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25 Apr, 2016

Indonesian Christians, Muslims look forward to visiting a free Jerusalem

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 25 April 2016 (18 Rajab 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

FIRST WTM CONNECT ASIA TO BE HELD IN PENANG

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

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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

Finding Malaysia’s Young Science Ambassadors

PETALING JAYA, April 23 (Bernama) — Speaking in front of the public can be a daunting task, let alone communicating about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) related subjects. Due accolades and recognition should be accorded to the ten finalists of FameLab Malaysia and five top listed schools for School Lab Malaysia. Both FameLab and School Lab are Science Communication Competitions targeting two different age groups held together for the first time at Petaling Jaya Live Arts Centre.

Communicating science effectively and attractively to a non-scientific audience is an ongoing and growing requirements for researchers worldwide. There is a need to communicate effectively on how science and technology pervades our life.  Through these programs, we hope to inspire future generations of scientists, increase public understanding of it, and justify public funding for their research.

These science communication competition are part of the nation’s commitment to encourage and promote interest in Science and Technology (S&T). It is also the flagship program of the Science to Action (S2A) initiatives, a national agenda to mainstream and popularise STEM in our bid to achieve the Vision 2020 attainment and beyond.

“Our aim is to create the opportunities and platforms for young people to express themselves and unearth their hidden talents in science communication. It’s not easy as it seems; even some experienced scientists have problems communicating their research in public. Subsequently, we also hope to nurture the youth to become ambassadors and champions for science. On the organisation, we bring together the best of the public and private sectors and NGOs from UK and Malaysia to ensure the success and global outreach for these programs.  We are also thankful to the judges that includes TV celebrities and renowned scientists. Finally, we are truly proud and amazed by the hard work and quality presentations of our youth,” said Datuk Dr Mohd Yusoff Sulaiman, President and Chief Executive Officer, MIGHT.

FameLab is a partnership between Cheltenham Festivals, British Council Malaysia and MIGHT. FameLab Malaysia is in its second year attracting applications from 42 individuals aged 18 – 37 years old nationwide. Participants will give a three-minute presentation in front of a jury panel that will decide the winner. The winner will go on to participate in the FameLab International Final at the Cheltenham Festivals in the UK in June.

This idea is further convalesce with lower secondary school students (Form 1-3) through School Lab, a programme under the purview of the Ministry of Education Malaysia. School Lab is a collaboration between British Council Malaysia, Ministry of Education Malaysia and MIGHT. This initiative aims to help students understand and appreciate the exciting challenges of science, develop critical and creative thinking skills, as well as gaining the confidence and skills required to present and demonstrate their understanding of scientific concepts.

296 teams from secondary schools nationwide registered for School Lab Malaysia and we received more than 100 video submissions in English or Malay. Winners stand a chance to win individual prizes and also a cash prize for the purchase of lab equipment for their school.

Finalists from FameLab and School Lab received special training from some of the best UK science communicators, including BBC presenter Dallas Campbell. Apart from that the School Lab finalist were also mentored by FameLab 2015 alumni. An initiative to ensure continuous sharing and learning process amongst them.

The Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) is a notforprofit company limited by guarantee under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department. MIGHT, the implementing agency for Science to Action (S2A) national agenda, plays a key role in developing Malaysia’s high technology for business through its role as a thinktank, private-public consensus building and business nurturing platforms. It is an organisation built on the strength of public-private partnership with more than 100 members, both local and international, from industry, government and academia. For more information, please visit: www.might.org.my

For more information, please visit: www.cheltenhamfestivals.com

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Malaysian Retail Investors Ready For More Advanced Investments

PETALING JAYA, April 21 (Bernama) — As how retail investors in other parts of the world, especially the developed countries, have an array of advanced investments to select from, Malaysian retail investors should also be given this opportunity to experience more sophisticated, legitimate investment products.

Teh Chi-cheun, the CEO, CIO and executive director of Pacific Mutual Fund Bhd, an investment management company under the OCBC Group, said, “We believe a high number of Malaysian retail investors have long been ready to try more advanced investments. These advanced investment choices would help retail investors to navigate the volatile trend of markets these days. Hence, this would potentially translate to a more ideal rate of returns than conventional investments.”

“The group of retail investors who are ready to try more advanced styles of investing would also understand that such products, that can even generate returns during falling markets, would also have higher elements of risks. As such, this group is able to stomach risk much better than normal retail investors.”

According to Teh, to meet the demands of this group of sophisticated retail investors for more advanced investing styles, the company is introducing an exciting, breakthrough product. This product has an investment strategy that aims to generate positive returns from rising, as well as falling markets.

Teh, would lead a team of investment professionals, who has the expertise to manage local and global investments, to run an investment scheme that can hold short positions in derivatives, as well as invests in inverse exchange traded funds (inverse ETFs).

This should be one of the very first investment products in local shores that allows investors to experience inverse ETFs.

ETFs are funds that track an index. So their performance move in the same direction of the performance of the index they track. Inverse ETFs, on the other hand, track the daily performance of an index but its performance is the opposite of the return of the index tracked. For example, for an inverse ETF that tracks the S&P 500 Index, a 1% decline in the said index would see the inverse ETF gain by 1% before any fees.

