statistics and indicators” activity of the “Environment and multi-domain statistics” domain.

The Course will focus on the following topics: The concept of welfare and poverty; Steps for measuring poverty; Household surveys; Measuring poverty: choosing a wellness indicator; How to define a poverty line; Problems choice of absolute poverty line; Digital Index; The index of poverty gap.

Adopted in 2012, the Strategy Document of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) is the first vision document for the COMCEC for six main cooperation areas including tourism. To achieve strategic objectives defined in the COMCEC Strategy, COMCEC Coordination Office launched the COMCEC Project Cycle Management (PCM) Programme in 2013.

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UAE student develops new method to boost farming

ABU DHABI, 16th August, 2015 (WAM) — The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology is working to develop a novel innovation that can help address the country’s food, water and energy security concerns, through UAE national graduate student Fatima Al Jallaf’s soil fertility-enhancing biodegradable “microbeads,” which will improve the country’s ability to support farming.

In her research, which is being conducted through the Masdar Institute Center for Water and Environment (iWater), specific microbes will be attached to the microbeads, and once inserted in the ground, the microbes will spread through the soil and improve its ability to sustainably support crops.

“Microbial communities, like the ones we want to bring to UAE soils, need an environment to live in. This is the role of the microbead – like a housing community, it will contain all of the ‘amenities’ required for the microbes to thrive. When in the soil, the microbes will propagate in the beads and release important nutrients, which will diffuse out to the soil,” explained Dr. Hector Hernandez, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Advisor to Al Jallaf.

Fertility-enhancing microbeads have been developed before and have successfully been used in places like the state of Washington in the USA. However, that type of bead is not suitable for the UAE’s hot soils – they dry up and shrink within hours after being released into the soil.

“Healthy soil is teeming with millions of microorganisms who perform a variety of functions, such as removing toxins and storing carbon. The problem with the UAE’s desert soils is that they are largely devoid of carbon sources and these helpful microorganisms. We are trying to bring these growth-promoting bacteria into the soil with this microbead research,” Al Jallaf said.

The UAE has a long-standing focus on increasing its agricultural output for improved food security and economic diversity. But the country’s soil is not naturally conducive to agriculture, with its high sand and low nutrient content, making crop growth challenging and water-intensive. More than 70% of the UAE’s water use goes towards irrigation for agriculture although food imports still amount to between 85% and 90% of the UAE’s food consumption each year.

To help make the UAE’s soil far more supportive of agriculture, Al Jallaf is engineering specialized ‘”microbeads” that can slowly release nutrients into the extremely arid soils of the UAE. A microbead is a tiny plastic sphere – usually about 1 millimeter in size – that is commonly used in grooming products, like facial scrubs and toothpastes. Al Jallaf is looking to evolve the scope of microbeads by integrating them with fertility-boosting microbes. Microbes are an integral part of soils – serving to break down waste, aerate soil, enhance the water-use efficiency of crops and improve nutrient uptake.

“Soil plays a significant role in the food-water-energy nexus. The UAE’s soil requires a lot of water, which it gets through irrigation. And irrigation pumping consumes a lot of energy. By enhancing the soil’s ability to retain water and grow more crops through these microbeads, the country could potentially save a lot of water and energy and increase its domestic food production,” Al Jallaf added.

Al Jallaf and Dr. Hernandez are currently collaborating with Dr. Pance Naumov from NYU Abu Dhabi and his postdoctoral associate Dr. Lidon Zhang on identifying the base material best suited for the UAE’s harsh climate, and their research is promising.

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MoU Signed With The Aim of Improving The Quality of Local Products

August 16, 2015, Kabul (BNA) A Memorandum of Understanding was signed yesterday between the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) and the Afghanistan National Standards Authority (ANSA) to the improve quality of local products.

Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, head of AISA, said that this agreement to help improve the standard and quality of domestic products in national and international markets.

Haqjo added that the import of low quality merchandises inflicted huge damages on businessmen and consumers. The official promised that AISA in coordination with other organizations would stop import of low quality goods and services inside the country.

ANSA’s head Popal Popalzai said that had huge achievements in the short time since its start and independency and so far 471 standards had been developed inside the country.

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Lawmakers From Ghazni Call On Leading Body of Ministry For Civil Aviation

August 16, 2015, Kabul (BNA) A delegation of lawmakers from Ghazni province called on the leading body of the ministry for civil aviation including Hamid Zahir and Mohammd Qasim Wafayeezada here yesterday.

Headed by lawmaker Abdul Qayum Sajadi, the delegation apprized the leading body of the ministry about the problems of the people of Ghazni province, demanded the government to accelerate the work for helicopter airfield in Malistan district and construction of airport in Jaghori district. The leading body of the ministry for civil aviation promised to pursue the demands of Ghazni province and find solution for their problems.

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Construction of Kabul Ring Road Essential For Economy: President Ghani

August 16, 2015, Kabul (BNA) In a meeting presided over by president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani here in Arg yesterday the construction of Kabul ring road was discussed.

Attended by minister for urban development, ministers of public works, transport, acting Kabul mayor, Kabul garrison commander, former chief of national directorate for security Amrullah Saleh and other high ranking officials, president Ghani noted that construction of Kabul ring road is essential for economy.

The Minister of Public Works presented his report for the construction of ring road and suggested formation of a working group with the participation of officials from ministries for public work, urban development, Kabul municipality and land and irrigation directorate. After discussing the technical and economic impact of the proposed ring road, the president termed it an essential and development project and called for its early implementation, saying the future economy of Kabul depends on this project. The president also instructed concerned authorities to prepare the plan for the project within two weeks and submit it in the next meeting.

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Iglesias comes to Istanbul

ISTANBUL – Famous Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias will take to the stage at Istanbul’s Küçükçiftlik Park on Aug. 19. The 40-year-old singer performed duets with world-famous performers including Jennifer Lopez and Kylie Minogue on his latest album.

