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14 Mar, 2016

“Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan” opens at The Smithsonian

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 14 March 2016 (05 Jumaada al-Akhir 1437). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.

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A WORD FROM MY SPONSORS: TOURISM MALAYSIA

MALAYSIA LAUNCHES E-VISA FOR CHINESE TOURISTS

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

For more information about what makes Malaysia one of the most popular destinations in the Islamic world, as well as on planning your next holiday or MICE event in Malaysia, please click: http://www.malaysia.travel.

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

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

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

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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.

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STORIES IN THIS DISPATCH. PLS CLICK ON ANY OF THE HEADLINES BELOW TO GO DIRECTLY TO THE STORY

Largest Muslim Halal Trade Fair In Malaysia From March 30 To April 2

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian International Halal Showcase (MIHAS) 2016 is returning for the 13th year this 30 March till 2 April 2016, promising yet another memorable and impactful event. MIHAS 2016, organised by Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), will feature two main components – a trade fair and an International Sourcing Programme (INSP).

The annual event which will take place at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) offers a trade fair showcasing participation of companies supplying various products and services such as Halal consumables, Non-food products & services, food packaging, machinery & catering equipment, Islamic investment, banking and Takaful. A total of 640 booths will be set up and over 25,000 visitors are expected to attend the event.

A total of 26 countries from the ASEAN region, Middle East, South Asia and Europe will be participating in this world’s largest Halal trade event. “Malaysia has earned an international recognition as one of the pioneers in the global Halal marketplace. The Halal ecosystem is well developed in Malaysia, and this is a strong catalyst for the huge growth in the industry,” said MATRADE’s chief executive officer Dato’ Dzulkifli Mahmud.

MIHAS 2016 will highlight the enormous potential in the global Halal market and supports local Small and Medium Enetrprises (SMEs) to expand into new frontiers. “Halal certified Bumiputera companies are a major contributor to the industry. Last year, MIHAS saw the participation of 108 Bumiputera companies. We hope to see this number increase significantly this year with more Bumiputera SMEs exhibiting their products at MIHAS”, added Dato’ Dzulkifli.

In effort to accelerate sales of Halal products and services from Malaysia, the INSP will be organised a day before MIHAS 2016 trade fair commences – 29 March 2016. INSP is a business matching programme for Malaysian companies and was previously known as the Incoming Buying Mission or IBM. The sourcing programme aims to match 500 Malaysian companies with over 350 buyers from 41 countries.

Last year, the business matching programme had successfully generated RM443.2 million of sales while the sales from the trade fair were RM655.8 million, bringing the total sales of MIHAS 2015 to RM1.1 billion. With an interplay of various external factors in the global economies, these figures are expected to increase by 2 per cent this year.

The contribution of Halal exports to Malaysia’s economy continues to grow, reaching an estimated RM42 billion in 2015, creating 200,000 jobs and supporting 800 SMEs to-date. The Halal agenda is very much part of the Government’s policy to promote the growth and development of Malaysia.

MIHAS 2016, organised by MATRADE, is part of the World Halal Week (WHW), a brainchild of Ministry of International Trade & Industry. Besides MIHAS 2016, other components of the WHW are World Halal Conference 2016 organised by Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) and Halal Certification Bodies Convention organised by Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM). The brings together industry players and Halal experts from all over the world. It also embodies Malaysia’s aspiration to be the main driver in creating a dynamic ecosystem for the Halal industry for the world players to draw inspirations from.

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Chinese Tourists Regaining Confidence In Malaysia After MH370 Disappearance

JOHOR BAHARU, Malaysia March 14 (NNN-Bernama) — Chinese tourists are slowly gaining confidence in traveling to this country after Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 vanished two years ago.

Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) secretary-general, Mint Leong said the Chinese tourist confidence level could be seen from their increasing number entering the country via the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link (Linkedua).

“This year, we see the trend changing with Chinese tourist arrivals in this country increasing to as high as 80 to 200 buses daily, through the Second Link, especially during public holidays,” she said.

She was speaking to reporters after visiting the Sultan Abu Bakar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex here Sunday, accompanied by Johor Tourism, Trade and Consumerism Committee chairman, Tee Siew Kiong.

Saturday, a massive congestion lasting four hours occurred at Linkedua, caused by heavy inflow and outflow traffic, including 180 buses ferrying 7,200 Chinese tourists.

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Penang Airport Uplifts Guest Service Via Standard Paging Board Procedures

PENANG, 01 March 2016 – Penang International Airport (PIA) is uplifting the guest reception service through the implementation of standard paging board procedures for all tourism related agencies including associations, hotels and individuals who are involved in guest reception at PIA. These parties are required to abide to the standard procedures upon receiving their guests at PIA, effective today, 1 March 2016.

The main objective of the implementation is to ensure the smooth and systematic process of guest reception at PIA. This initiative is part of Malaysia Airports’ aspiration to improve passenger service levels at the airport and also to further enhance Malaysia’s reputation among tourists visiting the country. The implementation of this initiative is to ensure that passengers will be picked up by the legitimate parties with whom they have made prior arrangements.

Among others, the procedures would include the use of a standard paging board template by the relevant parties so as to ensure that these legitimate parties will be easily identifiable by the airport authorities and the public.

In kicking-start the initiative, a paging board counter has been setup at the Arrival Concourse which will be managed by Koperasi Pemandu Limo (KOPLIMO). This standard paging board initiative is a collaborative effort between Malaysia Airports and KOPLIMO with the support from Penang State Tourism, relevant government agencies such as Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD), Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ), Polis DiRaja Malaysia (PDRM) and also Persatuan Teksi dan Limo (PPLT). Malaysia Airports is confident that the implementation of standard paging board procedures will ensure a joyful experience for passengers travelling through PIA.

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8th MIMA International Conference on the Straits Of Malacca set for 25-26 April

The 8th MIMA International Conference on the Straits of Malacca (SOM) will take place in Kuala Lumpur on 25 and 26 April 2016. The conference is an important avenue forthe stakeholders of the Straits to meet and discuss issues relating to various issues on the Straits of Malacca. In the past it has also served as an avenue to generate new ideas on the management of the Straits and to promote cooperation among the stakeholders.

This year’s Conference theme is “Revolving Regional Issues and Their Impact in the Straits of Malacca”. It is intended to analyse the current situation in the Straits and develop future perspectives on the governance of the Straits from all viewpoints including geopolitics and security, maritime connectivity and safety of navigation, economy, marine environmental protection, and maritime cooperation between Littoral States and User States.

This will provide the basis for future discourse on the Straits especially when cooperation has entered into a new and more inclusive phase belying the continued increase in traffic volume in the Straits of Malacca.

SOM 2016 will be a platform for speakers from the littoral States namely Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia as well as other States to discuss and gauge their perspectives on various issues and address the comprehensive recommendations with objectives as follows:

► To provide a platform to discuss the issues pertaining geopolitics and maritime security in the Straits of Malacca;

► To discuss new economic opportunities and factors that may affect the economic growth of littoral States of the Straits of Malacca;

► To provide updates and new information on safety of navigation and cooperation in the Straits of Malacca and discuss ways to sustain cooperation;

► To provide a platform to discuss the environmental issues in the Straits of Malacca; and

► Panel Discussion to provide recommendations as a Way Forward in the management and governance of the Straits of Malacca.

For registration please contact: Ms. Ida / Mr. Ismail at +603-21612960 or som@mima.gov.my. Registration Deadline: 20 April 2016

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Malaysia: Sarawak State To Have Direct Hong Kong-Sibu Flights

SIBU, Sarawak state, Malaysia March 14 (NNN-Bernama) — The Sarawak state Tourism Ministry will establish directflights from Hong Kong to Sibu to increase tourist arrivals to the state’s central region soon.

Chief Minister Adenan Satem said this after the state government signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Hong Kong Airlines earlier this year.

He said the twice-a-week, Hong Kong-Kuching-Hong Kong direct flights were expected to begin next month.

“This is in line with Sarawak’s open sky policy inviting interested airlines to have direct flights to the state,” he said in a speech read by state housing and tourism minister Amar Abang Johari at the launch of Visit Sibu Year 2017 at Dataran Sibu here Satyrday night.

Adenan said Sibu was the main entrance to the central region of Sarawak,boasting of various tourist attractions comprising Kapit, Sarikei and Mukah which had tourism potential not fully explored and developed.

“Sarawak’s central region is rich in culture, nature, adventure, heritage and history,” he added.

The chief minister also announced an allocation of RM200,000 from the state government to the committee in charge of ‘Visit Sibu Year 2017′.

The tourism sector is a major contributor to the state economy, with a turnover of about RM9 billion with 4.5 million tourist arrivals last year.

The amount is equivalent to 13 per cent of Sarawak’s total gross domestic product (GDP) last year, said Adenan, adding that the tourism sector would also provide employment opportunities to the people of Sarawak.

He said Sarawak emphasised six initiatives to develop and promote the state’s tourism sector.

These initiatives are to gazette more forests to be used as national parks; open parks to tourists, researchers and scientists; finance the upgrading of facilities in national parks; study the suitability of an area to see tourism potential; invite foreign experts to help develop and promote the tourism sector; and, have an open sky policy inviting interested airlines to operate in Sarawak.–NNN-BERNAMA

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Malaysia Targets 30.5 Million Tourist Arrivals This Year

SIBU, Malaysia March 14 (NNN-Bernama) — The Tourism and Culture Ministry is targeting 30.5 million tourist arrivals to Malaysia this year which will generate RM103 billion in earnings for the country.

