Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

7 Mar, 2016

Oman Names Its First Budget Airline “Salam Air”

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 07 March 2016 (27 Jumaada al-Awwal 1437). Pls click on any of the headlines 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.tourism.gov.my/ or http://www.tourismmalaysia.gov.my

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/friendofmalaysia

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

Blog: http://blog.tourism.gov.my


Watch Islamic Travel Newswire Executive Editor Imtiaz Muqbil’s landmark TEDx lecture on “Peace through Tourism” on YouTube — the first travel industry journalist in Bangkok invited to speak at this prestigious forum. CLICK HERE.



Tourism Malaysia Eyes Over 66 Million Domestic Tourists

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia March 3 (NNN-Bernama) — Tourism Malaysia has set a target of 66.8 million domestic tourists with a total expenditure of the RM45.7 billion this year.

Its deputy director-general (strategic and domestic), Chong Yoke Har told a press conference here today, she believed the depreciating ringgit would further encourage domestic tourism.

The growth of domestic tourism has increased by 11.6 per cent from 54.4 million people in 2013 to 60.7 million in 2014, with the total expenditure of RM41.4 billion, an increase of 16 per cent as compared to RM35.6 billion in 2013.

From March 11 to 13, Chong said Tourism Malaysia targeted the sale of 17,896 tourism packages worth RM4.6 million, including nature and island holidays, through its participation in the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Fair at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here.

Chong said 56 tour operators, 34 hotel/resort operators and 20 tourism products operators would participate in the fair.

Back to top

Malindo Air inaugurates KL to Lahore Flights

KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 (Bernama) — Malindo Air’s inaugural flight from Kuala Lumpur to Lahore, the capital city of the province of Punjab in Pakistan, took off today and created the distinction of being the sole Malaysian-based airline to explore direct flight on this new route. Malindo Air is offering four times weekly flights which depart Kuala Lumpur on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Passengers can now look forward to enjoying attractive fares. Our introductory fares for Kuala Lumpur-Lahore start from RM759 for Economy Class and RM1849 for Business Class one-way all inclusive.

All fares include perks such as free baggage allowance, in-flight entertainment, a meal and light refreshments.

Bookings can be made online at malindoair.com or for smartphone devices at mobile.malindoair.com or via the Malindo Air App available for download on Google Play and App Store.

The flight departs KLIA2 at 5.30pm and touches down at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore (LHE) at 8.15pm. The return flight departs from Lahore at 9.05pm and arrives in KLIA2 on the next morning at 5.50am. The flight time is 5 hrs and 45 minutes.

Malindo Air’s CEO, Chandran Rama Muthy, said, “Lahore is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, and remains an economic, political, transportation, entertainment, and educational hub of Pakistan. According to the Tourism Malaysia statistics, in 2015 we recorded more than 60,000 tourist arrivals from Pakistan. With the global joint-promotions of Visit Malaysia that we are undertaking with Tourism Malaysia, we believe this new service will have much to offer to boost both the business and leisure travellers from Pakistan to Malaysia.”

Chandran also added that Malaysians and transiting passengers from other Malindo Air destinations such as Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand or China can now look forward to a seamless connectivity to Lahore via Kuala Lumpur International Airport. This will also contribute to our objective of hyping up KLIA as an important transit and tourism hub in the region.

Forget the hassle of paying a hefty penalty for flight change! Malindo Air’s new No Change Fee policy that allows unlimited date and time change up to 24 hours before departure at no extra charge is a first of its kind in Malaysia. Only non-promo fares are applicable and subject to higher fare difference.

Malindo Air is a Malaysian airline with main hubs at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) and the convenient KL downtown city airport Subang Skypark in Selangor, Malaysia. The airline took to the skies in March 2013 with domestic flights and has since grown to operate routes to all major airports in Malaysia and across regional destinations in Indonesia, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Southern China, Australia and Pakistan. The fleet itself has grown leaps and bounds to 11 ATR72-600 and 16 Boeing 737NG as of 31 January 2016.

Today, the airline operates over 800 flights weekly across a continuously growing network of about 40 routes in the region. More recently, the airline won Airline of the Year (Passenger) at the KLIA Awards 2014 and Top Performing Airline 2015 by Travelport.

Back to top

Malaysia: Furniture Industry Players Urged To Collaborate Closely

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 (NNN-Bernama) — The furniture industry players have been urged to collaborate to achieve the RM53 billion export earning target for timber and timber products by 2020 under the National Timber Industry Policy.

Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Douglas Uggah Embas, said Malaysia’s timber and timber product exports rose by 6.3 per cent to RM21.7 billion in 2015 from RM20.4 billion in 2014.

“The industry players need to continuously innovate to retain their competitiveness,” he said at the opening of the Export Furniture Exhibition 2016 (EFE 2016) here.

The text of his speech was read by the ministry’s Secretary-General, Dr Sundaran Annamalai Uggah said the players should also enhance the ability to produce high-quality, creative and innovative furniture products in order to attract a wider segment of buyers, and to suit the current lifestyles.

Meanwhile, Chairman of EFE Expo Sdn Bhd, Chua Chu Chai, has urged Malaysian furniture players to venture into solid wood furniture production to meet the huge demand from China, one of the biggest in the world.

He said traditionally, Chinese consumers treasured the solid wood furniture.

“China’s consumption is expected to grow by five to six per cent this year,” he said.

EFE 2016, organised by EFE Expo Sdn Bhd, has attracted 257 exhibitors, up five per cent from last year’s 245 exhibitors.

The four-day exhibition is themed ‘Fine Furniture World Market’. It is expected to attract over 9,000 visitors from 135 countries, an increase of ten per cent from 8,300 visitors in 2015.

Back to top

Matrade To Lead Specialised Marketing Mission To London

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 (NNN-Bernama) — The Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) will lead a delegation of 15 Malaysian companies involved in construction, building materials and information communication technology (ICT) services on a specialised marketing mission (SMM) to London on March 7-11, 2016.

In a statement today, Matrade said, the SMM will be held in conjunction with Ecobuild at Excel London, a leading exhibition and conference for the construction and energy markets, as an effort to promote Malaysia’s capabilities in those sectors.

“The companies are in the civil engineering works, architectural interior design and build, archifoam and flexistone, lightweight celuka, wooden products, energy efficient light-emitting diode, hardware and software consultancy services, Internet infrastructure and e-Commerce location-based services, among others,” it said.

Its Chief Executive Officer, Dzulkifli Mahmud, said this initiative will portray Malaysia as the solutions providers for the UK market, particularly in the construction projects for smart city projects overseas.

“A total of 100 one-on-one business meetings with 50 potential importers in the UK has been pre-arranged by Matrade’s London office for the Malaysian participants,” he said.

Dzulkifli said this mission will provide an opportunity for Matrade to explore any untapped opportunities for Malaysian companies in the UK’s construction, building materials and ICT services.

“It will also serve as a good platform for the Malaysian participants to search for their new potential agents, distributors or importers,” he said.

Ecobuild brings together 85 per cent of the top 100 architects, 92 per cent of the top 50 contractors and house builders and 57 per cent of the top-30 foreign importers.

Back to top

Iran To Set Up Investors House: Deputy Economy Minister

KERMAN, March 5, (NNN-IRNA) – Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance said here Thursday that Iran hopes to launch an Investors House in a near future.

Establishing Investors House in the country is necessary in order to solve the problems of domestic investors, Mohammad Khazaei noted at a meeting of dialogue between government and private sector.

According to Khazaei, domestic private sector has presently no mechanism to overcome its problems adding that the Investors House must be non-governmental and must be set up by major domestic investors.

Khazaei who is also President of the Organization for Investment, and Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran added that in the Resistance Economy, foreign investment must serve the goals of the Islamic Republic system.

He said coordination and cooperation between the public sector and chambers of commerce should be appreciated because we believe economic development will not happen without the help of the private sector.

He said both domestic and foreign investments must be considered, because if you do not pay attention to the domestic investor, you cannot attend to foreign investors either.

Khazaei described the establishment of the Foreign Investment Services Center in the province as a favorable development.

The deputy minister referred to the allocation of dlrs. 35 billion of foreign financing to Kerman province adding that such a high figure of financing demands heavy work and extensive activities.

Noting that the Steering Committee of Financing will be set up in the country, he said that financing capacity of dlrs.45 to 50 billion has already been created.

Back to top

Malaysia SMEs Want Govt To Review Programme For Foreign Workers

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 (NNN-Bernama) — The SME Association hopes the government will look into the rehiring programme for foreign workers without permits by simplifying it to help the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

SME Association of Malaysia National President, Michael Kang Hua Keong, said the move will reduce the cost for SMEs.

“I hope the government will work closely with the business associations and local chambers of commerce to legalise all the illegal workers to help SMEs grow their businesses,” he said at the association’s Chinese New Year gathering recently.

Also present was Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Dr Wee Ka Siong.

The rehiring programme, which was unveiled on Feb 15, aims to give an opportunity to illegal foreign workers in Malaysia to apply for valid work permits to meet labour demand in specific sectors after tight screening.

It is learnt that the rehiring programme will carry on for the undocumented immigrants from the existing 15 countries of origin and no actions will be taken against compliant employers and workers.

Kang said 2016 will be challenging year for the SMEs as the global economy was facing strong headwinds and the SMEs should be prepared for this.

He said with the full implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement there will be intense competition and SMEs should buck up to compete internationally.

“Free trade is good for the country as it gives the SMEs international market access. We hope the SMEs will upgrade their products and services to be compete on international level,” he said.

Back to top

Arabic Calligraphy Exhibition Opens In Geneva

GENEVA, Switzerland, Mar 1 (NNN-QNA) – Qatar Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, opened today, an Arabic calligraphy exhibition, organised by the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the United Nations Office in Geneva.

Under the title, ‘Human Rights in the Islamic Culture,’ the exhibition is held in collaboration with Qatar National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), under the auspices of Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Michael Muller.

The official opening of the exhibition was attended by NHRC Chairman, Dr Ali bin Shaikh Al Marri, and Director-General of the United Nations Office, Michael Mueller, President of the 70th session of UN General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, and President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Choi Kyong-lim.

