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30 Nov, 2015

Malaysia helps Japan tap the Global Halal Market

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 30 November 2015 (18 Safar 1437). 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.



‘A Journey Through Time’ To Boost Malaysia Tourism Sector

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Nov 28 (NNN-Bernama) — The showcase, ‘A Journey Through Time’ by world watch and jewellery brands is expected to help the government achieve 26 million tourists with RM168 billion in revenue by 2020.

Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz said such an effort by the corporate sector is also in line with the government’s effort to place Malaysia as a world shopping destination for luxury brands.

“I was pleased to know that this year, A Journey Through Time has evolved itself to become more inclusive by widening its target audience and reaching out to younger consumers.

“Since its inception nine years ago, it has included experiences that will appeal not only to seasoned collectors and watch and jewellery aficionados but also to beginners or those who are curious and wish to get to know the beautiful world of watch and jewellery,” he said when speaking at the Tourism and Culture Gala Night: Watch and Jewellery of the Year Awards Presentation 2015, here Friday night.

Therefore, he said ministry would remain strong in support of such a prestigious event that is revered and anticipated by all watch and jewellery enthusiasts in Asia.

Therefore, he said the ministry would remain strong in support to such a prestigious event that is revered and anticipated by all watch and jewellery enthusiasts in Asia.

The tourism calendar event featured thousands of collections from 125 international watch and jewellery brands to showcase their special collections.

The event was held for eight days since Nov 20 until yesterday at Starhill Gallery.

At the event, Hermes’s Slim d’Hermes Perpetual Calendar watch was announced as the Ministry of Tourism and Culture’s Most Revered Award 2015 recipient.

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Azman Hashim USM Multipurpose Sports Arena launched in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 (Bernama) — Founder and Chairman of the AmBank Group, Tan Sri Azman Hashim officially unveiled the Azman Hashim USM Sports Arena at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Pulau Pinang on 25 November 2015, a contribution by Azman Hashim Foundation.

The Azman Hashim USM Sports Arena is a multipurpose building catering for the students and staff of USM and also members of the public. Also present at the launch was Professor Dato’ Dr Omar Osman, Vice-Chancellor, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

The Azman Hashim USM Sports Arena or the Arena, is divided into four main functional spaces: -Retail and office space; USM humanity development office; Multipurpose hall and Executive gymnasium.

The built up area of the whole building is approximately 54,880 sq ft and the Arena can be used for multiple international and local sporting events – either three futsal courts, three volleyball courts, three basketball courts or 14 badminton courts. The Arena is fully fitted with LED lighting, the first of its kind in Penang.

“The Arena will benefit and meet the needs of a large community of USM, both students and staff and also members of the public from the neighbouring areas for their recreational needs,” said Tan Sri Azman Hashim.

Tan Sri Azman established Yayasan Azman Hashim primarily focusing on sustainable development primarily on improving education, welfare as well as to alleviate human suffering. The foundation has also made contributions to various charitable and educational projects including:

-Funding the construction of a building complex of RM7 million for International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

-Funding the construction of the Bangunan Azman Hashim in University Malaya of RM 25 million.

-Funding the construction of the Azman Hashim UMS Gallery in Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) of RM 15 million.

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LEAD STORY: Malaysia helps Japan tap the Global Halal Market

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 (Bernama) — The Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) organised Seminars on Business and Investment Opportunities in the Malaysia’s Halal industry in Japan to promote the Halal market.

The seminars, held in Tokyo and Osaka, were a collaboration with Japan Tourism Board (Tokyo) and supported by Malaysia Investment Development Authority (MIDA).

malaysia logo

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

Targeted to the Japanese Food & Beverages, Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals business, these seminars highlighted the Halal Industry, the opportunities and offerings available in Malaysia.

About 100 participating companies attended the seminars which were held from 25 to 27 November 2015. They were given insights on the Halal Industry and its business growth opportunities in the Malaysia and globally; incentive available for investment in Halal Parks as well as complete Halal eco-system facilities available.

“Ongoing efforts have been taken to provide a conducive environment for foreign companies to operates their Halal related products and services businesses in Malaysia. Generally, Japanese business owners were very keen on venturing into halal market, all they need is information on ways of doing it,” said HDC’s Chief Executive Officer Dato’ Seri Jamil Bidin.

Currently there are big Japanese brands operating in Malaysia which include Yakult, Ajinomoto, Pokka, Kewpie and Taisho and we hope many more to come realizing the huge potential in Malaysia’s Halal industry, added Jamil.

The global halal market is currently estimated at USD2.3 trillion covering both food and non-food sectors of which 67% are categorized as fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) Halal Products. The booming halal industry offers tremendous opportunities for Japanese businesses which are known for their capabilities in supplying a wide range of high-quality halal products and services.

“We hope seminars such as this will encourage more Japanese companies to venture into halal market and choose Malaysia as their business investment.

“We would like to improve their understanding of Halal and the huge business opportunities of halal industry,” explained Jamil.

The Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) was established on 18 September 2006 to coordinate the overall development of the Halal industry in Malaysia. HDC is an agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

HDC is Malaysia’s holistic response to the worldwide demand for better quality products and services as consumers gain confidence in the Halal process. Its key thrusts are to promote Halal standards; facilitate capacity- building for halal products and services; promote growth and participation of Malaysian companies in the trillion dollar global halal market. Today, there is an estimated population of 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide. The global halal market is currently estimated at USD2.3 trillion covering both food and non-food sectors.

In its effort to serve as an international hub for the halal industry, HDC provides manufacturers, distributors, retailers, entrepreneurs, researchers and investors with comprehensive assistance to penetrate and serve a growing global halal market through the adoption of the Malaysian experience and expertise in food and non-food sectors. For more information, please visit HDC at – www.hdcglobal.com

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Encouraging Tourism to Al-Quds will Protect Al-Aqsa

ISTANBUL, 25/11/2015 (IINA) – Encouraging tourism to Al-Quds Al-Sharif (Jerusalem) would support the Holy City, empower its people, and convey their sufferings and demands to the Muslim World in particular and to the international community in general, said OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani in a speech delivered on his behalf by Ambassador Hameed A. Opeloyeru, Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs, at a workshop entitled “Exploring Tourism Potential of Al-Quds Al-Sharif City” on 24-25 November 2015 in Istanbul, Turkey.

The OIC Secretary General also stressed that Al-Quds should be visited through Jordan, in conjunction with Palestinian and Jordanian tour operators and travel agencies.

The two-day event has been organised by the “Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries” (SESRIC) in collaboration with Palestine’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to allow participants to exchange views, knowledge and expertise to determine ways for tapping into the potential of Al-Quds’ tourism and formulate recommendations to be presented at the 9th Session of the Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM) to be held in Niger on 21-23 December 2015.

Speeches were also delivered at the opening of the event by Ambassador Faed Mustafa, Ambassador of the State of Palestine in Turkey; Vehbi Dinçerler, Turkey’s Special Coordinator for Palestine and Former Minister of National Education; Nayef Al-Fayez, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities of Jordan; and Professor Mehmet Görmez, President of Religious Affairs of Turkey. Approximately 200 representatives from 30 countries, including governments, tourism operators, heritage organisations, transport companies and other private sector entities, attended the workshop.

Speakers also called on Muslims across the world to visit Al-Quds in line with the International Islamic Fiqh Academy’s fatwa earlier this year on the permissibility of visiting the city as a way of highlighting the cause and showing solidarity with the people of Palestine. The workshop consisted of four discussion sessions on tourism and heritage preservation in the city of Al-Quds.

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Six millionth citizen of Kyrgyzstan is a girl

Bishkek, November 26 / Kabar /. The six millionth citizen of Kyrgyzstan is a girl, who was born in the city of Osh. Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Temir Sariev said today at a session of the Parliament.

The Prime Minister congratulated the deputies on the birth of the six millionth citizens of Kyrgyzstan. “The kid was born the day before at 18:12 in the maternity ward of the city of Osh. The girl’s mother is 39-year-old Rahat Belekova. She already has 5 children. Girl – it’s good, because she will become a mother. It symbolizes growth. And we hope that our country will only grow, and the number of population increase,” said Sariev.

In Bishkek, the birth of the six millionth citizen of Kyrgyzstan is marked by theatrical performance at Ala-Too square.

The celebration took place with the participation of the Chief of Staff of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic Farid Niyazov, Prime Minister Temir Sariev and Mayor of Bishkek Kubanychbek Kulmatov.

The theatrical performance was about the origin of mankind, the birth of Manas and six millionth Kyrgyzstani..

At the end of the event there were fireworks and a mini-concert of local pop stars.

Recall that the six millionth Kyrgyz citizens was born yesterday at 18:12 in Osh.

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Fund “Yiman” to publish a book about the history of Islam in Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek, November 26 / Kabar /. Development Fund of Spiritual Culture “Yiman” held a meeting of historians and theologians devoted to writing the history of Islam in Kyrgyzstan.