Its minister, Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the target was achievable due to the strong partnership between the government and the private sector as well as various initiatives to support the tourism industry.

He said the ministry had always focused on quality improvement and ways to develop tourism and cultural products available in the country, especially in Sarawak state.

Apart from that, he said, the target could be met through the Visit Sibu Year 2017.

“In relation to this, the people of Sibu and Sarawak can contribute significantly by being good hosts to domestic and foreign tourists,” he said.

His speech text was read by the ministry’s secretary-general, Dr Ong Hong Peng at the launch of Visit Sibu Year 2017 at Dataran Sibu here on Saturday night by Chief Minister Adenan Satem who represented Sarawak Housing and Tourism Minister, Amar Abang Johari.

Nazri said the ministry welcomed every effort to promote Sarawak state which is blessed with a rich diversity of tourism products, as a major tourist destination in the country.

Sarawak received 4.5 million tourist arrivals last year, including 2.5 million foreign tourists.

He was confident that Visit Sibu Year 2017 would meet the target set based on the detailed preparations made by the local authorities and local tourism industry players.

Also present were Sarawak state Local Government and Community Development Minister, Wong Soon Koh, Sibu Municipal Council (MPS) chairman, Tiong Thai King and his deputy Andrew Wong.

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Istanbul to host Global Education Summit 26-27 March

The Global Education Summit with the theme “New Trends in Education in the 21st Century” will be hosted by the Association of Education for the Future (GED) in Istanbul, Turkey on 26-27 March 2016.

The two day event will host the current and former ministers of education from the targeted countries, representatives from educational NGOs, universities, investors and columnists on education to share their experiences and visions on the theme.

The summit will include panel discussions to share the best practices of restructuring and reforms. “Migration and Education Policies” will be one of the important subjects to discuss during the summit.

Association of Education for the Future (GED) is a non-profit organization providing educational consultancy services for the development and restructuring of educational systems globally, focusing on the Mideast, Balkan, African and Turkic countries.

The official website of the conference is available through: http://ges.world/

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2nd International Halal Tourism Conference 2016 to be held in Konya

The 2nd International Halal Tourism Conference will be hosted at the Mevlana Cultural Center in Konya, Turkey between 03-05 May 2016.

The 2 day Conference will host over 100 delegates that span the entire spectrum of the travel and tourism and hospitality industry, from Tourism Boards, Travel Agencies, Tour Operators, Media, Hotels and Airlines Companies.

Last year’s inaugural event saw over 400 delegates visit Andalucia, Spain which brought together the global travel industry to discuss ways of tapping into this niche market. 2nd International Halal Tourism Conference aims to provide the best networking environment delegates from all over the world.

A 3 day exhibition with the participation of over 100 exhibitors from Turkey and the rest of the world will also be organized within the scope of the Conference.

The exhibition will have additional presence from Hajj and Umrah providers, financial institutions, tourism project managers and consultants as well as all those who are keen to launch their brand to the growing Muslim travel market.

The conference will focus on development of the halal tourism sector to meet the needs of the Muslim traveler. It will consist of keynote speeches, panel discussions and workshops.

The website of the conference is: http://www.halaltourismconference.com/

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Syria’s Cham Wings Airlines will fly Damascus-Tehran in April

Damascus, SANA – Cham Wings Airlines announced that it will run three flights weekly from Damascus to Tehran starting off April 3th.

The company’s commercial director Nizar Sulaiman told SANA in a statement on Thursday that they agreed with the Iranian Mahan Air to open lines between Tehran and Delhi, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to transport Syrian passengers at affordable prices.

“We hope the new Damascus-Tehran line will serve the Syrian expatriates in Iran and help in extending bridges of communication for them with the homeland,” said Sulaiman.

The privately-owned company runs flights between Damascus and each of Kuwait, Muscat, Khartoum, Baghdad, Beirut, Doha and Istanbul, in addition to internal flights between Damascus and Qamishli city in northeastern Syria.

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LEAD STORY: “Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan” opens at The Smithsonian

Kabul (BNA) March 9, 2016- A new generation of artists and artisans wants the world to know that there’s more to Afghanistan than four decades of war, destruction and rubble.

The vibrant revival is on display at a major new exhibit, Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan, opening March 5 at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington DC. What is the most outstanding element of this museum exhibit? You can touch it. Visitors are encouraged to feel the carved wooden colonnades made of Himalayan cedar from eastern Afghanistan and carved by hand.

They can hold up a wooden jali latticework windows to the light and see the patterns the shadows cast. They can lounge on the comfortable red, gold and blue cushions, toshaks, in the caravanserai, and check out more information on the exhibit iPads. They can gawk at a huge multi-design carpet whose designer “spent 6 weeks working 18 hours a day just to make the design,” says Thomas Wide, CEO of U.K. non-profit Turquoise Mountain Trust, “and that’s before we started weaving it.”

Turquoise Mountain is an immersive multi-media exhibit with videos, calligraphy, draped carpets, ceramics, emerald and gold jewelry, wood carving and jali shades, and, sailing neatly above, homemade kites. Julian Raby, Director of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery says, “It’s a story of a transformation of a place, it’s a transformation of people’s lives, a transformation, a re-vivification of the old craft traditions.”

The museum’s “building” is based on historic nineteenth-century buildings in Murad Khani, the Old City of Kabul. The woodwork was “carved by hand (with) twenty-five woodworkers working four months and the whole design is without nails, without glue,” says Wide. The exhibit’s principal sponsor is USAID who provided support to the Turquoise Mountain. That was founded in 2006 at the request of the UK’s Prince Charles and then-president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai.

“When the foundation began its work decades of war had decimated the beautiful artifacts of Afghanistan’s rich and diverse history,” said Ambassador from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamdullah Mohib. “These treasures were lost, stolen, destroyed or buried. So the job at hand was not only to rediscover the lost treasures, but also to rediscover Afghanistan’s lost identity.

Over the next nine months, 18 Afghan artists and artisans will visit Washington and go around the U.S. The first one to arrive was Sughra Hussainy, a calligrapher whose work is on display. Tired from her trip from Afghanistan, she told a crowd, “Thank you for all patrons who support me. When I first started my art, I don’t believe that one day I come to the United States. I am very happy that I am now here.”

On the wall of her niche at Turquoise Mountain is the motto, “The body needs food; the soul needs art.”

Then there are the kites. “In 2002, when I first got to Afghanistan, there was very little art,” said Donald Sampler of USAID, who first landed in Kabul in 2002. “The Taliban did not tolerate it and the civil war did not allow it. There wasn’t the opportunity for artisans to express themselves.”

“Some of the first bursts of color that I saw in Afghanistan were, in fact, the kites. That young boys and girls had manufactured them off scraps from the junkyards and trash heaps of the city.”

Fast forward to 2016 Cheryl Sobas, the head of exhibitions at the Freer Gallery, and project director for this exhibition, unpacked a box and found brilliantly colored kites, some with the (unsolicited according to Sobas) words “Smithsonian” and “Freer | Sackler.”

Those kites now hang above a large screen showing a video of kite-flying children in Afghanistan. Sobas said, “In this exhibition the focus is on the people, the people and their stories, and we want people (visitors) to have a rich experience of that. It’s meant to be interactive.”

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IDB and Mali sign US$44 million agreement to supply water to 8.5 million people

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 7 March 2016 – The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Republic of Mali have signed a US $44 million agreement for Phase II of the Kabala Water Project. The project is expected to provide drinking water and improve living conditions for 8.5 million people in and around Bamako.

The agreement was signed by IDB’s Acting President, Dr. Ahmet Tiktik and Mali’s Minister for Energy and Water, Mr. Mamadou Frankaly Keita, at IDB headquarters in Jeddah.

Once completed, the project will greatly reduce the outbreaks of cholera and other water-borne diseases. The overall project will improve water access in and around Bamako City from 60.25 per cent in 2013 to 75 per cent in 2020, and later to 80 per cent.

“This project is very important for the people of Mali,” said Dr. Tiktik. “IDB will work together with the Government of Mali to expedite implementation.”

The Acting President told the Malian delegation that IDB is “their institution”, and will do everything possible to support its member countries.

Dr. Tiktik led the IDB delegation to Brussels in 2013 for an international donor conference that mobilized €3.25 billion to rebuild Mali.

Prior to signing the Phase II agreement, Mr. Keita and Mali’s Minister of Equipment and Transport, Mr. Mamadou Hachim Koumare, visited IDB’s Vice President of Operations, Dr. Mansur Muhtar, to review IDB projects in Mali.

Dr. Muhtar noted that IDB understands Mali’s priorities and assured the delegation that the Bank is prepared to support the government’s development efforts. He said that apart from providing financing for various projects, IDB would work with other countries through the Reverse Linkage Initiative to address some of Mali’s challenges in the area of capacity building.

“IDB has been a strategic partner and has never left Mali, no matter the circumstance,” said Mr. Koumare. “That is why we are here to express our appreciation and see how we can strengthen our cooperation. The aim of our visit is to finalize discussion on the construction of Modibo Keita International Airport and propose new infrastructure projects for the consideration of the Bank. We would also like to invite IDB to participate in the technical and financial partners meeting on transport infrastructure for the reconstruction of northern Mali, to be held in Bamako from 24-25 March 2016.”