The Foreign Minister inaugurated the exhibition, which will run until Mar 4, in the presence of high-ranking dignitaries, representatives of permanent diplomatic missions in Geneva, and representatives of international organisations and non-governmental organisations in Geneva.

In his opening remarks, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, said that, this exhibition is in line with Qatar’s efforts, to support inter-faith dialogue, stressing that Islam stands alongside other divine religions, to achieve peace and respect for human freedom and dignity.– NNN-QNA

Back to top

Malaysia To Sign MoU With Singapore Airlines At Berlin Show

FRANKFURT, March 5 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia’s tourism promotion agency, Tourism Malaysia, is joining hands with foreign airlines to promote Malaysia as a destination, notably to the German market.

Tourism Malaysia Frankfurt office director Mohamed Amin Yahya said Malaysia’s Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz was expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Singapore Airlines at the Berlin International Tourism Bourse to be held from March 9 to 13.

“We are having a promotion tie-up with Singapore Airlines for service from Germany to Kuala Lumpur and other airports in Malaysia with a stopover in Singapore,” he told Bernama here.

The carrier operates two daily flights from Frankfurt and one from Munich to Singapore from where the carrier offers good connections to several cities in Malaysia.

At present SIA maintains a myriad of flights from Singapore to Sabah, Sarawak, Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, all of which are favourite destinations of German tourists.

Malaysia Airlines, which operated a direct flight between Kuala Lumpur and Frankfurt, discontinued this service in spring 2015, leaving German carrier Lufthansa, which will discontinue its Frankfurt-Kuala Lumpur service end of this month, as the sole carrier to operate the sector.

But efforts are also afoot to use other airlines which have high frequencies to and from Frankfurt to their national hubs and then to Malaysia, he said.

Carriers having high frequencies include Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.

“Connectivity is a big challenge for us in sending tourists to Malaysia. The tourism sector has become the second biggest source of revenue now after the sharp fall in oil prices,” said Mohamed Amin.

Another “ambitious campaign” will be the so-called “taxi campaign” in Berlin with some 100 German taxis to carry billboards highlighting the “Malaysia, Truly Asia” destination.

“For the current year, Tourism Malaysia in Frankfurt has been set a target of 160,000 German visitors,” he added.

Back to top

LEAD STORY: Oman Names Its First Budget Airline “Salam Air”

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Mar 3 (NNN-ONA) – Oman’s first budget airline will fly under the brand name “Salam Air,” according to Aviationbusinessme.com, citing an announcement made by the Muscat National Development and Investment Company (ASAAS).

ASAAS Chief executive officer, Khalid Hilal Al Yahmadi, said that the name, which was derived from the Arabic greeting, was a result of a nationwide public poll conducted on Twitter and the company’s corporate website.

After internal discussions with board members and key government entities, eight names were short-listed and a public poll was conducted that received close to 3,000 responses, the report said.

“While we understand that this is an unconventional way of naming an airline, we believe that integrating new modes of communication and outreach is the way of the future.

“This is also a clear reflection of the way we do business. We are transparent and our approach is to be part and parcel of the community with all of our multi-industry projects,” Aviationbusinessme.com quoted Al Yahmadi as saying.

He said that, the word ‘Salam’ is also very well-known by people from around the world.

“It is simple, memorable and meaningful and that is exactly what we were looking for in a name.”

With air traffic demand expected to grow by 40 percent by 2019, Salam Air, is anticipated to fuel economic growth in Oman, the report said.

In Jan, ASAAS – a venture involving the Muscat municipal government and several state funds, including the State General Reserve Fund, Oman’s top sovereign wealth fund said, it has been awarded an air services operator license by the Public Authority for Civil Aviation.

However, no time frame for establishing the airline or plans to obtain planes has yet been announced, Aviationbusinessme.com reported.– NNN-ONA

Back to top

Iranian taekwondo fighters rank 1st in world

Tehran, March 5, IRNA- Two Iranian taekwondo fighters Farzan Ashoorzade and Mahdi Khodabakhshi ranked first in the February 2016 ranking in the weight groups of -58kg and -80 kg respectively.

Taekwondo Federation announced on Saturday that scores of Turkey’s free style competitions, Asian Taekwondo Championship and Fujairah Open Taekwondo Tournament have been calculated and 2012 scores have been omitted from the list and 75% and 50% of 2013 and 2014 scores have been decreased respectively.

Farzan Ashoorzade receiving 8,460 scores ranked first.

The representatives from South Korea, Portugal, Belgium, Germany and Mexico ranked second to sixth in this weight group.

The first position in -80 weight group is of Mahdi Khodabakhshi receiving 387, 38 scores.

Iranian National Men Taekwondo team succeeded in receiving qualification of 2016 Rio Olympic Games by the victory of Farzan Ashoorzade (-58), Mahdi khodabakhshi (-80) and Sajad Mardani (+80).

Iranian National team will be headed by Bijan Moghanloo, Mahdi Bibak and Mehrdad Yusefi in Rio.

Back to top

Russian Tourists Spent Over MAD 28 Million in Morocco in 2015 Morocco World News Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN – Morocco World News – 05/03/2016 – Spending of Russian tourists in Morocco has hit just over MAD 28 million last year according to the latest data disclosed by the Moroccan Observatory of Tourism.

A report by the observatory said Russian tourists spent over MAD 1203 every day during their visits to Morocco in 2015 a total of MAD 28.1 million in the whole year.

The report noted that 60 percent of Russian tourists who visited Morocco last year were accompanied with relatives while 18 percent of them came in organized trips.

According to the same source Russian tourists spent over 49 percent of their overnight stays in rated hotels compared to 45 percent of night stays in Riads and rented apartments across the country.

The report said 34 percent of Russian tourists visit museums ad historical monuments during their stay in Morocco while 23 percent of them prefer to spend their stays traveling across Moroccan cities.

The same source added that only 20 percent of them like to spend their holidays sightseeing in Moroccan coastal cities.

Agadir remains Russian Tourists’ favorite destination in Morocco the report said noting that 72 percent of their night stays in Morocco were registered in Agadir.

Earlier in January Director General of the Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT) Abderrafie Zouiten revealed that Morocco is seeking to attract over 200000 Russian tourist a year starting out from this year.

‘Russia is a priority market for Moroccan Tourism. ONMT has devised an ambitious strategy to attract more Russian tourists in 2016’ he concluded.

Back to top

Qatar Airways Launches Flight from Doha to Sydney

MENAFN – Qatar News Agency – 03/03/2016 – Qatar Airways today celebrated the arrival of its first flight from Doha to Sydney, making this the airline’s third gateway into Australia. The award-winning airline now operates a Boeing 777-300 daily from Doha to Sydney connecting Australian passengers to its global network of more than 150 destinations. Qatar Airways has been serving Australia since 2009 when it commenced flights to Melbourne, later adding flights to Perth in 2012.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “Touching down here in Sydney for the first time today is an important milestone for Qatar Airways and for the people of Australia. We are delighted to be able to offer passengers flying from Sydney the opportunity to connect to more than 150 places on our global network via our state-of-the-art airport in Doha. We look forward to taking the people of Sydney to the places they want to go on our modern aircraft, and giving them a taste of the Arabian hospitality and comfort that earned us the aviation industry’s most prestigious title of Skytrax Airline of the Year in 2015.

“I would like to personally thank Sydney Airport and city authorities for welcoming us today and we look forward to strengthening our relationship with them and the people of Australia in the coming years as we all go places together.”

The new service will also provide 84 tonnes of cargo capacity per week in and out of the New South Wales (NSW) capital, connecting Australia’s leading exporters to Qatar Airways Cargo’s global network of more than 150 stations around the world. Qatar Airways Cargo, the third largest international cargo airline, already carries 301 tonnes of freight in the belly hold of its Boeing 777 passenger aircraft into and out of Perth and Melbourne per week.

Sydney Airport Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Kerrie Mather said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Qatar Airways to Sydney Airport. Qatar Airways is a three-time Skytrax Airline of the Year winner and will provide passengers with more choice, a quality product and seamless connectivity through Doha’s new Hamad International Airport to destinations around the world.

“Qatar Airways’ new daily service will boost tourism, providing an additional 245,000 seats per year, generating an estimated 3,000 jobs and contributing more than AUD240 million to the Australian economy.

“It will also foster trade, providing greater air cargo capacity and access to the Middle East. Australian exports to Doha grew by 23 per cent last year, and the State of Qatar’s high demand for livestock, cereal, meat, dairy products and crops provides a significant opportunity for Australian exporters.”

NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events, Stuart Ayres said: “I am delighted to welcome the first Qatar Airways flight to Sydney, which will provide a valuable increase in aviation capacity from the Middle East and greater connectivity to Sydney and regional NSW, particularly for travellers flying from the United Kingdom and Europe via Doha.

“Through our tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, we look forward to working with Qatar Airways and the opportunity to showcase our beautiful city, award-winning restaurants, stunning beaches and surrounding NSW regions to customers of one of the world’s fastest growing airlines.”

With an average connection time of just 90 minutes via the airline’s hub at Hamad International Airport Doha, passengers travelling from Sydney can expect a smooth and seamless journey to their final destination. The contemporary and luxurious airport, which opened in 2014, has more than 40,000 square metres of retail space and restaurants including more than 70 retail and 30 food and beverage outlets, as well as a 25-metre swimming pool, gym, hotel and spa.

Back to top

Kenyan Muslim nominated for $1 million Global Teacher Prize 2016

03 Mar 2016 Nairobi (IINA) – A Kenyan Muslim teacher is among 10 finalists nominated for this year’s U.S. Global Teacher Prize, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.

Ayub Mohammed stands a chance of walking away with 100 million Kenyan shillings ($1 million) for educating youths against violent extremism and radicalization.

The Islamic studies teacher from Eastleigh High School in Nairobi was selected from among 8,000 applicants from 148 countries.

Nairobi’s Eastleigh suburb has been labeled by authorities in Kenya as the main recruiting ground of youth into the al-Shabaab militia group.

Eastleigh is predominantly inhabited by Somali immigrants; in 2014 more than 4,000 youths were arrested in one week during an anti-terror swoop.

“I hail from Wajir in Northern Kenya, one of the most underdeveloped places in Kenya, so I decided to teach to become a role model to my community,” Ayub told AA reporter who traveled into the heart of Eastleigh Suburb, dubbed “Little Mogadishu” by locals, to meet him.