As reported in the Fund, the meeting participants discussed the content, structure and methodology of the preliminary preparation of the book, as well as interaction between authors.

“We have to work hard on writing a detailed history of Islam on our land. When and how Islam came to Central Asia, how it affected the social and spiritual development of the peoples of the region, what stages of development it has experienced. All these issues should be reflected in the historical textbook that we will write together,” said a board member of the fund Anvar Mokeyev.

Note that in our country there is no a book about the history of Islam in Kyrgyzstan, except for some research work analyzing the individual fragments of the issue.

According to chairman of the fund “Iyman” Nurzhigit Kadyrbekov, writing a book about the development of Islam in Kyrgyzstan is the vital intellectual and spiritual project aimed at clarifying Islam, and therefore against extremist ideas propagated by those who deliberately distort the religion in mercantile destructive purposes.

Fund “Iyman” began to implement the project within the framework of the Concept of state policy of the Kyrgyz Republic in the religious sphere for 2014-2020.

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UAE to have first branch of Al Azhar University

Cairo, November 25, 2015, Gulf News: The UAE will have the first branch of Egypt’s Al Azhar University following an agreement signed by Al Azhar Al Sharif and the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments.

The agreement was signed on Wednesday by Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, Dr Ahmad Al Tayyeb, and Dr Mohammad Mattar Al Kaabi, Chairman of the authority, in Cairo.

The signing of the agreement took place at the headquarters of Al Azhar Al Sharif in Cairo where Al Tayyeb received Al Kaabi.

Al Tayyeb praised the leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his concern for Egypt and its people, following in the footsteps of Shaikh Zayed, the UAE’s founding father.

Al Tayyeb said: “Cooperation and coordination continue between Al Azhar Al Sharif and the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments in many activities and initiatives.”

He said these efforts will culminate in the opening of the first branch of Al Azhar University beyond Egypt, and lauded the great role played by the UAE in serving Islam and Muslims across the world as well as its honourable standing by the Egyptian people.

Al Tayyeb expressed his deepest thanks and appreciation to the UAE and its wise leadership for offering all forms of support to Al Azhar so as to be able to continue to carrying out its duty of promoting the tolerance and moderation of Islam.

He also commended the role and efforts of the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments in developing the religious discourse in the UAE.

Dr Al Kaabi underlined the approach of moderate ideology and tolerance adopted byAl Azhar Al Sharif.

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ITFC, Morocco Sign Pact To Enhance Intra-Islamic Trade

Istanbul, Turkey, November 25, 2015 – The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kingdom of Morocco, represented by the Ministry Delegate to the Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy in charge of Foreign Trade, where both entities will seek opportunities to enhance cooperation and coordination in trade finance and development.

The signing ceremony took place during the 31st Session of the COMCEC in Istanbul on 25th November, 2015. The Agreement was signed by H.E Dr. Waleed Al-Wohaib, CEO ITFC and H.E Mr. Mohamed Abbou, Minister Delegate to the Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and Digital Economy in charge of Foreign Trade on behalf of the Government of Morocco, with the presence of high level representatives from both entities.

During the ceremony, H.E. Mr. Mohamed Abbou on behalf of the Government of Morocco stated that they believe the MoU they have signed with ITFC will provide and enhance the opportunities for Islamic trade finance for Moroccan investors or financers. Mr. Abbou said that the MoU have a meaning a lot more than an ordinary contract but it will enhance cooperation and coordination in their own finance sector more than ever.

Dr. Waleed Al-Wohaib, CEO ITFC also made a statement for the MoU signed with Kingdom of Morocco; “As ITFC, we are dedicated ourselves for providing Islamic trade finance and its development amongst our members and rest of the world. Islamic trade finance is in an increasing development process throughout in the years we have passed. Today, Islamic trade finance is the most preferred opportunity for the world finance players. We believe that with the MoU signed, Islamic trade finance keeps on gaining power on its own path. We are glad that Kingdom of Morocco is a part of this circle. We appreciate Kingdom of Morocco for their support to Islamic trade finance.”

The MoU also examines the possibility to implement projects for the benefit of Morocco under the Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States (AfTIAS). The suggested cooperation program includes also benefiting from the experience of Morocco in the trade promotion to enhance intra-trade with Islamic Countries, especially with African Member Countries.

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IDB Group gears up to launch country gateway office in Dhaka, Bangladesh

29 November 2015 – The People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group on Thursday signed a Host Country Agreement (HCA) for the launch of the IDB Group’s Country Gateway Office (CGO)in the capital city of Dhaka. The document was signed between Bangladeshi Minister of Finance HE Abdul Maal A. Muhith and IDB Group President, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali.

At the signing ceremony which took place in Jeddah, KSA, Dr. Ali, praised 41 years of solid relations between IDB Group and Bangladesh as a founding and supportive member of the Bank. “Currently, the volume of approved IDB Group financings with Bangladesh stands at US$18.6 billion, the highest amount of financing ever approved by the 56 IDB member countries”, stated Dr. Ali at the meeting. So far the approvals include major financings covering power, agriculture, irrigation, water supply, mining, roads, education and rural development as well as hundreds of foreign trade operations aimed at enhancing intra-trade amongst member countries.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the IDB Group President further underlined that the decision to launch a CGO in Bangladesh is the culmination of several factors including the country’s outstanding and solid cooperation with the IDB Group, the high economic growth rate in recent years as well as the recent World Bank’s ranking of Bangladesh as the medium income countries. He further expressed hope that the CGO will leave a positive impact in increasing the continued cooperation between Bangladesh and the IDB Group.

The launching comes in the wake of a decision by the Board of Executive Directors of the Bank to establish CGOs in five member countries namely, Turkey, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Egypt. CGOs in Indonesia and Turkey are already operational and preparations are underway to see the formations streamlined in Nigeria and Egypt.

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Tunisia-Tourism: Improbable recovery in 2016, according to FTAV

AfricanManager – Nov 24, 2015 – President of the Tunisian Federation of Travel Agencies (FTAV) Mohamed Ali Toumi ruled out the possibility for the tourism sector regain its vigor in 2016, while Minister of Tourism Selma Rekik Elloumi expects an improvement from month of March 2016.

Toumi explained his prediction by the lack of diversification of the tourism product and the impact of the terrorist attacks that targeted Tunisia in March and June 2015.

He called at a meeting held last Friday for the diversification of the Tunisian tourist product through the creation of new specialties, such as cultural tourism (museum visits and discovery tours) and sports tourism, so as to meet tourist demand.

President of FTAV recommended facilitating investment in inland areas, to allow the realization of tourist residences and strengthen the tourist fabric in the country, urging the government to develop the infrastructure to meet tourists’ expectations.

Toumi stressed the need to develop air transport through the restructuring of public and private airlines in the country, emphasizing the importance of ensuring the safety of airports in view of the rise of terrorism.

The Tourism Minister said in early November in Tozeur the beginnings of a recovery in the tourism sector, including for Saharan tourism should emerge from the month of March 2016.

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U.S. Provides $88m To Boost Agriculture Growth In North Afghanistan

November 29, 2015, Kabul (BNA) In two-day session which was held with support from the U.S. government in Mazar-e-Sharif city of Balkh Province for the growth of agriculture and promotion of the role of women in this sector, the ways of boosting women’s role in economical spheres were discussed.

The session was attended by the experts of agricultural sectors. In this session that was attended by the provincial directors of the agriculture departments from six northern provinces of the country, women affairs’ department, the in-charges of chambers of commerce and industry and a number of NGOs active in the field of agriculture, three main issues of wheat production, dried fruits production, such as almond, walnut, raisin, other fruits and cattle breeding, were discussed.

Head of Agriculture Department of Balkh province, Kateb Shams who attended at the session told media that the aim of organizing of this session was promotion of women’s role in increment of agricultural products, cattle-breeding and fruits and added that a mechanism should be established for equal participation of women with men in interdiction of the said productions.

The in-charge of USAID in Afghanistan said that this program was held in framework of USAID programs for Afghanistan and the purpose behind its holding was improvement of economic and agriculture situations in six provinces of the north and north-east of Afghanistan.

“It is planned this project be continued for five years”, he added. According to USAID head, this program would be implemented experimentally for five years in Balkh, Juwzjan, Samangan, Baghlan, Kunduz and Badakhshan provinces and its expenditure estimated about $87.5 million that would be paid through the U.S. financial program.

Ms. Zeeba who is working jointly along with her husband in one of districts of the North on the agricultural field told that in spring season, she works along with her husband and is satisfied with her work. As of child-hood to date, she works in agriculture sector and has never felt tired. She says that in regard with employment, Afghanistan has some challenges, but those women who work in agriculture sector, accustomed too much suffering.

“It is enough for us our children feel comfort and promote their education”, she added. Ms. Zeeba stated that besides working on agricultural field I have some engagements at home as well. We are in dire need of benefiting from education programs in the field of agriculture. It is said that as of 15 years to date, much have been done in the sector of agriculture, husbandry and establishment of agricultural farms for women and now, a great number of women have agricultural farms in some provinces and comparing previous years, are much self-reliant.

