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7 Sep, 2015

Global Ad Campaign to Highlight Malaysia’s Stunning Mosques

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 07 September 2015 (23 Dhul Qa’dah 1436). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




malaysia logo

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

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

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


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

Click here to see the fabulous new website

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

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

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

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


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




Global Ad Campaign to Highlight Malaysia’s Stunning Mosques

Kuala Lumpur, August 27, 2015: Tourism Malaysia is embarking on a Global TV advertising campaign through the ‘My Mosque’ programme on HISTORY to showcase the many magnificent mosques around the country. It is also an effort to highlight the architectural wonders and beauty of Malaysian mosques to foreign travellers, particularly those in Southeast Asia, regardless of race, language, and religion.

malaysia logo

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

In this 12-part series of 30-minute each on Astro Channels 555 and 575, HISTORY™ travels around Malaysia on a spiritual and patriotic voyage to some of Malaysia’s most stunning mosques. From the multicultural mosques in Melaka town, to the marvellous domes of Kelantan, ‘My Mosque’ travels through various states of Malaysia bringing these architectural icons to life.

Covering two mosques per episode, host Suzhaire Sumari will meet with the key people and learn interesting architectural and historical tidbits that make each mosque unique.

He will look inside behemoths such as Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque (also known as the Blue Mosque) in Shah Alam and Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque (The Iron Mosque) in Putrajaya, as well as marvel at the picture postcard wonders of Muhammadi Mosque Kelantan and Klang Royal Town Mosque in Selangor.

Suzhaire will also ride gondolas, take calligraphy lessons, attend Tahfiz classes, and climb up more minarets than he could have ever imagined. He will then check out the vicinity of these Islamic domes to find out what to do there and sample some of Malaysia’s best food along the way.

‘My Mosque’ hopes to bring to audiences a young and imaginative look at mosque culture as seen and told through the eyes of those closest to it.

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Indonesia’s next yachting extravaganza, Sail Tomini 2016, in W. Kalimantan

5 September 2015 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Situated between the Indian and Pacific Oceans in-between Asia and Australia, Indonesia is proud to have organized annual sailing rallies for many years.

Called Sail Indonesia, the annual sailing rally usually departs from the harbor of the Australian Northern Territorial City of Darwin in the middle of July and is followed by a three-month program of linked events across the Indonesian archipelago.

Previous Sail Indonesia events included Sail Bunaken in North Sulawesi in 2009, Sail Banda in Maluku in 2010, Sail Wakatobi-Bitong in Southeast Sulawesi and Bangka-Belitung Islands in 2011, Sail Morotai in North Maluku in 2012, Sail Komodo in East Nusa Tenggara in 2013, Sail Raja Ampat in West Papua in 2014, and now Sail Tomini 2015 in Central Sulawesi.

Sail Tomini was jointly launched by Coordinating Minister for Culture and Human Resource Development Puan Maharani and eight other ministers, two governors, and two district heads at the Epicentrum Hotel in Jakarta in May 2015.

Minister Maharani, at the time, expressed her optimism that Sail Tomini would help to promote tourism in the provinces of Central Sulawesi and Gorontalo, and improve the welfare of the local people.

But what will come after the highly awaited Sail Tomini, whose main event will be held at Parigi Moutong district in Central Sulawesi on September 19, 2015 ?

It will most likely be the turn of Kayong Utara district in West Kalimantan province to host the international maritime event, Sail Karimata 2016.

According to the Pontianak Post, Kayong Utara district has been proposed to host the Sail Karimata in September 2016 because the event will have a positive impact on tourism and infrastructure development there.

“If Kayong Utara district hosts the international maritime event of Sail Karimata 2016, a lot of supporting infrastructure will be developed to support the tourism and to improve the welfare of the local community,” West Kalimantan Deputy Governor Christiandy Sanjaya remarked.

The Indonesian Marine Board recently reviewed the readiness of Kayong Utara district to host Sail Karimata 2016, and visited numerous locations to decide which one is suitable to become the venue of the rallys main event.

Kayong Utara district tourism office spokesman Mas Yuliandi said in the West Kalimantan provincial city of Pontianak recently that the local government was ready to hold Karimata Festival in October 2015.

“The Karimata Festival 2015 will be a barometer for the preparation of international maritime event of Sail Karimata next year,” Yuliandi said in Pontianak over the weekend.

He noted that the festival will be held in conjunction with the arrival of numerous yachts from several countries to enliven the ongoing Wonderful Sail Indonesia 2015.

“Karimata Festival is expected to promote Sail Karimata next year,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, Karimata Festival Committee Chairman Amri explained that the committee has paid serious attention to make this event a great success in order to support the implementation of Sail Karimata 2016.

“Facilities and infrastructure to support the festival are 80 percent ready, but we need to improve the coordination and communication with relevant parties,” Amri remarked.

He expressed his hope that the weather in October will be conducive for the Karimata Festival.

For that, he said the committee will continue to coordinate with the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) to ensure that the festival will run smoothly.

The Karimata Festival will be centered in the villages of Betok and Padang in Kayong Utara district in order to attract participants from local communities and from outside the district.

Until now, the committee has been working to make preparations for the upcoming festival in October.

“This festival is part of the preparation for Sail Karimata 2016. One factor determining the success or failure of Sail Karimata next year is the Karimata Festival this year,” he said.

He added that during the festival, there will be various competitions, such as the photography competition, both on landscape and underwater, a fishing competition, as well as diving, snorkeling, food festivals, journalists’ trips, canoe race, and a variety of traditional folk entertainment.

Amri noted that for all competitions during the Karimata Festival, the organizing committee will not demand registration fees, but even bear the costs of lodging, transportation and meals for participants.

Situated some 100 kilometers west of Ketapang town in West Kalimantan, Karimata islands is a special destination in the province because of its renowned ecosystems, such as mangrove and tropical

Karimata is made up of two large islands, Karimata and Serutu islands, and several other smaller islands with beautiful scenery, friendly people, and a relaxed atmosphere.

By motorboat, Karimata islands can be reached in 18 hours from the city of Pontianak.

Given to the difficult transportation to these beautiful islands, economic activities and infrastructure there are relatively small, compared to other regions.

Therefore, Kayong Utara districts dream to host Sail Karmata 2016 will come true, and the local peoples welfare can be expected to improve.

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Kuala Lumpur International Craft Festival 2015 to be held 10-13 Sept

This year 2015 has been remarked as the Malaysia Festival Year (MyFEST) 2015 by the Ministry of Tourism & Culture Malaysia, In conjunction with that, the Ministry, through it’s agency, Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation (Kraftangan Malaysia) has organised the Kuala Lumpur International Craft Festival 2015 (KLICF 2015) on 10th-13th September 2015 at Craft Complex, Jalan Conlay Kuala Lumpur.

The objective of this international event is to promote the uniqueness of crafts from 32 countries. In addition to Malaysia, they include Azerbaijan, Brunei, Bhutan, Bosnia, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Peru, Filipina, Pakistan, Republic Of Guinea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turki, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and United States of America.

Further details: http://www.klicf.com/

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Japan’s Taxi Association Members Visit Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, August 25, 2015 – Malaysian TourismThe Minister of Tourism and Culture Malaysia Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz hosted a dinner to welcome 50 members of Sango Taxi Association from Osaka and two members each from Kobe and Fukuoka’s taxi associations at the Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur Hotel today.

This is the second visit to Malaysia organised by Sango Taxi Association to enable their members and taxi associations from other cities to get first-hand experience of the country’s tourism attractions.

During the dinner, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri expressed his appreciation to the members of the Japan’s taxi associations for their assistance in promoting Malaysia to their passengers and clients in Japan.

“It is amazing to see that the members of these taxi associations have taken the initiative to visit Malaysia at their own expenses in an effort to get to know the country better so that they can share their experiences with their family, friends, and passengers in Japan. At the same time, they can also be a spokesperson for Malaysia,” he said.

The Minister of Tourism and Culture also said that such commitment shown by them is exemplary and should be applauded and appreciated.

Their weeklong tour to various parts of Malaysia, beginning today, is organised by Tourism Malaysia. It includes a Destination Seminar and a tour to Genting Highlands, Kuala Lumpur, and Melaka.

Tourism Malaysia has been collaborating with various taxi associations across Japan in eight of its major cities, namely Osaka, Tokyo, Kobe, Yokohama, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Nagoya, and Sapporo, in an advertising campaign called Taxi Wrapping, which involves 1,060 taxis. It is part of Tourism Malaysia’s continuous efforts to promote Malaysia’s tourist destinations to Japanese tourists.

Tourism Malaysia is the only National Tourism Organisation allowed to carry out the taxi wrapping campaign in Japan due to the close diplomatic, economic and cultural relations between Malaysia and Japan. The taxi wrapping campaign is more cost-effective compared to other terms of mainstream advertising, besides producing high recall and response levels from consumers.

Japan is one of Malaysia’s top ten tourist generating markets. Malaysia recorded a total of 149,951 Japanese tourists for the first four months of 2015. This year, Malaysia aims to attract 600,000 Japanese tourists to the country in conjunction with the Malaysia Year of Festivals (MyFest).

With better connectivity between Malaysia and Japan through direct flights by Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia X, Japan Airlines, and All Nippon Airways from Tokyo (41 flights per week), and Osaka (14 flights per week), Tourism Malaysia foresees higher passenger traffic between the two countries in the future.

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Iran’s Tabriz World Trade Center to open soon

Tabriz, Sept 2, IRNA – Head of Industry, Mines and Commerce Organization of East Azarbajijan province Hossein Nejati said on Wednesday that construction of Tabriz World Trade Center was completed and it will open to public soon.

The complex is now finalized in terms of hardware but it requires completion of software developments prior to inauguration, he said.

Tabriz World Trade center is to play a leading role for Iran after termination of economic sanctions to bridge the gap with world economy, he said.

Tabriz World Trade Center will be the first ever world trade center in Iran, Nejati said.

Tabriz World Trade Center is a 37-storey building with total under construction area of 41,000 square meters has a number of shopping centers, tourism and recreational complexes.

The height of the Tabriz World Trade Center is about 192 meters with a 35 square meters dome.

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Persepolis: Vestige of Iran’s glorious past

Tehran, Sept 2, IRNA – History comes in great shades, while monuments bestow unique essence to history. Persepolis, which is home to reputed historical monuments, was founded by Achaemenid king, Darius I, in 518 BCE. Persepolis is a Persian word meaning ‘city of Persian’.

Once known as the richest city under the sun, Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It was established as the most magnificent of the four Achaemenid capitals – Susa, Ecbatana, Persepolis and Babylon – which were founded in tactical locations to help Achaemenid kings efficiently administer their vast empire.

The palace complex was inspired by Mesopotamian model. It is situated 70 km from Shiraz, in southern province of Fars.

According to archeological evidence, the remains of Persepolis dated back to 515 BCE. André Godard, a French archeologist, excavated the area in 1930. It is believed that Persian king, Cyrus, chose the location for building Persepolis, then King Darius I built the terrace and other palaces. The construction was done according to Achaemenid architecture.

King Darius ordered the construction of Council Hall and Apadana Palace. This construction was then completed during the reign of his son.

It consists of a huge hall with four columns. There are two doors, one opening to Apadana yard toward the south while the other in the direction of the east on to a long pathway.

A pair of bull-heads, Lamassus, stands by western threshold. Then another pair – with wings and a Persian head – stands firm on the eastern entrance reflecting the supremacy of the empire power. On the entrance, the name of Xerxes is carved in three languages, indicating that the construction was ordered by him.