“Violent extremism and radicalization is a very big problem here in Kenya; the youth are easily coerced into joining militant groups,” Ayub said.

“As a teacher I realized that I should be part of the solution but this time in the school where I try to use the classroom as a safe space, I have been trying to engage these students … bringing about a mindset change,” Ayub said, adding that he teaches these students about the ideologies and propaganda used by the violent extremist groups.

The Global Teacher Prize is a US $1 million award presented annually to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession. It seeks to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers – not only on their students but on the communities around them.

Back to top

Bahraini tourism to add $1 billion to economy by 2020

01 Mar 2016 Manama, (IINA) – Bahraini official statistics revealed that tourism in the country is expected to contribute around $1 billion to the country’s economy by the end of the decade, Arabian Business reported.

Figures from the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) reveal that there was an 11 percent increase in visitor numbers between 2014 and 2015, a rise of 10 million tourists.

The sector is forecast to grow even further in the coming years, EDB said, with 3,000 hotel rooms counted in the development pipeline at present.

For example, U.S-based hotel chain Wyndham Hotel Group has four properties under construction and scheduled to open within the next 12-18 months, while Emaar Hospitality Group has announced plans to open four hotels in Bahrain under its Address and Vida brands by 2018. Luxury Asian brand Anantara is also scheduled to open a hotel in the country, on Durrat Al Bahrain in 2018.

In a related context, the EDB will be exhibiting at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) industry show in Dubai this year.

ATM exhibition manager Nadege Noblet-Segers stated: “Bahrain is making a significant investment into its tourism-related infrastructure, including a much needed $1.1 billion airport expansion, and also has plans to expand its current exhibition center to accommodate large-scale events across all categories”.

He added: “This year’s ATM will provide an excellent platform for the kingdom’s tourism and hospitality community to highlight its future vision”.

Meanwhile, Acting CEO of Bahrain Authority for Tourism and Exhibitions (BATE), Sheikh Khalid bin Hamoud Al-Khalifa, has pledged to implement the national tourism strategy adopted by the country’s tourism executive committee to promote the economy, according to state news agency BNA.

Back to top

Queensland Muslims hold Islamic awareness workshop

Queensland, Australia, 02 Mar 2016 (IINA) – The Muslim community of Bundaberg, Queensland in Australia organized recently its inaugural Islam awareness workshop to help educate the wider community about the religion, ABC Local Australian news reported.

The workshop was held at the Bundaberg and District Neighbourhood Centre and offered insights into Islamic beliefs, providing information on topics such as the Qur’an, Sunnah and Sharia Law, the role of women in Islam, as well as jihad and terrorism.

The workshop provided attendees the opportunity to meet and chat with members of the Islamic community as well as to hear from guest speaker Heidi Seyrekbasan.

Seyrekbasan, a long-term resident of Bundaberg, said the aim of the day was to raise awareness about what Islam actually was, to dispel any misrepresentations, and break down stereotypes.

“There are Muslims all over Australia in every single community and you have to realize that they are not a threat to this country, because we live in this country as well,” she said.

Seyrekbasan said ignorance about Islam came from people who have never met a Muslim and such ignorance bred fear among Australians, both Muslim and non-Muslim.

“Actually find out what a real Muslim person is all about. Just because I cover my head doesn’t mean I cover my brain.”

Seyrekbasan said many Islamic beliefs and terminology were misrepresented in the media, including the concepts of halal and jihad.

“Jihad is actually a struggle, it’s more of a personal struggle than a holy war declared on any non-Muslim,” she said.

“For me to be doing this interview at the moment is a jihad for me,” Seyrekbasan said.

The workshops also addressed myths that are commonly held about Muslims, such as the oppression of women.

“I find it insulting when people look at me and think that somehow I am oppressed by my husband,” Seyrekbasan said. “All Muslim women I know in my community are strong intelligent women, who run companies. I have a company, other Muslim women run franchises, they run farms, they are doctors, and they are bank managers. I know that I am not oppressed and I know that they are not oppressed,” she said.

She encouraged all Australians to learn what the religion really taught.

Seyrekbasan, who has lived in Bundaberg since the mid-1980s, said it was a beautiful community to live in.

She estimated the number of Muslims living in Bundaberg was approximately 100 people and it was a very diverse Islamic community, with people from Turkey, Pakistan, India, South Africa, Bangladesh and Indonesia living in the city.

She said she had not experienced a lot of racial abuse in Bundaberg, but she said the abuse did increase with media attention. “If there is a lot of negativity towards Muslims in the media, there will be a lot of negativity towards the Muslim community,” Seyrekbasan said.

Back to top

Indonesian students create halal App in Taiwan

22 Feb 2016, Taipei, Taiwan (IINA) – Two Indonesian students have created Android-based application program to help in finding halal products and services in Taiwan, Tempo Indonesian magazine reported.

The creation of Aris Kusumo Diantoro and Faisal Fahmi, both Indonesian students studying master programs at National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) Taiwan, was launched in Taipei, on Sunday.

“The knowledge regarding halal issues is still low. Muslims who visit Taiwan would be wary of Taiwan’s food and environment,” said Aris to Antara in Jakarta.

He hoped the application named “Taiwan Halal” could answer the problem faced by Muslim workers, students or tourists who need halal products and services in Taiwan.

“As Muslims, we have to do our utmost to comply with the rule of halal or haram of a product or service,” said the student who is also active in the Special Branch Board of Nahdlatul Ulema (PCINU) of Taiwan.

Aris realized that Muslim workers, students and tourists in Taiwan are often having difficulties in getting products and services in accordance with Islamic principles.

“Through the application, Muslims in Taiwan would get lots of information on halal restaurants or diners, hotels which provide halal services, mosques and Muslim communities in Taiwan. We hope that the program which can be accessed through (both) cell phones and PCs could guide them,” he said.

Faisal, the programmer, has asked for feedbacks from the application users to improve the application in providing services and information on halal issues in Taiwan.

Back to top

Iran tourism on developing trend: Vice president

Karaj, March 6, IRNA – Vice President and Head of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization Masoud Soltanifar said that Iran’s tourism is marching ahead thanks to government’s support to the industry.

Speaking at a meeting with local officials on Saturday night, he said that while other sectors of economy are experiencing a recession, the tourism industry has started its developing trend.

He welcomed the role of private sector in tourism and said it has 500 hotels under construction in the country.

Soltaniar also said that in the last two years, average number of tourists visiting Iran increased 12 percent.

‘Our forecast is that next year (starting March 21) will be a good year for tourists travelling to Iran,’ he added.

Back to top

Restoration of Bam Citadel outer perimeter completed

Tehran, March 6, IRNA – Restoration project of the outer perimeter of Arg-e Bam Citadel that was started in 2011 has been completed, the public relations office of the Cultural Heritage Organization announced here Saturday.

The Arg-e Bam, in Bam city of the southeastern Kerman Province, was the largest adobe building in the world. It is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

On December 26, 2003, the Citadel was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake, along with much of the rest of Bam and its environs.

Bam citadel has three perimeters; the two inner perimeters have already been restored in past years, while the restoration of the outer perimeter ended after four years, said Director of the World Heritage Headquarters of Bam and its Cultural Landscape, Afshin Ebrahimi.

Meanwhile, WHHB was also in charge of restoring other historic sites in its vicinity such as the Sistani House, the Grand Mosque, the Second Gate, the Stall and part of the residence area of the ruler of the citadel, he said.

According to him, the restoration of the western yard and of 70 percent of the eastern yard of Sistani House, an Iranian-German joint project, has also been finished, Ebrahimi noted.

Back to top

Iranian Foreign Minister starts East Asia tour

Tehran, March 6, IRNA – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif set out an official tour late on Saturday taking him to Southeast Asia and Oceania.

He departed for Indonesia where he will attend the extraordinary foreign ministerial meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on liberation of Palestine and Al-Quds al-Sharif.

Heading a ranking political delegation, he will also visit Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, New Zealand, and Australia.

Back to top

Manas airport staff come to work in national Kyrgyzstan headgear – kalpaks

Bishkek, March 5 / Kabar / Kyrgyzstan celebrates the National Day of Ak Kalpak – the traditional male headdress of Kyrgyz people, made of felt.

In this regard, almost all employees of the Manas International Airport came to their office in the national headgear – kalpaks, the press service of the airport reports.

Chairman of the Board of Manas International Airport JSC Emir Chukuev congratulated on today holiday. He called on the workers to support national traditions and develop a sense of pride of the Kyrgyz people for the national culture.

This unofficial holiday is celebrated in Kyrgyzstan since 2011.

The number of people, organizations and institutions that support the action to promote Kalpaks, has been increasing every year.

Back to top

Kyrgyz citizens in Germany to gather for Nooruz 2016 in Bonn

Bishkek, March 4 / Kabar /. On March 19 the Kyrgyz Club-Germany will hold for compatriots and friends of Kyrgyzstan in Bonn the spring meeting – «Nooruz 2016 in Bonn». The press service of Zamandash Association reports.

By tradition, the meeting will be supported by the Embassy of Kyrgyzstan in Germany.

The program consists of a concert of young singer from Kyrgyzstan, national competitions and games, the contest “Mister and Miss Nooruz Germany 2016” and others.

The Kyrgyz Club-Germany invites all Kyrgyz citizens from all over Europe to participate in Nooruz celebration.

The guests can taste the national dishes.

Back to top

Commentary: Reviving tourism in Egypt

3 March, 2016, Cairo, AlAhram Online – The government is pressing ahead with plans to revive and support Egypt’s battered tourism sector. On 23 February, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) launched an initiative to support tourism, similar to the one launched in 2013 but with significant amendments.

The initiative includes the deferral of debts owed by the tourism sector to the banks for a maximum of three years, according to a statement from the CBE, which added that the initiative will be valid for a year from the launch date.

The statement said the initiative came after meetings with sector representatives and in light of the tourism sector’s importance as a mainstay of the economy, being one of the country’s main foreign-currency earners.

It added that the meetings had highlighted the need to establish a special unit in the CBE that would contribute to the restructuring of the tourism sector’s debts and coordinate between clients and banks taking part in the initiative.