Afghanistan is a country that 70 percent of its economy is based on agriculture and cattle breeding. But, as a result of recent wars fought in Afghanistan like other sectors, its economic and agricultural infrastructures were damaged and majority of farmers are working with using of traditional agricultural instrument and methods. Shukria Kohistani

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UNESCO Assures Support In Preserving Afghan Historical Sites

November 25, 2015, Kabul (BNA) UNESCO would continue to support Afghanistan in preserving the historical sites and monuments, this was stated in meeting of UNESCO chief Paulo Fantani in meeting with Abdul Bari Jahani the minister for information and culture here yesterday.

Presenting UNESCO’s report on the work for historical park in Herat, museum alongside Ghulghula city in Bamyan and preserving minarets, the official added that 86 historical sites in Afghanistan are registered with the cultural branch of UNESCO.

Speaking in the meeting, Masinori the head of cultural branch of UNESCO said that the entity would brief the ministry for information and culture after completion its research on historical sites.

UNESCO would continue to cooperate with Afghanistan government in the historical sites before extraction of mines, the official added. During the meeting, minister Jahani requested the cooperation of UNESCO in repairing Jam Minaret and the UNESCO dignitary promised that a four-member has been working and its work would soon be completed.

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Tourism players praise ties between Russians, Turks

November 29 2015, ANTALYA – Anadolu Agency – Turkish tourism representatives have praised the ties between Turks and Russians, adding they believed any political tensions between the two countries could be overcome.

“Even if some political (tensions) are now present between Turkey and Russia, we’ll continue to live peacefully with Russian residents in our country and show our hospitality to Russian visitors, just as we did before,” said the head of the Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers’ Association (AKTOB), Yusuf Hacısüleyman, at the 5th International Resort Tourism Congress, which was organized by Resort magazine and the AKTOB.

The head of the Turkish Hoteliers’ Federation (TÜROFED), Osman Ayık, said Russia was one of the most important markets for the Turkish tourism sector.

“The latest sad incident has unfortunately caused tension between Turkey and Russia… The ties between the two countries’ people are very strong. I believe these people will resolve the current crisis easily,” he said, adding market diversification was of great importance for the sector and Turkey needed a master plan immediately in tourism.

Hacısüleyman said the tourism sector has seen both positive and negative developments over this year and the hottest issue has been security concerns in the sector.

Saying that people’s freedom of travel and safety has been under serious threat across the world, he added the second crucial point which has affected global tourism has been huge refugee flow. He underlined the importance of a visa-free world to enhance people’s freedom of travel across the world.

Sören Hartmann, the CEO of German tour operator Rewe Group, said travel demand is expected to decline due to escalating terror attacks, and this trend will likely most hit the eastern Mediterranean. “We expect fewer people to travel in 2016, as many people do not feel safe in the world,” he said.

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Participants of 12th ISESCO General Conference visit Heydar Mosque

Baku, November 27, AZERTAC – Participants of the 12th ISESCO General Conference have visited Heydar Mosque in Binagadi, Baku. Participants were informed that the construction of the Mosque started in September, 2012, and ended on December 26, 2014. The building, which covers a total area of 12,000 square meters, was constructed under the instructions of President Ilham Aliyev. It has four 95m-height minarets. The mosque covers a total area of 4,200 square meters. It has 55m-height main and 35m-height second domes.

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Azerbaijan to join Astana EXPO-2017

Baku, November 28, AZERTAC – Kazakh First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Commissioner of the International exhibition Astana EXPO-2017 Rapil Zhoshybayev reportedly visit Azerbaijan on December 4, AZERTAC quoted the Embassy of Kazakhstan as saying on Saturday. Zhoshybayev is scheduled to meet with the Minister of Energy of Azerbaijan Natig Aliyev, who is also in charge of the Azerbaijani section at EXPO-2017. The parties are expected to sign an agreement on Azerbaijan`s participation in EXPO-2017 in Astana.

According to the Kazakh Embassy, during the last visit of Zhoshybaev to Azerbaijan in 2014, he held meetings with Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan Novruz Mammadov, Minister of Energy Natig Aliyev and Minister of Culture and Tourism Abulfas Garayev. The two countries agreed to promote cooperation between their government agencies and attract corporate participants for EXPO 2017.

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Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri re-elected as ISESCO Director General

Baku 26/11/2015 – The 12th General Conference of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) unanimously re-elected Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri for two consecutive three-year terms of office, in appreciation of his outstanding and leading efforts to enhance ISESCO’s action within the scope of its competence.

In a resolution issued today in Baku, the General Conference applauded the great achievements that Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri has made in the Organization’s fields of action, promoting its standing, asserting its role in the Islamic and international scenes, enhancing its capacities and developing its organs and programmes.

The General Conference also invited the Director General to pursue his efforts to further develop and upgrade ISESCO at all levels.

For the record, the 4th General Conference (Rabat, November 1991) unanimously elected Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri as Director General of ISESCO. Dr Altwaijri was unanimously re-elected at the 5th General Conference held in November 1994 in Damascus. Similarly, Dr Altwaijri was unanimously re-elected for two terms of office by the 6th General Conference (Riyadh, December 1997), the 8th General Conference (Tehran, December 2003) and the 10th General Conference (Tunis, July 2009).

Dr Altwaijri was born in Riyadh (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) in 1950. As well as being a graduate from King Saud University in Riyadh, Dr Altwaijri holds a PhD in curricula from Oregon University in the United States. He is assuming the position of the Secretary-General of the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World (FUIW), and is also a member of several Islamic and international academic and intellectual institutions. He was awarded many an honorary doctorate degree from several universities. Dr Altwaijri was also awarded many prestigious decorations by the heads of ISESCO Member States.

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ISESCO-International Turkic Academy MoU co-signed

Baku 26/11/2015 – A Memorandum of Understanding was co-signed between the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and the International Turkic Academy today in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, alongside the plenary session of ISESCO 12th General Conference.

The MoU was co-signed for ISESCO by its Director General, Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, and for the International Turkic University by its President, Dr Darkhan Kydyrali.

It provides for cooperation to drive progress in the areas of education, science, culture and communication, promote mutual understanding between peoples, contribute to peace and security, stimulate research in areas of common interest, and ramp up support for national and regional efforts toward sustainable development goals.

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Bangladesh-India conference discusses Shahbazpur-Karimganj rail link

MOULVIBAZAR, Nov 29, 2015 (BSS) – High officials of Bangladesh and India today discussed various issues including the rail link from Shahbazpur of Kulaura to Karimganj of India and the launching of border haats and peaceful coexistence on the frontiers.

They discussed the issues on the second day of the three-day conference between Bangladesh Deputy Commissioners and Indian District Magistrates at a hotel at Srimangal here, official sources said.

The issues of checking drug trafficking and border crimes also came up for the discussion, Deputy Commissioner of Bangladesh district of Moulvibazar Md Qamrul Hasan is leading the 13-member Bangladesh, while Kachar District Magistrate of India S Biswanathan is leading the 8-member Indian team in the conference.

The Bangladesh team also includes Moulavibazar Deputy Commissioner M Quamrul Hasan, Sylhet Superintendant of Police Nure Alam Mina, ADM of Sylhet Syed M Aminur Rahman, Commanding Officer of Border Guard Bangladesh-52 Major Abdullah Al Mahmud.

Karimganj Deputy Commissioner Sanjib Kumar Barua, Police Super of Kachar Rajibhor Singh, Commandant Officer Sanjib Yoshi, Kachar Deputy Commissioner J Biswas, Karimganj Police Super Pradip Ranjan Kar and Shilchar Additional Deputy Commissioner NK Das have been included in the Indian delegation.

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Bdhotelbooking.com starts journey for ensuring travel friendly technology

DHAKA, Nov 29, 2015 (BSS) – Bdhotelbooking.com, a local travel start-up introduces global travel reservation technology to ensure an amazing travel experience for country’s travel loving people.

Bdhotelbooking.com promises to deliver convenience to travelers saving money and time, starting basic operations from today, said a press release.

The online booking service will not only save time, but also ensure safe travel experience. Safety and environment becomes the first priority while traveling with family and friends.

Bdhotelbooking.com has taken active measures to enlist only the safest accommodations appropriate for travelers of all ages and kind.

“Bdhotelbooking.com will evolve in to a complete travel solution provider in the coming years. We are about to introduce several convenience services to make the market more mature and rewarding for the travelers”, said Tareq M Hasan, Managing Partner of Bdhotelbooking.com.

This portal will also serve as a travel security information provider to inspire foreign nationals which will enhance foreign travel traffic in the nation.

The travel solution is build on a state of the open source platform developed by digidesk.io

Users can book hotels from their desktops pc, mobile phone or tablet devices any time, from anywhere in the country. The agile platform is being hosted in the cloud and offers services all round the clock. Users can register and book hotels for free and this portal will never overcharge any consumers.