The Republic of Mali joined IDB in 1978. Since then, IDB has financed several development projects in the country totaling US $950 million.

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Tunisia: Navigation fees waiver for Tabarka and Tozeur airports

by AfricanManager – Mar 9, 2016 – The joint commission between the Ministries of Tourism and Transport met Monday as part of the implementation of decisions of the meeting, on February 3, between the Ministers of Tourism and Transport.

The commission discussed the progress of Open Skies negotiations and increasing air links with the Russian and Chinese markets.

It also reviewed the issue of exemption of Tabarka and Tozeur airports from navigation fees and related costs for ground services to enable them to schedule flights to Europe .

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Bangladesh exports to reach $60 billion by 2021

CHITTAGONG, Mar 11, 2016 (BSS) – Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed today forecast Bangladesh exports to reach US$60 billion by 2021 coinciding with the country’s 50th of independence anniversary.

“We are confident that Bangladesh will achieve this growth due to its policy, dynamic private sector, strong economic foundation and fundamentals, strategic location and, moreover because of our resilient people,” he said while opening the 24th month long “Chittagong International Trade Fair-2016″ (CITF-2016).

He added that the country’s current annual export now stood at over $31 billion and was increasing at a whopping rate of 12.5 percent per annum while “Bangladesh has set a target to take export earnings $5 billion by 2021 mainly from the Information Technology (IT) and $5 to $10 billion from medicine sectors”.

“The sole aim of this is that we want to transform Bangladesh from a labour-reliant economy to a digital one,” Ahmed said.

The minister, however, said some bottlenecks were setting back the most prospective sectors, including garments, Medicine, Leather, Shipbuilding and Information Technology (IT).

Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) organised the fair at Railway Polo Ground. “Western countries will need 2 million programmers in the next 20 years, Our country too will need a few hundred thousand programmers in the next 5 years. We will create employment opportunities for a million youths in the IT sector,” Ahmed added.

Considering the current purchasing power parity, he said, Bangladesh would not only become a mid-income country by 2021 but also be graduated from a least developed country soon, Ahmed said.

“We believe that the high growth rate of 7 percent on average is achievable in the current fiscal,”he said.

The minister called upon the entrepreneurs of the private sectors to play more proactive role to further accelerate the country’s economic growth and lift up the country’s present economic status as developed one from existing least developing position.

With CITF-2016 convenor and CCCI vice president Sayed Zamal Ahmed in the chair, the inaugural function was addressed, among others, by Housing and Public Works Minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain, MP, City Mayor A Z M Nasir Uddin, former CCCI President M A Latif, MP, CCCI president Mahbubul Alam and CCCI vice-president Nurun Nowaz Selim.

Over 450 stalls including 12 premier gold pavilions, three mini mega pavilions, eight premier pavilions, 20 standard pavilions, 166 premier mega booths, 22 mega booths were set up till to date at the fair venue.

The makeshift fair venue was built covering four lakh square feet areas of Railway Polo ground here.

Some of the leading industrial enterprises of home and abroad including China, Thailand, Iran, and India are taking part in the fair for the 5th time along with some other countries to showcase their products.

The CCCI has been organising the fair since 1993 and it got a wide range of publicity by the Bangladesh foreign missions in abroad, foreign missions in Bangladesh and different trade bodies and world famous trade based web sites.

Organisers said they expected a number of high profile trade and investment delegations from India, Chaina and Thailand to visit the fair for exploring trade and investment prospects.

The fair will be opened for visitors from 10 am to 10 pm everyday.

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Bangabandu Complex in Khulna Betar nears completion

KHULNA, March 10, 2016 (BSS) – Bangladesh Beter is set to complete construction of Bangabandhu Complex at its regional office compound in this southwestern city by the yearend, nearly two decades after the project was launched, officials said here today.

They said the complex was being developed on 16,000 square feet area inside the Betar Bhaban compound to be featured with a huge monument, a sculpture of the father of the nation, an amphitheatre, an exhibition gallery, a fountain and a green patch and garden.

Terracotta and marble stones will be used to build the structures under the project worth 8 crore being overseen by the information ministry.

Betar officials said the project was taken under the initiative of the then regional director of the state-run radio Shamsur Ali Biswas in 1997 but fund constraints upset the construction works while the project was virtually abandoned during the subsequent BNP-led four-party coalition government.

State Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Narayan Chandra Chanda, a lawmaker elected from the region, in 2009 brought to notice of parliament the state of the project, prompting authorities to take fresh initiatives to complete the project.

The directorate of architecture prepared the new design of the complex and public works department prepared its outlay.

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First Bangladesh leadership award for women empowerment

DHAKA, March 11, 2016 (BSS) – Access to Information (a2i) Programme and Microsoft Bangladesh Limited for the first time jointly have introduced Leadership Award-2016 aiming to recognize outstanding contribution in women empower campaign in the country.

On the occasion of the International Women Day, three persons were given the Leadership Award at a function in the Prime Minister’s Office on March 9. State Minister for Post and Telecommunication Advocate Tarana Halim attended the function as the chief guest.

Deputy Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam received the Leadership Award in the category “Men for women” for his valuable contribution in the combating early marriage in Meherpur district. Teacher of Potiya Upazila Mohsina Model Government Primary School in Chittagong Umme Tanjila, who visually impaired, got the award in the “Diversity and Social Inclusion” for her brilliant performance in teaching as well as developing digital content.

Jesmin Khatun won the leadership award in the category of “Entrepreneurship” for her inspiring earnings from Shuttujitpur Union Digital centre.

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Half a million people flew in Cappadocia balloons in 2015

NEVŞEHİR – Anadolu Agency, Friday,March 11 2016 – The Cappadocia region is visited by around 2.5 million local and foreign tourists every year, with around a fifth of these visitors opting to take a balloon flight.

Balloon trips are generally take flight from the Göreme district of Nevşehir province in the early morning hours, when the weather conditions are clearest. From the air tourists view Cappadocia’s stunning natural landscape including its famous fairy chimneys.

Göreme Mayor Nuri Cingil says hot air balloon flights occur on around 300 days every year, depending on weather conditions. In high season as many as 150 balloons take off each day.

“In 2014, flights took place on 319 days and 434,639 people viewed the region from the air in 26,708 balloons. In 2015 there were flights on 266 days and 498,812 people traveled in 27,775 balloons. So interest increased by 14 percent in 2015 from 2014,” Cingil said.

Cingil said Göreme is the number one place in the world in terms of the number of flights per day, adding that images of the colorful balloons were very important in Turkey’s touristic promotion.

“Hot air balloon flights generally take place in the morning hours and sometimes in the afternoon depending on reservations. Overall there are 180 hot air balloons used in the region,” he added.

“According to writers, editors and the online voting of Lonely Planet, Cappadocia is among the top places for honeymoon destinations. It has also been chosen as one of the best locations to propose marriage. We receive many demands to hold events from people who want to propose marriage in hot air balloons. This is very important for the promotion of Turkey and Cappadocia,” Cingil said.

Mehmet Dinler, the general director of a hot air balloon company in the region, said flights were canceled because of bad weather conditions on 99 days last year, with 60 days in the first four months.

Local and foreign tourists typically spend two nights in Cappadocia during trips to the region, Dinler added.

“When a flight day is canceled, guests can try on the next day. But if flights are canceled on two consecutive days, these visitors are unfortunately unable to take a balloon trip before leaving,” he said.

Dinler also suggested that the number of Chinese tourists rose considerably last year.

“The reason why the number of tourists increased in 2015 was the increase in convenience in e-visa applications for Chinese tourists. They were the locomotive of Cappadocia tourism last year, but unfortunately the situation is not the same this year at the moment,” he added.

Turkey’s tourism sector has seen a sharp drop this year amid economic trouble in its major markets, security concerns, and geopolitical uncertainty.

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German holiday bookings to Turkey recovering: Minister

BERLIN – Reuters – German travelers’ bookings for summer holidays in Turkey have started to recover and could bounce back from a hit they took after a suicide bombing in Istanbul earlier this year, Turkey’s tourism minister has said.

“We saw a strong recovery in March. We expect that we will recover the previous decline in April and May,” Culture and Tourism Minister Mahir Ünal told journalists at a news conference in Berlin on March 10.

Turkey is especially popular with German tourists, but has seen demand fall after a suicide bomber killed 12 Germans in Istanbul in January. Germany has long been the largest provider of tourists for Turkey, followed by Russia.

Last week, German travel association DRV said German summer bookings for Turkey were down 40 percent year-on-year.

The government announced an action plan on Feb. 22 to support the sector. The package included a 255-million-Turkish-Lira ($87 million) grant and several mechanisms which will enable tourism firms to restructure their debts.

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Students in Pennsylvania, US to host Islamic Awareness Week events

East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania (IINA), 10 Mar 2016 – The Muslim Student Association (MSA) at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania, USA will host a series of events from March 21 to 24, during Islamic Awareness Week, The Pike County Courier online news reported.

“We want to celebrate Islamic culture and remove any misconceptions or stereotypes surrounding our community,” Binetou Fall, a senior majoring in business management who is also president of MSA, said. “This is a great opportunity for others to learn about another culture it’s something that I hope impacts many people.”

