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23 Aug, 2015

Uzbekistan hosts Melodies of the East Music Festival

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 24 August 2015 (09 Dhul Qa’dah 1436). Pls click on any of the headlines 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.




Education ministry promotes Indonesian movie at Venice Film Festival

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 21 August 2015 – The Ministry of Education and Culture is promoting a movie by Joko Anwar, entitled A Copy of My Mind, to compete at the Venice Film Festival 2015 from September 2 through 12.

“This promotion is aimed to support the film industry in Indonesia and to support the movie competing with other world movies at the international level,” Director General of Culture Kacung Maridjan said here on Friday.

A Copy of My Mind is the story of a woman who works at salon and a man working as an interpreter for pirated DVDs in Jakarta. They meet and fall in love, and have to learn to live with the political world that threatens their relationship.

The film, starring Tara Basro, Chicco Jerikho, Ario Bayu, Panigor Maera, is also to be screened at the Toronto Film Festival.

At the Venice Film Festival, A Copy of My Mind has been nominated in the Orrizonti Competition category. This film is the only movie to represent Southeast Asia at the 72nd festival.

“The Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world and is a very prestigious film festival,” Maridjan said.

The film’s director, Joko Anwar, said the film is something of a time capsule of Jakarta.

A Copy of My Mind will be released publicly in February 2016.

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Indonesia underlines importance of connectivity between East Asia-Latin America

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 22 August 2015 – Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi has underlined the importance of connectivity and proposed the creation of a trade regulation database during the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) foreign ministers meeting.

The FEALAC ministerial meeting was held in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Friday, under the theme, “Two Regions, One Vision.”

Minister Marsudi said connectivity will support the supply-chain among countries in the East Asian and Latin American regions.

Easier access to supply-chains and trade flow will allow the two regions to enjoy inclusive and sustainable growth.

Minister Marsudi also addressed the role of the public-private partnerships in order to enhance the connectivity between the two regions.

The establishment of a trade regulation database will help efforts to eliminate unnecessary barriers between economies and lead to fragmentation of trade and investment flows.

Minister Marsudi noted that FEALACs policy must provide direct benefits for the people of all member countries.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Minister Marsudi also held bilateral meetings with her counterparts, including El Salvadors Foreign Affairs Minister, Hugo Martinez.

Both ministers signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on visa exemptions for Indonesian and El Salvador diplomatic and service passport holders.

During the bilateral meeting, Indonesia and El Salvador also agreed to hold a Bilateral Consultation and Trade Delegation Visit to Jakarta in October 2016.

Earlier, during a press briefing held in Jakarta, Foreign Affairs Ministrys spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir noted that the 2015 FEALAC conference sought to complete a document entitled the “San Jose Declaration”.

The San Jose Declaration would underline the commitment of the FEALAC members in combating poverty and strengthening sustainable development, such as through South-South Cooperation and Triangular Cooperation.

Nasir said, in regards to promoting FEALAC and to enhance people-to-people contacts among the member countries, that Indonesia will hold the FEALAC Youth Conference in Bandung, West Java, on September 18-22, 2015.

FEALAC is the only inter-regional cooperation forum among the 36 member countries in East Asia and Latin America. FEALAC aims to increase mutual understanding, trust, political dialogue, and friendly cooperation among member states in the Asian and Latin American regions. The first FEALAC meeting was held in Singapore in 1999.

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Digital information to support tourism sector in Sulawesi

Makassar (ANTARA News), 22 August 2015 – Sulawesi Regional Development Cooperation Board (BKPRS) will offer digital information to support tourism on Sulawesi island, according to BKPRS Secretary General Aminuddin Ilmar.

“Launched during the promotion of Sail Tomini and Boalemo Festival 2015, the digital information is expected to support the promotion of tourism in six provinces on Sulawesi island,” Aminuddin said here on Saturday.

He noted that the tourism potential across Sulawesi island is large, but has yet to be managed well.

The BKPRS secretary general added that there are at least four marine tourism sites in Sulawesi, including Bunaken marine park in North Sulawesi, Wakatobi marine park in Southeast Sulawesi, Tomini Bay in Central Sulawesi, and Takabonerate in South Sulawesi.

Therefore, he expressed hope that the digital information could provide assistance for tourism, investment, and one stop integrated services.

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Uzbekistan hosts Melodies of the East Music Festival

19.08.2015 – UzA – A few days are left for the jubilee 10th Sharq Taronalari (Melodies of the East) International Music Festival. The music event is organized at the initiative of President Islam Karimov and serves for the advancement of culture and arts, consolidation of peace and friendship among peoples. The Unique atmosphere and prestige of the festival inspire the artists for novel creative sought.

malaysia logo

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

UzA correspondent has talked with foreign participants of previous festivals through the internet to find out how they perceive of this feast.

Nobutaka Sato, soloist of the band Chikuyusha (Japan), prize winner of the 9th Sharq Taronalari International Music Festival, said:

“Robust partnership and friendship relations have been established between Uzbekistan and Japan, and they are built on mutual respect and trust. Today, our two countries have been actively interacting also in the sphere of culture and arts. A bright example for that is the regular participation of Japanese artists in the Sharq Taronalari festival.

“The participation of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov in the opening ceremony of the international festival inspired us to a great extent. It is indicative of the enormous attention being paid by the head of your state to arts and the creative people. We performed in various cultural events in many countries, but never have seen such attitude toward artists.

“I would like to note in particular that the magnificent Uzbek music, the impressive dancing art of your people plays an important role in the world culture. The music sounding at the Sharq Taronalari festival serves for the consolidation of humanism.

“I cannot describe our joy when we won the third place at the festival. We are grateful to Uzbekistan for the opportunity to perform at so prestigious an event along with art people from around the world. I wish every success to the participants of the forthcoming festival.”

Nasser Ahmad Khan Warsi, member of the band Warsi Brothers (India), prize winner of the 8th Sharq Taronalari International Music Festival in the nomination “Bright performance” said:

“Art urges the people for kindness from ancient times, and it cements friendship ties among peoples. Through music, people open up to each other, they became closer. The Sharq Taronalari festival glorifies these human qualities, calls on to live in peace and harmony. Let me note that this festival is important with its significant contribution to the development of world music. The festival became one of the principal stages of the international community quite long ago, and participation in it has come to be a dream for artists.

“I am very glad to have won a prize of a unique festival like Sharq Taronalari. Then we presented the best samples of Indian music to the spectators. We were happy that the gathered audience liked our performance. Thanks to the festival organized at the high level we got acquainted closer with the rich and inimitable culture of the Uzbek people, with masterpieces of classical music of the East, and made new friends.

“I will take this opportunity to wish the participants of the 10th Sharq Taronalari International Music Festival a high artistic flight. From the bottom of my heart I congratulate the people of Uzbekistan on the upcoming Independence Day.”

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Kuwait Launches 10th Cultural Summer Festival

KUWAIT, Aug 17 (NNN-KUNA) — Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Sabah Salem Al-Humoud Al-Sabah inaugurated the Tenth Cultural Summer Festival at Abdulhussain Abdulredha Theater in Salmiya area on Sunday evening.

The festival, titled “Kuwait – International Humanitarian Center,” is being organized by the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL) and lasts until the end of August.

Addressing the opening ceremony in the presence of a large number of intelligentsia, Sheikh Salman said: “The cultural scene in Kuwait is twinned with the national state of affairs and expresses the national unity of our dear Kuwait.”

“The cultural movement in the country produced creative works of art in such areas as painting and drawing which are highly expressive of national affiliation and the aspirations of the sons of Kuwait,” he pointed out.

Sheikh Salman reaffirmed the keenness of the political leadership, topped by the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, to promote culture, creative art useful knowledge.

He added that Kuwait City is setting the stage for celebrating its designation as Capital of Islamic Culture for 2016, noting that the event highlights the country’s cultural status and the strategic importance of the Amir Decree of 1973 to found the NCCAL.

On his part, NCCAL’s Assistant Secretary-General for Cultural Affairs Dr. Bader Al-Duwaish said the Council, since its inception, has shouldered its responsibility for fostering the skills of talented youths, generation after another.

“The tenth edition of the annual summer festival includes, inter alia, lectures, symposia, training workshops and cinema soirees; all aim to promote the sense of community, tolerance and forgivingness,” he added.

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Syrian Tourism Ministry, Iranian Hajj And Pilgrimage Organisation Sign M.O.U.

DAMASCUS, Syria, Aug 11 (NNN-SANA) – The Syrian Tourism Ministry and the Iranian Hajj and Pilgrimage Organisation signed a memo of understanding, on cooperation in the field of religious tourism and facilitating exchange of visitors between the two countries.

The MoU, which was signed at Dama Rose Hotel in Damascus, stipulates for improving services provided in religious pilgrimage sites and border crossing points, in addition to providing suitable conditions for receiving Iranian tourists and providing them with accommodations, transportation, and protection.