Sign up and explore the exclusive offers active for the next 14 days celebrating the launch of the portal. Bdhotelbooking.com will keep on bringing better offers in the coming months.

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Algeria investment opportunities to be highlighted in London in February 2016

ALGIERS- A forum on trade and investment in Algeria will take place in London in February 2016 to highlight the various opportunities in the Algerian market to British businessmen, announced Tuesday in Algiers Chairman of Algeria-British Business Council (ABBC) Lady Olga Maitland.

The forum, which will bring together British and Algerian businessmen, will be, likewise that held in December 2014 in London, an opportunity to further increase the presence of investors in Algeria, said Lady Maitland in an interview with APS.

British companies are strongly present in the sector of energy with British Petroleum (BP) as well as in the sectors of health and education.

The 2014 Forum, marked by the participation of 500 British businessmen, culminated in the signing of two agreements in the sector of health.

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Algeria at International Tourism Fair in Poland

25 November 2015, ALGIERS- Algeria, represented by the National Tourism Office (ONAT) takes part in the 23rd International Tourism Fair from 26 to 28 Nov. 2015 in Warsaw (Poland), said Wednesday in a statement of ONAT.

The same source added that this participation is part of the “implementation of the tourism development strategy set out in the Leading Plan on Tourism Development SDAT-2030 to promote the destination Algeria.”

Aiming to make quality participation, the same source said the ONAT has “booked a 110sqm exhibition area to house the Algerian stand where the design will highlight the specificities of the authentic architectural heritage of Algeria”

The Fair will be an occasion for the tourist operators, tour-operators and public hotels to attract maximum of tourists to Algeria.

The Algerian stand will propose various activities like the Andalusian music and exhibitions on handicrafts.

Algeria’s previous participations resulted in the signing of several partnership agreements between Algerian tour operators and Polish counterparts, creating the Algerian-Polish Tourism Chamber which is working to develop relations and exchange of experience between two countries in the tourism sector, the statement said.

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Azerbaijani town Sheki to become cultural capital of Turkic world in 2016

29.11.2015, Azerbaijan’s Sheki was named as the cultural capital of the Turkic world in 2016. This decision was unanimously adopted at the 33rd session of TURKSOY Permanent Council. The Turkic people will celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of the birth of the great poet and thinker Yusuf Balasaguni next year. Festive data was already included in the plan for the next year.

Vagif Aliyev, First Deputy Minister Of Culture And Tourism Of Azerbaijan: “The city of Sheki has extensive experience in cultural activities. Local residents are very hospitable; they have diverse and fascinating cuisine. They follow rich traditions that are coming from the ancient times. With all these features, we found a city worthy to be the cultural center of the Turkic world. I thank all colleagues who unanimously supported our proposal.”

According to the TURKSOY Secretary General Dussen Kasseinov, this year was very fruitful for the Turkic-speaking countries. More than a hundred cultural events were held and over 20 books were published. 2016 promises to be no less eventful.

Dussen Kasseinov, Secretary General, International Organization Of Turkic Culture: “As you know, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will celebrate the 25th anniversary of their Independence next year. Therefore, the countries made their proposals concerning the celebration of upcoming event. The festive program will be discussed later.

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Astana to host exhibition of the graphics done with coal

24.11.2015, The exhibition of the graphic works performed by coal will take place in Astana for the first time. The original works will be presented by the Kazakhstan artist, the political scientist, the project manager of Men Qazaqpyn Bakhytzhan Bukharbayev, BNews.kz reports.

The exhibition of graphic works will take place from November 23 to December 3, 2015 in the Palace of Independence in the capital of Kazakhstan and will be devoted to the 30 anniversary of the Shubarkol coal field.

Bakhytzhan Bukharbayev explained the idea to draw with coal simply: “In the modern world there are a lot of paints and noise, but behind all of it the meaning is lost “and for the sake of what all this gloss is?”. I wanted to show that the beautiful can lie literally under our feet. Coal is that subject with which many families begin the day, but how many people think, that it can be used creatively? Children have a gift to see at any tree the fairy tale character, but we, adults, lost this ability, unfortunately”.

JSC Shubarkol Komir supported this daring idea of the artist, as one of options of creative display of daily work of miners. Besides graphic works, archival and modern photos and materials about the Shubarkol field will be submitted at an exhibition in the Palace of Independence.

Opening of an exhibition will take place on November 23 at 18:00 with participation of deputies of parliament of Kazakhstan, representatives of the Ministry of investments and developments, the management of JSC Shubarkol Komir which is a part of the Eurasian Group (ERG).

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Al-Bassel Fair for Invention and Innovation opens in Damascus

29 November، 2015 Damascus, SANA – Activities of the 7th edition of al-Bassel Fair for Invention and Innovation were launched Damascus on Sunday.

The fair, which will be held at the Patent Center in Barzeh area, will see the participation of 360 inventors, including patent owners and school students.

Inventors from Egypt and Iraq will take part in the fair, which will run through next Thursday.

Coinciding with the fair, the 2nd National Contest of Invention and Innovation will be held, with this year’s edition focusing on reconstruction requirements.

Three tracked will be featured, with the first one covering 24 inventions related to prosthetic limbs and techniques helpful to people injured in terrorist attacks.

The second track will include 56 inventions focusing on electricity generation from renewable energy resources.

15 inventions related to debris recycling will be showcased under the third track.

The fair enjoys international support with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Federation of Inventors’ Associations, awarding 4 medals for the winners.

Minister of Education Hazwan al-Waz considered the fair a chance to provide a lot of ideas in all sectors under the current circumstances, pointing out that the government’s duty in the next stage is to provide suitable conditions for inventors to execute their inventions.

The minister called for enhancing efforts to spread the culture of invention to encourage students and inventors who will build Syria.

For his part, Minister of Industry Kamaleddin Tou’meh affirmed the importance of inventions in meeting the needs of the reconstruction process in all sectors through establishing companies that rely on modern technology and inventions.

For his part, Higher Education Minister Mohamed Amer al-Mardini said the fair sheds light on creative people, especially young people who have great and promising potential.

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Passenger traffic at Muscat airport increases by 16%

Muscat, Nov. 29 (BNA): The total passenger traffic (including transit & transfer passengers) through Muscat International Airport until October has increased by 16 % to 8,466,973 passengers, compared with 7,312,502 passengers for the same period of 2014.

Statistics show an increase in the arrival passengers by 17% to 4,274,669 passengers up to October this year compared to 3,662,932 passengers for the same period last year, according to Oman News Agency (ONA).

The number of departing passengers has also increased by 15 % to 4,164,817 passengers compared with 3,619,774 passengers for the same period last year.

The increase in arrival and departure traffic into the airport is attributed to the increase in the number of flights operated by existing airlines, such as Kuwait Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and Oman Air.

In terms of air freight traffic, aviation statistics indicate an increase in the total unloaded and loaded freight by 9%, with total shipment (110,655 ton) compared to (101,390 ton) in the same period in 2014.

Salalah Airport has witnessed an increase by 21% in the total number of arriving and departing passengers to 865,337 passengers until October 2015 compared with 714,415 passengers for the same period of 2014.

As for the movement of Air cargo at Salalah Airport, freight traffic has increased, bringing the loaded and unloaded freight to (1330 ton) until October 2015 compared to (1021 tons) in the same period in 2014, ONA reported.

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Bangladesh campaign against polythene bags

DHAKA, Nov 29, 2105 (BSS) – State Minister for Textile and Jute Mirza Azam today said his ministry will launch a drive from tomorrow against using of polythene bags expediting the awareness campaign for mandatory usage of jute-made bags.

“As the dateline of using polythene bags ends today, the government will impose compulsion on packaging essentials with jute bags to implement the ‘Mandatory Jute Packaging Act, 2010’ from tomorrow,” Azam told the journalists in a press briefing held at his Ministry conference room.

He said that the authorities concerned would ensure use of jute bags for packaging essential commodities like paddy, rice, wheat, maize, fertilizer and sugar instead of using plastic bags.

Replying to a query, a total of 10 teams lead by a joint-secretary in each team has been assigned to conduct the monitoring team to continue ongoing drive.

He urged all patriotic people to extend all out cooperation to the concerned ministries and departments, district administration and members of law enforcement agencies in this regard.

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AED 50 bn Dubai Clean Energy Strategy launched

Dubai, 28th November, 2015 (WAM) – Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, today launched Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to make Dubai a global centre of clean energy and green economy.

His Highness said that the UAE, through its diverse strategies and investments in clean and renewable energy, is now leading global efforts in this area despite having the second-largest oil reserves in the world.

“The strategy that we are launching today will shape the energy sector in Dubai over the next three decades. It aims to provide 75% of the emirate s energy through clean energy sources by 2050, reflecting our commitment to establish a sustainable model in energy conservation which can be exported to the whole world, and support economic growth without damaging the environment and natural resources. Our goal is to become the city with the least carbon footprint in the world by 2050,” His Highness Sheikh Mohammed said.