Elhami Al-Zayat, the head of the Egyptian Tourism Federation, praised the initiative, but said that not all the banks were cooperating in implementing it. “I’d expect more support from the banking sector because it has gained a lot from tourism,” Al-Zayat told Al-Ahram Weekly.

He praised the Ministry of Electricity for agreeing to postpone the tourism sector’s dues for six months and then allowing them to be repaid in installments over two years. However, he said that these initiatives were simply “painkillers” that will not solve the problems of the sector, even if they are much needed as support at this critical juncture.

The tourism sector has suffered since the 25 January Revolution because of the political instability that followed. It was more recently battered by the downing of a Russian plane in Sinai that killed 224 people on 31 October last year.

Egypt’s tourism income dropped to $6.3 billion in 2015, compared to $7.3 billion in 2014, with a total of 9.3 million tourists visiting Egypt last year, 600,000 fewer than in 2014.

Besides the Russian plane crash, the problems of the tourism sector have been exacerbated by Egypt’s current dollar crunch, and foreign airlines operating in the country have been unable to repatriate revenues because of the dollar crisis.

Air France-KLM said it has been unable to repatriate upward of LE100 million in revenue, and added that the delays are making it increasingly difficult to operate in the country.

Cees Ursem, Egypt country manager for KLM, told Reuters that the company is facing a “very serious” problem because the revenues are blocked at the banks, making it hard for the company to sustain operations that have to be paid in dollars. All foreign carriers have the same problem, he said.

Minister of Tourism Hisham Zazou said in a TV interview last week that negotiations are underway with the airline companies that would allow the CBE to reschedule the overdue revenues.

The murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo recently has added to the tourism sector’s blues, with Zazou saying that it has had a very bad effect on tourism. Samir Abdel-Fattah, CEO of the Red Sea Hotels Company, said the murder has “put an end” to the flow of Italian tourists to Egypt, which he said was already weak before the student’s death.

“The current crisis is the worst in Egypt’s tourism history,” Abdel-Fattah told the Weekly. He said that since the Russian plane crash, hotel occupancy rates in Sharm El-Sheikh have fallen by 90 per cent and by 80 per cent in Hurghada.

He added that many hotels in both cities have shut down as a result, and that the hotels that have remained open are operating at an occupancy rate of five per cent at most. This in turn has led to many layoffs, Abdel-Fattah said.

Al-Zayat said the tourism sector has lost some 900,000 workers since the 25 January Revolution, representing half of the sector’s workforce.

Abdel-Fattah said the sector’s losses are piling up every day, and he is not optimistic about the upcoming summer season. He said that tourists usually make reservations well ahead, but they could not do this because of the halting of flights to Sharm El-Sheikh.

Following the Russian plane downing, the UK, Russia and other countries halted flights to Sharm El-Sheikh, and there has been no indication of when the flights are likely to resume.

Abdel-Fattah is optimistic that tourism would recover, but he is not sure when it will happen. “The tourism sector may get sick, but it will never die,” he said, adding that the sector has weathered many crises in the past.

The Tourism Ministry is also expected to launch a marketing campaign for Egypt soon. The launch of the campaign was originally planned for November of last year, but was postponed following the Russian plane crash, Zazou said.

Zazou said the ministry is working to revive the sector by exploring new markets that could export tourists to Egypt, such as Morocco, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic.

During his visit to Kazakhstan this week, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi said he was looking forward to an increase in the number of Kazakh tourists visiting Egypt, and he welcomed the direct flights from the Kazakh capital Astana to Sharm El-Sheikh starting next March.

Zazou added that his ministry is also working to increase the number of Chinese tourists visiting Egypt, which increased from 61,000 in 2014 to around 115,000 in 2015. He said the ministry will ask for an increase in flights from China to Egypt in order to encourage more Chinese tourists to visit Egypt.

The ministry also signed a cooperation protocol with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) last week, with the purpose of strengthening and developing the tourism sector.

According to the protocol, the UNWTO will provide long-term technical and political support for Egypt’s tourism sector, in addition to crisis-management expertise. The agreement was announced during UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai’s visit to Cairo last week.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Rifai discussed measures to accelerate the recovery of tourism in Egypt and praised the support being given to the sector.

Back to top

Thai Labour Minister Praises Guests Worker Condition in Qatar

Doha, March 02 (QNA) – Labour Minister of Thailand Sirchai Distakul has praised the standards of Qatar’s ‘Labour City’.‘This is one of the best and most well equipped worker accommodation sites I have visited. I am extremely pleased with the standard of welfare available to workers here, the Thai minister who is on a two-day visit to Qatar said in remarks today.

Labour City is a clear indication that Qatar is determined to set the standard of worker welfare in this region’ said Minister Distakul. HE Minister of Administrative Development and Labour and Social Affairs Dr. Issa bin Saad al-Jafali al-Nuaimi said: ‘We are extremely proud of the contribution Thai nationals make to Qatar’s development and growth. As we move towards realising Qatar’s 2030 vision we look forward to welcoming more highly skilled individuals from Thailand over the coming years.’ Labour City can accommodate some 100,000 foreign workers, who come to the Gulf state to participate in its construction projects, such as those for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Labour City, which lies just 14 kilometres from Doha and covers an area of 1,100,000 square meters, is just one of seven accommodation complexes that the government is building to house almost 340,000 labour migrants.

There are over 4,000 Thai workers currently in Qatar with the Qatari Minister for Development Planning Labour and Social Affairs suggesting there should be more.(QNA)

Back to top

E-commerce gains momentum in Kazakhstan

04.03.2016 Kazakhstan’s large online shopping sites paid three billion tenge in taxes last year. However, this figure could be several times higher, experts say. The fact is that foreign companies that offer goods in Kazakhstan are not taxed, because they are located outside of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstanis make massive online purchases on Aliexpress, eBay, Amazon. With just one click, Kazakh buyers are spending money abroad, where foreign taxes are paid. Zhambyl SURAGANOV, EXPERT IN TAX LAW AND TAX ADMINISTRATION: I want to note that these online stores are not subject to taxation in the territory of Kazakhstan, as they are carrying out activities outside the republic. Nearly 140,000 people visit the largest web store Satu.kz every day. The amount of committed transactions totaled 11 billion tenge last year. However, the company doesn’t bring any revenue to the national budget, since the central office of Satu.kz site is located in Ukraine. Denis GOROVOI, DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT, ONLINE SHOP SATU.KZ: We work as a service, as retailers. The deal on the purchase and sale of goods is carried out by the company which is registered in Kazakhstan, that is, a merchant-company-merchant and the buyer, a citizen of Kazakhstan, who buys goods. We are not involved in this transaction. This transaction takes place directly between the seller and the buyer. Foreign companies are the leaders of the e-commerce market of Kazakhstan. This is the main problem. This segment needs investment support, experts say. They note that big companies are willing to invest in our market because they know it is lucrative. However, our businessmen do not yet see any return on the e-market. According to experts, Kazakhstan needs to provide legislative framework in e-commerce. But the first steps have already been made: a number of laws on information and on the regulation of trading activities have been adopted. The bill on payments and payment systems is under consideration now.

Back to top

Pakistan President launches Spring Tree Plantation Campaign

ISLAMABAD, Mar 4 (APP): President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday said trees play an important role in strengthening of national economy and help check the ill effects of the climate change. The President, who kicked off the annual Spring Tree Plantation Campaign by planting a sapling of Araucaria Excelsa here at the lawns of the Aiwan-e-Sadr, stressed the need for creating awareness in public about the importance of trees.

Back to top

“Green Pakistan” initiative to add 100 mln plants in 5 years

ISLAMABAD, March 4 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Friday approved the launch of “Green Pakistan Programme” to improve forestry and wildlife sectors in the country. The Prime Minister will lead the Green Pakistan Programme on the pattern of “Green Wall Programme” of China which will target to add 100 Million new plants all over the country in next five years.

Back to top

Pak-Tajik Trade festival in Dushanbe from April 7

LAHORE, Mar 05 (APP): Ambassador of Tajikistan to Pakistan Jononov Sher Ali Saturday said that four-day long Pak-Tajik Trade & Cultural Festival 2016 being started from April 7 in Dushanbe was a unique opportunity for Pakistani businessmen to make their trade and economic ties stronger with their Tajik counterparts besides exploring a huge market. He was talking to the LCCI Senior Vice President Almas Hyder and Vice President Nasir Saeed here at Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Cultural & Commercial Attache Marufjon Abdurahmonov were also present.

Back to top

Pak German Renewable Energy Forum to be launched soon: German Envoy

ISLAMABAD, Mar 5 (APP): Ambassador of Germany to Pakistan Ms. Ina Lepel Saturday said Pak German Renewable Energy Forum (REF) would be launched to help bring together and connect Pakistani German actors from public and private sectors of RE&EE. Speaking at an 5th International Exhibition and Conference Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, she said the German Development Cooperation had been engaged in renewable energy and energy efficiency (RE&EE) since 1962, the very beginnings of Pakistan German Development Cooperation.

Back to top

Programmes to observe Int’l Women’s Day in Rangpur

RANGPUR, Mar 6, 2016 (BSS) – Day-long programmes have been chalked out to observe the International Women’s Day -2016 in Rangpur city as well as all eight upazilas in the district on Tuesday next.

The district and upazila administrations, District Information Office, Department of Women Affairs, Social Service Department, Shishu Academy and Mohila Parishad have chalked out the programmes in observance of the day.

Besides, dozens of NGOs, CARE Bangladesh, RDRS Bangladesh, ‘Pollishree’, ‘Karmojibi Nari’, ‘Amrai Pari Paribarik Nirjaton Protirodh Jyote’, Social Equity for Effective Development (ESDO) and other organisations have taken programmes.

In addition, Rangpur unit of Begum Rokeya Forum, sociocultural and voluntary organisations, professional bodies, women and human rights organisations, educational institutions have also chalked out programmes in observance of the day.

The observance will begin with colourful rallies to be participated by hundreds of women, girls, adolescents and students, officials, sociocultural and NGO activists to be followed by seminars, advocacy meetings, discussions and cultural functions.