Apadana Palace was the greatest palace built by Achaemenid king, Darius. Work on the palace started in 515 BCE and it took 30 years to be completed. The palace has 72 columns, of which 13 are still standing on huge platform. Each of the columns has heavy plinth and square Taurus. The apex of the columns have carved animal sculptures like lion, eagle or two-headed bulls

The walls are also adorned with interesting pictures of flowers, lion, bulls and so on. Darius also ordered the inscription of his and his empire’s name on silver and gold plates under four corners of the foundation.

The Throne Hall is second largest building next to Apadana. It has a 70X70 sq.m. hall whose construction started during the reign of Xerxes and was completed during the rule of his son, Artaxerxes.

Today, the ruins of Persepolis lie at the foot of Rahmat Mountain in Marvdasht Plain. It is located 650 km to the south of Tehran. Persepolis stands today as great example of Achaemenid dynasty.

Persepolis gained high fame and was declared as a symbol of Achaemenid dynasty in the past, which was the only reason why King Alexander III of Macedonia burned it in 330 BCE.

According to Greek Historian Plutarch, Alexander’s army carried off 5,000 camels and 20,000 mules after plundering the place.

Darius had a vision for the future. He had planned the complex to include impressive palaces not just to mark his rule, but also the venue for receptions and celebration of festivals.

Persepolis was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.

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Iran improves status in global university ranking

Tehran, Sept 2, IRNA — Three top Iranian universities improved their status in the new global ranking for the world universities.

The new global ranking for the world universities ranked Iran higher by giving the country seven points, according to the Islamic World Science Citation.

Iran’s new ranking comes after analyzing the overall performance of Tehran, Sharif and Amir Kabir universities, as three top universities of the Islamic Republic.

Tehran University is ranked as the best university in Iran. It has improved its performances significantly each year to be ranked among 300 world universities in 2015.

Sharif University of Technology ranks the second university in Iran, following Tehran University.

For the first time, Sharif University of Technology has been included in the Shanghai Ranking of 500 world top universities.

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Tourists to go on Qajar-era shopping trip in Tehran

Tehran, Sept 2, IRNA – Tourists can wander around the Qajar-era shops in modern Tehran from this October, Tehran Municipality announced on Sunday.

Two shopping areas in Bab-e Homayun and Abbas-Abad districts are allocated to extinct occupations of Tehrani people during the Qajar era (1789–1925), the head of Tehran Municipality Welfare, Services and Social Participation Organization told ISNA.

“According to our study, some of these occupations like metal engraving and tile-work and are still profitable so the municipality set up some shops for them,” Farzad Parsian-Hooshyar said.

The streets will house 70 known old profitable occupations in several shops, Parsian-Hooshyar added.

In the early 18th century, Karim Khan of the Zand dynasty ordered a palace and a government office to be built in Tehran, possibly to declare the city his capital, but later moved his government to Shiraz.

Once again, in 1776, Tehran became the capital of Iran, as done by the Qajar king Agha Mohammad Khan. The capital of Iran has remained Tehran ever since.

Agha Mohammad Khan’s choice of his capital was based on a similar concern for control of both the northern and the southern regions.

He was aware of the loyalties of the inhabitants of previous capitals, Isfahan and Shiraz, to the Safavid and Zand dynasties, respectively, and was wary of the power of the notables in these cities.

He probably viewed Tehrans’ lack of a substantial urban structure as a blessing, because it minimized the chances of resistance to his rule by the notables and by the general public.

Moreover, the Shah had to remain within close reach of Azarbaijan and Iran’s integral Caucasian territories in the North Caucasus and South Caucasus, at that time not yet irrevocably lost per the Treaty of Gulistan and Treaty of Turkmenchay to neighboring Imperial Russia, which would follow in the course of the 19th century.

After 50 years of Qajar rule the city still barely had more than 80,000 inhabitants.

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Benin to Construct Rail, Road links to Nigeria

By Yahya Sarki

17 August 2015 – Leadership (Abuja) – The President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi, has promised to construct railway line and a road to link up with Nigeria through Kebbi State. He has also proposed to build a dry port at Ilwa where the country also shares border with Nigeria.

This was disclosed to Leadership yesterday by the chief press secretary to Governor Bagudu of Kebbi State, Alh. Abubakar Muazu following Governor Bagudu’s two days official visit to Benin Republic.

He said the essence of the visit was to encourage economic and cultural ties between Nigeria and Benin which share a common border with Kebbi. The visit was on the directives of Presiden Buhari, who mandated Governor Bagudu to visit the Benin president and explore ways of strengthening bilateral relations with the country.

He further explained that the railway line would start from Cotonou and Madakali , a border town with Nigeria and the construction of roads would also boost economic ties between the two countries.

“President Boni Yayi of Benin Republic told Governor Bagudu while in Benin that he considers Nigeria as a big brother in the African continent, thus the need to strengthen their bilateral relations,” he said.

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Gambia: Farmer Digitalization and Registry Project Launched

2 September 2015 – The Point (Banjul) – The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Ousman Jammeh, Tuesday presided over the launching of the farmer digitalization and farm registry project.

The launching, coordinated under the Planning Service Unit of Department of Agriculture, was held at the Baobab Hotel.

In his launching statement, deputy minister Ousman Jammeh applauded the initiative of farmer digitalization and farm registry project (FDFR).

He said The Gambia recognised that statistics play a vital role in poverty reduction and world development, adding that the power of statistics is recognised in its use, which spans the design and implementation stages of the country’s policy frameworks, such as the PAGE.

According to deputy minister Jammeh, statistics are also used to monitor progress towards the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Gambia National Agricultural Investment Plan (GNAIP) and Vision 2016.

The Gambia also appreciates the fact that reliable statistics describes the reality of people’s everyday lives, he said, adding: “This picture of society tells where the poor are, why they are poor and what their lives are like.

“This information provides the evidence required to develop and monitor effective development policies,” he noted.

Consequently, he added, the Gambia government has also put up strategies in place to combat food insecurity through the implementation of the GNAIP.

According to the deputy minister, enabling government agencies to solve challenges such as food insecurity, food distribution and the overall enhancement of farmer efficiency in The Gambia has become increasingly important to the empowerment of farmers with comprehensive innovative technology, strategies and infrastructure.

Greater use of technology, specifically geospatial analysis, would unlock the potentials of the Gambia agriculture sector and reinforce monitoring and timely interventions, he stated.

He said increasing public access to officials and other statistics across Africa, and simultaneously supporting African countries improve data quality, management, and dissemination, adding that the African Development Bank had launched the African information Highway Initiative in November 2012.

The AFDB is, therefore, piloting the implementation of the farmer digitalisation and farm registry project in The Gambia which marks the launching, he added.

“This project will provide a sophisticated information technology platform to generate digitalised agricultural maps and implement registries for farm and farming in The Gambia, which is a laudable and timely initiative,” said Minister Jammeh.

The provision of credible agricultural statistics was one of the key issues raised by the Gambian leader at the recently-concluded Cabinet retreat in Kanilai, he said.

Ministry of Agriculture would do everything in its power to make the implementation of this project a success, he said, noting that The Gambia has been selected as one of the 5 pilot countries benefiting from the support of the Bank to implement this initiative.

He encouraged the planning service unit of the department of Agriculture and all other stakeholders of the farmer digitalisation and farm registry project, to endeavour to involve those who matter in the business of data collection, processing, analysis and information dissemination.

He thanked the African Development Bank, a long standing partner in agricultural development in The Gambia, through the project coordinator of the African Information Highway.

Mahjoubi RAFIK, project coordinator of the African Information Highway at the African Development Bank, commended the Gambia government as the country had been selected as one of the 5 pilot countries in Africa to implement the project.

He said significant progress had been already made thanks to the active role played by the Gambian Ministry of Agriculture and their commitment to the initiative.

The FDFR project would provide a sophisticated Information technology platform to generate digitalised agricultural maps and implement registries for farms and farming.

Such a platform would also include the process of extracting real-time information for planning and other decision-making through advanced business intelligence and business analytic tools.

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Gambia: Wabsa Planted 29,000 Mangroves for Birds

31 August 2015 – The Point (Banjul) – The West Africa Bird Study Association recently planted 29,000 saplings of mangrove at Tanbi wetland in Bakau to enhance breeding of birds and preserve the country’s ecosystem. The exercise was funded through the United Nations Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Modou Njie, WABSA administrative and financial manager, said the exercise would contribute to the protection and preservation of the environment and improve lives and livelihood of people.

He said the primary objective of the GEF-funded project is to preserve the country’s flora and fauna.

Mr Njie said the project targets Darsilami, Tanbi wetland, Nuimi National Park and Bintang Bolong to assist the communities in the improvement of their livelihood needs through mangrove restoration.

Mangroves are important in terms of fishing, rice cultivation, control of river waves, and salinity intrusion on lowland and upland.

Hatab Camara, an official of WABSA, said the association’s mangrove restoration is complementing the efforts of the Department of Forestry in mitigating the effects of climate change.

Alkalo Wasulung kunda, Musa Sidibeh, thanked WABSA for the foresight in working with the community in the restoration of the environment.

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Sierra Leone Begins Ebola Free Countdown

The East African – 29 August 2015 – Sierra Leone last week discharged its last Ebola patient as the country began a 42-day countdown to be declared free from the epidemic.

President Ernest Bai Koroma presided over a ceremony marking the discharge of Adama Sankoh at a colourful reception at the Mateneh Ebola Treatment Centre in northern Makeni District.

The 35-year-old female patient walked out over a red carpet as family members and onlookers, including the president, celebrated.

She had received the results of the final of several tests that proved negative.

Sierra Leone recorded its first case in May 2014 and since then it has had 3,586 fatalities among over 13,000 cases.

The Mateneh Ebola Treatment Centre was constructed by the British Army with funding from the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID). It is run by the International Medical Corps.

The occasion of Ms Sankoh’s discharge officially marked the beginning of the 42-day countdown.

But a cautious President Koroma warned against complacency.

“Before we get to 42 days, we must stay the course and remain vigilant,” he said adding that this last case came exactly 456 days since the first case was recorded.

“It’s a moment we should celebrate and we have to give thanks to Almighty God that we have reached this point,” he added, while calling on the nation to remember the over 3,500 citizens who had lost their lives to the disease.

This last case resulted from the last infected cluster in the village of Massessebe when a Freetown-based businessman visited his family and fell ill. Over 500 people were subsequently quarantined. The man, called Moussa, was Ms Sankoh’s son.

Officials at the National Ebola Response Centre have warned that there is still the risk of the virus not having been entirely eradicated.

Particular concern focused on neighbouring Guinea, where the epidemic began in late 2013, and which still is a high risk area.

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Sierra Leone: ‘Power to Women’ Campaign Targets 10,000 Students

1 September 2015 – Concord Times (Freetown) – A campaign to promote the participation of women in political governance and propel them into leadership positions has commenced in Kailahun district, targeting over 10,000 students, 12 women councillors and 46 junior secondary schools.

The ‘Power to Women’ campaign is being spearheaded by Social Enterprise Development (SEND) Foundation, with funds provided by the Hamilton Family based in the United Kingdom, through Christian Aid.

According to the foundation’s Country Director, Joseph Ayamga, they received funding from the British Department for International Development (DFID) through Christian Aid some years ago to implement a project that promotes women participation in political governance in the Kailahun district.

He said the successful implementation of the project saw the increase in the number of women councillors in the Kailahun District Council from 11% in 2008 to 41% in 2012, as well as the establishment of the Kailahun Women in Governance Network (KWIGN), which mobilises support for women’s empowerment.

“Despite the progress made so far, women continue to experience violence, discrimination and trauma across the country. Out of the 456 district councillors, only 87 (19.1%) are women,” he said and added that women’s wings of political parties have little influence over leadership and in strategic decision making in their respective parties.

He stated that it was because of the foregoing reason(s) that his foundation, with support from Christian Aid, decided to consolidate and expand on the successes of 2012 by launching Phase II of the project titled: “Power to Women” campaign.

