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21 Sep, 2015

Macau organizes Islamic Culture in Tourism Workshop

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 21 September 2015 (07 Dhul Ḥijjah 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.



Macau organizes Islamic Culture in Tourism Workshop

Macau, 2015-09-18 – Macau Government Tourist Office Press Release – Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) held two sessions of Islamic Culture in Tourism Workshop in Hong Kong for tour guides, employees of hotels and tour operators from Macau as well as MGTO staff on 4 September and 18 September. The purpose of the Workshop is to familiarize travel industry personnel with the religion of Islam so that they can provide more proper and considerate service for Islamic travelers to Macau.

malaysia logo

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

Dr. Au Chi Kin, an academic advisor of training courses for tourism industry personnel under the Hong Kong Association of Registered Tour Co-ordinators, and Imam Uthman Yang of the Masjid Ammar and Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre, were invited to lecture the Workshop actively participated by industry partners. The Workship included a theory lecture and a field trip to Mosque.

The lecturers introduced to trade attendees the beliefs and daily life of Muslims as well as the role and meaning of Islam, followed by a visit to a Mosque where attendees could observe their ritual prayer. The Workshop enabled trade attendees to gain a deeper understanding of things they should pay attention to when serving Muslim guests. Both industry partners and MGTO staff showed a great interest in the workshop content.

In recent years, Macau has welcomed a growing diversity of visitors. To cater for the demand by the tourism sector and foster tourism diversification, MGTO regularly organizes workshops and courses in partnership with different training institutes to enhance both the service quality and hospitality skills of tourism industry personnel.

Click here to see photos:

MGTO Deputy Director Cheng Wai Tong presents souvenir to workshop lecturers

Workshop includes a visit to Mosque

Industry partners highly interested in the Workshop

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Muslim-Canadian Couple Publish New Book, “History of the Muslims of Regina, Saskatchewan”

ABBOTSFORD, Canada (PRWEB) August 31, 2015 – For many immigrants, the goal is to completely amalgamate to the surrounding region. However, for Dr. Naiyer Habib and his wife, Mahlaqa, this was not enough.

The couple struggled to blend into their new home in Regina, Saskatchewan while maintaining elements of their Indian culture such as religion and traditions. They disclose their journey in the new book, “History of the Muslims of Regina, Saskatchewan: A Cultural Integration.”

“We moved during a time when literature on Islam or Islamic culture was hard to find in English, so it was difficult for our new neighbors to learn about us,” Naiyer Habib said. “Through Islamic organizations we started and those begun by others around us, we successfully introduced Canadians to Islam and Muslims to Regina.”

“History of the Muslims of Regina, Saskatchewan: A Cultural Integration” demonstrates that it’s not always easy to incorporate a familiar culture in a new home, but with hard work and the willingness of all cultures involved to learn from each other, it can be done successfully.

“History of the Muslims of Regina, Saskatchewan, and Their Organizations: A Cultural Integration” By Naiyer Habib and Mahlaqa Naushaba Habib. ISBN: 978-1-49075-201-3. Available at: Amazon, Trafford and Barnes and Noble online bookstores

Naiyer Habib was a respected Cardiologist, researcher and medical administrator in Regina, Saskatchewan, until 2004 before retiring in 2011 in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada where he leads semiretired life.

Mahlaqa Naushaba Habib completed her Master’s degree in Political science. She became her husband’s office manager until their retirement. They have served the Muslim community for approximately three decades. They are currently working on their memoir.

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Indonesia to issue shariah bonds to finance projects

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 18 September 2015 – The government will issue a project-based State Shariah Bond (sukuk) worth Rp13.7 trillion in 2016 to cover the shortage of funds for infrastructure projects over the next five years.

From the Project Based Sukuk (PBS) series 2016, road and bridge development projects of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing will receive Rp7.2 trillion, the deputy for development funding of the National Development Planning Agency, Wismana Adi Suryabrata, revealed here on Thursday.

“The value of sukuk next year will be almost double than that of 2015,” he said.
The project-based sukuk has been factored in the 2015 budget, which was still being discussed in the parliament, he added.

He said in 2015, the project-based sukuk offered to investors by the government reached Rp7.1 trillion and withdrawal of funds next year through sukuk will still be prospective.

He said several investors, especially from the Middle East, have already expressed an interest in it.

For example, Noor Bank from the Uni Arab Emirates stated at the end of August 2015 that it would buy more than US$500 million worth of sukuk issued by the Indonesian government.

Based on the data of the National Development Planning Agency, of the total value of Rp13.7 trillion of sukuk, Rp7.2 trillion worth of these bonds will be used to fund road and bridge development projects of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, Rp5.0 trillion for the railway project of the Ministry of Transportation and Rp1.5 trillion for development of religious means and facilities of the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

He said the biggest allocation of the funds would be for road and bridge development projects in East Kalimantan, reaching Rp860.3 billion, while Papua will get Rp670.5 billion.
The fund for the elevated railway project in Medan, Sumatra will be to the tune of Rp1.43 trillion, he said.

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Iran: $25b Investment Package For Tourism Industry

TEHRAN, Sept 18, (NNN-IRNA) – Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) has drawn up a $25-billion investment package which will cover 1,300 projects, said the organization’s head.

Speaking during a ceremony to ink a deal with France’s Accor Hotels, Masoud Soltanifar added that based on Vision 2025, Iran should host 20 million foreign tourists annually to generate revenues in the range of $25 billion to $30 billion, according to Iran Daily.

“We should create proper conditions for tourism industry using domestic potentials.”

He said good steps have been taken to increase the number of four- and five-star hotels. “Currently, we have 1,100 hotels, of which 12 percent are four- or five-star hotels.”

He put the number of four- and five-star hotels at 130, adding the figure should increase to 400 by 2025.

In spite of Western sanctions, many domestic and foreign investors particularly Muslim investors from Persian Gulf littoral states have started to construct five-star hotels in Iran, he added.

Currently, 125 four- and five-star hotels have recorded a physical progress of between five and 90 percent, he noted.

“Undoubtedly, establishment of international chain hotels will create proper conditions for foreign tourists to visit Iran and help improve tourism services.”

Soltanifar said expansion of Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) is a must.

Airports and hotels play a great role in development of tourism industries of countries, he added.

According to a report presented by Ministry of Road and Urban Construction, Salam Terminal will be inaugurated at IKIA next year doubling the capacity of the airport, he said.

He continued that with the construction of Iranshahr Terminal and expansion of second phase of IKIA, the airport would handle 20 million passengers annually. He hoped that the terminal would be inaugurated within five years.

A consortium of banks including Bank Gardeshgari, Pasargad, and Ghadir Investment Company have declared their readiness to expand the second phase and third terminal of IKIA, he said.

Meanwhile, Mehdi Jahangiri, managing director of Iran Cultural Heritage and Tourism Investment Corporation, said some 2.6 trillion rials ($86.6 million) has been invested for establishing four- and five-star hotels at IKIA.

He added that the private sector should become more involved in the tourism industry, particularly hoteliering.

Jahangiri said Iran Cultural Heritage and Tourism Investment Corporation managed to establish two hotels at IKIA within 3½ years.

“Fortunately, good stability exists in the post-sanction era. Therefore, many overseas investors are eager to invest in Iran’s tourism industry.”

He said cooperation between Iranian hotels and French hoteliering group is a good measure in tourism industry.

Iran is among the world’s top potential tourist destinations with a treasure trove of ancient sites, including 17 sites registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The country has a very distinct and superior position for attracting tourists. Favorite fields for tourists are bountiful in Iran. They include a beautiful nature with its unique climatic and weather features, educated population with an ancient civilization and customs as well as its very old sides with splendid architecture.

Expansion of Iran’s tourism industry is tied to improving tourism infrastructures.

According to a group of leading experts in tourism, every tourist entering Iran could bring in revenues equaling the export of dozens of barrels of oil.

Tourism is now viewed as the third largest industry in the world in terms of revenue generation and turnover after oil and auto industries. According to recent World Tourism Organization figures, the industry will grow and by 2020, it will compete with oil as the biggest hard currency earner.

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Malaysia Exemption Of Visa For Limited Period To Chinese Tour Groups

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia Sept 14 (NNN-Bernama) — Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on Monday announced the exemption of visa for tourists from China travelling to Malaysia in group tours between Oct 1 and March 31 next year.

This was one of the tourism promotion moves he highlighted when announcing proactive economic measures here.

“Subsequently, the e-visa system will be introduced to facilitate the issuing of visas to tourists from the major visitor countries,” he said.

Najib, at a special news conference on the economy, said that the government would provide RM80 million to intensify promotional activities in selected tourism markets, such as ASEAN, China and India.

He also announced the development of national iconic products, including rejuvenating the National Museum, National Monument and Perdana Lake Gardens, as well as would be developed, including improving connectivity to KL Sentral at a cost of RM1.1 billion.

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Malaysia Airports’ RM10 Million Fund For Sabah Tourism

KOTA KINABALU, Sabah state, Malaysia Sept 17 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad (MAHB) will provide a RM10 million fund for Sabah Tourism Board to carry out marketing activities to lure more tourists to the state.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said the fund will be channeled after the relocation of airline operations from terminal 2 to Terminal 1 of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) was completed.

“This is a gesture of support from MAHB in helping the development of tourism sector in Sabah,” he said when launching the Terminal 1 KKIA here Wednesday night.

Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Transport Minister Dr Liow Tiong Lai, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman and MAHB Managing Director Badlisham Ghazali.

Najib said the Terminal 1 KKIA, which was built at a cost of RM1.7 billion, was capable of facilitating the capacity of nine million passengers a year.

The prime minister said an airport with comfortable and modern facilities, as well as world-class customer service, like the Terminal 1 KKIA, was capable of projecting positive image of Malaysia as a modern and developed country.

The terminal was also capable of meeting the growing demands of the industry to have a bigger and more comfortable terminal, which was equipped with various facilities suitable to run airline operations, he stressed.

