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21 Mar, 2016

Experts volunteer to save non-Muslim heritage in Turkey

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Shamsi

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 21 March 2016 (12 Jumaada al-Akhir 1437). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




Effective 01 March 2016, Malaysia has launched an e-Visa programme for Chinese visitors. The visa exemption and e-Visa programme is a key initiative to help accomplish the goal of further expanding the tourism industries of both Malaysia and China. The first phase of implementation will start with Chinese nationals residing in Mainland China and be followed by Chinese nationals residing outside Mainland China. The e-Visa will be valid only for leisure travelling and visiting relatives and friends, limited to a 30-day stay and for a single entry to Malaysia within three months from date of issuance. Applicants will be alerted via email on their visa approval within 24 hours during working days. Chinese tourists can apply online via www.windowmalaysia.my/evisa, to submit relevant documents, pay a processing fee of USD25 and print the e-visa on their own. Malaysia has also announced visa-free entry from 1 March to 31 December 2016 for Chinese tourists to Malaysia for a period not exceeding 15 days, subject to certain conditions. Shila Amzah, the famous Malaysian singer, has been appointed as Malaysia’s Tourism Ambassador in China. Shila received wide attention after her appearance on the Chinese TV show Asian Wave and has become a household name after her participation in “I Am a Singer”. She has performed at various Sino-Malaysia diplomatic events and contributed greatly to Malaysia-China friendship. Through this appointment, Malaysia hopes more Chinese people will learn more about Malaysia and travel to the country.

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.malaysia.travel.

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.




UNEP/UNDP-Supported Floating Gardens Help Lift Bangladeshis Out Of Poverty

DHAKA, March 17 (NNN-UNEP) — With its low elevation and fierce tropical storms, Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change.

Changing rainfall patterns, melting glaciers in the Himalayas, more floods and storms, and rising sea levels all threaten to have devastating impacts on Bangladesh, especially among the poorest communities in the country.

More than 31 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line and depends directly on natural resources for their livelihood. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in some of the country’s poorest areas.

Abdul Mazid, who lives in the flood-prone Sunamgonj district of the country, says the region has witnessed a severe drop in fish stocks recently: “Our parents could catch fish in two or three hours, now we need at least three days to get the same amount of fish.”

To boost resilience to the damaging effects of climate change, the Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) – a joint programme of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – provides support to 28 government projects in Bangladesh.

The projects are helping to reverse environmental degradation while creating job opportunities for some of the poorest people in the country.

One of the key achievements of PEI in Bangladesh has been the introduction of new government procedures for projects that need public funds to get off the ground.

Thanks to the new requirements, ministries asking for money to fund projects must now state what percentage of poor people will benefit, what impact the project will have on natural resources and how resilient to climate change any new infrastructure will be.

“More projects are coming up that reflect an awareness of climate change impacts on development, as well as environmental sustainability and poverty alleviation,” said Nurun Nahar, a planning expert in Bangladesh.

In the flood-prone district of Sunamgonj, the PEI project has helped boost the livelihoods of 100,000 households by increasing fish stocks and improving agricultural management.

Experts from PEI helped to improve the district’s water management system, introduce crops that are resistant to climate change and increase the number of floating gardens and fish cages.

Environmentally-friendly roads that are resistant to natural disasters while improving access to local markets, education and sanitation were also built.

“The forest swamp is a source of food for fish and we can earn a lot of money selling the leaves. Poor people of this area now can get fish,” says Abdul Mazid. — NNN-UNEP

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3rd Int’l Conference On Islamic Wealth Management And Financial Planning

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 (Bernama) — The Malaysian Financial Planning Council (MFPC) together with Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (Labuan IBFC) is set to organize the 3rd MFPC International Conference on Islamic Wealth Management and Financial Planning on the 23rd March 2016 at Sasana Kijang, Bank Negara Malaysia.

This one day conference with the theme ‘Islamic Wealth Management for a Brighter Future’ focuses on fundamentals and essentials of Islamic Wealth Management and Islamic Financial Planning which is primarily related to Shariah compliance. This conference will provide a platform to the participants to promote Islamic Wealth Management and Financial Planning throughout the community in order to have a better understanding of the current market situation based on Shariah. This conference also provides an excellent platform for the participants for networking and exchange of experiences, perspective and prospects about the industry.

An appreciation luncheon will be held consecutively to celebrate us being recognized in the Global Islamic Finance Awards as the ‘Best Islamic Finance Education Provider 2015’ in September 2015. This luncheon will be commemorated by Yang Berhormat Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani, Deputy Minister of Finance Malaysia.

Assoc. Prof. Dr Ahcene Lahsasna, Chairman of the Organising Committee explained that this annual Islamic conference is one of MFPC ongoing initiatives to elevate the financial literacy of Malaysians in line with the national agenda to promote the advancement and make Malaysia the Islamic Financial hub in transactions and business based on Shariah compliance.

As you may be aware, Islamic finance has been a success story for Malaysia. Our conference this year brings together numerous speakers and well-known names that have played their part in enabling Islamic finance to be a key segment of the Malaysian economy. Based on the Global share of Islamic finance banking assets, 2015, Malaysia ranks second with a 16.70% market share, which certainly indicates the country is a significant player for Islamic Finance. The keynote speakers are Prof. Dr. Abbas Merakhor the First holder, INCEIF Chair of Islamic Finance and Prof. Datuk Dr. Syed Othman Alhabshi, the Chairman of MFPC Shariah Advisory Committee.

In conjunction with the conference, MFPC will announce the winners of the MFPC National Shariah Financial Plan Competition in an award presentation during the GIFA luncheon. The Council appreciated INCEIF coming on board as the strategic partner in realizing MFPC’s mission to produce world class talent for the global Islamic finance industry. This competition aims to promote Shariah Financial Planning awareness and to increase the pool of well-trained and educated human capital in Malaysia as well as to address the critical need for qualified Shariah financial planners in order to make Malaysia the regional hub for Islamic Finance.

As the pace of growth is impressive, there will be opportunities for one to take for wealth optimization and preservation. If this is our interest to you, join us on the 23 March 2016!

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Cairo streets to see 700 new buses in 2016

Ahram Online, 20 Mar 2016 – Nearly 700 buses will enter the public transportation service in Cairo in 2016 at a monthly average of 25 buses, Cairo’s Governor Galal El-Saeed announced on Sunday.

The governor said that 150 buses would enter the service starting April, and announced a tender for 300 buses using natural gas as fuel.

Governor El-Saeed also said in his statement that 1,350 new buses joined Cairo’s public transportation service in 2015.

The head of Cairo’s public transportation authority has said in previous press statements that the Greater Cairo metropolitan area, which is home to some 20 million people, needs at least 10,000 buses to ease traffic congestion.

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Malindo Air Shifts Operations From KLIA Main Terminal

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 (Bernama) — Malindo Air started its jet operations at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Main terminal building from KLIA2 terminal effective 15 March 2016, in an effort to enhance its customer service, and position Malindo Air for sustainable, long-term growth.

All Malindo Air flights to and from Kuala Lumpur from 15 March 2016 onwards will be departing from and arriving at KLIA Main Terminal building. Guests of Malindo Air are urged to make the necessary transportation and meeting point arrangements accordingly.

However, despite this relocation exercise, Malindo Air’s ATR72-600 turbo-prop operations from Lapangan Terbang Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah, Subang (LTSAAS – Subang Skypark) remain unaffected.

Chief Executive Officer of Malindo Air, Chandran Rama Muthy said, “The main reason for us moving to KLIA is because we want to accommodate our airline partners whom we are keen to start interlining and code-sharing partnership with.”

“We hope that in the long term we will be able to contribute positively to the growth of the nation’s aviation and tourism industries, and therefore boost the economic growth of the country further,” added Chandran.

Chandran also assured that all their guests have been notified accordingly to ensure a smooth migration. Additionally, during this transition period, their airport staff and volunteers from other departments are stationed at strategic places around the terminal to assist in facilitating their passengers’ departure and arrival movements.

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Malaysian, Chinese animation studios cooperate on Feature Film

HONG KONG, March 14 (Bernama) — Malaysia’s Animasia Studio has successfully inked a deal with Zero One Animation of China to co-operate for a new CGI animated movie titled Chuck Chicken – The Movie at Hong Kong FILMART 2016 today.

This brand new animated movie is a spinoff from the successful animated TV series, “Chuck Chicken a.k.a. KungFu Chicken”, which premiered on Disney China (includes Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau), Disney South East Asia, Nickelodeon India (includes South Asia), Middle East and the C.I.S regional TV stations. The successful Chuck Chicken TV series has also garnered over 300 million views, within six months of its launch, on China’s VOD platform iQIYI (China).

The signing ceremony that took place at the Malaysia Pavilion, witnessed by Mr. Azmir Saifuddin Mutalib, Senior Director of Commercialisation of National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS): Mr. Elvin Law, Fujian Director of Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC): Ms. Huiqin Tang, Representative of Fujian Province Department of Commerce: and Mr. Wan Ke Feng, Representative of Fujian Provincial Administration of Press Publication, Radio, Film & Television will further strengthen the relationship between Malaysia and China in the creative industry. Animation production services are among the biggest contributors to export revenues in the Malaysian creative content industry. This can be seen from the growing revenue of exports from creative content, which has increased to more than USD140 million at end of 2014 from approximately USD46 million in 2009.

Chuck Chicken – The Movie is set with a budget of USD 8 million (RMB 50 million), and is targeting for theatrical release early 2018. At Hong Kong FILMART, the Executive Producers of the film, Edmund Chan, Raye Lee and Helen Dong are taking this first step to announce their joint collaboration in gathering creative talents from China, Malaysia and North America to contribute to the production of this 3D CGI film, meanwhile raising funds and securing potential investments from prominent partners in the upcoming months.

Chuck Chicken – The Movie, an action comedy concept that targets predominantly family viewers brings Chuck together with his friends, Flick and Wing to operate ‘The Golden Egg Securities’ on Rocky Perch Island. Chuck has big ambitions and dreams – he wants to be rich! But yet the business is not generating money and the greed in Chuck changes the philosophy of their services, Chuck is willing to take on any job that pays good money. The change of goodness in Chuck causes the golden egg to start losing its power, and conflicts start to grow among Chuck and his team. Flick decides to leave the company while Chuck is getting into more trouble. Will the golden egg end up as a useless rock? Can Chuck still save the day?

The story and script development process has started since November 2015 and it was a collaborative effort headed by China’s Chen Xi (“无不想”, nominated for Magnolia Awards – Best Animated Series); Helen Dong (“Pet Pals”) and Malaysian animation director Wong Kuan Loong a.k.a. Ah Loong (“Bola Kampung The Movie”). The Pre-Production works will set to commence in early June, while the CGI production targets to start in late 2016.

With the success of this co-operation announcement, “We are eager to launch one of our most anticipated animated projects in our recent slate of contents, and this co-operate partnership bring us a step closer in jointly producing a Blockbuster movie for an important market such as China.” quoted from Edmund Chan, Executive Producer & Managing Director of Animasia Studio.

Helen Dong, General Manager of Zero One Animation said, “This partnership with Animasia Studio will elevate our experience in China to a different level, and we are thrilled to co- operate in this movie with Animasia Studio. We are very happy with the concept and script for Chuck Chicken – The Movie and I am confident that investors will back us for this mega project.”

With honour, Dato’ Kamil Othman, Director General of National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) also commented, “It is our pleasure to witness this significant milestone at Hong Kong FILMART and I am delighted that there is another remarkable international film project happening between Malaysia and China studios.”

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Malaysia Hopes To Increase Air Services Operations To India

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia March 17 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia hopes to increase air service operations to India and has commenced discussions to expand seat allocation to 40,000 seats per week, said Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai.

In a statement, he said under the present air service agreement between both countries, Malaysia was allocated 20,000 seats per week.

