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28 Sep, 2015

New Muslim Travel Guide to Australia Launched

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 28 September 2015 (14 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.




Malaysia’s Melaka Can Be Vital Port In China’s Maritime Silk Road

MELAKA, Malaysia Sept 26 (NNN-Bernama) — Melaka could be an important port in China’s plan to develop a 21st century Maritime Silk Road following the good existing relations between Melaka and Guangdong province, said Datuk Seri Idris Haron.

The Melaka state Chief Minister said the state’s strategic location in the region could help catalyse trading activity along the route.

“Guangdong’s choice of Melaka as a component in implementing the 21st century Maritime Silk Road shows Melaka’s importance in the initiative.

“History has shown that Melaka was an important port of call in the first Maritime Silk Road trade, even Admiral Zheng He sailed the route seven times and stopped five times in Melaka,” he told Bernama here Friday.

On Sept 21, Melaka and Guangdong signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish friendship and strengthen cooperation between the two parties.

The 21st century Maritime Silk Road is one of two components of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ project, with the other being the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’, both developed by China, to enhance cooperation among Euro-Asian countries in trade.

Idris said Melaka needs to upgrade its port so it can play a similar role in the 21st century Maritime Silk Road as it did during the Melaka Sultanate era.

“In fact, the Governor of Guangdong Province, Zhu Xiodan, who visited Melaka recently, expressed interest in developing tourism and industrial maritime projects in Melaka.

“With today’s technology, port construction is more efficient and effective mostly using floating platforms. Such port construction can be completed in 18 to 24 months and the port can receive ships of over 500,000 tons,” he said.

Idris said Melaka has drawn up a systematic plan to ensure its relationship with Guangdong catalyses the development of the 21st Maritime Silk Road.

“To realise this, the state government formed a Melaka-Guangdong Friendship Steering Committee chaired by me and with government agencies and private companies as members.

“In addition, the state government also created an international trade portfolio which will be placed under the responsibility of the State Transport and Project Rehabilitation Committee Chairman, Datuk Lim Ban Hong,” he said.

Idris said the Melaka-Guangdong relationship has earned the state over RM2 billion through seven MoUs signed by companies from Malaysia and China on Sept 19.

“If the proposed route runs smoothly, we are able to achieve no less than RM10 billion. However, this is not the time to rest on our laurels, as we need to work hard to ensure Melaka is an important component in the 21st century Maritime Silk Road,” he added.

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New Muslim Travel Guide to Australia launched

September 3, 2015 = Travel planning for Muslim tourists visiting Australia has now been made much simpler with the launch of a brand new Muslim Travel Guide to Australia. Compiled by Tourism Australia and HalalTrip, the guide covers a wide range of useful travel topics and is a must-have for every Muslim traveller planning to visit Australia.

malaysia logo

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

The new visitor guide takes a closer look at each of Australia’s eight major states and territories, highlighting what each state has to offer Muslim travellers. Using the guide, Muslim travellers can now easily discover the best places to head to for sight-seeing, shopping, dining and praying across every region of the country.

The guide features a separate section for each major state – Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia – so that important information is available at-a-glance. A number of interesting facts about Australia have also been listed in each section of the guide, highlighting the uniqueness of each region and why visiting it would be a rewarding experience.

Australia is a popular travel destination amongst Muslim tourists and the destination has allured travellers for years with its uniqueness and diversity. It is renowned for its vibrant mix of cultures from all over the world as well as its fantastic wildlife, varied landscapes and fascinating attractions. The destination attracts a large number of tourists annually – including a significant percentage of Muslim travellers from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Titled “Explore Australia from Unique Wildlife to Urban Wonders”, the Muslim Travel Guide to Australia contains vast amounts of useful travel information supported by great imagery and is an excellent resource for Muslim travellers. The guide is available in the form of a printed version from travel agencies in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia as well as a downloadable version on the HalalTrip website.

Please click on the below link to download a free copy of the Muslim Travel Guide to Australia: http://www.halaltrip.com/downloadable-halal-travel-guides/

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UN, EU launch ‘Khadija’ network for women’s economic empowerment

MENAFN – Daily News Egypt – 22/09/2015 – As part of the EU Commission-UN Women Spring Forward for Women Programme for the Southern Mediterranean region, “Khadija” is the new programme launched by the Arab Network for Economic Empowerment of Women.

The programme, supported by the Arab League’s women and family sector, and governments at the bilateral level, aims at supporting women in the Arab region. The EU cooperation policy is aligned with international commitments to gender equality and the protection of women’s rights, according to Diego Escalona Paturel, EU Head of Cooperation in Egypt.

“Spring Forward is strategically positioned to support collaboration aimed at promoting more political and economic power for women,” Paturel stated in the launching press conference held Monday at the UN regional office in Cairo.

He explained that out of a total EU budget of Euro8.2m, managed by UN Women, the EU allocates Euro7m to support women in the Southern Mediterranean region. “Concretely, in Egypt, I would like to highlight that the EU contribution to address gender issues and challenges exceeds Euro9m,” Paturel said.

The EU provides Euro4m for the political and economic empowerment of women, implemented through UN Women, another Euro3m for programmes combating violence against women and female genital mutilation, as well as nearly Euro1.2m to support the state-affiliated National Council for Women (NCW).

“We believe that there is room for increasing the role played by women in Egypt, still below the worldwide average in terms of participation in economic and political life,” Paturel added.

For his part, Mohammad Naciri, UN Women’s Regional Director, said during the conference that the “Khadija” network aims at providing comprehensive solutions for women’s economic and political empowerment.

On the economic side, Naciri mentioned two major aspects of the “Khadija” network. “In any programme we do we, work on two levels. We work on improving policies with governments through the Arab League,” Naciri stated.

“In most Arab countries, most labour laws provide gender equality; the problem comes in implementing those laws, so we are trying to provide technical assistance in how to properly execute them in a way that would further enhance gender equality in the labour market,” Naciri noted.

Naciri said the ideal would be to work with governments at the highest level to establish a specific quota of 25% for women in businesses working in the public procurements of goods and services.

Moreover, the programme aims at addressing the private sector, which would significantly contribute to the programme’s objectives of empowering women economically.

“On one hand, we want private sector companies to absorb more women as part of their human capital, as we aim to reach 50% of female presence in all levels,” Naciri stated. “It has been proven that such an economic formula improved productivity, the work environment and profits,” he continued.

Further, Naciri said the private sector needs to engage in small and medium projects for women by funding more training and job opportunities, as well as providing loans and participating with donor communities and international organisations.

“Somehow, the ‘Khadija’ network is going to form an informal lobby to work with the different partners and stakeholders in the region on advocating gender equality and more economic empowerment for women,” Naciri said.

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Iran aviation firm may lease two Russian 100-seat superjets

Tehran, Sept 23, IRNA – Managing Director of Aviation Industries Organization Manouchehr Manteqi said on Wednesday that the Iranian delegation in Moscow held negotiations to lease two Russian 100-seat superjets.

During their visit to aviation exhibition at Max (air show) Exhibition in Moscow, the Iranian delegation conducted feasibility studies on the performance of Russian 100-seat superjet, Manteqi said.

He said that in case of successful performance of the superjets and satisfactory maintenance services under the lease term, the national civil aviation firm may decide to purchase them.

Designing and production of superjet have been supervised by world class companies in Britain, France, US and Switzerland and some 150 of them have been sold to global market, Manteqi said.

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New bike lane for Jakarta cyclists

thejakartapost.com | Jakarta | Tue, September 22 2015 — The Jakarta city administration will develop a four-kilometer bike lane along Jl Suryopranolo and Jl Harmoni in Central Jakarta, the city’s second bike lane after the one-and-a-half km lane from Ayodya Park to Blok M in South Jakarta.

“We plan to complete the construction of the Suryopranolo-Harmoni bike lane later this year,” said City Public Works Agency head Yusmana Faisal on Tuesday as reported by beritajakarta.com.

To develop the lane, Jl Suryopranolo is being be made a one-way road and the median strip will be removed, according to Yusmana.

Meanwhile, head of roads and bridges at the Public Works Agency Yudi Febriyadi said the city administration had allocated Rp 6 billion (US$ 414,000) to the project, taken from funds allocated to sidewalk repairs in the 2015 city budget.

“These particular roads are not too crowded [with motorized vehicles]. Therefore, it is good for a bike lane,” said Yudi. Apart from developing a bicycle lane between 1.5 and 2 meters in width, the city administration will also expand the width of the sidewalk by 1.5 to 3 meters.

Yudi said that the city also planned to develop another bike lane from Jl Sudirman in South Jakarta to Kota Tua (Old Town) area in West Jakarta.

There are dozens of cycling communities in Jakarta and in its satellite cities Bogor, Bekasi, Depok and Tangerang. The Bike to Work Community is the largest cycling group with a membership of more than 3,000 people.

The cycling communities have long criticized the city administration for its sluggish effort to develop bike lanes.

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Chinese economic delegation to visit Tehran

Beijing, Sept 21, IRNA – China said on Monday that head of Assets Supervision and Administration Commission accompanying with a high ranking delegation is to depart for Tehran on Monday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei declared Chinese delegation visit to Iran on his Monday briefing.

Hong Lie said that the Chinese delegation 3-day visit to Iran will be under supervision of head of State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) Zhang Yi.

He added that Zhang Yi is to discuss issues of mutual interests with Iranian trade and economy officials during his stay in Tehran.

Hong Lei did not name Iranian officials due to meet with Zhang Yi. Zhang Yi is to visit Iran upon invitation of Iranian government.

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A 160-member French economic delegation to visit Iran

Tehran, Sept 20, IRNA – Head of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture Mohsen Jalalpour said on Sunday that a 160-member French economic delegation will come to Iran on September 21.

The French delegation will meet their Iranian counterparts in a meeting on Monday at Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Mines and Industries, he said.