He recently tweeted on his official account: “Turkey! So excited to go back and see all of you!” Iglesias has sold over 137 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling Latin artists ever. He has scored over 150 number-one hits across all of the Billboard charts and he has had five Billboard Hot 100 top five singles. He also holds the record for most number-one hits and the longest running number-one hit on that chart.

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Grand Bazaar named Istanbul’s ‘most valuable point’

ISTANBUL, August/16/2015 – The Grand Bazaar has been named the “most valuable spot” in Istanbul, with rent worth around $3,500 per square meter per month, according to a new study by Turkey’s Eva Real Estate Valuation Consultancy.

The Kalpakçılar Caddesi, a street in the Grand Bazaar full of jewelry and gold shops, is the most expensive street in the Grand Bazaar, according to the study.

The touristic İstiklal Street followed the historical street with an average rent of $350 per square meter, while Bağdat Street on Istanbul’s Asian side ranked third in the list with an average rent of $280 per square meter.

Abdi İpekçi Street on the European side came next at around $150 per square meter.

Rents in the Grand Bazaar have been steadily increasing by an average of 20 percent annually in recent years, according to the study.

“The Grand Bazaar one of the most characteristic and oldest bazaars of the world … The Grand Bazaar has always been very popular for centuries, so the rents there are much higher than the rents in other districts,” said Eva CEO Cansel Turgut Yazıcı.

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Malaysia’s Healthcare Industry Has More Room To Grow, Says IHH

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia’s healthcare industry is fundamentally healthy with still more room for growth, says IHH Healthcare Bhd.

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Dr Tan See Leng said despite concerns over the Goods and Services Tax, the number of people seeking healthcare services had gone up.

“At IHH, we are continually moving up the value chain in terms of the range of services that we provide,” he told reporters at a media appreciation event in conjunction with Hari Raya. According to Tan the company provided integrated services such as oncology and cardiovascular surgery.

He said the company had primarily shifted away from its traditional market into non-traditional areas like the Middle East, North Asia and South Asia.

“So, a lot of these new markets are actually helping us to mitigate any sort of fluctuation in the traditional market. In terms of the market share, I think we are quite consistent,” he added.

Of its foreign markets, Singapore appears to be one of the biggest, contributing over 30 per cent to revenue.

IHH, which will be releasing its second quarter results on Aug 26, has dual listings on the main markets of Bursa Malaysia Securities Bhd and Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Ltd.

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Oman’s Domestic Tourism Destinations

MUSCAT, Oman, Aug 16 (NNN-ONA) – The Wilayat of Bahla in Oman, is one of the wilayats of the Governorate of A’Dhakiliyah, that are known for having many tourist sites and attractions.

As per the statistics issued by the Sultanate of Oman’s Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, the wilayat is also known for having 103 different types of aflajs “water canals” (Daoudi, Ghaili and Aini), according to Oman News Agency (ONA).

While farmers rely on aflaj in irrigating their plants, still many farms suffer from severe drought and dryness of aflajs, due to low rainfall in the past years.

Al Maigha Falaj is one of the biggest and deepest Falajs in the wilaya. Farmers rely on it in irrigation the south western parts of al Alaya area.

Al Mohadith Falaj originates from the north east part of the wilaya. It starts from 8 km inside the mountains till it comes out. Farmers at al Ghaf district and up to Alaya rely on its abundant water. The Falaj spa is about 30 metres deep.

Al Fatth Falaj, a Daoudi one, is located at al Fath area in the south-east parts of the wilaya. The Falaj irrigates the small number of farms in al Fath area, which has become a domestic tourist destination for many families.

Ma’awal Falaj, which originates from Ma’awal village near Seeh al Ma’ashi, irrigates the orchards and gardens of date palm trees, citrus and vegetables.– NNN-ONA

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Abu Dhabi Tourist Arrivals Surge 17% in H1 2015 To Almost Two Million

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Aug 11 (NNN-WAM) – Tourist arrivals into Abu Dhabi in the first six months of the year reached more than 1.98 million, a rise of 17% on the corresponding period in 2014.

Figures released by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, TCA Abu Dhabi, reveal that guests who arrived during that time generated 5,728,765 guest nights in the emirate’s 163 hotel and hotel apartments, an increase of 11% on the previous year.

Total revenue for hotel establishments recorded an 8% increase to AED 3.346 billion (USD 911 million), room revenue increased by 11%, food and beverage revenue increased by 1%, while other revenues – which includes services, such as venue hire and business events – rose 22% to AED 402 million (USD 110 million).

June 2015 showed an increase of 2% in hotel guests, when compared to June of last year, with the 268,335 hotel guest arrivals generating an exceptional leap in guest nights of 13% to 870,304.

“We set ourselves a challenging guest arrivals target of 3.9 million hotel guests for this year, which we are very confident of achieving, especially given that our highly impressive half-year figures show double digit growth,” said Jasem Al Darmaki, Acting Director-General, TCA Abu Dhabi.

“We remain committed to actively improving the average length of stay of our guests, which has fallen by 5% over the comparable period in 2014. We have a series of high-profile events coming up, to entice our guests to spend more time here, including our new extended 2015/16 season of Abu Dhabi Classics, the annual F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Art, and anticipate the traditionally strong second half of the year performance will pull average length of stay back, up closer to three nights,” he added.

The findings also show that India has regained its spot as Abu Dhabi’s largest international source market, seeing 127,312 Indian nationals arriving into the emirates, an increase of 18%, spending an average 3.71 nights each, well above the overall average of 2.89 nights, it said.

India is closely followed by the UK, China, Germany and the United States as the largest overseas markets, with the Philippines providing 63,855 guest arrivals, recording a 24% rise. Other counties in the top ten include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan.

Chinese guest numbers rose 72% year-on-year, with 102,217 guest arrivals delivering 148,842 guest nights, although their length of stay dropped by 18% to 1.46 nights.