Events for the week include learning about modern issues facing Muslims in America and a discussion on the religion of Islam. The events are free of charge.

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Indonesia’s Salim Group to invest in 500,000 acres of agricultural land in Sudan

08 Mar 2016 Jakarta (IINA) – Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir received on Monday, on the sidelines of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, a delegation from the Salim Group – Indonesia’s biggest plantation company.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed the opportunities of investment in the agro-industrial domain in Sudan.

Mohamed al Asama, the representative of the delegation, pointed out in press statement that the Group has confirmed to President Bashir its desire to invest in Sudan in the field of agro-industry. He said the company wants to invest in more than 500,000 acres of land, divided into two phases, starting with 300,000 acres in the first stage and 200,000 acres in the second one.

He said the group has sent agricultural experts to conduct feasibility studies and soil testing in two of Sudan states, in order to locate the targeted areas for investment.

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Persian language course to be launched at Algeria University

Tehran, March 11, IRNA – Dean of the Faculty of Arab Literature and Oriental Languages of Algeria 2 University announced readiness of the university to launch a course on Persian language and literature.

In a meeting with the Iranian Ambassador to Algiers, Reza Ameri, the Algerian academic Rashid Marbiei expressed his interest and that of his colleagues in the Persian culture, language and literature and remembered his visit to Shahid Beheshti University in Iran where the Iranian students expressed their interest in learning the Arabic language.

He further remarked that the university should train skilled Algerian professors in the mentioned course up to MA level in order to be able to manage the course of Persian literature for years.

Meanwhile, the Iranian ambassador pointed to the recent agreements reached during the visit of Iran’s First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri to Algeria on academic cooperation. He announced Iran’s readiness for the establishment of the Persian language course in Algeria and scientific exchanges as well as exchange of visit between academic officials of the two countries.

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Korean Air to launch direct service to Iran

Tehran, March 11, IRNA – A direct air route linking South Korea and Iran will open for the first time in four decades following the lifting of international sanctions against Tehran, the South Korean government said on Friday.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said it will give a flight license to Korean Air Lines Co., the country’s largest air carrier, to ferry passengers and air freight four times a week between Incheon, the country’s main gateway on the outskirts of Seoul, and Tehran, Yonhap news agency reported.

Korean Air, that won the license over rival Asiana Airlines Inc., is expected to start operation on the route within the year.

South Korea and Iran reached an aviation agreement in 1998 to allow South Korean airliners to run four flights of passenger and cargo planes.

But no South Korea-flagged passenger aircraft has landed on Iranian soil so far, while Iran Air had operated a Tehran-Incheon route via China’s Beijing until 2007. The airway was suspended at that time due to the international sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program.

Korean Air’s cargo planes had flown the Seoul-Tehran route in the 1970s on an irregular basis.

The South Korean government’s decision to open the direct flight route between Seoul and Tehran came as world powers like the United States and Europe have removed political and economic sanctions against Iran.

Market watchers said the route will link South Korea and Iran with populations of 50 million and 80 million, respectively, with an estimated 40,000 passengers to travel by plane every year.

‘Iran has abundant natural resources and consumers. It had been one of our biggest economic partners in the 1970s,’ the transportation ministry said in a release. ‘The opening of the direct flight route will foster business exchanges between the two countries and strengthen bilateral cooperation.’

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‘My dear mother’ exhibition opens in Astana

10.03.2016 19:40 First exhibition of art-therapy works entitled ‘My dear mother’ opened in Astana. The exhibition includes about 100 drawings of the ‘OceanArt’ school students. According to the organizers, each drawing is a psychological portrait of the child and reflects a relationship with his mother.

Tatiana Zhanyarova, Head Of Art Therapy Center said: “The children were able to tell something more. It was not just a template, as ‘my mom is good, I love her’. I think it will help mothers to understand one important thing – many moms try to be responsible and caring. But the children just need them such as they are, with all difficulties and mood sometimes they have. The main thing is that mothers are near their children. Organizers note that drawing helps children to become emotionally healthy and socially, as parents can learn a lot about the inner world of the child.”

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Azerbaijan travel and tourism expo to mark 15th anniversary

Baku, March 10, AZERTAC – This year, AITF 2016, the region’s leading travel and tourism exhibition will mark its 15th anniversary. AITF exhibition will be open to only professionals from 7-9 April and welcome all visitors on 9th of April.

Over many years, AITF has established itself as a key event and a hub for the Caspian region’s tourism industry, where important meetings are held, partnership agreements are made, and new programmes and destinations are launched.

The tourism industry is one of the country’s promising non-oil sectors. Azerbaijan’s government has always shown support for AITF. In the last few years Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, has toured the exhibition and met with exhibitors. Such attention to the industry and to the exhibition itself from the country’s government gives additional impetus to the development of business relations in the tourism sphere.

Since its inception AITF is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The exhibition is also supported by the regular participant Azerbaijan Tourism Association (AZTA) and receives endorsement from international bodies such as the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). The organisers of the exhibition are Iteca Caspian and its UK partner ITE Group.

The exhibition’s development and its role in Azerbaijan’s tourism sector are attested to by its growth in both exhibition area and exhibitors. This anniversary year will be no exception; more than 200 companies from 40 countries are planning to present diversity of tourism destinations. Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Georgia, the Dominican Republic, India, Indonesia, Iran, Montenegro, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and Ukraine will showcase tourism potential of their countries at national stands, whilst the Stavropol Krai and Jurmala will hold regional stands.

Tourism companies and hotels from Greece, Jordan, Latvia, the Maldives, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland the USA, etc. are also expected. Numerous embassies accredited in Azerbaijan and chambers of commerce are among the participants of this year. Traditionally Azerbaijan Tourism Association (AZTA) will demonstrate Azerbaijan’s tourism companies, hotels, and sanatoriums at its stand. Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the country’s regional stands will present Azerbaijan’s rich potential for domestic tourism.

As the first exhibition of the spring season, AITF will be a central platform for discussions, meetings, sharing opinions and proposals in the tourism sector. Exhibiting companies will present exclusive offers for various tourism destinations. Exhibitors will include tour companies, airlines, national and regional tourism organisation, hotel chains, real estate agencies, sanatoriums, health resorts and spa centres, sport and eco-tourism facilities.

The Medical and Health Tourism sector continues to grow offering local and international medical and health centres. In recent years, AITF has also been developing its Real Estate Abroad sector, reflecting the growing demand for property in popular resorts outside Azerbaijan.

In order to help exhibitors to take advantage of travel professionals and suppliers being in one convenient location, AITF 2016 have launched workshop, a dedicated area where participants can hold direct negotiations without intermediaries and initiate contact with leading local travel agencies of their choice through preplanned meetings.

As a platform for discussion, the exhibitions will help professionals to share experience and make useful contacts. To mark the anniversary of the exhibition, the organisers have planned an interesting programme of additional events to leave positive lasting impressions of Baku.

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Gulf region’s first Korean Cultural Centre opens in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, 11th March, 2016 (WAM) — Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, opened on Thursday Korean Cultural Centre (KCC) in Abu Dhabi, bringing the number of such centre to 29th in the world and the first in the Gulf region.

The opening ceremony was attended by more than 70 special guests from the UAE and Korean governments and art/cultural/media fields. They included Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs and Chairwoman of the Media Zone Authority, twofour54, Maryam Al Muhairi, Acting CEO of twofour54, Park Younggoog, Korean Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Kwon Hae-Ryong, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the UAE, and Park Hyo-keon, Director of the Korean Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi.

The move follows the partnership and cooperation agreement signed by the UAE and South Korea in March 2015. The deal sees Abu Dhabi as a major cultural hub in the Middle East. Abu Dhabi is the cultural hub of the Middle East and the KCC expects to be a bridge between the two countries on which to build and strengthen cooperation in the fields of art and culture.

Al Kaabi said the inauguration of the KCC in the UAE “is an important step that will further strengthen the strategic relations between the two countries and reflects common goals of the UAE and South Korea based on the development, tolerance, cultural openness, as well as cultural exchange and trade.”

She added that the new centre would introduce the Korean history and culture to the local community, welcoming the KCC at twofour54. Al Kaabi said that it would constitute a qualitative addition given its unique culture that would be a source of inspiration to others.

On the sidelines of the event, the Korea Creative Content Agency and the Abu Dhabi Media Authority signed a memorandum of understanding, which aims at developing the media performance in Abu Dhabi and supporting the strategy of the agency in the Middle East.

Under the deal, the Korea Creative Content Agency will be sending an expert who will be supporting operation of contents education programme, hosting content investment briefings and business consultations, operation of focused markets and exchange programmes to enhance Korea-Middle East cultural industrial exchanges, as well as Korean cultural contents’ overseas expansion and investment opportunities. Until now, some local companies and twofour54 have discussed attracting investment on startups with Korean content companies. There are also talks about a Korea-UAE joint drama production in the private sector.

Korean Ambassador Kwon said, “I believe the Korean Cultural Centre will not only be introducing Korean culture to the UAE, but also providing a place for both sides to communicate and create a cultural understanding with each other.”

He noted that the Emirate of Abu Dhabi hosts the biggest architectural and cultural projects, notably Louvre Museum Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi.