The French delegation comprised of experts and businessmen in energy, oil, gas, petrochemical, banks, insurance, services, transport, infrastructural affairs, industries, commerce, telecommunications, technological know-how, information technology, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

After clinching the final deal between Iran and G5+1 in Vienna, Tehran hosts various politico-economic delegations mainly from European countries, such as Germany, France, Italy, Serbia, Austria, Czech, Spain and Ukraine.

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Tunisia Plans Measures to Revive Tourism

24 September 2015 – Tunis Afrique Presse – Hamammet — The measures to support the tourism sector that will be implemented soon involve hotels, travel agencies, tourist restaurants as well as handicrafts, Minister of Tourism Selma Elloumi Rekik said, adding that the modalities of the latter’s support are being considered.

Speaking to TAP on the sidelines of a conference in Hammamet, Rekik noted that these short term measures will be implemented soon, adding that the delay recorded in this area is due to the concern to complete the entire legal process.

The minister said the crisis in the tourism sector is a national crisis that involves the different components of the economy.

The sector is also concerned by a reform strategy providing for the adoption of quality, services, insurance and security standards that should be guaranteed in all hotels, she said, stressing that the sector suffers, in particular, from dependence to international travel agencies.

Rekik denied reports about the number of closed hotels, noting that the number of open hotels exceeds 400 units out of the sector’s 613 units.

Four million tourists have visited Tunisia since early September 2015, nearly one million less than the previous season.

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Algerian Business Council in Dubai to Boost Investment Flows

24 September 2015 – Algerie Presse Service – Algiers — An Algerian Business Council has been recently created in Dubai by the Algerian business community in the United Arab Emirates to ensure a business climate favouring the development of partnerships and the growth of investment flows between Algeria and the United Arab Emirates.

Working under the aegis of Dubai’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, this economic association’s main mission is “to support the members in their steps to prospect markets and in investments in Algeria and the United Arab Emirates,” told APS its secretary general Sid Ahmed Benraouane.

Focusing its actions in making business relations in the fields of oil industry, construction, commerce and services, this council (the Algerian Business Council) is open to “all the Emirati companies working in Algeria,” said this Algerian entrepreneur living in Dubai.

There are at present, in Dubai, about 200 Algerian companies in several sectors like services, real-estate, commerce, transport and logistics.

According to Benraouane, the organization of meetings, allowing the exchange of ideas and information between the investors and the managers of specific sectors, is among the council’s main activities.

The objective is to support trading between the two countries to “allow the formation of new partnerships between the Algerian and Emirati companies.”

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Opera of Algiers to Be Delivered By End of 2015

20 September 2015 – Algerie Presse Service (Algiers) — The Opera of Algiers located in Ouled Fayet, Algiers, will be delivered by the end of 2015, announced Saturday in Algiers Minister of Culture Azzeddine Mihoubi.

The Opera of Algiers is a “major gain” for the Algerian culture and the national art scene, said Mihoubi in an inspection and working visit, with Algiers’ governor Abdelkader Zoukh, to the citadel of Algiers’ Casbah, the archaeological excavation site in the Martyrs Square (Algiers) and the archaeological site of Tamantfoust.

After extending his thanks to China which donated this Opera to Algeria, Mihoubi said that Algiers province needs this kind of infrastructure because of the lack of theatres.

The opera consists of a theatre (12, 000 seats) and an opera house with 1,400 seats.

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Algerian Storyteller At International Festival of Sharjah

21 September 2015 – Algerie Presse Service (Algiers) — Professional storyteller and writer Seddik Mahi will take part in the International Storytelling Festival in Sharjah (United Arab Emirates), to be held from 27 to 1 October, said the Sunday Seddik Mahi.

Regular performer at theatres of “Halqa,” Seddik Mahi will present during this event tales taken from the Algerian oral folk heritage, notably the tales and legends of Southern Algeria, including “el moula el moula,” presented in several international festivals.

The artist will also present tales of our ancestors entitled “wach kalet nas ezman.”

The International Storytelling Festival of Sharjah is meant to achieve the objectives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aimed at preserving the heritage and wealth of humanity.

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Cameroon: Access to Tourist Sites As Major Challenge

21 September 2015 – Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé) – Cameroon is described as “Africa in miniature” because it offers all major characteristics that can be found in other countries on the continent: a highly diverse cultural background with more than 200 ethnic groups and over 233 languages, exceptional geological, ecological and botanic potentials, wildlife in its natural form and varied climatic conditions. This is the main reason why tourism is ranked the 10th priority of President Paul Biya. The objective is to make Cameroon a leading tourist destination.

During a public lecture in Bonanjo, Douala, on September 18, 2015, on the stakes and challenges of tourism in the country, presided by the Senior Divisional Officer for Wouri, Naseri Paul Béa, the panel of specialists agreed on one point. Emmanuel Blaise Ngaleu Djielom, Wouri Delegate of Tourism and Leisure; Prof. Emmanuel Djuatio, Micro-economist; Piga Boniface, tourism expert; and Wouassom Jean, consultant and moderator; were unanimous that the effective development of tourism is hindered by access and improvement problems.

Prof. Emmanuel Djuatio said tourism makes up for 2 per cent of the national budget, far from the 10 per cent and above which should make Cameroon a tourism destination. The littoral section of the country, the experts pointed out, boasts an extensive coastline marked by grayish yellow fine sand, with a good site for sea and beach-loving visitors, but there is need for development.

According to the World Bank, the number of tourist arrivals in Cameroon in 2013 was 912,000. In the Far North Region, which is prone to constant terrorist attacks, hotel occupancy received a major blow. Estimates from various reports conclude that a drastic fall occurred “in the occupancy levels of some hotels, falling from 90 per cent to 30 per cent.” On the other hand, 817,000 tourists visited the country in 2012. With the threat of Boko Haram, the objective announced by Prime Minister Philemon Yang to welcome two million tourists in 2015 seems far-fetched.

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Cameroon Business Climate Improves

25 September 2015 – Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé) – Investors now find Cameroon as ‘the best risk’ to do business thanks to existing legal and administrative instruments.

Available information indicates that Cameroon’s economy is faring fairly well in its drive to attaining a middle-income economy status by 2035. According to documentation on the country’s economic performance from the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development (MINEPAT), the skies are increasingly becoming brighter for Cameroon judging from her economic growth in the past five years.

In a document titled, “Focus on Cameroon’s Economy,” MINEPAT notes that, “National economy has increased at an average of 4.7 per cent during the last five years (2010-2014.)” But the growth falls below the projections of the long-term development plan contained in the Growth and Employment Strategy Paper whose target was to attain a 5.5 per cent average annual economic growth rate between 2010-2020.

“The government expects the upholding of the economic growth in 2015 with a rate of about 6 per cent and control inflation below 3 per cent despite the inflationist pressure strengthened by the revaluation of fuel prices in July 2014 and the increase of some food stuffs,” the document holds. However, analysts posit that for an economy to attain an emergent status, it must have sustained a double-digit growth rate for decades, every other thing being equal.

Cleansing The Business Climate

MINEPAT observes that much is being done to cleanse the hitherto unfriendly business climate so as to attract substantial and sustainable investors, especially direct foreign investments. The moves include among others the April 18, 2013 law on private investment incentives in Cameroon, the 2013 law governing economic zones in the country and the regular holding of the Cameroon Business Forum, a platform for public/private concertation on improving the business climate. The creation and rendering operational of the bank for small and medium-size enterprises and the launching in 2013 of Leasing, a mechanism to equip enterprises, are said to be good steps in the right direction.

The April 18, 2013 law on private investment incentives has been yielding palpable fruits already. Since the enactment of Law No. 2013/004 of 18 April 2013 that provides incentives for private investments, about 44 companies have already signed licenses with government, some of which have started production. These companies are pumping or will inject about FCFA 698 billion into the national economy to generate over 23,228 jobs.

The companies are offered diverse advantages during the installation and production phases (15 years) so as to get back their investments before government’s full fiscal policies are applied on them. For instance, during the installation phase, the businesses are exempted from registration duties in cases of creation or increase in capital; exemption from registration duties on leases of buildings for purely professional use and exemption from transfer taxes on the acquisition of buildings and land considered essential for the realisation of the investment programme.

Meanwhile, during the operational phase, investors have exemptions from or reductions on payments on some taxes, exemption from registration duties relating to credit facilities, loans, bonds, increments, reduction, reimbursement and liquidation of share capital, or any transfer of activities, among others. These and more rekindle hope that the economy could be better tomorrow than it was yesterday and today.

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Gambia: Farmers’ Platform Develops Website

22 September 2015 – The Point (Banjul) – The National Famers’ Platform of the Gambia (NFPG) with funding from the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) under the auspicious of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) yesterday launched the NFPG website for farmers at the Wellingara Horticultural Centre.

In his launching statement, Yankuba Sawo, who represented the FAO country representative at the function, said the FFF project is an important initiative, which FAO supports, to help in the building of the country’s forest and ecosystem.

“We cannot have good agricultural production and productivity without having healthy forest cover,” he said. “Good environment means having good forest in our midst.”

He said the project team worked very hard to realize the development and launching of the website.

“I think this is very important information sharing and is a platform that farmers can use to reach their counterparts in other parts of the country and beyond,” he said

He challenged the NFPG to adopt best practices through sharing information, as well as adopt and implement good ideas from outside.

For his part, the National Facilitator for FFF, Kanimang Camara, said FFF was launched in The Gambia in 2013.

“Since the launching of the FFF in The Gambia we’ve been working on key pillars of support and one of the key pillars of FFF is ensuring that farmers’ voice is heard at all levels,” he said. “The second pillar is ensuring that government cross sectorial coordination is nurtured and supported.”

According to Mr Camara, the rationale behind creating the website is to ensure there is linkage between farmers themselves and linkage between farmers and producers, as well as linkage between farmers and other actors along the chain.

“FFF with the support of key partners, like IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and FAO, since early 2014 we have concluded a letter of agreement with the farmers and one of the key activities under this agreement is supporting them with webpage designing, and also setting up this webpage alongside training of key executive members to maintain the webpage. These are key aspects of our communication plan for ensuring that farmers’ voices are heard.”