Russian guests showed the largest drop, by 10%, to 14,453 guest arrivals, which the authority says could be attributable to difficult economic conditions in Russia. In an effort to stimulate consumer interest and awareness from Russia and the CIS states, a special Abu Dhabi Festival featuring a host of the emirate’s tourism providers will be held in Moscow‘s Hermitage Gardens later this month, dedicated to the emirates’ culture and traditions and vibrant sports and events calendar.– NNN-WAM

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Guyana: Indigenous Heritage Month 2015 Launched

GEORGETOWN, Aug 12 (NNN-GINA) — The culture and traditions of Guyana’s Indigenous peoples will again come alive and be on show for all Guyanese to experience.

The Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs on Tuesday launched Indigenous Heritage Month 2015, under the theme, ‘Preserving our Customs and Traditions’. Santa Aratak (formerly Santa Mission), a small Indigenous community in Region Three has been identified as Heritage Village.

Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, briefing the media today at her office, promised a bigger and better celebration as attention is being placed on every aspect of the indigenous culture.

“I am hoping that the rest of our Guyanese brothers and sisters can come out and enjoy our craft, our food, our beverage and all the other stuff we will have there to offer,” Lowe explained.

To accommodate the extensive programme planned for the month, renovations are currently being done to the Benabs at the Sophia Heritage Village. In addition, three more benabs will be constructed.

For the display of foods and crafts during the month of activities, emphasis will be placed solely on indigenous items. The Minister explained that several teams have been meeting and organizing to ensure that it fits in to the mandate of the Ministry.

Lowe explained that previously, the focus was taken away from the Indigenous peoples and all other persons were allowed to take part in the activities, selling their food and beverages. This she said will not happen this year.

This year’s activities are set to kick off with a church service to be done in various indigenous languages. The indigenous food and craft exhibition should attract large crowds. Other main activities are, the heritage sports, cultural extravaganza, indigenous heritage festival and expo and, the heritage village celebrations.

The indigenous heritage month is set to begin on Aug 31 and end on Sept 30. — NNN-GINA

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Indonesia’s Minister Lukman introduces peaceful Islam curriculum

Jakarta, (IINA), 13 Aug 2015 – Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin introduced on Tuesday a new curriculum that would promote peaceful Islamic teachings at all levels of education in Indonesia from elementary to senior high schools, The Jakarta Post reported.

The new module, Lukman said, would allow students to learn about Islam as a religion that embraced diversity and promoted peace and tolerance.

He added that the curriculum was the government’s response to the need for religious teachings that promoted peace amid the increasing spread of violent and radical doctrines at academic institutions.

Lukman said that the module had been composed by selected religious teachers in Indonesia.

“The module is a training module for Islamic religious teachers so they share a similar paradigm on the teaching materials and methodology,” he said as quoted by Antara news agency.

For his part, the Ministry’s Director for Islamic Education, Amin Haedari, said that the ministry had applied the module in several schools in Central Java, West Java, North Sumatra and North Sulawesi.

Amin also said that the ministry had deployed a number of teachers to introduce the new module. He said that the teachers had received training at Oxford University in the UK.

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Minister: EGP 6 million earmarked for eastern Port Said project

Cairo, 15 August 2015 – A total of EGP six million has been earmarked for the strategic plan of developing eastern Port Said city, said Housing Minister Mustafa Madbouli on Friday 14/08/2015. Minister Madbouli said the development project will be part of the Suez Canal Development Axis project. Madbouli said the project’s plan will be offered for bidding by international consultancy offices in the coming few days for launching the first phase immediately.

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Egypt Issues Special Publication On The Suez Canal – History and Future

08/11/2015 – The Egyptian State Information Services published a special issue of its periodical “Letter from Cairo” on the inauguration of the Suez Canal. The issue discusses the most important milestones in the Suez Canal’s history and its strategic importance throughout the decades, up until the inauguration of the new Suez Canal project on 8 August 2015. To access this important study please click here: http://www.mfa.gov.eg/SiteCollectionDocuments/final%20letter%202.pdf

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Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Launches English-Language Facebook page

08/11/2015, – Councilor Ahmed Abu Zeid, the official spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, announced today on the 11th of August the launching of an English Language page for the Foreign Ministry on Facebook. He noted that this step comes in line with the efforts that the Foreign Ministry has been exerting to engage with the Western Community, whether in Egypt or abroad, as well as with Egyptian expatriates as some of them might not master the Arabic language.

The spokesperson added that the launch of the English-language page of the Foreign Ministry on Facebook came in the wake of the efforts undertaken by the Ministry to connect with all Egyptians of all backgrounds, whether they are living abroad or in Egypt, via the official website which offers the three languages (Arabic, English, and French), The Foreign Ministry’s Arabic-language Facebook page, and the official Twitter account of the Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson.

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100 million bottles of Zamzam water distributed since 1431

Riyadh, Dhu-AlQa’dah 1436 AH, August 16, 2015, SPA –The production of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Project for Zamzam Water Distribution exceeded since its inception in 1431 until now 100 million bottles with specifications that conform to the highest degree of purification, packing, storage, automatic distribution, which works according to the latest means and methods of global technology, benefiting (12,016,930) people.

This came in a report of the later Zamzam watering project, which Saudi Press Agency (SPA), received a copy of it, and data showed that the total amount of Zamzam water pumped from the project headquarters to the Grand Holy Mosque in Makkah within five years ago amounted to 1,442 million cubic meters, of which 285 million last year, while pumping to the Prophet’s Holy Mosque in Madinah was 503,000 cubic meters, of which 102 million last year.

The report pointed out that the project pumping of Zamzam water to the Grand Holy Mosque during the last year’s Hajj season totaled 64,000 cubic meters, and in the month of Ramadan, 70,000 cubic meters, while pumping to Prophet’s Holy Mosque in the same period was 30,000 cubic meters, and in Ramadan 22,000 cubic meters.

The volume of production of the factory in 1435 AH was higher compared with that for the year 1434 AH.

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Dhaka University tree plantation programme begins on Aug 19

DHAKA, Aug 13, 2015 (BSS)-As part of increasing beautification and greenery of the Dhaka University (DU), the tree plantation programme will be inaugurated on August 19, said a university release here today.

DU Vice-Chancellor (VC) AAMS Arefin Siddique will inaugurate the programme as the chief guest. The programme will be inaugurated on the premises of Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban, it said.

