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

11 Apr, 2016

First Ski Park Inaugurated In Bamyan, Afghanistan

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Shamsi

A compilation of stories of interesting events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 11 April 2016 (04 Rajab 1437). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




WTM Connect Asia is an exciting new event bringing together suppliers of South East Asia and international travel product to meet with outbound Chinese, South East Asian and international Hosted Buyers. Taking place 18-20 May 2016 in the beautiful island of Penang in Malaysia, exhibitors and buyers will meet in a private setting for pre-scheduled business meetings, education sessions, networking events and interactive evening functions. By the end of WTM Connect Asia everyone will walk away feeling satisfied after two and a half days of experiencing the beauty of Penang’s culture, and most importantly making new business connections. Brought to you by the organisers of World Travel Market. For more info, please visit http://www.wtmconnectasia.com/

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

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

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

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


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



Nine Strategies To Lure Tourists To Malaysia Until 2020

PUTRAJAYA, April 11 (Bernama) — Nine main strategies have been outlined for drawing up sustainable, competitive and inclusive plans and activities in the Malaysia Tourism and Culture Ministry Strategic Plan 2016-2020.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the comprehensive framework outlined would become a manifesto to the agency divisions under the ministry in planning and implementing activities related to tourism and culture.

“The plan is prepared holistically encompassing human capital, organisational structure, service delivery process and values which are shared together,” he told the media after launching the plan book in conjunction with the excellent services awards of the ministry here, today.

Mohamed Nazri said the boosting of Malaysia’s image via its recognition at the international level was placed in the number one spot among the nine main strategies in line with the 30.5 million tourist arrivals targeted this year.

It also outlined strategies for maintenance and conservation of resources; tactical promotion and marketing; strengthening of infrastructure and improvement of standards and quality of product and service and inclusive development.

The plan also outlines promotion and intensifying strategies of the tourism and culture sector; strengthening research and publications; enhancement and the strengthening of identity and organisation management and effective support services.

Mohamed Nazri, at the same event, also introduced a new logo of the ministry, an initiative to improve the image of the ministry which was responsible for implementing the function of upholding the tourism industry and culture.

With a Mount Kinabalu background, the logo which combined the colours of the Jalur Gemilang, namely, blue, red and yellow, also incorporated tourism and cultural elements such as the ocean, palm trees, hornbills, Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the Petronas Twin Towers.

Back to top

Agreement signed for Pan Borneo Sabah Highway

PUTRAJAYA, April 11 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Monday witnessed the signing of the project delivery partner (PDP) agreement for the management and construction of the 706km Pan Borneo Sabah Highway.

Also present at the signing ceremony involving three parties, namely the federal government, Sabah state government and the PDP, were Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa.

According to a statement issued by the Works Ministry, the Pan Borneo Sabah Highway project would change the state’s infrastructural landscape and provide a more efficient, comfortable and safer linkage for several major towns in the state and its 3.74 population.

The highway, starting from Sindumin to Tawau, is also seen as a strategic route for road users.

“The Pan Borneo Sabah Highway project is an upgrading of the existing passageway as well as the construction of new roads to link the towns involved. The highway will impose no toll,” the statement said.

The agreement was signed by Works Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Zohari Akob, Sabah state secretary Tan Sri Sukarti Wakiman and Borneo Highway PDP Sdn Bhd managing director, Ir Shahelmey Yahya.

Borneo Highway PDP Sdn Bhd had been appointed as the PDP to implement the Pan Borneo Sabah Highway project.

The statement said the PDP would act as the single point of accountability and would be responsible for managing and overseeing the first phase development of the project at a reasonable cost.

Based on the construction period that had been agreed upon by the government, this highway is expected to be ready by Dec 31, 2021.

“During the implementation period, the PDP will be responsible for implementing the project based on the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that had been agreed on,” the statement said.

The first package will involve the Papar-Donggongan stretch, a distance of 11.7 km, which is part of phase one of the Pan Borneo Sabah Highway project.

Most roads in phase one will be upgraded into four-lane dual carriageway based on the Public Works Department’s (PWD) R5 standard (minimum lane width of 3.5 metres and speed limit of 100 kph), expected to be launched at the end of this month.

For coordination of the project implementation, an executive committee will be formed and chaired by Sukarti, with the members comprising representatives of federal and state government agencies.

The committee will be responsible for monitoring and coordinating, as well as solving any arising issue that may arise in implementing the project.

Besides that, the committee will also ensure that the involvement of the people of Sabah in the project could be maximised, according to the statement.

Musa, when met by reporters after the signing ceremony, thanked the federal government, particularly Najib, for his high level of commitment and fulfilling the promise made to the people in Sabah.

“The prime minister is sincere in wanting to ensure that infrastructure in Sabah are developed for the good and comfort of the people.

“I believe and am optimistic that this highway will provide comfort and other benefits to the people, and spur rapid development in Sabah,” he said.

Also present at the ceremony were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, and Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Irwan Serigar Abdullah.

Back to top

Emirates, Malaysia Airlines Unveil 15 New Domestic Routes

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 5 April 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Emirates and Malaysia Airlines have strengthened their collaborations by introducing 15 new domestic routes and unveiling frequent flying benefits under their codeshare agreement.

“The routes are Langkawi, Penang, Alor Setar, Kota Baru, Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu, Johor Baharu, Kuching, Miri, Bintulu, Sibu, Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau and Labuan,” said Emirates Executive Vice President/Chief Commercial Officer Thierry Antinori in a statement today.

He said the codeshare with Malaysia Airlines will provide more seamless travel options for the airline’s passengers to visit the 15 places in Malaysia and elsewhere in the region with a convenient connection in Kuala Lumpur.

“The travellers from the region will also benefit from the expanded network including 90 destinations spanning Europe, West Asia, Africa and the Americas,” he said.

Emirates Skywards members and Malaysia Airlines’ Enrich members, members of the airlines’ frequent flyer programmes, will be able to accrue and redeem miles on all international and domestic flights operated by both airlines.

Emirates also announced that it would offer special fares for travellers in Malaysia from now until April 8 for travel until Dec 31.

Back to top

Malaysia Mulls Using SMS/GPS Tracking System To Locate Missing Pilgrims

GEORGE TOWN, Malaysia, 6 April 2016, (NNN-Bernama) – The government is mulling the possibility to use an SMS/GPS Pilgrim Location Tracking System application to locate haj pilgrims who lost their way while in the Holy Land, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said.

He said the application based on Android operating system was developed by a group of researchers through the Hajj Research Cluster grant worth RM9 million.

The application would not only facilitate Tabung Haji (TH) staff in tracking missing pilgrims every year, but would also be able to provide haj pilgrims with updates and information on their surroundings, he said.

“I have seen the application, it only requires you to have a tablet or a smartphone to use the SMS (short messaging service) and GPS (global positioning system).

“I will definitely discuss this matter in detail with the TH management later,” Asyraf Wajdi told reporters after opening the 2016 Regional Haj Conference here Wednesday.

Over 100 participants from several countries including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia are attending the two-day conference which began today.

The deputy minister said through the grant, the research team had also developed several other applications, including the umrah guide mobile application or M-Umrah, Madinah Virtual Tour, Makkah Location Tracker and Makkah GPS Location Tracker System.

Meanwhile, head of the research team who is also USM Computer Science lecturer, Prof Muhammad Rafie Mohd Arshad, said the SMS/GPS Tracker System to locate missing haj pilgrims was first developed in 2012 and the application had been tested several times in Makkah.

“The system can also be used to monitor buses travelling to certain locations. We can also check their status so that we will be aware of any delays or breakdowns,” he said.

Back to top

Malaysia: 606 Participants Set Sewing Feat In Guinness World Records

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia April 9 (NNN-Bernama) — A total of 606 participants took part in a mass sewing event at Cempaka Sari Auditorium in the Putrajaya Corporation Complex, here and set a Guinness World Record in conjunction with the Malaysian Batik Sewing Art Exhibition.

Organised jointly by the Creative Sewing Art Association (PSJK), Pusat Latihan Kraftangan Epal, Putrajaya Corporation, Women, Family and Community Development Ministry (KPWKM) as well as Janome Malaysia, the event was aimed at promoting batik art work as a national heritage.

A representative of Guinness World Records from New Zealand was present to certify the record-setting attempt.

Present to witness the one-day event themed “Be A Part of The Breakthrough And Make Someone’s Dreams Come True’ were KPWKM Deputy Minister Senator Chew Mei Fun and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri.

At the same event, the Malaysian Book of Record also recognised the making of the longest sofa measuring more than 52.5 metres using recycled materials such as old jeans.

The sofa was produced by prisoners at the Seberang Perai Prison in Penang.

Back to top

Emirates, Malaysia Airlines Unveil 15 New Domestic Routes

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 5 April 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Emirates and Malaysia Airlines have strengthened their collaborations by introducing 15 new domestic routes and unveiling frequent flying benefits under their codeshare agreement.