‘We have seen that farmers are facing difficulty in marketing and it is a key constraint, and one of the key activities of FFF is creating linkages between those producers and key actors along the chain. This webpage should serve as a platform for information sharing even where products are available.”

In his welcome remarks, the president of The National Farmers Platform the Gambia (NFPG), Alagie Bassi Mboge, thanked FAO for supporting farmers through the FFF programme and the development of a website.

“We have benefited from the signing of an agreement for the implementation of programs for producer groups,” he said.

“We cannot talk about the Forest and Farm Facility without reflecting on the key roles carried by NACO and the Country Facilitator Kanimang Camara for guiding the whole process of implementation of the facility in The Gambia.”

He added: “We as the NFP owe him a lot of gratitude as well as you the members and partners to the platform.”

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Increase in Flights Between Tunisia and Germany

18 September 2015 – Tunis Afrique Presse (Tunis) — The number of weekly flights between Tunisia and Germany will rise to 80 from 23, said Director General of the Civil Aviation Habib Mekki.

This increase in flights comes after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Tunisian and German directorates general of civil aviation, on the sidelines of a visit made last September 14 and 15 to Bonn, Germany, he added at a press conference Friday.

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IUF Holds Annual Caucus in Hammamet, Supports Tourism in Tunisia

23 September 2015 – Tunis Afrique Presse – Hammamet — International Union of Food, Agriculture, Hotel, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers (IUF) General-Secretary Ron Oswald said, Wednesday, “solidarity with Tunisia is a fight against terrorism and a guarantee of success of the democratic process in this country.”

In a statement to TAP, the official said the organisation in Tunisia of the annual conference of the Union, with the participation of representatives of the five continents is “a message to all Tunisians and all workers.”

“The IUF, which represents more than 400 union organisations and 127 countries, supports Tunisian tourism,” he further said.

He added that “Tunisia’s success in its democratic process is an important threat to terrorism and terrorists who seek by all means to thwart this unique experience.”

Minister of Tourism Salma Elloumi Rekik emphasised the need “to lift the travel ban to Tunisia, saying this measure has caused significant damage to the tourist sector and the national economy.”

Houcine Abbasi, Secretary-General of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) said “the current situation of the tourist sector needs further efforts from the UGTT, from all the political parties, organisations and the government to energise economic diplomacy likely to save the sector as well as the national economy.”

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Uganda: Lira Set to Host World Tourism Day

24 September 2015 – The Monitor (Kampala) — Government and tourism sector officials have started descending on Lira Town in northern Uganda ahead of World Tourism Day celebrations due this weekend.

The week-long festivals started on Monday with school outreach activities where officials from the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) are visiting schools to activate tourism and wildlife clubs in Lira District, says Edwin Muzahura, the marketing manager of UTB.

He said since tourism clusters have been created in Busoga, Buganda, Ankole, Rwenzori and Kigezi regions, this was the time for Lango region to bring out its culture, history, lifestyle and other tourism attractions.

Since Monday, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has organised a tourism drive to Murchison Falls National Park.

People have been picked from Lira at Shs65,000 and transported to the park for a night, with accommodation, meals, game drive and a boat cruise.

The offer of the park, which is 150 kilometres north west of Lira, ends this Friday.

Various towns host the celebrations on rotational basis with Jinja, Gulu, Entebbe and Fort Portal hosting the event in the past four years.

Mr Muzahura said Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (Uwec) was taking 200 wildlife species to Lira to show the people there the various animals from other parts of the country on top of supporting the region in showcasing its own culture.

“We have organised a cultural gala this Saturday at Lira Hotel in conjunction with the private sector,” he said.

Mr Muzahura explained that tourism goes along entertainment and that was why on top of cultural troupes, UTB was spicing the day with contemporary artistes to make the day memorable.

Mr Muzahura said Lango is a unique place given its history, location and beauty.

“We want to show tourism and investment opportunities in Lira and Lango,” he said.

“Our job as UTB is to open up the whole of Uganda to Ugandans. That is why we have invited over 300 people from other clusters in Busoga, Buganda, Kigezi, Acholi, etc, to go see opportunities in Lango. We cannot imagine there are people in Uganda who have never crossed the Karuma Bridge, ” he added.

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Tourism Minister Says Egypt Is ‘Stable’, Traffic Up 5% Since January

21 September 2015 – Aswat Masriya (Cairo) — In his first public statement since taking the oath on Saturday, Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou downplayed the killing of Mexican tourists by Egyptian armed forces, referring to the incidend as a “mistake that doesn’t represent a security threat”.

He added that an investigation is currently underway and that the security situation in Egypt is generally “stable”.

Eight Mexicans and four Egyptians were killed and 10 were wounded on Sept. 13 near a popular oasis in the Western Desert when, mistaking them for terrorists, Egyptian helicopter gunships bombed the group around 5 times over a period of 3 hours, even after security forces on the ground had stopped them twice and cleared their passage.

The general prosecutor issued a publishing ban on the investigation until its conclusion. The ban includes all media outlets and only allows the publishing of official statements issued by the prosecutor.

Zaazou also said that tourism traffic increased 5 percent between January and August.

Tourism had reached its peak in 2010, reaching a record of 7.14 million visitors.

However, the political and security instablility in the aftermath of the Jan. 25, 2011 uprising hit the tourism sector hard.

In its efforts to speed up the recovery, the government has contracted global marketing and advertising agency JWT at an annual cost of $22 million for the next three years.

The minister pointed out that European tourists constituted 70% of tourist influx to Egypt in 2014. He also said that the total number of Russian tourists in 2014 was 3 million.

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Good Signs for Gambian tourism

22 September 2015 – The Point (Banjul) – The starting of the 2015/16 tourist season, marked by the arrival of the first flight, carrying 154 tourists, is an indication that there is hope in the horizon this time around.

The last year’s tourist season was full of challenges due to the Ebola outbreak in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Even though the virus itself has not spread to The Gambia, its impact was really felt – holidaymakers were put off from visiting ‘the Smiling Coast’.

The good news is that the fear seems to have gone as Ebola is gradually subsiding even in countries that were hardest hit.

To that effect, the outlook of this season is quite positive with the arrival of the first flight one month before the usual start of the tourism season.

A total of at least 70,000 tourists is expected to visit the country before the end of the season.

Nothing less than nine flights are expected from Holland and eight from the United Kingdom; a total of at least 25 tourist flights is expected in ‘the Smiling Coast’ for this year’s tourist season.

So really there is a gleam of hope and the outlook is quite positive; hence there is optimism that it is going to be a great season.

The tourism officials, particularly at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Gambia Tourism Board, must have made a lot of efforts from the end of the previous season to now to warrant this hopeful beginning.

Meanwhile, all the tourists are welcome to enjoy the miles of golden coastline, long hours of sunshine, and the balmy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

However, if the beaches, birds, sunshine, and the hospitality of The Gambia which have made it ‘the Smiling Coast’, are properly marketed, the country could be a notch closer in achieving the vision and aspiration to transforming into a tourism haven.

Tourism is one of the vital nerves of The Gambia as it accounts for a huge percentage of the annual economic output, and more than 20,000 people are employed by the sector.So every effort to further enhance the development of the sector should be hastened.

There should be concrete contingency measures in place to cater for any emergency that could disrupt the tourist season, so that the gleam of hope in the development of the industry is not dashed for anything that could be tackled.

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Nigeria: New Flights to Boost Regional Trade

22 September 2015 – CAJ News Agency – Abuja — THE Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has completed safety assessment and design of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) approved Performance Based Navigation (PBN) regional routes to enhance regional connectivity within the African and Indian Ocean (AFI) region.

The agency said these routes included a new airway linking Nairobi in Kenya direct to Abuja in Nigeria (UT475), another linking Bangui in Central African Republic (CAR) direct to Tamale in Ghana (UT458) and a Europe direct route from Abuja to Tamaransset in Algeria (UT416).

NAMA added that others are an international route from Garoa in Cameroon to Niamey in Niger Republic through Kano in Nigeria (UT459), to Guiney Conakry (467) and Oxilo in Cameroon direct to Lagos (UT457).

Managing Director of NAMA, Engineer Ibrahim Abdulsalam, said these new routes should become operational on the AIRAC date of October 15 and it had been published worldwide through the Nigerian AIP Supplement issued by NAMA.

He said the gains of the new regional routes included enhanced airspace capacity utilization and reduced flight times.

Abdulsalam expressed confidence that the new routes would also boost regional integration, co-operation and trade within the sub-region.

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Eko New Yam, Beach Fest – Mission to Lift Tourism in Lagos

18 September 2015 – The Guardian (Lagos) – Motivated by the desire to take Igbo New Yam Festival to greater heights, Chinedu Idezuna has renamed the fiesta in Lagos as Eko Oni Baje New Yam and Beach Festival. Spicing it with other theatrics in addition to the aquatic splendor of Lagos State, the new name is to create a wider audience and acceptance for the Igbo cultural festival held at the beginning of new yam harvest.

Idezunna, a celebrated sculptor and commonly referred to as Ezemmuo Africa among virtual art practitioners, hopes to use the festival, which is in its 7th edition to attract tourists and promote Nigerian art and culture.

Started as Iriji Ndigbo (Ndigbo New Yam Festival) in 1998, organisers of the yearly feast keyed into the vision of Eko Oni Baje of the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) with the aim of participating actively in the efforts to reclaim the state’s lost glory, and thereby preserving its aquatic heritage and lifting its tourism profile.

He said: “The rechristening became necessary because it enabled us to bring all the communities in Ibeju Lekki and the state in general into the festival. Though an Igbo idea, the festival is coined from Yoruba etymology and celebrated by everyone because Lagos is seen as a mini world.

“This edition, which holds from September 18 to 20, 2015 has been enlarged to incorporate expatriates and organisations like the Nigeria Fields Society. This goes to say, it would be world-class festival. In addition, it has received acceptance and endorsement from the paramount ruler and the Onibeju of Ibejuland, Oba Olusegun Salami. He was part of the festival last year and still remains committed to it. We also have the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Lagos State Council of Arts and Culture, and Lagos State Ministry of Tourism and Intergovernmental Affairs solidly behind the festival.

