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4 Jan, 2016

Report released: International Tourism in Islamic Countries 2015

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 04 January 2016 (24 Rabee’ al-Awwal 1437). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




Malaysia added another feather in its cap when it was voted as the “Best Eco-Vacation” at the 5th National Geographic Traveler Awards – Top Travel Destinations of 2015 – at a ceremony held in Moscow last November. A total of 29 countries were nominated for this category and Malaysia was one of the countries in the top three positions. The Awards are organised by the Russian branch of the National Geographic Traveler magazine to recognise top travel destinations annually. The prestigious award allows nominees to highlight new trends based on the preferences of Russian tourists. Readers were asked to cast their votes online at National Geographic Russia website (http://www.nat-geo.ru). More than 240,000 online votes were cast for 12 categories, namely Beach Vacation, Family Vacation, Mountain-skiing Vacation, Sightseeing Vacation, Agrotourism, Wellness Vacation, Eco-Vacation, Adventure Tourism, Russian Tourism, Discovery of the Year, Gastronomic Tourism and Exotic Tourism. During the voting process, they also elected the Best Foreign Airline, Best Russian Airline, Best Hotel Chain, Best Beach Hotel, and Best Travel Program on TV.

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.



Report released: Int’l Tourism in OIC Countries – Prospects and Challenges 2015

28 December 2015 – The Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), a subsidiary organ of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), launched “International Tourism in the OIC Countries: Prospects and Challenges 2015” during the 9th Session of Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM), which was held in Niamey-Niger between 21 and 23 December 2015.

The report examines the performance and economic role of international tourism sector in the OIC member countries in the latest five-year period for which the data are available. The report analyses the two traditionally used indicators in measuring international tourism, i.e. international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts. Moreover, the report provides detailed analysis on the state of the intra-OIC tourism.

Islamic Tourism has a great potential for sustainable growth and significant contribution to the development of the overall tourism sector in the OIC member countries. In this regard, the 2015 version of the Report of SESRIC dedicates a special section to highlight the “Islamic Tourism”, as a new direction in the tourism sector in the OIC member countries.

Finally, the 2015 version of the Report of SESRIC discusses in details the potential role of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) modality for the development of the tourism sector in the OIC member countries.

Overall, the report sheds light on the challenges of tourism development in the OIC member countries and the issue of tourism cooperation among them and proposes some recommendations to serve as policy guidelines.

During the 9th Session of Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM), SESRIC also made a presentation on Islamic Tourism in the special session on “Islamic Tourism in the Member States” in which the stance of Islamic Tourism was reviewed and discussed by senior experts from the OIC member countries.

Apart from delivering two presentations during 9th Session of Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM), SESRIC actively contributed to the selection of OIC Capital City of Tourism by providing detailed scoring results to the selection committee on the nominee cities. According to the results of the selection committee, the Ministerial Session adopted Madina al-Munawarra (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and Tabriz (Islamic Republic of Iran) as the OIC Capital City of Tourism for 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Click on the links to download OIC Tourism Report 2015 (English) (Arabic) (French)

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Brunei To Take Crucial Reforms To Diversify Economy

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Jan. 1 (NNN-Xinhua) — Brunei’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah has said several important reforms will be taken to fulfil the country’s aspiration to diversify its oil and gas-reliant economy, the state Radio Television Brunei reported Friday.

In his New Year speech to the nation, the Sultan stressed the need to reflect on the country’s economic performance where in the last few years, the growth rate of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP has slowed down, saying the country should continue toward strong, competitive economic growth besides realizing that challenges from the uncertain world economic situation are increasingly harder.

The Sultan said a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Downstream Industry Committee will be formed, which is tasked with implementing reforms to increase competitiveness in attracting foreign investors to the country.

The Sultan also outlined several of his government’s ongoing projects, including the Temburong Bridge project and the High Voltage Electricity Transmission Line Project between Lumut and Kuala Belait and the Lumut Electrical Generator Capacity Adder Project, saying they are viewed as a large-scale modernization of the sultanate.

He also highlighted the importance of strengthening determination and efforts to continue being patient and more progressive in the face of the challenges of time and situation.

The Sultan noted, apart from oil and gas, many sectors can contribute to the sustainable growth such as, among others, agriculture and fisheries, manufacturing, services including financial, transportation, logistics, telecommunications, commercial and tourism.

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Kuwait, Egypt To Exchange Cultural Expertise

CAIRO, Egypt, Dec 28 (NNN-MENA) – Kuwait and Egypt are willing to work together, on using all available potentials, and exchange of expertise in various cultural fields, said Kuwait National Library General Manager, Kamel Al-AbdulJaleel, on Sunday.

Al-AbdulJaleel is visiting Egypt, to attend the 125th anniversary of Dar Al-Ma’aref, on behalf of Minister of Information, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and President of National Council for Culture, Arts, and Letters (NCCAL), Sheikh Salman Al-Sabah.

Al-AbdulJaleel asserted that, Kuwait cherishes Egypt Cultural agencies, which had a great impact on the Arab World, in the fields of education, culture and, arts, and their role in preserving Arab heritage.

He called on Kuwaiti youth, to make full use of the huge cultural production, pointing out the services that NCCAL offers in this regard.

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Malaysia Expects 30.5 Million Visitors in 2016

MELAKA, Malaysia Dec 28 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia is expecting 30.5 million tourists to contribute RM103 billion in revenue to the country next year said Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.

Nazri was confident that the target can be achieved through various programmes in the pipe line and the existing yearly events, including the festive season Open House practiced in Malaysia.

“The tourism industry and cultural activities is expanding at a tremendous pace with new approaches like Health Tourism, Education and Sports Tourism initiatives to attract tourists to historic destinations.

“For the Tourism and Culture Ministry, the open house concept is not only a yearly event for Christmas and New Year but aimed at boosting the tourism industry, especially in a historical state like Melaka,” he said in his speech at the 2015 Malaysia Christmas Open House Celebration at Proclamation of Independence Memorial, Bandar Hilir, here Sunday night.

The celebration was kicked off by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and attended by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Joseph Kurup and Melaka Chief Minister Idris Haron.

Mohamed Nazri said the uniqueness of Malaysia’s diversity and culture were showcased through the Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015 or MyFEST2015 which was themed ‘Endless Celebrations’.

Meanwhile, Idris said Melaka registered 12.5 million tourist arrivals as of Oct 31, and hoped the figure would increase by end of the year.

“Saturday I was informed that not less than 435,000 tourists had come to Melaka in two weeks. I believe activities like the Christmas Open house can further boost tourist arrivals to Melaka and hit the 16 million target next year,” he said.

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Oman Tourism Inks Finance Deals For JW Marriot Project

MUSCAT, Oman, Dec 29 (NNN-ONA) – Oman Tourism Development Co. (Omran), joined hands with Bank Sohar as chief financial partner, for the development of the JW Marriot Hotel, within the upcoming Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) precinct.

The RO 39.68 million (USD 103.20 million) financing agreement, was signed by Salah al-Ghazali, Acting Manager of Investments at Omran and Sasi Kumar, the Group General Manager of Business, Bank Sohar.

Eng Ali al-Rasbi, acting CEO of Omran, said that, the partnership between the private and public sectors, is part of the financial model for Oman. It also follows the first financial agreement worth RO 30.6 million (USD 79.58 million), which was signed last Sept, for the finance of the development of the Crowne Plaza Hotel at the upcoming Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre.

He added that, such agreement reflects the growing partnership opportunities for the private sector. It also points out to the new strategy for investment by Omran, which seeks to benefit from the emerging opportunities in the development of the tourism sector, by taking part with the private sector in developing such projects. This will ensure not only benefiting from the future yields on finance but rather through contribution to enhancing the tourism sector’s ability to meet the needs of rapid growth. This will have positive reflection on the Sultanate’s macro-economics.

Eng. Ali also pointed out that, as the financing was secured by this agreement, the construction work for JW Marriot is expected to be completed by 2017, to be an added value to the luxury hospitality sector in the Sultanate. This will contribute to enhancing the capacity of the sector, not only at Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre precinct, but also the capital Muscat, as a whole.

Omran’s vision towards the upcoming Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, since its beginning, focuses on creating an integrated project that plays an important role in supporting the government’s efforts towards tourism development. When operational, the JW Marriot Hotel is expected to attract 60,000 visitors per year and alongside the Crowne Plaza and the other two hotels , will enhance the hospitality sector capacity in Muscat.

The five-star hotel, currently under construction and which will be operated under the JW Marriot brand, will add an additional 304 keys to hotel offerings in the Sultanate. It will include state-of-the-art food and beverage outlets, meeting facilities and a health and leisure club.

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Major Win For Oman Air At North India Travel Awards

JAIPUR, India, Dec 30 (NNN-ONA) – Oman Air’s outstanding products and services have been acknowledged at the North India Travel Awards. At a glittering ceremony held at the Hotel Crowne Plaza, Jaipur, the national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman was presented with the Best International Airline Award 2015.

The award was presented to Surendra Sharma, District Sales Manager, Jaipur by Gajendra Singh Khimsar, Cabinet Minister of Industries, Sports and Youth Affairs in the Government of Rajasthan.

After the ceremony, Oman Air’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul Gregorowitsch expressed his pride, on behalf of the airline. “It is an honour for Oman Air to have been acknowledged as the best International Airline 2015, at the North India Travel Awards.”