Najib said it was only apt for the overall KKIA operations to be integrated at the Terminal 1, so as to provide a more efficient aviation service and facilities to boost the tourism industry in Sabah.

As such, he also called on all airlines to move their operations to Terminal 1 to ensure efficiency of operations, as the Terminal 2 had exceeded its original capacity of two million passengers.

“In 2014, the capacity of passengers in Terminal 2 was 3.6 million. It was too congested. So, all (airlines) are required to move to Terminal 1 KKIA,” he said.

Speaking to reporters later, Najib said the low-cost carrier, AirAsia, should also move its operations to Terminal 1 as Terminal 2 would be converted into an air cargo terminal.

“They (AirAsia) have to move. They have already exceeded (the time frame to move to Terminal 1),” he said.

Earlier, Najib spent about 15 minutes to visit the facilities made available at the Terminal 1.

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Iran national museum to host Penelope, 3 Roman sisters

Tehran, Sept 13, IRNA – The statues of Penelope and her three Roman counterparts will be on display at a Tehran museum on the first day of the tourism week, says the chairman of Iran’s National Museum.

The life-size marble statue of Penelope along with its Roman counterparts will be brought to Iran late September.

‘We made consultations and coordination about the exhibition of Penelope statue, and decided to use the Iran Bastan Museum as a venue to display them,’ said Jebrael Nokandeh.

‘The display of Penelope statues and its Roman counterparts is a special event,’ he said.

‘As it is the first time historical works of art are owed to Iran to be displayed in Iran’s National Museum.’

Penelope statue, excavated in Persepolis in 1945, is one of the historical objects held in the Iran Bastan Museum. It was lend to a museum in Italy six months ago to be exhibited in the European country.

Now after returning to Iran along with her three sisters it will be on display most probably late in September.

Penelope is a character of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’, one of the two great epic poems of ancient Greek literature. Penelope is the wife of the main character, the king of Ithaca, Odysseus (also known as Ulysses), and the daughter of Icarius and his wife Eurynome.

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Iran to help upgrade scientific know-how for Afghan archaeologists

Tehran, Sept 15, IRNA – Head of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Research Center said on Monday that Iran is willing to upgrade scientific know-how of Afghanistan archeologists and welcomes their presence in Iranian research studies.

Mohammad Beheshti made the remarks in a meeting with a delegation from Afghanistan including head of Afghanistan Archeology Research Center and professors from Kabul University.

He said that participation of Afghan experts in archeological research will be effective to promote their knowledge.

Beheshti called for signing a Memorandum of Understanding between Iran and Afghanistan to develop cultural ties.

Head of Afghanistan Archeology Research Center Abdul Qadir Teymouri said that several decades of war ruined most of cultural and historical heritage of Afghanistan, calling for contribution of the world community to Afghan cultural heritage.

He said that cooperation with Iran can pave way for future activities of the center and promotion of scientific level of its experts.

Professor Suleiman Samadi from Social Sciences faculty in Kabul University said that the faculty has four departments of public history, archeology, contemporary history and philosophy and that Afghanistan is ready to cooperate with Iran in all the fields.

Professor Mojtaba A’refi from Archeology Department of Kabul University said his faculty is hopeful to use Iranian experience in the fields of training and repairing historical monuments, protection of cultural heritage, activities in the field of Islamic arts.

The Afghan delegation is currently on a visit to Iran upon invitation of ICHTRC.

During 2-day stay, they will visit different research centers of CHTRC as well as National Museum and will consider ways to expand bilateral ties.

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Iran to launch global halal food brand

Tehran, Sept 17, IRNA – Iran’s Sixth International Beverages and Affiliated Industries Exhibition is underway in Tehran with the participation of 105 domestic and foreign companies. It wraps up today.

Mohsen Jalalpour, the head of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, said Iran plans to launch its international halal food brand in the next few months to tap an underserved regional market of 400 million people, Iran Daily reported.

He added that the country had received certification for establishing an international halal food brand.

“The market in the regional countries and even in Europe strongly welcomes sales of halal food produced by Islamic states. Accordingly, representation of a halal brand has been obtained by Iran which we hope to establish in the next few months,” he said.

Halal means permissible in the Islamic Sharia law and covers everything from food to finance, logistics and tourism. The global halal industry is estimated to be worth more than $2 trillion, including a $1 trillion food market which is expanding.

A growing middle-class Muslim population compounded by rising demand from non-Muslim nations has sparked a race among many countries to scrape a niche in the halal market.

Major Muslim countries from Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Turkey and Pakistan to non-Muslim nations such as Japan, New Zealand and the UK are jockeying for position.

Jalalpour said Iran has an upper hand due to its high potentials in food industry.

“Some of the countries around Iran desperately need our food products because those in north of Iran have between six and nine months of frigid temperatures a year while those in the south of our country lack suitable water and soil for farming.

“Hence, given its potentials in the food industry, Iran can supply nutritional needs of these countries,” he added.

Also, Kaveh Zargaran, secretary general of Food Industries Association of Iran, said 105 domestic and overseas companies have taken part in the event.

Iran also plans to turn into the world’s hub for halal tourism which could draw as many as 15 million Muslims a year from around the world, officials have said.

Halal tourism is geared at Muslim families, with non-alcoholic policies and separate facilities for women and men placed on the itinerary.

Muslim tourists are seen as one of the fastest growing travel groups, accounting for 10 percent of the global travel spending in 2014, worth $150 billion.

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Bangladesh bid to attract surfers to Cox’s Bazaar

DHAKA, Sept 13, 2015 (BSS) – The world’s longest unbroken 125 km natural sandy sea beach with gentle slope in Cox’s Bazar can give an extra boost to local tourism industry through expansion of globally popular sea sport surfing.

“Expanding of surfing can contribute to Bangladesh tourism. We can easily attract huge numbers of foreigners to do surfing here utilizing our Cox’s Bazar sea beach,” President of Bangladesh Surfing Association Kazi Firoz Rashid, MP, said while presiding over the association’s executive committee meeting at Motijheel in the capital.

Rashid sought cooperation from sports and tourism ministries in expansion of surfing here.

“Everyone including common people, media, sponsors need to be step forward along with the government’s effort to make Cox’s Bazaar as a global surfing sports destination.

Noted sports organizer and director of Bangladesh Cricket Board Lokman Hossain Bhuiyan said Bangladesh Army, Navy, Air Force and BGB should build their own surfing team.

General Secretary Moazzem Hossain Chowdhury and treasurer Aminul Islam Liton described various activities of the association.

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Bangladesh to host 2nd National Language Festival from Sept 17

DHAKA, Sept 16, 2015 (BSS) – The 2nd National Language Festival will be held at Bangla Academy in the capital from September 17 to 19 to encourage the new generation in practicing standard Bangla language.

Bangla Academy with cooperation of Dhaka Residential Model College and My Academy will organized the fair, a press release said.

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith will inaugurate the festival as the chief guest at 10 am on September 17at Abdul Karim Sahittyabisharad Auditorium of the academy.

Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor will be present as special guest while Bangla Academy President Emeritus Professor Anisuzzaman to chair.

Director General of Bangla Academy Professor Shamsuzzaman Khan and Principal of Dhaka Residential Model College Brigadier General M Asaduzzaman Subhani will give welcome speech.

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Hagia Sophia, Topkapı again Turkey’s top tourist attractions

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet Daily News – The Hagia Sophia Museum and the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul’s historic peninsula were visited by 3.5 million people each in 2014, according to data released by the Culture and Tourism Ministry. The number of visitors is expected to increase this year.

Last year the Hagia Sophia Museum was the most visited venue in Turkey among other cultural heritage sites, with a total of 3,574,043 people, while Topkapı Palace narrowly finished in second place with 3.5 million visitors.

These two were followed by the Konya Mevlana Museum, Topkapı Palace’s Seraglio, Antalya’s Demre Museum, the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, the Istanbul Kariye Museum, the Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, the Ankara Republic Museum and the Nevşehir Hacıbektaş Museum.

In 2014, the most visited ancient site in the country was Pamukkale in southwestern Denizli with 1,874,657 people.

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Air Algerie Flight Delays Down Dramatically

15 September 2015 – Algerie Presse Service (Algiers) – Tizi Ouzou — The delays recorded in national airline Air Algerie flights are only 2% at the international airport of Algiers, Minister of Transport said Monday.

“Of 140 to 160 Air Algerie daily flights, only two percent make delays, at Houari Boumediene international airport of Algiers, most of which relating to technical problems,” Boudjamaa Talai said in a press briefing, at the end of a working visit to the province of Tizi-Ouzou.

“The rate was 50% in 2014,” he pointed out.

“No major problem” has been recorded in the national airline’s flights during the summer season and the ongoing Haj period, the minister underlined.

A restructuring plan for Air Algeria will be launched in October to improve the quality of the airline’s services, in order to be in line with the international standards, the minister added.

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Tamazight to Be Gradually Taught in All Algerian Schools

11 September 2015 – Algerie Presse Service – Oran (Algeria) — Tamazight language will progressively be taught in all schools throughout the country, Minister of National Education Nouria Benghebrit said Thursday.

“Tamazight is now taught in 21 provinces against 11 during the previous school year,” said the minister, who is on a working visit to Oran (432-km west of Algiers).

“We wish that this language will gradually be taught in all provinces and all schools throughout the country.”

“Tamazight is an integral part of the country’s heritage,” Benghebrit told teachers and education executives in Oran.

The minister underlined that “at school, Tamazight is one of school subjects and the mark received (in this subject) will be taken into account in calculating the pass mark.”

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Algeria: History of Scientific Activities in Muslim Land, Topical Issue

16 September 2015 – Algerie Presse Service – Oran (Algeria) — The history of scientific activities in the Muslim land is a topical issue, said Prof. Ahmed Djebbar from the University of Science and Technology in Lille, France.

Researchers are interested in a number of aspects of the teaching of some fields between the ninth and the nineteenth century, he underlined in a lecture in Oran (432-km west of Algiers).