“As our airlines have fully utilised this seat allocation, we have commenced discussions with India to expand the current allocation by an additional 20,000 seats per week,” Liow said.

The transport minister also said Malaysia was hoping to expand its flight destinations to include Coimbatore, Madurai, Pune, Vijayawada, Mangalore, Surat, Chandigarh and Srinagar.

He said airline operators comprising Malaysia Airlines Bhd, AirAsia, AirAsia X and Malindo Air, offered flights to 24 destinations in India.

“These consist of six metro cities, which are Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, as well as 18 secondary cities, which include Goa, Jaipur, Port Blair, Kochi, Ahmedabad and Tiruchirappalli among others,” he said.

“India presented tremendous growth potential as the ninth largest civil aviation market worldwide valued at approximately US$16 billion (1US$=RM4.06).

“It is well on track to become the third largest aviation market by 2020,” he said.–NNN-BERNAMA

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Muslim-Friendly Tourism Sends Clear Message: It’s Not Exclusively For Muslims

GEORGE TOWN, Malaysia March 17 (NNN-Bernama) — Muslim-friendly tourism is a more accurate term to send a clear message to the industry players that Islamic tourism is not exclusively for Muslims.

Islamic Tourism Centre’s (ITC) director-general, Zulkifly Md Said said Muslim-friendly tourism took into account the views of their non-Muslim counterparts and how everyone could benefit from adopting the standard.

“The size of the Muslim travel market is huge and the number of Muslim travellers is increasing globally, and many nations are vying for the attention of these travellers to visit their countries.

“Some have even branded or packaged their countries as Syariah-compliant, designed halal tours and promote religious tourism,” he said in his speech at the Second Islamic Tourism Masterclass: Muslim-Friendly Hospitality Services Standard, here, Thursday.

He said the Muslim-friendly term presented a more precise alternative than halal tourism or Syariah-compliant, which were loose and confusing terms used as the common denominator for Islamic tourism by several organisations in the country, which to date had no clear definition nor official guidance.

“In this country, we promote ourselves as a Muslim-friendly destination because it is a multiracial and multicultural country and the Muslims here are more moderate than in other places,” he added.

On the masterclass programme, Zulkifly said it was designed to engage and interact with the industry players in guiding them on the practicality of the Islamic tourism standard.

The programme focuses on sharing of knowledge and technical know-how in setting up a systematic assurance system to preserve the integrity of Islamic tourism products and services in three categories, namely accommodation, tour packages and tourist guides.

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Portugese Mariner Vasco De Gama’s Shipwreck Found In Waters Off Oman

MUSCAT, Oman, Mar 16 (NNN-ONA) – Oman Heritage and Culture Ministry, in cooperation with UK Blue Water Recoveries has unveiled in the presence of Sayyid Mansour bin Majid al-Said, Adviser to the Minister of Heritage and Culture, the details of the discovery of the Portuguese East India shipwrecks, which were part of the military fleet of Portugest explorer Vasco de Gama, during the period (1502/1503) heading to India.

Hassan bin Mohammed al-Lawati, Adviser to the Minister of Heritage and Culture for Heritage, said during a press conference that, this discovery is the first of its kind in the Sultanate and the region, which is being implemented in the field of underwater archaeological excavation.

He said the ministry has sought to implement the project in cooperation with a specialised international house of expertise, adding that, the ministry abides by international standards adopted by UNESCO, for the protection of underwater archaeology under the UNESCO Convention of 2001.

He pointed out that the project has provided a wonderful opportunity in terms of training the Omani national team, at all relevant areas to underwater archaeology excavation.

He said that, the importance of the detected debris, which date back to the 16th century, is its historical background that is related to Vasco de Gama, the Portugest mariner.

The number of discoveries were nearly 2,800 artefacts, including the very important 12 gold coins, in addition to many shells and a brass bell that belongs to one of the sunken ships, named Esmeralda, which was under the command of captain Vicente Sodre.

David Mearns, the project manager, explained that, the recovered artefacts have contributed to disclose the identity of the ship, Esmeralda, mastered by Vicente Sodre.

He said that, the importance of this debris is, on one hand considered the beginning of new discoveries and that there is a possibility of finding other historical discoveries.

In the same context, Dr. Ibrahim al-Busaidi, Assistant Professor, Department of History, at the Sultan Qaboos University, said that, this discovery will contribute to provide researchers and scholars in the field of geographic discoveries and studies related to the Indian Ocean, a lot of historical information, related to the nature of the Portuguese campaigns to the east, its objectives and the types of ships and weapons, in addition to the economic aspects, such as currencies.– NNN-ONA

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Dubai International Horse Fair held in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Mar 16 (NNN-WAM) – Under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, The Dubai World Trade Centre, DWTC, is going to host The Dubai International Horse Fair, DIHF, for its 12th edition, from Mar 17 to 19, in conjunction with the 13th session of The Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship.

The Dubai International Horse Fair is one of the region’s most important equine platforms, and attracts more than 200 international and regional industry professionals.

The fair is the only trade and consumer show, where suppliers can meet owners, breeders, stable vendors, clubs and veterinarians in a captive environment.

The exhibition features local and International suppliers of horse riding and endurance equipment, accessories, and the best solutions in equine care.– NNN-WAM

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ADB Reaffirms Support For Afghanistan, Targets More Funding For Infrastructure

KABUL, March 18 (NNN-ADB) — Sean O’Sullivan, Director General of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Central and West Asia Department has concluded a 3-day visit to Afghanistan, where he met key government officials to discuss ADB’s current country operations, explore options for enhanced service delivery, and reaffirm ADB’s support in the current challenging environment.

“ADB recognises the difficult situation facing the country at present and we are working together with the Government of Afghanistan to improve project implementation and to deliver essential infrastructure to the people,” O’Sullivan said. “ADB is mobilising additional resources from its own funds and from other donors, through the Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund, to expand the scope of infrastructure investments.”

Overall, seven different governments have made firm and indicative commitments to the Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund, totaling $811 million. These future investments will aim to eliminate infrastructure constraints in the country and provide a platform for sustainable economic development.

During his visit, O’Sullivan met with Eklil Ahmad Hakimi, Minister of Finance and ADB Governor; Dr Mohammad Qayoumi, Chief Infrastructure Advisor to the President; as well as ministers and deputy ministers from key ministries who implement ADB-financed projects. Their discussions focused on improving the performance of projects and planning future infrastructure investments.

ADB-financed projects have resulted in substantial improvements in infrastructure, with over 1,700km of roads; 1,460km of power transmission lines; 143,000 power distribution connections, and 160,000 hectares of irrigated land, built or rehabilitated.

However, many current projects are facing delays due to the security situation and capacity and implementation constraints. Accelerating project implementation will help bolster economic growth, assist in job creation, and enhance the quality of life for Afghans.

ADB will continue working closely with the government as the largest on-budget donor in Afghanistan. Assistance will remain focused on transport, energy and agriculture and natural resources. ADB’s assistance will remain fully aligned with the government’s development strategies and national priority programs.

Afghanistan is one of the founding member countries of ADB, and has received about $1 billion in loans and $3.3 billion in grants, since 1966. — NNN-ADB

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China, Gambia Announce Resumption Of Diplomatic Relations

BEIJING, March 18 (NNN-XINHUA) — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Gambian counterpart, Neneh MacDouall-Gaye, have signed a joint communique here on the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two two countries.

“The People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of The Gambia ….. have agreed and decided to resume diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level as of the date of the signing of this Joint Communique,” the communique says.

The two countries also agreed here Thursday to exchange ambassadors and, in accordance with the provisions of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, provide necessary assistance for the establishment of embassies and the performance of their respective duties on a reciprocal basis.

According to the communique, the Chinese government supports the Gambian government in its efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and develop the economy.

The Gambian government recognizes that there is only one China in the world and that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, it says.

The Gambian government undertakes not to establish any official relations or engage in any official contact with Taiwan, it says.

“The time of the resumption of diplomatic relations between China and Gambia was determined through consultation between the two sides,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang.

The resumption of diplomatic ties is not directed against anyone, he said, reiterating China’s adherence to the one-China policy and peaceful development of cross-Strait relations remains unchanged. — NNN-XINHUA

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Hamad International Airport Joins Top 10 Best Airports in the World

Doha, March 17 (QNA) – Hamad International Airport (HIA) has been acknowledged as the Best Airport in the Middle East by the 2016 Skytrax World Airport Awards for the second consecutive year at a ceremony that took place during the Passenger Terminal EXPO in Cologne, Germany. At the same time, HIA became the first airport in the Middle East to enter the World’s Top 10 Best Airports of the Skytrax World Airport Ranking.

HIA also won the award for Best Staff Service in the Middle East. The Skytrax World Airport Awards are the most prestigious recognition of quality for airports across the world.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker said: “Being named the Best Airport in the Middle East for the second year running is a major accomplishment for Hamad International Airport, the home of Qatar Airways.

“To be announced as the first airport in the Middle East to be listed among the top 10 world ranking airports is a great honour, and is testament to the satisfaction that global travellers feel when they are going places through one of the most advanced, and passenger-focused airports, in the world. We will continue working with all our passengers and our partners to ensure that Hamad International Airport remains among the world’s best.”

Attending the awards, Engr. Badr Mohammed Al Meer, Chief Operating Officer of Hamad International Airport, stated “It is a great privilege to be named the Middle East’s Best Airport by Skytrax for the second year running. More importantly we are delighted to see that within less than two years since HIAs opening, our airport is considered among the top 10 best airports in the world, rising from position 75 in 2014 and reflecting HIAs position as a leading international aviation hub.

“This prestigious accolade follows a year of significant milestones achieved by HIA: crossing the 30 million passenger threshold while offering award-winning passenger services and adding more space with the opening of concourses D and E.

“We are of course most grateful to our staff and partners, as well as the State of Qatar who continue to give us their strongest support in delivering a top quality passenger experience at all times. I would like to dedicate the Best Staff Service award to them for their outstanding teamwork.

“These awards are greatly motivational for us all and drive us to aim even higher. We pledge to continue improving our infrastructure and delivering an exceptional travel experience to all our passengers, who have graciously given us their vote of confidence.”

The World Airport Awards are the most prestigious accolades for the airport industry, voted by customers in the largest, annual global airport customer satisfaction survey. The survey and awards process is totally independent and guaranteed free of any airport influence or interference in final results. The World Airport Awards are based on 12.85 million customer nominations across 110 nationalities of air travellers, and included 410 airports worldwide. The survey evaluates customer satisfaction across 39 key performance indicators for airport service and product – from check-in, arrivals, transfers, shopping, security and immigration, through to departure at the gate. (QNA)

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European Investment Fund, Turkish bank sign deal for innovative businesses

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency, March/17/2016 – The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Türkiye Sinai Kalkınma Bankası (TSKB) have signed an agreement for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as small mid-caps in Turkey under InnovFin, an EU finance for innovators.

The agreement will enable the TSKB, Turkey’s first privately owned development and investment bank, to provide loans to innovative companies in Turkey over the next two years with the support of a guarantee provided by EIF, according to a statement released on March 16.

Commenting on the deal, EIF CEO Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “I am pleased to be signing the first InnovFin SME guarantee agreement in Turkey.”

The EU support for innovative Turkish companies is expected to generate a portfolio of 20 million euros in bank loans, according to Gilibert.

“The TSKB has ample experience working with international finance institutions, and we are confident that they will be able to target innovative companies in Turkey with this EU support,” he said.

The aim of the InnovFin SME Guarantee is to encourage banks or other financial institutions to lend to SMEs and small mid-caps (firms with fewer than 500 employees) in need of investment and/or operating capital to finance research, development and innovation activities with EU financial support.

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LEAD STORY: Experts volunteer to save non-Muslim heritage in Turkey

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency, March/16/2016 – A new project to protect Anatolia’s non-Muslim architectural heritage is bringing together volunteers from Turkey, Greece and Armenia.