Mr. Ayamga noted that they would use the project to help strengthen KWiGN by improving its organisational management and capacity to advocate for women and girls, and support 12 women councillors to combat gender-based violence in schools.

“A society that is responsive and responsible cares for the private and public welfare of everyone. It ensures that the progress of men does not diminish that of women, and that the progress of one woman does not diminish the progress of another woman,” he said.

President of KWiGN, Lucy Gondor, said: “We are bent on changing the minds of the world from the negative perception of women as weak and less productive by advocating for resources, opportunities and social values to be equally available for women. Our girls suffer from all sorts of violence at home and in schools but as a network, we will intensify our engagement and dialogue with school authorities and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to pay attention to violence against girls.”

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Ugandan leader Pushes Local Content in US$200 Million Airport Expansion

30 August 2015 – The Observer (Kampala) – President Museveni has called for the use of local content in the expansion works of Entebbe Airport. Commissioning the 5-year $200m project yesterday at Entebbe, the president strongly recommended such infrastructure projects to be connected to local inputs as a way of strengthening the national economy.

“If local cement is of good quality – for our economy, he said, it should be purchased for such projects and if a skill is available and is of good quality it should used”.

He termed such an arrangement as vertical integration in the development of the national economy. The President said that the new Entebbe Airport will go a long way in rationalizing all issues concerning air cargo and passengers as well as eliminating dust and grass which is not necessary at the Airport.

Museveni noted that Uganda produces goods and offers services, like tourism, which need exportation. He said that those goods and services should be linked to the numerous infrastructure such as airports, roads, railways, the internet and telecommunications.

“Therefore, what we are seeing here today is one of the crucial elements of infrastructure,” he stressed.

The expansion is being financed by a soft loan from China. Museveni commended the strong partnership that exists between China and Africa in general and Uganda in particular. He said that Uganda and the African people stood with the Chinese in the 1940s to 1950s when the Chinese were struggling for their freedom adding that China is currently appreciating that partnership with Africa by undertaking development projects in Africa.

Quoting the Bible passage that says “whatever a man sows is what he reaps”, the President noted that Uganda worked together with China when it was engaged in the struggle for freedom of their country.

The Vice President of the Chinese firm that is undertaking the project, Mr. Sun Zhiyu, said the expansion of Entebbe International Airport offers yet another opportunity for Uganda and China to deepen further their mutual beneficial cooperation. He noted that the project will uphold corporate social responsibility, boost local employment opportunities, enhance knowledge transfer and contribute to sustained growth of the Ugandan economy.

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Dushanbe-Tursunzoda-Uzbekistan border highway completed

Dushanbe, 20.08.2015. (NIAT). – The main works within the project for the rehabilitation of the Dushanbe-Tursunzoda-Uzbekistan border highway are fully completed. However, it was necessary to carry out additional works connected with improvement and gardening of a roadside, the construction of eight new transport stops, as well as the asphalting of the road in Hissar district. NIAT “Khovar” has been reported at the Center for the implementation of reconstruction projects of highways of the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Tajikistan.

After completion of all additional work, at the end of the month of August 2015 reception of object by the special state commission is planned. The warranty period of the construction project of the Dushanbe-Tursunzoda-Uzbekistan border highway is two years.

“In case of occurrences of dislocation during the warranty period, according to the previously signed agreement, they will be eliminated at the expense of the general contractor. The project will be fully approved at the expiration of the warranty period, that is in 2017”, – noted the source.

We will remind, the official ceremony of the beginning of the reconstruction of the Dushanbe-Tursunzoda-Uzbekistan border was held on November 7, 2011 with the participation of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon and the Vice-President of the Asian Development Bank Xiaoyu Zhao.

The total road length is 61.5 km. and 186 million USD are allocated for its reconstruction, including 120 million USD of grant funding of ADB, 39 million USD are allocated by the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan and 27 million USD is the credit of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The General contractor is the Chinese company “China road”, which has extensive experience in Tajikistan.

The project of rehabilitation of the Dushanbe-Tursunzoda-Uzbekistan border highway is divided into two parts. The first part is the reconstruction of the road from the Sino’s monument until western gates of the capital, with the length of 4.6 km. The second part of the project is from the western gates of Dushanbe to the border with Uzbekistan, with the length of 56.9 km. The site of the road from Dushanbe to Tursunzoda after reconstruction will be four-band (the first category), a width of 25 meters, and the site from Tursunzoda city to the border with Uzbekistan – two-band, width of 15 meters.

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Ghana, Nigeria Plan to Set Up New National Airlines

ACCRA, Sept 1 (NNN-GNA) — West African neighbours Ghana and Nigeria are both stepping up efforts to establish new national carriers to serve their respective countries.

Both countries have failed in their previous attempts to successfully run a national airline.

Ghana’s flag carrier Ghana Airways, and Nigeria’s national airline Nigeria Airways collapsed under heavy debts.

Government’s latest attempt to establish a sustainable and profitable airline is the third since independence following the demise of the erstwhile Ghana Airways and Ghana International Airlines.

Ghana Airways was founded in 1958, and for decades was the national airline with Kotoka International Airport (KIA) as its hub. However, the airline, ridden with debt, ceased operations in 2004. Attempts were made to revive its fortunes, but to no avail: in June 2005 it was liquidated.

With the support of private investors, Ghana International Airlines (GIA) was established in 2004 after Ghana Airlines’ demise. The airline faced difficulties and eventually suspended its operations in May 2010.

In the proposed new arrangement, Ghana’s government is seeking a carried interest and a partner with experience in running an international carriers.

Government is nonetheless optimistic about the success of a new national carrier, given the growing importance and ability of the country to cater for transit passengers and tourist from the sub-region, Europe and the Americas.

“As a government we are going ahead with the arrangement, because we know the importance of establishing the airline for our objective of establishing KIA as an aviation hub,” Chief Director of Ghana’s Ministry of Transport, Twumasi Ankrah-Selby said.

Ghana Airport Company data show a significant growth in transit passengers and cargo throughput for the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) for 2014, pointing to the growing importance of Ghana as an aviation hub in the sub-region.

Populous West African country, Nigeria, is setting up a committee to consult with local and international partners on establishing a national airline, Nigeria’s ministry of aviation is reported as saying by news agency Reuters.

The committee, according to the report, will be chaired by a former pilot and will review reports on Nigeria’s failed national carrier, Nigeria Airways, and other private airlines. It has four weeks to submit its findings.

The committee will also consult with Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to determine the debt profile of domestic airlines.

Three years ago, AMCON, a state-backed “bad bank” established in 2009, took on more than NGN132 billion naira (US$663 million) of debts from 12 Nigerian airlines, including the biggest carrier, Arik, and Aero.

In a report the Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, proposed last month merging those dozen debt-laden airlines into a single carrier. The report said the airline should operate in partnership with a global airline.

British billionaire Richard Branson set up a domestic and international carrier Virgin Nigeria in 2000, but he pulled out in 2010 in frustration at what he said was interference by politicians and regulators.

The airline he created, which was later rebranded Air Nigeria, closed in 2012 after collapsing under about NGN35 billion naira of debt, leaving it unable to pay staff, the report said.

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Qatar Awarded Best Arab Government Tourism Authority

DOHA, Qatar, Sept 1 (NNN-QNA) – Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), received the award of “Best Arab tourist governmental body” for 2015, presented by the Arab Centre for Media tourism, for Significant achievements on Arab tourism.

In a statement released Monday, QTA said that, the award was handed by the Omani Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Nasser Al Mehrizi, to QTA Director of Marketing and Promotions, Rashed Al Qurese, at a gala, held in the Omani capital, Muscat.

QTA Chairman, Eissa Mohamed Al Mohannadi, expressed his pleasure at the progress and accomplishments achieved by Qatar, in the development of the tourism sector, stressing that, the achievement was the culmination of QTA and its partners’ effort to promote the industry in the country.

He explained that, Qatar’s national strategy for the tourism sector 2030, is moving on a steady pace, towards achieving seven million visitors by 2030.

All the signs indicated that Qatar was on its way to break the three million visitors’ barrier at the end of 2015, he said.

According to a QTA report on tourism performance, there has been a seven per cent increase in the number of foreign visitors in the first half of 2015, compared to the same period last year.

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Emirate’s Sultan Bin Zayed Named “Man Of Arab Heritage”

MUSCAT, Oman, Sept 1 (NNN-WAM) – Emirate’s Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President’s Representative and Chairman of the Emirates Heritage Club, has been named “Man of the Arab Heritage” for 2015, by the Arab Centre for Tourism Media (ACTM), in recognition of his efforts to preserve Arab history and heritage.

This was announced during the award ceremony, held today in Muscat, Oman, under the patronage of Omani Tourism Minister, Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrizi, and in the presence of ministers, senior officials and ACTM members.

Emirati businessman, Khalaf al Habtoor, won the “Best Arab Tourism Investor” award, while Mohammed Kara, from Al Ittihad newspaper, was selected as the “Best Arab Tourism Journalist.”

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Indonesia Sees 4.7% Rise In July Tourist Arrivals

JAKARTA, Indonesia Sept. 1 (NNN-Xinhua) — Indonesia recorded 777,200 foreign holidaymakers in July, an increase of 4.76 percent from a year earlier, the national statistics bureau said on Tuesday.

In Bali, the center of the country’s tourism industry, the number of foreign tourists rose by 6.40 percent to 381,900, said Suryamin, head of the statistics bureau.

Indonesia received a total of 5.47 million foreign tourists in the first seven months of this year, up 2.69 percent on year, he told a press conference.

Indonesia expects 10 million foreign tourists for the whole of this year.

The government plans to revive the tourism industry by extending free visa facilities to 45 countries and regions.

In the next five years, Indonesia targets 15 million foreign holidaymakers a year, according to Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli.

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Thousands of US Muslims to gather in Chicago for ISNA convention

Thursday 03 Sep 2015 – Chicago, (IINA) – Thousands of Muslims from across the US will gather in Chicago this weekend to attend the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) 52nd Annual Convention, OnIslam reported. The four-day event will discuss ways of strengthening the Muslim presence in America.

Kicking off on Friday at Chicago’s Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, the convention is one of the biggest Islamic gatherings in North America. Government and interfaith leaders, as well as heads of organizations will address the convention’s inaugural session on Friday.

A highlight on the opening day will be the launch of a campaign calling for inclusive, women-friendly mosques across North America.

“This year’s theme is ‘Stories of Resilience: Strengthening the American Muslim Narrative’ and will showcase stories of unsung heroes in our community as well as success stories of families, masjids and community initiatives,” said ISNA in a statement.

“The campaign’s goal is to realize the Prophetic model and calls upon all mosques to ensure women are welcomed as an integral part of the masjid and encouraged to attend,” reads the statement prepared by ISNA’s Task Force for Women-Friendly Masjids.

The campaign will also call for “Women to have a prayer space in the main musalla (prayer hall) which is behind the lines of men but not behind a full barrier that disconnects women from the main musalla and prevents them from seeing the imam.”

An Islamic film festival, an art and photography exhibit, a National Qira’at competition, a matrimonial banquet, a women’s fashion show, meet the author sessions and health fair will be held. There will also be a bazaar and trade show with 500 vendors.

Parallel conferences will also be held by the ISNA affiliated organizations – the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA), Association of Muslim Scientists, Engineers and Technology Professionals (AMSET), Muslim Students Association (MSA) and Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA).

A new initiative added at this year’s convention is the introduction of community roundtable discussions. “There will be 6 different Roundtable Discussions ranging in topics which are relevant to the Muslim community,” noted the convention organizers. “Each session will be moderated by a professional facilitator, including experts and local authorities.”

ISNA is the largest Muslim umbrella organization in North America. ISNA’s four-day annual convention dates back to 1963, when the first such event was organized by the predecessor to ISNA, the Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada.