He added, “This is a very welcome recognition of our 22 years of successful operations to India. It also underlines our commitment to India’s air travellers, which is further illustrated by our ongoing work, to increase frequencies to all eleven of our Indian destinations.

“On behalf of Oman Air, I would like to thank all those who voted for Oman Air, the awards organisers, the Government of India and the Government of Rajasthan. And, of course, I would like to thank our customers throughout India for flying with Oman Air. It is always a pleasure to welcome you aboard,” Gregorowitsch said.

The North India Travel Awards were organised by India’s leading travel publishers, Durga Das Publications, with the aim of creating an all-India platform, to recognise those behind the success of the travel and tourism industry. The awards include 52 categories and are supported by the Government of India’s Ministry of Tourism and a wide range of respected trade bodies. Winners are chosen by a combination of jury decisions and online voting by the travelling public.

Oman Air was launched in 1993 and unveiled its first international destination, Trivandrum, in the same year. Since then it has expanded operations in India to include services to Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kochi, Kozhikode, Lucknow and Mumbai. All services to India will soon be operated on a daily or double-daily basis.

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Partnership With P.S.G. Boosts Qatar Tourism

DOHA, Qatar, Dec 30 (NNN-QNA) – Qatar’s partnership with French football giants, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), is reflecting a positive impact on the country’s tourism industry, according to a senior Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) official, speaking on the eve of the friendly between PSG and Inter Milan FC at Doha’s Al Sadd Stadium.

It was reported that the number of French visitor arrivals during 2015 has reached 45,626 as of Dec 26, which reflects a growth of 43 percent in leisure visitors from France, and an eight percent growth on arrivals since 2014, placing France as Qatar’s second largest source market in Europe.

QTA’s Chief Marketing & Promotions Officer, Rashed Al Qurese stated, “We believe there is positive potential for further healthy growth in the French market, since establishing our QTA Paris representative office in 2013, our

relationships within the French market has shown incredible growth with 20 French Tour Operators now featuring Qatar from only two Tour Operators in 2013.”

Equally impressive is the interest in the destination from French travel agency front end staff, with over 500 individual French travel agents registering to join QTAs Tawash online destination training course.

To date, 205 members have successfully graduated to become qualified Qatar tourism experts, creating a powerful and enthusiastic network of knowledgeable partners promoting and selling Qatar’s tourist attractions.

“Our partnership with a prominent sporting institution like Paris Saint-Germain is a key pillar in our strategic approach to promote Qatar in the French market.

“The positive growth results have clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of this strategy”, Al Qurese said.

Since 2012, QTA and Paris Saint-Germain have worked on a strategic partnership to promote Qatar’s sport and leisure tourism offerings.

QTA has hosted five tours for PSG teams, including the Qatar Winter Tour of 2013 and 2015, Qatar Handball Tour 2014 and 2015, and Qatar Ladies Tour 2015.

A further aspect of this partnership affords QTA the continuous presence at PSG’s home stadium in Paris, where thousands of football fans experience a flavour of Qatari culture and hospitality, through interaction with Qatari cultural and heritage offerings.

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Indonesia Expects 12 Million Foreign Tourist Arrivals In 2016

JAKARTA, Indonesia Dec 30 (NNN-Bernama) — A senior official said here Wednesday that the Indonesian government expected the country would receive 12 million foreign holiday makers in 2016, reports China’s Xinhua news agency.

Tourism revenue on this basis would reach 172 trillion rupiah (some US$12.469 billion), said Tourism Minister Arief Yahya.

For this year, Minister Arief projected that the number of foreign holiday makers coming into the country would grow by 5.81 per cent to 10.017 million.

“The figure exceeds the target of this year’s foreign tourist arrivals. Our work performance in developing tourism has been on track so the target is achieved,” the minister said.

Indonesia set the target of foreign tourist arrivals at 10 million for 2015.

The minister projected that foreign holiday makers could contribute US$11.9 billion to the country’s tourism earnings this year.

To reach the target for next year, the minister said that the government would step up promotion overseas.

Meanwhile, Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Fishery Rizal Ramli said Indonesia would grant visa-free access to tourists from 84 countries next year, compared from the current 45 countries.

According to the minister, 20 million foreign holiday makers are expected to visit the country in 2020.

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Interesting Events Lined Up In Malaysian Capital City Of Kuala Lumpur To Welcome New Year

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Dec 31 (NNN-Bernama) — Kuala Lumpur will usher in the new year tonight with a host of interesting events to entertain city folks.

One such event will be the ‘Berselawat Wilayah Ku Ceria’, a two-hour show held at Dataran Merdeka from 8.30 pm.

The show, organised by the Cheras Education Foundation and the Federal Territory Religious Affairs Council, will feature regional nasyid personality Habib Syech Abdul Qadir As-Seggaf said a press release from the foundation.

Meanwhile, according to the TimeOut website, www.timeout.com/kuala-lumpur , city folks will also be able to feast their eyes on a fireworks display at several locations including the KLCC park, Bukit Bintang area, Taman Tasik Titiwangsa as well as Bukit Tunku.

Apart from the fireworks, KLCC (Holdings) Sdn Bhd will also be hosting a light, sound and laser show with an exciting blend of musical and cultural showpiece at the Esplanade, KLCC Park from 9 pm.

According to the company, the event will line-up prominent entertainers including the winner of Akademi Fantasia 2014 Firman and runner-up of Akademi Fantasia 2015 Syamel.

For family entertainment, 1 Mont Kiara will be offering free New Year eve celebrations from 6pm with clowns, face painting, beatboxing, a street magic show, an all-girls dance, live music, fireworks, a masquerade dance show, and party food and drinks, and will feature local personalities Dennis Yin, Dina Nadzir and Shawn Lee, according to the website.

Local performers including Joe Flizzow, Vince Chong, Suki Low, Mark Adam and Caliph Buskers will entertain visitors at The Curve shopping mall from 8pm before the fireworks display takes place at midnight.

Many restaurants and hotels around the city will also offer special dinner and buffet promotions for the New Year Eve today.

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Malaysia & Singapore Require Better Travelling Plan For 2016 Long Weekends

SINGAPORE, Jan 3 (NNN-Bernama) — Both Malaysia and Singapore will have a series of long weekends this year, thus, requiring better travelling plans.

There will be eight long weekends (holidays either falling on a Friday or Monday) for Malaysia and six for Singapore.

It was reported here that for Chinese New Year alone, tickets for Malaysia-bound buses are already in high demand, despite the threefold increase in prices.

Quoting the Express and Excursion Bus Association, the report said 12 express bus operators have raised fares to between S$90 (S$1=RM3.05) and S$150.

Tickets for Feb 5, which is the Friday before the long Chinese New Year weekend, are already sold out, while, 80 per cent of the tickets for Feb 6 have been sold, the association said.

The Association said 12 operators have already added additional daily trips, from 70 on normal days to a total of 300 during the Chinese New Year period.

Chinese New Year falls on Feb 8 or Monday while the tickets went on sale from November last year.

“Initially, we were not optimistic about the sales this year as the economy is not as good as previous years,” the Association treasurer, Elson Yap was quoted as saying.

He added that the strong Singapore dollar could be the reason for the high demand for tickets, as more Malaysians have stayed in the Republic to work.

Besides buses, the report said commuters are also considering taking the train from Singapore to Johor.

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Jordan’s Economy Maintains Stability In 2015

AMMAN, Dec 31 (NNN-PETRA) — Jordan’s economy has maintained its stability in 2015 despite challenges arising from regional turmoil, which affected the region’s economies, according to the Amman Chamber of Commerce Chairman, Issa Haidar Murad.

He told Jordan New Agency (Petra) that the region’s economies entered a state of recession as oil prices continue to slide.

The national exports are witnessing “exceptionally difficult circumstances” due to political and security unrest in neighboring countries, prompting a complete closure of Jordan’s borders with Iraq an Syria, Murad noted.

According to figures issues by the chamber, the national exports during the January-September period stood at JD3.6 billion while imports amounted to JD10.5 billion of imports.

Local revenues, since the beginning of 2015 until end of November, have totaled about JD4.8 billion, JD804 million of which were taxes on income and profit, the data revealed.

According to a report by the Department of Statistics (DoS), Jordan’s total exports during the first ten months of 2015 amounted to JD4.65 billion, a 6.1 per cent drop from the level recorded during the same period of 2014.

The report said that national exports also stood at JD4.02 billion in the same period.

The statistics showed a 10.3 per cent fall in imports during the first ten months of 2015 to JD12 billion compared to JD13.4 billion in the same period of 2014.

Consequently, the trade balance deficit declined in the first ten months of 2015 to 12.8 percent.

Export of clothes went up by 8.8 percent, fruits and vegetables 0.3 percent, potash 1.5 percent and phosphate by 11 percent.

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Indonesia: Sharia-compliant investors increased by 53% in 2015

Sunday 03 Jan 2016 – Jakarta (IINA) – Indonesian Stock Exchange (BEI) said Sharia-compliant investors in Indonesia in 2015 increased 53 percent from 2,795 at the end of 2014 to 4,257, the Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) reported citing ANTARA News.