In a statement to SANA after signing the MoU, Tourism Minister, Bishr Yazigi, said, both sides are eager to work towards restoring tourist activities between the two countries, and this memo is the first building block in achieving that.

Meanwhile, Head of the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organisation, Saeid Owhadi, noted that prior to the crisis in Syria, the number of Iranian visitors to Syria was over one million, and the goal of the MoU is to reach that number again and surpass it.

On a relevant note, Syrian Prime Minister, Wael al-Halaqi, met Owhadi and the accompanying delegation, and discussed with them bilateral relations and means to develop them, particularly in terms of tourism.

Al-Halaqi stressed the need for all Islamic countries to promote the moderate Islamic mentality and openness, underlining the importance of protecting societies from destructive cultural invasions.

He also reviewed the effects of the war and embargo imposed on Syria, asserting commitment to confronting terrorism and lauding the support provided by the Iranian people to the Syrians.

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Jordan, Lebanon Sign 5-Year Tourism Agreement

AMMAN, Aug 17 (NNN-Petra) — The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities signed a tourism executive program between Jordan and Lebanon for the years 2015-2020.

Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Nayef Al Fayez and his Lebanese counterpart Michel Abboud signed the program.

The agreement was signed during the 7th session of the Joint Jordanian-Lebanese Higher Committee, which was held in Amman and presided over by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour and his Lebanese counterpart, Tammam Salam.

The agreement was signed in implementation of the tourism convention signed between the two countries in 1964, according to the ministry.

It includes activating, marketing and promoting tourism in the two countries, in order to achieve common goals for developing international and regional tourism in both countries.

As for promoting and marketing tourism, the agreement entails that both countries should take necessary measures facilitate the flow of tourist traffic, as well as calling organizers and travel agents in both countries to develop joint programs for groups at promotional prices.

The ministry stressed the importance of encouraging the establishing joint tourism projects through providing all legal facilities and privileges for tourist investments in the two countries, in addition to organize an annual meeting for investors from the private sector in both countries to get to know the investment advantages available.

A joint technical committee will be formed to follow up on its implementation.

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Malaysia: Weakening Ringgit A Boost For Domestic Tourism – Matta

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Aug 17 (NNN-Bernama) — The weakening Ringgit has boosted domestic tourism as more locals travel within Malaysia instead of travelling abroad, said Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Chief Executive Officer Phua Tai Heng.

“The drop in Ringgit recently might have a positive effect on domestic tourism as more Malaysians choose to travel within the country. In fact, focusing more on domestic destinations will help boost the segment which has suffered a drop in sales over the past few months,” he told reporters when announcing the Matta Fair 2015 which is scheduled in September, here Monday.

Meanwhile, Tourism Malaysia Domestic Tourism Marketing Director Iskandar Mirza Mohd Yusof said the total number of domestic tourists increased by 11.6 per cent to 60.7 million in 2014, compared to 54.4 million in 2013.

“Themed ‘Cuti-cuti 1Malaysia: Dekat Je’, we hope to increase the figure to 63.7 million domestic tourists for this year. Boosting the domestic tourism industry will create new investments in domestic destinations, thus increasing the number of domestic tourists, and of course it will also create job opportunities for the locals,” Iskandar Mirza said.

Phua said through the Matta Fair, to be held at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here from Sept 4 to 6, featuring 1,233 booths, RM4.5 million in total sales of domestic tourism products has been targetted for the three-day fair.

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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.

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Arabs Unified Against Infiltration Of Israeli Goods To Their Countries

CAIRO, Egypt, Aug 21 (NNN-MENA) – Arab Participants in the 89th meeting of liaison officers of regional bureaus for boycotting Israel, called on Thursday, for a unified Arab strategy to prevent Israeli-made goods and products, from infiltrating into Arab countries.

At the end of a three-day conference, held at the Arab League headquarters, the participants indicated in a set of recommendations that “the use of economic boycotting of Israel has proven its efficacy over decades, in serving Arab objectives.”

In a statement issued by the participants, they urged the continuation of using this economic weapon against Israeli goods and products, “as a tool of pressure to coerce Israel to give up occupied Palestinian lands and respect all UN resolutions and Geneva accords, regarding the illegality of the occupation.”

In doing so, Arab countries are giving direct support to the Palestinians, in their existential struggle against Israel, at a time when the entire Arab region is being convulsed with momentous challenges, said the statement.

Furthermore, the participants praised all efforts worldwide, by groups and organisations that, realising the predicament of the Palestinians, have voluntarily made the conscious decision to boycott Israeli goods and products.

They praised, in particular, The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, which is a global campaign, attempting to increase economic and political pressure on Israel, to comply with the stated goals of the movement: the end of Israeli occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

They also paid tribute to The National Union of Students of the United Kingdom (NUS), with a membership of millions of students, and to over 700 British artists, writers, and academicians, who have supported boycotting Israel, each in their own prescribed field of interest.

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Malaysia On Track For 4.5-5% GDP Growth, Says Minister

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Malaysia’s economy is on track to achieve a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of between 4.5 per cent and 5.0 per cent this year.

“The world economy is going to moderate in the second half of 2015. On average, we will be in the range of 4.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent,” said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Wahid Omar on the sidelines of the South-East Asia Summit 2015 organised by British-based ‘The Economist’ publication.

The Malaysian economy expanded by 4.9 per cent in the second quarter of 2015, bringing the half year GDP growth to 5.3 per cent.

According to Bank Negara Malaysia Governor, Dr Zeti Akthar Aziz the Malaysian economy was expected to remain on a steady growth path, with domestic demand continuing to be the key driver of growth.

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Oman Seeks To Diversify Economy By Developing Fishery Management

NEW YORK, Aug 20 (NNN-ONA) – Oman is trying to diversify its economy beyond oil, and as part of that initiative, is working to overhaul its fisheries sector.

The World Bank is working with the country on a plan to vitalise and better manage its fisheries, as a step toward boosting livelihoods and making the sector ecologically sustainable.

In the past four decades, the Sultanate has grown into a middle-income country, and was ranked first of 130 countries, surveyed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in its 2010 Human Development Report, in areas including health and education.

Yet the country is overly reliant on oil revenues, and fisheries are not productive, as they once were.

The report, published by the World Bank, said that, the Omani government is committed to transforming the management of its fisheries – one of its lagging, traditional sectors. The sector is again recognised as important to the future of Oman, as well-managed fisheries can be a bountiful and renewable resource and contribute to food security of the population, especially the poor.

Today, many fishermen live in small villages, where most family members work as or with artisanal fishermen. But the ocean’s wealth is fragile, the fish are migratory, and stocks have been depleted over time.

As a starting point, the Omani government has begun the process of overhauling the fisheries sector, and has asked the World Bank to help devise a plan to boost the sustainable livelihoods and prosperity of fishing communities.

“The government wants to improve every element of the value chain, from fish harvesting, to packaging and logistics, to marketing,” said World Bank’s senior environmental specialist, Banu Setlur.

The World Bank has helped lay the groundwork for vitalisation, offering technical expertise, bringing international good practices and engaging stakeholders on building a shared vision to renew fisheries.

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Aussie Islamic Fund Manager Crescent Wealth Off To Flying Start

MELBOURNE, Aug 15 (NNN-Bernama) — Australia’s first Islamic wealth manager, Crescent Wealth, now manages more than A$100 million on behalf of thousands of members after just two years.

“The achievement stands as a testament to the success and popularity of Islamic values-based investing and highlights the rapid rise of Crescent Wealth as the world’s first private Islamic pension fund,” Crescent Wealth Community Development and Marketing Manager, Jamel Rathborne told Bernama.

“This collective success is a step forward in building a better world, a better community and a better future for all of us through socially responsible investing,” he said.

“The firm is iconic in the market as the brand that proves the success of Islamic investment principles, and teaches that Islamic values equate to ethical values,” he added.

Rathborne said Crescent Wealth had enjoyed much popularity going by the stories in the global media, interest of the broader public, large investment firms and numerous Islamic banks.

The Crescent International Equity Fund was ranked number one among Australian ethical funds over the 2015 financial year .

Since its launch in February 2013 to June this year, the fund has achieved a total return of 60.65 per cent.

Crescent Wealth made its first foray into commercial property, acquiring a A$31 million asset on the fringes of Melbourne’s central business district.

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Wales-based Pie-maker aims to launch halal products in Middle East

Thursday 20 Aug 2015 – Swansea, Wales (IINA) – The Wales-based pie and pasty manufacturer Lewis Pies, is targeting the Middle East after securing a new sales and distribution agreement with the Yearsley Group to export, BakeryInfo.UK reported.

The pie firm aims to push its halal products out of the UK and into new markets, starting with the Middle East, but also looking at European countries with large Muslim communities.