Well over 100 at-risk churches, schools, monasteries and synagogues will be logged and catalogued by experts from the three nations.

The project is being organized by the Association for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, as well as Anadolu Culture, two initiatives that support different communities in Turkey.

Architects, art historians and engineers have come together to review Turkey’s Greek, Armenian and Jewish heritage.

Çağla Parlak from the Association for the Protection of Cultural Heritage said they aimed to reach an estimated 140 structures around Turkey which are at risk.

According to Parlak, there is not much work directly related to non-Muslim cultural heritage in Turkey. There is a lack of art historians, architects or engineers who know about these special structures, she added.

There are only a couple of people who could be termed experts on Armenian art history, she said, pointing to a lack of expertise on art history surrounding restoration projects in Turkey.

“Also, budgets for restorations are limited, so with this project, we are specifying which structures are in need of primary restoration,” she added.

Book project

The group will document findings from their visits to sites in seven regions across Turkey, including the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri, the southern province of Adana and İzmir.

Financed by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the project took a year to come together and ran parallel with the foundation of the association in 2014.

The project has publicized its first results in a book called “Kayseri: With Its Armenian and Greek Cultural Heritage” in February.

The team conducted a risk assessment of 18 Greek and Armenian buildings in Kayseri such as the Surp Asdvadzadzin Church, Surp Stepanos Church, Sakis Gumusyan School, the School in Molu and the Agios Georgios Church.

Kayseri, like many other parts of the country, was home to various minorities until the beginning of the 20th century, but their numbers fell during the beginning of the republican era.

The year 1915 saw mass relocations which the Armenian diaspora and government describe as “genocide;” 1923 saw a population exchange between Turkey and Greece; 1942 witnessed a wealth tax that hit non-Muslim communities, while 1955 featured the Events of Sept. 6-7, during which many minority citizens left the country due to anti-minority violence.

The new book reviews Kayseri’s multicultural and socio-economic past.

The Armenian population in the city was around 15,000 at the end of the 19th century, the book states. Today only one Armenian lives there, according to local media.

Over 10,000 non-Muslim monuments

The group uses an inventory prepared by the Istanbul-based Hrant Dink Foundation, registration decisions by local heritage protection boards and literature reviews, Parlak said.

The Hrant Dink Foundation was founded in the name of a Turkish-Armenian journalist who was assassinated by a Turkish nationalist in front of his Agos newspaper in 2007.

The foundation worked for more than two years making an inventory to gather information about Turkey’s cultural heritage.

According to the research, there are 4,600 Armenian, 4,100 Greek, 650 Assyrian and 300 Jewish structures across the country.

“The team benefited from the Hrant Dink Foundation’s inventory as well as written sources and local historians. NGOs were interviewed to identify the sites,” Parlak said. “The cooperation between the public sector, civil society and universities was important.”

When the group goes to a site, they observe the structure, take photographs and GPS coordinates. An inventory form is filled in and the last part of the documentation consists of a risk report.

“A scoring system has been developed on the importance or the risk each structure faces. Each structure is ranged in according to its risk rating,” she said.

“If a structure is at the top of the list, this means that this building should have priority for restoration in that region,” Parlak added.

These reports will eventually be presented to the Turkish Culture Ministry.

According to the project, the group will organize four trips with local historians and three with international experts.

So far the experts visited Kayseri, Adana (Armenian and early-Christian structures) and İzmir with a focus on Jewish cultural heritage, as well as Greek and Armenian buildings.

The team will visit the southeastern province of Mardin in to examine Syriac heritage at the end of March, when a Syriac expert from Sweden will join the team.

Most the structures are public spaces such as churches, chapels, monasteries and schools, Parlak said.

Civil architecture, such as housing, is not added to the risk analysis, she said, adding that if an authentic example has been encountered, these structures are reported separately, such as İzmir’s cortijos – a type of traditional housing used by Sephardic Jews from Spain.

There are buildings which are excluded from the report, Parlak said, such as churches still in use or those turned into a museum or mosque.

“Our main aim is to ensure the protection of abandoned structures,” she said. “At the moment this is just in theory. We don’t know if our suggestions will be taken seriously.”

But Parlak is hopeful for the future of cultural heritage in Anatolia. “Last week we were in Kayseri and we visited the governor’s office, cultural heritage preservation board and municipality. We told them we could support them on experts and our offer was taken positively,” she said.

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Turkey restores Kosovo’s Emin Pasha Mosque

BELGRADE – Anadolu Agency, March/17/2016 – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inaugurated the restored Emin Pasha Mosque in Kosovo’s city of Prizren via video link on March 16.

The Turkish International Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) funded the restoration project.

In his address, the Turkish president said Kosovo is a friendly country and, therefore, Turkey will continue to allocate it resources through various TİKA projects.

“From the capital of Turkey, Ankara, we welcome eveyone, ministers in the Kosovo government, representatives of the Islamic community, students, teachers and our Kosovar brothers. Congratulations on the re-opening of this beautiful Emin Pasha mosque and we wish you good luck,” he said.

TİKA’s Kosovo coordinator, Eyüp Umutlu, said the Turkish organization was preserving the country’s cultural and historical heritage.

“The restoration of mosques like this one has a special meaning … (it) shows that Muslims here have existed for centuries,” Umutlu said.

The Emin Pasha Mosque was built in 1832 and is considered one of the most beautiful mosques in Kosovo.

Turkish Consul to Prizren Selen Evcit, Islamic Community of Kosovo President Naim Ternava, Environment and Spatial Planning Minister Ferid Agani, Turkish members of the Kosovo Assembly, as well as representatives of TİKA and the Yunus Emre Institute in Kosovo, attended the ceremony.

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Turkish exports to Palestine soar after free trade deal

ISTANBUL, March/17/2016 – Turkey’s exports to the Palestinian territories rose nine-fold over the last decade thanks to a free trade agreement, the deputy chair of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) said on March 17.

“Our exports (to Palestine), which totaled $9.4 million in 2005, have since increased nine-fold, reaching $82.2 million in 2015,” Mustafa Çıkrıkçıoğlu said in a speech at the Turkey-Palestinian Business Forum held by the Turkish Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) in Istanbul.

Çıkrıkçıoğlu said foreign trade makes up 83 percent of Palestine’s gross national product, making the freeing up of trade routes critically important for the embattled territory.

He noted that both countries face considerable obstacles in bilateral trade, as Israel charges extra customs fees for trade with the Palestinian territories.

A free trade agreement between Turkey and Palestine – a country partially recognized around the world – was signed in 2014 and went into effect in 2015. Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Palestine when it was established in 1988.

Turkey ranks as the fourth top exporter to Palestine after Israel, Jordan, and Italy.

“But if you consider how Israel buys Turkish goods from Turkey and re-exports them to Palestine, we know that Turkey ranks second,” Çıkrıkçıoğlu said.

Speaking at the same event, Palestine’s former Economy Minister Mazen Sinokrat said his country “saw Turkey as an example” for its health, tourism, and other industries.

“The public and private sectors in Palestine need strategic economic cooperation with Turkey,” Sinokrat added.

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10,000 Youth To Get Free, Discounted Higher Educations

March 16, 2016, Kabul (BNA) Around 10,000 youth have been facilitated to get admission in private higher education institutes, this was stated by Dr. Kamal Sadat, Deputy Minister of Information and Culture on Youth Affairs here yesterday, BNA reported.

After inking agreements, Dr. Kamal said those youth who have economic problems and cannot get admission in higher education institutes should approach the youth affairs directorate and enjoy the facilities and discounts to continue their education. Even some students can get higher education free of charge, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Khawja Mohammad Shafiq, an official of higher education ministry appreciated the youth affairs directorate for the initiative as very important for getting higher education. Ahmad Shah Sangdel, the rector of Dunya University in his address reported establishment of new television channel Peshgam, saying it is utterly different from other television channels and is an educational television.

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Japan Provides $1.5m Grant To Upgrade Salang Pass

March 15, 2016, Kabul (BNA) The Government of Japan has decided to provide $1.5 million grant for a project which will contribute to the improvement of country’s main north-south road corridor transport route known as Salang pass, a statement from Japan embassy said.

According to the statement, the relevant documents for the “Preparatory Facility of Salang Tunnel Project” have exchanged between Japan ambassador Yasunari Morino, Charge d’affaires and interim of the Embassy of Japan and Thomas Panella, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director for Afghanistan.

At present, the Salang pass is the only route that allows the year round north-south passages of goods and people across the Hindu Kush Mountains. Given the lack of alternative routes, the vast majority of goods are being shipped to Kabul from the Northern provinces.

Considering the importance of rehabilitation of this Corridor, which will provide safe and quick access for goods and people linking the south with the north, Japan and ADB decided to continue the Feasibility Study and Geotechnical Analysis, as well as detailed engineering study and procurement assistance, the statement added.

The Japanese contribution will be allocated to feasibility study, such as geotechnical survey and preparation of technical designs, safeguard studies and economic analysis. ADB will achieve the project preparation work in close cooperation with the Ministry of Public Works of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the statement concluded.

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Afghan Philosopher Seddiq Afghan Holds Conference In India

March 14, 2016, Kabul (BNA) Renowned Afghan philosopher and mathematician, Mohammad Seddiq Afghan during his stay for medical treatment in India recently held conference at Punjab University in coordination with Afghanistan Embassy to New Delhi, BNA reported.

During his three-hour conference on the achievement of his work on mathematical research philosophy titled “Celebration of mathematical philosophy in the political, economy and social geography of India and its outlook relations with Afghanistan, region and the world ”was widely welcomed by the audience including 80 chiefs of math departments and professors of the Punjab University.

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Europe approves duty-free import of Tunisian olive oil

AfricanManager – Mar 14, 2016 – The European Parliament last Thursday approved emergency measures to support Tunisia ‘s economy by importing 70,000 tonnes of its olive oil duty free in 2016/17, after adding safeguards for EU olive oil producers.

The new legislation was approved by 500 votes to 107.

“The adoption of these emergency measures is good news for Tunisia , which is facing very serious difficulties. Increasing the zero-duty olive oil quota, without increasing total export volumes, will provide essential help for Tunisia, and is not likely to destabilize the European market,” said Rapporteur of the legislation Marielle de Sarnez after the vote.

The text needs to still formally be approved by the EU Council of ministers. It will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal, once the legislation has been signed during the EP’s April session.

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Etihad to participate in Hyderabad air show

ABU DHABI, 17th March 2016 (WAM) — Etihad Airways, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, is supporting India Aviation 2016 this week welcoming Indian and foreign dignitaries to its two aircraft on static display at the air show being held in Hyderabad.

The airline’s state-of-the-art Boeing 787, one of the Abu Dhabi-based carrier’s five Dreamliners, is joined by its fifth and newest Boeing 777 freighter delivered direct from the aircraft manufacturer.

Etihad Airways is the only airline with two commercial aircraft on show at Begumpet Airport, demonstrating the importance of the Indian aviation market to the carrier. It is also participating in the associated exhibition with strategic Indian partner Jet Airways.

VIP visitors to the aircraft and joint exhibition stand included: India’s Minister of Civil Aviation, the Honourable Ashok Gajapathi Raju; Secretary of Civil Aviation Shri R. N. Choubey; the UAE Ambassador to India, Ahmed Al Banna; and Senior Economic Advisor at the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Dr Renu Singh Parmar.

They were welcomed for guided aircraft tours by Etihad Airways’ Emirati staff together with senior executives including Kevin Knight, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer, and Neerja Bhatia, Vice President India and Indian subcontinent.

Organised by India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the air show provides Etihad Airways with another platform to engage with key policy makers, business leaders, aviation experts and others across the aviation industry.

Etihad Airways also took part in a CEO Forum and panel discussion at which Kevin Knight spoke of the important relationship the airline has enjoyed with equity partner Jet Airways as both carriers combined operate 254 flights each week between Abu Dhabi and 15 cities across India.