Therefore, investments will be made into an inverse ETF when the outlook of the market or index it is tracking has a downside trend. This provides the opportunity to realise positive returns in falling markets.

As a form of risk management, investments in inverse ETFs is capped at 50% of the total assets of the new scheme which Teh’s company has launched i.e. the Pacific ROAR Fund (Pacific Real Opportunities Absolute Return Fund).

As the product’s investment universe includes derivatives and alternative investments – such as options, warrants, inverse ETFs, this investment product is open only to qualified, sophisticated investors who meet the conditions that are defined in the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007.

Pacific Mutual Fund Bhd is a subsidiary of Lion Global Investors Limited (formerly known as Lion Capital Management Limited), a company incorporated in Singapore since 1986. Both companies are members of the OCBC Group. As at the end of the first quarter of 2016, Pacific Mutual manages close to RM1.5 billion on behalf of its unit trust investors and private mandate clients.

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KL Trade And Copyright Centre 2016 To Enrich The ASEAN Licensing And Publishing Industry

KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 (Bernama) – The Kuala Lumpur Trade and Copyright Centre (KLTCC) is back for the 9th edition this year to enrich the ASEAN licensing and publishing industry through intellectual properties (IPs) trade and digital convergence. Hence, Malaysia’s hub for the book industry; Kota Buku as the main organiser is calling all exhibitors, content creators and trade visitors to participate and bring their IPs to life at the 3-day event, which will be held at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) from 7th to 9th May 2016.

Consistent with its position to serve as a channel that promotes copyrights and digital rights trade, KLTCC’s main focuses for this year include; Page to Pitch Media 360 (P2P) (the world’s first publishing to media pitching competition), ASEAN Book Industry Symposium (ABIS) (a platform for exchanging ideas and thoughts about the ASEAN book industry), Pocket Talks (gain insight into the world of content and copyrights by international and local speakers), improved business matching sessions with pre-arranged meetings, and various exhibitions.

Similar to the previous editions, KLTCC will be the meeting place for industry key players from various industries including publishing, broadcasting, digital multimedia and many more to showcase, discover and acquire the best IPs and contents emerging from the ASEAN market. Furthermore, prominent international companies such as Scholastic (US), Ookbee (Thailand), Kadokawa Publishing (Japan) and many more are expected to participate as a buyer during this event. Additionally, Chief Delegates of all ASEAN nations will also take part to share their view and country report on the industry.

Sayed Munawar Sayed Mohd Mustar, Chief Executive Officer of Kota Buku reiterated, “KLTCC is a brilliant platform which helps to promote the licensing and publishing industry to thrive and develop. First, it is an event for the industry players to recognise that this is a platform for them to upgrade their existing contents. Second, we aim to educate the industry players that the publishing industry does not end with a book. We also hope to provide leverage for the industry players to explore new and foreign branches for their existing contents.”

Kuala Lumpur Trade Copyright Centre (KLTCC) is the annual rights fair for the Southeast Asian region. As the biggest trade and copyright fair in the region, KLTCC offers you unparalleled access to this exciting market. It offers high-quality products, extensive networks of publishing executives, and an entry port into the ASEAN market. Top publishers and rights agents will converge in this key publishing event to network, buy, sell and research the latest trends in the market.

For more information, please visit www.kltcc.com

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KLIA Passenger Volume To Go Up With Inaugural Shaheen Air’s Flight

SEPANG, Malaysia April 22 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) expects a boost in passenger volume with the inaugural landing of Shaheen Air, a private Pakistani carrier, at the KL International Airport (KLIA) here.

The Airbus A330-200 aircraft landed at KLIA at 10am, with 265 passengers, including Malaysia’s High Commissioner to Pakistan, Dr Hasrul Sani Mujtabar.

More than 100 passengers left Kuala Lumpur for Karachi on the return trip.

MAHB Chief Operating Officer, Abd Hamid Mohd Ali, said MAHB expected passenger traffic at KLIA this year to grow by 2.5 to three per cent with potential expansion for up to 50 million passengers.

” With Shaheen Air, we hope to attract a significant number of Pakistani travellers. A total of 66,400 tourists arrived in Malaysia in 2015,” he told reporters after the welcoming ceremony for the maiden flight at Gate C2 here Friday.

Meanwhile, Shaheen Air Deputy Managing Director, Faisal Rafique, said the airline would fly to new destinations and increase its fleet to 35 aircraft from 25, by 2017.

”We have started flights to Kuala Lumpur today and to Bangkok in May. We will be expanding flights to other destinations, including Shanghai and a few more,” he said, adding the airline would be flying to 15 international destinations.

He said direct flights would strengthen people-to-people and business-to-business ties between the two countries.

Faisal said the airline was also targeting some additional 25,000 visitors from Pakistan to visit Malaysia per year.

”In recent years, Malaysia has been quite a popular destination for the Pakistanis, as such we feel that we will be fulfiling a strong market demand.

 “We hope that this route will serve as an ‘air bridge’ for further development of long-term friendly relations between Pakistan and Malaysia in the fields of trade, investment and tourism,” he said.