Djebbar gave his lecture, entitled “The Outcome of Research on the History of Arab Scientific Activities between the 9th and the 19th century: Mathematics,” on Wednesday in Oran’s Centre of Social and Cultural Anthropological Research.

“The research on history of scientific activities in the areas under Muslim rule between the 9th and the 19th century, like astronomy, agronomy and mathematics have been the subject of many publications over the past few decades,” the lecturer said.

“Arab-Muslim heritage is very rich, as it is the only heritage based on a single religion and a very open civilization where all ideas can be expressed,” Ahmed Djebbar stressed.

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Djibouti to Extend Sea-Air Cargo Services to Nigeria

18 September 2015 – This Day (Lagos) – The Republic of Djibouti is concluding plans to launch a sea air cargo service to Nigeria and other West African countries.

Speaking at a business forum organised by the Djibouti Consulate and SIFAX Group, the Chairman, Djbouti Ports and Free Trade Zones Authority, Mr. Abubakar Omar Hadi said his country was adopting a proactive approach towards connecting inter Africa trade to flourish and to push behind the past and current realities of the unconnected continent.

While noting that the challenge of long transit time to Africa was due to lack of adequate rail and air connection among African countries, Hadi said Djbouti’s effort at addressing this challenge is the leveraging of its location along the second busiest shipping route in the world.

According to him, the route transits 60 per cent of the world maritime traffic in making efforts alongside other countries to build maritime, aviation and other logistics infrastructure across the continent.

“We are developing the sea-air cargo business to serve land locked East and Central African countries as well as far away West African countries which currently have to endure unreasonably long transit time for their imports coming from Asia. This has been handicapping the business community for many years and the development of sea-air cargo services especially for high value goods will be a great solution,” Hadi said.

He disclosed that the country has invested millions of dollars in infrastructural development in order to meet the demands of becoming a multi-modal regional hub for East Africa as well as being a key player in the seamless connection of Africa especially through rail and air.

“Djibouti is seizing this opportunity to develop its own aviation-linked economy. When it comes to sea port services we have been very successful in putting Djibouti on the world map and it is evident to all that we are making rapid advances in this sector by building four brand new ports and port related infrastructure such as our planned ship repair yards. We are building one of the biggest free trade zone spanning 4350 hectares”, he said.

Enumerating a number of benefits derivable from the emerging economy of Djibouti, Hadi explained that the country’s plans of transforming to a successful service-base economy will lead to timely delivery of cargoes as cargo owners will now save as much as 30 to 50 per cent over a purely ocean transit time.

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Honorary Consul of Djibouti in Nigeria and Group Executive Vice Chairman, Sifax Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi enjoined Nigerian businessmen and investors to take advantage of the emerging economic opportunities in the country, adding that Djibouti is positioned to become the Dubai of Africa in the next few years.

Afolabi noted that the country enjoys the advantage of a stable political system, strategic location on a busy maritime route and a friendly business environment. He assured interested Nigerians of the assistance of the consulate and Sifax Group in facilitating both business and investment needs in Djibouti.

The Consul also announced that the consulate and Sifax Group would organise a trade mission to Djibouti in October.

“The trade mission will provide a platform for interested parties to explore and interact effectively with a view to making an informed decision on available opportunities and partnerships of mutual interest and benefits,” he said.

In his presentation, the Managing Director, Sifax Group, Mr. Markus Brinkmann, said with subsidiaries like Ports and Cargo Handling Services Limited, a port operator and Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited, an aviation ground handling company, Sifax Group is well positioned to support Djibouti in delivering this ambitious project.

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African Regional Central Banks Meet On Islamic Financing

15 September 2015 – The Point (Banjul) – The sub-regional central banks Monday commenced a two-day seminar in Banjul on building Islamic finance in The Gambia.

The forum, held at the Ocean Bay Hotel in Bakau, brought together participants from Nigeria, Malaysia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.

In his opening statement, Abdoulie Jallow, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, said the forum is the final activity of the project titled: “Enhancing financial literacy and capacity building on Islamic instruments”.

The project is funded by the Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The project, which commenced in April 2015, was secured through a joint application from the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank of The Gambia.

“One of the key aims of the OIC is to foster strong link within the Islamic world, and economic cooperation as one of the key facets for building such ties,” PS Jallow said.

COMCEC was established in 1981 with the central aim of coordinating all OIC wide economic activities.

PS Jallow explained that COMCEC’s vision is geared towards building solidarity, interdependence, mobility and good governance in OIC member states.

According to PS Jallow, COMCEC actualises this vision by promoting activities that help to disseminate knowledge and best practice in target areas that would help to address the economic and social challenges that are prevalent within some OIC member states.

He pointed out that the targeted cooperation areas are trade, transportation and communication, tourism, agriculture, poverty alleviation and finance.

PS Jallow further stated that the COMCEC project funding is a finance mechanism introduced by COMCEC member countries and the OIC institution to realise COMCEC’s strategic objectives.

He said PCM projects are usually soft in character, and generally include activities such as analytical studies, reports, needs assessments, field trips, conferences, workshops, seminars and preparation of policy documents.

The deliverables of this project are being implemented by the financial supervision department of the Central Bank of The Gambia.

On behalf of MOFEA, he expressed gratitude for working with the Central Bank of The Gambia toward the successful implementation of the project

He said while they take account of the benefits of Islamic finance, they also acknowledge the challenges it may pose.

To this effect, he added, the rapid growth of this model of financial intermediation over the last decade has highlighted the need for the appropriate policy measures, to create the enabling environment for the operations and orderly growth of Islamic financial institutions.

This would require a multi-pronged effort from regulators, governments, private sector operators and other critical elements in the value chain, he said.

MOFEA is committed to play a leading role in this exercise in partnership with the Central Bank of The Gambia and other key local and regional institutions, PS Jallow declared.

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Gambia: Striving for Excellence

16 September 2015 – The Daily Observer (Banjul) – At the approach of the new and optimistic winter tourism season, quality standards and good service delivery are paramount.

Mamodou Bah, director of Quality Control and Licensing – GTBoard, has noted that quality is a primary concern in the hospitality industry due to the way businesses are managed in corporate cultures. To reverse this, the GTBoard has embarked on series of efforts to strive for excellence in all spheres of the tourism sector.

The delivery of high quality tourism products is shown to be increasingly important in influencing travel behaviour. The adoption of quality service standards would improve the quality of tourism products and customer satisfaction. Meanwhile, hospitality involves the consistent delivery of a product or service according to the expected standards.

In hospitality industry, standard, quality and good service goes together hence standard is another critical area in people and product management. According to the Director of Quality Control and Licensing, the first important thing is setting the standard which is the initial setup because if you have the initial setup right then it will be easy to maintain, but if it is wrong then that could have a serious impact on your clientele.

“In the hospitality industry, the more the clientele are responding and increasing demand for service, the more their expectations and demand for quality and good standards grow. A particular case is the choice of hotel, restaurant, or excursion package. Therefore, improving standards of facilities and service for the customers is not a luxury but necessary investment with huge benefits,” the director argued.

Another important point that needs key focus is sustainability of products. Since it is a competitive industry those that operate in it need to constantly improve, as they ought to know that there is continuous change of dynamics to meet standards and deliver quality service. The upcountry tourism facilities continue to pose challenges to attaining high standards of quality. Mostly there are structural issues, lack of appropriate equipment, poor marketing, and the absence of required knowledge, skills and competencies of the staff and management of these establishments.

“In GTBoard strive for excellence, the GTBoard has put in place the right policies and strategies and has created the enabling environment for growth and development of all tourism establishments and investments. Capacity development is important for everyone in this industry,” the director of QCL stated.

If you have good products and facilities without competent people to run them, it will not sustain itself. This takes us back to the importance of training. With the right training, one will have good systems and procedures of running those facilities and as well get strong management. These two are rock and foundation of good quality and consistent customer service. To ensure top service one has to offer memorable guest experiences and to continuously evaluate their policies and procedures to ensure they are doing all they can to comfort and make things convenient for their guests. This will keep them coming back and keep the establishment in lucrative business.

Striving for excellence also mean that one has to get absolute value for money. Beside the customer expectations, there is also the customer budget. Tailoring (customise) your service to meet the customer budget without compromising the quality of the service is best management practice. There are always challenges from visitors using your facilities as you cannot satisfy everyone but there is need to be dynamic in responding to individual challenges and needs.

Frequent evaluation of facilities and services through spot check inspections is important because it will help maintain and improve delivery. This is another good way to avoid customer service lapses because it will help you to maintain requisite standards and quality. This is done in different ways such as inspection reports, guest questionnaires and online guest reviews. In this competitive market; customer feedback is necessary and can be obtained quickly without stress through social networks. Offering great customer services today also means ensuring on-site staff are monitoring and responding to social networks.

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Gambia: Energy Ministry Launches Project to Green Productive Sectors

11 September 2015 – The Point (Banjul) – The Ministry of Energy in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) has launched the GEF-5 project entitled: “Greening the productive sectors in The Gambia.”

The objective of the project is to promote market-based use and integration of small to medium scale renewable energy systems in the productive area.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) through its system for transparent allocation of resource had, under the fifth cycle, allocated a grant to The Gambia for the climate change focal area intended for the project that seeks to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, the Minister of Energy, Dr Edward Saja Sanneh, said renewable energy and energy efficiency are technologies of the future that provide the bedrock of sustainable energy supply system of any country.

He said renewable energy technologies are crucial for human livelihoods and maintaining an ecological balance.

“Renewable energy and energy efficiency help increase energy security and access to modern energy services,” Dr Sanneh said.

He said with the renewable energy and energy efficiency are central to the energy policy of The Gambia government and as such it would continue to work with partners like GEF and UNDIO to continue to access climate financing to implement more renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in The Gambia.

He said under GEF-4, a similar project was launched in 2012 that saw the development of many demonstration projects as well as the development and enactment of renewable energy law in The Gambia.