“Others are notable groups like Oganiru Ndigbo, Igbo in Diaspora, Onyeaghalanwanneya group of Ibeju Lekki, as well as groups from Calabar, Nupe, Isoko, Senegalese, African Pride of Arts and Culture of Nigeria (APACON), Ogene Omambara Cultural Group and Professor Maurice Fangnon-led group from Republic of Benin, who would thrill the audience with potpourri of acts during the festival. We equally have in attendance representatives of the human right community and the media. We shall also be having children from the less privileged home showcase their craft, alongside Taekwondo group from the Republic of Benin and masquerade dancers,” he disclosed.

Apart from all the activities line up to make the festival a grand one, Idezuna dreams to see United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) endorse the festival and as such make it an international event.

“Plans are on ground to make UNESCO adopt the festival and this is the reason we are involving the Nigeria Fields Society. When Susan Wenger, Adunni Olorisa, was still alive, Nigeria Fields Society supported her and others to promote the Osun Osogbo Festival and today UNESCO has endorsed the festival. So, the involvement of Nigeria Fields Society in Eko Oni Baje and Beach Festival gives us hope that in no distant time, the festival would have the stamp of the world culture body.

“Their major prerequisite is that the community where it is being celebrated, which Oba Salami has provided and endorsed, must accept the festival. There were 400 of them, who visited the Oba to ascertain the level of acceptance of the festival by the community. And at the end of the day, they felt satisfied. This year, they have promised to bring in more tourists into the state to witness the festival by setting up their own organising committee. They are concentrating on tourists, who want to use the opportunity to visit the state and other tourists’ sites in the country.

“Last year, over eight people from Nigeria Fields Society attended the festival for the first time. And one of the ladies from the Ibeju Lekki got married to one of the white men, who came for the festival, while another one bought a piece of land at Ibeju Lekki beachside, because according to him, he likes the beach,” he revealed.

Holding at Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu Central Business District in Elemoro, Ibeju Lekki because of its good space for crafts exhibition, stage performances and packing lot, Idezuna calls on governments at all levels to pay more attention to the development of tourism.

“Federal Minister and State Commissioners of Arts, Culture and Tourism should cut down on travels to the various festivals abroad as we experienced in the immediate past administration. I also want President Buhari to deal with domestic tourism the same way he is dealing with the oil and gas sector. We need a policy thrust that can diversify the economy from mono product of oil as major Federal revenue earner to tourism and mining. This is the only way our dependence on oil can be challenged. I must point out that tourism is God’s gift.

“The importance of the arts and culture to the development of tourism, cannot be overemphasised. In fact, if our tourism is properly managed it could be next to the oil sector. It could raise our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) earning. The oil sector with its galloping prizes is still unstable.

And there are a lot of technological feats that are today challenging it. But tourism can be felt and seen on daily basis. Our natural endowment still remains unchallenged, waiting to be tapped for optimum growth and benefits.

“The 800 year old Igimeta (three-in-one tree) tourists spot in Ibeju Lekki cannot be moved from where it is and anyone who wants to be part of the healing, which the tree provides must come to Ibeju Lekki. And its potential to contribute to the promotion of domestic tourism of the state is always prevalent. For example, if we have about 5000 tourists visit the community yearly the effects in terms of earnings from those selling pure water, seafood and other edible articles would be unquantifiable.

“We have mapped out 20-year plan for the festival to become a global festival that would attract Africans in the Diaspora and boost tourism of the community and Lagos State at large. We are reaching the goal because it is no longer a one-man show. It now has the backing of Lagos State government. Some people have even called me from the Caribbeans and Brazil to request for the calendar of festival and tourists sites of the country.”

Prepared to use the platform to showcase Nigeria’s historical sites, Idezunna has packaged a tour group that would take tourists around the country. “We have put together a tour plan that would take tourists to Osun grove in Osogbo, Olumo Rock, Tinapa, Ogunike cave, Arugungu festival, La Campagne Tropicana Resort and the Whispering palms.

“And for those of them that love religious tourism, the RCCG Redemption Camp and Father Mbaka Church and others would be visited,” he said.

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Guyana President pushes eco-tourism opportunities in Toronto

Georgetown, GINA, September 18, 2015 – The visit to Canada by President David Granger and First Lady, Sandra Granger was described as engaging and interactive. According to Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, the President reported that the Guyanese Diaspora in Canada have a great interest in what is happening back home.

Informing the media of Cabinet deliberations this week, Harmon said, “So enthused was the President that he has already instructed the Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, that he must assemble a team of Members of Cabinet, and others within the Ministry, to go back to Canada, and to revisit and hold discussions with those who had interactions with President, along the line of returning and investing in their country.”

The President and First Lady were in Toronto, Canada, for a three-day visit. He used the occasion to repeat calls for Guyanese to return and invest their skills and capital to help move Guyana forward.

It was reported too that that President Granger entertained discussion regarding investment proposals, from a group of business persons, who are serious and optimistic about investing in Guyana’s Hinterland and other areas in the country.

The President and First Lady were accompanied by Minister of Social Cohesion, Amna Ally. The three were able to offer insights on, “the huge eco-tourism potential in Guyana’s Hinterland, just waiting to be exploited.” Together they expounded the idea that it is preferable for Guyanese in the Diaspora, to return and work to develop an excellent eco-tourism product.

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Guyana to sign on to sustainable development goals 2030

Georgetown, GINA, September 21, 2015 – Guyana is set to sign on to the new set of global human development goals aimed at eliminating poverty globally.

At the Sustainable Development Summit on September 25, 2015, at the United Nations General Assembly, New York, Guyana and other United Nations Member States will adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change, all by 2030.

This is according to Minister of Business and Investment, Dominic Gaskin, who was at the time addressing the opening of the 11th Berbice Exposition and Trade Fair on September 18, 2015, at the Albion Community Centre Ground, Corentyne Berbice.

The Minister advised that this agenda builds on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), for which 2015 is the deadline.

“These Sustainable Development Goals, as they are called, will be the new goals that we will have to work on achieving. One of these specifically pointed out is to promote sustained, inclusive and economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”

The Minister is of the view that this goal and all of its objectives are global, and its meaning clear. In this context, the government is looking to frame a National Economic Strategy for Guyana.

“I believe we owe it to our young population and the next generation of Guyanese, to ensure that our economy can provide them with good paying and skilled jobs. I would like us to start looking at these goals and treat them as common objectives for the future of this country,” the Minister stated.

Gaskin is of the view that over the last 50 years, Guyana failed to develop a strong and viable economy that is capable of competing with the rest of the world. “I believe that failure has a lot to with our own failure to recognise and accept a common set of goals and objectives for this country’s future,” he said.

The minister of Business told Berbicians that one of the priority areas of the Ministry of Business is to increase Guyana’s exports, especially in Value Added products. This process is facilitated by the Guyana Office for Investment (GOINVEST). He also said that the Government is seeking to significantly increase Guyana’s presence in foreign markets and to increase significantly foreign direct investments in Guyana’s economy.

The SDGs, otherwise known as the Global Goals, build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight anti-poverty targets that the world committed to achieving by 2015. The MDGs, adopted in 2000, aimed at an array of issues that included slashing poverty, hunger, disease, gender inequality, and improving access to water and sanitation.

Enormous progress has been made on the MDGs, showing the value of a unifying agenda underpinned by goals and targets. Despite this success, the indignity of poverty has not ended for all.

The new Global Goals, and the broader sustainability agenda go much further than the MDGs, addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people.

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Heritage Exhibition on at Mahaicony Vocational Training Centre

Georgetown, GINA, September 22, 2015 – The National Trust of Guyana, yesterday launched its annual Heritage Exhibition, under the theme, “Promoting Heritage, Fostering National Pride.” The event took place at the Technical and Vocational Training Centre, Mahaicony, Region Five.

Minister within the Ministry of Education, Department of Culture, Youth and Sport, Nicolette Henry, declared open the exhibition.

In her address, Henry thanked the National Trust of Guyana for preserving and promoting national heritage and once again hosting the Exhibition.

Minster Henry noted that heritage is the business of everyone. “This year’s theme of Promoting Heritage, Fostering National Pride, is indeed a fitting one at this time, as it not only encapsulates the diversity in our heritage and showcases what we ought to be proud of today, but it encourages us to respect and appreciate this rich national legacy, so that our present and future generations can learn from it, and sustain it with pride,” the Minister said.

Henry also emphasized that all tangible and non-tangible aspects of Guyanese heritage are aimed at encouraging national pride. She pointed out that the national monuments play a big role in recognizing Guyana’s history, as they highlight the achievements of the Guyanese people.

To this end, the Minister called on Guyanese to contribute to the preservation of their heritage in whatever way they can, while at the same time encouraging others to do the same. She asked Guyanese to join in the celebration of the country’s 50th Independence anniversary, which comes up next year.

Minister Henry explained that the celebration is expected to last throughout the year 2016, and would be used to sensitize Guyanese about their rich and diverse heritage.

Also speaking at the opening of the exhibition was Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Trust Guyana, Nirvana Persaud. Persaud pointed out that the exhibition is aimed at increasing heritage awareness in Guyana. She stated that, “No society could survive without the culture that defines its identity.”

Minister Henry urged members of the public to come out and view the exhibition, as they will be learning a lot about the Guyanese heritage. The Heritage Exhibition remains open until October 2, 2015.

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Over 300 small enterprises to part take in Guyana Business Expo 2015

Georgetown GINA, September 23, 2015 – The Ministry of Business, today launched the first Business Exposition, which is slated for the Sophia Exhibition Center, November 27-29, 2015. The objective of the Exposition is to create awareness and open new markets for local products. However, there are several other objectives that the Ministry hopes to accomplish.

The Ministry hopes to promote an event that is a catalyst for the development of local small and medium size businesses in Guyana, one that promotes and showcases Guyana’s locally produced products and services and link them to market and investment opportunities and to promote an opportunity for large businesses to utilize the vehicle of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to propel the birthing and growth of small businesses, among others.