Wilf Lewis, managing director of Lewis Pies, said: “We are extremely proud of our halal range and its instant popularity. This has provided us with the opportunity to expand further into new markets such as the Middle East. It is important for us as a business to expand and make these products available, where there is a demand in the market. Yearsley are the perfect partner to help us achieve this and, in turn, we will assist them in strengthening their offering.

From his part, Adrian Hall, from Yearsley Group, said: “We are extremely pleased to have been offered this opportunity to work with Lewis Pies and are confident in the Crescent range of products being a huge success.”

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Group of British Muslims climbs country’s highest mountain for charity

Tuesday 18 Aug 2015 – Edinburgh, Scotland (IINA) – A group of British Muslims have climbed the country’s highest mountain to raise funds for the help of people affected by the Syrian conflict, OnIslam reported.

Around 40 volunteers from the Bradford-based Human Relief Foundation (BHRF) climbed Ben Nevis in Scotland on 9 August in aid of projects to help those who have been affected by the Syrian conflict, which includes refugees and widows.

The fundraisers, who came from across the UK including Bradford, Manchester, Birmingham and London, stayed the night in Scotland and began the descent in the early hours of the next day.

The group, made up volunteers and Human Relief Foundation staff (HRF), conquered the mountain by reaching the summit and fought against heavy winds and rain.

“We are really grateful to everyone who took part, because we know the money raised will make a big difference to the lives of so many,” Muqaddus Khan, fundraising manager in the North of England, said in a statement sent to OnIslam.net.

“The climb was just as tough this year but our brave team of fundraisers carried on towards the summit,” Khan added.

It is noteworthy that the event succeeded in raising more than £5,000.

Proceeds will go towards the HRF, which is based in Bradford and is a registered International Non-Governmental Organization.

Ben Nevis is 4,408 feet high. Weather conditions become very difficult and the mountain is very steep. Scaling the mountain can even be a challenge to the most experienced climbers.

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Morocco, Tunisia among Africa’s top five investment destinations

Wednesday 19 Aug 2015 – Rabat, (IINA) – According to a 2014-2015 survey released this month by South Africa-based Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), Morocco has been ranked fourth among the largest recipient of foreign direct investments (FDI) in Africa, Morocco World News reported.

South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco and Tunisia made it to the top five. The other countries in the top 10 are Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria and Tanzania, which completes the list of top destinations.

The report compared the investment climate of 54 African economies. The survey considered factors such as market size, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), economic growth forecasts over the next five years and an operating environment index.

In conformity with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Morocco came in top in terms of foreign direct investment in the Maghreb region with total investments of $3.6 billion in 2014, registering a nine percent increase.

Established in 1988, Rand Merchant Bank is a leading African investment bank with a presence in more than 35 African countries. The bank has funded several infrastructure and resource finance projects, mergers and acquisitions across Africa in the last ten years.

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Dubai to host Global Islamic Economy Summit in October

Thursday 20 Aug 2015 – Dubai, (IINA) – As many as 2,000 policymakers, thinkers and business leaders from around the world will attend the 2015 Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES) in Dubai on October 5-6. The summit, which aims at building a roadmap capitalizing on the opportunities within the growing global Islamic economy, is to be organized jointly by the Dubai Chamber, the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC), and Thomson Reuters, WAM reported.

Under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, the summit will feature more than 60 international speakers across 15 sessions, offering comprehensive insights on seven core “pillars” within the Islamic economy: Islamic Finance, Halal Industry, Family Tourism, Islamic Knowledge, Islamic Arts and Design, Islamic Digital Economy, and Islamic Standards.

GIES 2015 aims to take forward the ideas brought to table in the last two years, supported by sound statistics emerging from Thomson Reuters ‘ research reports, and launch innovative initiatives that address gaps in the needs of consumers of Islamic products and services around the world.

The competition, unlike any other platform available in the Middle East, will effectively serve as an incubator for SMEs across the world that aims to serve the Islamic economy with their innovations. The incubation services that will be awarded to the winner of the competition, worth over $10,000, will support them in establishing a presence in Dubai and bringing their idea to fruition.

Islamic Art and Fashion, a niche industry witnessing growing popularity outside of the Middle East region as well, will be highlighted through an exhibition at the venue. The Islamic Economy Awards will recognize initiatives and ideas pertaining to eight key categories that have served to enhance bilateral trade and investment relations between Islamic nations.

Majid Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chamber, said: “Dubai has played a central role in the growth story of the Global Islamic Economy (GIE) and we are convening top business minds and enterprising young individuals to hear from them new ideas and insights that can positively shape the industry further.”

For his part, Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, added: “The summit is designed to give a full picture of the Islamic Economy with a focus on the breadth of sectors underpinning the phenomenal growth and highlight the impact of trends that we all contribute towards in our everyday lives.”

Nadim Najjar, managing director of Thomson Reuters, Middle East and North Africa, commented: “We have assembled two days of programming for delegates attending GIES 2015 which will explore how the Islamic economy is having an increasing effect at the global level, and how it presents viable solutions well beyond the typical sectors of banking and finance.”

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Bahrain to host Global Islamic Finance Awards 2015 next month

Thursday 20 Aug 2015 – Manama, (IINA) – Manama, capital of Bahrain, will host the 5th Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA) on September 28 at the Gulf Hotel, Zawya news portal reported.

This year’s award ceremony is being held in strategic partnership with National Bank of Kazakhstan, and is expected to continue its tradition of celebrating achievements of individuals, institutions and governments in promoting and advocating Islamic banking and finance.

The awards committee has confirmed winners in more than 30 categories, in addition to the two Global Islamic Finance Leadership Awards to be, presented to a distinguished personality and country, respectively, for their leadership roles in the global Islamic financial services industry.

“GIFA are the most prestigious Islamic finance awards programme in the world, respected and sought after by leading political personalities and countries involved in Islamic banking and finance,” said Professor Humayon Dar, Founding Chairman of GIFA.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, attended last year’s awards ceremony along with key members of their respective cabinet ministers.

“We launched GIFA at the first Oman Islamic Economic Forum held in Muscat in 2011 with a vision to make them the true industry representative awards, and today I am proud to see GIFA emerging as the most authentic Islamic finance awards,” said Khalid Alyahmadi, Chairman, Amjaad Holding & Co-founder of GIFA.

Edbiz consulting, the programme manager for GIFA, will publish a special GIFA supplement on the occasion. “The winners will be profiled in the GIFA supplement to promote them as leading players in the Islamic financial services industry,” said Rizwan Malik, head of business development & strategy at Edbiz consulting. Edbiz Consulting Limited is an Islamic finance advisory arm of the London-based Edbiz Corporation.

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WIBC 2015 set to launch innovative benchmark for global Islamic banking

Thursday 20 Aug 2015 – Jeddah, (IINA) – In its efforts to enhance the performance and quality of the Islamic banking industry, the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) announced that it will be developing a comprehensive performance assessment framework to help Islamic financial institutions assess their ranking and performance vis-à-vis their competitors, Saudi Gazette reported.

The 22nd annual WIBC 2015 will take place on 1st, 2nd and 3rd December in Bahrain. Specifically, the WIBC Performance Indicator will form the basis of the annually anticipated WIBC performance awards that will be announced at the WIBC Gala Dinner on the 2nd of December. The WIBC Leaderboard, a truly innovative performance assessment, will provide rankings of the top Islamic banks and financial institutions based on a variety of robust financial and governance metrics such as asset growth, return on equity, return on assets, disclosures, corporate social responsibility and Shariah governance. The Leaderboard will provide industry participants a visually engaging view of Islamic banks to compare themselves with their peers at the global, regional and national levels across several dimensions. In addition to the individual metrics, banks will also be ranked on the basis of an aggregate score, which forms the apex of the WIBC Leaderboard. This aggregate index holistically ranks entities on the basis of the aforementioned financial and governance measures. The Leaderboard will therefore act as a benchmark for Islamic banks to gauge their performance against the top performing banks in the industry.

The WIBC Leaderboard aggregate scores will be the basis of the WIBC performance awards to be awarded to the top global and regional banks at the much-awaited WIBC 2015. In addition to the regional and global awards, the top most performing banks in each country with a developed Islamic banking sector will also be awarded.

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New Canadian matchmaking app “Salaam Swipe” offers halal dating

Thursday 20 Aug 2015 – British Columbia, Canada (IINA) – Offering Canadian Muslims an opportunity to marry within their Islamic culture, a new matchmaking app has been created to help young ones find life partners in a halal way, according to news agencies.

Called “Salaam Swipe”, the matching app aims to let young Muslims meet and get to know others within their culture, without the pressure of being set up by relatives.

Imitating Tinder dating website, the new app allows users to swipe right if they like, left if they don’t, along with other unique twists.

Besides including filters for potential matches by denomination, religiosity, or outlook, the app features an incognito mode, which filters out any online friends or connections for more privacy in your search for partner.