In Rangpur city, the district administration in collaboration with the other government and non-government organisations, including the Department of Women Affairs, will organise the main discussion in the city.

The day will be observed with renewed pledge for ending gender disparity, repression and violence against women, ensuring their emancipation in socioeconomic and political activities, governance and policy making matters to build a developed nation.

Back to top

Italy resumes direct flights to Sharm El Sheikh

Friday, 4 March 2016 – A Milan-Sharm flight arrived on Thursday 03/03/2016 in the resort city of Sharm El Sheikh for the first time in four months.

About 167 tourists arrived on board of the charter flight, said the Aviation Ministry in a statement.

Meridiana, a privately owned Italian airline headquartered in Olbia, will start operating two flights to the Egyptian city every week, the ministry said.

Back to top

South Africa’s tourism minister wraps up visit to Egypt

Saturday, 5 March 2016 – South Africa’s Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom left Egypt back home, wrapping up a three-day visit to Egypt.

During his visit, Hanekom met with a number of senior Egyptian officials, topped by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazoua.

In a statement on Friday 04/03/2016, the Tourism Ministry said the visit would boost tourism in Egypt through putting into effect a memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on exchanging expertise as well as holding joint tourist events.

The South African minister went on a tour of the Giza Pyramids, the Cairo Citadel, the Egyptian Museum in addition to the Islamic Cairo districts of Khan el Khalili and the historical Al Moez street, the statement added.

The minister voiced happiness over visiting Egypt “the Country of Culture and History”, expressing confidence that Egypt will restore its tourism status, the statement concluded.

Back to top

Egyptian consulate in Shanghai holds seminar on foreign investments

Saturday, 5 March 2016 – The Egyptian General Consulate in Shanghai held a seminar on Friday 04/03/2016 on the legislative structure related to foreign investments in Egypt.

The seminar reviewed the most prominent Egyptian laws and regulations organizing foreign investments for the representatives of 90 Chinese companies desiring to invest in Egypt.

Egypt’s Consul General in Shanghai Khaled Youssef delivered a speech on efforts of the Egyptian government to encourage foreign investments. He reviewed Egypt’s potentials that make it favorite for companies that desire to invest abroad. Youssef shed light on investment opportunities in Egypt especially in the field of renewable energy.

Back to top

Rabat to host conference on building quality culture in higher education

Rabat: 04/03/2016 – The Fourth international conference on building quality culture in higher education to be held at ISESCO headquarters in Rabat

The British Council and the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Executive Training of the Kingdom of Morocco, in cooperation with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and the Moroccan British Association, will hold the 4th session of the international conference on “Building a Culture of Quality; Nationally, Regionally and Globally”, on 8-9 March 2016, at ISESCO headquarters in Rabat.

The opening ceremony of this conference will be attended by Mrs Jamila El Moussali, Minister Delegate to the Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Executive Training; Dr Amina Al-Hajri, ISESCO Deputy Director General; Mr Abdelkrim Bennani, Vice-President of the Moroccan British Association; and Mr John Mitchell, Director of the British Council Morocco.

This event will gather together a number of experts from the MENA region, Kenya and the United Kingdom, heads of a number of universities, researchers and representatives of research organizations and quality assurance and accreditation institutions.

The conference will provide the opportunity for participating delegations to share their experiences, take stock of policies on quality assurance in the United Kingdom and their institutional impact and explore the possibility of setting up a space for exchange to enhance South-South and North-South cooperation.

The participants will discuss mechanisms for the promotion of a culture of quality, identify challenges in this area at the national and global levels, look for effective ways to develop strategies and action plans for quality assurance in education and develop new approaches to supporting higher education policies and new practices in the universities of the region.

Back to top

ISESCO to participate in presenting new literacy strategy in Mauritania

Rabat: 03/03/2016 – ISESCO to participate in national day for presenting new literacy strategy in Mauritania

The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) will take part in the national day for presenting the “National Literacy Strategy 2015-2024: for an expanded vision of literacy in Mauritania”, on 8 March 2016, in Nouakchott, capital of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

This event is aimed at presenting the executive plan of this Strategy, coordinating the efforts of technical partners and donors to contribute to its funding and promoting south-south cooperation.

ISESCO will be represented in this event by Dr Seydou Cissé, the expert at the Education Directorate.

Back to top

Azerbaijan President meets head of UN World Tourism Organization

Baku, March 5, AZERTAC – President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization Taleb Rifai.

UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Refai recalled his previous visits and meetings with President Ilham Aliyev. He hailed the fact that a range of issues discussed during the meetings, including work on visa issuance and execution of low-cost flights, are being successfully implemented under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev.

Taleb Refai said he was impressed with the beauty of Baku every time he visited the country.

The head of state recalled with pleasure his meetings with UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Refai, thanked him for supporting the development of tourism in Azerbaijan, and stressed the importance of his recommendations in this regard.

President Ilham Aliyev said tourism was always one of the priorities in Azerbaijan, adding the country`s fruitful geographical location, its beautiful nature created good opportunities for developing tourism industry.

The head of state stressed the significance of tourism in ensuring the financial flow to the country and creating new jobs amid the global economic crisis, adding that reforms in the field of tourism were continued in the country. The head of state expressed his hope that as a result of work done the number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan would increase.

They exchanged views on the issues related to the expansion of tourism services, coordination of tourism with other fields of economy, and improvement of tourism infrastructure in Azerbaijan.

Back to top

Baku to host Fashion Week in May

Baku, March 4, AZERTAC – Production Centre of Hafiz Aghayev, the exclusive owner of the Azerbaijan Fashion Week and Baku Fashion Week brands, will soon halt the activity of the first brand, Head of the brand Hafiz Aghayev told a press conference.

‘Since this momentous event requires a new level of organization, the Baku Fashion Week has decided to combine the experience and efforts with FMS Models agency and ID Fashion TV,” Aghayev said, pointing out that cooperation will be aimed at promoting Azerbaijani designers in the world, supporting the development of the fashion industry in the region, and improving cultural exchange between countries.

Head of FMS Models agency Lubov Gutorova, CEO of a worldwide ID Fashion TV Vasily Klimchuk and Hafiz Aghayev also provided an insight into the upcoming grand fashion events, including the Baku Fashion Week, scheduled for May 13-15. According to organizers, the Baku Fashion Week will be held twice a year – in May and November.

Back to top

Azerbaijan to open tourist office in Istanbul

Baku, February 29, AZERTAC – The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan keeps on taking measures on active promotion of country’s tourism potential abroad. A tourist office of Azerbaijan will soon appear in Turkey’s Istanbul, the Ministry stated.

Tourist office will be opened in order to popularize and promote the country’s tourism opportunities.

In this regard an agreement was reached between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan and the company ‘Gateway’, operating in Istanbul.

The official opening of the tourist office will be held on February 29.

The Azerbaijani tourist offices are already operating in the UAE and Germany for several years. In Russia such an office started to work on February 24 current year.

Back to top

120 exhibitors expected at International property business show in Oran

ORAN (Algeria) 05 March 2016 Algerian Press Service – Some 120 exhibitors are due to take part in the 15th International show of property business, town planning, construction, building material and civil engineering, to be held Monday at the exhibition center of Medina Jdida, Oran (432-km west of Algiers), organizers said Saturday.

Held under the theme “Big Challenge, Let’s Build Together the Future,” the show will be an opportunity for Algerian professionals and foreign participants from Tunisia, France, Italy, Turkey, Spain and Belgium to meet and shed light on their products and services, according to the general manager of the International Company for Exhibitions (SOGEXPO), Zoubir Ouali.

The 15th edition, to run until March 12, will be an opportunity for “exchange of experiences between Algerian and foreign professionals, acquisition of new techniques and exploring partnership opportunities.”

The economic event, organized in collaboration with Oran’s economic and commercial fairs firm, will allow exhibitors to make known their housing projects.

It will also be an opportunity to shed light on the assets of the country’s west in real estate, public works, construction and promotion of building material.

Back to top

Cycling Grand Tour of Algeria flags off

ALGIERS, Algerian Press Service – The caravan of the Cycling Grand Tour of Algeria (GTAC-2016) took departure Saturday from Zeralda (Algiers), with the participation of 16 teams representing 11 countries, over a total distance of over 3500Km.

With more than 90 cyclists, the GTAC-2016 will go through 28 provinces of the country, until March 28th.

Algeria will be represented by six teams: the Algerian National Team, Team Ooredoo, Team Cevital, Club MAJD, AS National Security (ASSN) and Club Sovac.

This 6th Tour includes 22 stages with ten events in six key cities namely: Algiers, Blida, Setif, Constantine, Annaba and Oran.

The cyclists will rise from Zeralda to Ain Defla, the first stage of the International Tour of Oran, the second event of GTAC-2016.

The Cycling Grand Tour of Algeria 2016 includes International Tours of Oran, Annaba, Constantine, Setif and Blida.

Back to top

Saharan tourism: 1st “Raid des Reines” car race kicks off

ALGIERS, Algerian Press Service, 04 March 2016 – The caravan of the 1ST edition of the “Queens Raid” car racing kicked off Friday from Cheraga (Algiers) to Tamanrasset and will last until March 11.

Twenty-two (22) women take part in this event meant to discover the great Algerian Sahara, aboard 12 cars (pilot and co-pilot).

According to the chosen route chosen spanning on an overall distance of 2200 km, women crews will go through the towns of Djelfa, Ghardaia, El Golea, In Salah and Moulay Lahcène, before arriving in Tamanrasset, project manager within the organizer of this event Youcef Hanou said.

Besides the competitive aspect, “this race aims to promote Saharan tourism,” Hanou said.

The “Raid des Reines” racing is organized by “NSO Organization” and “M’Zab Tour” under the aegis of the ministry of National Planning, Tourism and Craft Industry and the province of Tamanrasset.

Back to top

Festivities to wrap up Constantine, capital of Arab culture event

CONSTANTINE, 02 March 2016, Algeria Press Service – The “Constantine, capital of Arab culture” event will be wrapped up by the organization, during three days of festivities, notably big art shows, said Wednesday Prefect Hocine Ouadah.

The first day of cultural festivities will be hosted by the stars of Constantine, the second by stars from all over Algeria and the third day, which will coincide with the official closing of the event on 16 April, will see the participation of international artists from the Arab world and elsewhere, the same official told APS after inspecting development projects.