“The routes are Langkawi, Penang, Alor Setar, Kota Baru, Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu, Johor Baharu, Kuching, Miri, Bintulu, Sibu, Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau and Labuan,” said Emirates Executive Vice President/Chief Commercial Officer Thierry Antinori in a statement today.

He said the codeshare with Malaysia Airlines will provide more seamless travel options for the airline’s passengers to visit the 15 places in Malaysia and elsewhere in the region with a convenient connection in Kuala Lumpur.

“The travellers from the region will also benefit from the expanded network including 90 destinations spanning Europe, West Asia, Africa and the Americas,” he said.

Emirates Skywards members and Malaysia Airlines’ Enrich members, members of the airlines’ frequent flyer programmes, will be able to accrue and redeem miles on all international and domestic flights operated by both airlines.

Emirates also announced that it would offer special fares for travellers in Malaysia from now until April 8 for travel until Dec 31.

Back to top

China to provide 192 scholarships for Bangladeshi students

Dhaka, 7 April 2016, (BSS) -The Chinese government is set to provide 192 full scholarships to Bangladeshi students for the academic year 2016-2017.

China has been providing 162 full government scholarships to Bangladeshi students every year since 2013 in line with the development of bilateral relations between China and Bangladesh.

The Chinese government also has offered many opportunities for short-term or long-term training every year. In 2015, nearly 1000 Bangladeshi went to study in China under the sponsorship of the Chinese government.

On 25 May, 2015, Vice Premier Ms. Liu Yangdong pledged that the Chinese government would provide 100 more full scholarships for bachelor, master and doctoral courses in the following 3 years, among which 30 scholarships will be for the academic year of 2016-2017.

Back to top

LEAD STORY: First Ski Park Inaugurated In Bamyan, Afghanistan

Bamyan, 9 April 2016, (BNA)- The first ski park under the name of Shahr-e-Mazari was inaugurated in central Bamyan province yesterday.

According to BNA correspondent, Mohammad Taher Zahiri governor of Bamyan, Hamayoun Khairi head of sport and physical and numbers of athletes were participated in the inauguration ceremony.

Governor of Bamyan called inauguration of Ski Park important for launching domestic and international sport competitions to attract of tourism and it is good achievements for people of Bamyan.

Hamayoun Khairi head of sport and physical of the country expressed that the visiting athletes, review problems and challenges of federations, and helping to athletes was the mains aims of my trip to Bamyan province.

Khairi promised that as soon center of ski federation will establish and began to work in Bamyan province.

Back to top

Treasures of Islamic library Exhibition opened in Madrid

MADRID, 8 April 2016, (WAM) – Dr. Hessa Abdullah Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain, has attended the opening ceremony of the Treasures of Islamic library Exhibition at the invitation of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in coordination with the Arab House.

The ceremony saw the participation of Prince Mansour bin Khalid Al Farhan Al-Saud, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Spain, and Musa Amer Odeh, Ambassador of Palestine to Spain.

The Islamic Library of Spain’s Agency for International Cooperation and Development, has become an essential international reference in the field of Arabic and Andalusian studies due to the wealth of its collections and the services it provides. Based in Madrid since its founding in 1954, the library has a collection of 100,000 volumes.

Back to top

China to provide 192 scholarships for Bangladeshi students

Dhaka, 7 April 2016, (BSS) -The Chinese government is set to provide 192 full scholarships to Bangladeshi students for the academic year 2016-2017.

China has been providing 162 full government scholarships to Bangladeshi students every year since 2013 in line with the development of bilateral relations between China and Bangladesh.

The Chinese government also has offered many opportunities for short-term or long-term training every year. In 2015, nearly 1000 Bangladeshi went to study in China under the sponsorship of the Chinese government.

On 25 May, 2015, Vice Premier Ms. Liu Yangdong pledged that the Chinese government would provide 100 more full scholarships for bachelor, master and doctoral courses in the following 3 years, among which 30 scholarships will be for the academic year of 2016-2017.

Back to top

Sultan opens 14th Sharjah Heritage Days

SHARJAH, 7th April 2016 (WAM) – Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah attended this evening, in presence of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, opening of the 14th Sharjah festival Days.

The opening ceremony saw traditional shows about UAE’s diverse cultures, as well as folklore dances. Also taking part were folklore groups from Bahrain, Oman and Macedonia.

In attendance at the opening ceremony were Sheikhs, senior officials, guests and diplomats.

Following the opening, Sheikh Sultan toured the heritage area and was briefed about the festival’s programmes and activities. He stopped at Souq Al Arsa and the stand of the University of Sharjah.

Sheikh sultan also visited Al Masjid Al Jami and the stand of Macedonia, the guest of honour of this cycle of the festival.

The Sharjah Heritage Days festival is held under the theme “Heritage for Nature Conservation”. The festival focuses this year on the heritage of the UAE and the GCC countries. Other countries taking part include Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, India, Pakistan, Spain and Macedonia.

Back to top

Brunei publications being marked overseas

7 April 2016 – The Language and Literature Bureau (DBP) is marketing Brunei’s books outside of the sultanate by joining international book fairs. DBP’s Head of Marketing and Promotion Services and Public Relations Section Hjh Rasiah Hj Tuah said international book fairs are good platforms for the bureau to sell Brunei’s locally published books.

In recent years, Brunei had participated in annual book fairs in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok, Manila and Oman and through these book fairs, people can access Brunei’s books without the hassle of postage fees while avoiding uncertainties in regards to the conditions of the books as they are directly purchased or obtained by customers during this events.

On top of that, Brunei had also participated in Oman’s Muscat International Book Fair and planned to participate in other countries’ book fairs held throughout the yearsuch as Borneo Book Fair organized by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) in Kota Kinabalu in October this year to reciprocate UMS’s participation in Brunei’s book fair that concluded recently.

The majority of Brunei publications are in the Malay language, making this one of the challenges in marketing Brunei’s books outside of the country.However many language experts and linguists from Europe found this as an opportunity to get access and purchase Brunei’s Malay books.

Back to top

Leiden Museum curates Buleleng artworks

Singaraja (ANTARA News) 3 April 2016 – An art maestro from Buleleng, Bali, I Nyoman Durpa said a museum in Leiden, the Netherlands, stores various kinds of artworks from North Bali which are not even found in Indonesia.

“Many artworks such as leather puppets, and various types of old manuscripts written on palm leaves (which the museum has) cannot be found in Bali as these were taken to the Netherlands,” Durpa said here.

According to him, research showed that many works of art from North Bali were brought to the Netherlands during the Dutch colonization era in Indonesia in the late 17th century.

“The Balinese literature interested the Dutch people because it has high aesthetic aspect. They believed that one day, these historical artworks will become scarce,” he said.

Durpa, who is also a mask dancer, added that the Dutch take serious care of Balinese artworks. Among the artifacts they have in the Leiden Museum is a leather puppet of Tualen.

Tualen is one of the characters in the Balinese leather puppet tradition. Its character is similar to Semar in the Javanese leather puppet story. In the Balinese tradition, Tualen is described as an ugly old man, who has black skin, but is good-hearted, has good manners and loves giving sage advice.

In the Leiden museum, he said, one can find a leather puppet of Tualen with minimal style of carving and without hair.

In addition, there is also a miniature of Jagaraga war monument, one of the famous historical stories of North Bali during the colonial period.

“When I visited the Leiden Museum, I found there a miniature of Jagaraga war monument. Also, there is a Banjar war monument and many old manuscripts written on palm leaves dating from the old period of Buleleng.”

Durpa noted that the Leiden Museum and other museums in the Netherlands are very concerned about the culture and relics of Buleleng, and Bali in general.

“In fact, the Dutch researchers understand more about the historical background of art and cultural heritage of North Bali than even the Indonesians,” Durpa said.

Back to top

Indonesia developing halal tourism

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 8 April 2016 – Indonesia is now intensively promoting the development of halal tourism in an effort to attract tourists from Muslim nations, particularly countries in the Middle East.

The Tourism Ministry has designated at least 10 provinces as halal tourist destination regions, which comprise six provinces or special regions in Java (Banten, Jakarta, West Java, and Central Java, in addition to Yogyakarta and East Java), two in Sumatra (West Sumatra and Aceh), one in Kalimantan (South Kalimantan) and one in Nusa Tenggara (West Nusa Tenggara/NTB).

The Tourism Ministry will formally announce Aceh and West Sumatra provinces in Sumatra as halal tourist destinations in 2016. The announcement will be made following the announcement of Lombok (NTB) as a halal tourist destination.

Indonesia has to develop its halal tourism destinations as these have the potential to attract foreign tourists (particularly those coming from the Middle East), according to Oneng Setya Harini, assistant deputy for People Empowerment and Destination Management of the Tourism Ministry.

Indonesia, which is also supported by its predominantly Muslim population, can become a friendly tourist destination nation for the world’s Muslims.

“We will encourage and develop Aceh and West Sumatra to become halal tourism destinations. The two provinces have more attractiveness and various tourist sites,” Oneng Setya Harini was quoted by Liputan6.com online media as saying Wednesday (April 6).