Over the years, the convention has increased in popularity and consistently draws crowds of up to 40,000 Muslims in attendance each year.

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Morocco’s tourism revenues soared 16%

Sunday 30 Aug 2015 – Rabat, (IINA) – After recording a drop in Morocco’s tourism revenues in the first quarter of 2015, there has been a rebound, with revenues up by 16 percent last month, according to the latest figures from the ministry of tourism.

Despite a fall of 1.1 percent in the first five months of the year, the number of tourists who visited Morocco increased by 15 percent in July, Morocco World News reported citing the ministry’s report.

The report noted that nearly 6.025 million foreigners visited Morocco during the the first seven months of the year, marking a slight increase of 1.5 percent in the same period last year.

The Ministry pointed out that the highest number of arrivals recorded in July was from Germany, the United Kingdom, and North America.

In addition, the ministry noted that the above average numbers of German (19.8 percent increase), British (6.2 percent increase), and North American tourists (10.5 percent increase) reduced the severity of the downturn in tourism earlier in the year.

In July, the city of Agadir received 83,308 tourists of different nationalities while “domestic tourists topped the list of arrivals, with a total of 32,057 tourists,” according to a report of the Regional Tourism Council of Souss-Massa-Draa.

In its efforts to boost tourism, the government is trying to attract more visitors from different countries, namely Russia, China, and Japan.

As the second largest sector of Morocco’s economy, tourism accounts for around eight percent of GDP, employing some 500,000 people.

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Self-learning artificial neuron created by Kazakhstan scientists

Monday 31 Aug 2015 – Astana, (IINA) – Scientists in Kazakhstan have created an Artificial Neural Network (ANNs) capable of self-learning, a Tengrinews correspondent reports citing the Director of the Developer Company Adil Augaliyev.

The system called iSam consists of 250 million neural connections.

The artificial neural network is arranged following the principle of biological networks of nerve cells of living organisms, tengrinews news agency reported.

This system is capable of recognizing objects in high-definition images, learning the patters of the objects and then recognizing them elsewhere.

The project is similar to those attempted by Google and Microsoft.

The software developed in Kazakhstan can serve as a platform for a universal technology that can be integrated into transport security systems, accounting and storage management. In addition, it can be used to study marketing potential.

For example, in large stores, the neural network is capable of tracking the eye lines of customers and identifying the areas that attract the most attention. It can also identify the age and gender of the customers.

Creators say the program is 80 percent ready. They are already testing it. In the final version, it can be used in the safe city project to integrate all the video surveillance systems into a single network.

The artificial intelligence will be able to analyze not only routine events like traffic jams, but will also be capable of identifying potentially dangerous situations.

The developers have already presented their technology to the traffic police of Almaty and the latter expressed interest in the project.

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Russia to help Iran build own satellite observation system

Monday 31 Aug 2015 – Moscow (IINA) – Two Russian space companies have signed recently a cooperation agreement with an Iranian corporation, clearing the way for the creation of an Iranian satellite observation system, RT reported.

According to the signed agreement, Russian companies will help Iran to create its own remote-sensing system, which is used for gathering information about the Earth’s surface, atmosphere and oceans.

Russian company NPK BARL will be responsible for building and adapting the system’s ground infrastructure, while another Russian company, VNIIEM, is tasked with building and launching the satellites. Iran’s Bonyan Danesh Shargh will be the operating company.

“The pre-contractual arrangement covers the development of an earth remote-sensing system based on an upgraded version of the Kanopus-V1 (Canopus-B) observation satellite,” Russia’s VNIIEM Corporation CEO Leonid Makridenko said, as cited by the RIA Novosti news agency.

“The launch on a Russian Soyuz carrier rocket is tentatively scheduled for 2018,” he added.

The agreement was signed in the presence of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Roscosmos General Director Igor Komarov, according to the Roscosmos statement.

That is not the first example of scientific cooperation between Russia and Iran. For example, Russia’s ministry for atomic Energy signed a cooperation agreement with Iran on the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran. The Bushehr nuclear power station became the first one in the Middle East.

The Iranian space program is developing rapidly. The first Iranian satellite Sina-1 was launched in 2005 from the Russian spaceport Plesetsk on October 28, 2005. Four years later the Islamic republic launched its second satellite, but this time from an Iranian spaceport. In 2010, Iran claimed to have launched a rocket with creatures such as mice, tortoises and worms. Two years ago, the country claimed to have sent two monkeys into space which returned safely.

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Azerbaijan to host series of international exhibitions

Tuesday 01 Sep 2015 – Baku, (IINA) – Azerbaijan will host a series of international exhibitions and conferences during the year 2015, the Iteca Caspian, the event organizers, said.

There will be 11 international exhibitions till the end of the year, according to AzerTac news agency.

All exhibitions of season in their themes will reflect the non-oil sectors of Azerbaijan’s economy. The exhibition autumn calendar included Azerbaijan International Healthcare Exhibition BIHE, Stomatology – Stomatology Azerbaijan, beauty and aesthetic medicine, Beauty Azerbaijan, Education, Career, construction BakuBuild, “Heating, ventilation and air conditioning” AquaTherm Baku, security CIPS Caspian, ecology CTE and telecommunications BakuTel.

New themes for the country will open the 1st Azerbaijan Conference on sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. Baku CSR Conference 2015 which will be held on October 15 in hotel Fairmont Baku.

BIHE exhibition for over 20 years is a traditional meeting place for industry professionals, highlighting the achievements of the market for medical goods and services. There are more than 120 companies from 15 countries in the list of participants.

Pharmaceutical companies of Russia will attendfor the first time a joint stand with the support of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

Turkish companies specializing in medical tourism will take part for the first time in a separate joint national stand. Tourism companies, which are engaged in sending people abroad for treatment, will also participate in the exhibition.

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Belgium to open first Islamic secondary school

Wednesday 02 Sep 2015 – Brussels, (IINA) – Amid growing demand for Islamic education, Belgium’s first Islamic secondary school will open next Thursday, accommodating scores of students who have been waiting for a place to pursue their studies, OnIslam & News Agencies reported.

The new school will offer places for 144 boys and girls, who have already registered. Nevertheless, there is still a shortage of 40 places.

“There is a strong demand for Islamic education among the Muslim community in Belgium but our schools regretfully cannot accommodate all the pupils and this year we have about 200 pupils who are waiting to find a place,” Mohammad Allaf, secretary general of the six-member committee of Islamic education in Belgium, told KUNA news agency on Tuesday.

According to the official education system in Belgium, Muslims are allowed to establish schools with the same Belgian curriculum and under the supervision of Belgian authorities.

These authorities also offer the salaries of the teachers in the Muslims schools.

“But the philosophy of the education in our schools is our responsibility in order to teach Islamic religion and Arab culture to the pupils,” Allaf said, noting that pupils in the Islamic schools celebrate all the Islamic holidays.

Two hours of special classes in Arabic language are held after the normal school hours in the Islamic schools, but participation is voluntary.

The normal education in the Islamic schools is given in the French language, due to the large population of Moroccan and Tunisian pupils in these schools.

Currently, there are three primary Islamic schools in Brussels.

The first called Al Ghazali was established in 1989, the second called the Pen (al Qalam) in 2011 and the third called Al Fadilah (Virtue) in 2013. The three schools have around 800 pupils.

Belgium is the first European country to have granted Islam official recognition through a law of 19 July 1974.

Belgian Muslims are estimated at 638,000 out of 11.2-million-population, according to numbers released by Pew Research Center in October 2010.

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World Bank launches annual symposium on Islamic finance

Wednesday 02 Sep 2015 – Istanbul, (IINA) – The World Bank Group’s Global Islamic Finance Development Center (GIFDC) announced on Tuesday the launch of its Annual Symposium on Islamic Economics and Finance, CPI Financial reported.

The symposium is organized by GIFDC in partnership with Borsa İstanbul, Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), and Guidance Financial Group (GFG), a leading international Islamic financial services provider.

The symposium is an annual event that will bring together a broad range of participants from academia, policy-making circles, and the private sector. It aims to promote the exchange and advancement of ideas and to foster innovation and discussion in Islamic economics and finance. The symposium’s objective is to become a major international forum engaged in thought leadership and knowledge development in this field.

The inaugural symposium, “Islamic Finance: A Catalyst for Shared Prosperity,” will be held on September 8-9 in Istanbul, Turkey.

“Together with our partners, Borsa İstanbul, IDB, IRTI, and GFG, we are committed to the advancement of Islamic economics and finance and believe it can play a central role in ensuring a sound financial sector and promoting inclusive economic development,” said Gloria Grandolini, senior director, finance & markets global practice of the world bank group. “We hope this symposium will contribute toward the continued understanding, advancement, and awareness of Islamic finance.”

On behalf of the IDB Group, Dr. Ahmed Tiktik, vice president, IDB Group said, “I wish to commend and congratulate the organizers for this very timely initiative. The IDB has always believed in and strove for promoting shared prosperity through Islamic Finance in its member and non-member countries. The organization of this symposium is not only a validation of this belief but of its global acceptance and adoption. I hope this symposium will pave the way for directing our efforts toward the noble goal of leveraging Islamic finance for creating a more prosperous and inclusive world for everyone.”

Professor Mohammad Azmi Omar, director general of IRTI, added, “As the intellectual arm of the IDB Group, IRTI is delighted to be a partner in this first annual symposium on Islamic Finance in Istanbul. I feel the theme of the symposium, Islamic Finance, a catalyst for shared prosperity is reflective of the common goal and aspiration we share not only with the organizers but with the millions of people who see Islamic finance as an alternative means of financial inclusion and a better and more dignified life. We will continue working with our partners to ensure that human well-being and shared prosperity remains at the very heart of all Islamic finance initiatives.”

Regarding Guidance Financial Group’s involvement in this symposium, Dr. Mohammad Hammour, chairman of GFG, said, “The presence of policy makers, academics and finance professionals at the symposium provides an excellent opportunity for us to be an integral part of this forum as the private sector partner. We hope to bring our expertise and experience as practitioners to the discussions, as we strive to expand the frontiers of Islamic finance in innovative directions.”

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First UK Muslim unscripted reality show hits TV screens

London, (IINA), 02 Sep 2015 – Just over a year into its broadcast, British Muslim TV launches the world’s first British Muslim unscripted reality TV show “Being Bilal,” featuring the life of British-born doctor-turned-community activist Bilal Hassam, according to Al-Arabia News channel.

“Being Bilal” depicts what the award-winning multi-faith team behind it describes as “unapologetic, entertaining and often inspiring reconciliation of British and Muslim identities.”

The 28-year-old star of the show Hassam, who hails from Leicester, has spent the past 10 years fitting in a frenetic schedule of faith-based community projects in the UK and around the world, while hanging up his stethoscope and emerging as a community activist.

“I’d like people to see that being a British Muslim comes in many different shapes and sizes, and that’s a wonderful thing – wonderful for Muslims and wonderful for Britain,” Hassam told Al-Arabiya on Tuesday.

The unscripted reality TV show features the life of the British doctor who turned into a community activist.

The producer of the Muslim serious, Tariq Chow, was inspired by the work of Hassam who spent the past decade in civil work, while pursuing his medical career.

Chow “wanted to capture that story convinced it could transform the way both Muslims and non-Muslims understand what it means to be a British Muslim,” said Hassam.

“I get to experience a wide diversity of the British Muslim community and meet with senior community figures, scholars, artists and celebrities, as well as hang around with average blokes struggling along like everyone else.

Launched in June 2014, British Muslim TV channel joined a growing number of specialized broadcasting channels targeting the growing Muslim minority.

The channel cast aimed to create a content that reflects the different voices of the Muslim community in the UK and to embody the tag line “Confidently Muslim, Comfortably British”.