The Korean Cultural Centre is located in twofour54 (Building 5), which gives KCC broad networking opportunities with over 300 content and media companies within the zone. it is on the first and second floor, with a Traditional zone, Cultural industries zone, Korean crafts displays, Korean halal food zone, Seminar rooms, Cultural classroom, Library and Office area.

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Emirates Airline Showcases Sponsorship Of AC Milan At 30,000Ft And Across The Globe

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Mar 11 (NNN-WAM) – Emirates Airline and AC Milan are celebrating their partnership with the unveiling of a bespoke decal, which depicts the club’s football players in action on an A380 aircraft, that operates on the Dubai – Milan – New York JFK route.

The first flight of the “AC Milan A380,” A6EET, operated as EK0205, and touched down at Malpensa International Airport in Milan, on Wednesday, Mar 9. The decal, spanning over 500 square metres of the world’s largest passenger aircraft, shows AC Milan players, Riccardo Montolivo, Mario Balotelli, Carlos Bacca, Keisuke Honda, Alessio Romagnoli, and Mattia De Sciglio.

“As a global brand, connecting people with their passions, we are constantly looking at ways to bring people closer to their favourite sports teams. Emirates has been a proud sponsor of AC Milan for almost a decade and we are excited to showcase our sponsorship with the club around the world. We hope that the AC Milan branded A380 excites both football and aviation fans alike,” said Boutros Boutros, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Marketing and Brand.

“The sponsorship between AC Milan and Emirates continues, they are two international brands with millions of fans and customers around the world. They have built their relationship on common values such as style, elegance and innovation. The personalisation of the Emirates A380 livery with the image of our players will create a growing link between Milan and its fans and between the airline and its passengers. I’m proud and I thank Emirates for being once again on our side,” said Barbara Berlusconi, Executive Vice President and CEO of AC Milan.

From Milan, the “AC Milan A380″ continues onwards to New York JFK on the non-stop service from Italy’s commercial capital. The aircraft will continue to operate to the 37 destinations, currently served by the Emirates A380 around the world.

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Gaza Historic Monuments In Danger

GAZA, Palestine, Mar 7 (NNN-KUNA) – Historical monuments are currently in danger in the Gaza Strip, history of which dates back to 4,000 years ago; the region was once regarded as the cradle of civilisation.

The antiquities of Gaza date back to the Bronze Age, times of Islamic conquests, Roman, Rashidun rules and Arab dynasties, such as the Umayyad, Crusade, Ayyubid, Monghol, Mamluk, Ottoman, Egyptian rules, Israeli and British occupation of the strip.

It is rich in ancient tools, columns, motifs, coins, glass and pottery, from the Roman and Byzantine, Islamic and Crusade periods.

Gaza does not have a law requiring protection of archaeology, when construction happens at sites rich with artefacts.

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Afghanistan Cricket Team Beats Scotland

Kabul (BNA) March 9, 2016 – Afghanistan national cricket team has defeated Scotland national cricket team last night.

Aziz Gharwal in-charge of publication in cricket board told BNA, Afghanistan cricket team in his first game in 2016 Cricket World Cup Championship defeated Scotland last night.

Afghan cricket players start the match and with losing his 5 wickets targeted 171 runs in 20 overs to Scotland cricket team, the source added.

Scotland cricket team in 20 overs with losing his 5 wicket could not chased the given target and accepted his failure.

According to the source, Afghanistan national cricket team will face with Hong Kong cricket team tomorrow.

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Jordan Wins Award for Best Government Service Mobile App

Sheikh Mohammad the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Emir of Dubai awarded Dr. Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, Managing Director of the Jordan Tourism Board, the award for the best mobile government service application during the World Government Summit.

The award for best government service application in the tourism industry across the Arab world, was conferred upon the Jordan Tourism Board represented by Dr. Arabiyat, today the 10th of February 2016 during the events of the last day of the 4th annual World Government Summit. The event, held in Dubai between the 8th and 10th of February 2016, was attended by delegates from the international government and private sectors.

The best government service application aims to incentivize and motivate governmental parties to continue to provide innovative solutions in the field of smart phone applications including making 24 hour government services easy, simple and available. This will in turn reflect positively on the competence, transparency and effectiveness of all governmental agencies.

Dr. Arabiyat, managing director of the Jordan Tourism Board, said: “The Jordan Tourism Board is considered one of the pioneers in the international tourism sector in terms of implementing information technology, digital marketing and social media strategies in its field. This award is a result of our hard and continuous work keeping up with this fast-paced and inventive field.”

The Jordan Tourism Board is currently working on following up this win with new creative and innovative ideas to better accommodate tourists, Jordanian and international tour operators. The mobile application is currently available in English and French for Android and iOS with new languages launching soon.

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Royal Jordanian to launch Guangzhou flights March 21

Royal Jordanian will inaugurate a new regular route from Amman to the Chinese city of Guangzhou, also known as Canton, starting March 21, 2016, with three weekly flights. Guangzhou will be RJ’s second Chinese destination and the fifth in the Far East. The others are: Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.

Operating flights to Guangzhou, China’s third largest city and the largest in the south-central region of the country, is bound to serve the active trade and commerce traffic between Jordan and China.

In 2014, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport was China’s second busiest and the world’s 16th busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic; it handled over 55 million passengers that year.

RJ President/CEO Captain Suleiman Obeidat said that adding Guangzhou to the route network is in line with the strategy that RJ is now implementing; one of the pillars of this strategy is to review the route network and open new, profitable markets.

Captain Obeidat said that Guangzhou, the 56th destination on the RJ network, will be an added value to the network, meeting the demand of the traders and businessmen of the two countries, as well as to tradesmen from different neighboring countries, such as Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Palestine, especially since Guangzhou serves as a significant national transportation hub and trading port.

He also said that Guangzhou has a great potential for the tourism market, enabling both Chinese and Jordanian tourists to visit. Guangzhou is well known for its ancient civilization and exquisite nature, and Jordan boasts distinguished archaeological sites that exert a great attraction on tourists.

RJ will run flights to Guangzhou via Bangkok on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, using its wide-body Boeing 787 or Airbus 330 aircraft. The planes take off from Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, at 2:30 and reach Guangzhou at 20:15; they depart Guangzhou at 22:05 and land in Amman at 05:25 the following day, according to the winter flight schedule, with a short stop in Bangkok both ways.

As per the summer flight schedule, which starts end of March, the planes take off from Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, at 3:35 am and reach Guangzhou at 20:45; they depart Guangzhou at 22:05 and land in Amman at 6:00 the following day.

RJ customers may book their flights at any of the company’s sales offices or agents in Jordan, China and worldwide, through the airline’s booking engine at www.rj.com, through the RJ application on smart phones or by contacting the RJ call center at +962 6 5100000.

The RJ network saw the addition of four cities in the past eight months: Najaf, Tabuk, Ankara and Jakarta. It shut down others for both economic and security reasons.

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Whistle-Stop Tour Of Europe For Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Industry

13 March 2016 – Abu Dhabi, UAE: Abu Dhabi will highlight its tourism credentials as a destination of distinction when a delegation led by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) embarks on a roadshow to four European countries in four days. In a bid to build on impressive numbers of inbound tourists from the continent, the delegation will visit Milan, Italy on 14th March followed by Paris, France the next day and then Manchester, UK and finishing in Amsterdam, Holland.

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25 tourism festivals lined up for Saudi school break

RIYADH, 13 March 2016, Arab News: More than two-dozen tourism festivals are lined up across all provinces of the Kingdom for the ongoing second-term school break.

Licensed accommodation facilities are ready for the busy tourism season with tour operators providing attractive offers.

The second-term school break commences from the end of this week with Thursday being the last working day.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH), in partnership with local authorities and private partners, concluded its preparations for launching 25 tourism festivals, which will feature social, cultural, heritage, sports and entertainment events, and activities meeting the aspirations of society’s different groups, especially students, said an SCTNH official.

Giving the details of the program he said, Makkah Province will host “Zy Zaman Festival” in Taif, the Taif Rose Festival and the “Jadedak Festival” in Jeddah.

Tabuk will host the 6th Khail and Hail Festival, and the Tabuk Spring Festival, while Asir will host the Mahail Festival.

The Eastern Province will host four festivals which include the Eastern Coast Festival in Dammam, Kulana Al-Khafji Festival in Al-Khafji, the Nations Heritage Festival at the Al-Fanateer waterfront, and Al-Ahsa Festival for popular games and heritage.

Moreover, the Northern Borders Province will be hosting the Turaif Popular Festival and Falcon Competition in Turaif, while Al-Jouf Province will host the Spring Festival in Sakaka, whereas Jazan Province will host the shopping and entertainment tent at the Popular Yard and the Heritage Village event, while Najran Province will host the “We All Love the Heritage Festival” at Aba Al-Saud historic neighborhood; Hail will host the Hail International Rally at Al-Maghwat Park.

Riyadh Province will host Al-Majm’a Spring Festival for shopping and entertainment at Al-Baladyia Yard in Al-Majm’a and the 12th Riyadh Spring Festival at Celebration Yard in Al-Jazeera neighborhood in the capital.

Al-Qassim Province will host the 8th Al-Keleja Festival in Buraidah, Al-Masokaf Heritage festival in Onaizah, the 37th Al-Ghadah Festival in Onaizah and the 2nd Samin and Sameen Festival in Aglat Al-Sogor.