Speaking at the launch of the Expo, Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, explained that the Government knows that GuyExpo has become an important activity on the calendar of local businesses, primarily the small business sector, and since GuyExpo was impossible this year, the Ministry moved to this undertaking.

Gaskin explained that the Small Business Expo would be somewhat different from the traditional one, since its primary focus will be on small businesses and not entertainment. He noted that over the years, the entertainment became the main focus, and the exhibitors the mere “side show.” However, there will still be some forms of entertainment, but more of the cultural type.

After his remarks, the Minister unveiled the theme for the activity: “Guyanese Products and Services-Our Gateway Forward.”

Ramsey Ali, President of the Guyana Manufacturing Services Association (GMSA), the main partnering entity in organising and hosting the Expo, pointed out that it will prove very beneficial to the over 300 participants, because larger companies will be assisting the smaller producers to market their products. For example, GMSA will be taking small producers under its umbrella to help to market their products.

Ali said that he is looking forward to walking around and seeing more local products, rather than the international ones, which seemed to have dominated the markets and Expo over time.

Participating businesses include the Guyana Agro-processors Association, Guyana Aquaculture Association, Guyana Arts and Craft Producers Association, Guyana Beekeepers Association, Fashion Designers, Children Fun land owners, Cooperatives and Tourism Operatives among many others.

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Guyana’s Maritime sector to be further developed

Georgetown, GINA, September 25, 2015 – Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, today indicated thatefforts would be made to strengthen the local maritime agency.

The minister made this announcement at the opening ceremony of the World Maritime Day Exhibition, hosted by the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), under the theme “Maritime Education and Training”

The exhibition is in the compound of the Transport and Harbour Department of the ministry.

According to Patterson, while Guyana’s marine section of the transportation sector is slightly behind, government plans to direct more investments in the physical transportation sector of the industry,over the short and medium terms.

While investments will be made to acquire modern vessels to boost the transportation sector, the Infrastructure Minister believes that training for those in the industry is also important.

“I’d like to task MARAD and everyone else to look at training to help develop a large cadre of maritime professionals. I have spoken to my counterpart minister in Jamaica, they have a well-established maritime school, with the hope that maybe from next year we can establish a full scholarship for eligible students from Guyana where they will only be required to pay board and lodging,” Minister Patterson disclosed.

Patterson added that, with the advent of Petroleum exploration, investments will be made to enhance the necessary maritime standards so that MARAD can be better equipped to police the waterways, ensure the safety of those who travel and execute search and rescue missions, should there be a disaster on any of the oil exploration platforms.

Minister Patterson further said that MARAD will soon address the issue of sunken and derelict vessels in the country’s waterways as they pose serious problems to the safety of boats plying the varying channels. As such, a comprehensive plan to execute this objective will be developed.

“I know there are some areas that need strengthening, in that regard there is now a lawyer on board at MARAD who is tasked with reviewing the maritime laws to bring Guyana upto the international standard,” Patterson said.

Claudette Rogers, Director-General of MARAD, indicated that this year’s theme is most appropriate as maritime education and training continues to be a primary concern for policymakers and operators, given the fact that the advancement and expansion of the sector is heavily dependent on the skills of practitioners in the shipbuilding companies, port operations and onboard ships.

She added that since MARAD’s establishment it has sought to create synergies with other administrations and in the Caribbean Region and the United States Coast Guard to create and promote training exercises.

Today’s event also saw a number of boat captains and bowmen being honoured for their outstanding efforts towards safety, in providing transportation on the waterways.

The United Nations implemented World Maritime Day to celebrate the industry’s contribution to the world economy especially in shipping. The annual event focuses on the maritime environment, safety and security for boats and ships.

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World Bank Pledges Strong Support For Bangladesh Development

DHAKA, Bangladesh Sept. 22 (NNN-Xinhua) — World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region, Annette Dixon, has pledged strong support for the development of Bangladesh. Dixon praised Monday Bangladesh’s progress in poverty reduction and economic development during her second visit to the country in her current role.

“The World Bank will continue to support Bangladesh in areas necessary to move up within middle income country status. Bangladesh will need sustained reform efforts for further advancement,” said Dixon.

The World Bank classified Bangladesh as a lower-middle country earlier this year.

According to a statement of the bank, Dixon visited Bangladesh at a time when the World Bank is preparing its Country Partnership Framework, which will guide the World Bank’s engagement in Bangladesh.

The framework is aligned with the government’s seventh five- year plan and follows the same planning cycle, it said.

Dixon met with senior government officials, including the finance minister and the governor of Bangladesh Bank, and discussed the World Bank’s Country Partnership Framework for Bangladesh for fiscal years 2016-20. She also met with civil society leaders.

“The World Bank will help Bangladesh address its priorities, including creating more and better jobs, a key driver for growth and shared prosperity. World Bank support will continue to improve power and transportation, manage urbanization, improve health and education outcomes, as well as mitigate climate change impacts,” said Dixon.

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Bait Al-Othman Museum In Kuwait To Present New Exhibits

KUWAIT, Sept 25 (NNN-KUNA) – The Bait Al-Othman Museum in Kuwait, will open a number of new exhibits, showcasing Kuwaiti antiquities, sports items, and scenes from the old market in Kuwait, said an official here Friday.

Head of the Kuwaiti heritage team at Bait Al-Othman Museum, Dr. Anwar Al-Refaei, told KUNA that, four new exhibits will be opened at the museum.

Dr. Al-Refaei indicated that the sports items exhibit will showcase the development of the Kuwaiti sports scene, since the 1930’s and will highlight the country’s sports achievements, namely Kuwait’s participation in Spain’s World Football Cup in 1982.

The exhibits will also put on display sportswear and mementoes donated by Kuwaiti athletes to the Museum, said the official.

Dr. Al-Refaei also said that, an exhibit dedicated to the collections, antiquities, and historical items owned by Dr. Yaqoub Al-Hajji and Ismail Behbehani will also be on display in two separate sections.

An exhibit dedicated to the history of the old market in Kuwait will also be on display, said the official.

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Saudi Arabia, Peru agree to promote tourism, heritage

Friday 18 Sep 2015 – Lima, (IINA) – President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) Prince Sultan bin Salman met with President of Peru Ollanta Humala here on Wednesday, SPA reported.

During the meeting, Saudi Arabia and Peru have signed a memorandum of cooperation to promote tourism and heritage. The deal was signed by Prince Sultan and Peru’s Minister of Culture and Tourism Diana Alvarez Calderon.

President Humala lauded the Kingdom’s key role in handling major economic and political issues in the Middle East region. Prince Sultan conveyed greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman. Humala offered his greetings to the King.

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Reconstructed Central Mosque Reopens in Moscow

Wednesday 23 Sep 2015 – Moscow, (IINA) – Russian President Vladimir Putin opened on Wednesday Moscow’s Central Mosque on the eve of Eid Al-Adha, after a decade of reconstruction works. It is regarded as the largest mosque in Russia and Europe, according to media reports.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan, Palestine’s leader Mahmoud Abbas and several Arab and Muslim officials and diplomats attended the opening ceremony upon an invitation by Putin.

The historic mosque was built in 1904, then renovated in 2005. Later it was demolished in 2011, during which it was one of four mosques in Moscow, The Moscow Times reported.

The decision to demolish the mosque was taken after the Russian authorities came to the conclusion that a total reconstruction was necessary because the old building had partially caved due to heavy rain and was no longer safe.

Another reason the authorities have given was that the mosque was deviated by several degrees from Qibla, the direction toward the Holy Kaaba in Makkah.

Despite the authority’s justification, the demolishing of the historical mosque was widely denounced by several organizations and Muslim leaders. It was also met with a huge backlash from the Muslim community. This was mainly because of the date Russia set for the demolishing works, which was on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Interfax reported.

Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Council of Muftis Rushan Abbyasov said that the mosque now has six floors that cover a space of 19,000 square meters, and that it is expected to accommodate more than 10,000 worshippers. The mosque is currently the largest in Russia.

The reconstruction of the mosque costs $170 million, of which the Russian businessman and senator Suleyman Kerimov had donated around $100 million to the project in memory of his father. The list of donors also included Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas who donated $26,000 and Turkey which donated a minbar (pulpit from which the imam delivers Friday’s sermon) and a mihrab (a semicircular niche that points to Makkah, and the place where the imam prays at).

The walls and ceilings of the mosque have traditional Russian ornamental inscriptions, which were carved by Turkish artisans, and the dome and pavilions are covered with 12 kg of gold leaf.

Russia plans to build several new mosques to keep up with the significant growth of the Muslim population. Russia is the home to 23 million Muslims and Islam is the second largest religion. Muslims account for 17 percent of the total population, coming next to Christianity who makes up 46.8 percent.

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Turkey sees ‘very slight decline in tourist numbers’ despite problems

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency – Turkey saw a very slight decrease in tourist numbers despite all the negativities, said interim Culture and Tourism Minister Yalçın Topçu, adding that these losses were not irreversible with government incentives.

“Amid escalating violence in the country, there has only a 0.38 percent decrease in the number of foreign tourists visiting Turkey in the first seven months of the year. This is not irreversible,” he said at his exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency on Sept. 17.

The number of foreign people visiting Turkey increased to 5.5 million in July, a 5.1 percent increase from the same month of 2014, according to data released by the Tourism Ministry on Sept. 2. And the number of foreign visitors decreased by around 0.4 percent in the first seven months of the year, amid rising geopolitical risks and economic problems in Russia.

Topçu said the number of tourists arriving in the first seven months of the year was 20.3 million, and tourism income was $12.6 billion.

“The government has some incentives and improvements to help reduce these (losses),” he said.

He noted that around 4.5 million Russians visited Turkey last year, making Turkey the most popular touristic spot for Russians, but there has been a decrease in the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey this year, like in many other countries, due to Russia’s economic problems.

The number of Russian tourists visiting Spain decreased by 40.9 percent, Italy by 33 percent and Greece by 51 percent this year, he added.