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$22 million IDB financing to develop Mali livestock

Wednesday 02 Sep 2015 – Jeddah, (IINA) – The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) granted the goverment of Mali $22 million in order to develop livestock on Western Plains of Mali.

An agreement to this effect was signed here on Tuesday by Mali’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Mamadou Diarra, and IDB’s President Dr. Ahmad Ali. IDB noted in a statement that the agreement aims to contribute the economic development in Mali by increasing the production and productivity of livestock in Khai, Segou, and Koulikoro regions, as should be done by improving livestock nutrition, offspring and health care.

IDB continued, the project will also help improving food production and increasing farmers’ income as well as creating new job opportunities.

In addition to that, it will also help achieving a degree of self-sufficiency in food consumption and will also improve peoples’ daily lives.

Prior to signing the agreement, Diarra discussed with IDB president methods of strengthening the relationship between his country and the bank, praising at the same time IDB’s efforts for the projects and social development in Mali.

For his part, Dr. Ali praised Mali’s cooperation level with IDB, stressing that IDB will provide its full support to Mali’s economic development plans. It is noteworthy that the total of IDB’s approved financing to the Republic of Mali has reached $672 million.

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Maldives signs tourism promotion deal with BBC

Sun.mv – September 1, 2015 – Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) has launched a global advertisement campaign in collaboration with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), to promote Maldives as a tourist destination.

The campaign aims to increase tourist arrivals in 2016 which will be marked as “Visit Maldives Year”, especially from Asia Pacific and Europe. It will be in place from 1 September to 31 October 2015, and includes a 30-second advertisement under the theme “Sunny Side of Life” and four 15-second teasers, which will be shown on BBC.

Maldives will also be advertised on the BBC website during this period. Tourist arrivals in 2015 stood at 713,622 at the end of July, an increase of 1.7 percent compared to the corresponding period last year.

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Yenikapı promoted as new Istanbul cruise port

ISTANBUL – Doğan New Agency – A leading tourism representative has said the sector players want to turn Istanbul’s Yenikapı into a new cruise port amid renovation works in the city’s main cruise port.

“We need a cruise port in Istanbul as the main cruise port of the city, Galataport, is being renovated right now and these works will continue at least four years,” said the head of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), Başaran Ulusoy, at a meeting with a number of journalists on Aug. 28.

He added that the Haydarpaşa Port, another main port of the city located on the Asian side of Istanbul, is not suitable for cruise tourism. “The most ideal port is Yenikapı, which is already defined as one of the largest meeting areas of the city by authorities. We have asked the authorities to give the port to us as the main cruise port. Only a few meetings are held in the area, and we can put the cruise ships offshore when any meeting is held in the area,” Ulusoy said.

Ulusoy has also asked for more support from Turkish Airlines to support the sector.

“Our airline companies, specially Turkish Airlines, should always remember that we, as the representatives of tourism agencies, play a great role in surging their ticket sales…They should sponsor and support us just as they did for the world’s leading football clubs,” he said.

Ulusoy also said the sector has faced difficulties this year and called for the authorities to launch an exclusive commission to discuss the sector’s issues once a month.

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Movie to be shot in ‘Dracula’s castle’ in Turkey

TOKAT – Doğan New Agency – A movie is due to be shot at Tokat Castle, Turkey’s second-largest castle in the northern province of Tokat, where it is claimed that Wallachian Prince Vlad III “The Impaler,” also known as Dracula, was held captive in one of the the castle’s dungeons in the early 15th century.

“The historical claims that build a connection between Tokat and Count Dracula are of great importance for fueling Tokat’s touristic, cultural and artistic life,” said the movie’s Turkish producer Erol Koçan.

“In this vein, we have decided to shoot the film partly in Tokat. We’ll shoot in almost all historical sites of Tokat.

It will be a comedy movie, but the main aim is to publicize Tokat and its historical and touristic richness,” added Koçan, who is himself originally from Tokat.

Restoration work at the castle was started in 2009 by the Tokat Governor’s Office Provincial Culture and Tourism Directorate, in order to open the castle to tourism. Restoration was completed in 2010, and last September work began again to reinforce the defensive bastions of the castle that were used in the Seljuk and Ottoman periods.

Over the course of the restoration, archaeologists discovered a military shelter, two dungeons and a secret tunnel to the Pervane Bath in Tokat’s city center.

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New prehistoric settlement discovered in Yassıhöyük, Turkey

NEVŞEHİR – Doğan News Agency – Excavation work at Ovaören village in Central Anatolian Nevşehir province has brought to light a settlement in ancient Yassıhöyük dating back to 1,700 B.C.

The ancient site could, however, even date back to 6,000 B.C., said the head of the excavation team and the director of the Gazi University Archaeology Department, Yücel Şenyurt.

A team of 23 archaeologists along with 26 people from Ovaören have been carrying out the excavation works, which were launched in 2007 by a decision of the Council of Ministers.

Yassıhöyük along with Topakhöyük and its booms constitute the largest excavation fields in Turkey at some 350,000 square meters.

The works revealed the oldest settlement, formed in Topakhöyük around 2,500 B.C., has been a rich settlement regarding the archaeological findings, build-up plan and tombs.

“The printing of the seals (found during the excavation) shows that a trade colony had lived in the area. In Yassıhöyük, we have been trying to document the settlement of Hittites lying under these architectural layers dating back to the Iron Age. We have also revealed that this urban-looking settlement of Yassıhöyük was surrounded by defense systems in the Middle Iron Age, as in the Hittite Age. The ruins of seven-meter-long walls and the portals of the town in Ovaören-Yassıhöyük will become important tourism destinations in the near future, I believe,” said Şenyurt.

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Excavations begin anew in ‘pirate city’

ANTALYA – Anadolu Agency – Once a hub for pirate activity, the ancient city of Antiocheia Ad Cragnum in Antalya’s Gazipaşa district is now undergoing renewed excavations that is shedding new light on the history of the area.

“In the excavations, we have uncovered a 600-meter-long mosaic, some remains of a bath and a parliament building so far,” said Dr. Birol Can, the excavation crew coordinator for the site and a lecturer at Uşak University’s Science and Literature Department Archaeology Department.

“Aside from these, we also unearthed a small temple with a mosaic floor covering … and discovered the head of a mythological figure, Medusa, near the temple. This is a figure directly on a triangular-shaped pediment based on four columns. Medusa is the mortal one of the Gorgon siblings, a fantastic figure emerging from the imagination of the ancient people. Described as snake-headed, bronze-handed, and golden winged, Medusa emerges as a figure that terrifies everyone,” he said.

“Some sources have shown that the entire Cilician coastline was used as shelter by the pirates. Its geographical location and connection to the sea also contributes to this idea. The structure of the area is one where the mountains are parallel to the sea. Though the rocky areas are close to the sea, the city nevertheless is 350 meters high. The pirates took advantage of the means provided by nature. Before the Roman period, the pirates sometimes raided the cities on the land and sometimes the trade ships. Roman commander Pompeius Magnus eliminated the threat of piracy from this ‘pirate city,’ after which we see a Roman presence in the area,” Can said.

After the Roman Empire developed a strong presence in the area, the town was ceded to the Cappadocia Kingdom, added Can.

“In this period, Cappadocian King Antiochos IV made investments here and built towns. One of these towns was Antiochos in Antiocheia ad Cragnum.”

The professor also said they had discovered 2,000 to 2,500-year-old anchors during underwater expeditions that are set to enlighten the town’s history.

Excavations in the ancient city have been conducted by 60 people since 2005, Can said, adding that the dig is being conducted under the chairmanship fo Nebraska University Professor Michael Hoff.

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Mapping under way of Turkey’s longest cave in Isparta

ISPARTA – Anadolu Agency – A 12-person Romanian speleologists team, led by a Turk, is working on mapping in the southern province of Isparta’s Pınargözü cave, which is Turkey’s longest cave.

The team, headed by the Directorate of Natural Conservation and National Parks Cave Protection Branch Director Selim Erdoğan, are working under tough circumstances in the Pınargözü Cave, the length of which has been a matter of debate for many years.

As the water in the cave lowers at a certain time of the year, the team can only work in August, but even then it has to fight against 40-meter waterfalls and high water discharge.

Wearing five-centimeter special suits as protection against the cold water, members of the team enter the cave in different groups and work there for four days. After traveling for nine hours on an installed line, another group then enters the cave for the next four days.

This year the works have so far reached 10.5 kilometers into the cave. A French team that previously worked in the cave said the length of the Pınargözü cave was 16 kilometers, but could not prove it, Erdoğan said.

He said most of the current work had been completed and the project would be finished next year with remaining works outside the main line.

“We will dedicate this project to Temuçin Aygen, considered the master of speleologists,” Erdoğan said.

The head of the Directorate of Natural Conservation and National Parks of Sensitive Areas, Ramazan Dikyar, said they were working to preserve Turkey’s natural and cultural sources.

Dikyar said they had created special zones to take those sources under protection. “Turkey has 40 national parks, 212 natural parks, 31 natural protection environment and 103 nature monuments,” he said.

The Pınargözü cave is among the natural sources that should be taken into protection, Dikyar said, adding that the cave located in the Kızıldağ National Park was Turkey’s longest cave. He said the first scientific surface survey in the Pınargözü cave was initiated back in 1967 by Aygen, who discovered many caves across Turkey.

“In 1974 Polish speleologists and in 1988 and in 1992 French speleologists carried out works in the cave. The French speleologists mapped their work in 2011 and claimed that the length of the cave was 16 kilometers but it could not be proved. So this has been a matter of debate since then. This is why the Directorate of Natural Conservation and National Parks made a project in 2011 to find out the exact length of the cave and also to understand the structure of it,” he stated.

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14th Istanbul Biennial to highlight wonders of “Saltwater”

Hatice Utkan Özden – ISTANBUL – The 14th Istanbul Biennial, “SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms,” will open to the public starting Sept. 5 in 30 venues around the city.

While creating the framework of the biennial, festival “draftsperson” Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev focused on the thought and the concept of “saltwater,” the Bosphorus and its currents going in opposite directions. Christov-Bakargiev also focused on the history of Istanbul and Bosphorus and how the Bosphorus was made. It is known that the Black Sea was, in ancient times, a lake and that the Bosphorus only opened up around 2500 B.C.

The Bosphorus is a passage – and even means “cow passage” in Greek – Christov-Bakargiev said in an earlier interview with Irene Gludowacz in Parnass and CI Mag. The Bosphorus is a passage where things can crank, move or crack, she added. In the same interview, she said she wanted to refer to all these currents under the surface of modern Turkey when choosing the works and selecting the venues.

Christov-Bakargiev is very careful about choosing words; she does not want people to call her a curator but a “draftsperson.” As such, during a Sept. 2 press conference to promote the biennial, when someone asked “how she selected the venues for the biennial,” Christov-Bakargiev said: “I have never used the word ‘select.’” For her, it is not politically correct to use the word “select.”

Christov-Bakargiev also said the first venue she decided upon was Leon Trotsky’s house on Büyükada, one of Istanbul’s Prince Islands. “(Turkish Nobel Laureate) Orhan Pamuk told me that Trotsky’s house was on Büyükada. I did not know.”

The same meticulous effort can be seen regarding the works of the biennial. The 30 venues have not been chosen coincidentally. Each venue has been chosen attentively for the works that they present.

The biennial will last until Nov. 1 in over 30 venues on the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus, from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, from Beyoğlu to Büyükada, from Rumelifeneri to the old city and from Şişli to Kadıköy.

Christov-Bakargiev said the exhibition centers on a material – saltwater – and the contrasting images of “knots and waves.” According to Christov-Bakargiev, the exhibition looks where to draw the line, withdraw, draw upon and draw out.