In parallel, an important colorful parade bringing together hundreds of young men which will tour across the main streets of the city will be also organized to create a climate of popular celebration in the Old Rock city.

The closing of the event will also be marked by the inauguration of several infrastructures, like the Didouche-Mourad hospital, the Benabdelmalek-Ramdane Stadium, the annexes of the house culture and sports halls

Back to top

Abu Dhabi cements flying credentials with launch of inaugural aviation and aerospace week

ABU DHABI, 5th March, 2016 (WAM) — Abu Dhabi, the leading aviation industry playmaker in the region, today launched the first-ever Abu Dhabi Aviation & Aerospace Week (ADAAW), which runs until 12th March, 2016.

The landmark event is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Six key aviation sector events will take place throughout the week, commencing today with the second Unmanned Systems Exhibition & Conference and the first Simulation Conference & Exhibition. The week continues with the third Global Aerospace Summit, the fourth Abu Dhabi Air Expo, and the first Middle East Aviation Career Conference & Exhibition before an adrenaline-pumping finish with the Red Bull Air Race.

“Abu Dhabi Aviation & Aerospace Week cements the central role Abu Dhabi Emirate plays as a hub for stakeholders across the regional and global aviation industry to share key insights, best practices, and catalyse new relationships,” said Mubarak Al Shamisi, Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau Director, a division of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), a key organiser for the week.

The Unmanned System Exhibition & Conference, which opens its doors today through to 8th March, is a novel opportunity for manufacturers, suppliers, and operators at the forefront of innovative unmanned technology to establish connections across the aviation sector.

At the same time, the inaugural Simulation Conference & Exhibition showcases the latest developments in defence and civilian simulation systems, featuring a dedicated space for businesses focused on defence training and development. Both events are held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

From 7th – 8th March, ADNEC will open another of its conference halls to host the exclusive Global Aerospace Summit, which will see 1,000 senior executives, senior decision-makers, and government officials spread throughout the aerospace, aviation, defence, and space sectors as they discuss and develop an innovative path forward.

The second half of ADAAW is then set to continue with Abu Dhabi Air Expo 2016 and the Middle East Aviation Career Conference & Exhibition. The former expects to attract 15,000 guests as the latest in general and business aviation is showcased on the tarmac of Al Bateen Executive Airport alongside 250 exhibitors and 100 aircraft on display. The latter, meanwhile, will bring leaders from across the industry alongside over 1,000 students to discuss workforce-related progress.

Abu Dhabi Aviation & Aerospace Week then comes to a thrilling close with the opening leg of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship along the Corniche, which features a world-class line-up of 14 pilots who endure forces up to 10 times the strength of gravity as they navigate a complex course in race planes built for speed.

Back to top

Dubai Taxi revenues reached AED 1.4 billion in 2015

DUBAI, 5th March, 2016 (WAM) — Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), has revealed that total operating revenues of the Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC) at the RTA reached AED 1.481 billion in 2015 compared with AED 1.311 billion reported in 2014.

The total profits posted by the DTC last year amounted to AED280 million compared with AED 270 million last year after deducting franchise fees paid by the DTC to Public Transport Agency against plate fees, and booking and distribution fees among others.

Al Tayer expressed his delight with the results of the performance indicators of the DTC, and stressed that the RTA would continue through the DTC, to improve its services and deliver them via smart devices. “The drive will push efforts towards customer satisfaction besides living up to the regional and global profile of Dubai in business, economic, service, financial, real estate, and tourist sectors among others,” he said.

He also said that DTC has carried out about 47 million trips in 2015 at an average of 129,000 trips per day compared with 46 million trips recorded in 2014. Last year the DTC lifted about 94 million riders compared with 92 million riders in 2014.

Back to top

270,067 Tourists Arrived In Bahrain From Feb 25 To Mar 2

MANAMA, Bahrain, Mar 3 (NNN-BNA) – The Assistant Under-secretary for Ports, Search and Follow-up, in the General Directorate of Nationality, Passports & Residence (GDNPR), Bahrain, on Thursday, said, 270,067 people had entered Bahrain between Feb 25 and Mar 2.

He added, 220,350 travellers arrived from Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries via the King Fahad Causeway, 45,328 through Bahrain International Airport and 4,389 through the sea ports.

The 25-kilometre stretch of the King Fahad Causeway, the first man-made terrestrial link between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, was opened on Nov 26, 1986. It has ever since been used by millions of travellers and vehicles, making it one of the busiest traffic areas in the Arab world.– NNN-BNA

Back to top

OIC Workshop on Advanced Technologies for Digital Inclusion and Inclusive Broadcasting

04/03/2016 – The Organization of Islamic Cooperation co-organized and supported convening of a session on Advanced Solutions for Inclusive Broadcasting at the Digital Broadcasting Symposium (DBS) 2016 and a Regional Training Workshop on Advanced Technologies for Digital Inclusion with the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) respectively on 3rd and 4th March 2016 at Istana Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

A two-member delegation from the OIC General Secretariat participated in these two events. OIC sponsored participants from Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maldives, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Brunei, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, which are OIC member states, to attend the Digital Broadcasting Symposium and the Regional Training Workshop.

The DBS 2016 was officially opened by the Malaysian Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Dato’ Jailani Johari, who delivered a keynote speech in which he said that during the last twelve years, the ABU DBS has offered a unique opportunity for broadcasters in the region to share expertise and experiences, noting that broadcasters should be aware of consumers’ needs and demands which determine the market and shape the whole industry.

The Deputy Minister also launched the exhibition held in parallel with the DBS 2016. The ABU Secretary-General Dr. Javad Mottaghi presented a welcoming address highlighting the importance of going on different digital platforms so as to reap the benefits of the digitally connected era through innovative and creative content.

The first event which was co-sponsored by the OIC was in the form of a session to address the theme of Advanced Solutions for Inclusive Broadcasting. Mr. Aqeel Qureshi who is the Techbility Founder and CEO moderated the session.

Five panelists representing media and broadcasting organizations addressed the audience with informative presentations on the subject of the session. The panelists were: Ms. Akiko Azuma from NHK Japan who discussed Automatic Sign Language Animation System for Weather News; Ms. Natalia Ilieva the Executive Assistant to ABU Secretary-General who talked about Smart Village of the Future; Mr. Yunhyoung Kim from the Koran Broadcasting System who made presentation on File-based Closed Captioning System without Captioning Delay; and Mr. Shoei Sato from NHK Japan who made a presentation on Real-time Automatic Captioning System with High Efficiency.

The second event which was also co-sponsored by the OIC was a one-day regional training workshop on Advanced Technologies for Digital Inclusion. The workshop was held to achieve two objectives. First, to familiarize the participating broadcasters, international organizations and NGOs with existing advanced technologies to provide equal accessibility to broadcast services to women, persons with disabilities, elderly and extremely poor people.

The second objective was to harness opinions and ideas in order to develop applications to use ABU Radio-in-a-Box module for Smart Village concept. During the workshop media specialists discussed the topics of Ecosystem for Disaster Warning Relief, automatic sign language generation systems developed by some ABU leading member organizations, and Smart Village concept.

These two events were held in partnership between the OIC and ABU in implementation of the Memorandum of Agreement signed by the two organizations in 2015. The agreement laid the foundation for furthering cooperation on a number of issues, including media training, awareness campaigns on women and child health care and disaster management.

OIC sponsorship of the events was also in fulfillment of the Organization’s objectives to expand collaborative partnerships with regional and international organizations and to increase OIC visibility internationally.

Back to top

Ancient underground city in İzmit excites archaeology world

ISTANBUL, TurkishPress, March/04/2016 – A new excavation process will start in April in northwestern Turkey, where officials believe a huge ancient palace lies underground

Work to unearth the remains of an ancient city, discovered in northwestern Turkey during the removal of debris after the massive Marmara earthquake of August 1999, are due to begin in April.

During works to remove the debris of collapsed buildings after the earthquake, a number of historical artifacts were found underground in the İzmit province’s Çukurbağ district. Later on sculptures, building blocks and column stones were also found during construction works in the earthquake zone.

Among them was a giant headless sculpture of Heracles, which is now on display at İzmit’s Ethnography Museum. This very important piece was treated as garbage by the buildings’ owners, who threw it away out of fear that the construction would be halted. After being informed about the sculpture, however, İzmit Museum officials took the sculpture under protection.

A headless and legless Athena sculpture and a panel featuring the Roman emperors Diocletian and Konstantin embracing each other were also among the findings.

Officials then realized the existence very close to the surface of a huge palace-like structure, an ancient underground theater, and huge tunnels that extend as far as the İzmit Gulf.

Following these discoveries, the İzmit Provincial Cultural Directorate surrounded the region with wire fences and took it under 24-hour protection with private security guards.

Speaking ahead of the start of excavations, İzmit Museum Directorate head Rıdvan Gölcük said many Turkish and foreign archaeologists and researchers had applied to them to be involved in the works. Gölcük added that a large meeting would be held this month on the excavations.

“The Heracles statue was found in 2001 in Çukurbağ. Then a short-term excavation was carried out in the neighborhood. Following the expropriation process, further excavations were carried out in the same place in 2009 and unique artifacts were found. Among these artifacts, the panel of the Roman emperors was very important. It was made after the Romans won a victory against a Gothic invasion,” he said.

“Geo-radar work will be carried out in this field for the first time to determine the underground cultural artifacts there. We will start excavations in April. There is a massive monumental structure here and the archaeology world is very curious about it. The excavations will be headed by the Kocaeli Museum under the consultancy of Tuna Şare and his team from the Kocaeli University. This project is also supported by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK),” Gölcük added.

The Foundation for the Protection and Promotion of the Environment and Cultural Heritage’s (ÇEKÜL) Kocali representative, Numan Gülşah, said houses had been built on this area of the Roman Palace, while the underground structure covered a huge area of 60,000 square meters.

Gülşah, who is also the head of the Nicomedia Academy Association, said İzmit was named Nicomedia in the ancient era and was the capital of Rome from 284 to 330. The palace there was built by Diocletian.