“The launching today seeks to consolidate the gains made during the implementation of GEF-4 by undertaking more demonstration projects, developing regulations for the renewable energy sub-sector as well as training more youth and women in renewable energy entrepreneurship,” the energy minister said.

In her remarks, Ndey Sering Bakurin, Executive Director of NEA, said the launching of the project for greening the productive sectors in The Gambia is another commitment of the government to engage in sound environmental management and sustainable development in the country.

“The Gambia as a country had shown real commitment to the protection of the environment as a key part in sustainable development,” she said.

According to her, the launching of the project was in line with Vision 2020 and other policies such as the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE).

The Gambia government continues to create an enabling environment to address the energy needs of the people, she said.

Therefore, she added, it was important to explore partnership and sustainable avenues to accessing energy-based used and integration of small and medium scale enterprises into renewable energy.

She said the Gambia government in partnership with GEF, UNIDO and ECOWAS Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and the private sector would be implementing the GEF-5.

Mrs Bakurin further noted that energy access, climate change, sound environment and sustainable development had steadily gained visibility and attention at both national and international levels.

They are also central to economic and social development goals, particularly to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), she explained.

“Access to clean and affordable energy is one of the main prerequisites for sustainable economic and social development,” the NEA executive director said.

“We strive to promote sustainable patterns of energy production and consumption through innovative and clean technologies, using locally available renewable resources, including bio energy and solar wind power,” she added.

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Toastmaster International Club Launched in the Gambia

14 September 2015 – The Point (Banjul) – Toastmasters International Club, an international organisation operating in more than 120 countries, was launched in The Gambia at the weekend.The formation of the club in the country was initiated by Ambassador Saffie Jobe of Amcham Gambia.

The international club, formed in 1924 in the United States, was launched in The Gambia with the support and collaboration of Khewal Toastmasters International in Senegal.

Fatim Faye, past president of Dakar Khewal Toastmasters Club – one of the three toastmasters clubs in Dakar – said the club aims to boost individuals’ skills in public speaking.

It gives opportunities to people to accelerate in reading and writing, she said.

Giving a personal experience of how the club helped her, Ms Faye said: “Before I became a member of toastmasters club, I was always shy but through the help of the club, I can now stand in front of millions of people and look them in the eyes without fear.”

She said the main reason they are eager to support the formation of toastmasters club in The Gambia is to help enhance the level of public speaking and writing of young and potential leaders to teach them how to be good leaders and communicators.

“Gambians are brave and courageous, they only need to grab the opportunity of toastmasters club presence in The Gambia to become even better leaders and outspoken speakers,” Ms Faye said.

She explained that the club does not only uplift speaking skills, it also helps one to meet with new people.

Saffie Jobe, initiator of toastmasters club in The Gambia, said the international club is in many countries so The Gambia should not be an exception.

She noted that the club would be vital to Gambians in improving public speaking and writing.

Mrs Jobe said the club would be started with 20 people in The Gambia but registration to be part of the club would be on first come first serve basis.

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Railways Network Approved Between Sudan and Ethiopia

17 September 2015 – Sudan News Agency – Khartoum — The Council of Ministers, chaired by the President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, has approved an agreement for developing and operating a railways network between Sudan and Ethiopia and another agreement for transporting passengers by land between the two countries.

In its regular meeting Thursday, the Council of Ministers also approved a report on the performance of the social security mechanism for the year 2014, which was presented by the Minister Welfare and Social Security, Mashaer Al-Dawalab.

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China Funds Region’s Largest Referral Hospital in Niger

14 September 2015 – Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Beijing) – Niamey — The Nigerien capital, Niamey, will soon have the largest referral hospital in West Africa, whose construction has been funded by China to the tune of 66 million U.S. dollars.

Speaking on Wednesday when he visited the hospital’s construction site, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou said he was satisfied with the pace of construction which was over 85 percent.

The hospital which will have a capacity of over 500 beds, has been constructed on a land measuring 16 hectares in northern Niamey, by Chinese company CGC.

The construction work is expected to be completed in the next few months.

The hospital will offer all services which will include emergency and cardiology. It will have 12 operating rooms, a laboratory and blood bank.

Currently, Sino-Niger cooperation covers political, economic, energy, cultural, security and infrastructure sectors.

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Zambia-Beira Goods Express to Start This Month

13 September 2015 – Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique – Maputo — The express goods train from Zambia to the central Mozambican port of Beira, via Zimbabwe, will start running by the end of September, covering a distance of over 1,000 kilometres, according to Candido Jone, executive director of the central division of the Mozambican ports and rail company, CFM.

Jone told reporters that the first train will be formed of 20 platforms, each holding 12 containers. The train will take two days to move the cargo from Zambia to Beira.

The target, Jone said, is to carry 10,000 tonnes of cargo a month on the express trains. On the down line the trains will carry Zambian copper to Beira, and on the return journey the trains will carry fertiliser back to Zambia.

CFM met last week in Beira with officials from Zambia Railways (ZRL) and from National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ). Jone said that the three rail administrations had agreed to contribute equipment, including wagons and locomotives for the express train.

The chief executive officer of Cornelder de Mocambique, the company which operates Beira port, Adelino Mesquita, welcomed the initiative, hoping that it would improve the dynamism of rail traffic to and from Beira.

“If the reactivation of Zambia-Zimbabwe-Mozambique rail transport produces the desired impact, we hope that more operators will send their cargoes by train, thus boosting the southern African economy”, he said.

The plan for Beira port this year is that it should handle 230,000 containers, over two million tonnes of general cargo and five million tonnes of coal from the mines in the western Mozambican province of Tete.

Last year, Beira handled 217,000 containers, 4.6 million tonnes of coal, and 2.2 million tonnes of general cargo. The port can handle the express goods service to and from Zambia without any further investment.

The trains are “express” in that they will only stop between Zambia and Beira for technical reasons such as changing the crew or the locomotives.

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Mozambique Wants Alternative North-South Highway

16 September 2015 – Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo) – Minister of Public Works, Carlos Bonete, stressed on 16 September that the main government effort in his area for the next five years will be to build an alternative trunk road from the south to the north of the country, complementing the existing EN1 highway.

Speaking in the town of Boane, 30 kilometres west of Maputo, at the opening of a meeting of his Ministry’s Coordinating Council, Bonete said that parts of this alternative route already exist. They include the recently inaugurated 240 kilometre road between Chimoio and Espungabera, in the central province of Manica, and the 230 kilometre stretch between Canicado and Chicualacuala in Gaza, in the south.

At the other end of the country, the government will continue work on the road between the northern cities of Nampula and Lichinga. The road is complete as far as Malema, to the west of Nampula, and brigades are now working on the stretch between Malema and Cuamba. Work will begin on the final stretch, from Cuamba to Lichinga, the two main cities in Niassa province, in the first quarter of 2016,

The dangers of relying on just one main north-south road became brutally clear in January when major flooding on the Licungo River in Zambezia province cut EN1 in several places. Most seriously, parts of the bridge carrying EN1 over the Licingo at the town of Mocuba were swept away, and it took more than a month to repair them. During this period the three northern provinces (Nampula, Niassa and Cabo Delgado) were effectively cut off from the rest of the country.

Bonete stressed that the new roads under construction and those that are being rehabilitated will all have toll gates. Motorists must pay to use these roads, so that the investment made can be recovered.

He cited the Maputo Ring Road, begun in 2012 and now almost complete, as an example of the need to recover the massive investment made. The 74 kilometre ring road cost about US$315 million. Of this amount, US$300 million is a loan from China which must be repaid. The Ring Road would be paid for by toll gates, but Bonete said no final decision has yet been taken on how many toll gates will be installed.

The Minister noted that of Mozambique’s total classified road network of about 30,000 kilometres, only 23 per cent is paved.

“In recent years the government tarred about 2,000 kilometres of road, which was an enormous financial effort”, said Bonete. “Naturally this effort is continuing and will continue, taking into account the contribution made by roads to stimulating the development of the country”.

One key road undergoing rehabilitation is the highway from Beira to Zimbabwe. This will involve building a second bridge over the Pungoe River, adjacent to the existing bridge, a new junction at Inchope, where the Beira-Zimbabwe road and EN1 cross, weighbridges to control truck cargoes, and toll gates.

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Tunisia Receives International Award for Tourism Promotional Video

17 September 2015 – Tunis Afrique Presse – Tunis — Tunisia was awarded the best promotional video prize regarding tourism at the 21st annual General Assembly of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) that ends Thursday in Colombia, announced the Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts.

Five other countries have won awards for five different regions (Palestine, Colombia, Macau, Maldives and Hungary) at the competition held by the UNWTO, the Ministry said.

The international prize-award ceremony took place on Wednesday at the UNWTO General Assembly that started September 12.

The competition saw the participation of more than fifty countries including Spain, Portugal, Germany, Monaco, The Netherlands, South Africa, Qatar and Algeria…

The award-winning Tunisian video has distinguished itself by the quality of pictures and the richness of its content which highlight the diversity of the Tunisian offer.

The four-minute video places emphasis on several products that combine authenticity and modernism in the Tunisian destination.

The video can be seen on the official website of the Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts.

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Sudan: Sh54 Billion Eldoret-Juba Road Project Begins

11 September 2015 – The Star (Nairobi) – THE Turkana should be ready to change their lifestyles from pastoralists to businesspersons once a road to open up the region is completed, Governor Josphat Nanok has said.

The 960km Eldoret-Turkana-Juba road, neglected for more than 30 years, will cost Sh54 billion over six years.

Speaking in Lodwar town during the project’s launch on Wednesday, Nanok welcomed investors to the region.

“This road will help us fight poverty as the cost of transporting goods for sale is so high due to bad roads,” he said.

Present were officials of the Kenya National Highways Authority, World Bank and South Sudan.

World Bank country director Diariétou Gaye said the road will improve health and education.

It will grow the economies of West Pokot and Turkana counties, he said.

“This project will help many people improve their economic status and bring hope to women and children,” Gaye said.