Together, they are the largest international operators of scheduled flights to and from India with a 20 per cent market share. Etihad Airways shared its views on how airlines and governments can work together to drive economic growth and create new jobs through the expansion of air services that are connecting India to markets around the world.

In addition, Etihad Cargo, Etihad Airways’ freight division, operates dedicated freighters to four Indian metro cities from Abu Dhabi. With 120,000 tons of cargo carried annually to and from India, it holds nine per cent share of the Indian international freight market.

Mr Knight also spoke of the strong and growing economic ties shared between the UAE and India, and Etihad Airways’ commitment to India by showcasing two of its newest aircraft at this week’s air show.

The UAE is the 10th biggest foreign – and largest Arab – investor in India.

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SESRIC Training Course for Ugandans to promote ‘Greenhouse Farming’

SESRIC is organising a theoretical and practical training course on “Greenhouse Farming” within the framework of the OIC Agriculture Capacity Building Programme (OIC-AgriCaB) for 6 agriculture experts from Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) at the Alata Horticultural Research Institute in Adana, Turkey, on 14-18 March 2016. The course is conducted by the experts of Alata Horticultural Research Institute. As part of the training course visits in Mersin and Adana are planned.

The course on “Greenhouse Farming” will mainly focus on the following topics:

(+) New Developments in Greenhouse Farming

(+) Definition and Classification of Greenhouse

(+) Greenhouse Construction Technique

(+) General Greenhouse (Factors Affecting Greenhouse Site Selection, Issues that Need to be Shown the Utmost Care during the Establishment of the Greenhouse)

(+) Soil Preparation and Growing Media used in Greenhouses (Greenhouse Cleaning, Drainage, Elimination of Salinity, Organic Fertilizer, Inorganic Fertilizer, and Disinfection)

(+) Visit to Tomatoes Greenhouse in Erdemli

(+) Acclimatization in Greenhouses

(+) Irrigation Systems in Greenhouses

(+) Visit to Banana Greenhouse in Erdemli

(+) Cover Systems (Soil Covering Systems, Crop Covering Systems, Glass Sheets, Plastic Sheets)

(+) Seed Sowing, Seedling Planting, Using Prepared Seedling

(+) Greenhouse Vegetables Growing (Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumber, Watermelon, Melon)

It will also include visits to Greenhouses of Pepper and Cucumber in Mersin and Tarsus, and Outdoor Ornamentals Company and Greenhouses, and Cut Flowers Greenhouses in Adana

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Islamic finance is key solution against fragility, say global experts

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 12 March, 2016: Leading global experts have stated that Islamic finance would provide a key solution against fragility in Islamic Development Bank’s (IDB) member countries and beyond. The experts stated this during a high level meeting at the headquarters of IDB in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the umbrella of IDB President’s Advisory Panel (PAP).

PAP is an advisory body of global experts who work with the IDB President to provide independent advice on the overall strategy of the IDB, as well as give input into the policy direction of the Bank for the benefit of member countries. The theme for the panel this year is “Digital Development for Resilience.”

According to the IDB President, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali in his opening remarks of the PAP today, IDB is interested in creating awareness on the potential role of Islamic finance for fragile communities.

“Fragility threatens human development. We therefore have to find innovative means to address fragility by increasing levels of resilience in our communities,’ Dr. Ahmad Ali stated. “Our member countries are in a real danger of being left behind. Currently 24 of the 50 most fragile countries are OIC member countries.” He concluded.

During his remarks, former President of Turkey, Dr. Abdullah Gul commended IDB in its effort to use Islamic Finance to address the challenges outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which includes fragility. He suggested that IDB can help member countries to achieve digital development by sharing experiences and providing financing. Dr. Gul cited the example of a good practice from the Republic of Turkey where the use of e-government (i.e. e-visa services) served 30 million visitors within three years.

Dr. Abdullah Gul added that we have not fully exploited the industrial revolution, but we can still take advantage of the digital wave.

In his intervention during the panel discussion, Nobel Laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus stated that the leading technology firms in the world are using technology for profit making. Therefore IDB should work with member countries to use digital technology and Islamic micro-finance as a social driver, so that people will create jobs by themselves.

Professor Abbas Mirakhor, former Executive Director and Dean of the Executive Board of International Monetary Fund (IMF), encouraged IDB to work with member countries by addressing fragility through a policy framework that will integrate Islamic finance in national budgets.

On his part, Dr. Jobarah Al-Suraisry, former KSA Minister of Transportation called for the establishment of a “Digital Fund” in order to address the imbalance between the developed and developing countries.

In her contribution, Madam Bintou Sanogoh, former Minister of Finance of Burkina Faso stated that digital development can help low income countries to become middle income if we can improve connectivity.

The members of the President’s Advisory Panel who attended the event are:

Dr. Abdullah Gul: the immediate past President of Turkey, former Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and one time Foreign Minister of the Turkish Republic.

Dr Jobarah Al-Suraisry: Former Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Transportation, former Vice Minister of Finance & Economy.

Madam Aïcha Bah Diallo: Was former Minister of Education in Guinea-Conakry, and was a Chair of the Network Education for All in Africa. She is an advisor to the Director General of UNESCO, and a member of IDB women Advisory Panel.

Madam Bintou Sanogoh: Former Minister of Finance in Burkina Faso, and the country’s Governor at the IMF/World Bank, and was formally a Vice Governor of the African Development Bank.

Dr. Jacques Diouf: Former Director General, Food & Agricultural Organisation (FAO), and former Secretary-General of the Central Bank of West Africa.

Mr. Abdul Aziz Al-Zaabi A member of UAE Federal National Council, former CEO & GM of Real Estate Bank, and an Ex-Director of Arab Insurance Bank.

Dr. Ishrat Husain : former Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, Dean and Director of the Institute of Adminsitration, and Chairman National Commission of Government Reform.

Prof. Dr. Abbas Mirakhor: first holder of INCIEF Chair of Islamic Finance, former Executive Director and Dean of the Executive Board of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Prof Dr. Muhammad Yunus: Nobel Laureate and founder Grameen Bank, a pioneer in microcredit scheme, and Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University.

Abdellatif Jouahri: Governor Central Bank of Morocco, former Chairman of Bank Al-Magrib, and Director Arab British Commercial Bank.

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Youth Training And Employment For Trade Project In Egypt

Cairo, Egypt, March 8, 2016 – The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group, signed a partnership agreement with the Industrial Training Council (ITC) (a subsidiary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and SMEs of Egypt) and Foreign Trade Training Center (FTTC), for the implementation of the “Youth Training and Employment for Trade Project” in the Arab Republic of Egypt. The signing ceremony took place in Cairo on 8th March, 2016.

The Agreement was signed by Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, Acting CEO ITFC and Eng. Tarik Kabil, Minister of Trade, Industry & SME’s, on behalf of the Industrial Training Council (ITC), in the presence of high level representatives from all entities.

The purpose of this Partnership Agreement is to provide a framework for cooperation between FTTC, ITC and ITFC, particularly for the implementation of the project approved by the 4th Meeting of Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States (AfTIAS) Board held in Cairo on the 1st of December 2015, which will be implemented by FTTC. The project aims to achieve inclusive economic growth with increased employment opportunities and greater competitiveness through trade policy reforms in Arab countries as an integral part of the regional trade and economic integration agenda.

Commenting on the signing, Eng. Tarik Kabil stated, “We believe this partnership with ITFC and FTTC will contribute to decreasing the youth unemployment as well as the development of export competitiveness and sustainability in the global market. Training for export is a very crucial step to achieve the Egyptian Government’s goal towards export development on the one hand and job creation on the other hand.

Eng. Hani Sonbol in his statement, said; “This partnership is a major milestone towards ITFC’s mandate to enhance member countries’ trade capacities for sustainable national trade development. Especially that export acceleration is one of the most important gateways for the Egyptian economic growth, due to the impact on the job creation (direct & indirect) and developing value added chains. “The overall goal of the project is to contribute to decreasing youth unemployment, and to the development of export competitiveness and sustainability in the global market.

It is worth mentioning that the Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States (AfTIAS) is a multi-donor, multi-country and multi-agency programme, aiming to foster Arab trade through enhancing enterprise competitiveness and facilitating trade. The AfTIAS is organized to help Arab countries to expand trade beyond current levels, boost economic growth and employment, reverse deindustrialization and ultimately achieve higher human development outcomes.

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Share of women in SME sector in Kazakhstan totals more than 40%

08.03.2016 — In Kazakhstan, the share of women among the owners of small and medium businesses totals 41%. In addition, female entrepreneurs only make up 47%. This was reported by the deputy chairwoman of the board of ‘Baiterek’ Holding Lyazzat Ibragimova. Within the ‘Business Road Map 2020’ program, implemented by Damu Fund, more than 2,000 projects were launched by female entrepreneurs with the total amount of loans of 256.6 billion Tenge received at subsidized interest rates. The largest number of projects has been financed in the field of manufacturing, transportation and warehousing. 590 women received loan guarantees with the total amount of loans of 19.1 billion Tenge. Guarantees amounted to 8.5 billion Tenge.


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Almaty ready for World Winter Universiade 2017

08.03.2016 – 54 countries have confirmed their participation in the World Winter Universiade-2017 in Almaty. It will be the biggest sporting event in the history of Kazakhstan. Seven test events are scheduled to check Winter Universiade facilities. The first tests had already been successfully completed. They are Republican Universiade and Winter World Cup on ski jumping. For the first time Athletic Village will be built for the Winter Universiade. The chief of Directorate for preparation and holding Universiade-2017 in Almaty Asset Abdualiyev in his report at the meeting of the Executive Committee of FISU in Brussels stressed that all construction facilities are ready for more than two-thirds.

Asset Abdualiyev, Head Of Almaty Universiade 2017: All the Universiade facilities will be commissioned in autumn of 2016. There will be test competitions and already now the directorate was established for management of facilities. Sections of swimming, sports clubs will be available to citizens in these facilities, and the average cost will be about 15 thousand tenge. And we hope that it will be not only the best but also the most representative Universiade in the history of FISU.

Oleg Matytsin, President Of Fisu: 54 countries have already announced their readiness to take part in the Universiade. Of course, it is a record for the International University Sports Federation. The amount of work that we have to perform together with the International Federation and the organizing committee is very big. It will be unique event. We see that people working in the organizing committee are very responsible to this job. It is planned that the world famous TV channels will broadcast the Games. Expected audience will amount to more than one billion viewers.

Kairat Zakiryanov, Rector, Academy Of Sport And Tourism: Soon IOC President Thomas Bach will visit Almaty. It is planned that he will visit also the World University Games. And again the issue of Almaty’s hosting Winter Olympics will be raised. It is expected that the Universiade will be attended by about 2,000 athletes from 55 countries. 555 medals will be awarded in twelve winter sports. Almaty will be visited by over 30 thousand tourists, who will be able to receive their visas under the simplified system. Photo: dixinews.kz


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National Kazakh library opens exhibition of rare books and manuscripts

16.03.2016 Rare manuscripts, books and encyclopedias were presented at the exhibition in the National Library. For the first time Kazakhstan had an opportunity to see rare editions with a long centuries history. For 11 years, the library fund was replenished with 13 thousand of old rare books. The oldest of them date back to the 7-8 century.

For example, a handwritten Koran which was being created for 7 generations, starting from 799. Also, “The Book of Chinese plans” of the 18th century, which is of great historical and literary value. Today in the world there are only three copies of this version, and one is kept in the Louvre, the other isin the National Library, and the third is in a private collection. Many books of local authors are in the archives of the library, and most of them are the first, original editions.