Halal tourism destinations have developed in a number of countries such as Malaysia and Japan, she said. These types of tourism destinations have grown rapidly in neighboring countries.

Sensing this development, Indonesia is not willing to be left behind Malaysia. Even more, Indonesia is blessed with regions that have Islamic cultural nuances such as the Aceh provinces.

“We have to become better than Malaysia, which is why we will develop Aceh. Aceh has a strong Islamic culture and natural potential. People come to Indonesia for its culture,” she said.

The Tourism Ministry hoped the halal tourism plan in West Sumatra and Aceh will proceed well this year, so that these two provinces would attract more foreign tourists from Muslim countries, Oneng Setya Harini said.

Actually, halal tourism is designed not only for Muslims but also for non-Muslims.

The Head of Tourism and Creative Economy Office of the West Sumatra province, Burhasman, said the Halal tourism concept is not only for Muslims and non-Muslims can also enjoy it.

“There is still a misunderstanding about Halal tourism and some people think it is meant for Muslims only as all things must be based on sharia. However, Halal tourism means the destination, accommodation, culinary and tourist attractions must all be as per the Halal concept,” Burhasman said in West Sumatra last week.

The Indonesia Ministry of Tourism will develop halal tourism in West Sumatra, a province that has a potential for such a concept just as West Nusa Tenggara province, known for similar tourism.

“West Sumatra has a potential for Halal tourism development as culturally, it is known as a religious province,” the Deputy Assistant of Business and Market Segment Development, the Ministry of Tourism, Tazbir, said here on Saturday (April 2).

He explained that Halal tourism is a universal concept which includes serving healthy food, providing clean accommodation and hospitability. Therefore, all the people find it suitable.

“We want West Sumatra achieve a similar status as West Nusa Tenggara which has been awarded the World Best Halal Tourism Destination award,” he said, adding that demand for Halal products is from the world community.

Indonesia won three awards as the world halal tourism destination at the World Travel Awards 2015 event held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The winners of the World Halal Travel Awards 2015 were announced at a gala dinner in Abu Dhabi on October 20, 2015, in conjunction with the World Halal Travel Summit 2015.

The development of Halal tourism in West Sumatra, according to Burhasman, has a big potential, but what is really needed is a guarantee that guests will be served Halal food and will be able to stay in a place that is safe and comfortable, he added.

For instance, he said, a hotel that applied Halal tourism concept should provide a travel prayer mat, the direction of the Qibla, and there should be a mosque nearby.

In addition, Halal tourism must necessarily come with a good service and should be friendly, have reasonable food prices, must be free of extortion, and should have clean toilets.

Burhasman said the administration will develop rules and regulations to support the implementation of Halal tourism concept in West Sumatra.

According to Tazbir, Halal tourism is a universal concept which includes serving healthy food, providing clean accommodation and ensure good hospitability. It is suitable for all people.

“We want West Sumatra to achieve the same status as West Nusa Tenggara which was awarded the Worlds Best Halal Tourism Destination award,” he said.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Tourism also is making efforts to boost the number of tourist arrivals from various Middle Eastern countries in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB). It backs the move to establish a halal tourism acceleration development team in the province.

“The team is expected to focus on mapping constraints and solutions to ensure development of tourism based on the Islamic sharia. It is also expected to make coordination easier,” Hafizuddin Ahmad, the deputy chairman of the Halal Tourism Development of the Tourism Ministry, said here on Wednesday (April 6).

Hafizuddin said NTB is one of the 10 halal tourism destinations being developed in Indonesia to attract foreign tourists, particularly those coming from the Middle Eastern countries.

Of the ten halal tourist destination provinces, the government is focusing on three provinces, namely NTB, Aceh and West Sumatra, to expedite halal tourism development.

“Such efforts have been on since 2015. Efforts to develop such tourism in West Sumatra and Aceh have also been on since the beginning of this year,” he said.

He said although Aceh and West Sumatra have just began on the path to develop halal tourism, the local governments had set up working groups last year itself. In NTB, such a working group was yet to be set up.

However, NTB, according to Hafizuddin, has taken the lead in the development of halal tourism because it has issued a gubernatorial decree to develop such tourism. The gubernatorial decree will be followed by local government regulations.

Back to top

Indonesian President inaugurates country’s longest bridge

Ambon, Maluku (ANTARA News), 4 April 2016 – President Joko Widodo inaugurated Indonesias longest bridge in Ambon, Maluku province, here on Monday.

The inauguration ceremony was carried out in the middle of the bridge as soon as the President arrived from Jakarta for a visit to the three provinces in the countrys eastern region including Maluku.

People in the city welcomed the arrival of the President, greeting him even though there were light showers.

Maluku governor Said Assegaf said he hoped the Presidents visit would motivate the people to develop the region as well as all of Indonesia.

“Maluku must be developed to become an icon of peace. This Red-White bridge will become an icon of peace,” he said.

He said the bridge will resolve many problems facing the city, including making the Ambon Bay again functional. This will help develop the region and many of its vital sectors.

The bridge over the Ambon Bay is the longest in the country, stretching 1,140 meters long.

The bridge is expected to shorten the travel time from and to the local Pattimura airport and the Central Maluku district from one hour by car to only 25 minutes.

Before inaugurating the bridge, President Joko Widodo said he hoped the bridge would also become a new tourism icon and anyone visiting Ambon would be able to enjoy it.

In his inauguration speech, President Joko Widodo said his government is focusing on three areas, namely deregulation, acceleration of infrastructure development and human resource development.

President Joko Widodo will spend the night in Ambon before proceeding to the district of Manokwari in West Papua province. He will be traveling by the air forces Boeing 737-400 to inaugurate the Wasior port.

Port connectivity will link Indonesian regions as Sabang in the countrys western most region will be linked with Merauke in the eastern most part. This will help ensure smooth distribution of goods to remote areas.

Back to top

China Provides Bangladesh Fund For 8th Friendship Bridge

DHAKA, Bangladesh April 8 (NNN-Xinhua) — The Chinese government will provide Bangladesh grant assistance of 300 million RMB (about 50 million U.S. dollars) for construction of the 8th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge.

In this connection an agreement was signed between Bangladesh and China on Thursday in capital Dhaka.

Bangladesh’s Economic Relations Department (ERD) Secretary Mezbah Uddin and Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ma Mingqiang signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides.

According to an ERD statement, the 8th friendship bridge will be constructed on Kocha River in southern Bangladesh.

The length of the bridge will be 1400 meters and Bangladesh Roads and Highway department will carry out the project, it said.

The bridge will play an important role in accelerating movement of people and goods of Barisal and Khulna divisions, said the ERD.

Presently, it said, a ferry is operated on the river which requires more than 1 hour to cross it.

The construction of the first Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge, with a span of more than 917 meters in length, began in October 1986, and was completed in February 1989.

Seven more friendship bridges have completed across Bangladesh since then.

Back to top

Algerian singer Souad Massi to perform in Cairo on 19 May

Ahram Online , Saturday 9 Apr 2016 – Renowned Algerian singer Souad Massi will perform in Cairo Festival City on Thursday 19 May, her first concert in the country since last spring.

Massi, a widely influential artist, is known for her combination of North African folk with a myriad of influences from flamenco to rock. Her albums have received international acclaim, and she has millions of fans both in the Arab world and internationally.

Massi is also very popular in Egypt, with her soulful unique vocals, poetic lyrics and swaying rhythms ranging from simple to rich melodies. She played two successful concerts last year in the country, in Alexandria on 24 April and Cairo on 26 April.

Based in Paris, the Algerian siren remains faithful to her language and Arab roots yet merges influences from other cultures and genres like Spanish flamenco, African instruments, American folk rock.

Her first album hit with wide popularity, Raoui in 2001, features many of her iconic songs such as Gher Enta and Matebkiche. Massi’s latest studio album was produced in 2010, titled Ô Houria.

Back to top

Makassar to Host Indonesian Muslim Fashion Expo

Makassar, S Sulawesi (Antara), 10 April 2016 – An Indonesian Muslim Fashion Expo will be organized at Clarion Hotel, here, from April 28 to May 1, 2016.

The expo to have 120 stands to be participated in by fashion designers from Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Makassar, Andi Yulham, Arthpro Exhition CEO, said here, recently.

The latest designs of Muslim dresses will be displayed in the fourth Indonesian Muslim Fashion Expo, he added.

A fashion show presenting works of prominent designers, will also be held to highlight the expo.

Increasingly more Indonesian Muslim women, including young girls, are opting to wear Islamic clothing as they are fashionable, decent, practical, comfortable, and alluring.

Having a population of some 250 million, of which 85 percent are Muslims, Indonesia has set a target to become a global Islamic fashion capital by 2020.

Besides being the largest Muslim populated country in the world, Indonesias Islamic culture is open to modernization, tolerance, pluralism and diversity.

Indonesia’s hijabs are very unique and varied, compared to those in other countries.