Madinah Province will host three festivals where Yanbu Industrial City will host the flower festival, Khaibar Municipality will host the 4th festival of popular heritage at the heritage village and the 37th Spring Festival at King Fahd Park in Madinah.

SCTNH sponsors these festivals as well as provides them with necessary technical, marketing and media support by offering detailed information on them through its toll free number (19988).

In addition, SCTNH provides support for tourism destinations, festivals and events online, and these are offered at the tourism information centers in airports and large shopping malls.

The official further said that licensed accommodation facilities and tour operators, in coordination with the SCTNH branches across the Kingdom, will provide attractive tourism offers during the break including discounted prices for accommodations and tours to a number of tourism destinations.

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Qatar Airways announces network expansion: 14 new global destinations

10 March 2016 – Qatar Airways’ Group Chief Executive, Mr. Akbar Al Baker announced a network expansion of 14 new destinations at the opening day of ITB Berlin. Five new European destinations for Qatar Airways include:

The Italian city of Pisa, starting on 2 August with daily non-stop A320-family service from Doha, will be the fourth Italian destination for Qatar Airways, joining Venice, Rome and Milan.

Service to Sarajevo (Bosnia) will start on 7 September, with three flights per week on A320-family aircraft.

Daily non-stop flights from Doha to Helsinki (Finland) will start on 10 October, offering new connections between oneworld hubs. Moreover, three times weekly service will be launched between Doha and Skopje (Macedonia) in November. Both new cities will be served with A320-family aircraft.

Qatar Airways will return to Nice (France) by summer 2017, with five flights per week with wide-body aircraft.

Qatar Airways will begin services to six new destinations in Africa:

Flights to Marrakech (Morocco) will begin in July, three times per week, on the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

Four flights per week between Doha and Windhoek (Namibia) will begin on 28 September.

Daily scheduled service to the Seychelles will resume on 12 December.

In January 2016, Qatar Airways will offer three flights per week from Doha to Douala (Cameroon) and Libreville (Gabon) utilizing one aircraft. Non-stop service, three times weekly from Doha to Lusaka (Zambia) will begin by summer 2017.

New Qatar Airways destinations in South West Pacific / Southeast Asia are:

Daily service to Auckland – Qatar Airways’ first route to New Zealand will begin on 3 December. Qatar Airways will use the Boeing 777 aircraft for this route.

Qatar Airways will begin four flights per week to Krabi (Thailand) on 6 December and three flights per week to Chiang Mai (Thailand) also in December, enhancing overall connectivity to Thailand through four gateways. Qatar Airways currently flies to Bangkok and Phuket.

Qatar Airways recently started service to Los Angeles, USA on 1 January, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE on 2 February and Sydney on 1 March. The airline will begin service to Boston, USA from 16 March; Birmingham, UK on 30 March; Adelaide, Australia from 2 May; Yerevan, Armenia from 15 May and Atlanta, USA from 1 June.

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Saudi Arabia initials civil aviation agreement with Somalia

12 March 2016, Source: Arab News – Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) signed a memorandum of understanding and initialed a bilateral agreement with the Federal Republic of Somalia.

The memorandum of understanding states that air operations between the two countries, “from” and “to” 4 international destinations to be determined at a later time by both parties. The respected carriers on each side have the right to operate 4 regular flights and seven 7 air cargo flights a week, while restricting transport right under the Fifth Freedom Rights for air cargo. The memorandum of understanding also stated the principle of multiple appointments of the national carriers on each side, as well as an agreement on the mode of transport, including code sharing and sudden and additional operation. They also agreed to allow their respective carriers to operate leased aircraft as well as the right to link carriers without having transport rights.

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Royal Brunei Airlines and Turkish Airlines Sign Code Share Agreement

Feb. 19, 2016 – Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) has signed a code share agreement with Turkish Airlines (TK) which allows for passengers to connect from Bandar Seri Begawan to Istanbul via Dubai (and vice versa).

The agreement was signed in Antalya, Turkey by Mr Karam Chand, RB Chief Commercial and Planning Officer; and Dr. Ahmet Bolat, TK Chief Investment & Technology Officer. Witnessing the signing on behalf of RB was Mr. Ilyas Rory Teo, Acting Head of Network Planning and International Relations, and on behalf of TK was Mrs. Ozlem Salihoglu, Senior Vice President International Relations and Alliances.

Under the codeshare agreement, Turkish Airlines will add its ‘TK’ code to RB operated flights from Bandar Seri Begawan to Dubai and vice versa. On a reciprocal basis, Royal Brunei Airlines will add its ‘BI’ code to TK flights from Istanbul to Dubai and vice versa. The date for commencement of the codeshare is 22nd February 2016.

RB Chief Commercial and Planning Officer, Karam Chand said “Royal Brunei Airlines is delighted with the recent enhancements of the commercial cooperation between both airlines. We are keen to further expand the codeshare arrangements in the future to our mutual benefit”.

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Georgia Announces Visa Waiver For Iranians

TEHRAN, March 13, (NNN-IRNA) – Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister announced that the visa barrier between Iran and Georgia has been removed.

‘The Georgian government in the first step annulled visa regime for Iranian nationals,’ David Jalagania said in a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Rahimpour in Tehran on Saturday.

Iranians would be able to stay for forty-five days in Georgia consequently.

Resuming visa waiver agreement between Iran and Georgia which was cancelled by Georgia in 2013 will develop economic relations, social relations and tourism.

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Sarajevo joins Air Arabia’s growing European network

Sharjah, UAE; February 13, 2016: Air Arabia, the first and largest low cost carrier (LCC) in the Middle East and North Africa, has added another European destination to its route network with the addition of direct flights between Sharjah and Sarajevo starting from March 18, 2016.

Sarajevo is the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is home to more than half a million people. The historic city, which was influenced by the Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian empires, is a popular tourism destination throughout the year.

The city centre boasts a wide array of attractions, shops, restaurants and cafes, while the hills and mountains which surround Sarajevo offer a range of recreational and sporting activities, including a well-developed skiing industry.

Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer of Air Arabia, said: “Following 12 months of significant expansion, Air Arabia is delighted to begin 2016 with the launch of a new European service. Sarajevo is a great all-year-round destination and we anticipate very healthy demand for the service when it launches in March.”

Flights will operate on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, departing Sharjah International Airport at 08.15 arriving at Sarajevo International Airport at 12:20. Return flights will leave Sarajevo International Airport at 13:10 and will land in the Sharjah International Airport at 20:35.

Air Arabia added 23 routes to its network in 2015, including becoming the first low-cost airline from the Middle East and Africa to enter the Chinese market with the launch of regular non-stop services to Urumqi, the largest city in Western China.

Sarajevo joins an array of Eastern European destinations served directly from Air Arabia’s hub in Sharjah. The carrier also serves a range of cities in Western and Southern Europe through its Air Arabia Maroc operation based in Casablanca.

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Etihad Airways supports great Indian Travel Bazaar

09 Mar 2016 — Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is supporting one of India’s leading inbound tourism events as exclusive airline partner of the Great Indian Travel Bazaar.

The airline will fly leading tour operators and travel buyers from around the world and also participate in the annual travel event taking place in the state’s capital city of Jaipur between April 17 and 19.

The three-day showcase is organised by the Indian Ministry of Tourism, Department of Tourism at the Government of Rajasthan, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

Support for the Great Indian Travel Bazaar is a key part of Etihad Airways’ commitment to promote India as a leading tourism destination worldwide.

Around 300 international travel industry buyers will converge on the ‘Pink City’ for three days of business meetings and product updates from around 250 Indian tourism entities keen to promote their latest wares. Etihad Airways will be flying visitors from destinations in North and South America, Europe and the Middle East.

Partnering with Jet Airways in the trade exhibition, Etihad Airways will promote the ease of travelling to India through the UAE carrier’s Abu Dhabi hub with their combined network of over 250 flights each week across 15 Indian cities. Together, the two carriers have the largest share of the international air travel market to and from India carrying one in every five travellers.

“We are delighted to bring some of our most valued travel partners from around the world to India to attend the Great Indian Travel Bazaar and experience a diverse nation under one roof in Jaipur, together with wonderful Rajasthani hospitality,” said Shane O’Hare, Etihad Airways Senior Vice President Marketing.

“Etihad Airways is committed to further developing India’s tourism economy and investing in jobs. The Indian and Rajasthan governments have set an example by attracting key players from the international travel trade community for three days of intensive business discussions in a region that has successfully promoted tourism to the world for many years, and benefited from considerable spin-offs for the local economy.”

Through B2B meetings, the Great Indian Travel Bazaar is expected to generate significant leads and opportunities for buyers and sellers looking to develop new business for this year and beyond. The event will feature exhibitors covering a broad spectrum of travel segments, including heritage, adventure, wildlife, healthcare, leisure, eco-rural, pilgrimage, and the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition sector (MICE).

Now in its eighth edition, the bazaar attracts regional tourist boards from across India, as well as hotel chains and destination management companies.

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Etihad Airways and Taste Festivals announce Global Partnership

10 Mar 2016, Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will showcase its commitment to providing unmatched culinary experiences in the air and on the ground after announcing a multi-year partnership with Taste Festivals Ltd, organisers of the world’s leading restaurant events since 2004.