“Being the person to bring people together is seen as a very noble thing to do,” Khalil Jessa, the creator of the app, told the Province on Tuesday.

“We don’t promote ourselves as a dating app, we’re a matching app. “We just help people get together and meet each other.”

What makes the Muslim app different is providing a specific outcome, which is marriage.

“They’re looking for someone who shares a spiritual or cultural identity, so the connections will already be deeper,” Jessa added.

Muslims are the fastest growing religious community in Canada, according to the country’s statistical agency, Statistics Canada.

It is worth mentioning that Canada’s Muslim population increased by 82 percent over the past decade from about 579,000 in 2001 to more than 1 million in 2011, and now they represent around 3.2 percent of Canada’s total population.

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Emirates Airline to launch the world’s “longest non-stop flight” to Panama

Friday 14 Aug 2015 – Dubai, (IINA) – Emirates Airline announced on 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, Arab News reported.

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).

Emirates operate 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.

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New markets for Islamic finance emerging: Study

Sunday 16 Aug 2015 – Jeddah, (IINA) – 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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Fifteen countries around the world adopt Bahrain’s vocational curricula

Sunday 16 Aug 2015 – Manama (IINA) – Fifteen countries around the world have adopted Bahrain’s technical and vocational education curricula in addition to training 1000 teachers to apply the curricula, BNA reported citing United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) International Advisor for Higher, Technical and Vocational Education Dr. Hashem Abdulwahab.

Dr. Abdulwahab told Al-Watan newspaper that Bahrain’s experience in public technical and vocational education has been generalized in most countries, including West African Cooperation Organization (WACO) countries. The UNESCO expert cited the establishment of the excellent teachers training centre as one of the exemplary practices worthy of publicity, praising the Kingdom unification of specialized and developed academic, technical and vocational education. He also praised Bahrain’s provision of technical education for female students as a leading experience in the Arab Gulf countries.

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Moroccan Company to Build Fez’s Artificial Beach

Friday 14 August 2015 – Morocco World News – Rabat – Morocco’s leading real estate company, Group Jamai GJ has won an international tender for expressions of interest to create an artificial beach in the land locked city of Fez, it has been announced.

The announcement was made by the Mayor of Fez, Hamid Chabat, last Friday during the inauguration of the Place de l’Amérique Latine, at the Jardin Champ de Courses, according to a report by the daily newspaper L’économiste.

Hamid Chabat also took the opportunity to deny the previous report which suggested that the artificial beach will cost the city of Fez MAD 100 million ($12 million).“With this private company, the beach will cost the city of Fez zero dirhams”, Chabat said, in the L’économiste.

Hicham Jamai, head of the group, announced that the”landworks will start shortly”. Yet, he did not give a specific date.

The artificial beach will be built around Oued Fez, near the royal palace, and will be equipped with a port (marina) which will be able to accommodate jet skis and small boats.

The water to supply the artificial beach will be brought from the rural commune of Ain Allah, under the administrative governof the Moulay Yacoub prefecture.

Sources revealed that the beach of Oued Fezwill spread over a total area of 22 hectares, will be free of charge to enter, and will have a women only area.

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Morocco to Launch Toll-free Number to Listen to Claims of Moroccans Living Abroad

Friday 14 August 2015 – Morocco World News – Rabat – Moroccan Foreign Ministry will launched next Monday an international toll-free telephone number to listen to the claims of Moroccans living abroad, related notably to consular services.

In pursuance of the Royal instructions contained in the Royal Speech of the 16th anniversary of the Throne Day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation will launch as of Monday, August 17, an international toll-free number (00 80000002015) for members of the Moroccan community living abroad to receive their claims related to consular services provided by various consular missions abroad, the ministry said in a statement.

This international toll-free number will be operational as of August 17, from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the time zone of Morocco, and will involve, initially, France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Spain, England and Italy, the statement pointed out.

The ministry will also set up a cell in charge of monitoring and treating the claims and taking the necessary measures.

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Argentinian TV Channel Highlights Morocco’s Civilizational, Cultural Richness

Friday 14 August 2015 – Morocco World News – Buenos Aires – Argentinian TV channel TVP has recently aired a program “special Morocco”, dedicated to the civilizational richness of the Kingdom, its cultural diversity, exceptional monuments and natural beauty.

In a program devoted to the promotion of the Arab world, the channel highlighted the main Islamic monuments of the Kingdom, including Hassan II Mosque, Mohammed V Mausoleum in Rabat and Koutoubia in Marrakech.

The show also highlighted Morocco’s touristic attractiveness, illustrating the constant dynamism of Marrakech, its famous Jamaa El Fna and its souks offering handicrafts, which reflect the richness and diversity of the cultural heritage of the Kingdom and the know-how of Moroccan craftsmen.

In this respect, the show aired footage of the exhibition of Moroccan caftan, held recently in the northern city of Tetouan, an event that highlighted the beauty and finesse of this Moroccan garment.

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Casablanca Host of Devoxx Morocco Conference

Tuesday 18 August 2015 – Morocco World News – Miami – Morocco is proud to be the one of the chosen countries to host the 2015 Annual International Developers Conference named Devoxx Morocco. The largest event of its kind is coming to Africa and the MENA region for the first time.

Devoxx Morocco will be held in Casablanca at the Performing Arts Conference Center (Studio des Arts Vivants) from November 16-18, 2015. This European Conference began in Belgium in 2001 by Stephan Janssen and BeJUG, the Belgian Java User Group.

Devoxx Morocco was created “for learning, networking and sharing experiences about java and related technologies, software craftsmanship, technology trends, and more”.

Bringing together some of the world’s most talented individuals, the goal of this conference is to better prepare and educate “future developers, architects, and technical decision-makers”, according to Les Eco. This year, Morocco will showcase its technological landscape and share its vision.

The program will consist of a University Day for trainings and workshops, followed by two Conference Days where more than 150 internationally renowned speakers will share their knowledge in nearly 200 educational sessions.

The IT industry in Morocco will get the opportunity to discuss relevant topics during a Decision-Makers Evening, as well as creating leads during Startups and Hackerspace. Also, the conference will present Devoxx4Kids, where those aged 9-15 will be “introduced to programming, robotics and engineering in a fun way”.

Devoxx Morocco and Casablanca are expected to welcome over 1,500 people from all over the world. This high-quality event of technology experts is sure to become grounds for inspiration and new developments.

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French Film about Aladdin Shot in Morocco to be Released in Oct

Wednesday 19 August 2015 – Morocco World News – Rabat – The film “Les Nouvelles Aventures d’Aladin” (the new adventures of Aladdin) by Arthur Benzaquen, shot in Morocco, will be released in French theaters on October 14th.

The first scenes of “Les Nouvelles Aventures d’Aladin,” were shot in Ouarzazate home to the biggest cinema studios in Morocco. The movie is an adaptation of the famous folklore tale of Aladdin and the wonderful lamp.

The French comedian Kev Adams who will play the role of Aladdin has stated that he had his own ideas on how to interpret the character of Aladdin- “I will be a modern Aladdin who lives both in Baghdad and in the magical air of time”.

Kamal Abbas, Khalid Bekkouri and AbdellahChakiri are among a dozen Moroccan actors who play in this “highly anticipated comedy.”

The film begins with a focus on Sam and his best friend Khalid who dress up as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve to try and steal at the Galeries Lafayette. Sam is then stuck with some children who urge him to tell them a story. It is then that he tells these children his version of the story of Aladdin.

The city of Ouarzazate in Morocco is considered among the best destinations for international filmmakers.

Mission Impossible 5 is another recent film that has recently been filmed in different cities of the Kingdom and features Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise in the role of Ethan Hunt, a spy agent.

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Fez Medina Ranks 11 in 500 Best Places in the World

Wednesday 19 August 2015 – Morocco World News – Rabat – Fez’s ancient medina has been ranked 11 in Lonely Planet’s 2015 “Ultimate Travel” list that ranks “mega-sights and hidden gems in a definitive wish list of the 500 best places to visit on earth.”

Thanks to its quaint and picturesque narrow streets, the Fez medina has been ranked among the top 20 tourist attractions in Lonely Planet’s “definitive guide to the world’s top tourism attractions.”

Originally built in the 9th century, the Fez medina is a labyrinth of alleys too narrow for cars, with small artisanal shops selling all kinds of hand-made products, everything from clothes and jewelry to furniture and food.

While wandering the narrow streets of the old medina you will pass mosques, madrasas (old traditional schools), riads, shops, leather tanners, and many more things to please the eye and transport you back to the middle ages.

Lonely Planet’s Editorial Director Tom Hall said that the new guide book “has been years in the making and brings together the most compelling places in the world, according to our team.” “Every traveler has a list of places they simply have to see. Of course, what makes a place special is different for everyone, but this is our definitive list and one we hope will inspire many other travel wish lists,” he added.