Sheikh Mohammed added: “Every investment in the development of clean energy sources is at the same time an investment to protect the environment for future generations. It is an effort to build our sustainable economic sectors which do not depend on non-renewable energy resources and are unaffected by volatile energy prices. Through this strategy, which is based on innovation, research and development, we aim to explore the future of the energy sector to unveil initiatives that will make use of the scientific and technological developments in this sector and take the lead in their development and application.”

He asserted that the UAE is keen to become a global reference platform in sustainability practices by transforming concepts into real applications. He called on international companies and R&D centres to make Dubai a base for testing and applying the next generation of clean energy technologies to create a global model that can benefit the world.

Sheikh Mohammed stated this during the inauguration of the second phase of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park at Al Marmum area in Dubai. The solar park is considered as the largest of its kind in the world, which will produce 5,000 megawatts in a single location by 2030, and involves total investments worth AED 50 billion.

He also inaugurated the construction works of DEWA Innovation Centre, which includes under its umbrella a group of research and development laboratories in the field of clean energy with a total investment of AED 500 million.

A strategy with ambitious goals and clear pillars Dubai Clean Energy Strategy aims to provide 7% of Dubai s energy from clean energy sources by 2020. It will increase this target to 25% by 2030 and 75% by 2050.

The strategy consists of five main pillars: Infrastructure, legislation, funding, building capacities and skills, environment friendly energy mix.

Infrastructure: The infrastructure pillar includes initiatives such as Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is the largest generator of solar energy in the world from a single location with a capacity to produce 5,000 MW by 2030, and total investment of AED 50 billion. The first phase of this project began operations in 2013. The second phase will begin operations in April 2017 with a capacity of 800 MW , the third phase will begin operations in 2020 with a capacity of 1000 MW, while the fourth phase will begin operations in 2030 with a capacity of 5000 MW, which is 25% of the total energy production in the emirate of Dubai as estimated.

The infrastructure pillar also includes a comprehensive innovation centre which will be built using 3D printing technology. The innovation centre features a group of research and development centres specialised in the next generation of clean energy technologies such as solar energy technology test centre, drones research centre, 3D printing technology, and solar energy based desalination tests centre. AED 500 million will be invested in research and development in areas such as integration of smart grids, energy efficiency and electricity generation from solar energy.

The infrastructure pillar also includes the establishment of a new free zone under the name Dubai Green Zone dedicated to attracting research and development centres and emerging companies in the field of clean energy.

Legislation: The second pillar focuses on the establishment of a legislative structure supporting clean energy policies in two phases. The first phase will be implemented through Shams Dubai initiative which aims to encourage building owners to place solar panels on the roofs and link them to the main network of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. The second phase includes coordination with Dubai Municipality to issue a set of decisions on the integration of consumption rationalization technology and energy production and the requirement to install solar panels on the roofs of all building in Dubai by 2030.

Funding through the Dubai Green Fund: The third pillar is related to financing solutions for investment in research and development on clean energy and its application. This pillar includes the establishment of Dubai Green Fund worth of AED 100 billion which will contribute through its financial resources easy loans for investors in the clean energy sector in the emirate at reduced interest rates. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority will ensure the demand management and economic value of the project.

Building capacities and skills: The fourth pillar aims to build human resources capabilities through global training programmes in the field of clean energy in cooperation with international organisations and institutes such as International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) as well as international companies and R&D centres. The pillar will contribute to the creation of a sustainable model for research and development in the area of clean energy based on specialised human capabilities in this field.

Environment friendly energy mix: The fifth pillar is focused on creating an environment friendly energy mix comprising solar energy 25%, nuclear power 7%, clean coal 7%, gas 61% by 2030. The mix will gradually increase the employment of clean energy sources to 75% by 2050, making Dubai the city with the least carbon footprint city in the world. This pillar also activates energy generation mechanisms through waste by employing state-of-the-art technologies in this area that will contribute to turn 80% of the emirate waste to energy by 2030.

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Jokowi discusses Batam-Bintan-Karimun economic zone with Singapore

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 24 November 2015 – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) received Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean here on Tuesday to discuss a wide range of issues including Singaporean investment in the Batam-Bintan-Karimun special economic zone.

The meeting between President Jokowi and Teo Chee Hean who is also the Singaporean coordinating minister for national security took place at the Merdeka Palace.

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi told the press after accompanying President Jokowi at the meeting that the two neighboring countries reiterated the importance of partnership.

“Singapore is the largest investor in Indonesia, while our trade with Singapore is also very large. Therefore, the two countries have committed themselves to continue the very strong economic relations,” the minister said.

The meeting also discussed a follow up to President Jokowis visit to Singapore some time ago to discuss the Batam-Bintan-Karimun special economic zone, she said.

“The President also reiterated our commitment to continue to encourage Singapore to invest in Batam-Bintan-Karimun,” she said.

The other issue discussed at the meeting was the recent haze from land and forest fires in Sumatra. Singapore has agreed to cooperate with Indonesia to prevent a recurrence of such haze in the future.

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Jakarta preparing for Asian Games 2018

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 26 November 2015 – The government of capital city Jakarta is continuing with its efforts to prepare itself for the Asian Games, scheduled to be held in the city and in Palembang in 2018.

Deputy Governor for Cultural and Tourism Affairs, Sykviana Murni made a statement on Thursday after meeting with the Chairman of the Indonesian Sports Committee (KOI), Erick Thohir, in the City Hall.

“We are continuing to finalize preparations for the Asian Games 2018 and are coordinating in this regard for locations for events and venues,” she said.

Sykviana said the Jakarta administration would rehabilitate its velodrome and equestrian venue for the event.

“Rehabilitation of locations for events will be our responsibility. Some arenas that we are going to rehabilitate include the velodrome and equestrian venues,” she stated.

Besides these arenas, she said the Jakarta government will also build an athletes village in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, to accommodate athletes that will participate in the Games.

“With regards to the athlete village in Kemayoran, the Jakarta Governor (Basuku Tjahaja Purnama) has appointed PT Jakarta Propertindo to carry out the development of the village and we are now preparing for a legal basis for it,” she said.

This is in addition to the physical preparations aimed at improving peoples knowledge about the international event.

“So, preparations are not mere physical and mental. The publics mentality must also be changed. We must show our culture, which is friendly. We must also maintain cleanliness in the city,” she added.

Meanwhile, KOI Chairman Erick said it is time for the arenas to be built according to international standards.

“I think it is time now to renovate sports venues in Indonesia in such a way so that more international events can be held there,” he noted.

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Indonesia encouraging maritime cooperation in East Asia

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 23 November 2015 – Indonesia is encouraging maritime cooperation in East Asia at the 10th East Asia Summit (EAS) which is part of a series of meetings highlighting the ASEAN Summit held in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday and Sunday.

“At the East Asia Summit, Indonesia can eventually mainstream maritime cooperation in the EAS. I think this is an extraordinary achievement of the Indonesian diplomacy. For the first time ever, we can mainstream a maritime issue at the EAS talk or discussion,” Foreign Minister Retno P Marsudi said while accompanying President Joko Widodo at the ASEAN Summit here on Sunday evening.

“This year we have tried to mainstream maritime cooperation in the form of EAS Statement on Regional Maritime Cooperation and this is very strategic for Indonesia. With the statement, we will promote maritime cooperation in the context of economy, while at the same time prioritizing maritime cooperation in the context of regional security and stability,” she said.

The minister said the Indonesian initiative has received support from the United States, China, New Zealand and Australia as well as full support from all EAS member states.

She made it clear that the EAS Statement on Regional Maritime Cooperation carries five main priorities; first, developing sustainable maritime economy; second, promoting maritime peace, stability and security; third, addressing cross border challenges; fourth, promoting maritime connectivity; and fifth, encouraging joint researches involving various research institutions.

“So, the five cooperation priorities will be promoted in the context of maritime cooperation in the EAS. Once again this is our success in mainstreaming maritime cooperation in the context of EAS,” she said.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) attended the ASEAN Summit and other meetings held in Kuala Lumpur from Saturday to Sunday.

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China supports Indonesia’s liquidity and infrastructure projects

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 23 November 2015 – Liquidity assistance worth US$20 billion provided by China, through a bilateral currency swap scheme, will strengthen Indonesias liquidity amid the current global economic turmoil, according to Bank Indonesia (BI), the Indonesian central bank.

“This is part of the second line of defense. If there is pressure, it would provide liquidity support,” BI Governor Agus Martowardojo stated on Friday.

Therefore, the BI governor hailed the bilateral currency swap arrangement, which increased from the previous scheme valued at US$15 billion.

He said the liquidity support assistance indicated increasing investor confidence in Indonesias economy, which has been increasingly improved in line with the development of the domestic economy.

“The confidence is reflected in the decrease in the rupiahs depreciation from 19 percent year-to-date (ytd) last August to 10 percent ytd now. This displays the increase in confidence,” noted Agus.