The airline, along with many of its Etihad Airways Partners, will have a presence at 15 Taste festivals scheduled in 2016, beginning on 10 March with Taste of Dubai, Taste of Hong Kong and Taste of Sydney.

Additional sponsored festivals will take place across five continents in important Etihad Airways destinations, such as Amsterdam, Johannesburg, London, Milan, Melbourne, Moscow, Paris, Perth, Rome and Toronto, and its home capital city of Abu Dhabi.

Shane O’Hare, Etihad Airways’ Senior Vice President Marketing, said: “Aligning with Taste Festivals is a natural progression for a global airline whose mission is to provide remarkable service and hospitality to millions of guests. We deliver this promise through a highly-acclaimed culinary offering and a food philosophy that constantly pushes the boundaries to provide superior guest experience.

“Taste provides us with a platform to highlight our dining innovation across all cabins and in our spectacular lounges. We draw inspiration from the best restaurants and emerging chefs from culinary capitals worldwide, and serve it with the style and sophistication that has become synonymous with the Etihad Airways brand.”

Justin Clarke, Director – Taste Festivals, said: “We are delighted to be in partnership with Etihad Airways. Their commitment to being the world’s leading culinary airline is both exciting and a testament to the logical brand fit between Etihad Airways and Taste Festivals. We look forward to working with Etihad to communicate their current service and to inspire future innovation.”

As part of Etihad Airways’ global partnership with Taste, the airline is creating a ‘Taste the World’ initiative to honor and celebrate rising culinary talents from each of the 13 Taste festivals outside the UAE. These winners will earn a trip to Taste of Abu Dhabi from 3 – 5 November, where they will display their skills and compete against the airline’s celebrated Inflight Chefs.

Etihad Airways was recently honoured by Air Transport World as 2016 Airline of the Year, and is the proud recipient of numerous awards for consistently executing a high standard of in-flight dining.

Etihad Airways has elevated the onboard experience in its First Class cabins. The Inflight Chefs, many of whom have come from leading fine dining restaurants, use their culinary expertise to provide highly personalised à la carte dining tailored to each guest. They are also equipped with a pantry of fresh ingredients to fulfill made-to-order requests.

Food and Beverage Managers in Business Class oversee the service of a modern and healthy à la carte menu. They can recommend the perfect accompaniment from the airline’s boutique in-flight cellar.

Etihad Airways currently has 235 Inflight Chefs and 495 Food and Beverage Managers, providing the acclaimed First Class and Business Class service for which the airline is widely considered the world’s best.

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dnata marks 30 years of delivering world-class service to enable disability travel

DUBAI, 09 Feb 2016: dnata celebrates 30 years of providing Special Handling services to passengers with disabilities at Dubai International Airport, and continues to invest in staff and infrastructure to enable a seamless journey through Dubai. Visitors to AccessAbilities Expo 2016 (Feb 9-11) at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre, can learn more about dnata’s airport accessibility offering at their dedicated stand (number 8210).

dnata’s Special Handling team at Dubai International (DXB) of almost 950 employees are dedicated to assisting an average of 4,000 special needs passengers every day. In 2015, dnata provided special assistance to over one million passengers with reduced mobility and anticipates an increase in line with traffic growth at the airport.

The Special Handling team provides assistance with a range of services from checking in baggage; travelling through the terminal, and help with boarding flights. The team assists wheelchair and stretcher-bound passengers, visually and hearing impaired passengers, unaccompanied minors, and provides specialised equipment to ensure the comfort and accessibility of passengers with varying degrees of reduced mobility.

“Travel demand has continued to grow strongly, with global passenger traffic having risen by 6.5 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year. dnata has continuously invested in its staff and infrastructure to help make travelling to and through Dubai more accessible for passengers with reduced mobility,” said Nick Moore, Senior Vice President of dnata’s Airline Services.

“Our team strives to provide all passengers with special needs, with a comfortable and hassle-free experience, whether they are transiting through the terminal en route to other destinations, or departing on international flights. In anticipation of the growth in passengers, we will continue to innovate and bring cutting-edge technology to make their journey more comfortable – so that travel can truly be for everyone.”

In addition, dnata also operates a dedicated lounge for Emirates passengers who have reduced mobility and need extra assistance as they depart on flights to destinations worldwide. Operating 24 hours a day and located in Emirates Terminal 3, the lounge offers buggy access as well as a dedicated screening machine and Arch Metal Detector (AMD) for the use of its arriving passengers, thereby eliminating the waiting time for its customers at regular security screening points.

Additionally, dnata operates an additional four dedicated waiting areas for passengers with disabilities; one at Terminal 1, and three at Terminal 3 (Concourse A, B, C). dnata has also trained its frontline staff at Terminal 3 to identify and assist passengers with autism, to ensure their smooth and seamless travel.

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Garuda Indonesia Strikes Gold At Business Traveller ‘Cellars In The Sky Awards’

Indonesia’s national airline, Garuda Indonesia, has added two more awards to its trophy cabinet, picking up a gold medal for ‘Best First Class Sparkling Wine’ and bronze for ‘Best First Class White’ at the Business Traveller “Cellars in the Sky” Awards 2015 (22 February, 2016).

Held at the Hilton Hotel Bankside, London, the awards recognise the best business and first class wines served by airlines worldwide. Hosted by head judge Charles Metcalfe, co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge, 35 airlines were vying for one or more of the prestigious accolades at the 30th annual airline wine awards.

Garuda Indonesia’s VP In-Flight Services, Mr Vindex Tengker collected the gold medal for its Champagne Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart 1999, France and bronze medal for its Vasse Felix Chardonnay Margaret River 2013, Australia.

Commenting on the awards, Mr Tengker said: “We are delighted to receive another two awards, with the gold medal being the crowning glory this year, and adding to our collection from last year’s awards. It is a great achievement for Garuda Indonesia as we continue to pay great attention to detail to ensure we make flying an all-round first-class experience.

“Positive recognition is the highest accolade an airline could hope to achieve, and the judges’ comments that our wine is ‘deliciously mature and complex with a wonderfully evolved toasty palate’ is testament to our commitment to providing the best for our customers.”

Amongst the guests at the Hilton London Bankside was the Ambassador of Indonesia H. E. Dr. Rizal Sukma, Garuda Indonesia UK Country Manager Mr Jubi Prasetyo and Garuda Indonesia Director of Services Mr Nicodemus Lampe.

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Morocco launches construction works of tallest tower in Africa

Rabat, (IINA) 10 Mar 2016 – Moroccan King Mohammed launched, here on Wednesday, the construction works of a 45-storey tower in the Bouregreg Valley, Morocco World News reported.

The tallest in Africa, the 250-meter-high tower will integrate state-of-the-art technologies for improved energy efficiency, in line with Morocco’s commitments to sustainable development.

A third of the total surface of the façade will be covered with photovoltaic panels to meet the electric needs of the tower.

Built by the Banque marocaine du commerce extérieur (BMCE Bank Group) on a plot of 3 hectares, the future tower will house a 350-seat auditorium, services and shops on the ground floor, offices on the first 12 levels, residential apartments from the 13th to the 26th floors (55 apartments) and a luxury hotel on the upper floors. The top four floors will be reserved for high-standard apartments.

This tower, whose implementation will require an estimated budget of around 3 billion dirhams, will be the highlight of the development of the Bouregreg valley, a key component of the 2014-2018 Integrated Development Program dubbed: “Rabat, City of Light, Moroccan Cultural Capital”, launched by the King in May 2014.

This new project also provides for building several innovative facilities, namely the grand theatre of Rabat, the arts and culture house, the library of the national archives of Morocco, the archaeological museum and earth sciences, a multiplex cinema, a sculpture gallery, a marina, an art hotel, a marina hotel, a mall and shops, a business center, residences and public and private facilities.

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Jordan Second Top Arab Destination To German Tourists

AMMAN, March 13 (NNN-Petra) — Jordan was ranked the second top Arab tourism destination for German tourists, according to Go Asia / Go Arabia group.

Jordan was honoured during ITB Berlin 2016 in appreciation of this achievement, according to Jordanian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Nayef Al Fayez, who affirmed that Jordan is a leading destination for European tourists.

He noted that the regional turmoil will not undermine the Jordan Tourism Board’s efforts to promote the Kingdom as the ultimate tourism destination in the Arab world.

Al Fayez also spoke about the tourism attractions in the Kingdom as well as efforts to promote them at the international level.

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Oman Air And Sixt Sign Global Cooperation Agreement

MUSCAT, Oman, Mar 14 (NNN-ONA) – Oman Air (National Carrier of the Sultanate) signed a global cooperation agreement with Sixt, a leading international mobility service provider.

The agreement was signed by Oman Air’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Paul Gregorowitsch and senior Executive Vice- President of Sixt International, Regine Sixt.

The agreement builds on Sixt’s partnership with Oman Air’s ‘Sindbad’ loyalty programme, which began in 2009, and the cooperation has now been extended to include the airline’s entire service portfolio.

The contract offers significant benefits to customers of both companies. For example, customers can book their Sixt rental cars directly through Oman Air website. Furthermore, Oman Air’s First, Business or economy Class passengers, can use Sixt Limousine Service when travelling to or from Germany, Singapore, Switzerland and Thailand, as the price is already included in the ticket.