According to Lonely Planet, the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia, described as the “Hindu heaven on earth,” were the undisputed champion, topping the list of the world’s best attractions this year.

According to UNESCO world heritage, Fez is home to many cultural and historical sites including Al Qaraouine University, which was founded in AD 859 by Fatima Al Fihri, and has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest degree-granting university in the world.

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Recent Terrorism in Region Has Little Impact on Moroccan Tourism: Official

Friday 21 August 2015 – Morocco World News – Rabat – The terrorist acts committed recently in some countries in the region had a little impact on the Moroccan tourism, said communication minister, government spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi.

The despicable terrorist acts in some brotherly countries had affected tourism in our country but the impact remains very little, said El Khalfi at a press briefing after the weekly cabinet meeting in Rabat, under the chairmanship of head of government Abdelilah Benkirane, adding that the Kingdom succeeded in keeping its image as an attractive country with a very competitive touristic product.

He said that a communication plan was set up to proactively deal with the impact of these attacks against countries that are considered as tourism markets for Morocco, notably in Europe, underlining that government’s efforts touch also on a continued follow-up to curb the negative repercussions of these terrorist attacks.

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Morocco to Privatize Management of Its Historical Monuments

Friday 21 August 2015 – Morocco World News – Marrakech – The Moroccan government has developed a plan to privatize some of the Kingdom’s historical monuments, according to Spanish news agency EFE.

In the wake of the Ministry of Culture failing to achieve gains, private companies will invest in the financial management of these historic sites and buildings without compromising or impacting their structure.

“Direct management has not lived up to expectations: the Administration has neither the promotion tools nor the international experience,” Mohamed Lotfi, Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture was quoted by the same source as saying.

The privatization process will include three historic sites in Marrakesh, including the graves of Saadiyin, where Sultans of the dynasty were buried between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The privatization will also include the two palaces of El-Bahia and El-Badia, which received more than a million visitors last year, both Moroccan and foreign, and added MAD 12.4 million to state coffers.

The nomination is also open to foreign contractors interested in the cultural domain, until September 14. The contract imposes the maintenance and upkeep of historical sites, as well as the allocation of 35 percent of each ticket price for the benefit of the Ministry of Culture.

The potential visitor must be reminded that the price is very low compared to those in European countries.

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Turkish folk singer inspires US rappers

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency – An important voice in Turkish protest music, Selda Bağcan has seen her music influence an artist light years away from her musical universe for the second time in recent years.

Her song “İnce İnce” was recently used as a sample in hip hop producer Dr. Dre’s long-awaited album “Compton” released on Aug. 7.

The 66-year-old singer did not feel the need to hide her ignorance about the rap singer when asked what she thought of Dr. Dre’s latest album, which was streamed 25 million times during its first week out on Apple Music and was downloaded nearly half a million times on iTunes.

“He is not a singer that I know very well,” said Bağcan. “I sing folk songs, how would I know about him? I know Madonna and Michael Jackson,” she said, giggling.

Bağcan has acquired fame in Turkey with her political lyrics. A prominent figure of the 1960s in Turkey, she made several trips to jail for a total of nearly five months for either singing in Kurdish or turning banned poems by Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet into song lyrics.

She celebrated the 44th anniversary of her music carrier this year by also releasing an album “40 Songs of 40 Years.” The album, released by her own record company Major Music on June 13, currently ranks second on Turkish entertainment retailer D &R’s music chart.

Bağcan who lives in Istanbul’s Bosphorus neighborhood Tarabya with more than 20 cats in a duplex house, says Dr. Dre’s team contacted her for copyright purposes: “(They) have not paid copyright yet but it is likely they will pay, we are waiting,” she says.

Andre Romelle Young, aka Dr. Dre, is a former member of rap group N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit Attitudes), which is widely recognized for having revolutionized rap music with such hits as “Express Yourself” and “F— tha Police.”

He is considered the richest rap artist in the world after having sold Beats Electronics, an audio product company of which he is the co-founder, to Apple for $3 billion last year.

However, the iconic hip hop producer who launched the careers of such rap stars as Eminem, Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent, is not the first rapper to use a sample from Bağcan.

From 1976 album

So far, says Bağcan, the best use of her song “İnce İnce” was made by Mos Def, an American hip hop singer who won a Grammy award with his 2010 album “The Ecstatic,” which includes “Supermagic” featuring Bağcan’s song.

The song “İnce İnce” comes from Bağcan’s 1976 album “Türküola” and is based on a folk song by Aşık Mahzuni Serif (1940-2002), a folk musician, composer and a poet.

Dr. Dre uses the same riff as Mos Def in his song “Issues.”

Today, Bağcan believes her fame outside of Turkey is bigger than in her home country, as she has been able to witness while performing at rock festivals around the world in the last couple of years.

Recently, she took the stage at a festival in the Netherlands with Tel Aviv-based rock band Boom Pam.

“The audiences were singing Turkish songs with us,” she said. “It is unbelievable they take an interest in (our songs) more than audiences here (in Turkey).”

According to Bagcan, the interest in her songs is a result of her music’s strong ties to Anatolia.

“This music is from Anatolian lands, something they (foreign audience) are not used to,” she said. “And also my voice is impressive. There is pain, rebellion, sadness, every voice of this land.”

During the 1960s, Turkey was not immune to the cultural phenomena hitting youths in Western countries.

Bağcan is no exception. As she blends Western music with Turkish folk songs, the result is “marvelously modern,” she said.

Bağcan is preparing for another concert in the U.S. next year.

Meanwhile, the movie “Straight Outta Compton” about Dr. Dre’s pioneering outfit N.W.A. took the U.S. box office by storm last weekend.

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Istanbul to open tender for two new metro lines

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency – Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has announced plans for a tender for two new metro lines in September.

“A tender will be held for the subway lines between Ataköy-İkitelli on the European side and Dudullu-Bostancı on the Asian side in September,” Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş said in a statement released Aug. 12.

The Ataköy-İkitelli line on Istanbul’s European side will be 13.3 kilometers long and will carry around 45,000 passengers per hour in one direction, said the statement.

The journey time between Ataköy and İkitelli will be 19.5 minutes, said Topbaş, adding that the tender would be held Sept. 14.

Topbaş also said the Ataköy-İkitelli line would be integrated with other rail systems, including the Marmaray and another metro line in Bağcılar.

Residents living in Bakırköy, Bahçelievler, Bağcılar, Küçükçekmece and Başakşehir will be able to use the lines, said Topbaş.

The Dudullu-Bostancı line on Istanbul’s Asian side will be 14.2 kilometers and will also have the capacity to carry 45,000 passengers an hour.

The tender for the line will be held on Sept. 10, while the journey between Dudullu and Bostancı will take 21 minutes, said the statement.

Topbaş said the Dudullu-Bostancı line would cross Maltepe, Kadıköy, Ataşehir and Ümraniye and connect with the Kadıköy-Kartal and Üsküdar-Ümraniye-Sancaktepe-Çekmeköy metro lines.

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Turkish Airlines net profits up by 66% in second quarter

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet Daily News – Turkish Airlines increased its net profits by 66 percent in the second quarter of the year from the same period of 2014, to 662 million Turkish Liras.

The company’s net profits thus increased to 1.04 billion liras in the first half of the year.

The company also increased its sales revenue by 11.5 percent to 6.85 billion liras in the second quarter of the year compared to the same period of 2014, according to financial results announced to the Public Disclosure Platform. Its sales revenue thus increased by 9 percent to 12.3 billion liras in the first half of the year compared to the same period of the previous year.

Amid concerns about continuing losses in the lira’s value, the company has revised its expected year-end sales revenue from $12 billion to $11 billion, as reported by Reuters.

In its assessments over the year-end budget, the company said it expected higher demand in the third quarter of the year due to two religious holidays, adding the continuance in pressure over the lira is also expected, according to Reuters.

The company forecasted some relief in pressure over the lira. Turkish Airlines has revised its dollar/lira expectation from 2.37 to 2.68 and euro-dollar expectation from 1.18 to 1.10.

During the period of January-July 2015, the total passengers carried by Turkish Airlines increased by 10.7 percent, reaching 34.4 million passengers from 31 million passengers for the same period of 2014, the company also said in another statement on Aug. 17.

The increase in the number of passengers carried on domestic and international lines was 14.1 percent and 8.2 percent, respectively. Load factor, however, decreased by 0.6 point to 78.2 percent, added the company.

The company said the number of landings increased by 7.8 percent to 255,251 in the first seven months of the year compared to the same period of 2014. By the end of July 2015, the number of destinations rose to 276 from 259 in July 2014, it added.

Turkish Airlines has 289 aircrafts as of July 2015, according to the statement.

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Ancient ‘water law’ unearthed in Laodicea

DENİZLİ – Hurriyet Daily News – A marble block, considered the “water law” from 1,900 years ago, has been unearthed in the ancient city of Laodicea in the western province of Denizli.