Faisal, who is also Chief Commercial Officer of Shaheen Air, said in a bid to increase traffic and usage for Kuala Lumpur’s travellers, the airline would offer return ticket at US$400 inclusive of free visa services.

 Besides Shaheen Air, Pakistan International Airlines and Malindo Air also offer four-time weekly and twice weekly flights on the Kuala Lumpur-Lahore route.

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World’s Smallest Fire Extinguisher Due To Enter Malaysian Market

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia April 21 (NNN-Bernama) — A cylindrical fire extinguisher weighing a mere 400 gm will be handy during a small fire, instead of the 10 kg version commonly found in the country.

 New age fire extinguisher Mangiafuocco will enter the Malaysian market in May and will be distributed by Global Combined Technology Sdn Bhd.

Company director Major (Rtd) Zainal Abdullah said the Italian made product was well received in Europe and would be marketed in the security segment (security companies) and the commercial segment (the public).

Besides the small size and lightness, Mangiafuocco has the ability to put out fires for longer period compared to other existing brands in the market.

”Due to its design and size, it can be held by a child, and can easily put out fires in A, B, C categories, small scale electrical and electronic fires.

“It uses compressed potassium powder and can put out fire for 50 to 100 seconds compared to conventional fire extinguishers weighing 10 kg that can only put out fire for 10 to 19 seconds,” he told Bernama at Defence Services Asia 2016 (DSA) exhibition held at Putra World Trade Centre, here today. 

Mangiafuocco’s ability to put out fires and ease of use was acknowledged by security companies from Italy and Germany.

The product was also easy to maintain as it did not need checks of every six months like older fire extinguishers as it had a product warranty of five years.

Zainal said the product’s final price for the public has not being finalised but added it will cost between RM400 and RM480.

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Defence Services Asia Exhibition In Kl, April 16-19, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia April 21 (NNN-Bernama) — The next edition of Asia’s biggest defence show, Defence Services Asia (DSA) Exhibition and Conference will be held in Kuala Lumpur from April 16 to 19, 2018.

Defence Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the plan of organising the biennial event was already in the pipeline.

In his closing remarks for the 15th edition of DSA 2016 on Thursday, he said the four-day event was a record breaker as it drew 38,000 trade visitors on its first three days.

”It officially set a record for the highest number of visitors a DSA event had ever attracted. At DSA 2014, there were more than 30,000 trade visitors attending the showcase,” he said, adding that he was grateful to all quarters in making a success of the event.

Hishammuddin reiterated that more than RM2.9 billion worth of contracts, memorandi of understanding, letters of agreement and letters of intent were inked.

Elaborating on some of the programmes featured in this showcase, the defence minister said the inclusion of the dynamic, new Malaysian Defence & Security Hall (MdaS Hall) proved to be a beneficial addition, not only to the exhibitors but also visitors interested in understanding the procurement procedures in Malaysia.

“I can honestly say that the DSA has the best installation yet, despite the global economic challenges.

”Indeed, I have witnessed first-hand the goings-on over the last four days and it is not hard to attest to this fact, so congratulations, once again,” he added.

Touted as one of the five biggest defence shows worldwide, Hishammuddin expressed utmost gratitude to DSA Exhibition and Conference Sdn Bhd chairman, Asmat Kamaluddin due to his great determination in ensuring DSA 2016 was an amazing feat.

 He also lauded those involved in the showcase, including the Defence Ministry and Royal Malaysian Police for putting in hard work and steadfast support in ensuring the event went smoothly without any untoward incident.

“I am also aware of the immense support and cooperation rendered by various other organisations such as the Tourism and Culture Ministry, Immigration Department, Customs Department, Malaysia Airports Berhad, Home Ministry, Malaysian Investment Development Authority, International Trade and Industry Ministry and Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation.

DSA 2016 has gathered industry players from across 60 countries, as well as trade visitors from 77 countries.

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Saudi Arabia To Host Largest Poultry Project

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Apr 18 (NNN-SPA) – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is to host the Middle East’s largest poultry project, a report said today. 

Al-Wataniya Poultry, which was established in 1977, has created more than 7,000 jobs.

In a statement, Jamal Al-Saadoon, the Deputy Executive President of the project, said, the factory produces 820,000 chicken per day, one million table eggs and 300 million chicks annually. 

He said, the factory produces as many as 150 categories of chicken, in a non-human intervention process, guaranteeing the safety and quality of the final product. 

The factory has won a number of international prizes, including the famous ISO.

Al-Wataniya Training Institute has contributed to the increase to 23 percent of the Saudisation rate at the factory, the highest ever in the Saudi private sector.– NNN-SPA

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LEAD STORY: Indonesian Christians, Muslims look forward to visiting a free Jerusalem

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 22 April 2016 – Every Christian and Muslim in Indonesia aspires to visit Jerusalem, where Jesus (Prophet Isa in Islam) was born and the Prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven from Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims after the Al-Haram and Nabawi Mosques.

But this will only be possible if Palestine is free and Palestine is not occupied by Zionist Israel; then millions of Indonesian Muslims and Christians would willingly visit Jerusalem again and again.