Kenha chairman Erastus Mwongera said the Kenya and South Sudan governments have coordinated the improvement of the highway to ensure social and economic benefits.

South Sudan Roads Under Secretary Gabriel Amour said this will facilitate trade amongst millions of people and tackle insecurity.

A one-stop border post will be set up at Nadapal-Nakodok.

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Uganda: New Online Tool to Promote Local Tourism

11 September 2015 – The Observer (Kampala) – Roundbob.com, an online platform, has been formed to promote local tourism through online marketing.

David Gonahasa, Roundbob.com managing director, said while many Ugandans would be interested in touring their country, they lack information on key sites and regard tourism a preserve for the rich.

Today, there are 8.5 million internet users in Uganda, according to Uganda Communication Commission and more than half of those use social media.

“There is no question that online marketing is currently the leading way of getting domestic tourists and those from abroad,” Gonahasa said.

In the 2013/14 financial year, tourism overtook coffee and diaspora remittances as the biggest foreign exchange earner, according to Bank of Uganda. With more marketing, a lot of money can be earned through the sector, analysts say. Gonahasa said tourism agencies in Europe, America and Asia are moving quickly ahead of their African counterparts.

“They are now marketing through social media such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook as a new channel to get clients quickly around the globe and also people intending to tour plan earlier by saving in installments,” Gonahasa said.

The platform has an option for a “travel wallet”, where users can put funds aside specifically for travel. A user will make deposits through the bank; direct debits, standing orders, counter deposits (currently available at Stanbic bank), mobile money, Visa, Payway and more, Gonahasa said.

“These funds can be used to pay for air tickets, hotels or packages on Roundbob.com and will soon be able to purchase travel from travel agents around Uganda.”

Recently, Roundbob.com was named among the 30 most innovative startups in Africa.

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Uganda: Pontiff Visit to Drive Uganda’s Tourism

12 September 2015 – The Monitor – Kampala — The Uganda Tourism Board has launched a campaign to promote Uganda’s heritage across Africa anchoring it on Pope Francis’ visit to the country on November 27. “We are ready and have already designed posters to different African countries pending distribution at different churches. We hope to talk to the priests to publicise the Pope’s visit and also use social media,” said John Ssempebwa, the deputy UTB Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

The visit is seen as an opportunity to boost faith-based tourism. Some of the countries being targeted are Nigeria, Rwanda, Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo which has the highest Catholic population in Africa.

“We are going to break the global world record of the number of people attending the Pope’s mass. The current record of six million people is held by Philippines, which invested about $40 million in publicity. We don’t need that. We are collaborating with the Catholic Church and we are going to break that record mark this year,” Mr Ssempebwa said.

Currently, Uganda receives more than 3,000 pilgrims on June 3 every year for the Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations in Namugongo.

“We have never advertised Martyrs Day in any of those countries. This is a one-off and importantly we are treating this as faith-based tourism. For the first time we have the Protestants and Muslims on board,” he added.

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Nigeria: Jovago Unveils Local Language Service

13 September 2015 – Vanguard (Lagos) – Online hotel booker, Jovago.com has unveiled a local languages translation service to drive more access among users of the service in Nigeria.

The service features Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa translations offering users a chance to learn these Nigerian languages interactively and increases the ease with which hotel rooms are booked via the mobile app and website.

The company which marked its second year celebration activities with the launch of its Android mobile application, ‘Hotels Booking’, in over 40 countries around the world, provides customers who visit the website the convenience of booking hotels in their native dialects.

Speaking on the innovation, Managing Director, Jovago Nigeria, Marek Zmyslowski, said, “Our core mission at Jovago right now is to simplify the way customers use the internet to engage in online transactions which is why we are excited to introduce the local language translations.”

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Turkish Airlines to Operate Five Flights On Antananarivo Via Mauritius

15 September 2015 – Government of Mauritius (Port Louis) – Turkish Airlines has been granted permission to operate five weekly scheduled flights on the Istanbul-Mauritius-Antananarivo and vice-versa route with only own-stop over rights in Mauritius for a period of six months as from 25 October 2015. Air services talks would, subsequently, be held with the Turkish authorities to conclude a Bilateral Air Services Agreement.

Turkey benefits from key geographical position between the East and the West, thus enabling Turkish Airlines to attract passengers from Eastern Europe, America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East via its hubs.

Turkish Airlines has been named ‘Best Airline in Europe’ at the 2015 Skytrax World Airline Awards.

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Uganda Tourism Board Launches Tourism Expo

16 September 2015 – The Monitor – Kampala — A total of 200 tourism exhibitors are set to showcase Uganda’s beauty at the annual Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo. The expo has been scheduled for November 17 to 20 at Kampala Serena hotel.

The event organised by the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) will provide opportunities to tourism operators to market the country both domestically and internationally and network.

“It is a unique opportunity for tourism business operators to meet new clients, network, market and discuss business,” Mr James Tumusiime, the Uganda Tourism Board chair, told a press conference in Kampala yesterday.

Mr Edwin Muzahura, the UTB marketing manager, said he hopes that the private sector will take this opportunity a notch higher.

He said tourism is critical for the economy since in the last financial year, the country registered 1.3 million arrivals translating into $1.2b (about Shs4.3 trillion).

The chairperson of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators, Ms Barbara A. Vanhelleputte, said they have not been aggressive in attracting tourists in comparison with the regional neighbours Kenya and Tanazania, but the association had now set apart special rates to attract domestic tourists.

Mr Stephen Masaba, the business development manager for Uganda Wildlife Authority, said local tourists will pay Shs10,000 per day in any of the national parks to enable people feel the importance of conservation.

Other countries that will exhibit at the event are Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania Burundi, South Africa, Mozambique, Seychelles, Zimbabawe, Nigeria, Botswana, Malawi and Zambia.

The event will climax with people or organisations partying away with awards such as media, tour operators, best accommodation, cultural tourism, travel agency, Best airline, among others.

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Nigeria: Bauchi Poly Offers Tourism Courses

17 September 2015 – Daily Trust (Abuja) – Bauchi — Federal Polytechnic Bauchi has established the departments of Leisure and Tourism as well as Library and Information Science as two new departments in the institution.

“The establishment of the departments was to step up innovative strategies for developing wide horizon of learning in the institution and efficiency,” according to a statement signed by the Public Relations officer of the Polytechnic, Alhaji Rabiu Mohammed Wada.

The Leisure and Tourism Management Department will be headed by Malam Abdu Ali Fada while the Library and Information Science Department is to be headed by Malam Aliyu Musa Jigawa.

Meanwhile Abdulmuhyi Auwal has been appointed the new HOD Accountancy and Mr. Cik Dajur as HOD, Office Technology Management (OTM). Also, a new Dean of Students Affairs Mr. Clement A. Ezeaku has been appointed while Barrister Mohammed Sani was appointed Chairman Exams Misconduct Committee (EMC).

The statement said the appointees were urged to put in their best in the discharge of their new responsibilities and use their vast experiences to justify the task assigned to them.

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WB-ITC Help Tunisian SMEs Access One of World’s Largest Virtual Market Places

12 September 2015 – Tunis Afrique Presse – Tunis — The World Bank (WB) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) have partnered to help 600 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Tunisia, Jordan and Morocco (200 enterprises in each country), to access one of the largest virtual market place “TradeKey,” the WB announced, Saturday, in a press release.

A contract signed by TradeKey, one of the world’s largest global electronic marketplaces based in Saudi Arabia and the ITC, as part of the Deauville Partnership for the “Development of SMEs’ Exports through Virtual Market Places” project.

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Tunisia Plans Modernisation of Land Border Terminals

14 September 2015 – Tunis Afrique Presse – Tunis — A structure in charge of modernising land border terminals will be created shortly. An inner cabinet meeting was held, Monday, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Habib Essid decided the creation of this structure in reaction to the insufficiencies and failure noted at the end of the field visit paid in the border terminals with Algeria and Libya.

According to a statement of the Prime Ministry, the meeting also emphasised the need to give a particular interest to the aesthetic aspect of the terminals whether inside or outside along with setting up fences. He also recommended to maintain the lounges and create offices of insurance, change and tourist guidance.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister called for the development of a new conception of these terminals, in such a manner as to adapt them to the international standards in terms of quality of services and infrastructure. A report presented during the inner cabinet meeting stated the absence of indication panels, signaling system, automatic barriers, warehouses and car parks.

Developed in term of field visits, this report was achieved by a committee led by the Ministry of Transport made up of representatives of the Interior Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, the Tourism Ministry and the Tunisian Customs. According to the statement, Tunisia disposes of nine border posts with Algeria and two others with Libya (Ras Jedir and Dhehiba).

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Phase II of Saharan Tourist Promotion Project to Start in January 2016

14 September 2015 – Tunis Afrique Presse (Tunis) – Tozeur — The second phase of the Tunisian-Japanese project on strengthening the promotional capacities of Saharan tourism will begin in January 2016.

Local tourism commissioner in Tozeur Mohamed Sayam said this phase will focus, in particular, on the development of Saharan tourism and the diversification of marketing methods.

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Project Restore Guyana taken to Region Two

Georgetown GINA, September 11, 2015 – The National Task Force Commission took its consultations to Region Two, where stakeholders were engaged on the Project Restore Guyana initiative that is intended to “re-brand” Guyana.

The session was spearheaded by Chairman of the Task Force, Major General (Ret’d), Joseph Singh. Present also were; Secretariat Coordinator, Dr. Sewnauth Punalall, newly appointed Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region #2, Rupert Hopkinson, Regional Chairman, Davenand Ramdatt and Chairman of the National Toshaos Council (NTC) Joel Fredrick.There were also;Representatives from the Anna Regina Town Council, the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs), youth, and women.

The Co-operative Republic of Guyana ranks among the largest country in the region, with its massive 83,000 square mile and vast natural resources. However, while the nation is known for its hospitality and El’ Dorado, there are significant deterioration of many aspects of the Guyanese life including; unplanned settlements, inadequate traffic flows, garbage build up and occasional flooding, in many areas.