Back to top

“Sahara flame,” new national ballet unveiled in Algiers

Algiers, 6 April 2016, (Algeria Press Service) – The dance show “Sahara flame,” a ballet mixing operetta and contemporary dance about an Algerian popular legend has been presented Tuesday evening to the public in Algiers.

Produced by the national ballet from choreography by Ahmed Khamis and Fatima Zohra Namous, this presentation of the new show was attended by Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, Culture Minister Azzeddine Mihoubi and other members of the government.

Adapted from “painting of the Arab life” by writer Slimane Ben Brahim (1871-1953), companion of painter Etienne Dinet, this show recounts a love story in a village which prepares in a very festive atmosphere the celebration of the marriage of Benmerzoug, a known knight and Farahoda.

The public attending the first performance welcomed innovation in the ballet dancers, who for the first time made a contemporary performance.

The national ballet plans two further performances in Algiers on 21 and 28 April before going on tour in the country’s eastern cities from next May.

A photo exhibition on the work of the dancers has also been presented to the public.

Back to top

Films screened in Algiers to mark 4th Centenary of Cervantès death

Algiers, 08 April 2016, (Algeria Press Service) – Documentary and fiction films about the life and work of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes are being screened from Thursday in Algiers, in celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of his death.

Organized at the Cervantes Institute in Algiers in collaboration with the Spanish Embassy in Algeria, this cycle of four screenings, scheduled once a week until April 28th, opened with the documentary “The Five Follies of Don Quixote “devoted to the most famous character of the writer.

Produced by the Spanish television, this film of almost two hours, evokes the most striking episodes of “Don Quixote of the inning” (Don Quixote de La Mancha) and the historical and political context of its writing in late sixteenth / early XVII centuries in Spain.

The film recounts the vicissitudes of Cervantes, notably his five years of captivity in Algiers, then under Ottoman rule.

The documentary focusses on the main themes developed in this masterpiece of world literature, such as chivalry, idealism, friendship or the pragmatism of the people in Spain, played by Sancho Panza, faithful companion of Don Quixote.

Entitled “Cervantes revisited,” this cycle of projections will also be complemented by other activities, including a guided tour for school children to the places evoking Cervantes presence in Algiers between 1575 and 1580, said the director of the Cervantes Institute, Raquel Romero Guillemas.

Back to top

49th International Fair of Algiers from 28 May to 2 June

Algiers, 26 Jan 2016 (Algeria Press Service) – The 49th International Fair of Algiers (FIA) will be held from 28 May to 2 June 2016 at the Exhibition Centre (Pins Maritimes), said Tuesday the Algerian Company of Fairs and Exports (SAFEX).

The previous edition of this economic and commercial event, organized from 27 May to 1 June 2015, was marked by the participation of 1,385 companies, including 742 foreign companies from about 30 countries.

The main economic sectors represented in the previous FIA were food-processing industry, energy, chemistry and petrochemistry, electricity and electronics, textile, public works and building materials, mechanics, steel industry and metallurgical industry as well as furniture business and decoration.

Back to top

16 Development Projects Inaugurated in Afghanistan

Kabul, 09 April 2016, (BNA) – The construction work of 16 development projects have been completed at the cost of more than 26m Afgs in some districts of Ghor province.

Zalal head of National Solidarity Program “NSP” of Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development “MRRD” told BNA, the projects have been completed in some districts of Ghor province, the projects included digging of well, extending piped water supply network, constructing and gravelling roads, agriculture water supplies, bridges, drinking water fountains, small hydro powers and retaining walls which more than 2000 families will be benefited from ease of the projects.

It’s mentionable that NSP from the beginning of its programs till now completed 3,000 welfare projects in Transport, irrigational, power livelihood s and development of regions in that province.

Back to top

8th International Diwan Music Festival from 22 to 27 August

Algiers, 7 Aug 2015, (Algeria Press Service) – The 8th International Diwan Music Festival will be held from 22 to 27 August in Algiers, said the event’s organizers.

This edition is co-organized by the Algerian Agency for Cultural Influence (AARC) and the event’s commission.

Back to top

Music festival held at Shilpakala

Dhaka, 9 April 2016 (BSS)- Eight-day music festival will begin on the premises of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy to uphold the local songs. Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu is expected to inaugurate the festival as the chief guest.

Apart from songs, the festival will also feature conferring of honour to talented musicians, publication of over hundred music-album, two seminars and four workshops.

A 200-feet timeline board will be set up on the fair compound to inform audiences about the history and evolution of Bangla music.

Host organisation Sammilita Sangeetshilpi Society announced the programme at a press conference in a city hotel today, a press release said.

Society president Asharaf Udash, convener Hasan Matiur Rahman, journalist Iqbal Bahar Chowdhury, Nazrul Sangeet singer Khalid Hossain, Rabindra Sangeet singer Sadi Muhammad, vocalist of noted Bangla band LRB Ayub Bachchu and music lyricist and composer Prince Mahmud joined the press conference, among others.

Back to top

Bangladesh Receives $217M from World Bank to Increase Power Generation

Dhaka, 8 April 2016, (NNN-WORLD BANK) — The government of Bangladesh on Thursday signed a $217 million financing agreement with the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) to upgrade a unit in the Ghorashal power station, which will increase the unit’s existing electricity generation capacity by more than double.

The Ghorashal Unit 4 Repowering Project will transform a gas-fired steam unit that is currently generating 170 MW into an energy efficient 409 MW plant. Such conversion to combined cycle technology will increase the plant’s overall efficiency from existing 30% to 54% while requiring only 18% more natural gas.

“Bangladesh can grow its economy much faster and reduce poverty significantly if its energy infrastructure can meet the demand for reliable, low-cost electricity,” said Rajashree Paralkar, World Bank Acting Country Director for Bangladesh. “The project will increase the efficiency in gas utilization of an existing unit, while adding new generation capacity to address the country’s severe power needs.”

The project will also reduce the specific fuel consumption per gigawatt hour by 44% and lower greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the project will provide capacity building and institutional support to the Bangladesh Power Development Board.

“The government has prioritized improving the efficiency of gas-based power plants, given the shortages in natural gas production,” says Kazi Shofiqul Azam, Additional Secretary, Economic Relations Division, government of Bangladesh. “The repowering of the Ghorashal Unit 4 will quickly add new generation capacity without adding major infrastructure costs for fuel supply.”

The agreement was signed by Kazi Shofiqul Azam and Rajashree Paralkar on behalf of the government and the World Bank, respectively, at the Economic Relations Division.

With this credit, the World Bank’s total support to the country’s power sector passes $1.7 billion. In FY 16, the World Bank committed over $773 million in new financing in Bangladesh. The credit from IDA has a 38-year term, including a six-year grace period, and a service charge of 0.75 percent.

Back to top

Syrian swimmer wins two bronzes at Thailand Swimming Championship

Bangkok, 9 April 2016, (SANA) – Swimmer Ayman Kalziyeh won two bronze medals at the currently held Thailand Open Swimming Championship.

The Syrian national swimming team’s member earned the two medals in 200 m individual medley and in 200 m butterfly.

Kalziyeh’s participation in the Championship came as part of a training camp conducted in Phuket Island in preparation for coming international events.

Kalziyeh aims to get qualified for Rio de Janeiro Olympics due in Brazil in August.

Back to top

America’s largest mosque with Ottoman design opens

Washington, 9 April 2016, (IINA) – The largest mosque and Islamic center in the United States opened its doors last Saturday, situated in Lanham, Maryland, just 21 kilometers from Washington D.C. It is a beautiful building, white and turquoise, featuring classical Ottoman architecture and Islamic art, with two minarets.

With help from the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs and the local Turkish, American Muslim community, the vision of an all encompassing, complete Islamic mini-city has been realized. In recent years construction began, and it took five years to complete the entire project. The center includes a mosque, auditorium, conference room, exhibition hall, sports complex, library, research center, gift shop, and more. It boasts of the grandeur and splendor of the great mosques and learning centers in Muslim history. Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, attended the opening ceremony and recited verses from the Holy Qur’an in the mosque.

There is an Islamic Arts Museum below the mosque which can house exhibitions for Muslim artists, providing a platform for their work. Classes in traditional Islamic arts will be offered, in Arabic calligraphy, paper marbling, and gold inlaying.

The architect of the complex, Muharrem Hilmi Senalp, told the Anadolu Agency, “There is a mosque at the center, and a Turkish-Islamic garden in front of it. Right next to it, there is the cultural center, which is a harmony of classical and modern architecture.” The entire complex is built on a 60,000-square-meter area and includes traditional Turkish baths for men and women, sauna, swimming pools, and an indoor sports complex and fitness center. Adjacent to the mosque and cultural center are 10 traditional Ottoman houses, where guests from out of state can lodge.

According to an article in the Washington Post, “The mosque has been built in the style of 16th-century Ottoman architecture. Materials were shipped from Turkey, including marble that was used in four pillars that bear the weight of the central dome. The mosque has two towering minarets that will stand as a reminder of the time when Muslim leaders climbed the stairwells and voiced the call to prayer.