Paul Gregorowitsch welcomed the new contract, saying, “The agreement that Oman Air has just signed with Sixt offers excellent benefits for customers throughout our network. Car or limousine hire is an essential element of many people’s travel plans and we are delighted to be partnering with a company that shares Oman Air’s commitment to quality, convenience and customer care.

Regine Sixt added, “Sixt and Oman Air have collaborated in a successful partnership for years. I am very pleased that we can now significantly expand this cooperation and thus offer our customers even greater added value, in terms of comfort and flexibility. Together we will make our customers’ trips a special experience.”– NNN-ONA

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Indonesia accelerating development of Lake Toba area

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 12 March 2016 – The Government of Indonesia is making every effort to accelerate the development of Lake Toba area in North Sumatra into a main tourist destination in the country.

Lake Toba has been designated by the government as an international-standard tourist destination in an effort to improve the living conditions of the local population.

The central government has set numerous steps to accelerate the development of Lake Toba area, North Sumatra Acting Governor Erry Nuradi remarked in the provincial capital of Medan Friday.

“The steps were decided in a coordination meeting with a number of relevant ministries to discuss measures to accelerate the development of strategic tourism area of Lake Toba as Monaco of Asia,” Nuradi noted.

The coordination meeting was attended by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, and Tourism Minister Arief Yahya.

The steps to accelerate the development of Lake Toba area are extension of the Sibisa airport runway in Tobasa district, construction of hotels and accommodation at Lake Toba area, construction of a toll road from Kualanamu airport to Prapat, dredging and deepening of the lake in the Tano Ponggol area, provision of 500 hectares of land for “ecotourism”, and intensive promotion of Lake Toba, among others, Nuradi pointed out.

Further, the rules relating to the development of Lake Toba Authority should be made as efficient and simple as possible, he said.

The government plans to set up the Lake Toba Authority to manage the development of the tourist destination in North Sumatra.

President Joko Widodo and a number of cabinet ministers held a meeting early this month, also attended by the acting governor of North Sumatra and seven heads of districts around Lake Toba, to discuss the issue.

The meeting agreed to establish the Lake Toba Authority, the President said at a press conference after the meeting, adding, “All seven district heads have given their signatures to the agreement.”

The authority would later manage issuance of permits for activities around the Lake Toba area which is about 500 hectares, the President said.

“All permits are under the authority of the Lake Toba Authority and all district heads have agreed to it,” the President said.

The meeting was the final round of discussions so far about Lake Toba development, he said.

“The discussions have been on since August 2015, followed by several limited meetings and finally a meeting with the governor and district heads,” he said.

All parties have agreed to carry out the Lake Toba tourism development which includes the development of local Silangit airport which is to be launched in April 2016 and completed at the end of 2016, he said.

The airports runway would be extended to cover 2,650 meters to allow Boeing aircraft to land there while the terminal will also be made bigger.

With the availability of adequate infrastructure it is hoped that more domestic as well as foreign tourists could come to Lake Toba.

President Joko Widodo made a visit to the Lake Toba region to ascertain that the development of Lake Tobas tourism was given top priority.

Lake Toba is one of the 10 main tourist destinations in Indonesia along with the Borobudur temple, Mandalika, Labuhan Bajo, and Thousand Islands, apart from Wakatobi, Tanjung Lesung, Morotai, and Tanjung Kelayang.

During a limited meeting on February 2, 2016, President Jokowi instructed the relevant ministers to boost tourism, connectivity, and accessibility by developing infrastructure, such as airports, roads, and ports.

“I have also emphasized the need to prepare a branding strategy that can be used for marketing, offering services of international standards, and showcasing art and cultural attractions through good choreography and attractive designs,” Jokowi noted at the time.

He said All tourism services and facilities in the lake area must be upgraded to meet international standards, he stated.

The head of the state also called for improving the tourism attractions that visitors throng at the lake area.

“Art and cultural attractions should be on display, in a well choreographed manner, and should be attractively designed,” he remarked.

He also ordered to improve connectivity with Lake Toba and its surrounding areas, making these more accessible.

For the same reason, the seaport and airport infrastructure in North Sumatra must also be further developed.

“I understand that two or three weeks ago, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, the Coordinating Minister for Human and Cultural Development and the Tourism Minister had visited Lake Toba. We hope that there will be follow up on the ground,” he added.

Tourism Affairs Minister Arief Yahya has expressed optimism that Lake Toba in the Indonesian Province of North Sumatra will become a top tourist destination in the world, attracting a lot of domestic and foreign tourists.

“The development of Lake Toba must not remain stagnant, and must continue as planned,” the minister said in his written remarks received here on Tuesday.

According to Arief Yahya, one of key reasons for success in developing tourism at Lake Toba is the fact that the management is being undertaken jointly by seven district heads surrounding it, namely Samosir, Toba Samosir, Simalungun, Tapanuli Utara, Karo, Dairi, and Humbang Hasundutan.(*)

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Jakarta to build culinary center in Kemayoran

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 12 March 2016 – The Jakarta Office of Cooperative Micro Small Medium Enterprises and Trade (KUMKMP) will soon build the “Langgeng Jakarta Culinary Center” at the Jakarta Fair Ground in Kemayoran, according to KUMKMP spokesman Irwandi.

“This year we will build the Lenggang Jakarta culinary center in Kemayoran. We have set a target to complete the development of the culinary center before the annual Jakarta Fair this year,” Irwandi remarked here Saturday.

The financing for the construction of the culinary specialty area will not be through the Regional Budget (APBD) of Jakarta, but from the private sector, according to him.

“The development funds of Lenggang Jakarta Culinary Center in Kemayoran will not come from the Jakarta regional budget but from the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs,” Irwandi said.

Furthermore, for the moment he still continues to collect data on the number of street vendors who will be accommodated in the Langgeng Jakarta Culinary Center, Irwandi added.

“In addition to data collection, the street vendors will also be given training and coaching in advance, so that the foods and beverages they serve do not contain hazardous materials,” he noted.

Before the food vendors are allowed to sell the foods and drinks at the Lenggang Jakarta Culinary Center, they will be required to have certificate from the Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM).

As is known, before it will be built in Kemayoran, the Jakarta Lenggang Culinary Center was first established in the tourist area of Monas, Central Jakarta, where visitors enjoy a variety of foods and beverages.

The transaction method applied in the culinary center is not cash but electronic money in the form of cards, known as non-cash transactions method, Irwandi said.(*)

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Iran’s International flights up by 10%

Tehran, March 6, IRNA – A deputy at the Civil Aviation Organization pointed to the readiness announced by the British Airways, Dutch KLM and Malaysian AirAsia for resumption of flights to Tehran and said up to the month of Dey (December/January) despite continuation of the sanctions the number of international flights increased by 10% as compared to last year.

Mohammad Khodakarami, Deputy for International Affairs and Aviation Operations, noted that officials of the British Airways will visit Iran this week and a memorandum of understanding will be signed between the two sides.

Meanwhile, he further remarked that the KLM flights which were halted three years ago will be resumed on Amsterdam-Tehran route. He added that AirAsia whose flights were halted as of 2013 has announced readiness for resumption of its flights.

Khodakarami said that so far permission has been issued for a total of 21 thousand flights during Norouz (New Year) of which 7 thousands are external and 14 thousand internal flights.

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Iran, Japan agree on comprehensive investment project worth $10bn

Tehran, March 12, IRNA – Deputy Minister of Health Iraj Harirchi said on Saturday that Iran and Japan have reached a comprehensive agreement for $10 billion investment, major portion of which presumably dedicated for the health sector.

Harirchi, speaking in a ceremony to ink an agreement with a Japanese delegation, hoped that expansion of cooperation between Iran and Japan will lead to a drastic change in the health services.

He said Iranian and Japanese officials have agreed on establishment of two hospitals by the Japanese government, which is hoped to be implemented so speedily.

He also hoped for cooperation between Iran and Japan in construction of hospitals with more than 1,000 beds as well as mobilization and state-of-art management of the centers running based on the latest information technology.

Also referring to the Iran Health Exhibition in Tehran, Harirchi said Japanese Minister of Health will be invited to be present in the inaugural meeting.

The official said under present junctures, such countries as Germany, Italy, Korea and China have expressed readiness for construction and mobilization of medication centers in Iran.

He concluded that Japan will also support the breast screening project to check spread of cancer in Iran.

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Great potential in agriculture, tourism for Pak-India collaboration: Legislators

ISLAMABAD, Mar 12 (APP): Legislators and public officials of India and Pakistan Saturday acknowledged that sharing experiences on good governance in the two countrties in development of agriculture and tourism could help develop the two sectors further. The third Dialogue was held with Deputy Speaker Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan, India, Rao Rajendra Singh in the chair and facilitated by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) and the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS),said a PILDAT press release issued here.

Click here for full details: http://www.pildat.org/eventsdel.asp?detid=865

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Govt looking forward to rebuild Pak Iran economic cooperation : Ishaq Dar

ISLAMABAD, Mar 10 (APP): Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Thursday that after lifting of sanctions on Iran, Pakistan was looking forward to rebuild and strengthen Pak Iran economic cooperation. “In pursuance of the announcement made by the United Nation, the Government of Pakistan had issued notifications lifting sanctions against Iran”, Ishaq Dar said while talking to the newly appointed Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan, Mehdi Hoonardost who called on him here.

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