Pro-VC (education) Prof Dr Nasrin Ahmad, Dhaka University Tree Plantation and Beautification Committee Chairman and Pro-VC (admin) Prof Dr Shahid Akhter Hussain and Treasurer Prof Dr M Kamaluddin, will be present as special guests in the function.

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Construction of elevated expressway from Dhaka airport starts

DHAKA, Aug 16, 2015 (BSS) – Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader today inaugurated the construction work of the Dhaka Elevated Expressway from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Kutubkhali on Dhaka- Chittagong highway.

“Motor vehicles would ply on the elevated expressway by 2018,” he told reporters after inauguration of the construction work of the expressway at Kawla under Bimanbandar thana in the city.

Italian-Thai Public Limited Company chairman Premchai Karnasuta, Thai Ambassador to Bangladesh, project director and officials concerned were present at the function.

He said the total length of the expressway is 47 kms including 27 kms ramps with the lane measures at 20 kms at the straight length. “This day can be termed as memorable because the construction work of the elevated expressway has started after overcoming many hurdles”, he said.

Quader also handed over the land properties to the construction companies’ concerned officials.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the Padma Bridge in 2018. The work of the elevated expressway would also complete by then,” he said.

The minister said the Metro Rail would also start its operation in 2019 and that is why the construction works of these projects are going on in-full-swing following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s instructions and guidelines.

According to Bangladesh Bridges Authority, the expressway starts at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and runs along the Airport Road via Mohakhali, Tejgaon and Moghbazar to Kamalapur Railway Station before connecting with Dhaka-Chittagong highway via Sayedabad and Jatrabari.

The cost of the expressway was fixed at Taka 8,700 crore, which increased to Taka 12,200 crore. The Bangkok-based Italian- Thai Development Public Limited Company would implement the project.

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Azerbaijan to join Kazan International Festival of Muslim Cinema

Baku, August 8, AZERTAC – Azerbaijani films have been included into the program of the 11th Kazan International Muslim Film Festival, due to be held in Kazan on September 5 – 11, 2015. Some 50 films from 25 countries will be screened at the Festival.

Azerbaijan will present a documentary titled ‘Baku from Dawn till Dusk’ shot in partnership with Polish moviemakers and ‘The Old Clock’ animation film by Javid Ahadov.

Kazan International Muslim Film Festival has been held in the capital city of Tatarstan since 2005. The first festival was initiated by the Council of Muftis of Russia, Federal agency for culture and cinematography of Russia, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan with the support of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan.

The motto of the festival is “To the dialogue of cultures through the culture of dialogue”.

The aim of the festival is to exchange experience between the culture industry workers of Russia and Muslim countries, display the creative achievements of the Muslim cinematographers and the representatives of the other religious affiliations.

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E-gate facilities to be available soon at Pakistani airports

Friday, August 14, 2015 – Lahore—Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmed Khokhar, Grievance Commissioner for Overseas Pakistan has said the facilities of e-gates will be started soon in all international airports in Pakistan to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis with the coordination of all the concerned agencies.

He further said that FIA and Customs departments will increase immigration and clearance desks at all International Airports for Pakistan for facilitation of overseas Pakistanis with the coordination of CAA. He said regular surprise visits will also be made by him and the heads of agencies for evaluation and monitoring of working of facilitation desks at airport and regular monthly meetings will be held at airports.

He expressed these views while addressing a press conference held here on Thursday in Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore.

Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmed Khokhar highlighted the effort and contributions of overseas Pakistanis in all areas here and outside Pakistan while meeting with representatives of agencies and stated that overseas Pakistanis are living in 124 countries but they are deprived from proper attention, which has now been started by federal ombudsman of Pakistan.

He said that federal ombudsman M Salman Faruqui has taken special initiative for overseas Pakistanis and established Grievance Commission Cell for overseas Pakistanis with the objectives to resolve their individual and collective problems of here in Pakistan and abroad as well and to advance the welfare of Pakistanis working or settled abroad or their families living in Pakistan.

He said several initiatives have been taken including development of independent overseas complaints website which is connected with most relevant agencies first as soon the complaints are registered. It will minimize the time for resolving the issues.

He said that advisory councils have been constituted within agencies comprising their senior officers for resolution of overseas matters, toll free numbers have been operated by relevant agencies for overseas matters, Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) issues of overseas at the time of immigration in Pakistan has been taken as systemic issue with FIA and foreign office, overseas renunciation of citizenship issue has been taken with the Ministry of Interior and Passport and Immigration departments.

Good progress is made so far and many cases have been decided by immigration and passport departments.

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First professional sand sculpture forum in Lattakia, new venture in Syrian art scene

10 August، 2015, Lattakia, SANA – The first professional sand sculpture forum currently being held in Lattakia is a new venture in the art scene in Syria, an idea with both artistic and tourist elements that seeks to show that even under the current circumstances, Syrians continue to find new outlets for their creativity.

Founder of the forum, artist Ali al-Sheikh, said sand sculpture events are held across the world on annual basis, and that hopefully this forum will be the first step towards a new artistic tradition that would last for a long time.

Al-Sheikh said he proposed this idea to sculptor Mustafa Ali who encouraged him, and the two formed a committee with sculptor Ali Moalla, Zakariya Hamwi, and head of Enmaa Tourist Association Sahar Hmaisheh, and they picked the marina in Lattakia at the site of the event.

He said the committee picked ten sculptors from across Syria to participate in the event, and the Tourism Ministry provided their accommodations for the duration of the forum, adding that the event will be held on annual basis in the future, with plans to host international artists in coming events.

The artists who participated in the event have experience in working with sand, and employed professional techniques in their work, creating works from beach sand that would last for a long time.

Children will also participate in workshops to teach them how to make sand sculptures, and the event will conclude on August 15th with an open-invitation showcase of the sculptures created by the participants.

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New markets for Islamic finance emerging: Study

Jeddah, (IINA), 16 Aug 2015 – New markets for Islamic finance are emerging, with African countries launching debut sovereign sukuk and East Asian countries enabling their domestic markets to tap into Islamic financing, Saudi Gazette reported.

