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9 Nov, 2015

Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies to open in January 2016

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 09 November 2015 (27 Muharram 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.




Algeria: New Mechanism to Attract Investors in Tourism Sector

6 November 2015 – Algerie Presse Service (Algiers) — A new mechanism will be put in place to encourage operators in the sector including travel agencies to invest in the implementation of tourist structures, Minister of Town Planning, Tourism and Craft Industry Amar Ghoul said Thursday in Algiers.

At the end of his working and inspection visit to the School of Hotel Education and Catering (Ain Benian), Touring Club Algeria (Bir Khadem), Tourist and Travel Agency of Zaatcha (Kouba), the Algerian National Tourist Office (ONAT) and the National School of Tourism (El Aurassi Hotel), Ghoul said the “interest-free credit facility, which will be announced in the Finance Act 2016, aims to encourage operators to invest in the tourism sector, especially in the implementation of tourist facilities to attract foreign tourists.”

This mechanism also aims to “encourage public and private tourism agencies to improve the quality of services and to invest in the implementation of hotel facilities and tourist villages”. A national meeting involving the tourism and travel agencies will be held soon to address the concerns of operators in the sector and present the program of the Ministry of Town Planning, Tourism and Craft Industry based on three main areas: local tourism, tourism towards the Algerian community abroad and tourism towards foreign tourists, Ghoul said.

After his visit to the School of Hotel Education and Catering at Ain el Benian and the National School of Tourism (El Aurassi), the Minister said that the students will benefit as from this year of specialized programs covering all services in the field of town planning, tourism and handicrafts.

This year, specialties in the fields of tourism and hospitality will be adapted to standards in force at the international level to enable Algeria to fully integrate competitive tourism market.

The Minister seized this opportunity to call on students to learn foreign languages inorder to “develop tourism in Algeria” and attract foreign tourists, especially those from the Asian continent.

Students of Tourism and Hotel Education Schools will benefit from several advantages, including the ability to create small companies by ensuring support through the granting of credit in record time and funding for their projects.

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Nigeria: S/W Hoteliers, Governors Collaborate to Strengthen Hospitality Sector

By Ajibola Amzat

7 November 2015 – The Guardian (Lagos) – South West Hoteliers Association has collaborated with the government of the six Southwest states to strengthen efforts in order to boost the zone’s hospitality industry.

This was contained in a communiqué released after the maiden edition of the South- West Hoteliers Association Business Retreat, held at Indices Suites & Gardens, Onikolobo Abeokuta, Ogun State recently.

The agreement is coming against the backdrop of the country’s efforts to diversify the economy against dwindling prices of crude oil.

The governors, who were represented at the forum, however identified the need to strengthen ties with the operators in order to harness the various opportunities in the sector. They also promised to harmonize the various taxes and levies inhibiting the operation of the hoteliers.

Governor Ambode, who was represented at the event by Mrs. Olufunmilayo Balogun, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism, disclosed that the Lagos state government would prioritise the needs and yearnings of the operators. He added that the hospitality sector has the capacity to expand the revenue base of the state and the country at large.

He however called for the cooperation of hoteliers in the state in order to boost the sector. According to him, the new administration in Lagos state will not only focus on registration and certification of hoteliers in the state, but is committed to sustaining a viable business environment for investors.

Meanwhile, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who was represented by Mrs. Aderonke Tokunbo- Peters, Director, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, promised to consolidate on the existing relationship with stakeholders in order to move the sector forward. He however urged the association to continue to work with the government.

According to Chief Adoroh Jerome, the president of the association, the retreat is being put together to enable hoteliers and critical stakeholders from the south-west come together and deliberate on issues affecting the industry, and find solutions on how to move it forward using the platform of a virile strong and development association

In the end, the association seeks the partnership of all relevant government agencies including security to enlist all non-registered hotels in the zone to join the umbrella body in order to enhance security, forestall crime and facilitate seamless communication with government and other stakeholders.

It said, “the various efforts of the Governments of Southwest are commendable especially in the promotion of regional integration and development of infrastructure aimed at cooperative renewal of the socio-economic and infrastructural development of the region. It also urged the government to place more attention on road construction and improved power supply.

It also “promises that the executive members of the association will meet the South West governors to address issues of multiple taxation under different guises, and to also resolve the various tax including consumption tax, environmental levy among others imposed on the members by the State, Local Government and Internal Revenue Services.

It also solicits for the assistance of relevant government agents to enable her secure loan (at very low interest rate) and foreign grants and the establishment of Hospitality and Tourism Industry bank, as it obtains in some other specialized sectors.

It also urged the various States Houses of Assembly to formulate law which will compel all hoteliers to operate under the umbrella of the association, in order to ease the problem of enumeration, classification, poor revenue generation, compliance and security.

Thepromise to mobilize its members to fulfilling their basic duties by paying all genuine taxes and levies due to government without prompting as at when due. It also called for synergy between the association and governments of the zone, with a view to bridging communication gaps in order to promote mutual business and fiscal development.

The association also urged the government and hoteliers to collaborate by ensuring adequate representation and involvement of the Known Hoteliers Association Members (to be so nominated by the Association at the various states) into the relevant Agencies, Boards and or Committees that deal with the Hospitality industry. It said at least two members of its association must adopted in the State Tourism board, in order to enable a seamless, collaborative and more productive relationship.

Meanwhile the association in the communiqué urged its members to pay high premium on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in their areas of operation by contributing to the community development efforts and maintenance of peace and security in their neighbourhood and that the Association shall place special attention to compliance by members.

On welfare and security of its members and the public, it also urged its members to liaise with top echelon of the Nigeria Police Force in line with the security challenges and incidences of misapplication of law being faced by members in their day -to- day operation.

The association however promised to collaborate with the government of the zone in order to facilitate easy approval of building plans of its members. It however assured that it will continually intervene with government in order to fast track issuance of approved plans to the members.

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Egypt: About Scan Pyramids

1 November 2015 – Egypt State Information Service (Cairo) – Just because a mystery is 4500 years old Doesn’t mean it can’t be solved” is the motto of the scientific mission launched under the authority of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, initiated, designed and coordinated by the Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University and the French HIP Institute ( Heritage, Innovation and Preservation).

Radiographic muons, aka cosmic particles, infrared thermography, photogrammetry, scanner and 3D reconstruction will be used by researchers of international renown and three major universities: the Faculty of Engineering of Cairo University, Université Laval of Quebec and Nagoya University of Japan to probe the heart of the largest pyramids of Egypt, without drilling the slightest opening.

The scientific mission ” Scan Pyramids” starts in November 2015. It will study the South pyramid, called the bent, and the North pyramid, called the Red.

This project aims at discovering the secrets of the pyramids, especially Khufu, the last of the seven wonders of the Ancient world which are still existing in order to describe with certainty how these colossal stone monuments, built by human beings were erected.

The scientific mission is supposed to finish this project by the end of 2016.

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Nigeria: Travel Agency Set to Give Nigerians Better Experience

1 November 2015 – This Day (Lagos) – Travelbeta, an emerging travel company in Nigeria, has stated its commitment to improve and enhance Nigerians’ travelling experience with value added services and first class treatments for its customers.

Speaking at a press briefing organised in Lagos last week, the Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Onyeka Akumah, said the company was set to restructure the Nigerian travel industry by improving customer service relations with services such as visa advisory, corporate travel, group tours and packages, car rentals, destination management and travel insurance.

Akumah further stated that TravelBeta is ready to share their margins with customers as much as possible, noting that they will also embark on customising flight packages for families, organisations, and groups using their financial budgets.

According to him, “If you find any place where the fare is better than what we are offering, call us and we make sure you get those fares cheaper on our platforms (travelbeta.com). We believe that if we keep giving customers affordable fares for the next 60 days, it will create convenience for them.

“Presently, we have three banks-First Bank, Diamond Bank and FCMB-which we are working with. We hope that within seven working days, we would have opened our accounts with other banks. This will help our customers willing to do business with us to enjoy smooth transaction.”

Also speaking at the event, the Chief Technology Officer, Wale Ayorinde, said they have employed world class technology in order to meet up with set standards.

“We work with various technology partners around the world to provide this service. In this way, we can provide the 24-hour service we promise our customers. We are working on a mobile application which will be available in IOS and Android app stores.

“You can use the mobile application to make your booking online, as everything available on the website is available on the mobile application. We have various security protocols from our international technology partners.

We have Avanya which is a call centre application to handle large number of calls from customers. We built this application to provide 24-hour telephone services to customers.”

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Uganda: Ministry to Train Locals On Earning From Tourism

2 November 2015 – The Monitor (Kampala) — Tourism bodies have unveiled plans to start training communities neighbouring national parks as a strategic move to eliminate poaching of wild animals.

The ministry of Tourism and its agencies – the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) – have constructed a Shs280m Rwere Community Training Centre at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Kisoro District.

UWA executive director Andrew Seguya said the centre is intended to equip area residents with artisan skills in making crafts items such as pots and portraits that can attract tourists to buy.

“We intend to make these communities to benefit from the tourists and improve their livelihoods. In this way, they will be able to realise the importance of wildlife and stay away from poaching,” Mr Seguya said.

“We expect to construct more training centres in other national parks so as to serve the same purpose,” he added.

The UWA executive director was speaking last Thursday during the fundraising dinner organised at Kampala Serena Hotel where Shs10m was raised out of the Shs100m needed to equip the centre which opens in February next year.

Wildlife faces the challenge of increased poaching despite contributing more than 90 per cent of tourism arrivals in Uganda.

Mr Steven Asiimwe, the UTB executive director, noted that the initiative would help to promote community-based tourism.