Project Restoration Guyana, was conceptualized by Cabinet and will be used as an instrument for re-branding Guyana as a place where Guyanese can be inspired to embrace change that sees persons from all sections of society, working towards a wholesome environment and country. It is only by systemic changes in ethics, attitudes, behaviours and having a sense of responsibility that the restore Guyana project be sustainable.

The project targets:

· Drainage and traffic management

· Sustainable urban, rural, and hinterland physical structure renewal.

· Re-branding Guyana through the restoration of ethical attitudes, and responsible social behaviour by all citizens.

· Solid waste management and derelict vehicle removal.

· Welfare management of the homeless.

During his power point presentation, Major General Singh outlined the goals and vision of the project. According to Singh, the mandate of the Task Force is to rehabilitate, restore and renew Guyana. He said, the vision is to restore Guyana as a land of attractiveness and prosperity and, “one which offers a good life for all citizens and visitors alike”.He commended the region for being on the top of the list in terms of sanitation. Singh however noted that there were deficiencies in some areas, and urged the Regional Administration to adopt the vision of the Task Force to further enhance the region.

The first phase of the project is to be completed by May 26, 2015, when Guyana will be celebrating 50 years as an independent nation.By September 2015, a report or summery of efforts is to be completed. By October a draft restoration plan including detailed plan and budget for phase one of the activities should be completed and by November, the final restoration plan should be ready and this will be taken to Cabinet for approval. From November to May 2016, the project will be implemented and carefully monitored.

The Chairman of the National Task Force also used the opportunity to outline the Task Force’s mandate to the communities. ”You cannot have up to Anna Regina clean and when you go down to Charity, much is left to be desired. The schools, hospital and other public offices must have a certain image. Your yard must have a certain image, and the national monument must be enhanced and maintained,” Major General Singh told the participants.

He further highlighted the issue of suicide in the region as “very alarming”, and called on the NGOs and churches to play a major role in this regard.

The stakeholders raised concerns regarding the poor communication service, the constant blackouts, drainage, poor road infrastructure and the need for more support from Government to boost tourism in the region. The solutions to many of the issues lie with the stakeholders, Major General Singh said, noting that there is need for coordination, cooperation and volunteerism in this regard.

Project Restore Guyana is one of the earliest initiatives outlined by the coalition government and brings together government and all willing partners in civil society.

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Tourism Minister Puts ‘New’ Guyana On Show In Brooklyn

11th September, 2015 – GINA – Minister of Tourism Hon. Catherine Hughes, led a Guyanese contingent of Travel professionals, hospitality and other service providers and representatives of the Guyana Marketing Corporation to the 14th Annual Guyana Folk Festival and Brooklyn Labor Day festivities last weekend.

Minister Hughes and party arrived in New York on Friday September 4, 2015 and went directly to the traditional ‘Kwe Kwe’ (Queh Queh) event at the St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church Hall. After a well-received introduction by Dr. Vibert Cambridge, she lauded the Guyana Cultural Association (GCA) for the effort they expend every year to maintain their cultural heritage and ensure that current Guyanese-Americans are continuously educated about their heritage.

“This is a good time to reflect on how far we’ve come, what we want to achieve in the near future, and the importance of maintaining our traditions and cultures,” the Minister said before she joined in the simulation of a traditional pre-wedding Queh-Queh ceremony.

The large gathering which included other West Indians and Americans was also briefed on the plans to celebrate Guyana’s Golden Jubilee in May 2016. The Minister took the opportunity to extend an unconditional invitation to everyone to visit Guyana and participate in these celebrations.

The following day the party attended the GCA’s annual ‘Literary Hang’ an event that provides a platform for writers of every generation, of any genre, published or not. This year’s Rising Writers included Liann Aris Henry, Tiffany Herod, Chaniece Allen, and Terrance Bobb. Adult writers present included Brenda Richards, Charles Liverpool, Valerie Coddett, Yvonne Sam, Rueben Freeman, Rosalind Kilkenny McLymont, Kimani Nehusi, Francis Quamina Farrier, Courtney Noel, Percy Haynes, Roy Brummell, Angela Massiah, Claudia Persaud, Lear Matthews, Ted Matthews, Kwesi Oginga, Ingrid Griffith, Maurice St. Pierre, and Alexander Betton Haynes.

Luminary Dr. Vibert Cambridge used the event to launch his new book Musical Life in Guyana.

Generally, the focus of The Literary Hang is exclusive to its purpose for the particular year. Last year the GCA had launched a three-year programme under the theme “We Bridgin ….”. The goal is to develop partnerships in the global Guyanese community to make Guyana’s collective history accessible to Guyanese at home and in diaspora. It will culminate in Guyana with an international symposium and a national-wide literary festival during the 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations.

In the immediate future the GCA plans to establish a Cultural Center, launch a robust communications infrastructure to support conversations across global Guyana on matters related to heritage and creativity, and in December 2016 a symposium is slated for Guyana under the theme: “Masquerade Jamboree.”

On Sunday 6th September the Tourism Minister joined thousands of Guyanese and their friends at the Folk Festival & Family Fun Day. There a “Guyana Services and Information Booth” attracted a large number of visiting Guyanese, resident Guyanese, Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Americans and Canadians, Mexicans, Cubans, Chinese and other interested people. The Tourism Ministry made full use of the event to put on display the new tourism brand: “Guyana – South America Undiscovered” with the variety of memorabilia designed to enhance international visibility of this country as a paradise for lovers of nature.

She met and spoke with a large number of people, many of whom vowed to return home (or visit Guyana for the first time) to participate in the Jubilee. This was after she was accorded the honour of declaring the Folk Festival open. In her remarks she lauded the GCA for their unwavering commitment to “Bridging the Cultural Gap” among Guyanese everywhere. Then she passed on H.E. President David Granger’s best wishes to the Guyanese diaspora and his congratulations to the planning committee for co-ordinating another Festival to honour Guyanese citizens resident in that country.

Entertainment was provided by a number of outstanding Guyanese performers including the Ninja Band, Eddie Nebblett, Adrian Dutchin and Michelle (Big Red) King.

The Minister’s sensitization tour to the Brooklyn Festival concluded with the Annual Carnival launch Breakfast at which she was introduced to the Governor and Mayor of New York state and city, other municipal executives, diplomats and delegations from other Caribbean countries. She was also able to re-connect with WSEE Weatherman Jim and his sidekick “Bob the Parrot” who promised to return to Guyana in the foreseeable future.

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Guyana First Lady helps women market entrepreneurial skills

Georgetown, Guyana, September 17, 2015 – GINA – First Lady Mrs. Sandra Granger today launched a business/entrepreneurship workshop at the Good Hope Learning Centre for a group of women in that community. The workshop is being conducted by Mr. Wayne Barrow from Interweave Solutions.

Interweave Solutions is a non-governmental organisation that helps local organisations and congregations in developing countries to create self-reliance by providing them with the necessary training to implement and promote their own business plans.

The First Lady explained that this model that is being used has been tried and tested by Interweave Solutions and proven to be successful in places like Africa, and parts of Central and South America. The aim is to empower rural women and teach them to manage and sustain their small entrepreneurial ventures.

Mrs. Granger said, “Alot of our women don’t realise that they do have skills that they can market and be successful entrepreneurs.” She noted that programmes like this can unlock the potential of women across Guyana. “We are trying this programme here, we want to encourage the women and empower them so that they use their skills and learn to be successful and make some money in the process,” the First Lady said.

The programme which is being funded by the Office of the First Lady is also expected to be launched in Linden shortly and based on the outcomes; it will then be expanded to other communities across the country.

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Qatar Tourism Announces Shows, Activities For Eid Al-Adha

DOHA, Qatar, Sept 14 (NNN-QNA) – Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), has announced the line-up of shows and activities for the Eid Al-Adha 2015 Festival, which starts on the first day of Eid and continues for five days.

The Festival will offer a variety of daily family entertainment shows, that will rotate between malls, from the traditional Ardha dance and the amazing balancing acts of the famed “Snoopy,” a finalist on Arabs Got Talent, to the amusing mini-stage show titled, ‘Mr Dropsy and the Bell-Boy.’

A special highlight this Eid will be the ‘Frozen’ sing-a-long, where household names Elsa and Anna, accompanied by the snowman Olaf, will sing well-known tunes from the Disney movie along with the crowds, young and old.

Eid Al-Adha celebrations will extend to all parts of the country’s tourism hotspots, the Al Dosari Zoo and Game Reserve and the Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Museum.

Through the Eid Al Adha Festival theme, “Capture Joy,” QTA will also be launching a campaign, inviting visitors and residents to capture the joyful memories associated with Eid and share their experiences of Eid in Qatar, through images and words on various online platforms.

QTA will continue working with its partners at Hamad International Airport, to share the spirit of Eid with visitors arriving in Qatar, through “Eidiya” gifts and information pamphlets, providing them with a guide to the Eid Al-Adha festivities.

“The Eid Al-Adha Festival sustains the momentum of the 2015 Qatar Summer Festival and Eid Al-Fitr Festival, which contributed to the rise of tourism numbers with a series of shows, a range of new attractions, special hotel rates, live ticketed shows and weekly raffle draws.

“The Festival is part of Qatar’s strategy to grow and diversify its tourism offerings in partnership with the private sector,” commented Rashed Al-Qurese, Chief Marketing and Promotions Officer at QTA.

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Royal Jordanian, Turkish Airlines Sign Codeshare Agreement

AMMAN, Jordan, Sept 15 (NNN-PETRA) – The Royal Jordanian (RJ) and Turkish Airlines (TK), Monday, signed a codeshare agreement, on routes between Jordan and Turkey, which is set to further expand travel opportunities for the customers of the two airlines.

The agreement will be effective as of Sept 21, 2015.

The new codeshare agreement is bound to broaden the commercial partnership between the two companies. At the same time, passengers of both airlines will be given more travel options between Jordan and Turkey.