Aliya Kozhabekova, Scientific Secretary, National Academic Library Of Kazakhstan: One of such valuable books that we have is “Forty Fables” by Akhmet Baitursynov. The book was published in St. Petersburg in 1909, this is the original book. In addition we have other works of Akhmet Baitursynov, travel books by Shokan Valikhanov, our legends. In addition, we have a novel “Abai” by Mukhtar Auezov, which was released in 1942 with the author’s inscription of Mukhtar Auezov. According to the director general of the library Umitkhan Munalbaeva, a large number of books of Kazakh sultans, khans, writers and thinkers were kept abroad. For example, only recently seven-volume Quran of Sultan Baybars was discovered in the London National Library. The third part of these manuscripts is already available in digital collections of the National Academic Library, and negotiations are currently under way so that other materials are moved to Kazakhstan.

Umitkhan Munalbayeva, Director General, National Academic Library Of Kazakhstan: I think that books about the past once again open the page of sovereignty. We talked about the 550th anniversary of the Kazakh Khanate, and many historians and scientists say that it goes far beyond. Therefore, we must now solve it by conducting research in the context of diplomatic relations. Photo: bik.org.kg


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Boat discovery sheds light

Cairo, Al Ahram Online, 17 March, 2016 – Scholars have long debated the purpose of ancient Egyptian boat burials. Did they serve the deceased in the afterlife? Or might they have functioned as symbolic solar barques used during the journey of the owner through the underworld?

The Old Kingdom kings adopted the earlier tradition and often had several boats buried within their pyramid complexes. Unfortunately, most of the pits that have been found are empty of timber, while others contain little more than brown dust in the shape of the original boat. The only exceptions are the two boats of the First Dynasty king Khufu, and these have been reconstructed or are in the process of reconstruction.

However, no boat of such dimensions from the Old Kingdom has been found in a non-royal context until the newly discovered boat at Abusir.

Last December, a Czech archaeological mission from Charles University in Prague stumbled upon what is believed to be the first remains of a non-royal ancient Egyptian wooden boat ever found. The discovery was made during excavation work at the Abusir necropolis, in an area south of a still unidentified non-royal mastaba tomb identified as AS54.

Miroslav Bárta, the leader of the mission, told Al-Ahram Weekly that this unexpected discovery once again highlights the importance of this Old Kingdom official cemetery. He said that the excavation work that led to this important discovery started in 2009 on mastaba tomb AS54 and had been followed by several seasons of excavations.

The tomb’s exceptional size (52.60 metres by 23.80 metres), orientation, architectural details, as well as the name of the Third Dynasty king Huni discovered on one of the stone bowls buried in the northern underground chamber, indicated the high social standing of the person buried in the main and so far unlocated shaft, he said.

“Unfortunately, his name remains unknown due to the bad state of preservation of the cruciform chapel,” Barta said. He added that clearance work in the area south of the tomb during the autumn excavation season, from October to December 2015, had revealed an 18-metre-long wooden boat.

“Although the boat is situated almost 12 metres south of the tomb, its orientation, length and the pottery collected from its interior make a clear connection between the structure and the vessel, as both are dated to the very end of the Third or beginning of the Fourth Dynasty, or around 2550 BCE,” Bárta said.

While extremely fragile, the roughly 4,500-year-old planks should shed new light on boat construction in ancient Egypt. The wooden planks were joined by wooden pegs that are still visible in their original positions.

Extraordinarily, the desert sand has preserved the plant-fibre battens of the boat that covered the planking seams. Some of the ropes that bound the boat together are also still in their original position, with all their details intact.

“It is really a unique discovery in the study of ancient Egyptian boats,” Bárta told the Weekly. He said that all the minute details are of the highest importance, since most ancient Egyptian boats and ships have survived either in a poor state of preservation or have been dismantled.

During this current spring season, which started earlier this month, Bárta said that the Czech Institute of Egyptology has launched a project in collaboration with experts from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) at Texas A&M University to study the techniques used in the hull’s construction.

The construction details are not the only features that make the boat unique, he said, adding that the habit of burying boats beside mastabas began in the Early Dynastic period. This phenomenon has been well documented for royal structures, as well as for some tombs belonging to members of the royal family, the elite of society.

“In fact, this is a highly unusual discovery since boats of such size and construction were during this period reserved solely for top members of the society who usually belonged to the royal family. This suggests the potential for additional discoveries during this spring season,” Bárta noted, adding that where there was one boat, there very well may be more.

He said that the boat is a remarkable discovery and that “the careful excavation and recording of the Abusir boat will make a considerable contribution to our understanding of ancient Egyptian watercraft and their place in funerary cults”.

“The boat by the southern wall of the mastaba tomb indicates the extraordinary social position of the tomb’s owner,” Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told the Weekly, explaining that since it was not located adjacent to a royal pyramid the owner of the mastaba was probably not a member of the royal family.

However, both the size of the tomb and the presence of the boat itself clearly placed the deceased within the elite of his time with strong connections to the reigning pharaoh.

Eldamaty described the discovery as “very important” because it is the first time that such a boat has been found at the Abusir necropolis. A collection of clay pots from the end of the Third Dynasty and the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty, also unearthed, could help reveal the specific date of the construction of the boat and mastaba, he said.

Bárta said that King Huni, whose name was found on a pot in tomb AS54, was the last king of the Third Dynasty and details about his reign are largely unknown, despite the Turin Royal Canon from the New Kingdom identifying him as having had a long reign of 24 years.

“The historical evidence for Huni’s existence is minimal,” Bárta said, adding that neither his tomb nor his funerary complex and collection have been located. The only contemporaneous monument explicitly attesting to his existence is a red granite block found in Elephantine in 1909 by Egyptologist H Gauthier.

The block includes the pharaoh’s name in a cartouche and a caption that mentions the building of a fortress or palace.

Bárta explained that apart from the Abusir and Saqqara residential cemeteries, Huni was known only from the mastaba of Metjen. Huni’s name occurs there in connection with a funerary domain in the second Lower Egyptian nome (district). The tomb of Nefermaat and Atet in Meidum has also been connected with Huni.

“Now we have new evidence for Huni from the mud-brick mastaba tomb AS54 in Abusir where a pot engraved with his name was found,” Bárta said. He added that the tomb measures 52.6 metres by 23.8 metres and consists of a southern chapel, northern chapel, northern substructure and some adjoining structures.

The entire eastern facade of the mastaba is protected by a surrounding 1.4-metre-high wall. The cult chapel is situated at the southeast corner of the mastaba and is embedded within its superstructure. The facade of the entrance has an inclination of 81 degrees and was entered through a small corridor. The cult room itself originally assumed the shape of a typical cruciform chapel and is about 40.8 metres above sea level.

“Apparently, during the use of the tomb the chapel was converted into a simple cult room with a false door located in the western wall,” Bárta said, explaining that this renovation was made by walling up the original niches in the western, southern and northern walls.

The tomb has a subterranean structure that was accessible through a 12.6-metre-deep shaft. A collection of badly damaged stone vessels was found in the subterranean structure, including bowls, tables and trays, along with beakers, medium-sized jars of several types, tall cylindrical jars and a lid. A number of calcite vessels and others made of anorthosite, magnesite, anorthosite gneiss, limestone metagabro, breccia serpentinite and dolomite have been found.

Due to the fact that most of these materials are homogenous, Bárta suggests that the vessels may have come from a single deposit. In one particular case, it is possible to read a rare form of Huni’s royal name on the inner rim of a magnesite bowl.

“This is the only inscriptional evidence from the mastaba that we have so far,” he noted. It was interesting that all the vessels except for this one were devoid of inscriptions, he said. Adjoining the tomb’s eastern enclosure wall on the northeast side, four shafts were found with some of them used for burials.

“Despite the meagre evidence, the tomb discovered in Abusir has several features that show its importance and the high social rank of the anonymous owner,” Bárta said. The tomb also has a noticeably elevated location within the cemetery, in fact the highest location in the area overseeing Lake Abusir and the once principal entrance into the Third Dynasty necropolis of Abusir and Saqqara.

Two other prominent features, Bárta pointed out, are the unique monumental architecture of the tomb and the large corpus of stone vessels.

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Iran in talks over making parts for Airbus

Tehran, March 17, IRNA – Europe’s giant aircraft manufacturer Airbus Group SE is in talks with Iran over a deal to produce plane components, Airbus’s Middle East Office said.

Iran could begin making parts for Airbus aircraft under plans being discussed following January’s historic agreement to purchase 118 jetliners from the European manufacturer, according to airliners.net’s civil aviation page.

‘Airbus’s Middle East office said the company is evaluating areas of industrial cooperation with Iran that may include component production and maintenance and overhaul work.’

Te website said Iran developed an ability to make plane parts in order to keep its aircraft flying during years of economic sanctions.

It quoted Iranian Aviation and Space Industries Association President Amin Salari saying in an interview in Tehran that it can offer both “a level of know-how” and very competitive labor costs.

Should an agreement be reached, Iran will join Mubadala Development Co.’s Strata unit as a Middle Eastern parts supplier to Airbus.

Iran, which wants to develop an aviation industry, says it may need 400 jets in a decade.

The Islamic Republic has around 15 maintenance and overhaul companies, a third of them state owned, Salari said, with capabilities in areas including cabin refurbishment, aircraft seats, fiber-glass parts and cockpit panels.

Airbus announced Iran Air is its first Airbus customer in the Middle East, selecing the full Airbus jetliner portfolio for its fleet modernisation.

‘Iran Air’s agreement to acquire aircraft from all of Airbus’ in-production jetliner families will provide the Iranian flag carrier with a modern, highly efficient fleet capable of meeting its full air transport needs – from regional routes to high-density, long-haul operations.’

Signed in January in Paris, the agreement for 118 new aircraft spans from Airbus’ single-aisle A320 product line – involving both current engine option (CEO) and new engine option versions (NEO) – to the widebody A330ceo and A330neo, the A350 XWB and the A380. Deliveries could start as early as this year.

While phasing in this major new inventory, Iran Air will be supported by Airbus’ extensive resources in pilot and maintenance training, customer support and services. Iran Air can also benefit from its long experience with Airbus aircraft – and all the advantages of Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturing consortium said.

Boeing was granted US government permission to begin talks with Iranian carriers in February and would need a separate license to make any jetliner sales.

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54 countries to attend Qazvin Games, Toys Festival

Qazvin, March 17, IRNA – Managing Director of Cultural-Sports Organization of Qazvin Municipality Saeed Vazirinejad said that 54 countries are to attend The Fifth Festival of Games and Toys of Yesterday and Today’s Children in Qazvin.

Vazirinejad said on Thursday that toys have a noticeable role in children’s creativity and growth and all countries and nations have toys for their own children in accordance with their traditions.

To introduce international dolls and acquaintance with their culture, dolls with identification codes from 54 countries are to be displayed in the festival, he added.

Vazirinejad said that countries like Britain, Italy, Finland, Australia, Greece, Mexico, Spain, Poland, countries from Africa, Japan, Latin American countries, Tajikistan, India, China, South Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan are among the countries whose dolls will be on display.

The festival will start on March 23 to April 1, 2016 in Qazvin.

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Iranian Foreign Minister plants sapling in Canberra national garden

Canberra, March 15, IRNA – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif planted a sapling in Canberra national garden on Tuesday as a token of friendship between the two nations.

Zarif is in Australia at the last leg of his Asian and Oceania tour that started March 5.

He used the occasion of his visit to the country to plant a tree which will stand as the symbol of friendship between Iran and Australia.

Australia’s interior minister accompanied Zarif during the program.

Earlier in the day, he visited the Australian parliament to brief its members on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

They also reviewed ways to widen parliamentary relations.

Zarif arrived in the Austrian capital on Monday.

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Iran is turning to a tourist, trade hub: Serbia deputy PM

Belgrade, March 15, IRNA – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Trade and Telecommunication of Serbia Rasim Ljajic said that following cancellation of sanctions, Iran is turning to a tourism and trade hub.

In an interview with IRNA here on Tuesday, Ljajic said that on December 2015 a tourism agreement was signed between the two countries in Tehran in a joint trade commission meeting, which was the first step for cooperation.