“The Sharia capital market in Indonesia has continued to increase significantly thanks to the launch of Sharia education activities and promotion campaigns carried out to promote sharia investments in the country’s Sharia capital market in 2015,” BEI Corporate Communications Head Dwi Shara Soekarno said here Saturday.

He said that a number of activities that were conducted from the January to December 2015 period included Sharia capital market education activities with 9,502 participants across the country, with an increase of 8.0 percent in number of participants from that in 2014.

Education through the online system also increased. The information on that effect covered the list on the sharia stock, regulations and advice of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) and the list of constituent stock, including the Indonesian Sharia Stock that could be accessed directly through the BEI website.

“People can also download the MUI advice No. 80 on the principle application of Sharia in the trade mechanism of equity stock at a regular stock exchange market. They could be downloaded in three languages,” Soekarno said.

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Indonesian President optimistic of achieving target of 20 million tourist arrivals

Waisai (ANTARA News) 01 January 2016 – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) is optimistic that Indonesia would be able to achieve the target of 20 million tourist arrivals within the next three or four years.

“We have 10 top tourist destinations, so under no circumstances is it possible that the target of achieving 20 million would be missed,” President Jokowi said here in Raja Ampat District, West Papua, on Friday.

He pointed out that neighboring countries having lesser tourist attractions could attract 24 million to 27 million tourists.

“That is easy. Raja Ampat and Labuhan Bajo, with its Komodo dragons, are already well known. Their nature is unique, and their forests are not that vast, but the vegetation is unique. Which country in the world has Komodo (but Indonesia),” he pointed out.

He affirmed that airports, piers, and ships were needed to access Raja Ampat in West Papua and Labuhan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara.

Ships are needed to access islands, otherwise the costs would be very high, he added.

However, Jokowi noted that a quota should be set on the number of tourists allowed to visit in order to protect the forests and seas from damage.

He also mentioned that a visit to Raja Ampat would cost around Rp30 million.

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Kulon Progo Airport construction to kick off in May: VP Kalla

Kulon Progo (ANTARA News) 02 January 2016 – The construction of an international airport in Kulon Progo district, Yogyakarta province, will kick off in May 2016, Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla has hinted.

“God willing, it will be built starting May. Hopefully, land clearance and design will be completed in May so it can be completed in 2019 or 2020,” he said after holding a closed-door meeting at Congot Radar in Kulon Progo, Saturday.

All serious problems related to the planned construction of the airport have been resolved so that the project can be started soon, he said.

“There are no longer any land problems. The Yogyakarta governor has ordered (his staff) to resolve them. Furthermore, state airport operator Angkasa Pura I is also ready,” he said.

The funds needed to construct the airport will come from Angkasa Pura Is budget and the company will cooperate with foreign parties to build and manage the airport, he said.

The project will also include the construction of roads and railway tracks. In the initial phase of the project, an estimated three thousand workers will be employed, he said.

After holding a closed-door meeting for nearly one and a half hours, the Vice President and his entourage observed the planned location for the construction of the airport from the third floor of the Congot radar.

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2.6 million tourists visit Gunung Kidul in 2015

Gunung Kidul (ANTARA News) 02 January 2016 – Up to the end of December 2015, more than 2.6 million domestic and foreign tourists had visited all tourist attractions in Gunung Kidul District, Yogyakarta, according to local Culture and Tourism Office spokesman Hary Sukmono.

“Until Friday night the number of tourists visiting Gunung Kidul tourist attractions exceeded 2.6 million people, with the total local revenues reaching Rp20.9 billion,” Sukmono said here Saturday.

The target of tourist arrivals in Gunung Kidul district in 2016 is set to be more than 2.6 million people, and the local culture and tourism office will continue to innovate to welcome tourists who will visit the district, he noted.

The Gunung Kidul local government in Yogyakarta is making efforts to promote and develop the districts tourist spots under the framework of its tourism investment development mission, according to regional development planning board spokesman Syarief Armunanto.

“The tourism investment development mission will focus on natural tourism, village tourism, cultural tourism, and special-interest tourism,” he said here some time ago.

“The local government will step up efforts to provide improved infrastructure facilities at tourist attractions in the district,” Syarief stated.

Gunung Kidul had many natural tourist attractions, such as the Ngrancah waterfall in Ngleri village, along with the pristine beaches of Gesing, Ngrenehan, Ngobaran, and Baron, in addition to Krakal, Sunduk, Watu Lawang, Drini, and Sepanjang, he noted.

“In 2016, we are going to build and renovate various supporting infrastructure facilities such as souvenir shops and restaurants,” Syarief said, and added that the district had many interesting tourist villages as well.

Some of the popular tourist villages of Gunung Kidul are Putat, Nglanggeran, Bendung, and Ngeposari, apart from Beji, Bleberan, Umbulrejo, and Kemadang.

“In a bid to develop these tourist villages, officials from the Gunung Kidul Culture and Tourism office will provide English and tourism management training lessons to the villagers,” Syarief explained.

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Albania signs deal to allow low-cost international flights

Tuesday 29 Dec 2015 – Tirana, (IINA) – Albania officials said that they have reached an agreement with the shareholders in Tirana International Airport (TIA) recently to end its exclusive right to host international flights and build new airports that will host low-cost flights, Balkan Insight reported.

The center-left government, led by Prime Minister Edi Rama, pledged in the 2013 election campaign to reconsider the concession with TIA shareholders and liberalize the market to open up the way for low-cost flights.

Under a concession agreement signed in October 2004, TIA holds the right to manage Tirana’s Mother Teresa Airport for 20 years with a monopoly on all international flights to and from Albania.

Minister of Economy Arben Ahmetaj told a meeting last Tuesday with tourist operators that they had agreed with TIA concession holders to end the monopoly on international flights and introduced the way to build airports in southern Albania that will carry low-cost flights.

“We have agreed with the TIA concession shareholders to liberalize international flights, and we have concrete offers to build airports that will carry low costs flights from Vlora and Saranda (resorts in southern Albania)”, Ahmetaj said.

He added that the agreement with TIA would soon be passed by the government and parliament.

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Bahrain: Online visas for 11 additional countries to take effect on Friday

Wednesday 30 Dec 2015 – Manama (IINA) – Bahrain’s Deputy Interior Minister for Nationality, Passport and Residence Affairs Sheikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa announced Tuesday that the Cabinet order to include 11 African countries in the list of states that their citizens can get electronic entry visas will come into effect from January 1, Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported.

He said that the countries are Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Cameroon, Gabon, Senegal, Mauritius and Seychelles. Citizens of these countries can get online entry visas through the e-visa website. This brings the overall number of countries benefiting from online visas to 113.

The Bahraini official added that the selection of these countries was made after a joint study between the Ministry of Interior and the Economic Development Board.

He also noted that the number of countries that get on-arrival-visa has increased to 66 countries instead of 38 previously, adding that remarkable improvements were achieved this year as privileges to make Bahrain an advanced location in entry and transit procedures.

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Indonesia’s Muslim women hail female-only motorbike taxis

Thursday 31 Dec 2015 – Jakarta (IINA) – Female motorbike taxi drivers in head scarves zig-zag through heavy traffic in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, the latest two-wheeled transport service for women making a dent in the male-dominated world of ride-hailing apps in the Muslim nation, AFP reported.

A flurry of new motorbike taxi options have in the past year appeared in the metropolis of 10 million, led by popular service Go-Jek, giving Indonesia’s growing middle class a greater choice of transport to get through some of the world’s worst traffic jams. The services — many inspired by ride-sharing app Uber and accessible on smartphones — are a challenge to traditional motorbike taxis in Indonesia, known as “ojeks,” which are ubiquitous but have drawn criticism with their disheveled, dangerous drivers and unpredictable pricing. Several services with women drivers entered the market in 2015 after years of growing piety in Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, and amid heightened safety concerns following reports of attacks on women by male motorbike taxi drivers.

They are in part designed with religious sensitivities in mind, as an increasing number of Muslim women wear head scarves. “The need for transportation for women is huge, especially in big cities where rates of crime and sexual harassment are very high,” Evilita Adriani, co-founder of motorbike taxi company Ojek Syari, said.

Popularly known by its nickname “Ojesy,” it is the service that aims most clearly at devout female passengers, requiring its drivers to be Muslim women wearing head scarves and loose-fitting clothes. Ojesy drivers can currently only be hailed by a phone call or through mobile messaging service WhatsApp, but the service is also developing an app that was being tested out this month.

The service, which began in Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya in March before expanding across the main island of Java, only accepts female passengers or children. “I feel more comfortable sharing a ride with a fellow Muslim woman,” said Nurlaila, a Surabaya housewife who goes by one name.

She uses the service to take her children to school — a common practice in the country where whole families often travel squashed together on a motorbike. “Thank God for Ojesy.” The company says business is booming — after starting in March with Adriani as its only driver, it now has 350 drivers. Other motorbike taxi companies vying for a stake in the female market include app-based service LadyJek, whose drivers dress in pink jackets and helmets, and Sister-Ojek, a start-up that began operations earlier this year with capital of just $100.

Indonesia stands out for the number of motorbike taxi services aimed at women that it boasts, with female drivers relatively rare in many developing nations where the mode of transport is popular. But they do exist in some other countries, including in Liberia where a group of female drivers, sick of being robbed, took to the wheel, reportedly donning pink helmets and jackets and calling themselves “The Pink Panthers.”