“It does so offshore, on the flat surfaces with our fingertips, but also in the depths, underwater, before the enfolded encoding unfolds,” she said, adding that the international exhibition would present new works by over 50 visual artists and other practitioners, including oceanographers and neuroscientists, in a citywide project on the Bosphorus that considers different frequencies and patterns of waves, the currents and densities of water, both visible and invisible, that poetically and politically shape and transform the world.

“With and through art, we mourn, commemorate, denounce, try to heal, and commit ourselves to the possibility of joy and vitality, leaping from form to flourishing life,” she said.

The exhibition presents over 1,500 artworks, including commissions by artists as well as other materials from the history of oceanography, environmental studies, marine archaeology, Art Nouveau, neuroscience, physics, mathematics and theosophy, and some crystals that Christov-Bakargiev gathered with a friend at Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty on Great Salt Lake in early 2015.

Works at the biennial range historically from an 1870 painting of waves by Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who received a Nobel prize in 1906 for discovering the neuron, to the ground-breaking abstract Thought Forms of Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater (1901-1905), a new work by Füsun Onur where a poem is heard on a moving boat, up to a cultural meeting point between Chicago and Istanbul by Theater Gates.

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Paira Seaport top open very soon in Bangladesh

CHITTAGONG, Sep 2, 2015 (BSS) – Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan, MP, on Wednesday said activities of Paira Sea Port will start very soon.

He said the government would take all needful efforts to materialize the demand for sea ports in the country by constructing Paira Sea port and revitalize the overall activities of the prime sea port Chittagong as it is the lifeline of the country’s economy.

Shahjahan Khan said the government is going ahead with the plan to construct a deep-sea port at Sonadia and it has plan to construct another sea port at any suitable place.

The minister said this as the chief guest while inaugurating Customs Auction Shed beside the port stadium this afternoon.

The minister said present government within its capacity would undertake all efforts to restructure the port aiming to elevating it to the international standard with latest technology and equipment.

Apart from this, Mongla port would be upgraded to facilitate imported vehicle delivery through the port in a bid to lessen the burden on Chittagong port, he said.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina must be in state power for the sake of progress of the country and its people,” he added.

The shipping Minister said the government has already procured 14 dredgers after assuming the state power in 2009 and dug 20,000 kilometre canals in the last four years.

He said government has decided to procure another 20 dredgers to maintain navigability of the rivers.

Shahjahan Khan said the first dredger was brought by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1973.

“But it is a matter of sorrow that no other governments except Sheikh Hasina’s one, procured a single dredger for the country”, he added.

The shipping minister urged people to resist militancy and strengthen the hands of Bangabandhu’s daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for on ward development in the country.

“None can hope better from the terrorists and militants, even if they assume state power,” he added.

He alleged that BNP started violent movements to save the war criminals by resorting to murder and arson in the name of so-called democratic movement.

Shahjahan Khan said there will be no success of the movement of BNP-Jamaat as there is no participation of the mass people.

The minister said solving water logging problem is not the function of CPA but many canals including Moheshkhal in the city have been dredged by CPA during the last two years on the directive of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The function was presided over by CPA Chairman Rear Admiral Nezam Uddin Ahmed. M A Latif MP, Shipping Secretary Shafique Alam Mehedi, Customs Commissioner Hossain Ahmed among others also spoke.

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Bangladesh minister calls for better tourism coordination

DHAKA, Sep 1, 2015 (BSS) – Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon today said coordinated initiatives are necessary to make the country’s tourist spots attractive for the development of potential tourism industry.

“The relevant ministries, departments and offices and non-government organizations would have to take concerted moves to make the tourist destinations attractive. The government has taken different initiatives to this end,” he said speaking at a workshop at CIRDAP auditorium in the city.

The workshop was held in preparation for a global conference titled ‘Buddhist Heritage Circuit Tourism’ to be held in Dhaka on October 27-28. Bangladesh Tourism Board will organize the conference with the assistance of World Tourism Organization (UN WTO).

Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor, Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary Khorshed Alam Chowdhury, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation Chairman Dr. Arup Chowdhury and Bangladesh Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer Akhtaruzzaman Khan also spoke at the workshop titled ‘Developing Sustainable Tourism Based on Buddhist Heritage, Culture and Pilgrims’ Circuit’.

Recommendations of the workshop would be presented in the international conference to be held on October 27-28. Rashed Khan Menon said there are many sites of relics in the country which could easily be made attractive to the tourists.

He urged the private tour operators and media to work in coordination along with the government to create awareness among the people about tourism. Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor suggested for a taskforce with all stakeholders, including mass media to the challenges of tourism industry.

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Brunei a “Beacon of Islamic Glory” in North Borneo

Thursday, 03 September 2015 BruDirect.com JALAN PASAR BAHARU, GADONG: Although the smallest country on Borneo island, Brunei achieved Islamic glory because of the blessings of Allah the Almighty and the close relationship its rulers have been keeping up with Islamic scholars and the people of the Sultanate.

This was highlighted by the Minister of Religious Affairs, Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr. Haji Mohammad bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahman, while delivering his premier paper entitled ‘Sustainable Dakwah and Islamic Civilisation in Borneo’ at the opening ceremony of the 8th International Islamic Borneo Conference (KAIB VIII) at the Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) auditorium yesterday.

Brunei believes in Allah the Almighty’s blessings that shower the Sultanate with His mercy, protection and assistance, leading the country towards creating a great Islamic civilisation in Borneo, the minister said.

“Brunei’s historical records have shown that the rulers in Brunei accepted Islam based on Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama’ah and Mazhab Shaffe which are based on four sources of law – Al-Quran, AsSunnah, Al-Qias and Ijma’ Ulama.

“The close relationship between the ruler and the Islamic scholars on one side and the citizens on the other has strengthened Islamic teachings in Brunei,” the minister said.

Furthermore, in preserving the welfare of Muslims that make up more than half of the population in Borneo, the minister said that there is a need to build a sturdy foundation focusing on comprehensive Islamic education and effective management from kindergarten, primary and secondary levels towards higher educational level.

The minister said the Islamic education sector can mould people of competence into religious teachers, imams, Syariah judges and prosecutors, religious officers, administrators, community leaders and national leaders. Without such a strong foundation, the people and the country could be easily influenced by various ideologies and false teachings that may veer them away from Islamic teachings based on Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama’ah.

“This is what we need to maintain. This idea that Islamic teachings are the best, true as well as blessed by Allah the Almighty needs to be spread widely,” the minister said, adding that there is a need to provide the perfect infrastructure equipped with technology, materials as well as knowledgeable, pious, well-trained and persistent Da’ie in handling the needs of Muslims and even non-Muslims.

The minister urged the states across the Borneo region to make efforts through their Islamic education and propagation sector to continuously strengthen the religion according to their ability with full commitment and awareness.

“With the cooperation between the states and territories of the Borneo island, Insya Allah the Islamic teachings will develop well and become ‘society-friendly’ (mesra masyarakat) which will bring benefits to the nation and its religion,” he added.

The minister also highlighted that Brunei has more Islamic education infrastructure, from bottom to the higher level, which offers both ‘duniawi’ and ‘ukhrawi’ knowledge to every one of the country.

The establishment of the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) in 1986 and the creation of numerous institutions, divisions, units and departments including the Islamic Dakwah Centre under it support and spread the Islamic teachings in the country.

“This is in line with the Brunei Vision 2035 which is aimed at generating a prosperous nation and knowledgeable citizens who embrace and adhere to Islamic teachings and reflects the expectation in moving towards a country that is ‘Baldatun Tayyibatun Wa Rabbun Ghafur’,” the minister concluded.

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Korea-Malaysian Partnership to promote Halal food

Thursday, 03 September 2015 MSME News Network: With the various recent partnerships and collaborations, the halal industry has been on a steady rise as more businesses in various sectors realise the latent potential that it holds. Various industries have taken to developing a halal inventory for their products and services ranging from healthcare and beauty products, personal hygiene products and most commonly food and beverage products.

However, few would have imagined that the next big thing in the line of halal food products would be Korean food that has been revamped and rebranded to meet global halal standards. Nevertheless, it is real and many Korean businesses are going to extra mile to meet and conquer this increasingly global industry.

In an effort to collaborate these food and beverage companies specialising in Korean food and beverages, a recent Korean K-Food Fair was organised by the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MARFA) which took place at the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre recently.

The fair was a landmark event as it was the first time that halal Korean food had been introduced in such a large and concerted fashion within the Malaysian business ecosystem. This push into the Malaysian market stems from Malaysia’s long standing reputation as an economy with an internationally recognised halal certification infrastructure.

Speaking on this, South Korean ambassador to Malaysia Cho Byungjae said, “The potential that the global halal industry holds for South Korean food and beverage (F&B) products with positive speculations of it hitting US$1.6t in three years’ time, so really it is now or never for South Korean F&B producers to stake their claim in this global market.

“Given such huge global aspirations, it is fitting that Malaysia is seen as the hub for South Korean SMEs to build their regional base with its excellent standards in halal regulation and certification. (Thanks to) Malaysia’s maturity in the halal market, there is huge potential for further R&D and learning to be done in collaboration with Malaysian partners.”

“Indeed, the relationship between Malaysia and South Korea has been extremely positive thus far, with total South Korean food exports to Malaysia standing at US$100m last year. With this strong foundation, bilateral collaborations in the manufacturing sector can be prove to be the bedrock for the booming of the Malaysia-South Korea halal industry.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the fair with MALAYSIA SME®, Fresh Agrobiz Pvt Ltd general manager Peter Kim said, “The potential for Korean SMEs such as ourselves to grow and expand in Malaysia is tremendous, nevertheless, it is a new market and it would be necessary to proceed with caution.”

Speaking on the flagship product of his company, Kim said, “We specialise in the sale and distribution of fruits, pears in particular both in Korea and globally as well. For years, we competed with many other similar companies on the basis of efficiency and quality of products.

“However, the Korean pear market was limited and the competition that we faced was stiff, therefore we decided to specialise out products and create a niche for ourselves. This is when we decided to go into halal market by focusing the bulk of our efforts in this new direction for us.

“At the moment, we are the only company in Korea that has both Malaysian Halal certifications by JAKIM as well as the Korean equivalent, the Korean Muslim Federation (KMF). This has given us a niche in our market, however moving forward from here the next step will be challenging for us.”

Kim elaborated that while his company is the only one to be selling halal Korean pear in the Malaysian market, this competitive niche does not suffice as the given the inescapable transport and logistics fees for import of the pears, its retail price is at a premium compared to the local variety of pears.

He said that moving forward, he hoped that there would be more awareness engendered among consumers by groups such as JAKIM and the Halal Development Corporation (HDC) on the value-add that justifies the premium price of his products. It was still a long way to go as his company had only breached the Malaysian market not more than six months ago.

Moving into the overseas market was the right move for halal entrepreneurs such as Kim, given the miniscule Muslim population within the South Korean market. At current, only about 130,000 people make up the Muslim population in South Korea, which is miniscule when compared to the total Korean population of 50 million people.

Nevertheless the pathway for growth for the Korean halal food industry in Malaysia seems to have been set with the recent partnership between KMF and JAKIM. Under this partnership, all halal standards across both organisations have been synchronised to be accepted equally in both countries.

This is indeed a step forward as often times, the issue in regards to food and beverage operators attempting to move up into the global market is the lack of standards and quality in the food value chain. This would not prove to be an issue with JAKIM as its value chains standards have been recognised as the gold standard for halal certifications.

However, moving forward it perhaps would be beneficial for Korean SMEs to be able to seek out active collaborations with Malaysian companies operating in the halal industry to short-cut the tedious and cumbersome process when it comes to certifying processes and procedures along the value chain.

As pointed out by the HDC, it is necessary for the whole value chain right from the farm all the way down to the fork to be compliant with JAKIM’s halal standards in order to be recognised as halal in Malaysia. After all, hygiene and cleanliness are the focuses of halal which do make it a sufficiently thorough food standard.