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Sudan Moving Forward with new Khartoum Airport

2 November 2015 – Sudan News Agency (Khartoum) — Vice-President of the Republic, on Monday chaired at Council of Ministers General Secretariat, meeting of the High Committee for Implementation of New Khartoum International Air Port.

The Vice-President gave directive for completing the requirements of launching the work at the Project and to organize land surrounding the Air Port.

The meeting assured on financial arrangements , provision of funding and matrix of timetable for execution of project.

The meeting underscored importance of balanced development and development of the area as well as optimum use of lands in the States surrounding the Air Port according to the aviation safety.

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Nigeria: Air Peace Flies 500,000 Passengers in 1yr

3 November 2015 – Daily Trust – Lagos — Air Peace, one of the nation’s domestic carriers, has airlifted over 500,000 passengers in its first year of operation.

Chairman of the airline, Mr Allen Onyema, who spoke with newsmen on the airline’s first anniversary, described the feat as unprecedented in domestic airline operation in Nigeria.

Onyema explained that the airline, which started with seven aircraft, now has 11 planes in its fleet. He said the airline had been spending huge amount of money to maintain the aircraft in order to guarantee passengers’ safety.

Air Peace, he disclosed, had secured approval to fly Niger, Gabon, Senegal, Gambia, Cameroon, Ghana and South Africa, among other West and Central African countries, with plan to extend operations to Europe and Asia soon.

He said “The government has called on Air Peace to undertake the development of a new route – the Kebbi International Airport. This has never happened with a new airline before. We have shown strength and capacity from day one of our operations. We have the zeal towards doing the right thing.”

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Somalia: Jovago Expands to Somalia

5 November 2015 – CIO East Africa (Nairobi) – Jovago.com has signed up the first of Somali hotels to Africa’s leading online booking platform.

Commenting on the new entry, Estelle Verdier, Managing Director for Jovago.com East and Southern Africa expressed her optimism in the country’s rebirth process quoting that, “Jovago transcends every border, as being in Somalia means being everywhere in Africa.

She went on to note that, “the country has attracted new attention from Africa and beyond owing to the many aspects put in place for its reconstruction.

Jovago therefore is seeking to align Somalia’s hotel sector proportionately with the new age customer trends and purchasing decisions” Analysis by market leaders such as World Travel Market and Euromonitor indicate ever increasing numbers with a market moving 96% of primary travel searches taking place online.

The threat of piracy and Al-Shabab attacks in Somalia’s waters for a long time consequently restricted the country’s internet connection to satellites and Dial up services. This was until late in 2013, when Liquid Telecom introduced the country’s first fiber optic broadband link in capital Mogadishu; finally marking the first phase of opening up Somali to the world of opportunities on the World Wide Web.

Part of this, as Shiraar Hared Rage the CEO for Idman Ocean View Camp in Mogadishu cites is ensuring that Somalia’s hotel sector also benefits from this new culture. His hotel, which has been operational since 2004 has embraced social media as part of its strategy to remain visible in the market.

According to the entrepreneur, internet marketing not only paves way for building relations with previous and potential customers, but also helps businesses in cutting costs incurred through communication.

Mogadishu, has seen a new awakening and rise from years of anarchy with long closed embassies re-opening and hitherto abandoned government offices springing back to life.

It’s also home to diplomatic organizations as well as institutions of higher learning with a tech-hungry youth population that will benefit majorly from reliable internet connection.

Owing to the recent progress in fighting the Islamist militias and the establishment of the African Union, United Nations and US backed Federal Government, Somalia may finally be on her way to leaping benefits from a well-established telecoms industry.

According to BuddeComm, a global independent telecommunications research and consultancy company, the country is on to a better connected future with a 58% penetration in mobile and 2.1% internet penetration rate forecasted by the end of 2015. Security remains the key to the country’s stability that will pave way for infrastructure and development. As for now, the population will have to trust in the country’s rebirth process.

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Tunisia: Sousse – Tunisia-Algerian Business Meetings in Tourism

5 November 2015 – Tunis Afrique Presse – Sousse — Several partnership agreements in the tourism sector were signed by Tunisia and Algerian businessmen after partnership meetings held Thursday in Sousse by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Centre.

The agreements provide for investment in joint projects, particularly in the areas of hotel equipment and catering trade as well as in health tourism.

Special attention was paid to partnership with Tunisian tourism schools.

The Algerian delegation composed of 45 entrepreneurs visited the hotel, restaurant and cafe equipment exhibition held at the Sousse International Fair.

President of the Algerian Hotel Federation Ahmed Ould Bechir told TAP nearly 950 hotels are in the process of construction in Algeria.

The number of tourists who visited Algeria has increased from 175 thousand in 1999 to 2.5 million in 2011, he said, adding that this number will reach 3.5 million by the end of this year.

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Gambia: Tourism Unit Trained On Complaint Handling, Service Excellence

6 November 2015 – The Point (Banjul) – The Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard), in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Monday started a four-day training on service excellence and complaint handling for personnel of the Tourism Security Unit.

Speaking on the occasion, Ousainou Senghor, director of finance and administration at the GTBoard, said such training is very important in enhancing the professional service delivery of TSU personnel.

He noted that tourism is a great contributor to the economy of The Gambia as it contributes immensely to the gross domestic product through the provision of employment and taxation.

Major Abdoulie Manneh, Commander of the Guard Battalion, said the training was important in equipping the security personnel with the necessary skills and know-how in dealing with the public, especially tourists.

He said the officers will continue to maintain high standard of professionalism in their operations.

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Guyana/Barbados renew cooperation – projects in marine and tourism sectors

Georgetown, GINA, November 5, 2015 – Cooperation between Guyana and Barbados was recently strengthened with the visit of a high- level Government of Guyana delegation led by Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge.

The local officials met with Prime Minister, Freundel Stuartand other Ministers of the Barbadian Government to foster relations for national development. The Guyana/Venezuela controversy was also discussed.

Reporting to Cabinet on the recent meeting held in Barbados, Minister Greenidge stated that there was an agreement between the two Governments on a number of projects which allowed for widening of the countries’ relations.

Briefing the media today, at the Ministry of the Presidency at the post- Cabinet press briefing, Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman advised that, “we were quite happy because what we are seeing is a warming -up or a hotting -up because we don’t have cold relations with Barbados, but following this meeting our relations are going to become closer.”

Minister Trotman said the government looks forward to the “successful implementation of the various projects relating to maritime cooperation in particular and tourism as well.”

Meetings were also held in Barbados with the Minister of Education and matters relating to education in the region, more so Guyana were discussed.

Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Audrey Waddell accompanied Minister Greenidge. Staff of the Guyana Consular office in Barbados also participated in the meeting.

Barbados and Guyana established formal diplomatic relations on November 30, 1966, and, over the years, the two countries have worked together, bilaterally and through various regional projects.

At the inaugural Joint Commission meeting in 2007 in Georgetown, Guyana, it was agreed that Joint Commission meetings should take place biennially and alternately in Guyana and Barbados.

This meeting resulted in the two sides identifying a number of agreed areas of cooperation in which joint endeavours could be pursued. Specific areas in which decisions have been made include investment and exports, tourism, hospitality and air services, agriculture and fisheries, maritime administration and marine affairs, education, immigration and security, culture, and youth and sports.

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Al-Saadiyat Is One Of Uae Top Landmarks

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Nov 7 (NNN-WAM) – Al-Saadiyat island is one of the most important UAE islands, due to the mega projects and investments, executed, or to be executed, on the 27-sq-km island.

The development enterprises in the cultural, tourist, housing and entertainment sectors are forecast to finish by 2020.

The island is a blend of natural beauty and man-made modern structures and buildings, including branches of the renowned international museums, the Louvre, Jungheim and Zayed National Museum.

The Island attracts a large number of visitors.

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Malaysia Still A Preferred Long-Term Investment Destination

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Malaysia is still a preferred long-term investment destination as evidenced by the increase in foreign direct investments (FDIs) for the first half of this year compared to the second half of last year.

Deputy Finance Minister, Chua Tee Yong, said the FDIs for the first half of this year rose to RM22 billion from RM17 billion recorded in the second half of last year.

“Long-term investors are ‘here to stay’. In fact, in the Budget 2016 we have encouraged existing businesses to reinvest by reactivating reinvestment allowance.

“This is applicable not only to the multinational corporations but also small and medium entreprises as long as they qualify under the investment criteria,” he told Bernama.

Chua dismissed suggestion that Malaysia will not be capable of attracting FDIs this year saying economic stability was one of the country’s competitive edges in attracting investments.

“Society-wise, we are also very stable and cohesive and there are a lot of element of attractiveness such as language as well as tax incentives,” he said.

Nevertheless, he acknowledged the fast flow, in and out, of funds of the short- and medium-term investors that were investing predominantly in Malaysian government securities, stock market and bonds.

“We can’t prevent it because in an economy that is open, we do allow people to come in and exit as and when they feel,” he said.

During the tabling of the 2016 Budget by the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on Oct 23, the government had proposed a special reinvestment allowance incentive (RA) for reinvestments made from assessment year 2016 until assessment year 2018.

During the period, a company that reinvested for the purpose of expansion, modernisation, automation or diversification will be eligible for RA for 15 consecutive years beginning from the year of assessment the RA is claimed.

The incentive was aimed at encouraging reinvestments by companies which have exhausted their eligibility to qualify for RA.

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Australia : Mosques Open Doors To Encourage Respect, Understanding

MELBOURNE, Australia Oct 30 (NNN-Bernama) — Australians have been invited to attend their local National Mosque Open Day on Saturday, the second year that this event will place.

The Open Day, supported by the Department of Social Services, is about community participation, understanding, inclusiveness and respect, the Federal Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan said.

“It also provides a time for us to reflect on where Australia has come from and where it is today,” he said.