The trend for motorbike taxi-hailing services started in earnest last year with Go-Jek in Jakarta, a general service for anyone wishing to order a motorbike ride, which was quickly followed by others such as GrabBike and Blu-jek. The women-only services are slightly more expensive than others, but insist they have better security measures.

Calls have been growing for heightened security after reports of women being stalked and harassed by male motorbike taxi drivers, while the rape of a young woman in India by an Uber driver last year also added to safety concerns about ride-hailing services. LadyJek drivers can activate a loud alarm if they are attacked or feel threatened, while Ojesy and Sister-Ojek only operate between sunrise and sunset.

However the services are unlikely to overtake major competitors like Go-Jek as many women in Indonesia, where the majority practise a moderate form of Islam, have few qualms about taking a motorbike taxi driven by a man. The services also try to make themselves attractive to drivers, with Ojesy allowing Muslim housewives and university students to work part-time.

Housewife Endang Kartini, 38, said working for Ojesy part-time allowed her to buy cosmetics and give her children pocket money, without interfering with other activities. “I can still attend Muslim prayer groups,” she said.

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Egypt to build $150 million underwater antiquities museum

Friday 01 Jan 2016 – Alexandria, (IINA) – Egyptian authorities have recently started developing an underwater antiquities museum in Alexandria with a cost estimated at $150 million, Artnet News reported.

Plans for the project were first visualized in October 2008 by then-Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass.

Subsequently, a UNESCO feasibility study was launched in May 2010 but was abruptly interrupted by the Arab Spring and the January 25 Revolution that broke out in 2011.

Two years after the Egyptian revolution, in September 2013, UNESCO and Egyptian authorities rekindled the project once again.

In September 2015, the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Al-Damaty announced that the government has revived its plans to construct the underwater antiquities museum in Alexandria.

A group of specialists and archaeologists selected the Mediterranean city of Alexandria as a location because of its priceless underwater treasures and relics.

Founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great, the Alexandria Bay holds such sunken treasures as Cleopatra’s Royal Court and the Lighthouse of Alexandria, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

“The museum will reshape the Arab region, as it will be the first of its kind in the world. Undoubtedly it will revive tourism and boost the Egyptian economy after a long recession”, Youssef Khalifa, chairman of the Central Administration of Lower Egypt Antiquities, told Al-Monitor.

He added that the museum, designed by French architect Jacques Rougerie, “Will include four tall underwater buildings in the form of Nile boats connected to one another over an area of 22,000 square meters (5.4 acres). They will be lined up in a circle with a radius of 40 meters (131 feet).” The museum will have the capacity to accommodate 3 million visitors a year.

Although funding deficits have recently stifled the construction of Giza’s $1.1 billion Grand Egyptian Museum, the Ministry of Antiquities dismissed concerns over funding for the ambitious underwater project. “Despite the huge cost of the project estimated at more than $150 million, this will not be an obstacle for the completion of the project with the cooperation of UNESCO and other foreign funding countries as the museum will be open to visitors from around the world and not only to Egyptians”, said the Ministry’s General Director of Sunken Antiquities, Mohammed Mustafa.

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Tunisia: occupancy rate in hotels in Tozeur reaches 100%

by African Manager – Dec 25, 2015 – The occupancy rates of hotels in the governorate of Tozeur will reach 100% until December 31, Mohamed Sayem, regional tourism delegate in the southwest said on Wednesday, December 23, 2015.

The official added that 99% of this rate comes from domestic tourism, reports Mosaique Fm.

Many hotel units in Tunisia have been forced to close following the terrorist attacks in Bardo and Sousse.

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Tunisia: Bukhatir announces resumption of “Tunis Sports City”

by AfricanManager – Dec 28, 2015 – Minister of Public Works Mohamed Salah Arfaoui and Abderrahman Bukhatir, promoter of Emirati real estate group agreed, at a meeting Thursday, December 24, 2015, on resuming the “Tunis Sports City” project works.

During the meeting, the Minister placed emphasis on the effective start of the project works given the huge investments allocated to it, said a statement from the Ministry of Public Works. For his part, Abderrahman Bukhatir expressed his commitment to invest in Tunisia and promised to revive the “Tunis Sports City” project works in 2016.

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Tunisia: More than 3,000 guest workers hired abroad

by AfricanManager – Jan 1, 2016 – The Tunisian Agency for Technical Cooperation (ATCT) oversaw the hiring of 3,087 Tunisian guest workers in November 30, 2015, up 4.3% compared to the same period of 2014, said a statement from the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation released on Thursday, December 31, 2015.

These recruitments have affected the field of education with1389 hires including 483 university professors, accounting for 45% of the recruitment made, followed by the health sector with 643 hired and trade and marketing with 284 recruited.

Saudi Arabia occupies the first position in terms of recruitment of Tunisian guest workers with 1,077 or 34.8% of total hires, followed by Qatar with 508 recruited and Oman with 278 guest workers hired. Arab countries are the main beneficiaries with 2,593 recruited, i.e. 84%.

It should be noted that at 30 November 2015, the total number of Tunisian guest workers abroad stood at 17,634 and the number of applicants registered in ATCT nomination bank totaled 31,814.

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Bagh-e-Zanana Training Center Inaugurated

Kabul, Bakhtar News Agency, January 3, 2016 — Mahmoud Raqi (BNA) Building of Bagh-e-Zanana (Women’s Garden) training center was inaugurated by deputy minister of women affair ministry with presence of head of provincial council and number of government authorities in central Kapisa province.

Shah Jahan Yezdan Parast deputy of women affair ministry on technical and policy during the inauguration ceremony said, the construction of Bagh-e-Zanana training center will be promoted with the capacity building of Kapisa women and the construction of the building is a main achievement of women ministry during the last 13 years.

Sayed Mohammad Khalid Hashimi governor of Kapisa told BNA, the building have been implemented in 8 acres of lands at a cost of more than 11 million Afghanis by financial assistance of development budget of women ministry.

The building built in two floors and has 18 rooms and 2 halls, Hashimi added.

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Workshop on ‘Public Media Services and Broadcasting Principles’ in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Date : 12-13 January 2016 Venue : Jeddah Saudi Arabia

On the sideline of the 4th Annual Meeting of OIC Broadcasting Regulatory Authorities Forum, which will be held on January 12-13, 2016 in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, SESRIC and OIC Broadcasting Regulatory Authorities Forum (IBRAF) will jointly organize a workshop on “Public Media Services and Broadcasting Principles”, in order to explore the media landscape in OIC Member States, and to seek further opportunities for cooperation in the areas of audiovisual media.

The workshop will enable participants to share information and experience in order to enhance the cooperation in the field of broadcasting regulation and principles among broadcasting regulatory authorities and/or institutions with similar functions and responsibilities in OIC Member States. The workshop will be attended by participants from national broadcasting regulatory authorities and governmental bodies.

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Broadcasting Regulatory Authorities Forum (IBRAF) is a Forum which endeavors to meet the need for increasing cooperation among Islamic Countries Broadcasting Regulatory Authorities against the backdrop of digitalization and convergence. The Forum aims to provide a forum for exchange of information, views and experiences about common topics of broadcasting, including a wide variety of audiovisual matters, such as cultural affairs, protection of children and youngsters, rising Islamophobia.

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China Publishes Magazine For Muslims In Uygur, Mandarin And Kazak Languages

URUMQI, China Dec. 23 (NNN-Xinhua) — Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region published a bimonthly magazine for its 13 million Muslims on Tuesday.

Xinjiang Muslims, launched by the regional Islamic Association and Xinjiang Islamic Institute, covers policy, law and scripture explanation, Islamic doctrines, mosques and fortune stories.

The magazine is published in three major languages in the region, Uygur, Mandarin and Kazak.

The circulation is 80,000, including 60,000 in Uygur, 10,000 in Mandarin and 10,000 in Kazak.

A website for Muslims (www.xjmuslim.com) was also launched on Tuesday. — NNN-XINHUA

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Historic Vatican Accord With Palestine Takes Effect

VATICAN CITY, Jan. 3 (NNN-ALARABIYA) — The Vatican’s first accord with the Palestinians — an agreement that Israel has attacked as counter-productive to the Middle East peace process — has come into force, the Holy See announced Saturday.

The accord was signed in June, just over two years after the Roman Catholic Church recognized the Palestinian territories as a sovereign state in February 2013.

The accord covers the operation of the Church in areas of the Holy Land under Palestinian control but its significance has been seen in broader terms as a symbol of growing international backing for a Palestinian state.

“With reference to the Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine, signed on 26 June 2015, the Holy See and the State of Palestine have notified each other that the procedural requirements for its entry into force have been fulfilled,” a Vatican statement said.

“The agreement… regards essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestine, while at the same time reaffirming the support for a negotiated and peaceful solution to the conflict in the region.”

In June, the Vatican hailed the agreement, which includes provisions to protect the rights of Christians, as a model for other Arab and Muslim states in their relations with Christian minorities facing increasing persecution in the Middle East.

Israel attacked the accord as premature and counterproductive to efforts to get the Palestinians to resume direct negotiations with the Jewish state.

The Vatican’s recognition of the state of Palestine — joining dozens of others — followed a November 2012 vote in favour of recognition by the U.N. General Assembly.