Craftsmen and laborers, 150 in all, came from Turkey to do the work.” A place of peace and brotherhood, it will serve as a center that brings people together in an age when humanity all across the world is suffering from conflicts and disputes, Saudi Gazette reported.

Community events will be hosted, inviting both Muslims and non-Muslims to learn more of the true essence of Islam, far from the marred images that the media on the one hand and the terrorist groups abroad on the other hand portray. The center will be of service to its neighbors and community, both Muslims and non-Muslims. “This is not just a Muslim mosque,” said Ahmet Aydeilek, secretary general of the center, to the Washington Post. “The purpose is to serve the entire community. Ninety percent of the people who come here for prayer are not Turkish.”

The President of the center said on their website, “Islam is a movement of wisdom and civilization that began with the command from Allah to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), “Read!” “It gives life to all things within its reach and touch. It is a civilization of balance and ethics that has laid down basic principles that form the human relationship between Allah, society, and nature. The Mosque is a place of worship; hence it is one of the most important elements of this great civilization. Its position in Islam is similar to the position of a person’s heart.”

“The believers who come together in the spiritual climate of the mosque enjoy reunion with fellow humans while simultaneously feeling the joy of Almighty God through Salat (prayer). Rising calls for prayer from Muslim places of worship begin from dawn and continue on until the twilight of the night. The calls coming from the mosque’s graceful minarets are calls to peace, brotherhood, justice, and tolerance. The main goal of the wisdom and divine messages taught in the mosques is to provide spiritual healing in this world and in the hereafter.”

The Diyanet Center is already bustling with activity. In addition to the congregational prayers five times a day, weekend activities include teaching the Holy Qur’an, art and cooking classes, and lectures on Islam for youth and adults. Personally, I would love to visit this beautiful mosque. It reminds me of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul which I visited four years ago. In my family, we plan our trips to be a balance of fun, learning, and spiritual growth. A road trip from Ohio to Maryland may just strike a perfect balance; we could stop in Pennsylvania on our way, to take the kids to Hershey Park, a theme park with roller coasters and loads of fun rides. The educational part of our trip could include a trip to the Smithsonian, the National Museum of Natural History. Our final stop would be Diyanet Center; tourism for the soul, to pray, worship our Lord, read, and feel a sense of connection to our rich Islamic heritage.

Back to top

130 million dollar project to improve quality of college education

Dhaka, 8 April 2016, (BSS)- The present government has taken “College Education Development Project” worth about US$130 million to improve the quality of college education for ensuring the participation of Bangladeshi students in the competitive world, National University Vice-Chancellor Dr Harun-or-Rashid said today.

“We have to take all sorts of efforts to improve the quality of college education”, said Harun-or-Rashid while addressing as the chief guest at a view exchange meeting on “Management of National University and Improvement of Education” at Government Mohila College Auditorium in Khulna, said a press release here.

He said it is not possible for a nation to improve the country’s economy and survive in the competition in this age of globalization without standard graduates being equipped with Information and Technology (IT) related knowledge.

About 300 principals of different colleges took part in the meeting.

Back to top

49th International Fair of Algiers from 28 May to 2 June 2016

Algiers, 26 Jan 2016, (Algeria Press Service) – The 49th International Fair of Algiers (FIA) will be held from 28 May to 2 June 2016 at the Exhibition Centre (Pins Maritimes), said Tuesday the Algerian Company of Fairs and Exports (SAFEX).

The previous edition of this economic and commercial event, organized from 27 May to 1 June 2015, was marked by the participation of 1,385 companies, including 742 foreign companies from about 30 countries.

The main economic sectors represented in the previous FIA were food-processing industry, energy, chemistry and petrochemistry, electricity and electronics, textile, public works and building materials, mechanics, steel industry and metallurgical industry as well as furniture business and decoration.

Back to top

Folk Festival of Pakistan “Lok Mela” in full swing

Islamabad, 9 April 2016, (APP): The ongoing Folk Festival of Pakistan “Lok Mela”, organized by the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, here at Shakarparian is immensely contributing towards documenting and preserving traditional folk crafts and projecting crafts people.

The glimpses of rural folk and traditional heritage of different provinces and regions including remotest parts have coloured the grounds of the Federal Capital for ten days.

Besides several other features for families and children, exhibition ofArtisans at work is a major attraction for the visitors at Lok Mela.

Back to top

Boeing team in Tehran

Tehran, 8 April 2016, (IRNA) – Following implementation of the nuclear Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and removal of sanctions, a team from the American Boeing Company is expected to arrive here next week for talks with Iran Air and other Iranian airliners.

A statement issued by flag carrier Iran Air said the team will negotiate future cooperation in providing support to the existing fleet owned by the Iranian airliners.

Minister of Road and Urban Development Abbas Akhundi said last February that following US government’s green light to the American company, Iran has invited Boeing for talks in Tehran.

Back to top

British brands eye growing Muslim consumer market

London, 9 April 2016, (IINA) – From young start-ups to business giants, British entrepreneurs are eyeing a rapidly expanding global market for Muslim consumers with a range of brands from clothes to greetings cards to online gym courses.

In contrast to France, where there has been an angry debate about Muslim-specific consumer products, the approach in Britain seems more business-minded, according to an AFP report. “Halal doesn’t only apply to food but also to business ethics, dress etcetera,” said Rauf Mirza, director of The Muslim Lifestyle Expo (MLE), which organizes trade fairs on Muslim consumer trends.

The MLE this week organized a networking event bringing together 150 business leaders, experts and young entrepreneurs in central London to trade tips on the best way to profit from an expanding sector. Famous names like the Marks & Spencer department store chain now offer Islamic fashion products — in line with other world brands including Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana or Japan’s Uniqlo.

In a debate about Dolce & Gabbana’s business move, French women’s rights minister Laurence Rossignol compared women who wear the Muslim headscarf to “negroes who supported slavery” sparking a furious row that has put her under pressure to resign. “Crossing the Channel, there is more pragmatism on these issues, which are seen only through an economic prism. It’s seen as a business opportunity,” said French businessman Ali Djedid, whose company Zeynara is based in Paris. “In France instead we immediately politicize the debate,” said Djedid, a former financial analyst. “There is no doubt that there is a market, that it is growing and that we also need to adapt to modern consumer trends,” he said.

At the MLE event, Faaezah Qureshi from Yorkshire in northern England said she set up her Muslim greetings cards company Elaara after finding too many contained unsuitable images such as champagne glasses and churches. Zahra Pedersen said she launched her online fitness course “The Healthy Hijab” for women who wear the veil and are embarrassed going to the gym with men. “There was a big gap in the market,” Pedersen, who was not wearing a hijab, told AFP. Shelina Janmohamed, vice president at advertising company Ogilvy Noor, started off the London networking event with a talk on how British companies could “tap into the global Muslim lifestyle sector”. She estimated Muslim consumer lifestyle spending at $2.6 trillion (2.3 trillion euros) a year and pointed to the potential in the youth market in particular, with official data showing 14 percent of the world’s population was Muslim and under 30 in 2010.

Janmohamed pointed to European countries with large Muslim minorities such as Russia (12 percent), France (7.5 percent), Netherlands (5.5 percent), Britain (5.0 percent) and Germany (5.0 percent). It is not just Muslim entrepreneurs who are being drawn to the business opportunities. Canadian David Horne co-founded Alchemiya, a “Netflix for Muslims” with subscribers in 39 countries and offers programs including documentaries on skateboarding in Kabul or Turkish muezzins. Established names too are becoming more interested in marketing directly to Muslim consumers, including British supermarket chain Tesco which launched a Ramadan advertising campaign last year. “If you’re a global brand, how can you ignore 1.6 billion people?” Mirza said.

Back to top

Greenery Of Afghan Women’s Park Needs Visitors’ Cooperation

Kabul, 9 April 2016, (BNA) The capital’s park special for women (Bagh-e-Zanana or Women Park) with its previous name since 2010 (Bagh-e-Shahrara or Shahrara Garden) had only a single building and few trees, gained its previous special fabulous designs highly interested by the visitors, an official said.

A caretaker of the park, Fareshta Farah briefed said, after being controlled by the ministry of women affairs in 2006, the officials planned to reconstruct the garden and change it into the women and girls training and recreational hub. The park, the in-charge gave details that has been cleaned in a mass cleanup team including both the park’s workers and a number of the nearby beggars making totally some 600 people to change it into a clean green site for the female visitors, she said adding it has now some 13 guards and gardeners.

Some 140 non-fruitful saplings had been planted, alongside tens of bushes of roses inside the park to further make it beautiful and attractive for the visitors, said Mrs. Farah who looked pleasant with having all the Park’s workers and other personnel of the park struggle to protect and keep it green.