In line with Islamic teachings in particular, there are three special places to which all Muslims must undertake a journey to.

Allah’s Messenger, the Prophet Muhammad, said, “I have set out deliberately on a journey to only three mosques: this mosque of mine (in Medina), the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah) and the Masjid Al Aqsa.”

Al Aqsa (literally means “the Farthest Mosque”) located in the Al-Haram Al-Sharif compound in Jerusalem, which is the second house of prayer established on earth and the first Qibla (the direction to which Muslims face when praying).

The graves of over 100 prophets, including Ibrahim (Abraham), Yakub (Jacob), and Ishaq (Isaac), are in Palestine.

Tourist destinations in Palestine include the Mediterranean coast, the Jordan valley, the Dead Sea, the desert and its wilderness, mountains, over three thousand-year-old trees, the Battir Villages cultural landscape, the Church of Nativity and the pilgrimage route, and the old city of Jerusalem and its walls.

Despite the Israeli occupation, Palestine has been promoting its tourism attractions to draw tourists, including from Indonesia.

“We need more people to visit Palestine as you need to understand the real situation in the country, and it could help create more opportunities for greater cooperation, cultural development, and investments,” the Ambassador of Palestine to Indonesia, Fariz N. Mehdawi stated at the Palestinian Tourism Seminar held in Jakarta on April 13.

During the seminar, the Palestinian representatives shed light on the countrys tourist attractions, such as religious travel to the Holy Land, Jerusalem, culinary delicacies, beautiful handicrafts, annual festivals, experiential tourism, four seasons, and the landscape, as well as the way of living in Palestine.

The information was presented by representatives of the Palestinian tourism organization, including Elias S Deis from Network for Palestinian Tourism Organization, and Margo Tarazi of Holy Land Incoming Tour Operators Associations.

During the seminar, Ambassador Mehdawi invited all Indonesians to visit Palestine.

He remarked that cooperation in several sectors, including tourism, could strengthen bilateral relations and encourage economic growth in both countries.

The ambassador underlined that tourism can serve as a means to drive economic growth and to create jobs to improve the welfare of the society.

“We need to restore normalcy in Palestine. To this end, we need to create jobs. For creating jobs, we have to build a civilized society and establish a system of complete governance, among others,” he remarked.

He affirmed that by visiting Palestine, the Indonesian people could demonstrate their solidarity with the Palestinians, who have been longing for freedom and peace.

Despite clashes in certain areas of Palestine, he pointed out that there are still several safe tourist areas in Palestine to visit, and that travel agents can direct visitors to these scenic places.

The ambassador also expressed his appreciation for the Indonesian and Japanese governments for organizing the Palestinian Tourism Seminar.

Meanwhile, Nia Niscaya, director of Market Development for Europe, Middle East, America and Africa at the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism, encouraged travel agents to offer a comprehensive tour package to Palestine.

So far, a trip to Palestine is paired with a travel package to Umrah or a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

“It turns out that Palestine not only has the Aqsa Mosque, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem, but it also has many beautiful attractions that I have never seen before. I was only aware that it offered religious tourism, but now I know that it also has varied attractions,” she noted after the seminar.

Moreover, Nia stated that as many as 80 thousand Indonesian people had traveled to Palestine in 2015, for religious and nature tourism.

As part of the Project for Sustainable Tourism Development funded through a public-private partnership, the Palestinian Tourism Seminar was organized jointly by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Palestine, the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Indonesia and Japan encourage the development program in the tourism sector to support development in Palestine,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Technical Cooperation Director, Siti Nugraha Mauludiah remarked during the seminar.

Siti expressed hope that the seminar on Palestinian tourism would also encourage a discussion about Palestinian and Indonesian efforts to develop tourism and antiquities in both countries.

In the meantime, the Japan International Corporation Agencys (JICAs) Senior Representative, Dinur Krismasari said the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and JICA are cooperating for a sustainable tourism development project through a public-private partnership in Palestine.

She said the main objective of the cooperation is to promote and develop sustainable tourism in Palestine, and to encourage tourism as a tool to improve the welfare of life.

Having the worlds fourth largest population of over 250 million, made up mostly of Muslims and some Christians, Indonesia certainly is a huge potential market for Palestines tourism.(*)

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Kazakhstan To Host 1st Session Of Islamic Organisation For Food Security

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia April 21 (NNN-Bernama) — The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Islamic Organisation for Food Security (IOFS), will start work officially with the first session of its founding General Assembly in Astana, Kazakhstan, on April 26-28.

 The OIC said in a statement that the General Assembly will be held paralleled to the 7th Islamic Ministerial Conference on Food Security and Agricultural Development in OIC Member States, which would discuss and decide on the outcome of the works of the General Assembly.

Kazakhstan Prime Minister, Karim Massimov is scheduled to open the Assembly, while OIC Secretary-General, Iyad Ameen Madani and Islamic Development Bank Group President, Dr Ahmad Mohammad Ali, will address the opening ceremony.