Thus, with the proper planning and partnerships, Korean F&B SMEs will be able to successfully tap into the Malaysian halal market, while using it as a base to further grow and expand its halal products to the steadily burgeoning halal market, touted to be the next big thing for global business.

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‘One Village One Product Project’ Generates Encouraging Incomes

Monday, 31 August 2015 BruDirect.com KG MENTIRI, BRUNEI-MUARA: ‘One Village One Product Project’ which is synonymous with Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) is an effort of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) in encouraging sub-district and village communities in this country to be more creative, innovative, competitive, and have a strong spirit and desire to make progress.

The Kampung Mentiri Consultative Council (MPK Mentiri) has been running several enterprises, including manufacturing woven handicrafts and food products.

Since it started in 2012, ‘One Village One Product Project’ has received an overwhelming response from the villagers in this country. Projects under this programme also give an impact of shifting attitude on the villagers to create more prominent products in the future.

According to the Village Head of Kampung Mentiri, Awang Haji Bujang bin Sabtu, the incomes generated from the sales of the Kampung Mentiri Products from rattan and leaves are very encouraging. Successful production of traditional food and handicraft items has developed entrepreneurs’ attitude to move forward as competitive citizens in producing more local products.

The relentless effort of our local entrepreneurs in mobilizing the Kampung Consultative Council is in line with the government’s aspiration towards ensuring the effectiveness of the Penghulus and Kamung Ketua Institution as the core leadership besides generating economic growth which can simultaneously uplift the image and dignity of the council in the country.

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Drama, Comedy Sketches Performed at Tudong Saji Festive Stage

Monday, 31 August 2015 BruDirect.com KUALA BELAIT: Drama and comedy sketches were performed at the Tudong Saji Festive Stage in Kuala Belait in conjunction with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s 69th Birthday Celebrations.

Present at the event was Yang Berhormat Awang Haji Mohd Yusof bin Haji Dulamin, Member of the Legislative Council, Awang Haji Haris bin Othman, the Belait District Officer and Awang Hasmiron bin Haji Md Taib, the Belait Assistant District Officer.

The audience was also entertained by local singers.

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Original Fatimid wall believed found in Old Cairo’s Gamaliya

Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 2 Sep 2015 – Excavation work near Old Cairo’s northern gate in the Gamaliya district could have revealed a segment of the original Fatimid wall. Antiquities minister Mamdouh Eldamaty told Ahram Online that if studies confirm the wall dates back to the Fatimid Caliphate (909 – 1171 AD) it will constitute an important discovery.

Eldamaty said the whole original wall could feasibly be revealed. “This would be the first time a part of the original Fatimid wall has been found,” Mohamed Abel-Azziz, the antiquities minister’s assistant for Islamic monuments, told Ahram Online.

Abdel-Aziz added that the development project being carried out in collaboration with the housing ministry at the north wall had not previously offered any discoveries.

Studies of the newly discovered wall will begin immediately, seeking to confirm whether it is in fact an orginal Fatimid work. “The newly discovered wall could be from a different Islamic era; studies will provide answers,” Abdel-Aziz said.

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New comic book Garage features Egyptian, Arab artists

Soha Elsirgany, Friday 28 Aug 2015 0 Egypt’s newest collective comic book, Garage, will launch its first issue in Cairo on Friday. The project was started by two brothers, Mohamed and Haitham Rafaat, who are known on the scene as Twins Cartoon.

“The name Garage was born out of the project being an underground, independent production, like we are starting from the bottom, then going up and out to the world,” Haitham Raafat tells Ahram Online.

The twins graduated from Cairo’s Fine Arts Faculty and worked as artists across several fields, including animation and graphic design, but found a growing interest in comics.

“We started Kawkab El-Rasameen (“Planet of Artists”) in 2014, where we gathered our artist friends and held workshops that were at first focused on drawing then developed into a base for comics,” Raafat says.

Twins Cartoon collaborated with other platforms for comic projects like Kharabeesh in Jordan, and with the Lebanese Tash-fash to create the comic Amman Rayeh Gai.

They were involved as comic experts in BECA Comics Week, an initiative held at the French institute in Cairo in 2014 which gathered illustrators from Egypt, Germany and France to support and strengthen the experience of local comic artists.

The twins are currently working on the Cairo Comix festival, to be held on 30 September, with Shennawy, the creator of Tok Tok comic, and Maged El-Shafey, of the award-winning Metro magazine.

“Preparing for this festival we felt there are so many great artists who are unknown that we wanted to help showcase. We began the project of what is now Garage in November 2014, providing a platform for artists and scriptwriters,” Raafat says.

Under Kawkab El-Rasameen, the twins worked together with around 20 artists in workshops for drawing, and a special focus on scriptwriting and story development.

“There are lots of comic writers that are good, but we still need to develop our writers’ platform so we can have solid stories,” Raafat says.

Although many artists write their own stories, sometimes artists and writers collaborate. One example of this in Garage is a collaboration between Syrian artist Ammar Khattab and Egyptian writer Mohamed Abdelaziz.

“The number of all those in the workshop was too much for one issue, so the first issue will include 12 projects from a mix of unknown artists with others who are better established, to balance it out,” Raafat says.

Besides directing the whole project, the twins’ artistic contribution to the magazine is minimal, limited to designing the cover and collaborating on one of the stories. “It’s not about us. We want the focus to be on the other artists,” says Raafat.

Garage will feature a number of female artists, including Sara Khaled, Doaa El-Adl, and Aliaa Aly, which is something the twins are proud of, seeing as the number of female comic artists in Egypt is quite low.

Garage also has contributions from artists from Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan and Syria.

“We tend to always look to foreign publications, while we have so much to show here in the region. Our vision of Garage is an Arabic magazine, reflecting social life in the different countries,” Raafat says.

“But we also take care to make the other Arabic dialects readable for an Egyptian audience,” he added.

Ahmed Tawfig, one of the artists in Garage, talks about the challenges of making comics in Egypt. He feels appreciation for comics within the art circle is growing, but has yet to spread to the wider audience they would like to see it reach.

“Although the comic scene flourished in recent years with publications like Tok Tok and Autostrade, most people who would buy our comics are our friends and relatives, or other artists. It requires a lot of patience and teamwork to develop and maintain comics,” Tawfig says.

Garage, though managing to bring artists together, has to deal with the challenge of finding funding, a problem threatening most comic publications in Egypt. The first issue is personally funded by Twins Cartoon.

“We are in touch with cultural centres, but they usually need to see a hard copy of the project before they can offer funding. We want it to just get out into the light, then hopefully it can carry itself financially after its launch,” Raafat says.

The choice to tackle these challenges arise from the artists’ appreciation for print material in the digital age.

“An online presence helps of course, but mostly for promotion; it’s where artists get to know each other and introduce themselves to the audience. Yet a printed comic is still a more satisfying experience,” Tawfig says.

Regarding the distribution of Garage, Raafat days they have approached sidewalk newspaper and magazine stands, in addition to the Sufi Café and Maktabet El-Balad, who have all agreed to display the magazine in their outlets.

Garage won’t stop in Cairo, with plans for distribution in Alexandria, Assiut, Luxor, Port Said, Minya through the culture project Alwanat, and Ismailiya with the bookstore Ketabina.

For now Garage will come out tri-monthly, until it has an established readership, when it will become monthly, with the ambitious aim of having comics as common as newspapers in the hands of readers.

Egypt has a history of iconic comic artists from the 1950s to the 1980s, such as Mohie El-Din El-Labad, Bahgat Osman, and Ahmed Hegazy, to name just a few.

This history, along with the wide distribution of comics such as Mickey and Samir, means that comic artists are optimistic that this widely accessible art form will regain its place in the common reader’s hands.

“I really hope it’s not a phase and comics can become more widespread. Comics can really document things, like the changing designs of the cities, the clothes, the design of a manhole in the streets. One can read a story that they lived through, and that’s a wonderful experience,” Tawfig says.

Garage’s issue zero will be launched on Friday 28 August at Townhouse Rawabet theatre in Downtown Cairo at 7pm.

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Germany funds restoration of Tutankhamun’s mask

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 1 Sep 2015 – The German government has offered Egypt a grant of €50,000 towards the restoration of Tutankhamun’s golden mask, antiquities minister Mamdouh Edamaty said on Tuesday.

Eldamaty went on to say the initiative highlights strong links and continued collaboration between Egypt and Germany in the field of antiquities and archaeology.

“The procedures needed to complete the handover of this grant to the antiquities ministry and immediately to start the restoration work are being carried out by the relative authorities,” Eldamaty told Ahram Online.

In January, the Egyptian Museum acknowledged that in August 2014 its staff accidentally detached the mask’s blue and gold beard while changing the display’s light bulbs and hurriedly glued it back on with epoxy resin, damaging the artifact.

Eldamaty held a press conference with German conservator Christian Eckmann in January where experts claimed the mask is secure and the damage done in August 2014 is reversible. They carried out tests on the mask to ascertain the substance used in its botched restoration and how to remove it without causing harm.

In May, Eldamaty appointed a committee, led by himself, to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the mask and the restoration work it has been subject to since its 1922 discovery in Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor. Eckmann, a metal restoration expert, assisted in the study.

The committee includes Dr Tarek Tawfik who is Director-General of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the director of the German Archaeological Institute Cairo Professor Stephen Seidlmayer, the head of metal restoration at the Egyptian Museum and a German CT scan expert. The antiquities ministry bought new CT scanning equipment to complete the study.

After completing the study, Eckmann travelled to Germany with the results and created a gypsum replica of the mask.

An international conference is to be held when Eckmann returns to Cairo later this month to explain to the public and scholars alike the method selected to restore the beard through “state-of-the-art technology”.

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Azerbaijan E-government portal to launch mobile platform

03 September 2015 – TODAY.AZ – Azerbaijanis will be able to enjoy the opportunities of the Electronic Government portal via their mobile phones in the near future, according to the Information and Computing Center at Communications and High Technologies Ministry reported on September 2.

The new mobile platform will be available to the public in September. As mobile phone penetration in the country stands at 112 percent, the efficiency of the mobile portal of the e-government is beyond question.

“The initial version of the application will be functional in the environment of the operating system iOS. In the future, owners of mobile devices running Android OS will be able to benefit from it. The application will include a number of functions that allow using some electronic services of public institutions,” said the Center.

The mobile platform is designed to provide a new level of efficiency and convenience for citizens and organizations receiving services, as well as information about the activities of state institutions.

The e-government portal is a key tool for supporting work with citizens and enterprises in the public and private sectors. It aims to reduce the number of documents requested from citizens, as different bodies will interact with each other electronically.

Access to the portal is carried out using a digital signature, the identity data of the private entrepreneurs and citizens, verification data, as well as a mobile authentication system, which can be obtained after registration on the portal.

The e-government portal was launched in Azerbaijan in 2013. Currently, the portal offers about 400 e-services through 45 government agencies. Over one million citizens are active users of e-services of the state agencies.

Moreover, the e-government portal creates conditions for the provision of e-services to citizens of foreign countries.

All services of Azerbaijan’s government agencies are expected to be online by 2020.

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Azerbaijan drafts new tourism strategy

03 September 2015 – TODAY.AZ – Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture and Tourism has worked out the “Strategy for developing tourism in Azerbaijan for 2016-2025”, the ministry said Sept.3.

This document reflects the current situation in Azerbaijan’s tourism sphere, its development potential, the government’s role in developing tourism, forms and methods of cooperation, as well as a number of other important elements and recommendations.

In order to turn Azerbaijan into an attractive and successful place for tourism, the strategy envisages forming policy in this sphere based on four core principles such as creating favorable economic conditions for developing this sphere, diversity of tourism products, improving the industrial standards and maintaining public interest in tourism, according to the ministry.