Under the terms of the agreement, RJ and TK will place their carrier codes on each other’s flights between Amman and Istanbul, while RJ will place its carrier code on Turkish Airlines’ flights between Aqaba and Istanbul. The agreement might also enable the two carriers to put their codes on the flights to other destinations, operated beyond the two capitals, in the future.

RJ President/CEO, Captain Haitham Misto, expressed satisfaction with this commercial partnership, with a well-established and rapidly growing carrier like TK, which enjoys a broad route network.

Several worldwide points that TK serves will be open to RJ passengers flying from Amman and Aqaba to Istanbul and from there to various airports on the TK’s network, he said.

He also expressed hope that the step will be the first on the way to further enhancing relations between the two airlines in the future.

Turkish Airlines Deputy Chairman and CEO, Temel Kotil, said, “We are extremely pleased to sign this codeshare agreement with RJ, which aims to improve our partnership to maximise the travel opportunities offered to our passengers through the networks of both airlines.

Additionally, he said, “We believe that, this partnership with RJ will bring enormous benefit to both airlines from a commercial perspective, in rapidly growing relations between our countries.”

The signing ceremony took place at the RJ’s headquarters in Amman. RJ President/CEO Captain Haitham Misto and Turkish Airlines Deputy Chairman and CEO Temel Kotil, signed the deal in the presence of the Turkish Ambassador to Jordan, Sedat Onal.

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Indonesia To Simplify Bank Account Opening For Foreigners

JAKARTA, Indonesia Sept. 12 (NNN-Xinhua) — Indonesia will soon issue regulations on the opening of bank accounts for foreigners, a move aiming at luring more foreign currency into the country amid weakening rupiah.

Muliaman Hadad, chairman of the Indonesian financial service authority (OJK) on Friday disclosed that the OJK will simplify the process for the opening and will soon issue the regulations on it.

“In the near future, we will issue the rules…for the opening of a bank account for foreigners,” he said in a statement.

The permit on the bank account opening is part of President Joko Widodo’s massive economic package stimulus to boost foreign currencies inflow and investment as well as accelerate economy.

“This policy is in line with the government policy and the central bank policy,” Muliaman said.

According to the new rules, for the opening of the account valued between 2,000 to 50,000 U.S. dollars, the foreign client only need to show his or her passport.

Rupiah hit a 17-year low and was traded at 14,306 on Friday, according to the central bank.

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Indonesia Lists World’s Biggest Sovereign Sukuk In Dubai

DUBAI, Sept. 14 (NNN-Xinhua) — Indonesia listed on Sunday four Islamic bonds (sukuk) on Nasdaq Dubai, the world’s biggest sovereign Islamic sukuk in the Gulf emirate.

Indonesia’s Finance Minister Bambang Bodjonegoro rang the market-opening bell to celebrate the listing of the bonds worth six billion U.S. dollars.

The listing of “our sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai is an important step forward in further strengthening indonesia’s ties with the UAE and the wider Middle East, the minister said.

Indonesia, the biggest Muslim nation with a total population of 255 million people, is a frequent sukuk issuer in the global market, he added.

“Since our international debut in 2009, we have issued global sukuk valued at 7.65 billion dollars,” Bodjonegoro said.

Mohammed Abdulla Al-Gergawi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) cabinet affairs minister and chairman of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, said the listing of the Indonesian sukuk in Dubai was “a milestone in the drive that Dubai started several years ago to become the capital of the Islamic Economy globally.”

Nasdaq Dubai, a licensed market of the Dubai financial free zone DIFC, is the Middle East’s only international capital market by regulatory standards.

Dubai is the world’s leading sukuk centre by listed nominal value at 36.7 billion dollars, with Nasdaq Dubai accounting for 93 percent of that amount.

Nasdaq Dubai attracted sukuk listings valued at 13.4 billion dollars last year and has added 12.6 billion dollars so far in 2015.

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Air China To Resume Beijing-KL Route On Oct 25

BEIJING, Sept 18 (NNN-Bernama) — China’s national flag carrier, Air China is set to resume its Beijing-Kuala Lumpur route with four-weekly flights on Oct 25 after it was suspended three years ago.

Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board Chairman Wee Choo Keong said the flight resumption would further boost Malaysia-China ties and connectivity.

The airline may increase the flight frequency to seven-weekly flights or even two-daily flights if the air travel demand continues to rise,” he told Bernama after attending a meeting between Tourism Malaysia and Air China and local travel agent China Comfort Travel, here.

Wee said Tourism Malaysia would continue to work with the Home Ministry to ensure that Chinese tourists traveling to Malaysia would enjoy hassle-free, visa-free holidays.

Besides the visa-free facility, he hopes the ministry would consider waiving the visa service charge of RMB120 (RMB100=RM67) for group tourists from China.

He said Chinese tourists preferred Malaysia as a holiday destination due to its diverse tourism products such as food, beaches and islands, mountains, shopping malls, apart from not having to deal with cumbersome language barrier.

Meanwhile, Air China Manager of International Routes Wu Xiaoming said the airline offered 246 economy, 16 premium economy and 28 business seats on its flights to Kuala Lumpur.

“We expect the inaugural Beijing-Kuala Lumpur flight to have a load factor of over 60 per cent as Chinese travellers love to visit the islands of Redang, Langkawi and Penang,” she added.

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Jizan Region – Capital Of Mango Fruit In Saudi Arabia

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Sept 18 (NNN-SPA) – Jizan region, to the south of Saudi Arabia, can be described as the capital of Mango fruit in the Kingdom, with around 750,000 trees, producing some 27,500 tonnes of mangos annually.

The region, known for its fine soil and water resources, was the perfect ground to plant mango trees.

The process began in 1982, with the Kingdom’s centre for agriculture and water researches, importing mango seeds from Australia, Kenya, Egypt, Sudan, the US, and India.

The planting of mango trees in Jizan region was a success, leading the area to become one of the important mango exporters in the region.

A mangos festival begins each year in Apr and continues for three months with the finest mango products going on sale.

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Malaysia Publishes Book To Promote Traditional Children’s Games

LENGGONG, Perak State, Malaysia, Sept 13 (NNN-BERNAMA) – The publication of the Guidebook on Traditional Children’s Games, can help promote Malay traditional games at international level, Deputy Tourism and Culture Minister, Mas Ermieyati Samsudin said.

She said the guidebook, which is published in both Malay and English versions, would be launched, in conjunction with the Frankfurt Book Festival in Germany, on Oct 14.

“With the collaboration between the National Heritage Department and Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) (Malay Language Centre), as well as the commitment showed by all relevant quarters, it is possible that our traditional children’s games can someday be recognised internationally.”

She said this to reporters, after opening the Lenggong Traditional Children’s Games Festival 2015, and the launching of the guidebook, at the Laman Budaya (Cultural Heritage Square) Lenggong, here today.

The guidebook contains information on 100 types of Malaysian traditional children’s games, including ‘Ram Ram Rip’, ‘Datuk Harimau’, ‘Cak Lerang’, ‘Congkak Lubang Sepuluh’, ‘Tingting Gula Batu’ and ‘Gelek Tempurung’.

Mas Ermieyati said the guidebook, which was edited by Lenggong Member of Parliament, Shamsul Anuar Nasarah and published by DBP, also came with a DVD on how to play the games.

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Oman To Open Sultan Qaboos Mosque In Nizwa

MUSCAT, Oman, Sept 17 (NNN-ONA) – Assigned by Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, Sayyid Khalid bin Hilal al-Busaidi, Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court, will open, tomorrow, Friday, the Sultan Qaboos Mosque in the Wilayat of Nizwa, in the Governorate of A’Dakhiliyah.

The new Sultan Qaboos Mosque was conceived as a regional size mosque in 2009. Being the spiritual and religious capital of Oman, Nizwa is a fitting location to be home to a major mosque, second only to the Grand Mosque in Muscat.

The distinct architectural heritage of the interiors, was to be the inspiration for the design character of the new mosque. Simplicity of form and selective use of decoration are characteristics that distinguish the new mosque from those in other regions. The four minarets give the building a unique quality, reinforcing its position as a major landmark for the community it serves.

The building colour and materials reflect what is traditionally used in the area. The planning is simple and functional, with a clear separation between the main spiritual part of the mosque, i.e. the Main Prayer Hall, and other functions, such as ablution area, library, classrooms and Multi-purpose Hall.

This separation is achieved by two open sahans (courtyards) on the north and south and one shaded sahan to the east, where the grand entrance is located. Study of the local architecture was done with particular reference to characteristic pattern-work, which forms the detailed design of all the decorative elements of the project. This is particularly evident in the design of hardwood doors and screens.

The Mosque is situated within the modern development area of the city, at the junction of main roads linking the Governorate of A’Dakhiliyah to the Governorate of Muscat and the Governorate of Dhofar. The 80,000sqm-site is adjacent to the Nizwa Wadi that affords excellent views of the building from most approaches. The building complex is raised substantially above the existing ground level, to enhance its presence on the highway, as well as ensure its safety in case of flooding.

The building complex comprises of a Main Prayer Hall of 3,546sqm. The main area of which measures 60 by 60sqm and accommodates 4,500 worshippers. The Main Prayer Hall is approached on the Qibla axis by a monumental staircase through the shaded sahan to the west. Secondary entrance courts allow entry from the garden areas to the north and south of the mosque. These entrance courts give access, by generous stairways, to sahan areas that flank the Main Prayer Hall. These side sahans are usable as additional prayer area and are bound by layered arcades that house ablution facilities and shoe storage niches.

The area available for external prayer allows for an additional 5,300 worshippers. The sahan areas also provide access to a range of additional facilities. There is a 277.50sqm library, arranged on two floors around an internal glazed courtyard. These classrooms, organised around their own courtyard and a 306sqm multi-purpose Hall with built-in perimeter seating and audio-visual facilities for lectures.