A glimpse of the 2015-2016 edition of the ‘State of the Global Islamic Economy’ said ahead of the Global Islamic Economy Summit that will run in Dubai on Oct. 5-6, 2015 said. The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have formally launched a $500 million grant facility to address poverty and diseases in IDB member countries. Meanwhile, European banks in Russia and Germany, for example, are also investing in Islamic finance through debut sovereign sukuk and Islamic banking windows.

Besides, as the demand for safe, wholesome and humane food grows around the world, producers of halal food who truly adhere to the concepts of ‘halal’ and ‘tayyib’ foods have an opportunity to become the global standard for this segment.

The report cited Saffron Road as a leading premium US brand in the halal and all-natural market. The company is ranked as the fastest growth brand of natural entrées in the US, among all frozen entrées, not just halal. The brand will achieve over $40 million in retail sales this year, and is expected to grow over 50 percent next year.

Moreover, there have been many success stories in the ever-burgeoning halal travel sector. HalalBooking.com, a travel search and booking website for halal-conscious travelers, has achieved tremendous success. The website’s booking for Turkey-based hotel clients has exceeded millions per resort, and hopes to reach 10 million per hotel for many of its properties by end 2015 and through 2016. This is in addition to other success stories such as Yamsafer, a hotel booking start-up from Palestine that raised $3.5 million from Global Founders Capital.

Furthermore, the report noted a new frontier in the Islamic economy that is the digital component. This segment has woven itself into the lives of many Muslims worldwide as an integral part of their lifestyle. From Qur’an and halal travel mobile apps to online Islamic education services and tools for locating the nearest halal restaurants, the Islamic Digital Economy has emerged as a high growth segment. Success stories include Zabihah.com, a leading location-based guide to halal restaurants and markets with a digital reach of 10 million unique users, MuslimPro, a prayer, and the ‘qibla’ tracking mobile app with over 10 million Android downloads in 16 different languages.

In addition, pharmaceuticals & cosmetics sector offers several success stories and opportunities for growth. The halal cosmetics sector in particular is growing quickly in the Asia Pacific through smaller brands, forcing large companies such as Unilever to start looking at halal cosmetics to ensure they maintain their strong presence in this region. South East Asia is leading the development of halal vaccinations for meningitis, hepatitis and meningococcal for hajj pilgrims.

Muslim fashion e-commerce platforms such as Hijup and Modanisa are receiving further investments to grow their user base, while mainstream fashion players such as Uniqlo, Mango and Tommy Hilfiger are following the lead of haute couture houses such as DKNY in tapping into the modest fashion market, the report said.

The report is released ahead of the Global Islamic Economy Summit 2015, organized by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and Thomson Reuters.

Abdulla Mohammad Al Awar, CEO of DIEDC, said “the launch of this year’s State of the Global Islamic Economy report reiterates the commitment of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, along with Thomson Reuters and DinarStandard to nurture a knowledge-based Islamic economy within the emirate and wider UAE as part of our continued priority to develop Dubai as the Capital of Islamic Economy. We are confident the report will inspire and empower entrepreneurs, industry leaders and investors from within the Arab world and beyond to evaluate and develop an actionable, practical and high impact market strategy focused on growing the opportunities for Islamic economy in their own geographies.”

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French Muslim mothers launch campaign aims to fight social apartheid at schools

Montpellier, France (IINA), 12 Aug 2015 – In a move to further promote liberty and equality in France, a group of Muslim mothers have launched a campaign that aims to fight social apartheid and foster diversity at schools in the European country, according to OnIslam net.

Called “la mixite’”, the initiative calls for adopting secular laws and fostering inclusion to make schools “more French”.

In Petit Bard estate, where about 5,000 Muslim families of Moroccan background live, campaigners staged rallies and visited several schools to advocate integration.

They also created a Facebook campaign page and fired off letters to the city hall, the local education authority and France’s Education Minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem.

Morocco-born Vallaud-Belkacem is the first woman in French history to hold the office of education minister.

The Muslim mothers hopes that Belkacem, who has been vocal on many aspects of discrimination in French society, will support their case.

“That is exactly what we are fighting for,” Safia, a mother of three, who is among the campaign leaders in the southern town of Montpellier, told the National on Monday.

The 36-year-old mother was talking about the new campaign that aims to end to the “ghettoization” of French schools where every pupil is of immigrations origin.

The anti-apartheid campaign was applauded by Marie-Françoise Camps, headmistress at the Genevievé-Bon nursery school.

Calling for diversity, Renaud Calvat, a councilor with responsibility for education, said that parents should be allowed to send their children to any schools of their choice out of Ghettos.

France is home to a Muslim community of nearly six million, the largest in Europe.

It is noteworthy that French Muslims have been complaining of restrictions on performing their religious practices.

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Kyrgyzstan opens borders with Kazakhstan and became full member of EEU

Cholpon-Ata, August 12. / Kabar /. Today Kyrgyzstan officially became the full member of the Eurasian Economic Union. The ceremony of lifting customs control at the Ak-Zhol checkpoint was attended by Kyrgyz Prime Minister Temir Sariev and Kazakhstan’s First Premier Bakhytzhan Sagintayev. The Presidents of the two countries Almazbek Atambayev and Nursultan Nazarbayev watched the ceremony live on video from the Ruh-Ordo cultural complex in Cholpon-Ata. Kyrgyzstan becomes the fifth member of the Euroasian Economic Union together with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

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7 Best Places to Visit in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan has a surreal atmosphere that makes it one of the emerging destinations for international tourists, who are interested in the best places to visit in Kyrgyzstan that are safe and beautiful. The popular Tien Shen Mountains are sculpted perfectly to complement the breathtaking terrain of the land. This country is also known for intriguing historical monuments with huge opportunities for fans of outdoor activities.

Kyrgyzstan is defined by a unique topography made of largely untouched mountains, rolling summer pastures and stark ridges that are brightened by the semi-nomadic, shepherd and yurt-dwelling cultures. The recent visa fee travel system has also enticed many people to come and visit the country.