The Church has had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1993 but has yet to conclude an agreement on Christian rights there. Negotiations on the subject have been running since 1999 but have repeatedly run into deadlock over the status of Jerusalem.

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Turkey Leads Middle East With Over 100,000 Millionaires

ANKARA, Jan. 2 (NNN – ANADOLU AGENCY) –Turkey now boasts more than 100,000 millionaires, making it the Middle East’s top country for the wealthy, according to an expert on high net worth individuals.

Andrew Amoils of New World Wealth in London predicted Turkey would see a 60 percent increase in the number of millionaires living in the country by 2025.

Wealthy individuals are particularly attracted to Istanbul’s high-end boutiques, expensive restaurants and spacious seaside villas.

“Istanbul is the undoubted jewel of the Middle East in terms of wealth,” Amoils told Anadolu Agency.

“Despite the rise of Dubai and Doha, Istanbul remains the main hub of Middle Eastern business. Whilst Dubai and Doha rely on only a few sectors, Istanbul is strong in a much larger number of key sectors.”

Amoils states, “Istanbul also remains the main gateway of investment into the rest of the Middle East, as a large number of Istanbul-based businesses have big investments and projects in other Middle Eastern countries.”

Of the 100,200 high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in Turkey with assets of $1 million or more, 5,200 HNWI have net assets of over $10 million. Turkey is followed by the United Arab Emirates, which counts 72,100 HNWIs among its population.

Israel has 71,700 HNWIs and Saudi Arabia 59,000. “The HNWI number in Turkey has grown by 145 percent since 2000 and by 90 percent since 2005,” Amoils said, adding that there are 28 billionaires in the country, which has a population of 78 million.

In the last four years, luxury brands such as Prada, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Ralph Lauren and Armani all have opened at least two outlets in Istanbul, while Ermenegildo Zegna and Burberry have three stores each.

According to Euromonitor International, a London-based market intelligence firm, Turkey accounted for 1 percent of global luxury spending in 2015 – a market that is expected to double over the next two years to $5.4 billion.

New millionaires were primarily springing up in Eastern Europe as well as Turkey, Euromonitor said in a March report.

Amoils, whose researchers compile data from sources such as country wealth reports, said HNWI numbers had been boosted by the migration of approximately 12,000 rich individuals to Turkey since 2000, mostly from the Middle East and North Africa.

The 460,000 HNWIs living in the Middle East at the end of 2014 held nearly half of the region’s $4.6 trillion wealth, according to New World Wealth. The consultancy claims there are around 13 million millionaires in the world holding assets worth $66 trillion.

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Positive Outlook For Agriculture in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 (Bernama) — Agrobank says that the outlook for agriculture sector for the year 2016 is positive and promising, with rising demands for local and export market particularly for agro-food sector.

According to Dato’ Wan Mohd Fadzmi Wan Othman,President/ Chief Executive Officer agriculture is still a key factor for economic growth. “Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, agriculture GDP is projected to achieve RM93.2 billion and the figure is estimated to reach RM110.7 billion in the year 2020.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MOA) is very committed to address the trade balance deficit of RM17 billion recorded and lessen the country’s dependency on food imports. The ministry is developing various plans to increase Malaysia’s Self Sufficiency Level (SSL) for food.”

Agrobank believes that technology is the solution towards increasing food and agriculture products productivity and is keen to support businesses to use technology in order to increase their productivity.

Dato ‘ Wan Mohd Fadzmi said the allocation of RM5.3 billion for Budget 2016 as announced by the Prime Minister in October 2015 to modernize the agricultural sector, demonstrates the government’s strong commitment to transform the agriculture sector for much higher productivity and operates commercially .

Dato’ Wan Mohd Fadzmi also explained that for businesses to invest in technology, access to funding/ financing is essential. “As a bank that understands agriculture better, Agrobank provides a comprehensive financing solution for agriculture that includes financing for upstream activities such as the supply of agricultural production inputs to downstream activities such as processing and selling of agricultural products to consumers. For Agrobank, we will support and finance any viable business and projects related to agriculture sector,” Dato’ Wan Mohd Fadzmi explained further.

According to him, Agrobank covers 10.43% for financing in primary agriculture in this country as at November 2015. As for financing for agrofood sector, Agrobank’s shares is quite promising with a total value of RM2.73 billion or 23.62% share of total outstanding loan worth RM11.57 billion in the banking system, as at Nov 2015.

In support of government initiatives to increase food production, Agrobank also has various financing programs that aim to assist agropreneurs in expanding their businesses such as Fund For Food (3F). This financing programmes come with attractive profit rate which is as low as 3.75% per annum.

“There are indeed huge opportunities in agriculture as we aim to improve our SSL and reduce our import dependency for food. In addition, there is also a massive opportunity to export our food products to ASEAN market and also global halal market,” said Dato’ Wan Mohd Fadzmi.

“As of 2014, the ASEAN market was worth over US$1.4 trillion in total consumer expenditure and it covers food and agro-products items. As for halal food market, it is approximately worth USD 632 billion or 16% of the global food industry, and Malaysia is a trusted brand for halal food. There is indeed a lucrative export market for a wide range of agricultural products for ASEAN and halal market. With its huge potential and prospects, the outlook looks positive for business in agriculture.”

Agrobank is one of Malaysia’s leading banks providing a holistic array of financial services and banking facilities, with a focus on agriculture sector. It is a Government-owned Corporation (GOC) under the purview of the Minister of Finance Incorporated. The Bank’s financing of the agricultural sector is driven by a policy set forth by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry (MOA).

As a DFI (Development Financial Institute) that focus on strengthening the agriculture sector in Malaysia, Agrobank aims to balance its developmental and commercial roles to benefit the agriculture sector. Agrobank provides a comprehensive financing solution for agriculture; that includes upstream activities such as the supply of agricultural production inputs to downstream activities such as processing and selling of agricultural products to consumers

With 46 years of experience in the agricultural banking industry and excellent track record, Agrobank is actively shaping the Country’s agricultural development across eight regions it operates, via 189 branches; offering products and services in the areas of corporate, commercial and micro financing as well as trade finance, personal financing, electronic banking and deposit & services.

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Muslims must unite to face challenges in 2016

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) January 03, 2016 – The Raja Muda of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail hopes Muslims place unity at the core of dealing with challenges in 2016.

He said the unity of Muslims was not only important at the national level, but also at the global level.

According to a statement from the Perlis Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIPs) yesterday, the Raja Muda said this after receiving the Imam of the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, Al-Sheikh Dr Abdul Muhsin Al-Qasim at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) yesterday.

The imam who is on a weeklong working visit to the country has also visited Terengganu, Kelantan and Johor.

Tuanku Syed Faizuddin, who is also MAIPs president said that only the unity of Muslims on a global scale would be able give them the strength to face the various challenges.

In addition to the agenda of unity, the Raja Muda and Dr Abdul Muhsin also discussed a strategic partnership involving the interests of Muslims in Perlis and Madinah.

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Sharjah organises road shows to attract more investors from India

SHARJAH, 2nd January, 2016 (WAM) — Sharjah Airport International Free Zone, SAIF Zone, has organised road shows and business forums in India to attract more investors.

In association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), SAIF Zone organised special seminars in Aurangabad, Goa and Pune. The delegation also participated in the MSME Business Summit in New Delhi.

At the MSME Business Summit, SAIF Zone highlighted its advantages to Indian companies. SAIF Zone’s booth stirred great interest among hundreds of investors and businessmen.

Saud Salim Al Mazrouei, Director of Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF Zone) and Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA) said: “Our delegation received positive response from all the events. We support SMEs immensely and ensure that all companies have access to everything they require to build and conduct their businesses efficiently.

The 20-year old SAIF Zone has emerged as an ideal business hub and even an investor with a limited budget can set up business units here cost effectively.”

The seminars titled “International business forum – taking business globally” illustrated the benefits for Indian companies that set up operations in Sharjah.

While addressing the seminars, Raed Bukhatir, deputy commercial director of SAIF Zone explained SAIF Zone’s policies like single-day licence issuance, lack of complex taxation, duty-free import and export, etc. “SAIF Zone offers permission to register and commence operations within 24 hours,” he added.

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2nd Int’l Congress on Islamic Civilisation in Southern Africa, Durban

CALL FOR PAPERS – The 2nd International Congress on Islamic Civilisation in Southern Africa, Durban, Republic of South Africa, 3-5 March 2016

Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), National Awqaf Foundation of South Africa (AwqafSA) and University of KwaZulu-Natal (UJ) are jointly organizing 2nd International Congress on Islamic Civilisation in Southern Africa in Durban/Republic of South Africa between 3-5 March 2016.

Islam as a religion and as a group of cultures has had a major influence in Africa since its introduction to the region. More than 60% of Africans are Muslims and numerous Muslim cultures and arts flourished in North, West, and East Africa. In some parts of Africa Islam thrived, though often under difficult circumstances, for centuries and made significant contributions in all spheres of life. Important positive geopolitical changes have taken place in the region in the last 25-35 years that are likely to impact greatly on the future of these communities.


To increase our knowledge of the history and heritage of Islam in Southern Africa

Make the religious and cultural heritage of Southern African Muslims better understood by themselves and other communities inside and outside the region;

Strengthen affinities and cooperation among Muslim and African nations and peoples by producing and disseminating Islamic and cultural knowledge;

Promote better understanding and dialogue amongst Muslim people and people of other faith and cultural communities;

Offer a forum for the true understanding of Islamic culture in the world.