A Ladies Prayer Hall, accommodating 434 worshippers is located at podium level and is approached independently through a series of courts and sahan spaces at both levels. All of the main activities of the mosque complex are arranged on a podium 5m above the existing ground level with washrooms, offices and support services within the podium.

All plant facilities are housed within a service floor above the Main Prayer Hall. The architectural scheme is characterised by a profiled 27m diameter dome, rising to 55m above ground and surrounded by four 80m-high minarets, which mark the four corners of the Main Prayer Hall.

The external treatment of the prayer hall incorporates buttress elements, parapet profiles and a general massing, derived from the indigenous architecture of the region. The Main Prayer Hall is then surrounded by a protecting enclosure, housing all other facilities of the project. This enclosure is stone clad and is characterised by vaulted forms.

The stonework has been enhanced with carved friezes, calligraphy and screen work. The interior of the Main Prayer Hall is 14m high with the dome rising to an internal apex of 40m. The hall is finished with an inlayed marble dado throughout, with carved and profiled gypsum work walls, vaults and ceilings.

The ceilings have received specialist paintwork derived from local design traditions. The Qibla wall is further enhanced by the greater use of profiled and in-laid marble.

The marble Mihrab displays the finest marble inlay and carving work in the building and includes complex carved vault designs, inlaid calligraphy, geometric and floral designs. The windows to the Prayer Hall make decorative use of thin layers of translucent marble in combination with coloured and profiled glass.

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Artists from four nations in Indonesian Umbrella Festival 2015

Jumat, 11 September 2015 Solo, C.Java (ANTARA News) – Four countries are participating in the Indonesian Umbrella Festival (FPI) 2015, which is being held in Solo, Central Java province, on September 11-13.

Umbrella artists and craftsmen from Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, and China are participating in the event, Heru Mataya, a festival organizer, stated here on Thursday (September 10).

The FPI is themed “New Visual Artistic.”

The participants will showcase their works through several programs such as an umbrella market, workshops, umbrella dance, solo dance festival, a carnival, and a seminar, as well as a moment of reflection under the umbrella of Indonesia, he noted.

Mataya explained that the presence of participants from foreign nations is aimed at improving the understanding about the umbrella culture among the participant countries.

“FPI also aims to preserve the umbrella culture of Indonesia and to help umbrella artists develop their works,” he emphasized.

I feel immense pride to participate in the event and hope that the traditional umbrella culture will be preserved, Chen Mi, an umbrella craftsman from China, affirmed.

He added that the traditional umbrellas in China are now only used as souvenirs. If you want to use the traditional umbrellas today, they should have a modern touch, Mi added.

“Traditional Chinese umbrellas have been in use for the last 500 years. Now, modern style also needs to be incorporated into them,” Mi remarked.

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Digital centres to sell domestic flight tickets of Biman

DHAKA, Sept 16, 2015 (BSS) – Rural people from now on will be able to buy tickets of domestic flights of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, national flag carrier of the country, at their doorsteps as the facility will be provided at the union digital centres.

The union digital centres are newly established one-stop service outlets operating at all the 4,547 union parishads across the country.

Today, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in this regard between Access to Information (a2i) Program of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Biman.

Kabir Bin Anwar, project director of a2i and also the director general (administration) of PMO, and Biman’s marketing and sales director Mohammad Shah Newaj signed the MoU on behalf of their respective organizations.

Under the MoU, Biman domestic flight tickets will be available at 100 union digital centres in 11 districts on an experimental basis.

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Kalehöyük home to traces of five civilizations

KIRŞEHİR – Anadolu Agency – Remains from the Ottoman, Seljuk, Roman, Byzantine and Hellenistic civilizations have been unearthed from 11 meters underground during three years of excavations in the Central Anatolian province of Kırşehir’s Kalehöyük mound.

Conducted under the scientific consultancy of Ahi Evran University Archaeology Department Professor Işık Adak Adıbelli, the excavations have continued in five different layers and unearthed traces from five different civilizations. Works have reached up to the Iron Age in the fifth century, Adıbelli said, adding that the top layer was home to traces from the Ottoman era.

He said that in addition to the excavations in the southern portion of the mound, they had started digging on the northern section of the mound.

“We have reached up to 11 meters deep underground, unearthing five civilizations in five certain layers. Among them are architectural structures as well as layers of garbage pits. For example, we have mostly found garbage pits from the Roman era. The Seljuk-era structures gave damage to the Roman-era layer. This is why we can see garbage pits only. The findings from the Byzantine or the Eastern Rome eras come from the garbage pits, too.”

Adıbelli said they believed that there had been large buildings in the region in the Seljuk era. “The construction of this structure gave damage to the Roman-era layer. But we started to see the Hellenistic-era layer 25 meters below underground. This layer has been protected since the foundation of this big structure did not reach there. We have seen adobe and rubble walls as well as Ottoman-era ceramic pieces and coins.”

The team has begun unearthing adobe platforms from the Iron Age in the northern section and from the Hellenistic era in the southern area, Adıbelli said, while adding that they did not yet understand the function of the platforms.

Imported products show richness

The layers of the Seljuk and Hellenistic era were particularly strong, Adıbelli said.

“We have found a piece from a building cover that we believe is from the Seljuk era. This makes us think a very big and magnificent building (was here). Also, there are very nice Hellenistic-era bead pieces that were imported from Phoenicia as well as amphora pieces with seals on them. All these were imported from some places and show us the richness and trade in this era. There are also a few skeletons. We observed that these people were very thin. This indicates a disease or maybe a famine,” the professor said.

Adıbelli said small pieces from the Hellenistic era gave some clues about that era. “An expensive glass bead from Phoenicia, a sealed candle from Rome or a sealed amphora from Sinop reveal that Kırşehir was the center of both the western and the eastern trade. We also have a Roman-era candle with the seal of a factory. This region was an active trade center in the Roman era, too.”

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Support for Turkish excavations on the rise

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency – Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry’s support for archaeological excavations, which was 1,877,915 Turkish Liras in 2002, increased by 17 fold this year.

According to information provided by the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums, a total of 532 archaeological works, including 157 diggings and 98 archaeological surface surveys, have been planned this year. Some of these plans have been finished, some are still continuing and some have not been started yet.

Financial support from the ministry reached 31,903,928 liras as of September this year.

The excavations, carried out Turkish and foreign academics, are also supported by private institutions and sponsor companies.

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Heart of opera and ballet set to beat in Aspendos

ANTALYA – Hurriyet Daily News – The 2,000-year-old Aspendos Theater in the southern Turkish province of Antalya is ready to stage this year’s opera and ballet festival with a program that includes the Korean National Opera, as well as artists from Bulgaria and the Turkic world.

“Reaching out to foreign tourists in Antalya is very important but it would be wrong that the festival is staged only for them. Participation of Turkish tourists and locals is also important for us,” Yener Turan, president of the 22nd International Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival, told the Anadolu Agency.

In this year’s festival, three concerts, two ballets and two operas are scheduled to be staged between Sept. 5 and Sept. 24. The festival will open with gala concert by the Mersin İzmir State Opera and Ballet on Sept. 5, featuring masterpieces of Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Piyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Georgez Bizet, Charles Gounod and Selman Ada. The Korean National Opera’s “Soulmate” will be staged on Sept. 20.

Beside foreign groups and soloists, opera and ballet artists from the Turkish cities of İzmir, Ankara, Mersin and Antalya will join the event this year.

Turan highlighted the historic atmosphere of the Aspendos Theater while explaining why the festival is a special occasion.

After stressing that Istanbul has an international opera festival, Bodrum has an international ballet festival, Antalya has an international opera and ballet festival and Eskişehir organizes opera and ballet days, Turan said the new priority of the State Opera and Ballet General Directorate is to expand the events to Turkey’s east.

“To do this, we have started the opera and ballet days in Mardin. It attached public attention at a scale that we didn’t expect. Now we are planning to stage festivals in Diyarbakır, Van and Trabzon, too. We have already started preparations,” he said.

The festival has been organized with the collaboration of the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the State Opera and Ballet General Directorate since 1994. It gained international status in 1998, being one of the most important organizations in the international art scene. So far, the festival has brought together many Turkish and foreign artists and groups in the extraordinary acoustics of the Aspendos Theater.

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Qatar to host World Tourism Day 2017

The Peninsula – 18 September, 2015 – Qatar has won the right to host World Tourism Day (WTD) 2017 celebrations, which will be held under the theme, ‘Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development’.

The announcement was made following a vote of the 21st UNWTO General Assembly in Medellin, Colombia.

Celebrated annually on September 27, World Tourism Day is the biggest international event in tourism. Its purpose is to foster awareness among the global community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The event, which is held in a different continent each year, seeks to address the global challenges outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to highlight the tourism sector’s contribution to achieving them.

Speaking at the General Assembly, QTA Director of International Cooperation Saif Al Kuwari, said, “Qatar’s tourism sector is among the fastest growing globally. Our National Tourism Sector Strategy outlines an ambitious path of development through 2030. We believe that holding the official World Tourism Day 2017 celebrations in Qatar will provide a timely opportunity to take stock of the sector’s achievements and provide us with a new catalyst for all that is yet to come.”

Al Kuwari added that the 2017 WTD theme, ‘Sustainable Tourism — a Tool for Development’ mirrors the overarching message from this week’s UNWTO General Assembly that tourism has the power to drive the growth of nations and must be at the forefront of national development plans.

“In Qatar 2017, we will create events that will carry this message from us all to the world,” he said.

Following the vote, Dr Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, UNWTO, spoke of the ability of tourism to spur development across socio-economic boundaries.

“As a sector behind one in 11 jobs worldwide, tourism is a valuable source of livelihood for millions of people. Built around the countless cross-cultural encounters happening every day in all corners of the world, tourism is also a gateway to greater understanding of the world beyond our borders, and the first step in building peace between communities and nations,” he said.

Burkina Faso was previously selected to host WTD 2015 under the theme ‘One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities’ and next year’s celebrations will be held in Thailand, on ‘Tourism for All — promoting universal accessibility’.

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