The block, which is 90 centimeters in length and 116 centimeters in width, has revealed the use of water in the city had been managed by law, which involved a penalty ranging from 5,000 to 12,500 denarius.

The “water law” marble block dating back to 114 A.D. included strict measures regarding the use of water coming from the Karcı Mountain through channels to the city, as well as the use of a fountain dedicated to Roman Emperor Traianus. The rules were prepared by Anatolian State Governor Aulus Vicirius Matrialis.

The excavation works, led by Pamukkale University and supported by Denizli Municipality, have continued on Stadium Street in the ancient site. Excavations head Professor Celal Şimşek of Pamukkale University, said, “The Laodicea Assembly made this law in 114 A.D. and presented it to a pro council in Ephesus for approval.

The pro council approved the law on behalf of the empire. Water was vital for the city. This is why there were heavy penalties against those who polluted the water, damaged the water channels or reopening the sealed water pipes. Breaking the law was subject to a penalty of about 12,500 denarius – 125,000 Turkish Liras.”

Penalty for polluting the water

Şimşek said the 1,900-year-old rules to prevent water pollution had a very special place, adding, “The fine for damaging the water channel or polluting the water is 5,000 denarius, nearly 50,000 Turkish Liras. The fine is the same for those who break the seal and attempt illegal use. Also, there are penalties for senior staff that overlook the illegal use of water. They pay 12,500 denarius. Those who denounce the polluters are given one-eighth of the penalty as a reward, according to the rules.”

Some of the rules, written in the Greek alphabet, included the following:

“Those who divide the water for his personal use, should pay 5,000 denarius to the empire treasury; it is forbidden to use the city water for free or grant it to private individuals; those who buy the water cannot violate the Vespasian Edict; those who damage water pipes should pay 5,000 denarius; protective roofs should be established for the water depots and water pipes in the city; the governor’s office (will) appoint two citizens as curators every year to ensure the safety of the water resource; nobody who has farms close to the water channels can use this water for agriculture.”

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Ottoman cellars turned into ‘Cave of Arts’ museum

JAHLIEH, Lebanon – Anadolu Agency – There is a unique museum in the heart of the Lebanese village of Jahlieh. Housed in Ottoman-era cellars, the museum aims to preserve the village’s cultural heritage.

Ghandi Bou Diab, a Lebanese artist from Jahlieh, which is located on Mount Lebanon, established the museum and named it the “Cave of Arts.”

He has been collecting anything that is relevant to Lebanese heritage in general and Druze heritage in particular for the past 25 years.

The Druze are an Arabic-speaking monotheistic faith group concentrated mostly in the Levant.

The collectibles from the village people’s heritage include: mosaics, mud brick walls and roofs made of old rugs and brooms. Also on display are oil paintings that tell nostalgic stories, painted by Bou Diab himself and other artists, which remind visitors of Lebanon’s beautiful history.

These cellars have turned into an important touristic attraction for those interested in Lebanese heritage.

Inside the museum, an old coffee bean grinder lays close to a Mahdellah, an old tool used in making rooftops.

They both sit on a woolen rug known as a “bast” surrounded by a stone spice grounder, an old sewing machine and clay jugs. As for plowing and harvesting tools, decades-old sickles, axes and wooden plows hang on the walls.

Bou Diab explained how the idea to establish the museum came about.

“All the old tools currently on display here were becoming forgotten after being used by the last generation and the generation before that. I am trying to preserve the tools that are threatened by extinction in our lives and entrench them in our memories,” he said.

“We are working to connect the new generation with the old through the Cave of Arts, which collects the past and presents it in an elegant way,” he said.

Chambers for secret Ottoman meetings

He added that the cellars “were used in the Ottoman-era as chambers for secret meetings. They were then turned during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) into bunkers where villagers would hide from the shelling. After the end of the war, I immediately started to turn these cellars into a touristic cultural and heritage museum.”

The cellars are divided into three sections: the first holds paintings and tools, particularly of Druze heritage, the second specializes in farming and plowing tools and the basis of an ancient house and the third is called “Bait Sitti,” or “My Grandmother’s House,” which contains another old house.

There is also a special wing for Byzantine mosaics.

According to Bou Diab, the Cave of Arts has been embraced by local villagers and Lebanese people from different areas. It has also been considered an important place to visit by Arab and foreign tourists and Lebanese school and university students.

The obstacles the museum faced during its establishment continue to this day, Bou Diab said, claiming the state of Lebanon “falls short toward artists and innovators, maybe because of the complicated political situation.”

He said there was “assistance from the Ministry of Culture to the Cave of Arts, but the assistance remains minimal.”

Diab called on the Lebanese ministries concerned with culture, heritage, and tourism and Arab and international organizations to increase their interest in “such valuable heritage locations and support them.”

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Azerbaijani computer game featured at world’s largest gaming exhibition

14 August 2015 – TODAY.AZ – The Last Deadlock, a domestically produced computer game, was presented at the 2015 Gamescom gaming exhibition, held in Cologne, Germany between August 5 and 9.

For the first time in history, an Azerbaijani game was put on display alongside the world’s largest gaming companies such as Sony, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Activision, and others.

Created by the AzDimension studio, The Last Deadlock’s genre is an action adventure with elements of horror. The game’s plot centers around the struggle between good and evil.

It takes place in Baku’s Icherisheher (Old City), a unique district filled with historic monuments in the center of Baku.

Supported by the Youth and Sports Ministry, the game takes place in the backdrop of the Old City’s actual historical monuments and streets, as well as the main historical buildings of Icherisheher including the Shirvanshah Palace, the Maiden Tower, mosques, and Karvansaray, providing some knowledge of Azerbaijani history.

Throughout the game, the main character is forced to solve puzzles in order to move forward in search of truth. It takes place in a parallel world where the forces of evil go on the offensive.

Commenting on the exhibition, which was attended by 345,000 people from 96 countries, company director Farid Hagverdiyev told echo.az that during the five-day exhibition, thousands of visitors had the opportunity to get acquainted with the national game.

Hagverdiyev said that initially, the game participated in an international contest of computer games on the Playfield web-site. According to competition rules, two winners would receive tickets to be featured at Gamescom 2015.

“Unfortunately, we joined the competition later, just one week before the end of the voting. To win we had to gain up to two thousand votes,” he said. “Our fans and friends are actively connected to the online vote, and we even gained 700 votes. However, it was not enough to win, but nevertheless, the jury decided to show the trailer of our game on its stand.

So far, an alpha version of the game that includes one full chapter of play has been released on internet. It is expected that the full version of the game will be released in 2016.

In 2012, AzDimension studio presented the Azerbaijani public the first Azerbaijani 3D shooter computer game – Under Occupation: Shusha – centered around Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh territories under Armenian occupation.

Later in 2013, the second edition – Under Occupation: Agdam – was presented in Baku.

While the first game’s missions took place in the ancient city of Shusha, the second game took place in Agdam city and depicted by AzDimension with precision using old photos and maps. The group thus created a 3-dimensional map of the city.

Agdam is abandoned and was ruined by Armenian troops during the 1990s Nagorno-Karabakh war, and has only one standing building left – the old Agdam Mosque. It was once a city with 50,000 residents with a developed infrastructure, including vineyards, machine building plants, and a railway station.

Gamescom is the largest computer and video games trade fair worldwide and presents entertainment and business in a new dimension. This was the seventh edition of the European gaming event, which was first held in Cologne in 2009.

This year, gaming halls occupied a total area of 140,000 sq. meters.

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Uganda Joins Top Hotel Booker

East African Business Week (Kampala) – 16 August 2015 — Jovago, a widely used hotel booking website in Africa, has opened offices in Kampala.

“Uganda is an outstanding country with friendly people and breath-taking landscapes. More and more travellers as well as potential investors are visiting the country and there is huge potential for growth not just for Jovago, but also for the tourism industry and all of our partners,” Louis Badea, the Country Manager manager said last week.

He said the expansion across Africa shows consistency in covering the African continent with localized Jovago presence in order to reach and satisfy the needs of all our travellers.

He said Uganda’s booming population, fast-growing economy and beautiful natural sites provide a great opportunity for tourism. Originally Jovago was started in Germany.

“Being in Kampala close to our customers and hotels with our customer service team shows our willingness to participate in this development and to promote Uganda as the ideal business and leisure travel destination,” he said.

He said adding Uganda to their online hotel booking platform showcases the value Jovago places on reaching all potential travellers.

The opening of five other new offices across Africa, specifically in Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Mozambique goes a long way to confirm the values of the organization.

“We are very proud to announce the expansion of our presence and services in Uganda. We are passionate about the needs of the travellers, with this in mind; we bring our creativity and innovation to the table so that our customers can have a personal touch to everything we do even though the transactions are carried out online.” Paul Midy, CEO of Jovago said.