The “Strategy for developing tourism in Azerbaijan for 2016-2025” has been submitted for approval by the relevant structure and is currently under review.

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Medical tourism to be widely reprsented in BIHE-2015 exhibition

31 August 2015 – TODAY.AZ – Azerbaijan will host a series of international exhibitions and conferences till the end of 2015, the Iteca Caspian said. There will be held 11 international exhibitions till the end of the year.

All exhibitions of season in its themes will reflect the non-oil sectors of Azerbaijan’s economy. The exhibition autumn calendar included Azerbaijan International Healthcare Exhibition BIHE, Stomatology – Stomatology Azerbaijan, beauty and aesthetic medicine – Beauty Azerbaijan, Education, Career, construction BakuBuild, “Heating, ventilation and air conditioning” AquaTherm Baku, security CIPS Caspian, ecology CTE and telecommunications BakuTel.

New themes for the country will open the 1st Azerbaijan Conference on sustainable development and corporate social responsibility Baku CSR Conference 2015 which will take place on October 15 in hotel Fairmont Baku. Baku CSR Conference – is a unique space that allows to explore local and international practices in the field of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility.

The purpose of the debut of the conference is to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the current situation in the country, as well as in the expansion of dialogue and cooperation between public, private and non-governmental organizations for the development of this sector.

The conference, which is held on the initiative and organization of the company Caspian Event Organisers (CEO), has aroused great interest among the business community, it will bring together over 300 delegates and 30 speakers. General sponsor of the Baku CSR Conference 2015 is SOCAR, the bronze sponsor – Access Bank. Consulting partner of the conference is the company EY.

Exhibitions by company Iteca Caspian – 21th Azerbaijan International Exhibition “Healthcare” (BIHE 2015) the 10th Anniversary Azerbaijan International Exhibition “Stomatology” (Stomatology Azerbaijan 2015) and the 9th Azerbaijan International Exhibition “Beauty and Aesthetic Medicine “(Beauty Azerbaijan 2015) will open doors first in the autumn season.

BIHE exhibition for over 20 years is a traditional meeting place for industry professionals, showcasing the achievements of the market for medical goods and services. There are more than 120 companies from 15 countries in the list of participants.

Pharmaceutical companies of Russia for the first time will attend a joint stand with the support of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation. Thus, this year, about 60% of the participants in BIHE will be foreign companies. Along with foreign manufacturers, exhibition will be attended by major local distributors of medical equipment, which are partners in the world’s largest producers. ARASH Medical, Besan, Vitta, Labservis and others are among local distributors. The exhibition continues to develop “medical tourism” sector.

This year, more than 30 clinics and companies involved in the organization of medical treatment abroad will attend as part of this sector. Health centers and clinics in Georgia, Israel, Latvia and Turkey are among them. Turkish companies specializing in medical tourism will perform for the first time in a separate joint national stands. Tourism companies engaged in sending abroad for treatment will also participate in exhibition. This year, the sector of medical tourism is supported by the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB).

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Mugham: A unique pearl of Azerbaijani culture

31 August 2015 – TODAY.AZ – The International Day of Azerbaijani Mugham and Day of Music for countries situated along the ancient Silk Road were celebrated on August 26.

Mugham, a unique musical and poetic phenomenon, was created based on historical and cultural traditions that have existed for centuries in Azerbaijan. It is one of the most valuable monuments of the material and spiritual culture of Azerbaijan and the greatest achievement of the musical and poetic art of the Azerbaijani people.

This music developed and changed throughout the centuries, reflecting the stages of progress of Azerbaijan itself.

Those who did not grow up listening to Mugham, first-time listeners often describe it evoking feelings of melancholy. Most of the Mugham compositions use minor scales, and all use unusual microtones, which lend themselves at first to impressions of Mugham as melancholic music.

Varieties of compositions are performed by a group of musicians, consisting of a singer, or “khanende,” a gaval (percussion instrument) player, and a musician on either the stringed musical instruments “tar” or “kemancha.”

Mugham entered into global cultural heritage at the beginning of the last century by attracting the attention of cultural experts and music critics around the globe.

The lyrical music of Mugham attracts the young and old with its delightful sounds. At present, this pearl of Azerbaijani music art continues to take new forms, attracting attention worldwide.

Famous French writer Alexander Dumas during his visit to Caucasus, attended a Mugham competition in Shamakhy (north Azerbaijan) and was greatly impressed by the music.

The 20th century was a turning point for the traditional Azerbaijani art of Mugham. The noble Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov created the Mugham opera ‘Leyli and Majnun’, based on a synthesis of Mugham and European classical music, hereby making the art of Mugham world-known.

The next step in developing Mugham was made by the remarkable Azerbaijani composer, Gara Garayev, who created the Mugham symphony.

The greatest role in promoting Mugham worldwide belongs to Azerbaijan’s First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva.

Over the years, Mugham has served as a source of inspiration for nearly all other types of music, including western music such as modern classical, jazz, blues, and rock. More and more, musicians composing in all types of styles and traditions are finding an inexhaustible source of inspiration in Mugham.

The artistic value of Azerbaijani Mugham and its high importance both for national culture and to the world community has been universally recognized at an international level. In 2003, UNESCO recognized the Azerbaijani Mugham as a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

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Indonesia to launch its first self-made equatorial satellite

3 September 2015 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – President Joko Widodo will officially launch the country’s first equatorial satellite LAPAN-A2/LAPAN-ORARI, on Thursday. LAPAN A2 satellite would be launched at the Technology Center of the National Aviation and Outer Space (LAPAN) at Rancabungur, the district of Bogor.

LAPAN-A2 is wholly an Indonesian product. Its first series LAPAN A1 was built in Germany.

LAPAN-A2 has functions of producing the earth chart, monitoring sea vessels and facilitating amateurish communications.

The micro satellite would have its orbit near the equatorial line, which will pass through the Indonesian outer space more often or every 1.5 hours.

The satellite has a camera with a resolution of 4 to 8 meters.

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Batam is ASEAN’s potential industrial zone

2 September 2015 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – In the framework of boosting the countrys economic growth, Batam in Riau Islands Province can become a potential business and industrial zone in Southeast Asia, according to the Batam Management Board (BP Batam).

“Batams area is strategic for developing industries and business activities as it is located 20 kilometers from the southern coast of Singapore,” Deputy Chief of BP Batam Jon Arizal stated at a seminar on business opportunities in Batam here on Wednesday.

Speaking at the forum themed “Batam: Renewed Business Opportunities,” Arizal affirmed that Batam has actually developed into a prospective industrial and investment zone.

With its strategic location near Asian nations such as Singapore and Malaysia, Batam could serve as a gateway for trade in the ASEAN region. Moreover, he said the government is participating to offer a conducive business climate that has also attracted investors to Batam.

Arizal noted that the strong support of the government and other stakeholders will accelerate the development of Batam into a trade zone. Managing Director of Indonesia-Netherlands Association (INA) Elmar Bouma stated that his side has promoted Indonesia as a business zone and an investment market.

He remarked that by the holding the forum, which was attended by European investors, Batam will become increasingly popular among the businesses. “This activity will further popularize Batam among the investors coming from Europe,” Bouma affirmed.

The seminar was organized by BP Batam in its capacity as one of the operators of the Batam Free Trade Zone. The business workshop was held in cooperation with the European Union-Indonesia Business Network (EIBN).

The EIBN is a consortium of business representatives or business communities from European countries. The EIBN focuses on promoting Indonesia in the European countries as a nation that has potential in the areas of trade and business. It also supports the business activities of European nations in Indonesia.

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45 more countries to get visa-free access to Indonesia

1 September 2015 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli said visitors for 47 more countries will be offered visa free travel to Indonesia in October. Rizal Ramli said the offer is made effective in October to coincide with the year end holidays.

“Originally it was proposed to be made effective in January next year but we dont want to wait too long. In addition we want to take advantage of the year end tourist season,” he said here on Tuesday.

In April this year , the government added 30 countries to increase the number to 45 countries from which short term travelers do not need visa.

In October with the addition of 47 more countries, tourists and other travelers from 92 countries would no longer need visa for short term visit to Indonesia.

Rizal Ramli , therefore, called for technical preparation before implementing the policy. He said the visa free travel is the most effective way of drawing more visitors to the country. The government set a target to chalk up 20 million foreign tourists to visit the country in 2019.

He said implementation of the earlier policy in April resulted in 15 percent in the number of foreign visitors to the country as against the average increase of 4 percent. Indonesia recorded 9 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2014, rising from 8.8 million visitors in 2013.

The policy is also expected to open more jobs in the tourism sector to 7 million from only 3 million at present, the minister said. In addition earning from the tourism sector is expected to rise to U.S.$20 billion a year from normally U.S.$10 billion.

Malaysia offers visa-free travel to 164 countries and Thailand offers it to 56 countries. Both Malaysia and Thailand attract far more tourists than Indonesia each year. Thailand recorded 26 million and Malaysia recorded 27 million foreign tourist arrivals last year.

Earlier Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said the government was hoping that an estimated 10 million foreign tourists would spend at least $1 billion this year.

“By waiving visa requirements, we can attract more tourists than Thailand or Malaysia in two years, Arief said. Visa-free travel will only be available through five international airports in Jakarta, Medan, Batam, Bali and Surabaya.

Law and Human Right Minister Yasona Laoly said foreign tourists found smuggling illegal goods, such as drugs, would face serious penalties.

Citizens from the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as Hong Kong, Macau, Ecuador, Chile and Peru were already exempted from the visa requirement last year.

The countries that joined this list in April included China, Japan, South Korea, United States, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and South Africa.

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Indonesia hosts int’l Quran reading contest

1 September 2015 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Indonesia is hosting an international level Quran Reading Contest (MTQ) in Jakarta, which will see 32 teams from 21 countries participating.

The MTQ, which was inaugurated by Religious Affairs Minister, Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, will be held at the Istiqlal grand mosque in Jakarta from Tuesday to Saturday (September 1 to 5).

The participating countries include, among others, Morocco, Iran, Belgium, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Tunisia, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Norway, Egypt and host Indonesia.

“The event belongs to the world Muslim community and is aimed at bringing people closer to the Quran,” the Minister stated, adding that the competition would cover the recitation and memorizing of 30 chapters of the Quran.

Saifuddin further said the Quran should become part of the lives of Muslims. The Quran must be practiced, and should be read in response to the problems of life and the challenges of our times, he pointed out.

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London firm to design desert eco-retreat in UAE

TradeArabia – 03 September, 2015 – Baharash Architecture, an award winning design studio based in London, UK, has won a contract to design a solar-powered luxury desert eco-retreat in Liwa region of the UAE.

The facility has been designed to be in harmony with the pristine and untouched desert-scape. It is completely energy self-sufficient, using solar panels, it generates and stores clean power in several battery units.

The other features include smart glass windows to offer instant privacy at the flick of a switch, an indoor herb garden, and a central fire place for social bonding which was a key part of the Bedouin heritage, said the London architect.

The eco-retreat is being built for one of Dubai’s highest profile individuals, the company said in a statement without revealing the identity.

According to Baharash Architecture, a stay inside this facility, set up in the heart of a beautiful desert, will be a rejuvenating experience.

The retreat will provide genuine exclusivity and tranquillity in an area which has remained unspoiled for centuries, and is home to a thriving wildlife such as Oryxes, Gazelles and Camels, said its top official.

“UAE has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the region, such as Liwa, which is a perfect destination for eco retreats,” remarked Baharash Bagherian, the designer and founder of Baharash Architecture.

“We are seeing a new generation of Emiratis who are looking to lead a more sustainable life style, in line with UAE’s vision to become one of the most sustainable countries in the world. Thus eco-retreats are a great sustainable alternative to the usual jet-setting trips,” he added.

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