“Our ministry has made decisions to take several measures to support the sector across 13 countries, including Russia. In line with these measures, around $6,000 of support was given to 1,500 charter planes each, which flew from Russia to Turkey, last April and May. These supports will also be offered in the September-November period,” he noted.

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Turkey projects 41 million tourists in 2015

ANTALYA – Anadolu Agency – “Despite the negativities in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and others, Turkey will reach 2014’s figures in tourism,” said TÜRSAB head Başaran Ulusoy.

With the coming nine-day Eid al-Adha holiday, many local people will have the chance to have a vacation, increasing income in the sector, he added.

Local tourists are opting for Greece and Greek islands, the Mediterranean resort of Antalya and the Central Anatolian spot of Cappadocia this year, Ulusoy added.

He noted that the sector had been growing continuously for the last five years.

“Around 40,000 new beds are added in the sector every year. This requires around 1 million incoming tourists,” Ulusoy said. “Turkey has succeeded in not seeing dramatic losses in tourist numbers despite several problems in neighboring countries and will close the year with around 41 million in tourist numbers.

There has, however, been a decline in hotel occupancy rates of around 5-10 percent this year, but this is mainly caused by additional new beds that have recently become available. We should therefore shelve our new investments on beds for a while to make the existing capacity full.”

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Hot-air balloons to colour Turkey’s touristic Kızılırmak

SAMSUN – Doğan News Agency – Municipal authorities in the northern province of Samsun have launched hot-air balloon tours over touristic regions of the Kızılırmak basin and the Bafra district in an effort to cultivate tourism in the area.

As part of a special event, reporters were welcomed on a balloon tour to introduce and promote the new trips. Reporters sampled the scenery in a hot-air balloon with a capacity for 12 people during a 55-minute trip.

Meanwhile, the municipality announced that it would offer tour tickets, which cost around 450 Turkish Liras each, at a 66 percent discount for the first month.

Other tourism projects are also expected in region, including trekking tours and paragliding facilities in the Kapıkaya area.

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Roman King’s Road to open for travellers

MERSİN – Doğan News Agency – Those fancying a spin on the superhighways of the ancients need look no further than Mersin’s Erdemli district, where archaeologists are preparing to open the 4.5-kilometer-long, Roman-era King’s Road to tourism.

Cleaning work has started to unearth the road, which connects the ancient city to the Kızkalesi Castle, in the ancient city of Elaussia Sebaste.

“Those who want to walk on this road will travel to the Roman era 2,000 years ago and experience the ancient age. There are millions of Europeans and Turks who want to walk on roads like this. The road will be on the list of the groups of these people,” said Roma Le Sapienza University Archaeology Department Professor Annalisa Polosa, who is heading the excavation at Elaussia Sebaste, which first began in 1994.

A number of artifacts have been unearthed in the ancient city, including the King’s Road. Mersin Municipality teams are currently working to clean the road under the direction of Polosa.

Stating that they would start restoration on the road after cleaning, Polosa said, “When this 2,000-year-old Roman-era road is opened, the necropolises on the road will be unearthed, too. This road will add value to this region as it has not been unearthed so far because of neglect.”

Polosa said the road would be on the list of international groups that organize archaeological trips around the world.

“People will be able to travel on the ancient road. As well as the necropolises on the roadside, there is a chance to see Kızkalesi, which is located on the sea. They will imagine the magnificence 2,000 years ago. Then the name of the region will be known better,” the professor said.

She said cleaning the ancient road was a big project carried out by the municipality. “This is not only a road cleaning. It is as important as the excavations in the region. Because there are necropolises on the side of this road, they will come to light thanks to the cleaning work.”

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Thousands of Turkish heritage artifacts restored in 13 years

KONYA – Anadolu Agency – Between 2002 and 2015, nearly 4,000 cultural and historical artifacts across Turkey have been restored, according to General Directorate of Foundations Director Adnan Ertem.

A number of Seljuk and Ottoman era artifacts in Turkey and the Middle East, including khans, Turkish baths, mosques, fountains, bridges and vaults have been revived in recent years through restoration works carried out by the General Directorate of Foundations.

Speaking in a recent interview, Ertem said Turkey had completed a large number of very important restorations since 2002, adding, “We made the restorations of some 4,000 cultural heritage artifacts in Turkey over the last 13 years. We have 250 worksites every year, which is a very important number. We can increase this number but it is limited to 250 in order to carry out high-quality restorations under more control.”

Ertem said they would finish the restoration of all artifacts, most of which were mosques. “We give priority to mosques to meet people’s need for worship. We get the projects for other artifacts done. Almost all projects are done. Even if the artifacts have collapsed, we can build the original.”

He said Istanbul was the richest Turkish city in terms of cultural heritage artifacts and the restoration of all historical structures, except Sultanahmet Mosque, had been finished in the city.

Ertem said they had recently focused on the restoration of structures in the northwestern province of Edirne and the Central Anatolian province of Konya.

“We will continue their restoration within the bounds of possibility. I believe there won’t be a need for that much restoration work in the future. No mosque needs restoration right now. We have madrasahs and baths that need restoration. We also have old artifacts that have perished throughout history. There are projects to reach their photos and restore them, too,” he said.

Ertem said the work at the Hisarbey Bath in Bosnia and Herzegovina was their first restoration abroad, and it had been reopened.

“We have two more restorations tenders in Bosnia. Three restorations in Kosovo and one in Macedonia continue. The tender for three important artifacts will be made, too. Now we are working on it. We focus on the Balkans abroad; we can easily work there. We also have work in Yemen,” he said.

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Switzerland to return Hercules sarcophagus to Turkey

GENEVA – Agence France-Presse – A Swiss public prosecutor has ordered that a precious Roman-era sarcophagus be returned to Turkey five years after it was seized by customs in Geneva, an official statement said on Sept.23.

Considered a major archaeological find, the sarcophagus depicts the 12 labours of Hercules and was sequestered at the Geneva Freeport warehouse complex in 2010.

The prosecutor, from the Swiss canton of Geneva, said in a statement that the decision can be appealed in the next ten days.

The sarcophagus was seized in December 2010 by the Swiss customs administration following a inventory check.

It was part of the inventory of Phoenix Ancient Art which specialises in antiquities.

In March 2011, the federal culture office said that the sarcophagus came from Turkey, from the ancient city of Dokimion — or the present day Antalya region.

The culture office also said that it was sculpted towards the end of the second century, when the area was under Roman rule.

It is an object of “priceless cultural value”, according to Geneva authorities.

Turkey has sought to get the sarcophagus back since 2011. In October 2013, the magistrate in charge of the case travelled to Turkey to hear witnesses and examine evidence.

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Maldives wins UNWTO’s Tourism Video Competition for South Asia

Sun.mv – September 18, 2015 – Maldives has won first place in the Tourism Video Competition for South Asia, organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

The winners were announced at the UNWTO General Assembly held from 12 to 17 September 2015 in Colombia.

Maldives won for “Sunny Side of Life to the Global Audience”, a promotional video showing its natural beauty and culture.

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Hotel Asia Exhibition and Culinary Challenge beings at Dharubaaruge

Sun.mv – September 19, 2015 – The Hotel Asia Culinary Exhibition 2015 has begun at Dharubaaruge today with over 150 stalls.

The Chief Guest at the opening ceremony this morning was the Health Minister, Iruthisham Adam.

Director of Maldives Exhibitions, Ahmed Jaamiz said that over 400 chefs across Asia and from the resorts in the Maldives are taking part in the Culinary Challenge as part of the Exhibition.

He said that there are more than 150 stalls at the Exhibition this year. And so products from parties involved in the Maldivian tourism and Asian hotels would be displayed in their stalls.

Some of the stalls have opened tastings during the course of the Exhibition. The Hotel Asia Culinary Exhibition 2015 would be held from 19-21 September.

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Boat race to feature at World Tourism Day in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Sept 26, 2015 (BSS) – A boat race at the scenic Hatirjheel lake at the heart of the capital is expected to draw thousands tomorrow, visibly intensifying the Eid holiday festivity coinciding with the World Tourism Day.

Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) planned to grab the limelight of the day staging the boat race in collaboration with private Bangladesh Rowing Federation alongside its routine but colourful street march in the capital.

“Four rowing boats will join the race each having 20 rowers . . . the competition will start at 3 PM,” BTB’s chief executive officer Akhtaruzzaman Khan Kabir told BSS.

He added that four decorated horse driven carriages will also roam around the Hatirjheel thoroughfares playing folk music in loudspeakers until the evening “as part of our tourism awareness campaign”.

BTB officials said their street march would begin from Matsya Bhaban and parade up to TSC of Dhaka University at 8.30 am while it would be led by Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon and chairman of parliamentary Standing Committee on Civil Aviation and Tourism M Faruk Khan.

Bangladesh joins the celebration while the United Nations set the theme of the day as “One billion tourists, one billion opportunities”.

The occasion carries an extra significance for the country as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently declared 2016 as Tourism Year and launched “Visit Bangladesh 2016 campaign” targeting to attract one million foreign tourists.

President Abdul Hamid and the Prime Minister issued separate messages wishing success of the day. The President in his message acknowledged tourism to have a major stake in the national development and urged all concerned to develop a sustainable tourism industry in the country.

The Prime Minister, on the other hand, urged the private sector to supplement the government efforts to make the ‘Visit Bangladesh 2016′ campaign a success for the development and expansion of tourism industry.

“Let us work together to maximize the immense potential of tourism to drive inclusive economic growth, protect the environment and promote sustainable development and a life of dignity for all,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon earlier in a message said.

The theme of this year’s day is particularly relevant as the international community adopted the post-2015 agenda with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where tourism has been identified as a sector that “creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”.

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Forest people’s partnership in management protects forest resources

DHAKA, Sept 23, 2015 (BSS) – Participation of poor people, depending on forest resources for livelihood, has proven more effective in managing and protecting country’s reserve forests.

Excellent results have been achieved through co-management of forests by the forest dependent locals and officials in the south eastern part of the country while the traditional management only through officially driven authoritarian systems have failed earlier, people involved in the co-management of reserve forest told BSS.