In a statement, the Minister said he joined with Imam Shabir Moosa Adam and

Imam Burhaan Mehtar at Masjid Ibrahim in Southern River, Perth to encourage cultural understanding in Australia.

“The Government is deeply committed to its freedom agenda, which includes advancing measures to protect freedom of speech, freedom of religion and other traditional rights and liberties.

“However the Government strongly condemns those who attempt to diminish our freedoms in Australia and urge violence and hatred within our community,” Keenan said, adding that the Government was working closely with the community to address radicalisation and extremism to protect all citizens’ rights to personal freedom and choice.

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LEAD STORY: Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies to open in January 2016

Sunday 01 Nov 2015 – Oxford, (IINA) – After 13 years of wait, a stunning new Oxford Center for Islamic Studies is expected to open early next year, with state-of-art features donated by Muslim countries worldwide, Oxford Mail online news reported.

malaysia logo

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

The £100 million Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, independent of Oxford University, would consist of an auditorium, a three-floor library, dining hall and mosque.

Work began on the Marston Road building back in 2002 and it was originally expected to open just two years later. But delays in funding and problems with building work pushed the grand opening back. The centre is moving into its new home from its current premises in George Street and Registrar Richard Makepeace said the move was nearly complete.

He said: “We are hoping that it will be completed at the end of the year and students and others will start using the building from next term.

The former British Diplomat in Cairo said that the building’s intricate interior had held up the process. The building has benefited from a number of donors and has received gifts from several countries. The woodwork in the Malaysia Auditorium, a lecture theatre, was constructed and donated by Malaysia.

The Kuwait Library, which contains a large collection of books, journals and manuscripts from a range of topics from classical works on the Qur’an to modern social sciences, was provided by the Kuwait Foundation of Advancement of Sciences (KFAF).

There are also walls of Iznik tiles native to Turkey. Makepeace said the centre should be viewed as an academic institute with a mosque rather than the other way around. He said: “It will be a Muslim institute in the same way that many colleges are Christian institutes.

“The centre will be used by Muslims and non-Muslims – we want to promote scholarship of the Islamic world. We hope it will bring more of Oxford to the Muslim world and also more of the Muslim world to Oxford.”

On the other side, Lord Mayor Rae Humberstone planted a tree in the garden on Thursday to signify that the centre’s opening was getting nearer.

The building will be used mostly by students at Oxford University but could also host exhibitions of artwork across the Islamic world, which could be viewed by the public. The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) was established in 1985 to encourage study of Islam and the Islamic world.

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Ninth Islamic Conference For Culture Ministers Begins Monday In Oman

MUSCAT, Oman, Nov 2 (NNN-ONA) – Deliberations of the 9th session of the Islamic Conference for Culture Ministers, begins at the Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa today (Monday).

It is under the auspices of Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, Oman Minister of Heritage and Culture, in the presence of Dr. Abdulaziz bin Othman al-Tuwaijri, Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO), ministers of culture in the Islamic world and heads of their countries’ delegations.

The Sultanate’s host to the three-day conference comes, as part of the programme to celebrate Nizwa, the Capital of Islamic Culture. It is expected that the Islamic delegations will take part in the opening ceremony of the Cultural Centre in Nizwa, the prominent project among the city’s celebrations.

The conference carries the theme “Towards Intermediary Developmental Culture for the Advancement of Islamic Societies.” The culture ministers of the Islamic world will hold a panel discussion “round table” to discuss the theme of the meeting, in a bid to reach recommendations that would advance the Arab and Islamic peoples, far away from extremism and towards the required intermediation.

Selecting this theme for the conference comes in line with the major civilised role being made by the Sultanate, in disseminating the culture of peace and harmony, rejecting extremism and hatred among various nations.

The first session of the conference will represent the conference office that will be responsible for running the discussions, extracting the recommendations and drafting the communique.

The heads of delegations will deliver their speeches to review the national reports of their countries, on their efforts within the framework of implementing the cultural strategy of the Islamic world.

The ISESCO Director General will also present a report on the strategy, and the ISESCO efforts in the project of dialogue, cultural variety and responding to the media campaigns, defaming the image of Islam and Muslims.

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Islam Message Exhibition Hosted In Wilayat A’Seeb, Oman

MUSCAT, Oman, Nov 5 (NNN-ONA) – The Islam Message Exhibition was opened in the Wilayat of A’Seeb, under the patronage of Nasser bin Sulaiman al-Sibani, Deputy Chairman of the Public Authority for Radio and Television (PART) Oman.

The exhibition began on Wednesday, organised by the Omani Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, in cooperation with the Ahmed bin Majid Private School.

The exhibition includes 24 portraits, depicting the international campaign “Do Something for Islam,” besides a collection of books and titles in several languages, to highlight Islam as a global religion characterised by tolerance, coexistence, respect and peace. It also includes giving visual presentations about the exhibition, which is being held in several world’s countries.

The chief guest said that, the Sultanate, since ancient times, is still famous for tolerance and peaceful coexistence, among the world’s nations, reflecting the real message of Islam.

The opening ceremony was attended by the ambassadors of Germany, China, Taiwan and Kenya, Dr. Mohammed bin Said al-Ma’amari, Scientific Advisor at the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, Dr. Mohammed bin Mubarak al-Araimi, Director General, ONA Editor-in-Chief, and other officials.

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Call For Setting Up Of ASEAN Secretariat To Boost Islamic Tourism Industry

ALOR GAJAH, Malaysia Oct 30 (NNN-Bernama) — The Tourism and Culture Ministry has proposed for the setting up of a secretariat at ASEAN level to boost the Islamic tourism industry at the international level.

Its deputy minister, Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, said the initiative should be given proper attention as Islamic tourism had a very big market and capable of generating high revenue.

“Approximately 1.7 billion people in the world are Muslims, of whom 1.1 billion are from the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) countries and 240 million are from ASEAN countries. So, this opportunity should be used wisely and quickly.

“It is also in line with the government’s aspiration to have 30.5 million tourist arrivals who will contribute RM103 billion to the country’s economy next year,” she told reporters after opening the state-level Consumer Power Carnival 2015 here today.

She said she proposed the matter at the Joint Seminar on Islamic Tourism inBandung, Indonesia, recently.

Mas Ermieyati said there were many sectors that could be developed along with the development of the Islamic tourism industry, including the halal food industry and accommodation suitable for Muslim tourists.

“As such, we hope the tourism industry players in will offer more Islamic packages and services that will meet the requirements of Muslim community,” she said.

For the record, she said 300 hotels in the country were registered with theMalaysian Islamic Development Department.

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Abu Dhabi Aims For 20 Pct Increase in British Tourists

ABU DHABI, Nov 1 (NNN-Xinhua) — Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) said on Saturday that Britain remains a top priority market for the sheikhdom, state-run news agency WAM reported.

Mubarak Al-Nuaimi, director of the promotions and overseas offices at TCA Abu Dhabi, said Britain remains the leading European market for visitors to Abu Dhabi with guest arrivals rising 16 percent year on year to 142,134, delivering 586,521 guest nights across the emirate, which is a significant rise of 10 percent on the previous year.

Abu Dhabi, home of the country’s only Formula-1 track, aims to increase the number of visitors from Britain by 20 percent.

TCA Abu Dhabi will present itself on one of the major pavilions at the upcoming World Travel Market (WTM) in London which will take place from Nov. 2 to 5.

“WTM is a perfect platform for us to build on our successes and ensure we meet our target of a 20 percent increase in British guests staying in our 163 hotels and hotel apartments and to increase their length of stay, which is currently 4.13 nights,” Al-Nuaimi said.

In 2014, the emirate received 3.49 million visitors, according to TCA Abu Dhabi.

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Three New Govt Policies To Facilitate Malaysian Tourists To Indonesia

JAKARTA, Nov 5 (NNN-ANTARA) — The Indonesian government, through the Ministry of Tourism, has announced three policies in the tourism field, aimed at facilitating Malaysian travelers visit to Indonesia.

“We want to propagate the new policies in the tourism field that encourage Malaysian travelers to come to Indonesia,” said Indonesian Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya in a press statement.

Under these new policies in the tourism field, the number of Immigration Check-in points for Malaysian travelers have been increased.

Furthermore, a new regulation now abolishes the existing regulation on Clearance Approval for Indonesian Territory (CAIT), making it easier for yachts to enter the Indonesian territory through 18 ports in Indonesia.

Finally, the cabotage principle is being abolished to ease Malaysian cruises transit, enabling them to pick up and drop off passengers at five appointed ports in Indonesia.

“We hope that the new policies will increase the sales pitch of Indonesia in the world (making it more attractive destination) when it comes to tourism,” Iqbal Alamsjah, Head of Legal and Communications, Ministry of Tourism, told reporters in KUALA LUMPUR.

At the same time, the Indonesian government has also issued a short-stay visa-free policy for 90 countries.

Within a few months, the impact of this policy is already showing a positive trend with tourist arrivals increasing by up to 15 percent, compared to last year.

Alamsyah said a foreign yacht can now enter Indonesian territory and address the Custom, Immigration, Quarantine and Port (CIQP) paperwork at 18 ports.

This policy is aimed at increasing the number of visits to Indonesia by up to 6,000 yachts in 2019. “Indonesia wants to develop its maritime tourism, said Alamsjah.

Ports that will provide easy CIQP documents management are: the port of Sabang (Aceh), the port of Belawan (Medan), Teluk Bayur (Padang), port Nongsa Point Marina (Batam), the port of Bandar Telani Bintan (Tanjung Pandan) and Sunda Kelapa Harbor and Marina Ancol (Jakarta).

Moreover, the Port of Benoa (Bali), the port of Tenau (Kupang), the port of Kumai (City K. West), the port Tarakan (Tarakan), the port of Nunukan (Bulungan), Bitung (Bitung), the port of Ambon (Ambon), the port of Saumlaki (Saumlaki ), the port of Tual (Tual), the port of Sorong (Sorong) and the port of Biak (Biak).