Since its inception in 2013 and the opening of the East African office in Nairobi, Jovago has been steadily expanding with its inventory reaching 25,000 hotels in more than 40 African countries.

In Africa, Jovago is owned by Africa Internet Group (AIG), a leading internet group in Africa which also owns other African online companies such as Jumia, Kaymu, Hellofood and Easy Taxi.

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Mozambique: PM Calls for Competitive Tourism Sector

Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique – 17 August 2015 – Maputo — Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario on Monday called for innovation and competitiveness among tourist operators in order to improve the quality of Mozambican tourism.

Speaking in Maputo, at the Fourth Annual Meeting on Tourism, Rosario said that the constant training of workers in the tourism sector is one of the methods for achieving better services.

“We encourage tourism operators to prioritise innovation, competitiveness and improvements in the quality of their products and in the way they attend to clients”, he said.

Statistics produced at the meeting showed that in 2014 international tourism generated revenue of 266 million US dollars, from about 1.7 million tourists visiting the country. Investment in tourism in 2014 was around 250 million dollars.

But this was a decline on 2013, when there was an investment of 871 million dollars in tourism. The government attributes this decline to political instability. In June 2013, the former rebel movement Renamo returned to war, and embarked on a low level insurgency in the central province of Sofala, which lasted until August 2014.

In 2014, Mozambican tourist establishments offered 47,000 beds, compared with only 18,000 in 2009. That year, tourism employed 31,000 workers – but by 2014, the work force in Mozambican tourism had risen to over 50,000.

Rosario was confident of the role of tourism in creating jobs, in diversifying the economy and as a catalyst for inclusive growth.

“Realising the rich potential of our country”, he said, “involves a ceaseless search for answers to each of the challenges posed in the sector”.

He stressed that the government is committed to the “Serving Well” campaign, which aims to mobilize all the relevant institutions to receive correctly visitors to the country.

“The government will continue to promote competition in the tourism industry”, said the Prime Minister, “through measures conducive to the entry of new operators, in order to make tourism prices more competitive, particularly in the components of air and road transport, accommodation and meals”.

Rosario also insisted on the need to promote domestic tourism, as a factor of stability in generating employment and growth, in order to minimize the seasonal effects of international tourism.

The meeting, lasting only a day, is attended by staff of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, former tourism ministers, private tourism operators, and cooperation partners.

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Uganda: Buganda Turns to Tourism for Revenue

By Stephen Kafeero

The Monitor – 19 August 2015 – Kampala — Buganda Kingdom yesterday announced several projects and events aimed at boosting tourism as it holds the eighth annual Buganda Tourism Expo.

The expo, which was due in June, was postponed to August. According to Ms Ritah Namyalo Kisitu, the kingdom minister for tourism, preparations for the exhibition are complete.

The exhibition, which will be held under the theme: “Million Tourists, million opportunities,” will start with a family day out this Sunday and will be closed by Kabaka Ronald Mutebi II on August 30.

While addressing journalists at Mengo Palace grounds yesterday, where the exhibition will be held, Ms Kisitu said several cultural and traditional officials from other regions of Uganda and countries have been invited to participate.


Some of the things up for exhibition include the Buganda Museum where several artifacts such as the first Luganda Bible, the coins used during Kabaka Mwanga’s reign and the first radio in Buganda will be on display. Buganda’s 18 counties and clans will also showcase their items.

“It is an opportunity for young people to learn about Buganda as a nation within a nation and Uganda at large,” Ms Kisitu said.

There will also be a music competition among schools that compose songs that promote Uganda and the kingdom. Those that will excel will be awarded trophies by the Kabaka.

Prior to exhibition, the kingdom will hold a regatta at the Kabaka’s Lake this Monday between teams from Uganda and Kenya.

A team from the United States of America has been in the country for more than a week training the teams in rowing according to Ms Kisitu.

“We want to promote water sport at the lake and this is one of the activities we are going to have at the start of the expo,” Ms Kisitu said.

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World First Halal Travel Glossary Issued

OnIslam & News Agencies Thursday, 13 August 2015 DUBAI – A halal travel rating consultancy has released the world’s first-ever glossary, which provides access to terminology used in the halal travel market.

“Embracing the Halal travel phenomenon is now a key focus of growth across the industry for both OIC and non-OIC destinations,” Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating, a Halal travel ratings and accreditation consultancy, was quoted by Emirates 24/7 on Thursday, August 13.

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

The consultancy revealed news about the glossary in a media statement on Tuesday, saying it promotes accurate and consistent use of terms in the Halal travel market.

The glossary includes over 150 terms and concepts that have been validated, with regular updates planned as the market matures

Providing an overview of halal travel and its core values, each of these terms has been defined in the context of lifestyle and travel.

The glossary, which was 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, the statement noted.

CrescentRating said 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.

The e-book also covers faith-related terms used to describe the needs and practices of Muslim travelers.

The first edition of the glossary is now available in English with plans to publish it in other languages in the future.

A recent study released by Singapore-based halal travel specialist Crescentrating and DinarStandard has expected influx of Muslim holidaymakers over the next decade.

The study, conducted in 47 countries, found that spending by Muslim tourists is growing faster than the global rate and is forecast to reach $192 billion a year by 2020, up from $126 billion in 2011.

Last March, two Muslim cities, Marrakech in Morocco and Istanbul in Turkey, have been named world’s best cities by a trip advisor, after gaining support of tourists worldwide.

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National Seal of Excellence for Iranian crafts

Tehran, Aug 19, IRNA – Iranian craftsmen involved in artistic fields will compete for the National Seal of Excellence in Kermanshah during Sept. 13-15, 2015, said Nosratollah Sepehr, the deputy head of Kermanshah Handicrafts Department.

Noting that the event is held on a regional basis each year, Sepehr said Kermanshah will host the event for the third time.

“Artisans from Ardabil, Ilam, West Azarbaijan, East Azarbaijan, Kurdestan, Kermanshah and Hamedan will attend the event to display their artistic works,” he said, adding crafts with Seal of Excellence stand greater chance of being traded in domestic and foreign markets, as they draw more attention.

He described Kermanshah province as one of the richest in the countrys with regard to the number of high-quality crafts produced by the local residents.

“Kermanshah is home to diverse types of arts including Giveh, carpet, kilim, fabric and jajim weaving, knife manufacturing, metal, wood and leather crafts, carpet designing and dyeing, which are taught to interested individuals across the province,” he said. More than 100 types of handicrafts are produced by Iranians ethnic groups.

The artifacts with a National Seal of Excellence are more likely to be awarded the UNESCO Seal of Excellence, the Tehran-based newspaper Iran Daily wrote.

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Fars province plans to unearth 51 million tons mineral resource

Shiraz, August 19, IRNA – Deputy head of Organization of Industry, Mines and Trade of Fars Province said on Wednesday that since beginning of the year 10 certificates have been issued to unearth 51 million tons mineral resources.

Alireza Jokari told reporters that the certificates were issued to unearth copper, Chromites, Lead, Zinc, Silice, plaster and Slab Stone.

He said that the province with 500 active mines has a 2.3 billion tons decisive mineral resources.

The official said that it created 7,108 jobs and in addition to supplying domestic needs, they will be exported.

Jokari added that the minerals of the province are being used in steel industry, metallurgy, aluminum and cement industry and different types of bricks.

He said that export of goods from the province stood at 137,000 tons worth 13 million dollars in the first three months of the year.

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Iran sees boom in handicrafts sales after tourism grows

Khorramabad, Lorestan, Aug 20, IRNA – A deputy for Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) said Iran is the third country in the world in the field of handicraft production.

Samiollah Hosseini Makarem added that in terms of quality, Iran’s handicrafts ranks the first in the world. However, he regretted that the industry suffers some problems for exporting its products.

He said since about 70% of foreign tourists visit Iran’s historical and cultural monuments, performance of the handicrafts marketplaces is among top priorities of the ICHTO.

He noted that while hotels in Shiraz and Isfahan have a high employment coefficient, pilgrimage tourism especially for the Shiite Muslims in the Persian Gulf countries is a target.

He added the Central Asian and East Asian neighboring states such as China are among target groups for cultural interaction and communication.

Meanwhile, the official noted that one of the achievements of the government of President Hassan Rouhani was the return of three historical consignments to Iran which was made possible in light of legal efforts and interactions.

He added, 349 pieces of antiques were given back to Iran from Belgium. The official said it was an unprecedented event in the history as those objects were kept in Belgium for more than 50 years.

He added another 108 antique pieces were returned from a center for Orient studies in the University of Chicago.

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Foreign diplomats: Qazvin, magnificent city for foreign tourists

Qazvin, Aug 20, IRNA – A group of foreign ambassadors and diplomats who visited historical monuments in the city of Qazvin on Wednesday said the city is magnificent city for foreign tourists.