He called the agreement important and said that arrival of the first Iranian group of tourists on March 27 is the second important step in expansion of cooperation.

Ljajic also said that expansion of cooperation in the field of tourism will lead promotion of cooperation in the other fields and added that in the Tehran joint trade commission meeting, the two sides discussed agriculture and medicine, too.

He called Iranian participation in Belgrade International Tourism Exhibition for the third consecutive time very important for Serbia and expressed interests of Serbian companies to attend Iran’s tourism exhibition.

Concerning establishment of direct flight services between Tehran and Belgrade, the deputy premier said that Serbia had outlined a draft proposal, which is being considered in Iran and is in final stages.

Ljajic added that car-making is an important field for cooperation and that Iran during imposed sanctions had great successes in this area.

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Indonesia, Korea inaugurate e-government cooperation center

Jakarta (IINA) 03 Mar 2016 – The governments of Indonesia and South Korea inaugurated an e-government cooperation center here on Wednesday to support the efforts to achieve world-class governance, which is more transparent, effective and efficient, ANTARA News reported.

“The e-government center will serve as the development strategy to boost cooperation between Indonesia and South Korea,” Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Yuddy Chrisnandi said during the signing of the cooperation agreement with South Korean Home Affairs Minister Hong Yun Sik.

He noted that Indonesia and South Korea realized the importance of deepening bilateral relations in all fields of e-governance within the framework of bureaucratic reforms.

According to the minister, e-governance is the best way to ensure transparency in state administration in the globalization era amid high public expectations with regard to improving public services.

“Through the sharing of knowledge on e-governance, it is expected that the ideals of President Jokowi to build an effective and transparent world-class governance would soon be realized,” he added.

The plan to develop an e-government cooperation center came to light during a joint declaration signed on 4 December 2006, between the presidents of the two countries on partnership strategies to boost friendship and cooperation.

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Moroccan engineers win four medals at Istanbul inventions fair

Istanbul, (IINA) 08 Mar 2016 – Engineers at SmartiLab, a Moroccan research and development laboratory located in Istanbul, won four awards at the Istanbul International Inventions Fair (ISIF) on Saturday, Morocco World News reported.

The fair, which held in Turkey’s capital for three days last week, was an annual show that features the commercialization of patents and inventions under the patronage of International Federation of Inventors’ Association (IFIA).

The Moroccan team received a total of four medals -one gold, two silver, and one bronze for research conducted by the laboratory, which serves as an extension of the Moroccan School of Engineering sciences.

According to organizers, it is “unprecedented” for a single country “to win such a wide array of medals at one session of the annual competition,” Hespress reported.

The gold medal was awarded for the invention of an indoor positioning system that utilizes nano-satellites to maximize accuracy. A silver medal and a bronze medal was awarded in the electrical engineering and electronics category.

The team earned their final silver medal in the diagnostics and biotechnology category for the invention of a 3D electromagnetic scanner to assist in the electronic diagnosis of patients.

According to the director of SmartiLab, Hafid Griguer, the government of Morocco has tasked the laboratory with the development and management of Morocco’s intellectual property portfolio. The lab’s goal is to improve Morocco’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index (GII) published every year by the World Intellectual Property Association, (WIPA).

The index uses a number of criteria to gage the amount of scientific innovation occurring around the world. One of main criteria is the ratio of the number of patents filed by the country’s inventors to the size of the country’s population. The 2015 Global Innovation Index puts Morocco in the 45th percentile in terms of overall innovation in the social and scientific arenas.

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Muslim professor in USA tries to break down Muslim stereotypes

Lincoln, Nebraska (IINA), 17 Mar 2016 – A Muslim professor in Arabic language and culture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), who has her doctorate in the philosophy of language, asked her audience during a speech on Monday night what first comes to mind when they think of a Muslim woman, The Doane Line news reported.

Dr. Abla Hasan though did not ask the audience to share these thoughts, she answered with common stereotypes Muslim women often receive, such as oppression, hijab and polygamy.

Hasan was brought by student congress and the multicultural support services to speak to Doane students on the topic of Muslim women.

In her speech, Hasan addressed issues commonly raised about Muslim women from a textual basis based on the Qur’an. These topics were Muslim women as authority figures, polygamy in Islam, minors and marriage, and gender based divided rules.

Hasan portrayed in her PowerPoint how a misogynistic understanding of the Qur’an shapes much of what is perpetuated in the media and on Google, but is not true to what she believes is in the actual Qur’an.

Senior Jordyn Jackson, a mentor for helping minority students as a part of the multicultural support services, said Hasan came to Doane as part of the Doane Is Love annual celebration. The idea behind this week long event is to “break down every stereotype,” according to the flyer for Doane Is Love.

Senior Jordyn Atwater, student congress secretary and organizer and liaison for speakers, said that coming from a small community, for her, Hasan opened her mind to a different culture and religion.

Student congress and multicultural support services bring speakers such as Hasan to Doane so that all students have the opportunity to experience these differences, Atwater said.

With elections coming up and the complicated way Muslims are stereotyped, Hasan said she was happy that Doane organized an event such as this to inform students.

She said that what she hoped students got the most out of her speech was that students will go and search for themselves on pressing issues.

“I hope students will rethink the way we just stereotype others or the answers we get from the media or we get from Google, because those answers are easy answers but not necessarily accurate answers,” Hasan said.

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Tajikistan hosts first-ever Japanese Cultural Fair

Dushanbe (IINA) 14 Mar 2016 – The capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe, hosted the first-ever Japanese Cultural Fair, entitled “JAPAN DAYS”, organized by the Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Tajikistan on March 12-13.

The two-day cultural event, supported by Tajikistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture as well as the Committee for Youth, Sports and Tourism, has witnessed a variety of demonstrations and exhibitions on the cultures and traditions of Japan.

The eventful two days also served as an opportunity to demonstrate the friendly relations between Tajikistan and Japan, and a great opportunity for all visitors to enjoy the Japanese cultures and traditions in the lively atmosphere.

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Japanese designer “UNIQLO” to release their first-ever fashion for US Muslims

Tokyo, (IINA) 16 Mar 2016 – UNIQLO, a Japanese clothes designer brand, is set to release their first-ever fashion for Muslims in America, World Religion News reported.

It will come in collaboration with Hana Tajima after a successful launch in Malaysia through the help of Yuna Zarai the Malaysian singer/songwriter who is fast tracking the UNIQLO campaigns in the U.K.

The new clothing line combines the skills of U.K. designer and a Muslim fashion blogger Tajima. The collections of UNIQLO x Tajima is designed for the modest Muslim woman, and it has various products such as headscarves, relaxed jeans, rayon blouses that come with long and stylish dresses that have exciting prints and modern design cuts.

Yuna has even motivated Hana Tajima to design Baju Kurung (a traditional Malay dress) to sell to UNIQLO customers.

The growing Muslim fashion market has created the room for new modest wear line for UNIQLO in the U.K. This has come after a successful market penetration in other countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

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Boston Muslim students aim to break stereotypes through public prayer

Boston, (IINA), 17 Mar 2016 – The Islamic Society of Boston University hosted a public prayer on Wednesday evening at Marsh Plaza, where 16 Islamic Society of Boston University (ISBU) members prayed as pedestrians walked down Commonwealth Avenue, The Daily Free Press news reported.

The public prayer was one of the many programs ISBU is holding for Islam Awareness Month. The prayer also aimed to support the Progress Week and to raise awareness of diversity on campus, ISBU President Taiba Zahir said.

“Something most people don’t know much about is that Islam is a very empowering religion for women,” Zahir, a junior in the College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said following the prayer. “There are many stereotypes about that, and this is the perfect opportunity to break those stereotypes.”

A male student led the prayer that comprised of six male and 10 female students.

The male students prayed in a straight line on a stretched rug directly behind the imam, the leader of the prayer, while the female students, also in a straight line and on a stretched rug, prayed behind them, forming a third line.

Zainab Kazmi, ISBU sisters’ social chair, said ISBU hosts the public prayer annually at Marsh Plaza, a central spot on campus, because the organization strives to break Muslim stereotypes by increasing exposure.

Nadea Zahra, ISBU sisters’ religious chair, also participated in the prayer. Zahra explained that in light of the current presidential election and recent depictions of Muslims in the media, ISBU members feel compelled to demonstrate their faith publicly in order to provide the BU community with a more realistic example of what it means to be Muslim.

“We think that it’s our duty as Muslims to spread the real message behind Islam,” Zahra, a senior in the Questrom School of Business, said after the prayer. “We want people to be familiar with our religion, and we want them to get to know Muslims from Muslims, not from media.”

One of ISBU’s main goals was to inform the BU community about Islam as a means to combat Islamophobia, Zahra added.

Several students who participated in the prayer said they aim to publicly display their faith.

Needa Shaikh, a freshman in the College of Engineering, said she had attended many ISBU activities in the past, and the public prayer was significant to her because it let people see how Muslims worship. She added that she was grateful for the opportunity to publically express pride in her religion.

“It’s important, especially with the current presidential election, to show people what the real Islam is,” Shaikh said. “You shouldn’t be afraid to practice your religion freely and openly.”

Sabrina Hassan, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said on Wednesday night was the first time she attended a public prayer.

“I was interested to see how people would react, and I felt like most people just walked by,” Hassan said. “But I loved hearing the people who did have verbal reactions. I could hear some whispered voices, but people had respectful reactions as opposed to being totally shocked.”

Hassan decided to take part in the prayer because the idea of praying outdoors appealed to her, but also because it is important to let the BU community know that there are Muslims on our campus, she explained.

“We’re saying that we’re comfortable with our identity as Muslims and encouraging others to embrace their identities as well,” Hassan said.

Maryan Sharif, a junior in Sargent, said she has been involved with ISBU since her first year and has attended ISBU public prayers twice in past years.

“The public prayers have taught me to not be afraid of who I am, to be accepting of others and to be proud of my faith,” Sharif said.

Sharif also commented on the political importance of the public prayer, saying, “With the rising Islamophobia and with Islam being a hot topic this political season, I think it’s very important to have a public demonstration like this.”

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Vietnam joins forces with Iran to boost ICT ties

MENAFN – 17/03/2016 Iran and Vietnam have revealed complete willingness and readiness to team up on information and communications technologies (ICT), which will benefit both sides.

In particular, both the Iranian president and his Vietnamese counterpart agreed to boost trade and the two nations are set to cooperate on mutual investments in areas of interest.

n more detail, trade transactions between the Persian Gulf Islamic Republic and Vietnam touched a total of USD300 million back in 2013 from USD80 million throughout 2010.

Iran’s historic sanctions removal seems to be attracting everyone, whether it’s an emerging or developing country, as all realize the huge benefits that lie with the oil/gas rich nation.

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Ministry of Tourism’s mobile services project to be launched in Salalah

MENAFN – Muscat Daily – 17/03/2016 – Muscat – The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) will launch the Mobile Tourism Services project in Salalah under the auspices of Abdullah bin Aqeel al Ibrahim acting deputy governor of Dhofar on Sunday.

The ministry is implementing the project with funding from the Salalah Methanol Company and in cooperation with Riyada Al Raffd Fund and Port of Salalah.

The project aims to support small and medium enterprises that contribute to the tourism sector. As part of this project seven mobile kiosks have been set up to sell fast food juic and handicrafts to tourists visiting the sultanate. ‘Two kiosks will sell craft products two will serve Omani food two will sell fruit juices while one will be dedicated to providing tourism-related information.’

The kiosks will be stationed at Port of Salalah during the cruise ship season and at a number of tourist sites during the khareef season. H E Maitha al Mahrouqi Undersecretary in the Ministry of Tourism had earlier said that this project builds upon the success of tourism services stations in Jebel Akhdar.

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ChicKing to open 20 outlets in Indonesia

MENAFN – Khaleej Times – 17/03/2016 – ChicKing a halal quick service restaurant (QSR) chain from Dubai has announced its foray into Indonesia with a roadmap to open 20 outlets in five years.