As is expected in an area where the large majority of tourist attractions are high altitude and rural, timing your visit to Kyrgyzstan is important. The best time to come is during summer with roads and hikes easily accessible. There are also some tourists who come in midsummer on the never-freezing beaches of Lake Issyk-Kul. During the winter, the main attraction is skiing, so you should plan ahead for that.

Kyrgyzstan is a safe destination to visit and there are many activities that you can take part in across the country. For instance, there are high peaks for paragliding and climbing, many lakes for swimming and boating, rivers for fishing and water rafting, horseback riding on mountain ranges, valleys for hiking and cycling among various other activities.

Traveling around this country as you visit the best places to visit in Kyrgyzstan that are safe and beautiful will inevitably expose you to the many peaceful nomads around the mountains. This is an amazing sight to behold and the cultural experiences in this country are limitless. As you experience the top destinations of Kyrgyzstan, you can also check out surreal places to visit in China before you die. Here are the best destinations of Kyrgyzstan:

  1. Lake Issyk Kul

This lake holds the record of the second biggest alpine lake. It spreads out impressively in the middle of Tien Shan Mountains and it looks so big that one could mistake it for an ocean. This lake is not only stunning, but it’s also bordered by several amazing gorges, which are popular for trekking and hiking.

With this comprehensive list of the best places to visit in Kyrgyzstan that are safe and beautiful, your trip to this country will be very successful. The locals are also very friendly people who also make visitors feel comfortable and relaxed.

  1. Manas

Manas is the name of a hero of the Kyrgyzstan people whose stories are told to small children. He was known for unifying Kyrgyzstan’s 40 tribes to face one common enemy. In effect, there is an amazing complex that has been solely dedicated to Manas, which contains a mausoleum and museum that you definitely must check out.

  1. Mt. Sulaiman Too

This list of top Kyrgyzstan attractions would be incomplete without mentioning this well-known mountain. It is located in Osh city and it is regarded as a sacred destination by Muslims. This mount is also home to a huge museum, a couple historic monuments, which includes 2 mosques, numerous petroglyphs and also ancient bath remains.

  1. Lenin Peak

This peak reaches over 7,000 meters and it can be climbed by both professional and amateur climbers. This is the most easily accessible peak over 7,000 meters in the whole of Kyrgyzstan. If you want to feel like you are on top of the world, this is the best destination for you.

  1. Ala Too Square

Located in Bishkek, this is a popular tourist location in Kyrgyzstan. It is filled with tall statues and beautiful parks and is usually used for special events and celebrations. This is actually where the famous 2005 protests were held to oust the first president of Kyrgyzstan from office.

  1. Tash Rabat

Among the popular historical locations in Kyrgyzstan is Tash Rabat. This is an ancient caravanserai is made up of 31 chambers that once housed travelers and merchants. The chambers have a distinctive dome shape and you will enjoy having your pictures taken there. The surrounding area is known for horse trekking and hiking.

  1. Sary Chelek Reserve

While there are many places to visit in Kyrgyzstan, few have the same level of charm and appeal like this reserve. This large area of backwoods is spectacular and remote. Sary Chelek is untouched by people and it contains 7 immaculate alpine lakes, a variety of bird species, mountain goats, wild boar, porcupines and deer.

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Jordanian Competitiveness Council reviews reforms to bolster business climate

Amman, Aug 15 (Petra) –– The National Council for Competitiveness and Innovation met on Saturday to discuss reforms that will be carried out in a stepped up effort involving the public and private sectors to enhance the investment climate in the Kingdom as a top national priority.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, who chaired the meeting that was held at the prime minister’s office, noted that the council had been rejuvenated to be more focused on improving the business climate, finding the means to increase activity in the various economic, productivity and service sectors and raising growth rates.

He said the council, which incorporates more than 18 institutions, entities and chambers representing the private sector, oversees economic activity in the Kingdom as a whole, not the competitiveness of a certain sector.

The premier noted that the council’s mandate, part of the “Jordan 2025″ blueprint, which was endorsed by all the levels of the decision-making process of the state, will continually be upgraded to draw up policies that contribute to improving the business environment in the country.

“The council’s work, regardless its importance, does not seek to improve Jordan’s rank in international criteria and reports, but to make real change happen as a merit in economic activity”, added the prime minister.

The meeting tackled reforms that had been enacted to improve the business climate, particularly with regard to the duration of obtaining building licenses, which was reduced to seven days from 14 days, as well as easing other procedures related to property registration and electronic tax payment. The council underlined the importance of the pursuit of efforts by the governmental entities and the private sector to ensure the progress of work towards improving economic indicators and expediting proposed measures, adding that reforms should be limited to certain stages but rather ongoing and adaptable to developments.

Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhouri said in a press statement after the meeting that the council, which had been reinvigorated as a major platform to build a real public-private partnership, was a follow-up and a recommendation after the Jordan 2025 document was adopted. It also followed the new start Jordan had declared at the World Economic Forum that was held recently at the Dead Sea, he added.

Fakhouri said that the agenda in today’s meeting included two major areas: following up on the first set of reforms “that we started work on to improve the business environment in a number of major developmental indicators and international reports indicators in such areas as construction licensing, starting business, access to credit and property and corporate registration as an initial sample in an institutionalized reform course the council will take”. “We reviewed today the quick measures whose fruits can be reaped to start to improve our rankings in international competitiveness reports and to increase the competitiveness of our national economy”, added Fakhouri.

The recently-formed council seeks to enhance the competitiveness of the economic sectors at local and international levels, support the private sector’s role as a key partner in the Kingdom’s development process and follow up on the implementation of the reforms needed to boost business competitiveness.

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30 Kazakh artists present their works at exhibition

16.08.2015 – 30 well-known Kazakh painters presented their works at an exhibition in Pavlodar. Paintings, graphics, sculpture, batik, felt – over a hundred of paintings have been collected in one hall. All masters have different painting styles; however, among the various messages one was quite obvious – the love for their native land. The extensive part of pictures presented at the exhibition was devoted to important historical dates such as the 550th anniversary of the Kazakh Khanate, the 70th anniversary of Victory in WWII and the 20th anniversary of the People’s Assembly of Kazakhstan.