Speaking to IRNA, the Croatian Ambassador Striebor Keric said it was his first visit to Qazvin and called it “a beautiful and historic city”.

Keric expressed the hope that with better presentation of Qazvin, the city will be included in the list of tourist attractions.

Referring to the activities of Iran-Croatia Friendship Group, he hoped that it can prepare the required ground for further acquisition of the people of the two countries with each other and lead to further cooperation in the field of tourism.

Meanwhile, Mauritz Verheijden, the Charge d’Affaires of the Netherlands in Tehran said the city enjoyed multiple historical attractions, adding that the city has been less introduced to foreign tourists.

The Algerian Ambassador in Iran Abdelmoun’aam Ahriz also said it was his first visit to Qazvin and said all the capacities in the city should be introduced to foreign tourists.

He noted that there was no obstacle to develop communication in the field of tourism between the two countries.

Speaking to IRNA, the Comoros Ambassador Ahmad Mujib al-Mazouqi said Qazvin enjoyed rich culture and history a fantastic place to visit by every foreign tourist.

Ambassadors and diplomats of 19 countries paid a one day visit to Qazvin to see the historical sites there. Some 1,304 historical monuments have been registered in the city.

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Beirut to host conference on World Mosque Day

Tehran, Aug 20, IRNA –A conference is planned to be held in the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Thursday on the occasion of the World Mosque Day.

August 21 marks the anniversary of the 1969 al-Aqsa Mosque fire set by the Zionists. The day is titled World Mosque Day in remembrance of the event.

The Beirut conference is aimed at condemning the Zionist regime’s atrocities and its desecration of al-Aqsa Mosque.

The event also aims to express solidarity with the Palestinians living in the holy city of Quds.

The al-Quds International Institutes will organize the conference.

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Tabriz to host int’l seminar on e-marketing, tourism on September 1

Tabriz, East Azarbaijan Prov., Aug 16, IRNA – Director General of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Office in East Azarbaijan Province Farzin Haqparast said on Sunday that the 5th International Seminar of Internet Marketing and Tourism will be held in Tabriz on September 1.

Haqparast said regarding the wide-scope activities of the private sector in tourism and high tourism capacity of East Azarbaijan Province, holding scientific and specialized seminars will be helpful in transfer of advanced e-marketing and tourism industry to the public and private sectors to flourish the lucrative and independent tourism industry.

The conference will be held in the cities of Tehran on August 31, in Mashhad on September 2, and Bandar Abbas on September 6.

Sponsored by the tourism department of Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, the conference will be attended by IT scholars.

Topics including website optimization, internet marketing and branding through social networks will be covered in the conference.

Meanwhile, focus will be on topics such as the impact of online tools on economic growth, expanding sales and export markets, Internet entrepreneurship and branding of local companies based on successful global models.

Experts in economics and international business are invited to speak at the conference.

The director of Travel Marketing Store in Dubai Duncan Alexander, founder and chief strategy officer of the web-based 90 Digital Company in UK Nik Garner, the managing director of the UK-based Marketing Signals Agency Gareth Hoyle are invited to the conference.

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Tehran Spinning House to be set up

Tehran, Aug 17, IRNA – Tehran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department will hold two handicraft fairs in October 2015 and March 2016.

Announcing this, the department’s director general Rajabali Khosrowabadi hoped that Tehran Spinning House and a workshop for glass blowing will be established by mid-March, Tehran-based English newspaper, Iran Daily reported.

He also dwelt on the drawbacks of the handicraft industry in Tehran province.

Khosrowabadi added the department has problems in presenting cultural products.

“We have held talks with Tehran Municipality to allocate 10 locations in the metropolis as permanent handicraft market places.”

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Al-Wajh – A Saudi tourist spot known to few

Saudi Gazette – 22 August, 2015 – AL-WAJH, located about 325 kilometers south of Tabuk on the Red Sea, is one of the oldest coastal cities in the Kingdom. Despite its pristine beaches, captivating coral reefs and other marine resources the city failed to attract many tourists this season.

Official efforts exerted to give this destination publicity are modest at best, which is why few in the Kingdom know of Al-Wajh.

But there are also other reasons, mostly related to poor infrastructure. For the residents of Tabuk, Al-Wajh is one of the most preferred C due to its ideal location and proximity to numerous islands.

Located in one of the most mesmerizing part of the Red Sea coast, the city is a favorite destination for divers who are interested in exploring the depths of the sea as well as fishermen looking for lobsters, which Al-Wajh is famous for.

Capt. Abdulhafiz Qashqari, a member of the Arab Amateur Radio Association (AAR), said he had never seen the beautiful azure waters except around Al-Dhahra Island off Al-Wajh coast.

“It’s a magnificent place and the weather is moderate throughout the year,” he said. Nasser Al-Aqeel, a member of the Saudi Commission of Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), described the weather of Al-Wajh as the nicest in the entire Kingdom. “Everything is available there including housing, transportation and food,” he said.

Citizen Hani Kurdi said the reason why there are not as many tourists as there should be in Al-Wajh is that hotel room rates are expensive due to their limited availability.

Moreover, the main beach does not have many restaurants and canteens nor does it have enough public toilets and marine rides.

Fellow citizen Anwar Al-Jahdali agreed. He also gave another reason: unpaved roads leading to the beach and the unavailability of taxis at the airport.

“Another obstacle is the lack of flights between Al-Wajh and other cities; Jeddah is the only city that operates direct flights to Al-Wajh,” he said.

Ibrahim Al-Shareef, secretary-general of Al-Wajh Tourist Development Committee, blamed the absence of annual tourism festivals in the governorate like other cities.

He said such festivals play a big role in attracting people. “A number of investors have put the blame on strict restrictions enforced by some authorities on beachgoers,” he said.

Fahad Al-Ghareed, a marketing specialist at SCTH’s Tabuk branch, said the commission was working with its partners to remove all obstacles facing tourism development in the governorate.

“There are several projects being implemented here, which will boost tourism infrastructure and attract more visitors to the city,” he said.

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Airline expands Belavia codeshare

Khaleej Times – 21 August, 2015 – Etihad Airways has expanded its codeshare partnership with Belavia – Belarusian Airlines, to offer travellers a daily service between Abu Dhabi and Kiev, Ukraine, via Minsk National Airport.

Under the agreement, which commenced from 20 July 2015, Etihad Airways has placed its EY flight code on Belavia’s daily services between Minsk and Kiev.

Belavia and Etihad Airways signed an initial codeshare agreement in 2013, allowing travellers to fly on Etihad-operated flights from Minsk to Abu Dhabi, and onwards to Ho Chi Minh City, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. Belavia Airlines, the largest air carrier of the Republic of Belarus operates regular flights to 45 airports in 27 countries in Europe and Asia.

Belavia Airlines General Director, Anatoly Gusarov, said: “Our partnership with one of the world’s leading airlines is rooted in a vision of offering the best services and experiences to our customers, we have been pleased with our journey together so far, and look forward to growing our partnership and widening our horizons.”

During the two-year partnership, more than 750 joint flights were operated on the Abu Dhabi – Minsk route, and both airlines carried over 110 thousand travellers.

Etihad Airways’ Chief Strategy and Planning Officer, Kevin Knight, said: “The strategic partnership with Belavia Airlines establishes our presence in the Ukrainian market, and provides air travellers with more options to fly to Minsk and onwards to Kiev.

“The codeshare also gives Etihad Airways’ customers a new choice of destination with the benefit of a single combined ticket.” The airline has a fleet of 27 aircrafts (two Boeing 737-800, six Boeing 737-500, eight Boeing 737-300, two Embraer-175, two Embraer-195, four CRJ-100/-200, three Tu-154M).

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Sharjah Waterfront City soon

Gulf Today – 21 August, 2015 – Sharjah is in the process of launching “Sharjah Waterfront City”, which will be the throbbing heart of Sharjah tourist vision 2021.

Construction work for this project will commence shortly after Sharjah Commercial and Tourism Development Authority had announced earlier this year its plan to attract 10 million visitors by 2021 concurrently with the UAE celebrations of its 50th National Day.

This ambitious project, which stretches along 36 kilometres on Sharjah shores, is composed of 10 islands connected with natural canals and includes villas, residential apartments, offices, hotels, a leisure city, recreation areas, marine clubs and all the required facilities that depict the latest prestigious lifestyles.

The first phase of the construction work on 3,053,557 square feet will kick off in the last quarter of 2015 and will feature the development of a central commercial area, luxurious hotel facilities, 24 multi-use towers, a huge shopping mall and residential villas. The total cost of this phase is Dhs9.35 billion. More financial details will be unveiled shortly.

The project comes as part of the emirate’s bid to keep pace with the great development achieved by Abu Dhabi and Dubai in infrastructure projects and other projects that will attract a huge number of tourists from all countries of the world.

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