The theme of the symposium shall be “Islamic Civilization in Southern Africa: Developments and Future Perspectives. The sessions and papers will address the following topics:

Spread of Islam in Southern Africa

Trade and Islam

Language and Islamic Literature

Islamic Education and Intellectual Development

History, Contribution, and Challenges

Colonialism, Apartheid & Democracy

Coexistence of Cultures

Arts and Crafts, Architecture, and Archaeology

Future Perspectives

Muslim Media

Influential Muslim Figures

Establishment of Islamic financial institutions

Current community-state relations


Muslim Community Social Investment (CSI)

Special Tracks/Papers:

Awqaf and its relevance in Southern Africa

DarusShifa – Forum

The aforementioned will be subdivided into four thematic tracks.

Side programs will include:

Visit to former “Group Areas” Kwa Mashu, Chatsworth, Phoenix

Cultural programmes / Jalsah,

Possible exhibition and programmes for schools/ madrassahs (including documentaries).

The Symposium shall be conducted in English.

The abstracts not more than 300 words should be sent to the following mail address: congress@ircica.org

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Up to 150 exhibitors to participate in International Tourism Show in Oran

ORAN, Sunday, 03 January 2016 – Some 150 national and foreign exhibitors are expected to participate in the 7th edition of the International Tourism, Travel and Transport Fair “SIAHA 2016” from 18 to 20 February at the Convention Centre of Oran (432-km west of Algiers), said Sunday the organizers.

The trade event will bring together national and foreign professionals of the sector of tourism and travel, including the offices of tourism, travel agencies, hotels, transport companies, banks, insurance companies and investors, said the organizers.

Many foreign exhibitors from Tunisia, Morocco, Spain, Turkey, Portugal, Malta, Jordan, Thailand and India will participate in this edition.

The annual event is an opportunity to establish business contacts and share experience between the different operators for the promotion of the Algerian tourist product through the different bilateral meetings.

The trade event will allow presenting new and underway tourist projects and the prospects for the development of domestic tourism, as well as the new destinations, added the organizers

It will be also an opportunity for air and sea transport companies, car hire agencies and insurance companies to present their services, said the organizers.

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14 solar plants commissioned in High Plateaus, South regions in 2015

ALGIERS, 03 January 2016 – 14 electric photovoltaic plants with capacity of 268 megawatts (MW) have been commissioned in 2015, in the High Plateaus and South regions, Director of the Centre for Renewable Energies Development (Cder), Noureddine Yassa told APS.

The year 2015 “was marked by the speeding up of the building of photovoltaic plants by the Sonelgaz subsidiary SKTM in the High Plateaus and the South,” the same source added.

The plants which started production are located in M’sila, Djelfa, Souk-Ahras, El-Bayadh, Sidi-Bel Abbes, Bordj Bou Arreridj, Naâma, Djanet, Adrar, Aïn Salah, Tindouf, Tamanrasset, Ouargla and Laghouat.

These 14 plants cost DZD70 billion. Each of these plants created at least 250 jobs during building period, in addition to 50 jobs during exploitation.

Those capacities are part of an overall programme destined to produce, by 2016, 400 MW of power from sunlight stemming from 20 plants, including 13 in the High Plateaus and 7 in the South.

They are also part of the first phase of the national programme of the renewable energies development (PNR) which targets the installation of 22,000 MW of electricity from renewable energies by 2030, the equivalent of 27% of the national park of power generation, which 4,500 MW to be installed within 2020.

The new plants are added to the Hassi R’Mel hybrid plant (150 MW) commissioned in 2011 and the wind farm of Adrar (10 MW) and the experimental solar power plant of Ghardaia (1. 1 MW) construed for testing of photovoltaic technologies. These two last facilities were delivered in July 2014.

The year 2015 has also marked by the commissioning of the plant of manufacturing the photovoltaic panels by the National Company of the Electronic Industry (Enie) in Sidi Bel Abbes, with an annual capacity of 25 Megawatts, besides the works of the installation of solar kits for the electrification and the water pumping in the High Plateaus and in the isolated sites, added.

This operation was driven by the services of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries in collaboration with the CDER which has installed over 1,000 solar kits for electrification and pumping.

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Ambank Group Continues Its Camel Sponsorship At Zoo Negara

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 (Bernama) — Since 1991, the AmBank Group has been sponsoring Zoo Negara’s Dromedary camels annually. This year, we have once again involved the Group’s sports club, Kelab AmBank Group (KAG), to participate in the sponsorship programme. A mock cheque presentation and a series of activities were held on Sunday, 20 December 2015 at Zoo Negara Malaysia.

The cheque was presented to Dato’ Sr. Zaharin Md. Arif, President, Malaysian Zoological Society by Dato’ Sulaiman Mohd Tahir, Group CEO, AmBank Group. Also present at the event was Syed Anuar Syed Ali, President, KAG and Head, Group Corporate Communications and Marketing, AmBank Group and around 1200 participants comprising KAG members and their families.

In his speech, Dato’ Sulaiman said, “The Camel has always been celebrated as an iconic emblem associated with the AmBank Group throughout the years. Hence, the Group is pleased to renew its sponsorship of RM40,000 for 2015.

Besides participating in the colouring contest, henna art, face painting, foot reflexology, clown and magic shows, the participants, who are also KAG members, had the chance to meet Xing Xing and Liang Liang at the Giant Panda Conservation Centre.

The Group initially sponsored six dromedary camels in 1991 and from 1992 onwards, sponsored the upkeep of two dromedary camels in Zoo Negara. The Group has in total contributed more than RM680,250 to date. The programme at Zoo Negara is one of many social activities that the Group organises in its effort to play a sustainable and proactive role as a caring corporate citizen.

“This CSR role has a direct impact on the Group operations especially in area where we operate, targeting everyone in the community, irrespective of race, creed or religion. In this regard, AmBank Group intends to contribute to the sustainable development of the community within which it operates and this approach has been and will continue to be the mainstay in AmBank’s approach to community care programmes,” Dato’ Sulaiman added.

This programme falls under AmKasih Programme which is a platform for the Group’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) sustainable development initiatives. The AmKasih Programme focuses on “reaching out to the community” and serves as an umbrella for all AmBank Group’s CSR efforts.

A project such as this helps to meet our objective to play an effective corporate role as a socially responsible corporate citizen.

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Maldives keen to recruit more Bangladeshi physicians

DHAKA, Jan 03, 2016 (BSS) – The Maldives is keen to recruit more Bangladeshi physicians to that country and sought Bangladesh’s cooperation in regard to imparting training in higher education and other sectors.

The newly appointed High Commissioner of Maldives Dr. Mohammed Asim expressed his country’s eagerness to this end when he paid a courtesy call on Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali at the latter’s office here.

During the meeting, they discussed various bilateral issues including Maldives cooperation in fishing in high sea of the Bay of Bengal, a release said.

Expressing satisfaction over restarting activities of the Maldives high commission in Dhaka, the foreign minister hoped that the efforts would immensely help further expand bilateral cooperation between the two friendly South Asian nations.

Mahmood Ali also expressed eagerness to work together with the Maldives for fishing in the high sea of the Bay of Bengal as the country has a vast experience to this end.

The foreign minister while welcoming the envoy assured him all sorts of cooperation during discharging his duties in Bangladesh.

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Chittagong Port handles record 200,000 TEU containers

DHAKA, Jan 3, 2016 (BSS) – Chittagong Seaport has made a record of 20 lakh TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) container handling.

The port had a target of attaining 20 lakh TEU container handling by 2016, but it has achieved the goal one year earlier.

The Chittagong Port Authority made it public at a press conference at a city hotel today. Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan was present at chief guest at the press conference.

The minister said the Chittagong port started its journey when the reconstruction activities began in the country after independence under the leadership of Bangabandhu.

This port is a successful organization, which is run with its own resources, he added.

Members of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Shipping Ministry MA Latif and Mamtaz Begum, Shipping Secretary Ashok Madhab Roy and Chittagong Port Authority Chairman Rear Admiral Nizamuddin Ahmed were present at the press conference, among others.

Shajahan Khan said the average growth of container handling in Chittagong port was 11 percent in last 20 years.

The container holding capacity of the port has been increased to 40,000 TEU from 30,000 TEU because of a rise in container handling by 7 lakh TEU in last three years, he added.

The minister said computerized container terminal management system has been introduced for proper container handling with modern technology in Chittagong Port.

Not only Chittagong port development is being carried out in all sectors in the country since assuming power by Bangabandhu’s daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he added.

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Kazakhstan increases salaries, pensions, social benefits

ASTANA, KAZAKH-TV.KZ, 03.01.2016 From the beginning of 2016 the amount of pension payments has been increased by 9%. The amount of the basic payments has been raised as well and now it will total 11,965 tenge. The minimum payment for retirees now will total 37,789 tenge. The government has also reviewed the amount of social benefits, salaries of civil servants and scholarships. For example, doctors got a pay rise from 7% to 28% depending on the qualification and work experience. Teachers’ wages increased from 15% to 29%. Employees of other social sectors got a pay rise from 28% to 40%. In addition, scholarships will also increase by 25%.