Lyubov BOGNAT, Chairperson, Belarus Ethnocultural Association said: – One of the main themes that I have noticed in all works was the theme of the native land “Tugan el”. The mother steppe gave everyone a chance to feel peace on the land where we live. It is our land, we are all one. In memory of those historical events that took place in our homeland.

Baitursyn Omarbekov, Chairman, Kazakhstan’s Union Of Artists said: – In this exhibition, the painters revealed various possibilities in terms of harnessed techniques, technologies, styles and so on. Therefore, this exhibition is important to me because the artists exchanged the expressive techniques and revealed the theme that was set today.

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Muslim World Biz to be held in Kuala Lumpur, 27-30 Oct

Kuala Lumpur — The 6th Muslim World BIZ “Business & Investment Zone” Exhibition & Conference will be held between 27 – 30 October 2015 at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), Kuala Lumpur. It is organised by OIC International Business Centre (OICIBC) in cooperation with the Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT), Morocco Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Saudi Arabia Association of Muslim World Business Malaysia (AMBM), and supported by the Government of Malaysia

Recognized as one of the most efficient and powerful means in effectively providing a trade platform, The 6th Muslim World BIZ ‘Business and Investment Zone’ Exhibition and Conference 2015 is a one of its kind trade activity organized by the OIC International Business Centre.

The Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT) is a subsidiary organ of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with 56 Member States. It is based in Casablanca, Morocco and has conducted several trade activities which include fairs, trade shows and technical assistance in various OIC Countries to strengthen intra-community trade.

The main aim of the event is to enhance intra-trade among Muslim countries while providing an ideal generation platform for governments, corporations, international investors, industry players and entrepreneurs from all parts of the world to explore joint ventures, investment and trade opportunities in the Muslim World.

Together with a strong mission of “Rise of the Industrial Golden Era“, the focus of the 6th OIC World BIZ 2015 is to accelerate the development of industrial, technology and non-commodity sector in the Muslim world while enhancing competitiveness in the global Muslim marketplace.

This time around Muslim World BIZ will comprise of Exhibition Zone with 1,000 exhibition booths, 2 conferences with over 500 delegates each and 1 round table talk featuring 20 Movers & Shakers from all over the world. Muslim World BIZ is definitely a rewarding and best avenue to gather the global industry players to further strengthen and foster greater economic unity without borders in the Muslim World.

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Jokowi reiterates need for mental revolution

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 14 Agustus 2015 – President Joko Widodo has reaffirmed the need for mental revolution to boost the spirit of hard work, optimism, unity, and civility and to strengthen national character.

The government needs support for its mental revolution program, which can strengthen the work ethics and basic attitude towards life of Indonesians, the head of state said here on Friday in his state of the nation address to mark the 70th anniversary of Indonesias independence, which falls on August 17.

He added that optimism, politeness and good behavior are crucial for the survival of the nation.

“Currently, there is a tendency for everybody to feel free, extremely free, to behave as they please and express their opinions. This condition is less productive, with even the media preferring to chase ratings rather than to encourage the public to uphold noble values and productive work culture,” he stated.

Without political civility, legal obedience and economic discipline, the nation will lose optimism and fail to face economic challenges, Jokowi pointed out.

He also emphasized that unity is one of the crucial necessities to face the existing challenges.

“With Indonesians sincere support, patience, and optimism, God willing, the fundamental transformation of the national economy being carried out by the government will yield good results,” he remarked.(*)

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4th OIC Halal Middle East Exhibition & Congress 2015 in Sharjah

Sharjah – The 4th OIC Halal Middle East Exhibition & Congress 2015 will between 8 – 9 December. Admission is Free to all Trade & Professional Visitors

The OIC Halal Middle East Exhibition & Congress, which has succeeded in unlocking the true potential of the regional halal market through its past three editions, is set to gain more importance.

The UAE move to introduce a label to certify halal products will make the show one of the first access points for global and regional halal players to gain insights into latest policy updates in a market that is a gateway to the entire Middle East and North Africa region.

Besides, with the UAE leading the inaugural Global Islamic Economy Indicator, a composite index that presents the health of Islamic economy sectors across 70 core countries, the show will be a ready reckoner on macro and micro fundamentals that drive the halal economy.

The fourth edition of OIC Halal ME will take advantage of a slew of halal standardisation measures and the pre-eminence of the country as an Islamic economic hub and will act as your entry point to a booming halal market.

Halal ME was launched as a halal show focusing on food and beverages. By the second edition, it added a series of specialized workshops, and also a complementary show — Kitchen Equipment & Technology Middle East Exhibition.

For the third edition in 2014, the show widened its scope by bringing halal pharmaceuticals, halal services, ingredients and finance in its exhibit profile.

Now, for its fourth edition, the show will have a special focus area – halal cosmetics.

Expo Centre Sharjah-UAE is a state-of-the-art facility that is strategically located only 15 minutes drive from Dubai airport and offers a full spectrum of exhibition facilities and services. It is the premier exhibition facility in the UAE that acts as a gateway to the entire Middle East and CIS regions and the Subcontinent.

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China offers US$5.5 billion investment to build high-speed railway line

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 14 Agustus 2015 – China Railway Company (CRC) has offered to invest US$5.5 billion to build a high-speed railway line to connect Jakarta and Bandung in Indonesia.

“This US$5.5 billion is the first funding, 25 percent of which is our capital,” Chief of the Engineering Team of CRC He Huawu said during a press conference here on Thursday.

The remaining 75 percent of the investment will be financed by a joint venture scheme.

He pointed out that the US$5.5 billion investment was not the real value of the required investment for the project.

“If you compare this (Chinese) proposal with those of others, you need to pay attention to the correct preconditions,” he remarked.

The CRC proposal offers comprehensive and integrated development, from the pre-construction to post-construction phase, which will meet standards of safety and comfort.

“We would like to point out that the cost (of the construction) of every kilometer (of the railway line) is lower than those proposed by others,” He observed.