“My family has lived in this area for 300 years, but I had to leave my damaged home after it was damaged during the Marmara earthquake. We don’t live there anymore … But many people living here are unaware that they have been living on a huge palace for centuries,” he said.

Back to top

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar to get total facelift

ISTANBUL, TurkishPress, March/05/2016 – The restoration of the historic Grand Bazaar in Istanbul’s Fatih district is ready to take off, as a five-year-long renovation project in the centuries-old covered market has reached an end.

“We are starting the restoration from the most controversial place, from the roof. The overall restoration will take 10 to 20 years. But the roof will be finished this summer. We will preserve the current structure and the spirit of the Grand Bazaar,” Fatih Mayor Mustafa Demir told daily Hürriyet on March 4.

Citing the renovation project, which started in 2009 and ended in 2014, Demir said miracles were performed over the five years. “Normally it would take some 30 years for a project of a historical artifact this big to be prepared, evaluated by the rapporteurs, presented to a board and passed by that board. We told about the importance of this project to the Culture Ministry,” said Demir, adding that the tender for the renovation of the roof, which will cost 12 million Turkish Liras, will be opened in March.

“Our main objective is to protect the Grand Bazaar from rain, humidity and other external factors. Within the preservation board’s approved project, waterspouts will be changed as rain water will be taken underground via the waterspouts… The roof will be a tiled and hipped roof. There will be walking paths (on the roof) called ‘cat paths’ but tourists will not be able to go up to the roof… the Istanbul Waterworks Authority (İSKİ) will spend 35 million liras for the infrastructure work. There will be central heating and no air conditioners, TV antennas and toilets. Everything will go under the surface (of the roof),” Demir said.

Saying they first “took an X-ray of the Grand Bazaar and then diagnosed it,” Demir added there have been cracks and fractures found on the load-bearing walls, as waste water from cafes and restaurants was directed into the soil instead of being connected to sewers, and that there were even basements in the one-story building.

“There is no need to close down the Grand Bazaar for the restoration. We are going to implement symptomatic treatment… We are going to intervene in the parts we notice during the project,” Demir said adding that the biggest visible problem was the cables and lightning apparatuses. “Everybody did something for themselves. We are changing the illumination system, which uses very big cables. Instead, we are developing a system that would require less energy and fewer cables. The artisans will work and trade just like they used to do for centuries. They will leave their products outside without blocking the way for tourists to walk. We are going to preserve the Grand Bazaar with its spirit,” Demir said.

Demir also highlighted one of the biggest problems of the Grand Bazaar was its administration, as it had lots of visitors and users but had no owner. “If a window gets broken, there was no one to collect money and get it fixed. It consists of 2,700 independent parcels and is an autonomous area. It was not possible for them (shop owners) to come together and take a decision. It is 95 percent private property, as foundations, the municipality and the treasury have shares. On Jan. 17, with an election observed by the district election board, an administration of 13 people was formed,” said Demir.

Back to top

Istanbul Theater Festival program announced

ISTANBUL, TurkishPress, March/04/2016 – The 20th edition of the Istanbul Theater Festival, organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), will take place from May 3 to 28. The festival will once again offer theatergoers an extensive program, featuring a range of plays, dance shows and performances from Turkey and abroad, as well as parallel events.

This year the festival will present a total of 32 performances, nine from abroad and 23 from Turkey, in 25 different venues, as well as 18 parallel events. It will see the Turkish premiere of 21 local productions as well as a world premiere of one international production.

The event will also feature a number of free talks, performances, symposiums, exhibitions, master classes and workshops with the participation of well-known guests and experts.

This year, the festival’s first honorary award went to actor Metin Akpınar and the second one to actress Şahika Tekand.

The festival’s final honorary award will be presented to the Berliner Ensemble.

As part of the Istanbul Theater Festival, a special platform will be organized for international theater professionals from May 19 to 22. This platform will be joined by members of the international network for playwrights The Fence and of the network for theater translators Eurodram.

For its 20th edition, the festival is launching a new project titled Dance Platform. Within Dance Platform, professional dancers will stage short performances of their projects. In this platform aimed at professional guests of the festival from abroad, projects selected by Director of the Istanbul Theater Festival Leman Yılmaz and performance artists Aylin Ersöz and Tuğçe Tuna will have chance to be seen by professionals from the world of performing arts, and particularly the world of dance.

The 20th Istanbul Theater Festival will feature nine international productions from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Iran, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland.

“The Kindly Ones,” “Secret Face,” “Hate Radio,” “Ham Havâyi,” “Zululuzu,” “The Complete Deaths,” “D’Après Une Histoire Vrai,” “Needles and Opium” and “Trois Hommes Vertes” will be among these productions.

There will also be 23 plays, dance pieces and performances from Turkey. The festival will see the Turkish premieres of 21 local productions.

The opening play will be “Waiting for Godot,” one of the most important theater texts of Beckett, performed by Şahika Tekand and Studio Oyuncuları.

“Servants,” “Schizo Shakes,” “e-refugee.com,” “I Shut Down My Heart until the Apocalypse,” “Three Sisters,” “Hero’s Handbook,” “Coriolanus,” “The Moment” and “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” are other locals plays to be staged.

The festival will host free Q&A’s, performances, workshops, symposium, exhibition and master classes attended by famous guests and experts. Due to limited capacity, reservation is required for side events.

Among these events will be an exhibition “25 Years of Turkish Theater Magazine Tiyatro” to open at the Nazım Hikmet Culture and Art House.

“The 3rd International Interdisciplinary Theater Meeting,” Dance Master Class: Olivier Dubois,” “Reading Theater and Panel: The Mask and the Spirit,” “Workshop: Theater Criticism,” “Panel: The World’s Most Spectacular Theater Festival, Avignon” and “Panel: To Create Feminist Framed Stage Performance for Children and Young People” are some of the titles of the events to be held as part of the festival.

The festival performances and its side events will take place at a wide range of venues across the city. Tickets will go on sale on March 12.

Back to top

Afghan commentary: Sapling Plantation, Supporting Greenery, Islamic Obligation

Kabul (BNA), March 2, 2016 – Greenery and freshness is one of the biggest God sent gifts to which the mankind health is dependent. On the other hand greening and sapling plantation is reckoned among current benevolent activities of mankind and its perpetrator also gains rewards and compensation.

Based on religious, Islamic instructions, every one particularly Muslims should make serious efforts and focus attention in the direction of cleanness and protection of environ and enjoy this gift. Narrations say that our prophets attached high value and importance to agriculture and plantation of saplings in their eras and took part in creation of green environment and protection of environment.

Our Great Prophet (PBUH) said, “If even resurrection begins and you have a sapling in your hand, should plant it.”

Environment pollution remains direct impacts on natural quality and disastrous consequences of mankind, animals and plants life. Today, world pollution is one of the most important and dangerous humanitarian problems, as the mankind role are effective and remarkable in environmental pollution. The nature has been created for survival of human generation and it establishes uninterruptable connection between mankind and animals.

Environmental pollution is like a fire that burns wet and dried firewood. Unfortunately in our country, in the wake of devastating factional conflicts, the culture of sapling plantation has been unfading and forgotten. But in recent years due to efforts and endeavor of Kabul Municipality, millions saplings were planted every year in different parts of Kabul city.

But we should not forget that beside Kabul Municipality, we also have responsibility to support it. And make rich the lap of Kabul land with saplings and flowers, because, cleanness, freshness and beauty of a city are indicator of citizens’ good style and high culture. Talking on a sound environment, Zia Ahmad an original citizen of Kabul said,” We are called citizens of every place we live in it and have responsibility before our city and country to make efforts for its soundness and cleanness and take care of our environ. We should not procrastinate in greenery of our city and village, join hands to each other and take active part in this benevolent business. Laaya Ali, one of female countrywomen who are living in Vienna, Austria which is one of the acknowledged cities in the world and has recently came to Kabul to visit her relatives, talking on the people attention to greenery, said, “In the county in which I am living serious attention is focused on continued environmental protection. Whenever a child is born, one sapling is planted by his/her parents in his/her name. When he/she is grown up, care and irrigation of the sapling is his/her responsibility. Until last breath of life that the sapling is changed to a powerful tree, he, she should take care of it. She continued, “This high culture has caused the people regular life to be tied with greenery and beauty and nature and people exploit natural clean climate.

But in our country despite of availability of lovely climate, plenty of water and fertile lands, this culture is unfading”. In the past our country and city was unique in greenery and freshness, but alas, we should say that in Kabul some people out the saplings and trees to warm their homes or cook food. We should work beside the Kabul municipality and propagate among people observation of cleanness and environmental protection. If we leave municipality alone to clean it from down to evening, it would not be sufficient unless people don’t contribute. Keeping the face of our city clean is very importance. Taking into account the urban culture, sapling plantation and greenery is a top social priority of all citizens even in the underdeveloped countries. But in our country either the people are unaware or have lost their enthusiast in recent decades due to cultural, social reasons. It is the responsibility of media and educational centers to give systematic awareness to people.

The head of publication department, Kabul Municipality Abdul Qader Arezo said, “The Kabul municipality has been making great efforts for protection of green areas and prevention of land usurpation. We cleaned Qargha and Pul-e-Artal areas from usurpers. We establish a special female’s park in PD-11 and plan to change Pul-e-Artal area to a small garden. Saplings and tree not only cause cleanness of atmosphere but plays basic role in protection of underground waters and prevention of pollution.

Back to top

Zhwand Group Honors Youth, Govt. Officials For Meritorious Activities

Kabul (BNA), March 05, 2016 – In a ceremony held on the initiative of the “Zhwand Group”, a number of government officials and youth conferred medals and appreciated, BNA reported, adding that the ceremony was attended by the Minister of Information and Culture, Abdul Bari Jahani, State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Prof. Nabi Farahi, Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, Nasrin Oryakhel, Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Abdul Razaq Wahidi and a number of the government officials here the other day.

At the outset, Mohammad Tamim Mazlumyar, one of Zhwand Group’s official said that the ceremony was aimed to praise those who have done meritorious services to Afghan people.

Thanking Zhwand Group for their initiatives of appreciating the elites of the country, Abdul Bari Jahani, Minister of Information and Culture said that praising those who have done remarkable services would persuade others to try their bests and carry out productive activities to their society.