“We plan to have the parks designed with various types of trees and flowers, but not with those of fruitful trees as they would soon be destroyed by the visiting families with children,” she continued. According to her, the park would be provided with different wide umbrellas under which, the visiting families could enjoy a rest. Efforts are being made to draw attention for the domestic and foreign donors for more greenery of the parks, like in the past, the Care and USAID institution did much for the recreational women park, said Farah who added had taken the responsibility more than one week ago and that two dug wells are expected to be utilized for the watering of the flowers and the trees.

The park remained open for hundreds of visiting women and girls each day, with the inner areas provided with library, kindergarten, sport-stadium and other special training areas for the women and girls. Each ticket cost only 10 Afghanis, she said adding the investigating team from the presidential office had visited to the park that helped the visiting women trust in the security and immunity of the park, as they felt no secure in other parks for recreational purpose.

Different women related programs including training handicrafts, tailoring and other crafts are provided for the women and girls inside the parks, as well conferences related for them like March 8, Woman International Day is marked by the women activists and other high-ranking officials.

Islamic teachings are taught for the interested women and girls as well as the interested women are trained driving, jewelry, engraving etc.. inside the park, with hundreds of women graduating each year. She asked the media for screen a real inners perspective of park and launch public awareness for the women to caution of the families prevent their children of climbing the windows and demolishing the trees and bursting flowers’ pelts. Karima Malikzada

Back to top

Gatilov: Restoration of Palmyra’s landmarks must remain focus of UNESCO

Moscow, 8 April 2016, (SANA) – Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov urged the UNESCO to focus its attention more exclusively on helping restore the archeological sites and landmarks in Palmyra that were vandalized by ISIS terrorists.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted that Gatilov, who is chairing the Russian delegation to the 199th session of the UNESCO Executive Board, met the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova in Paris where he expressed confidence that the UNESCO should focus its attention on helping the Syrian Arab Republic restore Palmyra’s archeological sites, with Gatilov lauding UNESCO’s operational response after Palmyra’s liberation from terrorism.

Earlier, while speaking at the 199th session of the UNESCO’s Executive Board, Gatilov condemned the destruction of Palmyra’s archeological sites at the hands of ISIS terrorists, calling upon international experts to head to Palmyra soon, and asserting the need for the UNESCO to monitor the situation in Palmyra and send a team of international experts to estimate damage as soon as the city is totally secured.

The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister also pointed to Russia’s initiative to adopt a resolution on the UNESCO’s role in the preservation and restoration of Palmyra and other world heritage sites in Syria.

Back to top

GCC Countries to Invest USD100 Billion in Renewable Energy

Kuwait, 5 April 2016, (NNN-KUNA) – Director-General of Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), Dr. Samira Ahmad Omar, said, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, plan to pump up to USD100 billion, into renewable energy projects over the coming two decades.

Such robust funding aims to meet the growing energy consumption in the GCC countries, estimated at three percent a year, she said, in a speech at the opening ceremony of the 6th Middle East and North Africa Renewable Energy Conference (MENAREC-6).

Dr. Omar attributed the increasing demand for energy to economic transformations, including the tendency towards establishing industrial and service bases, and the growth of population.

“The environmental challenges relating to pollution and global warming left us with no choice other than relying heavily on clean and renewable energy, which is the focus of energy research circles worldwide,” she stressed.

“The GCC states, as well as, other countries in the Middle East and Africa, have promising opportunities in the field of exploitation of the solar energy, given the fact that they enjoy equatorial climate and sun shining rates of 1,400 to 1,800 hours a year,” she went on.

Kuwait has been one of the earliest countries that sought to tap into renewable energy. In 1978 KISR designed and operated a pilot solar energy station, with a generating capacity of 100 kilowatts,” Dr. Omar said, noting that the project was backed by Germany.

KISR pursued researches into renewables and their utilisation in seawater desalination and electricity generation.

A few years ago, KISR launched Al-Saqaya renewable energy complex, which covers an area of 100 sq.km., with a compound capacity of 200,000 megawatts, she said, adding that, the project will go operational by the end of 2016.

On his part, executive director, KISR’s energy and construction research centre, Salem Al-Hajraf, affirmed that the domestication of renewable energies will have great impact on the economies of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

“Renewables will revitalise the economic growth and diversify the sources of economies through opening up new opportunities for foreign investments in the industrial sector of the region and creating unconventional job opportunities for the youth,” Al-Hajraf, who is also chairman of higher committee of MENAREC-6, said.

The MENA region, which is rich in fossil fuels, enjoys unique opportunities in renewables, notably the solar energy resources, he added.

Back to top

Indonesia plans to export 100,000 tons of rice to Asian, European countries

Jakarta, 4 April 2016, (IINA) – Indonesia has set itself the target of exporting 100,000 tons of rice to 10 Asian and European countries as part of efforts to increase farm commodity exports this year, ANTARA News reported.

Sumarjo Gatot Irianto, director-general of Agricultural Infrastructure and Facilities of the Agriculture Ministry, said that the 10 targeted destinations include Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.

“We plan to export organic rice to Germany,” he said, adding: “Therefore, the government will make every effort to procure as much rice as possible this year to meet the demand for rice.”

“We have not set any target for procuring rice. What is important is that we must be able to procure as much rice as possible so that we can export the surplus,” Irianto said.

Above all, the national logistics board (Bulog) must be able to control rice prices at the farmer level by procuring the staple food. This will enable the government-set purchase prices to kick in, he said.

“If the price of unhusked rice at the farmer level falls, the government will be obliged to buy the rice soon to maintain the rice prices,” he added.

Back to top

Indonesia Grants Namibians 30-day Visa-Free Entry

WINDHOEK, April 2 (NNN-Bernama) — Indonesia has granted Namibian Passport holders 30-day visa-free entry into that country, reports Namibia Press Agency (Nampa).

A media statement made available to Nampa by the Embassy of Indonesia on Thursday says Indonesia has granted 78 countries including Namibia, Malawi, Botswana and Lesotho a 30-day visa-free entry, effective March 21 this year.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo signed the new regulation into law on March 2 this year.

In October last year Widodo signed a new law approving 45 countries including Algeria, Angola and Ghana 30-day visa-free entry into that country, while the US, United Kingdom,, China and Russia already enjoy the travellers’ benefit.

The 30-day visa-free entry will only be valid for the purpose of leisure; tourism; family; social; art and culture; government visit; giving lecture; attending seminar; attending a meeting held by head office or representative office in Indonesia; attending an exhibition/explore/fairs; and transit.

It is not valid for journalism related visits. Travellers’ passports must be valid with a minimum validity of six months and travellers must have a return ticket or through ticket when in transit.

The 30-day Visa-free entry in not extendable and cannot be converted into another type of permit.

The Indonesian government has so far granted 169 countries with Visa-free entry, the statement said.

Having experienced a rich history of early civilisations and kingdoms before becoming an Islamic state and being colonised by the Portuguese, French and British, Indonesia boasts various tourist attractions from pristine beaches and picturesque mountains to temples and cultural performances.

Back to top

ILO Launches Project to Promote Women Entrepreneurship in Algeria

ALGIERS, 5 April 2016, (NNN-APS) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) has launched a project to develop and promote women’s entrepreneurship in Algeria, where the rate of such partcipation by women remains low compared with the world average.

The project, called “Women for growth”, is aimed mainly at increasing the number of women-run companies and micro-enterprises, which currently do not exceed 12 per cent of the total number of firms created in the Maghreb region, said the project’s technical adviser, José Manuel Medina.

He was speaking here Monday at a workshop on female entrepreneurship which is part of the 12-month programme launched by the ILO Maghreb Office to support nearly 1,200 women in managing their companies.

Public bodies like the National Agency for Support to Youth Employment (ANSEJ), the National Agency for Micro-credit Management (ANGEM), the National Fund of Unemployment Insurance (CNAC), the General Directorate of Small and Medium-sized Companies (DGPME) and Chamber of Craft Industries will benefit from the project.

Other private institutions and groups, such as the General Confederation of Algerian Employers (CGEA), the Association of Green Economy Women (AFEV) and the National Organization of Women and Rural Development (ANFEDR), will also receive support from the programme, which is financed by the United States Department of State.

Back to top

Iran, Denmark to sign MoU on archaeology

Tehran, 9 April 2016, (IRNA) – Iran and Denmark are to sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on scientific, research and educational cooperation in the field of archeology, Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization said on Saturday.

Public Relations office of Research Institute for Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization said that the MoU will be signed during the upcoming visit of head of the research institute of ICHHTO Mohammad Beheshti and accompanying delegation to Denmark.

Upon request of Denmark, the Iranian delegation will hold a 2-day workshop in the field of archeology at Copenhagen University.

The MoU aims to develop cooperation between Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization and the faculty of inter-cultural and regional study of Copenhagen University for research, scientific and educational cooperation.

Back to top

International tourist train whistle sounded in Isfahan

Isfahan, 7 April 2016, (IRNA) – The first international tourist train arrived in Isfahan, the capital of Islamic culture and civilization of Iran, Thursday morning.

The Golden Eagle Train with 42 American and European passengers on board arrived here to visit the monuments and tourist attractions of Isfahan.