The main objective of the co-management system is to develop a friendly bond between community people and government authorities to conserve flora and fauna in forest resources.

While visiting different reserved forest areas in south-eastern parts of the country, BSS correspondent found that co-management system is functioning successfully and it is playing an important role in expanding forest coverage in the country.

Divisional Forest Officer of Cox’s Bazar South Forest Zone Md Ali Kabir said around 25000 hectares of land in seven reserved forest areas in Cox’s Bazar district have been brought under co-management system. “Co-management programme has been introduced in 2004 and now it becomes a successful forest management system as Forest Department is very actively working with community level people,” he added.

Nearly 10,000 hectares of land in the Inani reserved forest is situated in Cox’s Bazar district, Kabir said adding 42 percent natural forests have disappeared from 1995 to 2003 due to establishing illegal infrastructures, rampantly cutting down trees, killing wildlife and hill cutting.

With slogan of “Forest saves us, we save forest”, in 2009, Forest Department along with Arannayk Foundation launched co-management system in the Inani reserved forest for conservation of its biodiversity.

“Now Inanai forest has been enriched with various species of trees and wildlife as forest department planted huge number of saplings in the past couple of years,” he added.

Assistant forest conservator of Forest Department in Chittagong zone Abdur Rahman said three reserved forest areas — Chunati, Dhaupukaria and Hajarikhal — in the Chittagong forest zone have been brought under co-management programme.

There are nearly 12,000 hectares of land in the Dhaupukaria reserved forest under Rangunia upazila, he added.

“We are working with local people to conserve forest resource and different non-government organizations is implementing co-management programme in reserved forest areas,” he added.

There are 7,764 hectares of land in Chunati reserved forest in three upazilas – Lohagora and Chokoria upazila under Chittagong district and Bandarban Sadar upazila.

WINROCK International along with different partner organizations are implementing the climate resilient ecosystem and livelihood programme (CREL) to conserve biodiversity in Chunati reserved forest area, Rahman said adding under the CREL, co-management programme has been taken for Chunati forest.

An official of CREL programme told the news agency that as many as 1600 forest- dependent households of Borohatiya Union parishad under Lohagora upazila have been brought under alternative livelihood programme. They have given loan facilities under revolving fund to provide them livelihood supports, he added.

Amena Begum of Chupinagar village under Borohatiya union parishad said, “We were dependent on Chunati forest for feeding our family. Now we are running our family through different agricultural practices as we have received Taka 10,000 loan under revolving fund.”

Echoing Amena Begum, other villagers said they are also dependent on Chunati forest for running their families.

All forest-dependent people surrounding Chunati forest are involved in alternative livelihood activities through CREL programme, officials of Forest Department added.

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Bangladesh PM for expansion of tourism industry

DHAKA, Sept 23, 2015 (BSS) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today urged the private entrepreneurs to supplement the government efforts to make the ‘Visit Bangladesh 2016′ programme successful for the development and expansion of tourism industry.

“Participation of local people in the tourism activities will have to be ensured for getting real benefits from this sector because tourism industry’s success and development largely depend on them,” she said in a message on the occasion of the World Tourism Day-2015 on September 27.

She said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

established the Parjatan Corporation in 1972 to flourish the industry and now her government put special importance on the sector to project country’s heritage, culture and natural beauty before the international community by different activities under the ‘Visit Bangladesh 2016′ campaign programme.

The PM termed this year’s theme of the day “One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities” as time befitting in the global context.

She wished all success of the World Tourism Day-2015.

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Eid Ul Adha: Free Entry to Bangladesh Museum for students, disabled

DHAKA, Sept 24, 2015 (BSS) – Like previous Eid, authorities have made entry to the National Museum free for students and physically challenged people on occasion of the Eid-ul-Azha.

The museum authorities posted a notice on its website letting people know that students, under privileged children and physically challenged people would get free entry to the National Museum from 10:30 am to 5:50 pm on Saturday – the day after the Eid-ul-Azha.

The government also sent mobile SMS to disseminate the information.

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Govt allocates Rp1.2 trillion to revitalize marketplaces

24 September 2015 – Lebak, Banten (ANTARA News) – Indonesia’s Trade Minister Thomas Lembong said the government has allocated Rp1.2 trillion for revitalization of traditional market places in the country.

“All the funds would be drawn from the 2015 budget,” he said during a visit to the Lebak district in the Banten province in West Java here on Thursday.

He said the market places to be revitalized were those in the backward regions, including Lebak.

He said traditional markets could help the economic growth of the people because these could accommodate agricultural and plantation based products.

“We believe people would feel the impact of the revitalization efforts directly as these will support them economically,” he said.

He said one of the aims of the program was to increase the income of traders and other economic players in the community as well as allow easier access for buying and selling activities by improving conditions at the market places.

The minister said that the revitalization program would not only cover means and facilities but also market management.

He said traditional markets are not merely locations for trading but also act as distribution centers for strategic products. Thus, these could be used to keep prices in check and control inflation.

“I think the (traditional) markets could be used to control prices and assure a stable supply of goods through better price and distribution management,” he said.

Minister Thomas was accompanied by the presidential advisory council member, Rusdi Kirana.

Lebak district head Wawan Ruswandi hailed the visit and believed it would have a positive impact on market revitalization in the region.

He said many traditional markets in the region were not in a good condition. If the local government is entrusted with the responsibility to improve them, it would become an unbearable burden. Therefore, “we hope the minister would help in the efforts,” he said.

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Bibliography of English translations of Quran to be published

Tehran, Sept 20, IRNA – A detailed bibliography of Quran translations in English will be published by Tarjoman-e Vahy Cultural Institute.

This is according to Hojat-ol-Islam Muhammad Naqdi, director of the institute, who told IQNA that given the large number of the English Quran translations, the institute plans to publish the reference work to introduce the different renderings.

158 English Quran renderings are kept in the archive of the institute, 80 of which are translations of the entire Quran, he said.

The institute has also published the first bibliography of Persian translations of the Holy Quran, which reflects valuable efforts made by Iranian scholars in a period of about one thousand years.

1000 translations of Quran into Persian have been introduced in the detailed collection, he added.

The bibliography provides information about the type of the script, method of translation, translator, size of the published translation, date of translation and publication, etc.

Most of the enlisted translations belong to Iran and are kept in Iranian libraries, museums and scientific centers, however there are a number of Quranic manuscripts in Persian in India, Pakistan and Turkey which have not yet been included in the list.

The director of the institute also said that it has published another collection of Quran copies by Bahauddin Khorramshahi, Iranian translator of the Holy Quran, which introduces 40 contemporary Persian translations of the Holy Quran along with biographies of their translators.

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Kerman, home to historical places of worship

Tehran, Sept 21, IRNA – Kerman, the southeastern city of Iran, has long been regarded as a safe haven for religious coexistence. The places of worship in the ancient city are reminiscent of such coexistence.

The English-language paper Iran Daily, on its Iranica page, provides its readers with good information on the city’s historical religious sites.

The summarized article follows:

Adherents of various religions have coexisted peacefully for a long time in the ancient city of Kerman. Hence, signs of that coexistence can be found throughout the city. The most famous of the sites can be listed as:

Kerman Grand Mosque: Kerman Grand Mosque has served as a place of gathering for the faithful. The building is reminiscent of the courage of Ali Bami in the war against Jermanian and Oghanian in the wars waged by Mohammad Mozaffar Meibodi. When the ruler of Kerman was saved from what seemed to be inevitable death, he vowed to build a place of worship as a token of thankfulness to God.

According to irangazette.com, an inscription shows that Mozaffari Grand Mosque was built in 1329 CE and its costs were borne by Mohammad Mozaffar, the ruler of Kerman.

After the mosque was built, other buildings including ‘Aqa Seyyed Ali Mojtahed Courtyard’ and a chapel were built to the eastern side. Taqi Khan Dorrani also rebuilt part of the mosque in 1755 CE.

The mosque has four porticos and there is a big, beautiful altar in the large portico which is framed by a green marble stone, inscribed by beautiful calligraphies.

Pamenar Mosque: This mosque is located on Shahid Fathalishahi Street and dates back to the reign of Al-e Mozaffar in the 8th century AH. The entrance to the mosque is adorned with beautiful tiles which appeals to visitors.

Emam (Malek) Mosque: Malek Mosque, the oldest as well as the biggest in Kerman, is reminiscent of the rule of Malek Touran, a Seljuq king, who had built it along with Malek Pool, to serve as a place of worship for the Sufis, a garrison, a bathhouse, as well as a hospital. It was the sole mosque in the city until the Mozaffari Grand Mosque was built.

There were four bathhouses around the mosque all of which were destroyed to make room for Sheikholeslam bathhouse.

Up to about 40 years ago there was a beautiful fountain in the middle of the mosque which was four meters deep and was known locally as ‘Ab Mastoureh’ (or Hidden Water). It was used for ablution in preparation for daily prayers.

Green Cupola: Green Cupola is located in one of the early neighborhoods of Kerman along Abu Hamed Street. It dates back to the Qarakhtai era (614-704 AH) and is a collection of a mosque and tomb. Boraq Hajeb (died in 632 AH) is known to have built the complex. It is said that he was buried at Turkabad School which was built by him. An excellent dome was also built in the school which is his burial place. The cupola is currently known as Green Cupola. Some have ascribed the building to Tarkan Khatoun and maintain that it once served as a place for learning science and literature and was, in fact, the first university in Kerman. In the course of history, the structure has been damaged a lot and now the only remaining part is the entrance. The most beautiful part of the building is the tile-work on top of the portico and two spiral columns on its sides. The building is held in high esteem by the people of Kerman.

Shah Nematollah Vali Shrine: The shrine of Shah Nematollah Vali is where mystics come together and is about seven centuries old. The building was first planned by Ahmad Shah Bahmani Deccani, the king of Deccan in India who founded the main building. The inscription on the entrance of the building says that it was built in 840 AH. The inscription is a valuable work of art which has not gone unnoticed by experts.