Recently, the governments of Indonesia and China held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, last week (Nov. 15).

Indonesia and China agreed to increase cooperation in the fields of economy and finance, including Chinese assistance, to support liquidity in Indonesia.

“Several matters have been discussed, such as follow-ups on our previous meetings, and Chinas liquidity support, including an additional US$20 billion,” President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) stated following a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jin Ping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit.

According to Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro, China has increased its liquidity support for Indonesia through the scheme.

“Indonesia welcomes the additional currency liquidity support from US$15 billion to US$20 billion,” emphasized Minister Brodjonegoro.

The minister affirmed that the Chinese aid can be used to strengthen Indonesias foreign exchange reserves whenever the need arises.

The finance minister said the G20 meeting discussed issues such as the global economic slowdown, and the IMFs forecast of the global economic growth of 3.1 percent in 2015 lower than the 3.2 percent growth recorded in 2014 but is predicted to increase to 3.6 percent in 2016.

According to the minister, the meeting is being held to discuss efforts to tackle the economic slowdown. The indication of an economic slowdown is an anomaly indicating that the global trade growth was lower than the GDP growth.

In order to cope with the slowdown, the domestic economy needs to be revived as has been done by China and Indonesia, and trade protection has to be removed, he remarked.

Bambang stated that President Jokowi spoke about Indonesia launching large-scale infrastructure development in a bid to cope with the economic slowdown.

In addition to the liquidity support, China also pledged to invest in infrastructure and the manufacturing industries in Indonesia. “One is in the aluminum industry. This is for development of the downstream bauxite industry,” he said.

China also pledged support in financing infrastructure projects in Indonesia through the Asia Investment and Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) for the management and expansion of projects. The Chinese investment means that China will provide additional capital to Indonesia, he added.

Bambang asserted that China is ready to increase investment in infrastructure and manufacturing to support economic growth in Indonesia.

“China commits to increase investment in the real sector and possibly in portfolios. They have also expressed support to boost Indonesias economic growth,” he said in an audio teleconference from Turkey.

Indonesia also committed to boosting economic growth in 2016, the minister said. The keys are stimulus packages to boost investment and improve the purchasing power of the people, he added.

On infrastructure development, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) is cooperating with the Development Committee of China in the construction of international standard seaports in Indonesias eastern regions.

“The Kadin is cooperating with the Development Committee of China in the development of international standard ports in Indonesia,” Kadin deputy chairman for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Yogi Prayanto said on Tuesday (Nov.17).

Yogi made the statement during the signing of memorandums of understanding between Kadin and Chinas Development Committee, as well as between Indonesia Sorong Port and China North Bay Shatin Port in Jakarta.

He said the cooperation was established as part of the efforts to seize opportunities in the construction of ports and piers, in accordance with the world maritime axis and sea toll concepts of President Joko Widodo.

Yogi also said the cooperation was inspired when he visited the port of Guangzhou, where he witnessed that the loading and unloading activities by one ship only took 3 to 5 hours, making the process very effective and efficient.

He is of the view that the key to this was technology, so that the benefit of the efficiency is considered in deciding on an investment program which, in the initial step, was only worth US$2 billion for a five year period.

After all, Yogi said, Kadin was convinced that the funds from the state budget would not be adequate to build the infrastructure, so it thought that the private sector should take the initiative in the development of ports and shipyards.

“We started the signing of MoUs to pioneer the port business in Sorong (West Papua), Bitung (North Sulawesi) and other regions,” he said.

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5,000 bicyclists turnout for Cairo Bike Day

The fourth Orange Bike Day was organised by the Embassy of The Netherlands in Egypt with the support of Egypt’s Global Biking initiative. With this cycling tour, the embassy continues its effort in promoting bicycles as a clean and efficient means of transport.

The Netherlands is one of the forerunners in the use of bicycles and the adaption of the cycling infrastructure to lessen traffic and pollution within cities.

Dutch Ambassador Gerard Steegths said that the Orange Bike Day has been growing since its beginning in 2012. “Last year, around 3,000 cyclists participated in the event while this year we had around 5,000 participants cycling in Zamalek and Tahrir in Cairo. This shows that the Egyptian people’s stress in cycling increases every year. It proves that cycling as a sport is becoming more and more popular. Even your president has been seen many times on a bike, and there are widely spread initiatives related to biking,” the ambassador said.

The day before the race, the embassy organised a seminar at Cairo University on cycling as an alternate mode of transportation in urban environments. During the seminar, transportation experts and stakeholders from Egypt and Holland shared their scientific knowledge and experience on integrating the use of bicycles in urban traffic policy and presented their initiatives in cycling in Egypt.

Steegths expressed his confidence that Egypt is on track for a broader role of bicycles in urban traffic despite the many challenges ahead. “In the past years, and now in this seminar, we have made an excellent beginning. The interest is there. Now it’s time for the change.”

He contended that the question of finding a more efficient way of transportation is the same everywhere, adding that reaching a solution for traffic problems is never easy. “Today, we focus on the bicycle, which for The Netherlands is one of the most used means of transportation. In The Netherlands, driving a bike is safe; cyclists are well protected and bicycle lanes are found everywhere. People are actively discouraged to use cars and get on bikes because of high fuel costs and blocking cars from entering city centres along with the wide availability of rental bikes.”

Steegths stated that in Holland, cars were the preferred method of commuting up until the seventies. After that, people came to the conclusion that the car was not always the most optimal solution. New policies were developed to encourage the use of bicycles which have contributed to The Netherlands becoming the cycling nation it currently is. “In The Netherlands, we have a total of 18 million bicycles. In fact, 84 per cent of citizens above four years old own a bike. In the latest count we had an estimated number of 35,000 kilometres of cycling paths. In total the Dutch cover a distance of 15 billion kilometres a year.”

Steegths said the usage of bicycles comes with questions and “some struggles”. However, he added, since Holland is one of the forerunners in the use of bicycles and adaptation of the necessary infrastructure, it has a lot of experience that is shared in other parts of the world. “From this point of view, we hope to be of some kind of inspiration to Egypt. By organising this seminar, we aspire to trigger the debate on what is possible in Egypt.”

Steegths also stated that Orange Bike Day comes in the context of showing in practice that cycling is a viable alternative for urban transport. He added that the event also shows that “we are not intimidated by terrorism and violence and that we can still get together as a community for good causes such as sustainability and a healthy environment”.

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Festival of Walnut 2015 held in Jalalabad

Bishkek, November 27 / Kabar /. “Festival of walnut – 2015” is held on November 26, 2015 in Jalalabad with the participation of representatives of local authorities, public bodies of Jalal-Abad oblast, senior officials of the southern interregional department of the Ministry of Economy of the Kyrgyz Republic, business community and NGOs.

The event was organized by Plenipotentiary Representative of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic in Jalal-Abad oblast, the Programme of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the UNDP.

The main purpose of this festival is to attract public attention to the problems of nut forests of Jalal-Abad and marketing walnut, raising awareness of forest users about the importance of conservation nut forests and the creation of a positive image of the south of Kyrgyzstan in order to attract investments.

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Late Arab Singer Sabah honored in movie ‘Icon of Joy’

29 Nov 2015, NNA – A year after her passing, the legendary Lebanese singer Sabah is commemorated in the movie “Icon of Joy” which was screened on Saturday night at UNESCO palace, under the auspices of Culture Minister Raymond Araiji.

The film was produced by Al Noubala Art Production and Distribution Company and directed by Nidal Saad Eddine Qoushaha.

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Isfahan hosting 14th Int’l Agriculture Exhibition

Isfahan, Nov 28, IRNA – The 14th International Agriculture Exhibition opened in Isfahan International Fairground Saturday and will work until December 1.

The ongoing event is attended by companies from the Iranian provinces of Isfahan, Tehran, Khorasan Razavi, Fars Qom, Golestan, Mazandaran, Hamedan and Yazd as well as representatives from China and Italy.

The companies are involved in irrigation equipment, agricultural services and specialized publications.

Managing director of the international Isfahan Agriculture Exhibition Rasoul Mohaqqeqian said that some 2,000 specialists have so far voiced readiness to visit the exhibition.

Specialized workshops on mechanization and water and soil will also be held on the sidelines of the event.

Meanwhile, head of the provincial Agriculture Jihad Organization Qodratollah Qasemi told the inaugural ceremony that three exhibitions pertaining to agriculture are held in Isfahan each year.

Referring to the incumbent government’s programs to mechanize the agricultural sector, he added that a loan of 2,550 billion Tomans has been earmarked for buying agricultural machinery and tools since 2013, of which 70 billion Tomans belonged to Isfahan province.

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Iran, Caucasus University Association to develop academic ties

Ardebil, Nov. 28, IRNA – A number of Iranian universities on Saturday signed contracts of cooperation with the Caucasus University Association.