The tour leader, Khosrow Aslani, said the foreign tourists will visit historical monuments such as Imam Square Complex, Vank Cathedral, historic area of Julfa, Chehelsotoon Palace Complex, and the Old Mosque during their one-day stay here while leaving the city late at night toward Shiraz.

The Golden Eagle Train, a participant in international luxury trains, belongs to the Hungarian Railways and arrived in the northwestern city of Tabriz last Tuesday.

The train passengers have already toured historical monuments of Tabriz and Zanjan and plan to visit Yazd and Mashhad as well as Shiraz. On the last leg of their tour, they will end up in Tehran on April 11.

Following the international agreement between Iran and the world leading powers on ending the nuclear issue last year, Iranian tourism has started to flourish and an increasing number of foreign tourists are visiting Iran.

Since the beginning of the new Iranian year on March 20, some 10,000 foreign tourists have visited monuments and tourist attractions of the province.

Isfahan enjoys over 20,000 historical monuments and tourist attractions while four of them have received international recognition by UNESCO.

Back to top

NBF to organize mega book festival on April 22

ISLAMABAD, 14 March 2016, (APP): National Book Foundation (NBF) would organize mega book festival on 7th National Book Day to be held on April 22. The renowned scholars, writers, literary figures, intellectual and artists would participate in the festival and share insights for promotion of book reading.

Back to top

Morocco’s net international reserves rise by 28.6%

Rabat, 5 April 2016, (IINA) – Morocco’s net international reserves amounted to 235.8 billion Moroccan dirham (MAD) until March 25, recording a 28.6 percent increase on an annual basis, Morocco World News reported citing Bank Al-Maghrib.

During the week of March 24-30, the central bank injected MAD 9 billion, Bank Al-Maghrib pointed out in its weekly indicators.

Over the course of this period, the interbank rate fell to 2.25 percent, while the average daily exchanged volume amounted to MAD 2.1 billion against MAD 1.2 billion one week before.

During the same period, dirham depreciated by 0.43 percent against the euro and appreciated by 0.70 percent against the dollar.

Back to top

Dubai Ruler orders AED33m bonus to taxi plate owners

DUBAI, 9 April 2016, (WAM) — Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in his capacity as Ruler of Dubai, has ordered the payment of a bonus amounting to AED33.28 million to Emirati citizens whose taxicab number plates are operated by the Dubai Taxi Corporation and Taxi Franchise Companies at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). The total number of the number plates is 6656.

The amount ordered marks a 25% increase from last year’s bonus. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will start distribution of the 2015 bonus to the entitled recipients, over and above their annual financial dues from this week.

Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA thanked Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid for rewarding taxi plate owners, who are part of the fixed income group, and enabling them to better cope with the requirements of life and decent living for them and their families.

“This bonus is one of several other generous gestures we are accustomed to from His Highness that are a true testament to the support accorded by Sheikh Mohammed to his people and the attention he pays to their social affairs and living conditions, particularly those with fixed incomes. It also illustrates the attention made to provide good living to all members of the community, and articulates the prevailing social solidarity concepts among individuals,” added Al Tayer.

Back to top

S. Korea to launch Muslim-friendly certificate system for restaurants

Seoul, (IINA) – A South Korean state-run tourism promotion agency is pushing to introduce a “Muslim-friendly certificate” for local restaurants in South Korea where visitors could be served well-prepared halal food, industry sources said on Thursday, news agencies reported.

According to the sources, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) plans to launch the Muslim-friendly certificate system around August, which will be granted to restaurants based on how well halal food and other dishes are prepared and served, The Korea Herald reported.

Halal food refers to food products that are prepared in a specific way according to Islamic

Sharia law, which covers not only meat but also fruits and vegetables. Under the five-tier certificate system, the highest rating will be granted to restaurants that provide halal food officially guaranteed by the Korea Muslim Federation. Those without halal food on their menus could also get a lower-rated certificate if they do not offer pork.

The tourism agency is aiming to choose 200 restaurants nationwide for the Muslim-friendly certificate, the sources said.

The new certificate system is apparently intended to meet the growing demand for halal food as the number of Muslim visitors is steadily increasing.

Last year, around 740,000 Muslims traveled to Korea. The tourism industry projects that the number could go up to 800,000 this year.

Back to top

Afghan President Orders Reconstruction Of Pul-E-Kheshti Mosque

Kabul, 9 April 2016, (BNA) – President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani paid a visit to Pul-e-Kheshti Masjid (Mosque) and prayed here the other night, a presidential statement said, adding that the president meet with worshipers and listened to their problems.

Visiting the different wards of the Masjid, Imam Enaytullah Baligh briefed the president on the problems ahead of the worshipers, including lack of parking, asked the president to reconstruct the Masjid as well as renew the prayer carpets. The president said that would himself purchase the prayer carpet as well as would send a team of technical engineers to review the reconstruction process of the Mosque.

Back to top

Pars Int’l Marathon held in Fars province

Shiraz, 9 April 2016, (IRNA) – First round of Pars International Marathons called Peace and Friendship Cup opened in Naqsh-e Rustam, Fars province.

Over 200 domestic and foreign athletes compete in the 42,195 km marathon.

136 runners from 24 foreign countries together with 80 domestic ones participated in this event.

The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometers usually run as a road race.

This competition was named after marathon in Greece. Around 500 marathon competitions take place all around the world annually. Iran, Britain and the U.S. with 42, 16 and 6 athletes have the most participants in this event.

Back to top

Algeria participates in Beijing International Tourism Fair

ALGIERS, 25 June 2015, (Algeria Press Service) – The National Tourism Office (ONT) will participate in the 12th International Tourism Fair, scheduled for June 26 -28 in Beijing (China), said Thursday a statement from the Office.

This is the second participation of Algeria- after that of 2010-, as part of the “Promotion of Destination Algeria on promising international markets for Algerian tourism,” under the leading plan for tourism development (SDAT) in 2030 in Algeria,” the statement said.

Through its participation in this Fair, Algeria aims to “integrate into new tourism markets to revive and boost tourism in Algeria,” added the Office, noting that the Chinese market is “among the promising tourist markets which knew a real boom, in past years, making it one of the most important tourist generating countries.”

In 2014, the Chinese market was the fifth tourist generating markets to Algeria with 27,620 tourists.

Back to top

Oman Ferries Transport Over 51,000 Passengers And 12,000 Vehicles

MUSCAT, Oman, 9 April 2016, (NNN-ONA) – Statistics released by Oman’s National Ferries Company (NFC), showed an increase in the number of passengers on board the ferry trips to 51,824 passengers, during the first quarter of 2016, an increase of 15.23 percent, compared with 42,083 passengers in the same period of 2015.

The statistics indicated an increase in the total number of vehicle shipped on board of the ferries, during the first quarter of this year to 12,383 vehicles, an increase of 27.17 percent, compared to 10,559 vehicles in the same period last year.

The statistics also showed a 512.5 percent rise in the volume of cargo traffic to 7,130 tonnes by the end of the first quarter of the current year, compared to 1,164 tonnes in the same period of 2015.

The statistical bulletin showed that, the Shanna-Masirah route, recorded the highest proportion in passenger traffic during the first quarter of this year, as the number of passengers reached, on this route, 38,739 passengers, with an occupancy rate of 45 percent. 11,086 vehicles were shipped on board of this route, with 54 percent occupancy rate, followed by Lima-Diba route, which recorded 5,056 passengers with 74 percent occupancy rate.

Passenger occupancy rate on Khasab-Shinas route reached 43 percent. The route transported 2,594 passengers. The route also transported 653 vehicles, with an occupancy rate of 54 percent, followed by Muscat-Khasab route, which transported 1,726 passengers, with 63 percent occupancy rate. The route transported 442 vehicles, and 79 percent occupancy rate. Shinas-Diba route transported 1,710 passengers and 173 vehicles.

The total number of passengers transported by Khasab-Lima, Lima-Shinas and Khasab-Diba were 1,797. Khasab- Bandar Abbas route transported 202 passengers of the Iranian delegation, who participated in the Omani-Iranian Exhibition, held in the Wilayat of Khasab.

Back to top

Saudi Fund for Development signs $75 million pact with Turkish banks

Riyadh, 4 April 2016, (IINA) – Saudi Fund for Development announced on Sunday that it agreed to provide credit facilities to finance the export of goods and national services amounting to $75 million for the benefit of a number of banks inTurkey, WAM reported.

Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Ghannam, director general of the Fund’s Saudi Exports Program, said that the agreements for providing these facilities signed in Istanbul recently come as part of the continuing efforts of the Fund to increase Saudi exports and stimulate trade between the Kingdom and the brotherly and friendly countries.

He pointed out that since the launch of the Saudi exports program in 2002, the total credit finances for the export of Saudi products amounted to more than SR 50 billion.

Back to top

Seminar on accountability and Islam held in Bangladesh

ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY, 9 April 2016, (BSS) – A seminar titled ‘Accountability in Islam’ was held at Islamic University (IU) in Kushtia here today.