The agenda includes the election of the president and vice-presidents of the IOFS General Assembly, presidents and members of the Executive Board, Director General of IOFS Secretariat; and the signing ceremony of IOFS Statute and the Headquarters Agreement between Kazakhstan government and the IOFS.

The founding General Assembly will also consider IOFS’s budget for the period 2016-2018, rules of procedure, financial regulations, personnel regulations and its five-year action plan. 

IOFS was initiated following the call made by Kazakhstan President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, at the opening of the 38th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) held in Astana on June 28-30, 2011.

The president had proposed a system for the exchange of food assistance within the framework of the OIC through a regional fund, similar to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

It includes the establishment of a joint food reserve by interested Member States.

 The OIC had sought to establish an executive framework for food security, in addition to the projects being implemented by OIC’s relevant institutions, particularly after the global food, energy and finance crisis, which reached its height in 2008.

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Ghana:Forum On The Protection Of Vultures Ends

HO, April, 23 (NNN-GNA) — Dr Justus Deikumah, Project Director of the Indigenous Vulture Monitoring Project, has observed that the human race’s slow but robust onslaught on wildlife is a huge threat to the world’s ecosystem.

He said the earth is losing that harmony between humans and nature that sustain it.

Dr Deikumah was speaking at a forum in Ho to brainstorm on the depleting numbers of vultures in communities despite their environmental policing role.

 The forum under the Indigenous Vulture Monitoring Project is a collaboration of the University Of Cape Coast Department Of Conservation Biology and Entomology and the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences, Ho Polytechnic with support from Rufford Small Grants among others.

Dr Deikumah said the Project became necessary following findings that, vulture, “a large carnivorous bird that is well known for its scavenging nature,” is endangered.

He said each of the 9,856 species of birds in the world, known and recorded, has a significant use in the environment, affecting their various zones- forests, forest fringes, waters, savannahs among others differently.

Dr Deikumah said that is why the vulture, must not be allowed to go extinct. 

He said it is a pity a creature, such as the vulture should be portrayed in the negative light as filthy.

Dr Deikumah called on all, to come together to change the story of the ‘respected scavenger’- vulture.

Some of the threats to vultures, according to a project flyer, are poisoning, collision with vehicles, electrocution and the destruction of breeding sites.

Professor Kweku Monney, who represented the Dean of the Department of Conservation and Entomology, spoke on the theme: “The Significance of Vultures in keeping our Cities Free of Diseases.”

 He observed that the human race’s indifference to the welfare of vultures could be due to ignorance.

Participants made up of academics, environmental health workers, students, traditional leaders and the youth later broke into groups to discuss the current vulture situation and ways to rescue the perishing creature.

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Foreign Banks Have New Business Opportunities In Iran – Kerry

WASHINGTON, April 23 (NNN-KUNA) — US Secretary of State John Kerry said foreign banks should seek to do business with Iran after it had complied with the nuclear deal.

In remarks to reporters after meeting his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Zarif in New York, Kerry added “I want to emphasize we’ve lifted our nuclear-related sanctions as we committed to do and there are now opportunities for foreign banks to do business with Iran.”

“Unfortunately, there seems to be some confusion among foreign banks and we want to clarify that as much as we can,” Kerry noted and added that some sanctions on Iran were lifted that embargoed it from dealing with non-US banks.

From his side, Zarif reiterated that Iran “has implemented its part of the bargain and we hope that with this statement by Secretary Kerry that we see serious implementation of all the JCPOA benefits that Iran should derive from this agreement.”

Iran still has around 55 billion dollars frozen in the world financial system when Kerry announced last week that Iran has received only three billion dollars since Implementation Day last January of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or the JCPOA deal that was struck last July to limit Iran’s nuclear weaponing capabilities.

Today witnessed a breakthrough deal where Washington is set to buy 32 tons of heavy water, a nuclear assisting substance, from Tehran for 8.6 million dollars, opening speculation for a wider Iran interrogation into the world financial system

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Malaysia Re-Pledges To Achieve 45 Per Cent CO2 Emission By 2030

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia April 22 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia has re-pledged to reduce 45 per cent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by 2030 to address climate change and global warming.

Federal Department of Town and Country Planning (FDTCP) director-general Dr Dolbani Mijan said the new pledge was driven by encouraging results, with a reduction of 33 per cent, seen between 2005 till last year.

”In 2009, the government had declared voluntary reduction of 40 per cent in terms of emission intensity by the year 2020, as compared to the 2005 level.

“However, we discovered that we have already achieved 33 per cent by 2015 and we are confident to reach 40 per cent by 2020 and are now positive to set a higher target” he told reporters at The International Symposium on Low Carbon Development in Asia 2016 here Thursday.

He said it was important for Malaysia to achieve the target since the country was one of the highest producing CO2 emission among Asian countries, after Singapore and Brunei.

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World Squash Championships In Kuala Lumpur On April 25

KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia’s eight-time squash world champion, Nicol David expects an electrifying atmosphere playing in front of the home crowd in the NAZA PSA Women’s World Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil near here starting Monday onwards. 

She is anticipating the partisan support from the home crowd to give her an encouragement as she aims for her ninth glory in the prestigious tournament. 