Under the contract, the Caucasus University Association and Iranian Universities of Applied Sciences, Al-Zahra, Allameh Tabatabaee, Mohaghegh Ardebili, University of Medical Sciences and Ardabil Islamic Azad University will have scientific, research and cultural cooperation.

Dr. Ramazan Korkmaz, the head of the Association, said in the inking ceremony that scientific and cultural cooperation between the universities can be helpful to develop relations among members of the association.

‘The world today is getting every day closer and smaller and we should expand scientific and cultural cooperation to guarantee future of the regional states,’ he said.

Dr. Kadir Golkarian, Director of the Association for Coordination Affairs, told the meeting that the Association was founded seven years ago with participation of seven universities from Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran and Korkmaz serves as its head and founder.

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Iranian play, ‘The Door’, en route to New York

Tehran, Nov 29, IRNA – Iranian play ‘The Door,’ directed by Mehdi Mashhour and performed by Iran Sayeh Theatre Group, will go on stage at the Times Square Arts Center in New York in 2016.

The theme is on immigration and two women, both named Reyhaneh, talk about their unique situation and experiences as the play unfolds, Financial Tribune Daily reported.

“But deep inside,” Mashhour said, “the story focuses on dilemmas faced by the characters. Both women are set to leave their homeland for another country and in the entire time struggle with “the dilemma of the correctness of their decision,” he noted.

The show will be performed 20 times in New York. Lamenting that private theatre is getting shoddy treatment, Mashhour said the focus of the cultural authority is more on the Fajr theater festivals and other traditional theater.

Privatization of theater should not mean “lack of support by the government,” he noted. “As a rule, governments around the world do not interfere in theatre affairs, but do subsidize private theatre groups and companies.”

Clarifying that he is not against such events, he said the government should “not trigger competition between public and private theater as the field of art is not competitive by nature.”

“It is not correct to allocate government funds to only one good festival among many, and authorize its public performance.” Despite a number of private theater halls that have been established in the country in the past few years, “no private theater groups have been formed due to lack of government support.”

Sayeh Theatre Group was founded by a group of artists in 2001, with focus on experimental theatre. It aims to achieve new patterns of performance through workshop experiences.

Earlier, a play titled ‘The Man and Words’ by the group was staged in Broadway Theater after a great reception by American audiences and theater companies in the Midtown International Theatre Festival. The play was also staged in Germany, France, Italy, Lithuania and Armenia.

The 70-minute ‘The Door’ was previously staged at the 9th edition of Donzdorf International Theater Festival on May 14 in the city of Stuttgart in Germany and is currently on stage in Tehran until December 8 at Arghanoun hall, No.1, Ziba Alley, before Vali-e Asr Ave., Razi Crossroad, Neauphle-le-Château Ave., Hafez Avenue.

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Mideast architect awards for 2 Iran projects

Tehran, Nov 29, IRNA – Two Iranian projects were among the winners at the eighth annual Middle East Architect Awards presented on November 25 at The Ritz Carlton Hotel in Dubai.

The awards in 15 categories covered the entire spectrum of architecture, from residential to cultural and public designs, Financial Tribune Daily reported.

Public Sector Project of the Year award was given to ‘City & Music Hall’ by Hajizadeh & Associates, whose founder Kourosh Hajizadeh had received the Architect of the Year prize, at the event in 2013, “for having a strong body of work ranging from master plans to individual buildings.”

Among Hajizadeh’s many projects are the University of Isfahan in Iran and Budapest Museum of Ethnography in Hungary. His focus of interest is on the relationship between people, cities and architecture. “I want to create harmony among the three,” he says.

Born in Tehran, Hajizadeh, 40, is a graduate of architecture. He has won various titles in more than 30 architectural competitions. In 2013, Architect Magazine selected him as one of the ‘50 Most Influential People’ in Middle East architecture.

The ‘Golfam Office Building’ by Fluid Motion Architects received the Commercial Project of the Year award. Partners Reza Daneshmir and Catherine Spiridonoff picked up the award.

Established by Iranian architects Daneshmir, 50, and Spiridonoff, 47, in 2004 in Tehran, Fluid Motion Architects design and supervise architectural and urban projects with the aim of improving the quality of architecture in the country. Mellat Park Cineplex designed by the company won the first place in the 2008 Architect Award.

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Palestine flag raised at headquarters of UN Economic Commission for Africa

Addis Ababa (IINA) 29 Nov 2015 – The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the UN’s biggest entity in Africa, on Friday hoisted the flag of the state of Palestine at its headquarters in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, to show solidarity with the cause of the Palestinian people in securing their right to statehood.

According to media reports, the flag-raising ceremony was attended by resident ambassadors of numerous countries, United Nations and African Union officials as well as representatives of Ethiopian government.

“On this International Day of Solidarity, let us reaffirm our commitment to bring about the justice and peace that the people of Israel and Palestine deserve,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon through his representative to the event.

“Today, 136 countries recognize the state of Palestine and its flag flies at the United Nations next to those of member states. However, these advances are not felt by children in Gaza or by residents of Nablus, Hebron and East Jerusalem,” he said.

The UN chief stated that both Israel and Palestine “should” make necessary compromises to put an end to the conflict which has claimed numerous lives in past decades. “Both sides must reject incitement and inflammatory public statements,” he added.

Palestinian Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union Nasir Abu Jaish called on the international community to shoulder responsibility to end the suffering of the Palestinians caused by forced deportation and incarceration by the Israeli forces.

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Indonesia to boost tourism sector in push for economic revival

Jakarta, (IINA) 27 Nov 2015 – The Indonesian finance minister said on Thursday that the government’s focus next year will be on developing the tourism industry as it looks to steer economic growth away from reliance on exports suffering a commodity price slump, Jakarta Globe reported.

“Bali and Nusa Tenggara (Indonesian islands) have proven that they were not affected by falling commodity prices because those are tourism-driven areas”, Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said at a business forum in Jakarta.

“That means we’ve found a way to tackle slower economic growth by focusing more on one sector, namely the tourism sector”, he added.

The combined economies of Bali and East and West Nusa Tenggara provinces was 11.75 percent in the third quarter of 2015, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), compared to 4.73 percent nationally.

Indonesia has taken a massive hit from a slump in global coal prices. The country is one of the biggest exporters of the fossil fuel, whose price has dropped by 50 percent over the last four years.

Bank Indonesia Governor Agus Martowardojo said at Thursday’s forum that commodity prices were expected to drop by a further 5 to 9 percent in 2016.

President Joko Widodo, who attended a later program at the forum, said he expected tourist arrivals to double in four years. “We had nine million tourists in 2014 and Malaysia had 24 million tourists, yet we have 10 times as many tourist destinations as Malaysia”, he said.

“I have set a target for the minister of tourism to boost tourist arrivals to 20 million in four years”, he added.

The government has embarked on a series of programs to boost the numbers, including revamping its tourism campaigns, waiving visas for visitors from 45 countries, and improving border services. Foreign tourist arrivals in September were up nearly 10 percent from a year earlier.

“I see the marketing campaigns and the promotions are on the right track. It’s time to improve local products and the local hospitality industry to boost our income from the sector from the current $11 billion to $20 billion in four years”, said the Indonesian president.

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Saudi women begin campaigning in municipal polls for first time

Riyadh (IINA) 29 Nov 2015 – Saudi female candidates running for municipal councils have begun campaigning in elections, marking the first time women are allowed to vote and contest polls in the Kingdom.

Around 865 women are among 6,140 Saudis standing in the local elections due to be held on December 12, according to official figures. Two thirds of seats at the Kingdom’s 284 councils are up for grabs. The other third of members will be appointed by the government. Women’s participation in the polls, the third of their kind in the Kingdom, was decreed in 2011 by the-then King Abdullah.

Women standing for municipal councils are prohibited from holding rallies attended by men, an electoral official said on Sunday. “The female candidate can only communicate with the electorate via a TV circuit,” spokesman for the official election commission Jadeeh al-Qahtani said in a tweet. “A spokesman for her can communicate with men on her behalf.” Contenders from both sexes are also barred from displaying their pictures in public during the 12-day campaigning, AlJazeera reported.

The restrictions are expected to prompt contestants, mainly women, to rely on social media to reach potential voters. Aljazi al-Hossaini, a candidate in the capital, said she had hoped to set up a campaign tent in Riyadh’s Diriyah area. “When I asked the man to give permission for his land … he refused,” she told the AFP news agency.

Like other contenders, Hossaini plans to focus online, and has her own website. In the Red Sea city of Jeddah, Sameera Abdullah al-Shamat was also relying on Twitter, Instagram and other internet forums widely used in the kingdom. “My daughter and two sons are running my campaign,” said Shamat, a charity worker. The country’s first municipal elections were held in 2005, followed by another vote in 2011. In both cases, only men were allowed to participate.