Speaking in the ceremony, State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Prof. Nabi Farahi said that it is immense pleasure to see there are a number of youths working hard for the welfares of their people and country. Hinting to challenges ahead of the country’s youth, in particular unemployment, the Minister of Labors, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled said that her ministry is trying its best to build capacities and provide job opportunities for Afghan youth.

Minister of Communication and Information Technology said that achieving medals and appreciations make us to further work hard and feel responsible more than ever. At the end of the ceremony, appreciation letters and medals conferred to a number of youth, government employees, including three cabinet ministers of Information and Culture, Communication and Information Technology and Labors, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled.

Back to top

Tunisia: Tunisian textile and clothing showcased in Moscow

AfricanManager – Feb 29, 2016 – Twelve Tunisian companies operating in the textile and clothing sector took part in the exhibition “Collection Premiere Moscow 2016” held from February 23 to 26.

Supervised by CEPEX, these companies represent the sectors of jeans and ready-to-wear and display their products in a national stand with an area of ​​117 m2.

A preset B2B contact program was organized for the members of the Tunisian delegation with renowned Russian import and distribution companies.

The participation in CPM Moscow 2016 was the opportunity to meet Russian textile and clothing clients and to better understand and grasp the specifics of this market. It also allowed exploring new opportunities for export and partnerships

Tunisia‘s ambassador in Moscow took the opportunity to visit Tunisia ’s pavilion and meet with the representatives of Tunisian exhibiting companies.

CPM MOSCOW 2016 truly a noteworthy Trade Show, Fair and Exhibition which will cover the topics of apparel, clothing, fashion, textile industry, Women’s wear, men’s wear, men’s clothing, knitwear and leather and a lot more.

It is likely to attract 16,000 guests. 25th Collection Premiere Moscow 2016 is organized biannual.

The Russian market has great potential; it is dominated by increasing imports with an average growth rate of 7 to 9% in recent years.

Back to top

Tunisair link to Canada will be launched May 31

by AfricanManager – Mar 1, 2016 – The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) announced that national airline Tunisair, has indicated that it intends to commence its commercial activities in Canada , on May 31, 2016.

The Tunisian airline has begun the procedures required by the Canadian authorities for the issuance of a Canadian Aviation Document (CAD), a document required for the license application to be considered complete.

The CTA announced that the national airline Tunisair has filed a scheduled international license application to operate a service between Tunisia and Canada , said the source.

This application is not complete, CTA, however, said, adding that the Tunisian airline requested an exemption from the application of section 59 of the CTA.

Tunisair was the subject of a designation by the Tunisian Ministry of Transport authorizing it to operate an air service under the terms of the agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Tunisia stated in minutes signed on February 10, 2010, the CTA says.

It added that TUNISAIR filed a document issued by the government of its state equivalent to a scheduled international license and holds regulatory responsibility insurance policy.

Therefore, the CTA announced that the license will “most likely be issued before the planned start of operation of the service on May 31, 2016”.

Back to top

“Islamic Tourism Capital for 2016 Konya” conference held in Konya

Date : 04 March 2016 Venue : Konya Turkey

Ambassador Musa Kulaklıkaya, Director General of SESRIC attended the press conference on “OIC Tourism Capital for 2016” which was held on 4 March 2016 in the turkish city of Konya. The press conference had the aim to introduce the action plan for the new OIC Tourism Capital of 2016.

Amb. Kulaklıkaya, Konya Governor Muammer Erol, the Metropolitan Mayor Tahir Akyürek and numerous officials attended the press conference.

In his speech, Amb. Kulaklıkaya mentioned that the process of Islamic Tourism Capitals started with Jerusalem’s announcement last year and underlined that Konya has many similar aspects like Madina and the Iranian city of Tabriz which were selected as Islamic Tourism for 2017 and 2018.

Amb. Kulaklıkaya said that the Organization for Islamic Cooperation tries on this occasion to move the most of its activities to Konya.

Back to top

MoU signed to Establish Islamic Financial Industry Data Repository

JEDDAH, KSA, 29 February 2016 | The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), a member of the Islamic Development Bank Group, and the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI), the global umbrella of Islamic financial institutions, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a joint project to establish the first-of-its kind Islamic financial industry data repository.

The online repository, to be named the ‘Islamic Financial Industry Intelligence (IFII)’, is aimed to be a one-stop shop for comprehensive and reliable Islamic financial and non-financial data and information. IRTI Director General, Prof. Mohamed Azmi Omar, and CIBAFI Secretary General, Mr. Abdelilah Belatik, jointly signed the agreement on behalf of the two institutions, at the IDB Group Headquarters in Jeddah.

IFII would comprise several integrated databases covering all the components of the Islamic finance industry—including banking, insurance, and social finance. In the first phase, the system will take off with a database of Islamic banking information.

IRTI and CIBAFI resolved to cooperate on this project in order to fill a vacuum created by the absence of co-located timely, reliable and comprehensive data on all aspects of Islamic finance.

IFII is expected to be a vital resource for Islamic financial institutions, policymakers, regulatory authorities, industry professionals, academics, scholars, and other stakeholders. IFII will come with state-of-the-art built-in features to allow for report generation, data visualization, and download of financial datasets.

Speaking during the MoU signing, the IRTI Director General, Prof. Omar, said, “This repository would make it easy for industry operators to get credible information to do their businesses; while academics and students would easily get the information they need to produce high-quality research in their efforts of advancing knowledge in Islamic economics, banking and finance.”

Mr. Belatik, the Secretary General of CIBAFI, said, “The partnership with IRTI will strengthen CIBAFI’s role as the ‘voice’ of the industry and advocate for the Islamic financial services industry with other international organizations, international standard-setting organizations and regulatory and supervisory authorities, as well as support its strategic objectives. IFII would be of immense benefit to CIBAFI and its members as well as industry stakeholders at large.”

Back to top

IDB to mobilize resources for the reconstruction of Somalia

Istanbul, Turkey, February 2016 – The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has committed to mobilizing resources and increasing its role in the reconstruction of Somalia.

Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, President of the IDB, made the announcement on Wednesday during the 3rd Ministerial High-Level Partnership Forum for Somalia in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Forum is the highest decision-making mechanism of the New Deal Compact for Somalia, which aims to increase the effectiveness of international aid as a way to establish economic recovery as a prelude to lasting peace and stability in the country.

The meeting, held at the Ministerial level, was co-chaired by President of the Republic of Turkey, H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson.

“IDB will work to restore basic services and intensify its role in mobilizing resources from its member countries, philanthropists and international organizations,” Dr. Ali said.

He also called for more coordination among all donors and regional partners.

Dr. Ali said that IDB is set to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and expertise through its Reverse Linkage Initiative, which focuses on institutional capacity building, project implementation, resource mobilization and Islamic Banking. He added that IDB will help establish the multi-partner Somalia Infrastructure Trust Fund.

The IDB Group has approved 89 projects in Somalia worth US $90 million for transport, education, health, drought mitigation, water and sanitation, agriculture and Islamic finance. It has also provided several scholarships for Somali students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Back to top

Nigerian President welcomes IsDB’s partnership to diversify Nigerian economy

Makkah, KSA, 26 February 2016 – H.E. President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has welcomed a proposed partnership with IDB to mobilise and channel resources for the diversification of Nigerian economy. The Nigerian President stated this on Thursday when he received the President of IDB Group, Dr Ahmad Mohamed Ali, who paid him a courtesy visit at the Royal Guest House in Makkah.

Dr. Ahmad Ali told President Buhari that IDB is ready to work with the government of Nigeria in the areas of education, solar energy, and agriculture. Dr. Ali added that the bilingual education programme which IDB discussed during the visit of the representatives of Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF), is one of the solutions against the insurgency bedeviling the Northeastern part of Nigeria.

“IDB is willing to organize a program of support in partnership with Arab donors, especially Arab Coordination Group in order to diversify the Nigerian economy”

“The bilingual education programme is one of the easiest ways to make the children attending madrasas to participate in the economy” he added.

In his response, President Buhari stated that educational development is weaker in the northern part of Nigeria, but there is need to improve the state of education in the whole of Nigeria.

The Nigerian President further told the IDB President that there is need to improve facilities in Nigerian schools especially in science education and teacher training, therefore, he welcomes IDB’s support in that regard.

President Buhari added that with the collapse in oil prices, and the attendant demise of the petroleum sector, Nigeria has to develop agriculture to establish food security, which will build confidence in the nation itself.

President Buhari told the president of IDB that Nigeria has a large absorptive capacity, and therefore any contribution by donors will be appreciated.

In his remarks, the IDB Vice President (operations), Dr. Mansur Muhtar, stated that IDB is ready to strengthen partnership with Nigeria and contribute towards its economic and social development.

Dr. Muhtar added that already there are ongoing projects in Nigeria being financed, and IDB is ready to strengthen its engagement with the country including through scaling up support.

He also told the Nigerian President that IDB through its private sector arm, is providing lines of credit and equity financing to support the growth of SMEs. In addition the bank’s trade financing facility has contributed over US$400 million to date in supporting trade in Nigeria, and these activities will be enhanced.

Back to top

ITFC Finances Mali’s Electricity with a EUR30 Million Agreement

February 25, 2016 – The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group, signed a Eur30 million Murabaha Agreement with the Government of Mali and EDM (Mali’s National Power Company) as Executing Agency to secure the country’s electricity supplyThe Agreement was signed by H.E. Dr. Boubou Cisse, Minister of Economy and Finance (IDB Governor for Mali) and Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, Acting CEO of ITFC.

This agreement aims at supporting the import of petroleum products, and electricity, for the sole electricity producer in the country and thus support Mali’s supply of power for all end users (households, retails clients, businesses…etc.). The Energy sector is a significant driver of economic activities and supports other key industries such as manufacturing, agriculture and services.

Commenting on the signing, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol said: “This financing will contribute to intra-OIC trade and South—South cooperation as EDM is importing electricity from neighboring member countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mauritania) and some of the refined petroleum products from other member countries.”

Electricity is a critical energy component for the social and economic development of Mali. Moreover, this facility shall have a positive impact not only on power production but also, indirectly, on employment, as the electricity availability is essential for social wellbeing and overall stability of the country.

Back to top