”I’ll make the most of this opportunity playing in Malaysia and I’m pretty sure the atmosphere will be full of energy in the stadium,” she was quoted as saying in the Professional Squash Association (PSA) website;www.psaworldtour.com, Thursday. 

Nicol who suffered a mixed fortune this season including losing the top spot in the world rankings to England’s Laura Massaro since January this year noted that her experiences have only served to help her focus on how to get to the next level in her game. 

Nicol will kick-off her title defence against Rachael Grinham of Australia in the opening match on Tuesday, April 26. 

For the record, Nicol has won the world championship eighth times — 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

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Bank Islam Brunei launches 8th Home Showcase

Borneo Bulletin, April 23, 2016 – THE annual Home Showcase of Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) is back for its eighth edition this year, offering special promotions for BIBD’s financing packages, including Home Financing, Home Improvement Financing, Education Financing and Personal Financing.

The showcase was launched yesterday by chief guest Dr Hajah May Faezah binti Haji Ahmad Ariffin, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Economy and Finance) at the Prime Minister’s Office and will be ongoing at The Mall until May 1.

Showcase customers will be entitled to full fee waivers on processing fees for BIBD Home Improvement Financing and Consolidated Financing Scheme; 50 per cent discount on processing fees for Personal and Home Financing, in addition to other BIBD services.

Applications made during the showcase will ultimately give customers a chance to win prizes such as iPad minis, vouchers to Supa Save and Hua Ho, and BIBD Hadiah Points.

This year’s showcase also aims to serve as a comprehensive platform for future homeowners, to take a better look at property and home improvement opportunities through BIBD’s collaboration with their stellar partners; including the likes of real estate agents like Primeland, Bess Perfect Property Agency and JFA Real Estate.

Meanwhile, BIBD also partnered with household names including Tomato KidZ, Loft Furniture, Max Track, Bait Al Hijab, Al Awani, Desa Villa, The Potters, and SB Décor. Takaful coverage through Takaful Brunei Keluarga and Takaful Brunei Am will also be at the showcase.

BIBD will also be bringing in its BIBD Ar-Rahnu and BIBD Business Banking to provide their customers a clearer picture of how the services can prove beneficial for entrepreneurs, particularly SMEs.

The launch began with the recitation of Surah Al-Fatihah followed by a Doa Selamat, before Mubashar Khokhar, BIBD Managing Director, proceeded to deliver his opening remarks.

The 8th BIBD Home Showcase will be running for a period of 10 days till May 1

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Some 8 projects worth SYP 20 billion inaugurated in Lattakia

23 April، 2016 Lattakia, SANA – Premier Wael al- Halaqi on Saturday inaugurated and laid the foundation stones of a number of development projects at an estimated cost of SYP 20 billion in the coastal Lattakia province.

He opened the new building of the General Electricity Company of Lattakia at a cost of SYP 100 million and a Basic Education school worth SYP 250 million.

Other projects included the Housing Savings Project, with 1500 apartments valued SYP 6 billion, and the Medical Waste Treatment Plant for Lattakia and Tartous that is worth SYP 400 million.

The Premier also laid the cornerstone of the Integrated Solid Waste Treatment Center, whose cost is estimated at SYP 8 billion and which will include a compost factory, a solid waste treatment facility, a demolition debris processing plant and a sanitary landfill.

Foundation stones were laid also for two irrigation projects worth SYP 1.265 billion and SYP 612 million, respectively. The projects are expected to benefit approximately 210,000 people.

The Justice Palace project, whose cost is estimated at SYP 6 billion, was among the projects inaugurated by the Premier.

Al-Halaqi later inspected the rehabilitation works to repair the damage inflicted by terrorist acts on the Citadel of Salah Ed-Din, which has just reopened its doors to visitors.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister opened and laid the foundation stones of several projects worth around SYP 17 billion in Tartous province.

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MODATEX Ugarit fashion and leather clothing expo opens in Lattakia

23 April، 2016, Lattakia, SANA – The MODATEX Ugarit Spring-Summer 2016 fashion and leather clothing expo kicked off on Saturday at Lamira Hotel in Lattakia, with the participation of over 70 companies from across the country.

The expo, organized by the Syrian Exporters Union, the Local Production and Exports Development and Support Agency, and Lattakia Chamber of Commerce will last for two days, showcasing various clothing products including men and women’s apparel, children’s clothing, underwear, lingerie, hosieries, evening wear, and shoes.

Chairman of the Syrian Exporters Union Mohammad al-Sawwah said such expos show that Syrian industries are recovering and that good alternatives for imports are available as local production is capable of meeting the market’s needs.

He noted that Syrian clothing is being exported to neighboring countries on daily basis despite massive difficulties.

For his part, Director of the Local Production and Exports Development and Support Agency Ihab Esmandar said that MODATEX expos are proving to be increasingly popular, with 10 new companies participating in the current expo compared to the previous one, adding that the expo sends a message that the clothing industry is recovering but it needs more efforts to assume its role in national economy.