The Indonesian government has abolished the principle of cabotage rules that restricted the right to operate commercially in Indonesia exclusively to Indonesian flagged transport companies.

“Now, foreign-flagged cruise ships can also pick up and drop off passengers at five selected ports in Indonesia,” said Alamsjah.

The five ports are the ports of Tanjung Priok (Jakarta), Tanjung Perak (Surabaya), Belawan (field), Soekarno-Hatta (Makassar) and Benoa Harbour in Bali.

The Indonesian government also facilitates Malaysian travelers who want to travel back and forth to Indonesia by increasing the number of Immigration Check-in Posts at five airports and nine ports and Immigration Check-out Posts at 19 airports and 29 seaports besides two check-out posts on land.

Based on data from the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism, the number of foreign tourist arrivals to Indonesia in January-August 2015 grew by nearly three percent over the same period in 2014.

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Abu Dhabi Presented With The Travel Agents Choice Destination Of The Year Award

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Nov 5 (NNN-WAM) – Abu Dhabi was presented this week with the Destination of the Year award in the ‘City’ category, for the second consecutive year, in the UK’s Travel Agents Choice Awards, at London’s World Travel Market.

The Travel Agents Choice Awards are the only travel trade awards entirely nominated and voted for by UK travel retailers. Nearly 1,000 UK travel agents voted in the awards, which span 42 categories and reflect every aspect of the business of travel.

“It is a particular honour to win this award,” said Mubarak Al Nuaimi, TCA Abu Dhabi’s Director of Promotions and Overseas Offices, who collected the award, during a ceremony aboard the luxury floating hotel, Sunborn London, moored alongside Excel London. “It’s especially rewarding to win it two years in a row, as it highlights the confidence the UK travel trade has in Abu Dhabi,” Al Nuaimi continued.

“All of us at TCA Abu Dhabi feel privileged to be working within the tourism industry at such an exciting time,” added Nabeel Al Zarouni, UK Country Manager. “2016 is set to be another exciting year, with the new Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal opening next month, new museums soon to open in Al Ain, and new landmark hotels and theme park attractions opening in the capital.”

A special Travel Agents Choice Awards supplement will be published as part of the Dec issue of ‘Selling Travel,’ the trade magazine that supports the awards. Sally Parker, Selling Travel Publisher, said, “A huge congratulations must go to Abu Dhabi and to TCA. Ours is an extremely competitive industry and to be acknowledged as the UK’s top city destination is a great accolade.”

In other categories, Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, picked up the award for ‘Best Airline to the Middle East’ and Rotana Hotels and Resorts won ‘Best Hotel in the Middle East.’

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Indonesia: Tourist Arrivals May Surpass 10 Million Target This Year

JAKARTA, Nov 5 (NNN-ANTARA) — The number of tourist arrivals hit a nine-month high of 869,179 in September 2015, shoring up optimism about achieving the target of 10 million tourists, set by the government for this year.

The number of tourists visiting Indonesia in September 2015 represents a 2.19 percent increase, compared to August 2015, and a 9.84 percent rise as compared to September 2014, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

The resort island of Bali remains the biggest contributor to the countrys tourism growth.

The number of tourists visiting Indonesia via the Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali rose by 7.78 percent in September 2015, with 379.4 thousand visiting in that month, up from 352 thousand in the same month last year.

The airport also saw a 27.04 percent surge in the number of tourist arrivals in September 2015, compared to a month earlier.

However, the number of tourist arrivals at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport dropped apparently because many foreign tourists chose to land at the Ngurah Rai Airport since Mount Raung in Banyuwangi district, East Java, against returned to normalcy.

The number of tourist arrivals in Bali during August 2015 fell by 71,307 to 301,376 from 382,683 in July 2015 due to the fact that airports had to shut down repeatedly because of volcanic ash spewed by Mount Raung that had erupted.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said in a press statement that tourist arrivals grew by 9.84 percent in September 2015, not just the highest this year but also a record high in the past five years.

He said the performance of the national tourism industry in September 2015, with tourist arrivals in the first nine months of 2015 being 7,191,771, lifted confidence in surpassing the government-set tourist arrival target of 10 million for this year.

BPS Chairman Suryamin said on Monday that the increase in the number of tourist arrivals was partly the result of the government’s policy to provide visa-free facility (BVK) in recent months to tourists from 90 countries.

Yahya said the policy to provide BVK for travelers from 90 countries, compared to 15 countries earlier, has begun showing a positive result, as reflected by the two-digit growth in tourist arrivals in September 2015.

“The more significant impact of BVK will be felt starting next year. As per our projections, the BVK policy will increase the number of tourist arrivals by 1 million in 2016 with foreign exchange earnings estimated at US$1 billion,” he said.

Under Presidential Regulation No.104/2015 dated September 23, 2015, the government provided BVK to tourists from 45 countries, bringing to 90 the number of countries offered BVK by Indonesia. The regulation was issued along with two new regulations on yachts and cruises.

The BVK privilege is the second of its kind provided by the government this year.

Yahya said the second phase of BVK policy is a strategic step to lure a significant number of foreign tourists to visit Indonesia after the first phase of BVK successfully raised the number of tourist arrivals from 30 countries between June 10 and August 9, 2015 to 592,748, up 15 percent from 514,171 in the same period last year.

Data from both the Tourism Ministry and BPS showed that the number of tourist arrivals from Egypt in September 2015 grew by 72.60 percent, the United Arab Emirates by 44.51 percent, Saudi Arabia 43.18 percent, Britain 40.78 percent and Germany 38.10 percent.

Cumulatively, Chinese tourists led the growth of tourist arrivals in Indonesia during the January-September 2015 period with 20.04 percent, followed by Egypt 19.45 percent, Britain 13.82 percent, India 10.94 percent, and Germany 6.26 percent.

According to the analysis conducted by the deputy assistant for overseas tourism marketing strategy of the Tourism Ministry , the BVK policy widely popularized abroad and the active promotion of Wonderful Indonesia through the print, electronic, and online media have helped raise the number of tourist arrivals in Indonesia significantly.

In addition, the countrys participation in a number of exhibitions, festivals, bourses, sales missions, and direct promotion, particularly in 18 countries as the focus markets for Indonesian tourism, was another factor that encouraged tourists and resulted in the higher number of tourist arrivals in Indonesia.

It is believed that the high growth of tourist arrivals in September 2015 was owing to a high growth in tourist arrivals from most of the 18 focus markets.

The ministry noted that tourist arrivals from 13 of the 18 focus markets recorded high growth, while the number of tourists from the other five focus markets saw a relatively small decline.

The 13 focus markets which recorded growth were the Middle East ( 44.32 percent), Britain ( 40.78 percent); Germany ( 38.10 percent), the United States ( 23.13 percent), Hong Kong ( 19,14 percent), Japan ( 18.33 percent), India ( 17.64 percent), China ( 14,58 percent), the Netherlands ( 11.59 percent), the Philippines ( 8.87 percent); Taiwan ( 6.81 percent), France ( 3.97 percent) and Singapore ( 2.97 percent).

The five focus markets which saw a decline in the number of tourists visiting Indonesia were Russia (-6.43 percent), South Korea (-3.23 percent), Thailand (-1.96 percent), Australia (-1.93 percent) and Malaysia (-1.68 percent).

According to the ministry, the decline in the number of tourist arrivals from the five focus markets was a result of uncertain global economy and pressure on major currencies, including the Malaysian ringgit and the Australian dollar against the US dollar.

With three months still remaining, a period which usually sees a fairly high number of tourist arrivals, particularly from focus markets such as Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and some European countries, the target of 10 million tourist arrivals for this year will be surpassed.

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Malaysia:Tourism Sector Contributed Rm151.7 Billion To GDP

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 6 (NNN-Bernama) — The tourism sector contributes revenue of RM151.7 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year, according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia.

The department said the amount was the Gross Value Added Tourism Industries which was boosted by the retail trade industry, food and beverage and accommodation.

According to the 2014 statistics, Malaysia welcomed 27.4 million tourists.

“Inbound tourism expenditure last year increased to RM80.1 billion compared with RM73.4 billion in 2013. Domestic tourism expenditure registered RM55.5 billion last year compared with Outbound Tourists expenditure of RM32 billion,” said the department.

The figures were contained in the Tourism Satelite Account, 2010-2014, which was released by the department in a statement.

According to the department, last year the employment growth saw 2.6 million people offered employment in the tourism industry in the food & beverage serving services and retail trade.

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Guyana A Step Closer To Joining Islamic Bank

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Nov 1 (NNN-CARIBBEAN NEWS)– A statement from the Ministry of the Presidency confirmed on Thursday that the new government of Guyana “is currently considering becoming a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).”

To this end, two senior officials from the Islamic Bank, Dr Salman Syed Ali and Yahya Aleem Ur Rehman, held discussions with President David Granger and his finance minister, Winston Jordan.

The IsDB has its headquarters in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. The bank is an organ of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which Guyana joined in 1998. Neighbouring Suriname is the only member of the Islamic Bank in the western hemisphere.

Executives of the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana were also part of the delegation that met with Granger at the Ministry of the Presidency on Thursday.

This is one of the first indications from the new administration in Guyana that it intends to build economic, political and cultural ties with Islamic communities in Africa and Asia. The majority of the 57 OIC members are from Africa and Asia.

Guyana’s finance minister has been invited to a meeting of central banks and monetary authorities of OIC members in Suriname from November16-17. It is the first meeting in the region that will bring together economic and financial officials from OIC member states under the theme: “Structural and financial policies to cope with international and domestic economic challenges in the OIC member countries.”