The announcement was made at a Press conference organised in connection with the master franchise signing ceremony between BFI Management DMCC (ChicKing’s franchise management division) and PT Ayam Top Dubai the master franchisee for Indonesia.

Fariq Halim CEO of BFI Management DMCC said the appointment of the Indonesian master franchisee is a major milestone in ChicKing’s international franchise expansion plan.

With the flagship outlet planned for Jakarta by the end of 2016 PT Ayam Top Dubai will target over 20 ChicKing outlets across Indonesia over the next five years beginning with Java and Sumatra.

The appointment of the Indonesian master fanchisee is timely with ChicKing’s international expansion plans Halim said.

“Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world and is one of the key markets that we have been monitoring. The QSR industry in Indonesia is diverse and predominantly controlled by domestic brands. It is a competitive and challenging market however we believe that we have the right partners to make ChicKing a leading brand in Indonesia” he said.

“We will also begin our foray into the Western European market before the end of the year with the opening of ChicKing’s first outlet in London in the second quarter of 2016. We have reserved a strategic location in central London and construction is currently on schedule towards the May 2016 deadline.”

The brand is also looking to continue expansion into the GCC countries Western African market and Western Europe.

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Pakistan, Turkmenistan agree to prioritize establishing communication corridors

ISLAMABAD, Mar 17 (APP): Pakistan and Turkmenistan have decided to improve connectivity by establishing communication corridors that would be conducive to tap the potential of trade and economic interaction, people to people contacts and tourism.

“Given the special geo economic and geo political significance of both countries, Pakistan and Turkmenistan decided to pay special attention to establishing air, road and rail links on priority basis,” said a joint communique of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov issued Thursday on the conclusion of latter’s two day official visit here on March 16 17.

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PM, Turkmen President briefed on regional connectivity projects

MURREE, Mar 17 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdmuhamedov on Thursday were given a briefing on the projects of regional connectivity including the proposed road connecting Pakistan with Central Asia. Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal and Chairman National Highway Authority Shahid Ashraf Tarar briefed the two leaders about the projects under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Programme here at the Government House.

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Bangladesh private airline Novoair starts Saidpur flight

DHAKA, Mar 17, 2016 (BSS) – NOVOAIR, one of the private airlines of Bangladesh today started its operation on Dhaka-Saidpur-Dhaka route.

The first flight, consisting 66 passengers took off from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) this morning, a press release said.

Novoair will operate two flights daily from Dhaka-Saidpur-Dhaka route with a lowest fare of Taka 3200.

A “buy one get one” offer is active for Saidpur route for the first month of operation.

Passengers can travel Saidpur to Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Sylhet and Jessore via connecting flights touching Dhaka with a fare as low as Tk 6000, the release said.

Novoair Managing Director Mofizur Rahman along with Head of Marketing and Sales Mr. Sohail Majid and other high officials welcomed passengers of the premiere flight at HISA this morning.

The passengers of the first flight were received by local Member of Parliament Sawkat Chowdhury at a ceremony at Saidpur airport.

Currently, Novoair operates flights from Dhaka to Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Jessore and Sylhet and as international routes it operates 3 weekly flights to Yangon, Myanmar.

The release said leftover domestic destinations like Rajshahi and Barisal and regional destinations such as different states of India and Nepal will be connected into NOVOAIR network soon.

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Executive committee of Bangladesh-India friendship society formed

DHAKA, March 17, 2016 (BSS) – The central executive committee of the Bangladesh-India Friendship Society was formed with chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on information ministry, A K M Rahmatullah, MP, as its chairman.

The vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, Professor Dr A A M S Arefin Siddiqui, was elected as its executive chairman, while Nantu Roy, editor of Bharat Bichitra as general secretary, said a release.

The meeting was held recently at the Dhaka University’s Senate Bhavan.

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Dhaka-Mymensingh highway to be inaugurated by June: Obaidul Quader

MYMENSINGH, March 17, 2016 (BSS) – Minister for Communication and Bridges Obaidul Quader said Dhaka Mymensingh 4-lane road is likely to be inaugurated for traffic by June.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate it,” said the minister while visiting the under construction 4-lane Dhaka Mymensingh highway at Bhaluka point this noon.

Lawmaker Dr. M Amanullah, Additional Chief Engineer Md. Shahab Uddin, Superintending Engineer Md. Moniruzzaman and concerned officials of Army were present during the visit.

The minister went round different points of the ongoing construction works and expressed satisfaction over the quality and progress of the works.

Later, the minister attended a discussion meeting arranged at Jatiya Kabi Nazrul Islam University, Trishal, marking the 97th birthday of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

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Prehistoric rock drawings unearthed in Aswan

Thursday, 17 March 2016 – A set of prehistoric rock inscriptions were discovered near the Tombs of the Nobles in Aswan during excavations by Germany’s University of Bonn, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el Damaty said.

Speaking of its significance, the minister said the discovery is clear evidence that the area was inhabited by prehistoric people.

The inscriptions are the oldest ever to be unearthed at the location, Damaty said.

Meanwhile, head of the ministry’s antiquities sector Mahmoud Afifi said more than 15 prehistoric inscriptions were found.

They are drawings of wild animals such as cows, ibexes and deer, with some showing religious rituals involving ostriches and giraffes, Afifi said.

Head of the German expedition in the area Amr el Hawary said the drawings represent hunting-related practices and are evidence of prehistoric people’s dominance over the wildlife, the main source of human food at the time.

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Ambitious plan to promote tourism in Tassili n’Ajjer

ILLIZI (Algeria), Wednesday, 16 March 2016 – Many studies have been launched in the province of Illizi (1850-km southeast of Algiers) for the implementation of the ambitious programme in the region of Tassili n’Ajjer, as part of the National Tourism Development Plan (SDAT) for the southern province, said Wednesday the local directorate of National Planning, Tourism and Craft Industry.

The plan, which has reached its third stage, aims at developing tourist reception facilities, through the launch of projects for the building of hotels and tourist villages, as well as encouraging investment in the field through incentives for interested promoters, said Illizi’s Tourism Director Samir Phillipon.

The plan also aims at promoting and developing the tourist, cultural and natural potentialities of Tassili n’Ajjer region, as well as the preservation of the archaeological heritage, the protection of environment and the diversification of local tourist destinations, especially in the communes of Bordj Omar Driss, Debdeb and Illizi, he added.

He also underlined the need to highlight the tourist potentialities of Tassili n’Ajjer through media and seminars in order to attract more tourists to the region.

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East-West highway: Toll stations to open in 2017

17 March 2016, ORAN-The Public Works Minister Abdelkader Ouali announced Thursday that toll stations on the east-west highway will open in 2017.

In the province of Tlemcen, where he inquired about the progress of these projects, the minister stressed the need for coordination in the implementation of the toll stations throughout the east-west motorway to exploit them simultaneously in 2017, warning about “any delay that would lead to problems in the exploitation of these infrastructures by 2017.”

Ouali evoked the efforts spent by his ministry to overcome all problems relating to expropriation and networks transfer. “Today, we can speed up the rate of works while strengthening the implementation means and increasing the number of workers from 4.000 to 6.000 throughout the west stretch, in order to deliver the projects in time and equip these tolls with modern means,” he stressed.

As for prices, Abdelkader Ouali stated that these prices “will be reasonable and will take into consideration of socioeconomic factors.”

“The prices will be calculated on the basis of the type of the vehicle, its volume and costs of services provided to passengers,” he stated, adding that this operation will be based on a comprehensive study that will be carried out by the National Agency for Highways and Management of Highways (AGA), in coordination with a specialized international office.

Other information have been reported to the minister on the projects scheduled on the western stretch of this motorway over a distance of 330 km, covering the provinces of Tlemcen, Sidi Bel-Abbès, Mascara and Relizane. This stretch will include 15 toll stations, 6 interchange access stations, 16 rest areas and 11 services stations.

In Sidi Bel-Abbès, another step of his visit, the minister called on the projects managers to “respect deadlines.”

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ISESCO to hold symposium on “Religious Leaders and Environmental Protection Education”

Rabat: 17/03/2016 – The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) will hold a symposium on “Religious Leaders and Environmental Protection Education”, on 19 March 2016, in Dakhla, south of the Kingdom of Morocco. This symposium will be chaired by Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri kingdom, ISESCO Director General.

Will take part in this symposium a host of imams and preachers, representatives of relevant governmental institutions and civil organs as well as experts and researchers in this area.

Participants will address topics on “Towards an interactive relationship between religious leaders and educational institutions in favor of environmental protection”; “Educational methodologies for a religious discourse preaching environmental protection”; “Information and communication and environmental protection education”; and “Success stories regarding empowerment of religious leaders towards active involvement in environmental protection awareness”.

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Pearl of Azerbaijan – Ordubad

14.03.2016 March 14, AZERTAC – The pearl of Azerbaijan – Ordubad… This land is famous for its nature, climate, monuments, national and architectural landmarks, as well as for its exports of fruits and spices, and its unique cuisine. Dating back to the 17th century, architectural buildings of the city have preserved their antiquity. The ancient quarters are typical for Ordubad. Sersheher, Ambaras, Mingis, and etc. Every quarter has its square, mosque, sycamore trees, pool, fountain, and bath.

Lemon that does not have astringent taste

But Ordubad is not famous for only the antiquity of its architecture. Fruits of Ordubad are very tasty thanks to the city`s unique climate. Probably many of us tasted dried fruits of Ordubad and know their flavour. We would especially like to mention lemon of Ordubad, because citrus fruits have unique peculiarities. Ordubad lemon does not have astringent taste, and does not have a strong effect on blood pressure.

Lemons are grown almost in every yard in Ordubad. Representative of Executive Authorities Hikmat Nasirov says Ordubad lemons have been home grown from ancient times. “Lemon trees are planted in pots here. The pots should be neither in very sunny nor in very shadowy place. The trees have to be irrigated every day in summer, and once a week in winter. Lemon trees should not be kept in open air in winter.”

He says: “Lemon trees here are usually one meter in height. If irrigated normally one tree can give up to approximately 15 to 30 lemons. The price of lemon is expensive in the markets, with one costing around five manats. Big lemons may even cost 15 manats.”

Fried eggs of Ordubad

You cannot enjoy the cuisine of Ordubad anywhere else. You can only learn here the recipe how to prepare local dishes, but it requires skill to get the same taste. So Ordubad fried eggs may sound simple, but it is very difficult to make it. Its preparation requires a lot of time and effort.

But it is not just ordinary fried eggs we are used to cook. Imagine that you need two kilograms of butter, 18 eggs and juice from a cup of honey to make this dish. One of the famous cooks of Ordubad Asiman Tagiyev says that if you eat a slice of Ordubad omelet in the morning you do not feel hungry till the evening.

Those who want to visit a medieval city may come to Ordubad. It is enough to stroll about the ancient neighborhoods for it. The remains of ancient houses, old doors and gates can be found here. Therefore, Ordubad is the best pl

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Gambia to host Congress on “History of Islamic Civilization in West Africa”


The Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology of the Republic of Gambia and OIC Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA, Istanbul, Turkey) are jointly organizing an International Congress on “History of Islamic Civilization in West Africa”. The congress will be held in Banjul, Gambia, on 27-28 July 2016.

The congress aims to contribute to promoting scholarly knowledge and understanding of the history and heritage of Islam in West Africa. Islam has been a determining factor in African history. Following the introduction of Islam into Africa, various Muslim scholarly traditions and philosophical schools developed and interacted with their African counterparts.

For centuries Islam played a unifying role in the foundation of states and was a driving force for many African peoples in vital causes for independence and development. Islam supported intellectual, educational, artistic and literary advancements. Foundations of present-day linkages between Muslim countries and communities in Africa and those outside it were laid during this process. In our time Islam continues to influence the lives of more than half of African peoples.