Mohammad Hamwi, one of the participants in the expo, said that he was displaced from Aleppo after terrorists burned down his factory there, yet he refused to give up and settled in Kasab area in Lattakia where he built a plant there that began production 9 months ago.

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Reading marathon launched in Damascus on World Book Day

23 April، 2016, Damascus, SANA – The Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with the Syrian “Steps Adventure Club,” organized an event titled “the reading marathon” at Tishreen Park in Damascus marking the World Book Day

The activity includes holding reading camp for primary school children which will run for fifty days, three hours per day, in addition to other interactive activities organized in parallel in several provinces, and will move from the capital Damascus to other Syrian provinces.

The opening ceremony contained various interactive activities with the participation of 25 volunteers from the Steps Adventure Club, after which children were divided into several groups, with one volunteer for each group who does a dramatic reading from a book, and then they leave the children to continue reading the rest of the book on their own.

In a statement to SANA, Assistant Culture Minister Bassam Abu Ghannam underlined the Ministry’s efforts to encourage parents to establish a small library at their houses so that they may contribute to raising a better generation throughenhancing children’s awareness, educating them, and enriching their imagination.

He noted that activities like the reading marathon will also help children interact with each other and develop social skills, expecting a wide participation by children since the activity will move from one province to another.

For his part, Head of the Steps Adventure Club Samer Mousa said that the main objective of the marathon is to help children acquire and develop good reading habits outside of school and its curricula, noting that reading sessions and other interactive activities will be organized tomorrow at the Children with Cancer Support Association (BASMA) and SOS Children’s Villages.

He added that children participating in the reading marathon were selected in cooperation with the Education Ministry and primary school directors, indicating that the activity targets children between 6 and 12 years of age with the aim of developing reading as a habit since childhood.

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Kazakh traditional dress exhibition underway

Astana, kazakh.tv – 23.04.2016 – Ethno-cultural associations of Aktau showcased over 50 traditional dresses, including wedding, festive attire and everyday outfits of Ukrainians, Bashkirs, Armenians, Jews and many other nationalities. The organizers wanted to show diversity and multi-ethnicity of Kazakhstan. Visitors could learn history and culture of Germans, Azerbaijanis, Tatars and Belarusians. For example, representatives of the Karakalpak Center demonstrated three dresses, including the wedding dress.

Miuagul Tarikhova, Representative Of Karakalpak Nation: The Karakalpak wedding dress is quite complicated. It is made of only high-quality fabrics, and they are painted with natural dyes. This outfit was embroidered for about six months.

Amankul Zhaiylkhanova, Head Of ‘Public Consent’ State Institution: This exhibition is organized in the framework of the National Plan ‘100 steps’. Our exhibition depicts the unity, solidarity and friendship of our Kazakhstan’s people.

The guests also visited the exhibition of folk artists and a doll show.

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Rural tourism gains momentum in eastern Kazakhstan

Astana, 23.04.2016 kazakh.tv — Rural tourism is being developed in eastern Kazakhstan as part of international project ‘Golden Altai’. The Poperechka village is the most remote in Ridder and is located right at the foot of the Altai Mountains, next to the West Altai Reserve.

Visitors from all over the world are welcomed here. Everything started more than a year ago. This is when Ridder residents decided to take part in the project and won the grant worth 10.5 million tenge. The funds have been used for the construction of the guest houses and the revival of old traditions. Thus, a village created its own folk ensemble.

The Chupins family are preparing for the new tourist season as well. They are constructing a wooden arbor.

Svetlana Chupina, Project Participant: We are trying to develop the rural infrastructure. We moved here from the city in order to revive the traditions of the village. We want to build a wooden house for tourists so they could visit us and stay. However, the rural way of life is interesting not only to the younger generation. Tourist Yevgeny Sidelnikov, for example, was happy to chop wood for the banya.

Yevgeny Sidelnikov, Tourist: We have a lot of picturesque places in the east. Therefore, rural tourism is necessary to revive villages and create new jobs.

But the project will soon finish. That is why residents of Poperechka seek for state support.

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6,000 trees planted in Astana

24.04.2016 – According to the most conservative estimate some 100,000 people responded to city authorities’ appeal to take part in the community clean-up day including even members of parliament.

Murat BAkhtiyaruly, Member Of Senate, Upper House Of Kazakh Parliament: We are planting these trees with pleasure and this reminds us of our childhood. As children we used to help our parents in the garden or in the field.

Vladimir Bozhko, Deputy Chairman Of Majilis, Lower House Of Kazakh Parliament: The most important thing is that the city would become more beautiful and greener. I think, during the Expo, we will be able to say that the MPs and all the residents made their contribution as well.

The city Mayor Adilbek Zhaksybekov took part in the cleanup event as well. The mayor set to garden the capital. He planted the Siberian spruce. Large-sized seedlings have been planted in 10 places of Astana. Besides conifers, fruit trees appeared too: bird cherry, rowan, and hawthorn. They have adapted to city’s climate.

Kirill An, Student, School No. 72: It is a great honor and tradition for all graduates because we are given the opportunity to contribute to the development of Astana.

City greenification will continue until 18 May.