President of the Bank, Dr Ali, stated that since 1971 the Islamic Bank has promoted economic development in various parts of the world amounting to about US$235 billion, 60 percent of which has gone to support public and private sector investments, including infrastructure for energy, transport, communications and social services.

The IsDB is looking to expand its presence in the Caribbean and, if Guyana joins, there is talk about opening a representative office in a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

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Islamic Finance Assets To Hit Us$3.2 Trn By 2020 – Thomson Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 (NNN-Bernama) — The global Islamic finance assets are projected to grow to US$3.2 trillion by 2020, says Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals.

Its Head of Islamic Finance, Mustafa Adil said Islamic finance was considered the most developed sector within the various pillars of the Islamic economy and its growth in the global industry was broadly measured by the value of Islamic finance assets.

“In 2014, Islamic finance assets totalled US$1.8 trillion, with Islamic banking representing 74 per cent of this, followed by sukuk at 16 per cent,” he said on the sidelines of the 11th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), here.

He said the information were based on Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) Thomson Reuters Islamic Finance Development Indicator 2015.

“According to Thomson Reuters’ projections, Islamic finance assets are projected to grow to US$3.2 trillion by 2020, with Islamic banking reaching US$2.6 trillion,” he added.

As global acceptance of Islamic finance continues to grow, he said more corporates and non-Muslim sovereigns were announcing Islamic finance initiatives such as ethical finance or Shariah-compliant regulations, as well as sukuk issuances.

The increased appetite demonstrates that the investors are attracted to the benefits surrounding the ethical principles of Islamic finance, linking finance to physical assets, productive fiscal activities and real economic growth.

On another area, Mustafa said the global halal food and lifestyle sector, whose consumption stood at US$1.8 trillion in 2014, was projected to increase to US$2.6 trillion by 2020, according to findings from the ‘State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2015/2016’ that the company also introduced at the 11th


“The halal food sector, with current consumption of US$1.13 trillion, is expected to grow to US$1.56 trillion by 2020, with the demand for ethical treatment of animals alone resulting in a US$100 billion organic food market,” he said.

Mustafa also gave an introduction to Salaam, the global Islamic economy gateway, that was launched at the Global Islamic Economy Summit in Dubai in October this year.

The website address is http://www.salaamgateway.com and 90 per cent of its contents could be accessed for free, he added.

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Malaysia Is World’s Most Advanced Islamic Economy, Says Thomson Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 (NNN-NST) — Malaysia is the world’s most advanced Islamic economy, far ahead of countries in the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), according to global intelligent business provider Thomson Reuters.

“We measure a country’s level advancement through six indicators, which are its level of governance, transparency, education, finance, corporate social responsibility and overall awareness,” said Thomson Reuters acting head of Islamic finance, Mustafa Adil.

“Malaysia scores very highly on all these indicators and thus, Malaysia is currently the world’s leading Islamic economy,” he said during Thomson Reuters’ presentation of the global outlook of the Islamic economy at the 11th World Islamic Economic Forum (11th WIEF).

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain is second and third after Malaysia, said Mustafa.

“Going forward, we expect substantial growth of global Islamic finance to be driven by Malaysia and emerging Islamic economies namely Indonesia, Singapore, China and Egypt.”

The three-day forum saw a record attendance of 3,069 delegates comprising global leaders, ministers, speakers, exhibitors and artists from 98 countries across five continents.

The biggest delegation is from Malaysia, followed by Bangladesh, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and Singapore.

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China, Kazakhstan agree to jointly speed up Silk Road construction

Friday 06 Nov 2015 – Beijing (IINA) – China and Kazakhstan agreed on Friday to establish a joint working group to promote the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The agreement was reached in talks between Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli and First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev, who is currently visiting China.

According to a Foreign Ministry press release, the two sides agreed on production capacity cooperation and to speed up related financing, strengthen communication, promote infrastructure construction including roads and railways, and to make better use of the Horgos border crossing in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the international logistics cooperation base in Lianyungang port of Jiangsu Province.

The two countries should further expand reciprocal cooperation in all areas, Zhang said.

Sagintayev said Kazakhstan was firm on cooperation with China, a friendly neighbor and strategic partner of his country, and that Kazakhstan was ready to work with China to strengthen bilateral cooperation and maintain a smooth development of the bilateral relations.

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Djibouti to host 4th Islamic Banking Summit Africa

Sunday 01 Nov 2015 – Djibouti (IINA) – Djibouti will host this week the 4th session of the Islamic Banking Summit Africa (IBSA 2015), with the participation of more than 350 of banking business pioneers, including the governors of the Central Banks of Sudan and Ethiopia as well as the Chief Executive Officer of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector.

The two-day session, which will be inaugurated on Wednesday by Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh, will focus on ways and means to exploit the investment opportunities in order to expand the base of the Islamic finance and Takaful (insurance) growth in Africa, which is the private sector wing of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group.

Some reports indicated that Africa has received at least $14 billion in Islamic project finance, and $1.6 billion from Sukuk (Islamic bond) issuances in the international markets over the period of 2005-2012.

It is to be noted that the last summit, held in Djibouti last year, recommended the development of a regulatory, legal and administrative framework for Islamic finance to ensure growth and prosperity.

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Malawi Islamic charity empowers rural women

Sunday 01 Nov 2015 – Lilongwe, Malawi (IINA) – In an attempt to rescue poverty-stricken rural women in Malawi, a local Islamic charity is providing entrepreneurship skills to the women regardless of their faith to achieve sustainable solutions to poverty, OnIslam reported.

This initiative was being praised as a “living hope” in the highly impoverished and least developed southern African nation.

“In Malawi, women constitute 60 percent of the total population and a larger percentage is rural women who are poor,” Abdul Razzaq Fattani, National Chairperson of Islamic Relief Agency (IRA), the charity implementing the program, said.

“They encounter enormous challenges in their quest for survival. It is for this reason that we introduced this empowerment program to alleviate their suffering and safeguard their integrity.

“Through this program, Fattani said, “we are identifying the poorest of the poor regardless of their faith inclinations, and we are providing them with tailoring and entrepreneurial skills and after the training, we give them sewing machines and start –up capital to enable them stand on their own.”

“The needs of poor rural women are quite overwhelming. Most of our beneficiaries are either divorced or widowed mothers. They shoulder a huge responsibility to provide for their families.” “They go through pain to get something for their children to eat. We are therefore, doing everything possible to reduce rising levels of poverty among women in the rural areas of the country.”

He said, “Since the inception of the program a few years ago, the number of beneficiaries has been on the rise.”

“We started with a small group of women, but there has been a rise in the number of those in desperate need of support. We have so far reached out to more than 1,000 women.

“But due to limited resources, we are unable to take all on board. Funds permitting, we plan to reach to as many women as possible and extend the program to other parts of the country.”

From her side, Fatima Ndaila, National Chairperson of Muslim Women Organization (MWO) has hailed the program describing it as a “huge treasure”.

“The level of pain that poverty has subjected women to is quite indescribable. Scores of women in both urban and rural areas of the country are going through immense pain in their endless struggle for sustainable source of livelihood. This program is therefore a huge treasure which deserves our commendation,” Ndaila told OnIslam.

Malawi is rated by the World Bank as one of the poorest and least developed nations in the world. Its majority poor people, according to the bank, struggle to survive on less than US$1 a day.

Malawi is a secular, but diverse religious nation. Islam is the second largest religion in the country after Christianity. Muslims, account for 36 percent of the country’ 16 million population.

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Malaysia to expand its halal products, expertise into India

Sunday 01 Nov 2015 – Dongguan (IINA) – The Malay Businessmen and Industrialists Association of Malaysia is expanding the country’s halal expertise into India’s market, particularly to cater the needs of its large Muslim population, its Vice-President Naim Mohamad said.

He said the Association would join on Sunday the World Halal Day 2015 in Pondicherry, a union territory in India’s south, which is the continuing series of the event which was last held in Singapore.

“We will take this opportunity to penetrate the Indian market by promoting not only our halal products, but also our expertise in the halal industry, including the halal certification,” he told BERNAMA on the sidelines of the three-day Guangdong 21st Century Maritime Silk Road International Expo, which kicked off in China on Thursday.

Naim said the Association would be working closely with other Malaysian agencies, namely the SME Corporation Malaysia and the Halal Industry Development Corporation in the establishment of a distribution center and market access in India.

“We are already in China but we cannot leave India alone. We need to establish our linkages, create our network and take our small and medium enterprises there,” he said.

Naim said although the purchasing power of consumers in India is generally lower than that of China, there are more Muslims in India than China.

“We are already in China, the world’s largest country with 1.36 billion people and we now need to have access to the second largest country, India which has 1.25 billion people.

Naim said ultimately, Malaysia aspired to expand its footprint in ASEAN market, home to 620 million people.

“The Muslim market will be our main target, but if it is good for them then it will also be good for the whole world,” he said, adding: “Halal doesn’t mean merely free from pork, but the food preparations have to be hygienic to ensure consumer safety.”

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Aussie Muslim named “2015 Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year”

Monday 02 Nov 2015 – Sydney, (IINA) – Australian Captain Mona Shindy, a Muslim weapons engineer, cultural advisor, and business leader in the Royal Australian Navy, has been named as the 2015 Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year, honoring her long career in the navy during which she maintained a strong passion for cultural diversity and inclusion, OnIslam reported.

The journey of Captain Shindy on Australian warships started 26 years ago when the 23-year-old holder of a university degree in the blokey domain of engineering climbed aboard HMAS Canberra to test missiles in the Pacific.

Throughout her 26 years in the Royal Australian Navy, she amassed wealth of experience including representing the country in Washington DC on the Australian Air Warfare Destroyer Program (AAWDP).

In her current role, she is responsible for the acquisition of the nation’s major defence assets.