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Nizwa as the Capital of Islamic Culture2015 concludes

Muscat, Dec. 31 (BNA): Nizwa will conclude today the one-year programme marking the selection of Nizwa the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2015.

Nizwa was the focus of cultural attention in the Islamic world while it enjoys the prosperous present under the Blessed Renaissance of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. Nizwa renowned for its ancient past at the historic, civilized, cultural and spiritual level.

Nizwa was selected by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) to represent the Arab Region as a Capital of Islamic Culture for 2015 while Almaty, the previous capital of Kazakhstan, was selected to represent the Asian Region and Cotonou in Benin representing the African Region.

The project of Islamic Culture capitals is one of the major civilized projects that reflects the ISESCO care to the cultural diversity. It was approved by the third Islamic Conference of Ministers of Culture in 2001. The conference called on the member states in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to nominate a group of cities. The ISESCO choose three cities each year to be the capitals of Islamic Culture representing the Arab, Asian and African Regions.

Marking Nizwa the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2015 comes to highlight the position of the historic, civilized, religious and cultural ancient city, in addition to highlighting its landmarks and scholars who had a remarkable role in the Omani and Islamic history and civilization.

Shaikh Hamad bin Hilal al-Ma’amari, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture for Cultural Affairs told Oman News Agency (ONA) that the Main Committee for Celebrating Nizwa the Capital of Islamic Culture sought, since the announcement of selecting Nizwa the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2015, to diversify the cultural programme and activities to cover various aspects by involving various official institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as the local community organizations to come up with a clear vision to celebrate this occasion.

He pointed out that there is a general satisfaction from the Main Committee on the activities. He added that such programmes and activities were organized in different governorates of the Sultanate. These programmes included poetic nights, lectures and intellectual seminars that undoubtedly contributed to highlighting the ancient historic city as it prospered with its scholars and intellectuals since the old ages.

Shaikh al-Ma’amari further said that the Main Committee for Celebrating Nizwa the Capital of Islamic Culture seeks to document these cultural and art activities and programmes in the form of printed books and publications.

The Wilayat of Nizwa in the Governorate of A’Dakhiliyah is about 164 km away from the capital Muscat. It is one of the major scientific and cultural centres in the Sultanate and the Arab World through the ages and the first centuries of the Prophet’s blessed Hijra. Nizwa is renowned for its mosques that graduated many scholars, intellectuals, men of letters and jurists.

Nizwa had a vital role in the prosperity of the scientific movement in the Sultanate and the building of the Islamic Civilization edifice. It also had a remarkable activity in fields of various sciences as it was the capital of the country from the second AH century to a period of time, ONA reported.

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2016 declared in Kyrgyzstan the Year of History and Culture

Bishkek, December 31 / Kabar /. 2016 declared in Kyrgyzstan the Year of History and Culture. President Almazbek Atambaev signed the corresponding decree. The information policy department of the President’s Office reports.

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Karakol ski base included top 10 best ski resorts in Russia and CIS countries

Bishkek, December 23 / Kabar /. Karakol ski base is included top 10 best ski resorts in Russia and CIS countries, according to Forbes.

Many European ski resorts have become unaffordable after the fall of the ruble. However, one can spend a vacation in the mountains of the Altai, the Southern Urals, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Tourist service Travel.ru collaboratively with Forbes has made the Top 10 of best ski resorts in Russia and CIS countries, which do not require a visa. The budget vacation for up to two adults included cost-night stay in a cheap hotel (according to the site Oktogo.ru), ski pass for the day and a dinner at the cafe in the first half of January.

The Top 10 also included: Belokurikha (Altai region) – RUB 3200, Logoisk (Minsk, Belarus) – RUB 3400, Zavyalikha (Chelyabinsk Region) – RUB 3400, Krasnaya Sopka (Kamchatka) – RUB 3400, Karakol (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) – RUB 3500, Chimgan (Tashkent, Uzbekistan) – RUB 3500, Shahdag (Baku, Azerbaijan) – RUB 3700, Bukovel (Ukraine) – RUB 3800, Bakuriani (Tbilisi, Georgia) – RUB 4100, Shymbulak (Almaty, Kazakhstan) – RUB 4300.

Karakol ski base is located 400 km from the capital of Kyrgyzstan – Bishkek. In Soviet times, the Karakol base, situated at an altitude of 2300 meters above sea level on the slopes of the Tien Shan, used for training the country’s Olympic team. In 2004, the base was completely modernized.

More than 20 kilometers of trails through the pine forest, suitable for freeride fans and for fans to ride on a well-kept place. The highest point on the Karakol ski – 3040 m, length of slopes – from 400 m to 3.5 km, elevation – 740 meters. There are five lifts. The panoramic mountain top and seen the next five thousand meters high mountain lake Issyk-Kul.

The ski season at a ski lodge begins in November and lasts until April.

Total length of slopes greater than 20 km. Ski area features wide spacious descents on virgin soil, and specially prepared slopes. The length of each descent varies from 800 m to 4.5 km. Most of the trail passes through pine forest.

The highest point of 3040 m skating. The difference in height of 740 m, the minimum slope of 7%, the maximum slope of 53%. With panoramic views of the top of the next five thousand meters high mountain lake and Issyk-Kul.

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Foreign firms rush to get in on Iran ‘gold rush’

Tehran, Jan 3, IRNA – With Washington’s economic sanctions against Tehran set to continue even after the implementation of the nuclear deal, investment in what many believe is the world’s last great emerging economy may prove too risky for US firms.

According to Tehran-based English newspaper, Iran Daily, With Washington’s economic sanctions against Tehran set to continue even after the implementation of the nuclear deal, investment in what many believe is the world’s last great emerging economy may prove too risky for US firms.

American companies risk missing out on a ‘gold rush’ in Iran if sanctions are lifted as expected this year under the nuclear deal, experts have warned.

Companies from Asia and Europe are already flocking to do business in the emerging economy, which is set to come in from the cold.

But while the accord has been billed as a flagship of Barack Obama’s foreign diplomacy, the US might be among the last to benefit commercially. Only a small fraction of US sanctions – those related to Iran’s nuclear activities – will be suspended as part of the deal, which also allows for a ‘snapback’ of all sanctions in the event of non-compliance.

Although US companies’ foreign subsidiaries will be allowed to engage with Iran, a minefield of regulatory, transparency and legal issues could present more risk than reward in the eyes of many.

Investors are also likely to be wary of the next US presidential election, with Republican candidates vowing to scrap the deal if they come to office.

Other countries, however, appear to have embraced the deal and Iran’s potential as a sleeping giant. “If you want to see optimism, you just go to Dubai airport at about 8 a.m.,” Adam Smith, a lawyer focused on international trade compliance, told the Atlantic Council thinktank in Washington recently. “Ten flights a day between Dubai and Tehran, all packed.

“It’s really quite amazing and every discussion you have with big companies, small companies, middle companies throughout the Persian Gulf starts exactly the same way. They say, ‘Mr. Smith, please have some tea. Let me tell you about my recent trip to Tehran’. It’s exactly the same discussion every single time. Even companies that are subsidiaries of US companies: really, it’s everybody.”

Speaking at the same event, Nadereh Chamlou of the National Iranian American Council suggested that Americans were being uncharacteristically downbeat and lacking in can-do attitude. “I actually sense a great deal of pessimism in this room,” she said. “Whenever Americans talk, they talk in very pessimistic terms. I think five minutes after you arrive in Iran you will see the incredible potential the country has … Already what you find in the country is mind-boggling.”

Chamlou has visited Iran three times this year and recently organized a visit by 35 of her former World Bank colleagues, including half a dozen Americans, who found it an eye-opener. She added: “They kept telling me, ‘Take us to where the real Iran is’. I kept saying, ‘This is the real Iran! Where do you want me to take you?’

“They were asking, ‘Where are all the people dressed in black from top to toe? Where are all the poor people?’ They were amazed. People looked good and well fed.

They dressed nicely in the stores. Tehran is a very clean city; you don’t find a cigarette butt anywhere.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, visiting New York earlier this year, sought to persuade American chief executives that Iran’s door is open, and this week it sent a major shipment of low-enriched uranium materials to Russia – a key step in implementing the nuclear deal. The US is determined to maintain sanctions.

Chamlou said: “The constraints are more on the American side. I think the world is watching the United States more than it is watching Iran. It is important to really keep a little bit of an optimistic perspective in mind. The other countries are doing it. When you go to Tehran, it’s impossible to find a hotel room. It’s impossible to find a hotel room in any of the other cities as well.”

As the US Congress continues to snipe at the deal, Asian and European countries face significantly lighter restrictions on operating in Iran. British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has said he will lead a party of UK businesses to Tehran next year. Glenmore Trenear-Harvey, a British intelligence analyst who went on a fact-finding trade mission in October, observed: “We were very much Johnny-come-lately. So many delegations were already ahead of us.

“Americans, at the moment, are really going to be at the end of the queue … As often happens, politicians haven’t the faintest idea of the commercial implications of bloviating.”

With a population of 80 million, Iran has been described as the world’s last great emerging economy. Despite its huge oil and gas reserves, US energy companies are treading carefully.

But Iran’s youthful population, promising Internet sector and middle class consumer base could prove tempting for less capital-intensive enterprises.