Dawah and Islamic Studies Department of the university organized the seminar at the dean office of Theology faculty.

Abu Bakar Siddique, the researcher of Ph.D, presented two articles at the seminar on ‘Accountability in Islam’.

Professor Dr Muhammad Solaiman addressed the seminar as the chief guest with chairman of Dawah and Islamic Studies Department Professor Dr Shahidul Islam Nuri in the chair.

Professor Dr M Ahsan Ullah Faysal and Professor Dr Shahid M Rezwan spoke here as the key note speakers.

Professor Dr Aktar Hossain of Al-Hadith and Islamic Studies Department conducted the seminar while the coordinator of the Ph.D Professor Dr Waliullah was present.

Back to top

Sharjah Ruler Opens 7th Calligraphy Biennial

SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates, 7 April 2016, (NNN-WAM) – Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, opened on Wednesday, the 7th Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial, in a ceremony held at the Heart of Sharjah.

The Calligraphy Biennial is being organised by the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information, and will run until June 2.

Over 206 calligraphy artists are taking part, with a total of 683 works, reflecting the vibrant elements of the Arabic calligraphy.

Sheikh Sultan toured the display area of works by renowned calligraphers. He stopped at the stand of the Emirates Society for Arabic Calligraphy and was briefed about the works by the young Emirati talents.

Sheikh Sultan also honoured prominent calligraphers from Sudan, Syria and Tunisia.

This was followed by the prize presentation ceremony, as he crowned winners of this year’s biennial prizes, including Omid Rabbani and Ahmed Bouran from Iran, Mamdouh Abdul Aleem from Egypt, Mahfouz Mamnoun from Iraq, Abdullah Aqar from France and Nouria Mas from Spain.

The biennial will feature 126 workshops, 11 films and more than 129 other activities, focusing on the beauty of the Arabic calligraphy.

Back to top

Siddiqui for promoting Allama Iqbal’s ideology

LAHORE, 9 April 2016, (APP) – Prime Minister’s Advisor on National History and Literary Heritage, Irfan Siddiqui Saturday underscored the need for formulating short and long-term programmes aimed at promoting ideology of the great thinker and Poet of the East Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal (RA).

Chairing the 44th Governing Body meeting of Iqbal Academy Pakistan (IAP) here at Aiwan-e-Iqbal, he said the IAP must now pay serious attention towards the targets and objectives for which this Academy had been established.

The IAP Governor Body meeting also took various decisions pertaining to re-freezing of the IAP accounts; payment of long-pending dues to the quarters concerned and publishing of books on the life and ideology of Allama Muhammad Iqbal.

Back to top

SYRIA TECH 2016 exhibition kicks off in Damascus

Damascus, 7 April 2016, (SANA) – Syria Tech 2016 exhibition kicked off on Thursday with the participation of 30 local manufacturing companies specialized in IT in addition to the scientific and educational establishments that work in this sector.

The exhibition is organized by the Ministry of Communications and Technology in cooperation with SyriaTel and Mosaic companies.

Minister of Communications and Technology Mohammad Ghazi al-Jalali said that the information sector is important in the economic development and reconstruction stage, which will includes the rebuilding of information and communications’ systems, adding that the applications included in the exhibition will significantly contribute to the reconstruction process.

In turn, Ala’a Salmour, head of media department at SyriaTel Company, said that the company offered three of its last new applications in the exhibition which are ” Your guide in travel”, “closer to you” and “music lover”, noting that the company’s pavilion displays social development, which gives details about the company’s role in this issue and encourages the use of alternative energy to ease the pressure on electricity.

While, Basil Sheikho, the Group Director of Mosaic Company for Exhibitions and Conferences affirmed the importance of this exhibition in bringing together the companies specialized in IT and communications.

The three-day-exhibition includes lectures for the National Authority on Network Services, Higher Institute of Applied Sciences, Search Engine of Shamra, Tazamun Communication Company and a number of other companies.

The exhibition aims at developing the IT sector in Syria through gathering exhibitors and visitors and providing the latest innovations in the field of informatics.

Back to top

Tassili Airlines to open Algiers-Nantes-Algiers route

ALGIERS, 30 March 2016, (Algeria Press Service) – Tassili Airlines will open new weekly route Algiers-Nantes-Algiers from 3rd June, said Wednesday National Company in a communiqué.

Tassili Airlines said that this new international flight, to be scheduled every Friday “is part of a commercial programme to ensure connection with the part of France, where lives the largest part of the Algerian community.”

According to the same source, this is 5th regular international flight inaugurated after Marseille and Strasbourg in November 2014, Lyon in July 2015 and Paris in December 2015.

A promotional pricing will be applied to round-trip tickets with fares from DZD24,857 dinars (221 Euros).

Back to top

Turkey’s Tourism Continues To Suffer From Security Woes, Troubled Ties

ANKARA, 6 April 2016, (NNN-Xinhua) — Turkey’s tourism industry battered as the number of foreign visitors continues to decline on terror fears and troubled ties with neighbors.

The number of foreign arrivals to Turkey fell by 10.3 percent in February compared to the same period last year, according to Turkish government’s latest data.

The decline represents seventh consecutive monthly drop in the number of foreign travelers visiting Turkey and marked the biggest decline since October 2006.

Turkish Tourism and Culture Minister Mahir Unal has downplayed the decline in his parliament speech, saying that he believes the tourism will rebound by the end of April with a surge on reservations.

“The reservations for this year have been slow as people are cautious,” he lamented.

Regional political turmoil, especially the spillover from Syrian conflict, domestic security concerns and troubles with Moscow over downing of Russian jet on Turkish Syrian border have taken a toll on Turkey’s troubled tourism and hospitality industries.

Tourism is a major contributor to Turkish economy, having generated 31.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. The number of foreign visitors totaled 36.2 million in 2015, down 1.6 percent from the previous year.

A total of 1.2 million foreign visitors came to Turkey in February 2016. The decline from travelers from two countries that sent most tourists last year, namely Germany and Russia, was recorded as 9.5 percent and 51.6 percent respectively.

The destination that hit most by the decline in tourism is the Mediterranean resort city Antalya where 11.3 million visited last year.

Union of Mediterranean Hotel Owners (Aktob) President Yusuf Hacisuleyman said the industry will likely see a drop of further 4 to 4.5 million visitors in 2016, costing the economy at least 10 billion U.S. dollars losses.

“Germany and Russia comprised of some 55 percent of tourism in Antalya,” he said, stressing the terror threat and negative perception of Turkey especially in Western European market has contributed to the decline.

Yasar Dongel, a board member of ICF Airport that operates Antalya airport, said the number of foreign arrivals has dropped 15 to 24 percent across the board for all countries with the exception of Israel.

On Monday, the Hoteliers Association of Turkey (Turob) announced occupancy rates in hotels in major destination places, indicating troubling signs for the month of February.

The occupancy rate in Istanbul’s hotels has dropped by 21.4 percent, declining to 47.5 percent compared to the same month last year. The occupancy rate in Ankara, Turkish capital, went down by 12.3 percent.

The occupancy rate in Antalya region was recorded as 48.1 percent for February.

The Turob’s report announced on Monday made it clear that Turkey is expected to suffer losses in the number of European tourists this year, warning that many reservations were already cancelled over security concerns.

The tumble on planned reservations was mainly due to the terror attack by suspected Daesh militants in Istanbul that killed four foreign tourists including three Israelis on March 19.

In January, a suspected Daesh suicide bomber killed 11 German tourists in an attack on Istanbul’s historic old city Sultanahmet Square.

Turkey has also witnessed several bombing attacks in its capital and other cities by the Daesh as well as the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) that wages a separatist war against the Turkish government.

According to Tourism data bank, a Turkish research portal, the terror attacks and crisis with Russia has negatively impacted tourism industry in Turkey.

It has estimated that Turkey may incur losses as much as 7.5 billion U.S. dollars in tourism revenue and see a drop of some 6.5 million tourists in 2016.

The decline in the number of Russian travelers in Turkey is set to continue further since relations between Moscow and Ankara have soured as Turkey downed a Russian tactical bomber jet on Turkish-Syrian border last year. Some 4.5 million Russians visited Turkey in 2015.

The number of tourists from Iraq, another neighbor of Turkey that has problems over the deployment of Turkish troops on the Iraqi territory, also declined in February by 24.4 percent.

Yaman Toruner, Turkish analyst, believed the decline in tourism may shave off as much as one percent from the economic growth, slowing it from the target rate of 4 to 4.5 percent to 3 to 3.5 percent.

He also said the decline in tourism revenue will result in job losses of some 140,000 on a monthly basis.

According to Toruner, the decline in the number of Russian tourist is expected to be around 70 percent, followed by some 30 percent in other countries in general.

In the meantime, the Turkish government issued an official circular on Tuesday, revealing details of incentive package of 6,000 U.S. dollars per flight for travel agencies that bring at least 100 people to vacation spots in April and May.

Back to top