“I love to inspire people to be innovative and step out of their comfort zones to see things from a different perspective,” Captain Shindy, Director Littoral Warfare and Maritime Support, said at the Telstra celebration last Wednesday.

“I want people to be true to themselves without fear or discrimination and be respected for their varying views and contributions.”

Winning her battles to bridge gaps, she was recently appointed the Chief of Navy’s Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs, for which she was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in this year’s Australia Day honors for her work bridging cultural divides.

It is her aim to encourage more Muslims to join the defence force, around 100 of the 45000-defence force personnel identify as Muslim, 27 of them in the Navy.

She says terrorist attacks, which have hijacked aspects of religious teachings to justify those behaviors have created “fear and uncertainty for others who are non-Muslims”.

“You can be a proud Australian that loves everything about this great nation and still love your roots and love where you came from and straddle both worlds and both communities. That’s how I live my life and I like to help other people find their way in living those two things,” she said.

Telstra Chief Operations Officer and Telstra Business Women’s Award Ambassador, Kate McKenzie, said Captain Shindy and all the NSW winners have achieved impressive results in their respective areas of business.

“The 2015 NSW winners are brilliant business women who are passionate, courageous and are willing to challenge the accepted way of doing things,” she said.

McKenzie said the Telstra Awards judges applauded Captain Shindy’s commitment towards cultural change within the Royal Australian Navy and her ability to push for diversity to make Australia’s defense force a more inclusive one.

“Mona has been a trailblazer during her career with the Navy, driving huge organizational change. Her ability to influence change is a rare thing to witness and is truly inspiring,” McKenzie said.

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India’s old Muslim library to go digital

Monday 02 Nov 2015 – Mumbai, (IINA) – Revealing the old treasures in one of the oldest libraries in the world history, Deccan Muslim Institute of Pune, in the western Maharashtra state of India, is going through renovation process to restore rare books in digital version, some as old as 150 years, OnIslam reported.

“The library was established in 1915 in a small rented room near MG Road Pune. Since then it has been shifted many times finally settling here near Azam campus,” Mohammed Asif Shaikh, principal of Institute, told The Times of India on Sunday.

“It’s the largest Urdu library in the state. It has over 30,000 books, of which 20,000 are in Urdu.”

Deccan Muslim Institute celebrated 100 years on Friday with explanations on the history of why Bhagwad Gita and the Guru Granth Sahib in Urdu and the Qur’an Sharif in Marathi were the most sought after books.

Through its history, it has served as a monument of Islamic history, scholarships information centre, medical welfare centre, self-help group centre, marriage bureau, language centre, career guidance cell and research centre.

The library history of supporting education and information was recalled by 85 year-old Abdul Gani Sani.

“All of us who came here were good friends. We used to discuss about religion, politics and society. Nowadays, the generation with all its technology is so busy that they don’t have time to debate about society and its problems,” Gani added.

“The library has Urdu versions of many ancient Hindu scriptures like the Bhagwad Gita, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, has the entire Guru Granth Sahib in Urdu and also has the Bible in Urdu,”

“We also have the Qur’an Sharif in Marathi, Hindi, English and Urdu. People from one community used to read books of the other as they were eager to understand each other better.”

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Global Islamic finance up 12% to $2 trillion

Tuesday 03 Nov 2015 – London, (IINA) – The global market for Islamic finance has soared by 12 percent over the last 12 months to $2 trillion (£1.3trillion), according to a report by TheCityUK, which is a private-sector association and industry lobby group promoting the financial and professional services industry of the United Kingdom.

The alternative finance industry, which eschews traditional interest on loans, is predicted to hit $3 trillion by 2018. This is down to growing demand in emerging markets, City A.M. online business news reported.

Chris Cummings, chief executive of TheCityUK, said: “Shariah-compliant assets make up only 1 percent of the world’s financial assets today; yet 1 in 5 people globally are Muslim.”

Between 2009 and 2013 the niche market, making up around 1 percent of global financial assets, is estimated to have grown at an annual rate of 17.6 percent accountancy giant Ernst & Young (EY) found.

TheCityUK report found that assets of UK financial institutions offering Islamic financial services totaled $4.5 billion at the end of 2014.

There are 20 banks in the UK that offer Islamic financial services, nearly double that of the US, and there are now over 100,000 Islamic finance retail customers in the UK.

“As the leading Western centre for Islamic finance, the UK has been at the forefront of key developments for the industry in Europe and is well positioned to capture a growing share of Islamic finance business in the coming years,” Cummings added.

The 11th annual World Islamic Economic Forum gets underway today in Kuala Lumpur.

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Strengthening role of women in development ensures a better future for Islamic nation: OIC chief

Tuesday 03 Nov 2015 – Jeddah, (IINA) – Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr. Iyad Madani has called on Tuesday to conduct an evaluation study about the plan of OIC for advancement of women in order to find out what has been made of accomplishments.

Madani made the remarks in a speech, delivered on his behalf by Dr Abdul Aziz Al-Sabeel, director general of the OIC secretary general’s cabinet and senior advisor to the secretary general, at the intergovernmental expert group meeting on reviewing the OIC plan of action for the advancement of women (OPAAW) in OIC member states. “There should be an assessment for contribution of involved parties in member states, affiliates and specialized institutions in order to achieve the desired objectives.”

He added that the diagnosis of obstacles faced by these parties involved to implement the plan helps to create recommendations and strategies to achieve the desired goals.

The secretary general also called to strengthen the role of women in development paths in the Muslim communities to build a better future based on social justice, stressing at the same time the need for policies and strategies in order to end the marginalization and violations against women in countries witnessing armed conflict.

Madani expressed his hope that this meeting will contribute to the enrichment of the organization plan for the advancement of Muslim women, and develop and effective mechanisms for implementation and evaluation periodically.

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Uganda signs regional gorilla conservation treaty

Wednesday 04 Nov 2015 – Kampala (IINA) – The Ugandan Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities signed a regional agreement to promote gorilla conservation in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda’s daily New Vision reported.

The three countries share the only remaining population of mountain gorillas estimated at 880 globally. The regional agreement will also help to promote research and tourism as well as sharing of revenue where gorillas cross from one country to another.

“We are happy that the three countries have concluded a treaty that advances conservation of the highly endangered species,” said Ugandan Minister of Tourism Maria Mutagamba before signing the Virunga Trans boundary Collaboration Treaty here on Tuesday. To conclude the legal process, she added that the treaty requires parliamentary ratification.

The agreement was signed by the respective ministers of tourism and conservation in Congo and Rwanda on September 22. The Congolese government has allocated $100,000, which is a mandatory contribution from each of the three countries to implement the agreement.

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French city to introduce Islam classes in its schools next year

Thursday 05 Nov 2015 – Alsace-Moselle, France (IINA) – Schools in Alsace-Moselle, a region in the eastern part of France, will reportedly introduce Islam as an option in theology class starting from the 2016 school year, Morocco World News (MWN) reported.

The French website Yabiladi cited Le Figaro as saying that Islam will be offered as an optional course in the schools of the Alsace-Moselle region for all students regardless of their religions.

“Catholic and Protestant religious authorities are currently working on writing a program that would be a cultural and religious awakening in all the major monotheistic religions, and for students who wish to take the course, irrespective of their religion,” the same source said. A Muslim expert also seems to be involved in the preparation of this program for the Islamic component.

The same source said that the courses will start from the next school year in 2016 and will be offered initially to high schools, which have an important number of Muslim students.

Trained imams who have honorable academic achievements will teach the Islam lessons. The idea began after the deadly attacks in Paris last January. Following the attack, religious Catholics, Protestants and Jews of Alsace-Moselle decided to mobilize in order to integrate the teaching of Islam in schools in accordance with the Concordat of 1801, which recognizes and organizes Catholic, Protestant Lutheran, reformed and Jewish.

This initiative is strongly encouraged by the authorities as well as by the Muslim community.

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Hamtramck city elects America’s 1st majority Muslim city council

Thursday 05 Nov 2015 – Hamtramck, Michigan (IINA) – An election of historic significance in Hamtramck saw three Muslim-Americans garner the most votes in Tuesday night’s city council election.

Hamtramck on Tuesday elected four Muslims in the 6-member council making the Detroit enclave, known for its Polish heritage, first Muslim-majority City Council in the United States, Ummid online news reported.

Muslims now hold four of the council’s six seats in the city that was settled by Germans, became predominantly Polish in the early 1900s and now has a slight majority of Muslims from Yemen, Bangladesh and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Associated Press reported.

Local residents on Tuesday elected Yemeni-American Saad Almasmari and re-elected Bangladesh natives Abu Musa and Anam Miah. They join Bangladeshi member Mohammed Hassan.

“We are very proud and we are very happy for that achievement, what we have done in this city, for our city,” said Jamal Alturki a voter, is quoted by WDIV Detroit.

Commenting on the poll results, Anam Miah, the newly elected member in the city council, said, “I think that sends a message not only to Hamtramck but throughout the region that people want their representation in offices”.

“We are going to represent everybody. We are going to serve everybody, Christians, Jewish, Muslims, everybody,” said Almasmari.

The council in nearby Dearborn has an Arab-American majority but not all are Muslim.

Councilman-elect Almasmari will officially join the council when he takes the oath of office next January.

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Morocco to launch massive energy-saving project covering 15,000 mosques

Thursday 05 Nov 2015 – Rabat (IINA) – Morocco will launch a project to significantly reduce electricity consumption in 15,000 mosques across the Kingdom.

The project, which will be accomplished over the next five years, comes within the framework of a national strategy to reduce 40 percent of electricity consumption in all mosques, and the creation of the green spaces, based on a study of energy investment company.