He further noted that CRC does not need any financial guarantee from the Indonesian government, as the risk will be borne through cooperation with a local partner, which will be state-owned construction company PT Wijaya Karya.

With regard to the interest rate of the venture, He admitted that he could not reveal too much but guaranteed that the Chinese would offer the most favorable and rational rate.

“I am not going to tell you the exact rate, but I am going to tell you that our rate will be the most favorable and rational,” he affirmed.

Furthermore, the US$5.5 billion Chinese investment includes the cost of the preliminary phase and the construction process, as well as that of further development.

“The figure also includes the cost of evaluation and inspection after the construction is complete,” he pointed out.

Moreover, with regard to winning the bid, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China Xu Siaoshi met with President Joko Widodo on Monday, August 10, to deliver the results of its feasibility study on the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway line.

In addition, Japan, which is another competitor, had submitted the results of its feasibility study on the project to the Indonesian government in 2014.(*)

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World’s First-Ever Halal Travel Glossary Launched

Singapore, 12th Aug 2015, The world’s leading authority on Halal travel today launched a new glossary providing access to a wealth of terminology used in one of the fastest growing sectors globally.

CrescentRating has published a new guide which promotes accurate and consistent use of terms in the Halal travel market. Over 150 terms and concepts have been entered and validated with regular updates planned as the market matures.

Users can obtain a quick list of terms through the glossary which has been divided into sections for easy navigation. It has been published as a free downloadable e-book with plans to make it an online resource in the near future.

With halal travel now worth billions annually, the need to understand these terms is becoming more important as the industry aims to capitalise on a sector projected to be worth $200 billion by 2020.

CrescentRating says understanding these terms is imperative for all travel-related businesses looking to benefit from the growth of this market such as tourism boards, Government agencies, hotels, restaurants, attractions, airports, airlines, cruises and spas.

Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating, said: “Embracing the Halal travel phenomenon is now a key focus of growth across the industry for both OIC and non-OIC destinations.”

“With an increasing number of destinations and services looking to attract Muslim traveller, there is a need to better understand the terms used to describe the market needs and practices related to this segment.”

The glossary includes terms which provide an overview of Halal travel and its core values. Each of these has been defined in the context of lifestyle and travel.

This e-book also covers faith-related terms used to describe the needs and practices of Muslim travellers. The first edition of the glossary is now available in English with plans to publish it in other languages in the future.

The MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2015, which is the most comprehensive research that has been released on the sector, revealed that in 2014, the Muslim travel market was worth $145 billion with 108 million Muslim travellers representing 10% of the entire travel economy.

This is forecasted to grow to 150 million visitors by 2020 and 11% of the market segment with a market value projected to grow to $200 billion.

To download a copy of the glossary please visit



Over 150 key terms and expressions

Classification of concepts by 16 subject fields

Fully validated content

Context provided for the terms

First edition released in English with plans to publish the glossary in multiple languages in the near future

Glossary available as free downloadable e-book

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Indian creative agency creates first halal cosmetics, “iba halal care”

Mumbai, (IINA), 11 Aug 2015 – Cut The Crap (CTC), a Mumbai-based full-service creative agency, has undertaken a unique branding exercise for India’s first halal cosmetics brand, iba, Best Media Info reported.

The agency has been instrumental in creating and conceptualizing the entire brand identity, right from naming of the brand onwards, to packaging, design integration and communication for a category that has very low awareness in India.

Ecotrail Personal Care, a start-up by sisters Mauli and Grishma Teli, is the only company in India that makes halal cosmetics.

“The brief for the agency was to create a brand that would be progressive and non-preachy. Halal had to become consumers’ choice,” said Jagdish Acharya, founder-director, Cut the Crap.

For India’s very first halal cosmetics, CTC came up with the name iba. Iba in Arabic means sense and pride. That’s because halal makes sense as the right choice for scientific reasons. And there is pride in switching to a brand that stands for values like beauty without cruelty.

The logo motif of iba is a ‘flowering water droplet’. Water and cleaning are the fundamental beauty-care tenets of halal. The flowering droplet connotes beauty that blooms through cleansing.

While in India, halal popularly and immediately refers to meat, halal cosmetics are a global phenomenon and a rapidly evolving market worldwide. These products are certified by the halal board and do not contain pig-fat and other animal derived ingredients, harsh chemicals and alcohol. They are 100 per cent animal-cruelty free.

“iba Halal Care range is a new offering in personal care and cosmetics that addresses unmet needs of consumers. Jagdish and his team at CTC worked closely with research and client team to ensure that. I believe we have begun well,” added Chandan Nath, brand mentor and founder, ideas2brands.

CTC is currently working on creating the yang part of the brand – its male counterpart. This will anchor the men’s range of products, Halal deodorants and more.

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Qatar- Dates procurement ends on September 1 Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN – The Peninsula – 16/08/2015 – The Ministry of Environment has reiterated that the last date to procure the popular locally grown Al Khalaas dates from Qatari farmers is September 1.

The ministry said it is buying stocks of Al Khalaas from Qatari growers and will stop procurement on September 1.

Qatar produces at least 20 types of dates and Al Khalaas is one of them, reports Al Sharq.

Varieties in high demand include Iraqi, Khanezi, Khidrawi, Gharr, Sultana, Sukkari, Tonsi, Barhi, Khisab, Dajla Noor and others.

Al Khalaas and nearly all other varieties are also found in other Gulf countries.

The ministry last year held a festival of dates for the first time to raise awareness about their health benefits.

Dates are full of fibre, fat- and cholesterol-free, good for digestion and intestinal disorders, and can treat sexual dysfunction.

They are rich in vitamins and contain potassium.

Some health experts say eating a date daily is necessary for a balanced diet.

The ministry plans to help farmers improve the quality their dates and increase quantity.

Qatar produces 16,000 to 20,000 tonnes of dates every year.

The Agricultural Affairs Department at the ministry has an agricultural research unit focusing on improving quality and quantity of Qatari dates.

Qatar Foundation also has a QR15m project to aid genetic research on dates.

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