The West African region played a major role in this process. The history and living heritage of Islam in West Africa significantly reflect this history and preserve its memory.


The principal aims of the congress are to

• Promote research and education on the history and cultural heritage of Islam in West Africa by addressing the theme on a scholarly platform

• Bring together scholars and researchers to communicate findings of their studies and contribute in disseminating these findings worldwide

• Contribute in promoting awareness on the Islamic history and heritage of West Africa by the general public within and outside the region

• Highlight the experience of West Africa as to coexistence of different faiths and different cultures towards promoting a culture of diversity and peace in the present world.


Paper presentations will address the following and related themes with comprehensive or case-specific studies: Spread of Islam in West Africa: trade routes and other factors

 Islam as a solidarity factor in West African history

 Islam in educational development: leading scholars and institutions

 Influence of Islam in language and literature

 Islamic arts, architecture and archaeology

 Relations between African countries and Muslim countries outside Africa in historical perspective

The congress will be conducted in English and French.

The congress venue will be announced in due course.

Abstracts and CV’s not exceeding 300 words should be sent to the following mail addresses by 30 March 2016.

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Dubai Holding boosts support to SMEs through tie-up with Dubai SME

DUBAI, 16th March, 2016 (WAM)–Dubai Holding, the global investment holding company, today entered into a partnership with Dubai SME, the agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai mandated to develop the growth of small and medium enterprise (SME) in the UAE.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will provide Dubai SME members with attractive incentives for operations within Dubai Holding companies such as TECOM Group, Jumeirah Group and Dubai Properties Group. Dubai Holding offers conducive business environments across several sectors such the hospitality, real estate, media, ICT, design, industrial, educational, life sciences, retail, and telecommunications among others.

The MoU was signed between Ahmad Bin Byat, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Dubai Holding and Abdul Basit Al Janahi, CEO, Dubai SME. Through this collaboration with Dubai SME, Dubai Holding aims to strengthen its commitment to sustainable development of Dubai’s economy and enhance Dubai’s position as the centre of entrepreneurship.

Ahmad Bin Byat, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Dubai Holding, said, “Dubai Holding has played a major role in the development and growth of strategic sectors to support Dubai’s economic diversification. This has led to a conducive business environment today where we are seeing more people turning to entrepreneurship than ever before. Our collaboration with Dubai SME will help us better support Emirati entrepreneurs and their start-ups as well as existing businesses in Dubai Holding’s business communities.”

He added, “The SME sector is vital to Dubai Holding’s strategy of creating an innovation driven knowledge-based economy in line with Dubai’s long-term ambition to transform into the smartest and most productive city in the world.”

Abdul Basit Al Janahi commented, “We look forward to working with Dubai Holding on bringing further benefits to the UAE national start-up community in Dubai. It is a pleasure to gain support of a partner that sees SMEs as drivers of innovation, employment and economic growth, and is focused on developing this sector further.”

Al Janahi added, “Dubai SME has varied programmes and initiatives aimed to maintain an integrated support system for SMEs in the various stages of their growth, such as the Mohammed bin Rashid Fund, Dubai Entrepreneurship Academy, Hamdan Innovation Incubator, Mohammed bin Rashid Award for Young Business Leaders (YBL) as well as the Dubai SME100 programme to rank top performing SMEs and help them evolve into globally competent enterprises”.

“Over the past few years, Dubai SME has supported more than 20,000 Emirati entrepreneurs and contributed to the launch of more than 3,300 national enterprises. Nearly AED 250 million have been disbursed by Dubai SME in incentives and facilities to entrepreneurs during the same period and in addition, we have helped them win government contracts worth more than AED 2.5 billion”, added Al Janahi.

Dubai Holding has been a long-standing supporter of the SME sector. TECOM Group, one of Dubai Holding’s key businesses, was established to develop industry-specific infrastructure to attract not only global and regional players but to also encourage entrepreneurs to choose Dubai as their preferred business destination. TECOM Group is committed to the delivery of the ‘National Innovation Strategy’, which aims to develop the UAE into one of the most innovative countries in the world.

As such, it runs two business incubators – the innovation centre ‘in5’ in Dubai Internet City launched in May 2013 and a new incubator building for media start-ups launched at the end of 2015, ‘In5 Media’. in5 has engaged over 4,000 of the UAE’s technopreneurs, given over 70 members access to a number of international and regional investors, helping them secure over AED 34 million in funding.

In 2015, the number of registered companies at TECOM Group’s business parks increased by 11% crossing 5,100 companies with more than 76,000 creative workers.

Dubai Holding also supports Endeavor, a not-for-profit US-based organisation that is leading high-impact entrepreneurship movement around the world. Endeavor provides rising entrepreneurs with coaching, mentorship and access to Venture Capital. As a Corporate Partner Dubai Holding supports Endeavor through mentors, guidance and commercial space for operations of their Dubai Chapter.

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Dutch Start-Up Saleduck Opens Office In Kuala Lumpur

AMSTERDAM, March 18 (Bernama-BUSINESS WIRE) — The successful Amsterdam based startup Saleduck, has now opened an office in Asia. Saleduck, known for helping millions of consumers find online deals, enters the global market with confidence after already expanding to eight European countries in 2015.

“With a total market size of 770 billion dollars, the Asian e-commerce market is by far the biggest in the world. Also, the market’s growth rate of 44% is a lot higher than other continents. Therefore, it was an easy decision to expand our business to Asia” says CEO Domingo Karsten.

In the Kuala Lumpur office, Saleduck Asia Sdn Bhd will start with 12 employees. The team consists of talented local marketing professionals and web developers. Overall, Saleduck will now be represented by 35 employees worldwide. CTO Ben Rogmans and Commercial Manager Rosanne Hortensius exchanged Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur to supervise the launch of the new team. This year, Saleduck is set to launch in five South East Asian countries.

Saleduck has experienced a warm welcome in Malaysia. “The environment for startups is surprisingly good and we are very comfortable doing business here. Especially now that the government has rewarded our ambitious plans with the prestigious MSC status” says Ben Rogmans Jr.

The prestigious and exclusive MSC status is granted by the Malaysian government to offer innovative multimedia companies substantial business benefits. Doing so, the country hopes to become the Silicon Valley of South East Asia.

Currently, the Saleduck platform is already available in Malaysia and Singapore, where it collaborates with big players such as AirAsia, Uber and Groupon.

So far, Saleduck is self-funded. However for the first time, the company is open for strategic investors to come onboard in order to accelerate the company’s growth. The planned investment amounts to 500,000 euros.

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Call To Prayer Helps Dentist’s Muslim Patients Feel At Home In Norway

OSLO (Norway), March 4 (NNN-UNHCR) — On a dark and snowy afternoon in central Oslo, a recording of the Islamic call to prayer plays in a small dental practice above a pizza restaurant to try to make the mainly Muslim patients feel at ease.

Played on a computer App, the call is not intended to summon patients to prayer, but the sound is just one of the many ways in which 29-year-old Swedish-Somali dentist Amal Ali is making Norway’s new arrivals feel at home. To allow patients time to worship, she also factors breaks for prayer into the appointments schedule.

Amal fled to Scandinavia in 1991 with her family, and is happy to help the patients who, like herself, have refugee backgrounds. Some seeking care at her practice in Norway have low incomes and have never visited a dentist before.

“I have days when I feel I’m making a difference, and others when I am drained,” Amal said. “But the patients give me back so much. They teach me about Africa and the Middle East, they give me a glimpse of how their lives used to be. Then you remember we have something special in common – we all came from other countries, we all had other lives before we came here.”

When Amal’s family arrived in Sweden, they hoped it would be just a brief stay until the civil war in Somalia was over. However, the fighting in east Africa continues, causing a new exodus to northern Europe.

Amal has become one of a handful of Somali Swedes to qualify as a dentist. Having completed five years of study at Gothenburg University, she was awarded a dental licence in 2012 and worked for three years in her home town of Gothenburg before moving to Oslo, in neighbouring Norway.

“When you look at these refugees and you see people going through horrible conditions just to get the life I have here in Sweden or Norway, you realize how blessed you are,” she says.

Amal’s route into dentistry was not easy. When she first graduated, she was the only dentist from Africa and the only one who wore a hijab.

“In the beginning it was very tricky,” she says. “But then when I opened my mouth and they heard my Swedish and Gothenburg accent, they just let that go – and we could have fun.”

In early 2015, when an opportunity arose to work with predominantly Somali patients in Oslo, Amal saw a rare chance to treat people from the same background as her own.

One year on, she is learning to be a role model for other immigrants. Her patients in Oslo find it unusual to be treated by a Muslim woman. Young women want to talk to her about their dreams, education and ambitions. Somali men have asked to bring their daughters just so they can see that there is such a thing a Somali woman dentist, Amal said.

Some of the men mistake her for the receptionist. Then their attitude changes. “They become so respectful that you are female and you have made it. That is very common that this happens, because they have not met a Somali female dentist before. But when they do, they have huge respect,” she says.

Amal often meets refugees who come to Scandinavia with a goal, which they pursue tirelessly. Others, however, have given up and started to believe that they will never be accepted in society, no matter what they do.

“There is no bridge between those groups,” she says. “I would like to be that bridge and say ‘yes it was difficult, it wasn’t easy going through university to become a dentist, wearing the scarf, having your religion, praying five times a day, wanting to be a decent Muslim and at the same time be an excellent student. But you can do it. It’s difficult, but you can.’ ”

Amal says she feels 99 per cent Swedish. However, working in Oslo – her “little Somalia”, as she calls it – is also a reminder of home. Whenever she can, she tries to offer some of her services free of charge.

“Not all Somalis were given the chance to come to Sweden and get a higher education, for free, which I was,” she says.

“For me to just work and pay taxes would be disrespectful to the people back home, that I don’t give back. I need to do something to show that I am still Somali also – while at the same time having a Swedish identity.”

Thanks to her hard work and the opportunities available in Sweden, Amal has shown that refugees can succeed.

“Try to fulfil your dreams, because you came to a country where you can. Come here with an open mind and try to utilize all the opportunities you can get. It is going to be a struggle, but it’s a struggle wherever you are in the world.” — NNN-UNHCR

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Etihad Airways Signs Declaration To Support Prevention Of Wildlife Trafficking

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Mar 17 (NNN-WAM) – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is one of the signatories to the Declaration of the United for Wildlife International Task force, on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products, signed at Buckingham Palace, yesterday.

Led by The Duke of Cambridge, the United for Wildlife initiative aims to support efforts, to prevent the growing trade in illegal wildlife and products around the world. The task force for transportation has identified the specific role that the transport industry can play, in helping to support the efforts of what The Duke of Cambridge refers to as ‘the race against extinction.’

The ambitious declaration documents eleven commitments, which require signatories to commit to supporting global efforts to prevent illegal wildlife smuggling, through putting in place real measures, where the transport industry specifically can help shut down routes exploited by traffickers.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, who signed the declaration on behalf of the airline, said, “We recognise the significant role that the airlines can play in preventing the smuggling of wildlife and products. Whilst the airlines cannot act as regulators, we are able to support enforcement authorities and assist in raising passenger awareness. We encourage others in this sector to sign up to this declaration to help prevent this abhorrent practice.”

The declaration focuses on breaking the link between the demand for illegal wildlife products around the world and the escalating poaching crisis in places such as Africa. Airlines are seen as key partners, able to increase passenger awareness, provide capacity building at airports and work closely to support the efforts of customs and law enforcement authorities.

To address the commitments, the airline will be working closely with IATA, the global airline association and another signatory to the Declaration, on shared initiatives.

Etihad Airways is also engaged with animal welfare on a broader scale, as part of its efforts to reduce its ‘Animal Footprint.’

The airline works in partnership with the international wildlife NGO, the Born Free Foundation, to ensure the airline’s holiday activities and the transportation of animals have a minimal impact on animal welfare and conservation. It is developing policies and programmes to reduce this risk.– NNN-WAM

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