A study, conducted by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, has revealed the possibility of reducing energy consumption in Moroccan mosques by 40 percent, through the installation of solar panels in the mosques and replacing the existing light bulbs with energy-saving ones, in addition to using solar-powered water heaters.

The project, to be launched soon, will cover in its first stage 100 mosques in nine Moroccan cities.

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IMLI gets UNESCO recognition

DHAKA, Nov 7, 2015 (BSS) – International Mother Language Institute (IMLI) of Dhaka has got the recognition of UNESCO Category-2 Institute.

The decision was taken unanimously today in the ongoing 38th session of the UNESCO General Conference at its headquarter in Paris, an official release said today.

IMLI becomes the first ever UNESCO recognized institutes in Bangladesh, it added.

Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid is leading the Bangladesh delegation at the 38th session of the UNESCO General Conference, which is being held in Paris.

While addressing on the occasion, the education minister expressed his sincere thanks and gratitude to all the member states for their support for the establishment of International Mother Language Institute in Dhaka, Bangladesh as UNESCO Category-II Institute.

“We also thank the Education Sector of UNESCO, in particular ADG Tang, for his continuous support throughout the long preparatory phase,” he added.

The establishment of IMLI bears testimony to Bangladesh’s strong commitment to linguistic diversity, multilingualism and the importance of education through mother language.

“We hope that IMLI, through research and focused programs will become a centre of excellence on multilingual education, benefiting countries of the South Asian region and beyond, thereby promoting both education through mother language as well as multilingual education, which are priority areas of UNESCO’s work,” he added

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Oman Air plans double-daily Dhaka flights

DHAKA, Nov 4, 2014 (BSS) – Oman Air, the national flag carrier of Oman is planning to initiate two daily Muscat-Dhaka-Muscat flight from March next marking Bangladeshis the fastest growing foreign nationals in Oman.

“We will operate Dhaka flight every day from January and make it double from March as we observed huge potential of the route,” Abdullah Al Busaidy, Chief Operating Officer of the airline told at a press conference at a city hotel today.

Mentioning that Bangladeshis are the fastest growing foreign nationals in Oman, he said currently six lakh Bangladeshi are working in Oman.

“Recently Oman government is recruiting more skilled manpower from Bangladesh especially engineers considering their more availability compared to Indians,” he said.

The Oman Airlines initiated its first Muscat-Dhaka flight on October 25 apart from its existing flights to Chittagong.

He said the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has recently increased flight frequency of Oman Air for both directions to 42 from 14 in a week.

“We would like to take the opportunity by increasing our flight numbers to Dhaka,” he said and adding that Bangladeshi passengers could easily travel to other destinations of Middle East and Europe via Muscat.

The Airlines chief executive said they have a plan to connect Dhaka to other major cities of Oman like Salalah and Sohar by end of next year.

“A large portion of Bangladeshi community are residing in Salalah after Muscat, so would like to give them direct connectivity with Dhaka,” he said.

As national carrier, he said the Oman Air would like to promote Oman tourism in Bangladesh. “Vice versa, we will send chief of Oman Air Holidays to explore any opportunity of investment in the Bangladesh tourism industry,” he said.

Terming Bangladesh as a virgin destination for Oman tourists, he said they would also like to contribute in the development of Bangladesh tourism.

Under Secretary of the Ministry of Manpower for Employment Hamid Khamis and Oman Air Bangladesh country manager Khondokar A Kabir were present.

Currently the Oman air operates four flights a week on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday through a wide body Airbus A-330-300 with a configuration of 204 in Economy Class and 26 in Business Class.

Oman Air currently operates seven flights a week between Chittagong and Muscat, the capital of Oman.

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US-Bangla Airlines to hold customer summit in Cox’s Bazar

DHAKA, Nov 5, 2015 (BSS) – US-Bangla Airlines, the youngest private airlines of the country, is going to organize a three-day “Customer Success Summit” in Cox’s bazaar from November 26 to 28.

Travel agents, corporate offices and local journalists of Cox’s Bazar will attend the summit, first ever of its kind in Bangladesh aviation history, a press release said here today.

Civil aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon will inaugurate the summit as the chief guest.

The Summit events include – award giving ceremony, cultural event, business conference between US-Bangla Airlines and travel agents and corporate offices and Fanush festival at world’s longest sea beach.

US-Bangla Airlines serves the domestic destinations in Bangladesh with three DASH-8 Q400 aircraft and operating scheduled flights from Dhaka to Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Jessore, Sylhet, Saidpur, Rajshahi and Barisal routes with nearly 98.7 percent On-Time Performance.

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Iran, Morocco ties to be restored after six-year break

06 November 2015 – TODAY.AZ – Morocco reportedly plans to restore diplomatic relations with Iran, which were interrupted six years ago. Morocco’s Foreign Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, said Morocco will send its ambassador to Iran in the near future, Mehr news agency reported.

Iran-Morocco relations have often been tarred by disputes. On several occasions, Iran and Morocco have largely, or completely, severed diplomatic relations.

Relations between Iran and Morocco were broken off in 2009, when Tehran distributed an official communiqué concerning relations between Morocco and Bahrain.

At that time, Sunni Muslim Morocco severed ties with Iran, accusing Shiite Tehran of making “inopportune remarks” about Rabat’s support for Sunni-ruled Bahrain’s regime.

A leading Iranian official had said Bahrain was once Iran’s 14th province and that it had a representative in the Iranian parliament.

Former Interior Minister of Iran Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri was the author of these remarks, which were strongly criticized by Arab countries. The Arab countries expressed their dissatisfaction with the statements of the Iranian politician and perceived them to be a threat to the independence of Bahrain.

Bahrain was not the only issue to hasten the end of relations between the two countries. A statement by the Moroccan foreign ministry, published at the time, revealed other issues that had remained out of the spotlight.

Rabat also denounced alleged attempts by Iran to “change the religious fundamentals” of Morocco, claiming that was an “intolerable interference” in the kingdom’s internal affairs.

Iran, however, denied the accusations of interference.

In 2014, Rabat and Tehran signaled a warming of diplomatic relations, as Iran appointed an ambassador to Morocco.

Iran officially announced the appointment of Mohammad Taghi Moayed, a career diplomat familiar with the Maghreb, who previously served in Tunisia.

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Louvre to exhibit Azerbaijani carpets

05 November 2015 – TODAY.AZ – Beautiful, colorful Azerbaijani carpets will soon be featured at the world’s most visited museum, the Louvre.

Recently, the museum’s director of the Islamic Art Department, Yannick Lintz, visited the Carpet Museum in Baku and acquainted herself with the unique carpet samples exhibited here.

She noted that the main reason for her visit was to host an exhibition of Azerbaijani carpets at the famous French museum. The event will put on display carpets from the Azerbaijan Carpet and Louvre museums’ collections.

The exhibition will promote Azerbaijan’s beautiful national carpets and provide an opportunity for foreigners to familiarize themselves with these amazing art samples.

Nearly 50 of the most invaluable and rare Azerbaijani carpets are stored at the Louvre museum.

Ancient Azerbaijani carpets are stored at the White House, the U.S. State Department, and many other museums across the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Museum of Art in Philadelphia, as well as the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

The carpets, stored in these museums, were made by artisans in Baku, Tabriz, Ganja, Gazakh, Guba, Shirvan, and Garabag. Throughout history, different foreign diplomats, traders, and scientists bought these carpets and took them to their countries.

Azerbaijani carpets provide comfort to almost any house due to their diverse patterns, creative drawings, and mastery.

The carpets feature different patterns and a color palette from several schools, including Guba, Baku, Shirvan, Ganja, Gazakh, Karabakh, and Tabriz.

Some 600 different designs decorate Azerbaijani carpets. The most popular design style is Buta, which has 72 shapes and three main symbolic meanings: fire, water, and the cypress.

Over many centuries, carpets have become not only an accessory but also a necessity for the Azerbaijani people. They are seen in almost every house. In ancient times, no man married a girl who could not weave a carpet. Families used to buy carpets as the main part of the dowry for their daughters.

In November 2010, the Azerbaijani carpet was proclaimed a Masterpiece of Intangible Heritage by UNESCO.

The first carpet museum in the world was established in Baku in 1967. At first, the museum was located in the Juma Mosque in the Old City. In 1992, the museum, named after well-known Azerbaijani scientist Latif Karimov, the founder of carpet studies and Azerbaijani carpet history, was moved to 123a, Neftchiler Avenue.

A new carpet museum, designed in the form of a rolled carpet, opened in the Baku seaside park (boulevard) in 2014. All carpets were then transferred to this museum.

The museum is famous for its unique collection, where the best samples of national carpets are put on display. The new building houses 13,300 exhibits and items, including carpets; thread-work samples; metalwork; fabrics; clothing; ceramic, glass, wooden, and paper items; jewelry; books; and a unique collection of photographs.

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First Paralympics Games for Children due in Azerbaijan

04 November 2015 – TODAY.AZ – The first Paralympic Games for Children will be held in Azerbaijan on November 6.

Organized by the Azerbaijan National Paralympics Committee and by Azercell Telecom, the event will take place at the Paralympics Sports Complex in Sumgayit.

Some 50 disabled children will compete in four sports: judo, swimming, table tennis, and bocce.

Working under the National Paralympics Committee, the Azerbaijan Children’s Paralympics Committee, established in 2013, is the first body of its kind to operate on a global scale.

The National Paralympics Committee and UNICEF signed a memorandum of understanding on the formation of a children’s Paralympic movement and its development in October 2013.

This measure aimed to rehabilitate and develop children with disabilities, integrate them into society, and help them engage in sports.

The National Paralympics Committee is expanding within the country, bringing together hundreds of athletes.

Azerbaijani para-athletes achieved great success at the Summer Paralympic Games in London, gaining 12 medals and ranking 27th out of a total of 166 countries. At the Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008, Azerbaijan won 10 medals, ranking 37th.