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UAE to organize first Dubai Solar Show in October 2016

Dubai, (IINA) – Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is organizing the first Dubai Solar Show in conjunction with the 18th Water, Energy, Technology, and Environment Exhibition (WETEX 2016), WAM reported.

WETEX 2016 is organized under the directive of Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAEand Ruler of Dubai, and it well be held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Al-Maktoum, Minister of Finance and President of DEWA.

Dubai Solar Show, which is set to take place in October 2016 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center, will cover approximately 13,000 square meters and will attract exhibitors from around the world.

Saeed Al-Tayer, CEO of DEWA, made the announcement at a press conference at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai. “I am pleased to welcome you to this conference to announce the first Dubai Solar Show, which will be organized by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority in conjunction with the 18th WETEX, from October 4-6, 2016”.

Al-Tayer pointed out that analysts expect that by 2030, the solar market will increase ten-fold, and solar energy will become the dominant electricity source in the world. Solar energy is forecasted to generate $5 trillion in revenue over the next 15 years, displacing large amounts of fossil fuels.

He further stated: “The UAE, under the directives of our wise leadership, has taken an early start to bid farewell to the last drop of oil. At DEWA, we encourage research and development in solar energy. DEWA Innovation Center will oversee research and development projects with a total investment of AED 500 million ($136 million). We will also host the Solar Decathlon Middle East, which was created through an agreement between the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, and the United States Department of Energy. Participants will be university students from all over the world. Dubai will host the first two rounds of the Solar Decathlon, which is being held for the first time in the Middle East and Africa. Dubai will host the first decathlon in 2018 and again in 2020 to coincide with World Expo in Dubai, whose theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ fits well with this distinguished international competition”.

Al-Tayer added that organizing the show, in conjunction with WETEX and the World Green Economy Summit, is a chance to reach thousands of exhibitors, participants, officials, and decision makers in the UAE, the Arabian Gulf, and the Middle East as a whole.

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Egypt to build $150 million underwater antiquities museum

Alexandria, (IINA) – Egyptian authorities have recently started developing an underwater antiquities museum in Alexandria with a cost estimated at $150 million, Artnet News reported.

Plans for the project were first visualized in October 2008 by then-Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass.

Subsequently, a UNESCO feasibility study was launched in May 2010 but was abruptly interrupted by the Arab Spring and the January 25 Revolution that broke out in 2011.

Two years after the Egyptian revolution, in September 2013, UNESCO and Egyptian authorities rekindled the project once again.

In September 2015, the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Al-Damaty announced that the government has revived its plans to construct the underwater antiquities museum in Alexandria.

A group of specialists and archaeologists selected the Mediterranean city of Alexandria as a location because of its priceless underwater treasures and relics.

Founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great, the Alexandria Bay holds such sunken treasures as Cleopatra’s Royal Court and the Lighthouse of Alexandria, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

“The museum will reshape the Arab region, as it will be the first of its kind in the world. Undoubtedly it will revive tourism and boost the Egyptian economy after a long recession”, Youssef Khalifa, chairman of the Central Administration of Lower Egypt Antiquities, told Al-Monitor.

He added that the museum, designed by French architect Jacques Rougerie, “Will include four tall underwater buildings in the form of Nile boats connected to one another over an area of 22,000 square meters (5.4 acres). They will be lined up in a circle with a radius of 40 meters (131 feet).” The museum will have the capacity to accommodate 3 million visitors a year.

Although funding deficits have recently stifled the construction of Giza’s $1.1 billion Grand Egyptian Museum, the Ministry of Antiquities dismissed concerns over funding for the ambitious underwater project. “Despite the huge cost of the project estimated at more than $150 million, this will not be an obstacle for the completion of the project with the cooperation of UNESCO and other foreign funding countries as the museum will be open to visitors from around the world and not only to Egyptians”, said the Ministry’s General Director of Sunken Antiquities, Mohammed Mustafa.

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Indonesia: Sharia-compliant investors increased by 53% in 2015

03 Jan 2016, Jakarta (IINA) – Indonesian Stock Exchange (BEI) said Sharia-compliant investors in Indonesia in 2015 increased 53 percent from 2,795 at the end of 2014 to 4,257, the Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) reported citing ANTARA News.

“The Sharia capital market in Indonesia has continued to increase significantly thanks to the launch of Sharia education activities and promotion campaigns carried out to promote sharia investments in the country’s Sharia capital market in 2015,” BEI Corporate Communications Head Dwi Shara Soekarno said here Saturday.

He said that a number of activities that were conducted from the January to December 2015 period included Sharia capital market education activities with 9,502 participants across the country, with an increase of 8.0 percent in number of participants from that in 2014.

Education through the online system also increased. The information on that effect covered the list on the sharia stock, regulations and advice of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) and the list of constituent stock, including the Indonesian Sharia Stock that could be accessed directly through the BEI website.

“People can also download the MUI advice No. 80 on the principle application of Sharia in the trade mechanism of equity stock at a regular stock exchange market. They could be downloaded in three languages,” Soekarno said.

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IDB approves more than US $466 million for new development projects

Jeddah, KSA, 29 December 2015 – The Board of Executive Directors of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) approved financing for several major new and also ongoing projects during its 309th meeting in Jeddah.

Four Member countries – Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey – will receive US $466.4 million for development projects.

The Board also decided on opening special accounts for a US $176 million project within the context of the “Jeddah Declaration”. The project will enhance the capacity of people to adapt to recurrent droughts in the African Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, the Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.

Four special assistance grants were approved under the IDB Waqf Fund. A total of US $650,000 will go towards education and health care projects for Muslim communities in Canada, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. The grants are in line with the Bank’s continued efforts for socio-economic development and advancement of Member countries and Muslim communities in non-member countries.

Other major Board approvals include:

• US $273 million to reconstruct the Aktobe-Makat Road project in Kazakhstan

• US $90 million to assist the polio eradication program (2016-2018) in Pakistan

• US $82 million to support the Konya PPP Hospital project in Turkey

• US $20.7 million to construct the Bir-Al Hith Qartaba Road (phase III) in Lebanon

In addition, a number of important reports were reviewed and the agenda for the 41st Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors slated for 18-19 May 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia, was approved.

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New tourism laws from Ramadan


Published — Sunday 3 January 2016

RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) and the tourism committee of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) organized a workshop on new regulations on monuments, museums and urban heritage to educate public and private partners, investors and staff.

Mohammed Al-Egal, head of the tourism committee in the RCCI, who opened the workshop recently, commended the new regulations promulgated by the SCTNH, saying: “The commission made powerful efforts and pursued a distinct approach.”

Abdul Aziz Al-Hassan, director general of the SCTNH branch in Riyadh, said that the next Ramadan will be the time for the implementation of the system in accordance with its own regulation.

He noted that the new regulations come as part of a strategy that aims to consolidate the tourism industry capable of and attractive for investment and competitiveness.

The workshop was also aimed at introducing the Custodian’s Program of Kingdom’s Cultural Heritage Care as a historic national program reflecting the government’s attention and interest in the preservation of cultural heritage components of the Kingdom and raise awareness among citizens as well as stimulate investment and rehabilitation.

Abdulrahman Jassas, executive director of the program, explained that the system of monuments, museums and urban heritage includes provisions and texts that cover all the components of cultural heritage.

He noted that regulations on handicrafts system would be issued soon, after the completion of its studies by competent authorities.

Faisal Al-Fadil, director of the general department of legal affairs in SCTNH, said that the importance of establishing professional associations in tourism is becoming imperative. Hence the board recommended the establishment of associations comprising professionals and tourism activists.

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Qatar library to host event on Muslims who shaped history

Doha, January 3, 2016, Gulf News: A book that chronicles the extraordinary stories of inspiring individuals from the Muslim world who went on to shape history will be the subject of the monthly book discussion at Qatar National Library (QNL).

The book, ‘One Hundred Great Persons from the Islamic Nation Who Changed History’ by Jihad Al Turbani, takes readers on a journey through the Prophet’s era, the successive caliphate states, Andalusia and the Americas.

The discussion will be part of the series of informative, educational and social activities throughout January aimed at engaging members of the community.

QNL will also host a training session on ‘Selected Engineering and Technology Online Resources’, offering hands-on training dedicated to the effective use of the ASTM International, ASME Digital Collection and IEEE Xplore Digital Library databases.

A specialised workshop on conducting research for undergraduate students to enhance their research skills to better utilise QNL’s databases and other learning resources available online is also on the cards. The workshop will consist of four research modules that cover the research process from searching for information to writing a research paper.

“Following on from an incredibly successful year, we are pleased to be entering 2016 with a host of regular and new monthly events,” said Saadi Al Saeed, Director of Administration and Planning at QNL. “The library aims to engage undergraduate students in Qatar through a specialised research workshop in order to enhance the research culture at the university level. We welcome the people of Qatar to join us for the upcoming events to help create an engaging and knowledge-based society in Qatar,” he added.

QNL said that the list of events planned during the month of January aims to spread knowledge and develop the wider community in Qatar.

“Through these events, QNL exemplifies its firm commitment to QF’s mission to unlock human potential by sharing valuable information and cultivating creativity in order to foster a progressive society, while preserving Qatar’s and the Arab and Islamic world’s heritage,” QNL said.

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