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Islamic Cross Currency Swap Standard introduced for Islamic hedging transactions

Riyadh, (IINA) 29 Nov 2015 – The International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc. (ISDA) and the International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) on Sunday announced publication of a new Islamic hedging product standard, the ISDA/IIFM Himaayah Min Taqallub As‘aar Assarf (Islamic Cross Currency Swap) for use in Islamic hedging transactions, CPI Financial reported.

The announcement was made at the 33rd Board of Directors meeting of IIFM and workshop hosted by The National Commercial Bank (NCB) at its Riyadh regional office.

The published confirmation template is part of an ISDA and IIFM plan to provide the Islamic finance industry with documentation and product templates to manage risk in transactions arising mainly from currency and profit rate mismatches. The Islamic Cross Currency Swap (ICRCS) template falls under the ISDA/IIFM Tahawwut (Hedging) Master Agreement, a framework document that contains general terms and conditions, and early termination and close-out netting provisions between transacting parties.

One of the objectives of entering into ICRCS would be to enable a party to raise funds through a Shari’ah-compliant contract in one currency for a certain period of time against a Shari’ah-compliant contract in another currency. Profit rate, tenor and amount are all agreed between the two parties at the start of the transaction. It is used to manage and mitigate currency and rate risks associated with investments, and is not intended for speculation.

“With the expansion of Islamic finance into new territories and an increase in cross-border activities, certain transactions are being exposed to fluctuations in currencies and rate-of-return mismatches. IIFM has been playing a pioneering role in the Islamic hedging segment and, at an early stage, undertook the challenge of developing global standards in collaboration with ISDA. I am confident our ongoing efforts will play a critical role in shaping the industry, particularly in view of new regulations being introduced in G-20 economies,” said Khalid Hamad, Chairman of IIFM.

“We are delighted to continue our collaboration with IIFM by jointly launching the Islamic cross-currency swap standard product template.

This is the latest in a series of product documentation releases aimed at standardizing the Islamic hedging market and helping participants to effectively manage their risk,” said Scott O’Malia, ISDA’s Chief Executive.

“The ICRCS standard has given the industry another standardized template for risk mitigation providing robust legal documentation, Shari’ah harmonization and sound operational practices. We are now seeing an increase in the utilization of the ISDA/IIFM standard both among institutions and in particular jurisdictions,” said Ijlal Ahmed Alvi, chief executive officer at IIFM.

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Omagine to start building USD2.5b lavish project

MENAFN – 29/11/2015 – Omagine LLC, the Omani firm which develops tourism and residential real-estate projects, closed an agreement with the government to develop a mixed use tourism and real estate project in Muscat Governorate.

Accordingly, top company is currently in discussion with a Qatari bank for financing the first phase activities of this high-scale venture, which will lead to a USD25 million initial loan of the USD2.5 billion mega scheme.

Inmore detail, the 1st phase consists of the master planning, engineering and construction work necessary for vertical construction to begin plus the administrative and financial activities necessary for the business plan.

Furthermore, the extravagant development is set to feature a mix of hotels, retail shops, restaurants, office space, open air amphitheater and stage, exhibition venues, harbor and marina, and more than 2,000 residential units.

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Works of veteran Iranian artists at Sotheby’s

Tehran, Nov 28, IRNA – Artworks by veteran Iranian artists are in the spotlight at the upcoming London Sotheby’s auction sales.

The ‘20th Century Art, A different Perspective’ sale in London, will feature modern art from countries across Europe, the Middle East and the Mediterranean by artists who have a strong regional following but are not yet part of the international mainstream.

The sale will include a number of important Iranian, Egyptian, Turkish and Arab works as well as a selection of contemporary and modern art from Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Highlights of the sale include works by Iranian painter and poet Sohrab Sepehri and foreign artists Sandor Bortnyik, Mubin Orhon, Mikulas Medek, Financial Tribune Daily reported.

The most expensive Iranian artwork is Sepehri’s oil painting with an estimated base price of $53,000 to $74,000.

Tessa Kostrzewa, Sotheby’s head of sales, said: “Bringing these artists to the fore gives a fresh perspective on the development of 20th-century art. Today’s collectors are increasingly interested in artists who were previously on the fringes of the international art scene, but are now receiving acclaim. For some, it represents their first time on the international stage.”

Among the total 116 submitted works, besides Sepehri, works of American-Iranian painter and poet Manoucher Yektai, celebrated painter and sculptor Bahman Mohassess, also dubbed by some as the ‘Persian Picasso’, modern art painter Behjat Sadr, nonagenarian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Armenian-Iranian Sirak Melkonian and Sonia Balassanian, will go under the hammer at the auction slated for December 2.

In addition, Farmanfarmaian’s masterpiece is estimated at $37,000 to $53,000, an oil painting on canvas by Bahman Mohassess is expected to fetch $48,000 to $58,000 and Sadr’s untitled work of oil and silver paint on paper, is estimated between $40,000 and $48,000.

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India Among Top Ten Tourist Markets For Malaysia

IKUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Nov 29 (NNN-Bernama) — India has emerged as one of the top ten tourist markets for Malaysia, said Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.

He said 770,108 tourists from India were recorded in 2014, a significant increase of 18.3 percent compared to 2013.

“Malaysia has become their choice for leisure and shopping, corporate meetings, incentive trips, filming movies and weddings,” he said at The Global Malayalee (TGM) Extravaganza Nite of Awards and Celebration 2015, here Saturday night.

Also present was All Malaysia Malayalee Association (AMMA) president Suseela Menon.

Mohamed Nazri said Malaysia had also launced the Malaysia Year of Festivals (MyFest 2015) campaign in Mumbai and Chennai in conjunction with the ministry’s sales mission to India early this year which covered five cities namely New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad.

“Recognizing India as a strong component of our local business and tourism, Malaysia has supported and witnessed various Indian concerts, events and awards over the past few years, the most recent being the International India film Academy Awards (IIFA),” he said.

Mohamed Nazri said, hosting the TGM truly represented the country’s competence and expertise to hold globally-acclaimed events to cater to the region.

The event hosted by AMMA was held in conjunction with Tourism Malaysia 2015 Year of Festivals and intended to unite Malayalees from around the world to celebrate the achievements of the community, while reliving the richness of the Malayalee heritage, culture, tradition and language.

Mohamed Nazri said, this inaugural event over three days including a Symposium, Awards Gala Dinner and authentic Kerala Sadhya would be an example for other communities to organise similar events.

“With around 400,000 Malayalees in Malaysia, AMMA together with its affiliates all over the country, did numerous social activites not only for the Malayalee community but all Malaysians,” he said.

During the event, 24 notable Malayalee high-achievers received awards for their outstanding achievement in their respective fields such as technology, science, and performing arts.

Among them were President and Chief Executive Officer Siemens Malaysia, Prakash Chandran, AirAsia Group Chief, Tony Fernandes and singer-songwriter, Reshmonu.

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Invitation To Tourists To Virtually Explore Jordan’s Wonders Via Google Street View

AMMAN, Nov. 24 (NNN-Petra) — Queen Rania Al Abdullah has lent her support to Google as it launches its biggest Street View capture yet in the Arab world. Queen Rania narrated a video tour of Petra and wrote a blogpost for Google Blog in the occasion of the launch.

Google announced the launch of 360-degree street view imagery of Petra and 30 other landmarks in Jordan for the first time.

Street View Special Collects is a feature of Google Maps that lets users explore places around the world like landmarks, natural wonders, as well as culturally and historically significant sites.

Today, anyone with an internet connection can explore Rose-city of Petra, The Dead Sea, and the monuments of Jerash, Qasr Al Kharana, Mount Nebo and more.

Queen Rania, in a blog post about the launch, said that with Google Maps Street View, “people all over the world now have a window into our magical Kingdom in the heart of the Middle East.”

The Queen added that this technology also ” provides a lens on the past. And when we understand more about each other’s stories and cultures and histories, we realize that we are more alike than we are different. That’s why we must preserve these treasures for future generations. They’re a doorway to our shared narrative.”

Queen Rania also helped in the selection of the sites at the initial stages of the project and provided an exclusive narration of the global launch video that was widely spread across the internet.

Ulf Spitzer, Global Head of the Google Street View Program, stated: “The Google Street View team tries to go to amazing places around the world because we know that our users love to see them and experience them online. Jordan is one of the most spectacular places that we have visited – thanks to the amazing support and warm hospitality that was extended. We hope our imagery conveys all the grace, beauty and deep heritage of the country.”

To create this imagery, Google used the Trekker which is a wearable Street View backpack with a camera system on top that is designed to go down footpaths, tracks and narrow pathways to get images of areas of natural beauty or tourist sites.

This is the fifth Street View imagery collected of a major landmark in MENA, after Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Liwa desert in Abu Dhabi and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

Google Maps Street View began in 2007 and today covers thousands of cities in 72 countries. The program includes capturing 360 degree imagery of theme parks, university campuses, pedestrian malls, landmarks and zoos.

The imagery of the 30 historical sites and other sites is now available on Google Maps and can be viewed on g.co/Jordanhighlights and g.co/Petra.

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