The national Paralympians, represented by 10 athletes, achieved remarkable success at the Paralympic Games in France in July 2013.

Vladimir Zayets set a world record with a score of 15.3 meters in the triple jump and took first place at the world championships, while Samir Nabiev and Kamil Aliyev won silver medals in the discus throw and long jump respectively. Meanwhile, Rza Osmanov won a bronze in the discus throw.

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Investment opportunities in Islamic world

Gulf Today – 07 November, 2015 – Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (AMAF), led by Secretary General Tayeb Al Rais, has concluded a successful participation at the 11th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIFE) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, that ran from November 3-5, 2015.

As part of its participation at the definitive forum, AMAF highlighted the importance of healthcare waqf and its vital role globally.

Providing key highlights of AMAF’s outing at the event, Tayeb Al Rais said: “The event convened decision makers and pioneers in the Islamic economy sector and showcased the potential the Islamic world offers an attractive investment proposition and trade destination.”

He said, “The sessions provided opportunities for networking, forging strategic alliances, and sharing ideas on Islamic investment and the role of healthcare waqf in aiding sustainable development.”

Speaking about healthcare waqf and its role in society, Al Rais said: “Many historical examples in Iraq, Egypt, Morocco and Spain clearly record the contribution of medical waqf and its educational role in training researchers and physicians. To its credit, AMAF has its own healthcare waqf that is committed to funding projects and providing healthcare services to needy patients and marginalised communities. As part of our mandate, we also provide medical equipment and devices to government-run healthcare centres and clinics.”

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Kuwait hosts Islamic Financing Conference

Kuwait Times – 03 November, 2015 – Kuwait will host the World Islamic Financing Conference, organized by Kuwait Central Bank (CBK) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the participation of the IMF Center for Financing and Economy in the Middle East and Thomson Reuters as strategic partner for knowledge.

The conference will be held on November 11, 2015 under the patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. This announcement was made by CBK Governor Mohammad Al-Hashel and said the conference will see high ranking international attendance of decision makers headed by Christine Lagarde, Director General of IMF and senior IMF employers and experts around the world.

Several finance ministers, Central Bank Governors, their deputies and representatives in many countries are expected to attend the event. There will also be presence of International Economic Establishments that belong to the United Nations and Regional Organizations in addition to experts and academics.

Hashel said the conference will discuss many aspects in the field of Islamic finance industry starting with the growing development in Islamic Finance Industry and the wide ranging growth opportunities it has in world markets and new regions. These are ambitions boosted by features of Islamic financing that relies on the sharing profits and losses principle, as well as linking the purposes of this financing with the activities of real economy, that in addition to the capabilities and advantages the Islamic financing provides in meeting the various financing needs for countries, individuals and establishments, which itself has become among the factors that form supporting elements for major growth in demanding Islamic financing.

He said that such view for future aspirations of Islamic Financing Industry, which appeared following the world financial crises in particular, and this made many countries to boost their capabilities and develop the Islamic financing industry in them and seeking to build an integrated infrastructure through working developing their systems and laws to attract banks and other Islamic finance establishments to operate in their markets.

Small businesses

Other topics to be discussed by the conference is the financial inclusion issue in the field of Islamic Financial Services through the discussion of means of supporting financing individuals, small and medium establishments, within the framework of the importance of the role those establishments are playing at the economic and social levels.

The conference will also discuss Islamic Sukouk and other long term financing means which boost financial sources for Islamic banks that can be directed to finance to infrastructure projects in addition to investment projects and support the sustainable development.

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Mideast private aviation sector to hit $ 10bn

tradearabia – 04 November, 2015 – Private aviation business is expected to be worth about $ 10 billion over the next decade in the Middle East, according to a new report.

The white paper titled “Private Aviation in the Middle East: Owner Profile, Trends and Business Opportunity” estimates that Middle East companies and individuals will buy 400 business aviation aircraft over the next 10 years.

The report by Wealth-X and Wingx Advance was released today ahead of the Dubai Air Show.

Wingx estimates fleet and activity growth of around 7 per cent CAGR over the next 10 years. The net increase in the business fleet will be at least 250 units in the region, it said.

There were 10,113 private flights between the Middle East and Europe from January to September 2015, a 4.8 per cent increase over the same period last year.

The Challenger 600 is the busiest jet operating out of the Middle East year-to-date, the report said.

It said Turkey is the top European destination for private jets from the Middle East this year. A similar number of flights have headed to the United Kingdom and France.

The typical private jet owner in the Middle East is male, nearly five years younger than the global average and has planes that are worth three times more than his peers’ jets, according to a report.

The average age of Middle East jet owners is 59.1 years, while that of the global average is 63.6 years, the report said. The average net worth of Middle East owners is $ 1.09 billion while it was $ 1.66 billion for the global owners.

The average value of aircraft for the Middle East owners is $ 48.8 million, while the global average is $ 16.4 million, the report added.

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The importance of new budget airline in Sultanate

Oman Daily Observer – 04 November, 2015 – The Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) is in the process of opening the competition for applications by Omani investors and low-cost air transport companies.

Licenses include the operation of helicopter air ambulances, private aviation and amphibious aviation before the end of this year.

The objective is to supplement the aviation system in the Sultanate during the coming period.

These new services is being planned taking into consideration the increasing number of airports in the Sultanate. It also comes in the wake of the new terminals of Muscat International Airport and the opening of Salalah International Airport.

Dr Mohammed bin Nasser bin Ali al Zaabi, CEO of PACA recently confirmed the introduction of these new services to the country, which many institutions and individuals in the Sultanate need to expedite and advance their businesses. Due to the growing volume of businesses and the increasing number of establishments in various Omani governorates, make it incumbent upon them to use these services.

The introduction of these services at present poses a new challenge in light of the falling oil prices by half than what it was in the past years.

However, the establishment of such projects and the provision of important services in the context of the income sources diversification policy is a way to speed up growth in many fields, especially the economic ones.

As the development of these projects and businesses increase, the need for budget private air line in the country also increase.

The moves come at a time when the Public Authority of Civil Aviation began drawing on the experience of consultancy offices in the development of regulatory rules for budget aviation, as well as for general aviation and different investments in the civil aviation sector. These rules would undoubtedly contribute to the existence of an investment climate characterised by transparency and clarity and encourage the private sector to invest in the various economic activities associated with the air transport sector as confirmed by PACA.

The focus today is on the budget air transport as a new element in this sector. PACA had recently announced the completion of the assessment and qualifying of the companies competing for obtaining “a commercial budget air transport operator” licence by the opening the door for investors to enter into this field.

Everyone knows the importance of the civil aviation sector, air transport to the economic policies of countries. This sector has positive effects both economically and socially, especially by providing job opportunities for citizens, in addition to its contribution to the diversification of the sources of income.

The next phase will see the operation of budget aviation in the country after the qualification of four Omani companies to enter into this field.

These companies have satisfied and met the rules and standards specified in the “Expression of Interest” document.

These are Muscat National Company for Development and Investment, Salalah Air, Quorum Commercial Group, and Musandam Silver Foundation for Investment “Muscat Air”.

This overwhelming response underscores the desire of Omani companies, businesspersons and investors for running first budget airline in the Sultanate. This initiative comes in response to the push of the government to award work in this field to the national companies.

So far, more than 20 companies have obtained investor qualification documents for the second phase from PACA for giving room and a chance to compete for those interested in the operation of a new budget airline.

The final evaluation would take place in November to determine the winning company for this job. In the end, PACA expects that there would be partnerships or alliances between local and foreign businesspersons and investors in the establishment of such company, which would require cadres experienced in the field of budget aviation. The number of air passengers could reach to about 10 million passengers by the end of this year 2015. With the low-cost aviation, which will begin at the beginning of 2017, the number of passengers would increase automatically.

It would also help in the development of domestic airports. Finally, the tourism sector would be the biggest beneficiary. Therefore, there would be a positive effect on the national economy. This effect would, thus help in revitalising the commercial and tourist traffic, as well as the freight and transit traffic.

This situation would help to diversify the sources of income, which the country seeks to achieve by utilising all the potential resources available in the country.

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Sharjah upbeat on new growth opportunities

Gulf Today – 05 November, 2015 – Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority is tapping new opportunities for growth in international tourism market, highlighting the new roadmap for the emirate’s tourism sector represented in the Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021 and its success in winning the Arab Tourism Capital 2015 Award as it participates in the World Travel Market 2015 in London from November 2 to 5.

The Sharjah pavilion at the WTM has attracted considerable attention from dignitaries and tourism industry decision makers.

40 British and European media representative visited Sharjah pavilion.

Sharjah is aiming to attract 10 million tourists to the emirate under the Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021 and its four key pillars to promote Sharjah as an Ideal Family Tourism Destination, adopt an Innovative Tourism Approach, develop World Class Tourism Facilities and Capabilities, and strengthen Sharjah’s position as an International Cultural Hub.

Sharjah is upbeat about attracting more visitors from international markets this year following the emirate’s success in winning the Arab Tourism Capital 2015 Award.

Sharjah won the prestigious honour from the Arab Tourism Organisation in recognition for its efforts to embrace its rich traditions and strong cultural heritage to create a modern tourism industry.

Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA, said that Sharjah is participating in the WTM this year with renewed enthusiasm driven by the launch of the Sharjah Tourism Vision and the winning of the Arab Tourism Capital 2015 Award.

“The SCTDA’s participation in international exhibitions and events is focused on strengthening the emirate’s tourism industry in the global markets and promoting the major development projects adopted by the Authority to enhance the tourism experience.

Our effort is to reach the highest international standards in the tourism sector by offering outstanding services and facilities that keep pace with the expectation of the visitors, especially families,” HE Al Midfa said.

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