The complex includes courtyards and other sections which are as follows when one moves from the street toward the interior of the mosque: Atabaki courtyard, Vakil-ol-Molki courtyard, Modir-ol-Molki portico, the shrine, Shah Abbasi portico, Mirdamad courtyard and Hosseiniyeh courtyard.

Moshtaqiyeh of Kerman: Moshtaqiyeh is a three-domed structure which contains the tombs of Moshtaq Alishah, Sheikh Esmaeil, and Kowsar Alishah who were among the leading Sufis of their time. The site was constructed after 1202 AH and was the burial ground for Mirza Hossein Khan Rayeni, who once ruled in Kerman. After Moshtaq Alishah was killed in Ramadan, 1206 AH, he was buried at the entrance of the Grand Mosque of Kerman along with his close friend Dervish Jafar. From that time it was called Moshtaqiyeh. The building is located in a square by the same name and the Grand Mosque of Kerman is located to the west of this structure. The trees in the courtyard of Moshtaqiyeh have added to its beauty.

Khajeh Atabak Mausoleum: This building was constructed in the sixth century near the end of Seljuq rule in one of the old neighborhoods of Kerman. It is known as Bazaar Shah Neighborhood. Khajeh Atabak was a mystic as well as a political figure of the Seljuq era and author of Aqd-ol-Ola. He ran all the affairs of Kerman in the 20-year interregnum after the rule of Toghrol Shah’s sons.

The building is octagonal from outside and quadrangle from inside. Outer walls are adorned with beautiful plaster work and tile-work with designs which were customary during Seljuq rule. The building has an altar as well as plaster inscriptions where verses of the Qur’an are written in Kufic script. At the foot of the altar, there is a beautiful stone inscription below which the tomb of Khajeh Atabak is located.

Emamzadeh Hossein: This is a holy shrine at Joupar town, which is located near Kerman. The shrine was built by Safavid kings and completed and developed under the Qajar rule. The complex includes a courtyard, a shrine, a dome and porticos and was inspired by the dome of Shah Nematollah Vali in Mahan. There are two hostels for pilgrims and also, Jame’-ol-Rasoul Mosque, a caravanserai and a traditional market are attached to it.

Kerman Church: The church, located on Dr. Shariati Street after Vali Asr Square (National Garden), was built in 1941 by the famous architect of Kerman, Ali Mohammad Ravari. The building includes a gathering hall and several rooms. There is a beautiful portico on the opposite side of the complex and the entire building is surrounded by a green area. The gathering hall was built of bricks and there are beautiful arches surrounded by windows with colored glass. The altar has also been decorated with Safavid style paintings and tile-work. When the last priest left Kerman, the church was practically abandoned.

Zoroastrian Fire Temple: The fire temple is located on Zarisef Street, Mirza Borzou Amiqi Avenue and is considered the last fire temple built by the Zoroastrians of Kerman. There used to be other fire temples like that, which were built in Shahr neighborhood. They were closed down later when the new fire temple became operational.

The current fire temple includes a beautiful garden, which once was the residence of Jahangir Ashidari and was turned into a fire temple. The fire kept there, as Zoroastrian priests maintain, is the same as the several-thousand- year old fire which was first transferred from India to Shahr neighborhood before being placed in the new fire temple. The fire temple is more than 40 years old. Of course, there was another fire temple in Qanatestan neighborhood which has been totally destroyed.

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Iran traditional medicine to be globalized

Tehran, Sept 21, IRNA – Iran’s traditional medicine is capable of being globalized, deputy minister of health said. There are documents proving that Iran’s traditional medicine has been used all over the world, said Mahmoud Khodadoust.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted a strategy for 2014 to 2023 to publicize some parts of the traditional medicine, said the official. According to the WHO website, the WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014–2023 was developed and launched in response to the World Health Assembly resolution on traditional medicine (WHA62.13).

The strategy aims to support member states in developing proactive policies and implementing action plans that will strengthen the role traditional medicine plays in keeping populations healthy.

Traditional medicine is the sum total of the knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures. It is used for the maintenance of health as well as in prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness.

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Huge Quranic center to be set up in Karbala

Tehran, Sept 21, IRNA – The biggest scientific, cultural and Quranic center in the holy city of Karbala, Iraq, is planned to be set up by the Astan (custodianship) of Imam Hussein (AS) holy shrine.

According to the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, the project will be implemented on a 25000-square-meter site in the holy city.

Manaf Fuad Hassan, the executive director of the project, said that the center will be called “Imam Hussein (AS) Center” and will host about 500 seminary students and academic figures.

Courses on Islamic teachings and Quranic sciences will be held at the center, he added.

The Iraqi official noted that it is one of the most important scientific and cultural projects of the Astan.

The center will be designed and built based on Islamic architectural patterns. It will have two separate faculties for male and female students.

Each of the faculties will be built in three floors, and each will have a library. The project will approximately cost 800 billion Iraqi Dinars and take three years to complete.

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Shiraz, heartland of Persian culture

Tehran, Sept 22, IRNA – As the heartland for the Persian culture, the city of Shiraz in southern Iran has always captured the attention of those interested in the country. The English-language paper Iran Daily, on its Iranica page, looks at the city of culture, poetry and love.

The full text follows:

Shiraz in southern province of Fars — as the heartland of Persian culture for more than 2,000 years — is an opulent oasis of greenery and culture in a barren landscape; it is the town of roses, nightingales and love. But above all, Shiraz is the town of poetry, Sa’di and Hafez. The popularity of these poets is such that their verse provokes tears and signs of admiration. Most Iranians carry collections of their poetry and are able to recite lines pertinent to every aspect of life. Their writings have been immortalized in the form of innumerable proverbs and aphorisms.

According to eurasia.travel, Shiraz was one of the most important cities in the medieval Islamic world and was the Iranian capital during the Zand dynasty (1747-79 CE), when many of its most beautiful buildings were built or restored. Shiraz is home to tombs of Hafez and Sa’di (famous poets of Iran), both major pilgrimage sites for Iranians. The earliest reference to the city, as Tirazis, can be found on Elamite clay tablets dating to 2000 BCE. In the 13th century, Shiraz became a leading center of the arts, due to the encouragement of its ruler and the presence of many Persian scholars and artists.

It’s also home to splendid gardens, exquisite mosques and whispered echoes of ancient sophistication which reward those who linger longer than it takes to visit nearby Persepolis, the area’s major tourism drawcard.

Shiraz is known as the city of poets, literature and flowers. It is also considered by many Iranians to be the city of gardens, due to many gardens and fruit trees. A foreign visitor who arrives in Shiraz today, and for whom the town is not as evocative as it is for an Iranian — may wonder at its reputation. Many of its famous gardens have disappeared long since.

Shiraz has hosted Jewish and Christian communities. The crafts of Shiraz consist of inlaid mosaic work of triangular design; silverware; pile carpet-weaving and weaving of kilim and jajim in the villages and among the tribes.

Shiraz boasts industries such as cement production, sugar, fertilizers, textile products, wood products, metalwork and carpet weaving. The city also has a major oil refinery and is a major center for Iran’s electronic industries: 53 percent of Iran’s electronic investment is centered in Shiraz. Shiraz is home to Iran’s first solar power plant. Recently the city’s first wind turbine was installed on top of Babakoohi Mountain near the city.

The city’s favorable climatic conditions, set as it is in a fertile valley, make it a pleasant place to visit (except at the humid height of summer or the freezing depths of winter).

The main monuments in Shiraz are to be found in the center of town, on the southern bank of Khoshk River. The city center is Shohada Square (still widely known as Shahrdari Square), which is within walking distance of most hotels, bazaar and the major mosques and shrines. The square intersects the city’s major thoroughfare, Karim Khan-e Zand Boulevard (usually referred to as Zand Boulevard). Khoshk River is in the north while further north of that are the tombs of Hafez and Sa’di.

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Iran, Uganda to expand tourism ties

Tehran, Sept 26, IRNA – Iran is among top 10 tourism destinations in the world, as it boasts numerous natural beauties and tourism attractions, said Ali Bakhtiari, Iran’s cultural attaché to Uganda.

Bakhtiari made the remarks in a meeting with Edwin Muzahura, the marketing manager of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), writes the English-language paper, Iran Daily.

“Iran attracts large numbers of tourists every year”, he said, adding Iranian tourism officials are after increasing the country’s share of the global tourism market.

Bakhtiari said designation of ‘Mashhad’ and ‘Kampala’ as the Asian and African cultural capitals of Islamic countries in 2017 is a good opportunity to expand ties with African nations.

The official said Iranian tour agencies and hoteliers would take part in a major tourism event titled ‘Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo’, which would be held in Kampala, Uganda on Nov. 17-19, 2015.

Muzahura described the African tourism expo as an important international event for broadening tourism ties with Iran.

“The tourism officials from 10 countries, including Iran, have expressed readiness to take part in the event”, he said adding that Iranian tour agencies can showcase their country’s numerous attractions and tourism potentials to allure more visitors.

Uganda is among most-visited countries in the world in view of having mild climatic condition, its natural attractions including Victoria Lake and Kidepo National Park.

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Movie on Prophet’s life to represent Iran at Oscars

Tehran, Sept 26, IRNA – Iran has introduced Majid Majidi’s movie on life of Prophet Muhammad(AS) as its submission for 88th Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film category.

The selection committee declared Prophet Muhammad(AS) to represent Iran at the Oscar in a statement released on Saturday.

Set in the sixth century the movie revolves around the childhood of Prophet Muhammad (AS).

Iran’s jury committee, which is chosen by Farabi Cinema Foundation (FCF), announced the preliminary entries for the 2016 Oscar Awards after reviewing all cinematic creations screened in domestic and international movie theaters and film events.

Iran has submitted a total of seventeen films for Oscar consideration in Best Foreign Language Film category since 1977.

Asghar Farhadi’s family drama ‘A Separation’, represented Iran in two categories and picked up the Best Foreign Language Film Award in 2012.

The award for best foreign-language film is given to a feature-length motion picture produced outside the US with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.

The 88th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), will honor the best films of 2015 and will take place on February 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood in Los Angeles.

During the ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 24 categories.

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