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Antalya’s Expo 2016 opens its doors

Antalya, April 23, AZERTAC – Antalya’s Expo 2016 opened with hopes that the six-month food-themed world fair will be a catalyst for a tourism industry revival in the southern Turkish province, located on the Mediterranean Sea coast. The expo, one of the most important horticultural exhibitions in the world, is expected to attract 8 million visits over six months and aims at constituting a permanent and unique tourist attraction for the region.

National pavilion of Azerbaijan, covering about 2000 square meters of the exhibition space, was assembled under the support of the Heydar Aliyev Center. The Azerbaijani delegation at the exhibition included Deputy Director of the Heydar Aliyev Center Adil Kerimli, Minister of Agriculture Heydar Asadov and Azerbaijani Ambassador in Ankara Faig Bagirov.

The Azerbaijani national pavilion features the rich fauna, unique biodiversity and culture of Azerbaijan’s gardening along with samples of national carpets and artworks reflecting the nature of Azerbaijan.

The official opening ceremony for the expo was held Friday night with the attendance of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoglu and other international guests.

“This Expo is the culmination of many years of work and today we witness the magnificent result of all this hard work,” said Bernard Oosterom, president of the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH).

“I am convinced that this Expo opens the way for Turkey to host many other major international events but always remember, it started here!” Oosterom said.

Expo 2016 Antalya, on a 112-hectare exhibition site, includes, notably, Turkey’s first agriculture and biodiversity museum, a greenhouse, Turkey’s largest congress center, two amphitheaters, an artificial island and a science and technology center for children.

Some 53 participating countries introduced their national horticultural tradition emphasizing international diversity.

Together with Turkey, 53 countries, from 4 continents, have put innovation, art, technology and imagination at the service of the beauty and the poetry of gardens.

Forty “urban best practices”, selected at both national and international levels, have been displayed to introduce innovating solutions to environmental problems, organic farming, biotechnology and agricultural techniques.

A number of activities have also been scheduled throughout the Expo to enable children to develop environmental awareness and responsibility. Issues such as global warming, ecological farming, the protection of biodiversity, sustainability and food security will also be addressed. There are several ambitious gardens inside the exhibition site, including a 3,150-square- meter Chinese garden called Moon’s Jewel and a 1,200-square-meter Japanese garden.

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Baku hosts exhibition of Portuguese artists

Baku, April 23, AZERTAC – The Baku-based Museum of Modern Art has hosted an exhibition of Portuguese artists called “I Wanna Be Adored”. The opening ceremony was attended by Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan Abulfas Garayev.

Chargé d’Affaires of Portugal in Azerbaijan Maria João Lopes Cardoso, addressing the opening ceremony, said that this exhibition is the first cultural initiative of Portugal in Azerbaijan.

“This cultural event is one of the series of events to be organized in Azerbaijan as Portugal is interested in developing and strengthening of friendly relations with Azerbaijan. The two peoples have much in common, and the best bridge between our peoples is culture,” said the diplomat.

The exhibition features artworks of three Portuguese artists – Andre Almeida de Souza, Paulo Brigenti Ferreira and Thomas Kuhn. The exhibition is aimed at young people.

“I Wanna Be Adored” is a song by the British rock band The Stone Roses.

The exhibition, which is held under the patronage of the Museum of Modern Art and the Portuguese diplomatic mission in Azerbaijan, will be open for three weeks.

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Tourist sites of Naama drew over 10,000 tourists in 2015

NAAMA, Algeria, 23 April 2016 – The tourist sites of the province of Naama (around 600-km southwest of Algiers) drew over 10,000 tourists, including 360 foreigners, in 2015, said local executives of the sector.

Owing to the diversity of its tourist sites, especially the oases of Moghrar, Tiout and Asla, the ksour of Sfissifa,

Sidi-Boutekhil and Ain-Sefra and al-Kalaa (citadel) of Sheikh Bouamama, in addition to its rock engravings and its spas, the province attracts many tourists from all over the country as well as from abroad.

Many actions have been undertaken by the sector to boost domestic tourism and facilitate the movement of citizens of the country’s northern regions to the South.

The province enjoy a rich potential that enables it to draw more tourists and investors in the field, especially following the measures taken by public authorities to encourage domestic tourism and incentives for investment in the sector, said the Province’s Tourism Director Mohamed Saoud.

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Algiers Grand Mosque to be completed on time

ALGIERS, 23 April 2016 – The project of Algiers Grand Mosque will be completed within the deadlines, i.e. by the end of 2016 or by the end of the first quarter of 2017, said Saturday in Algiers Minister of Housing, Urban Planning and the City Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

In a statement to the press during an inspection visit to the project’s construction site, Tebboune said that “the works are progressing at a remarkable rate.”

In this regard, he hailed the “unprecedented” coordination between the agency supervising the project, the Chinese building firm ‘China State Construction Engineering Corporation’ and the French engineering firm EGIS.

The high-level coordination allowed the works to progress at such a rapid rate, he said, adding that the minaret has exceeded 120 metres high.

The dome covering the prayer room is being built in China and will be sent on May 6 and set up after the holy month of fasting Ramadhan.

The decoration works will be entrusted to a specialized international engineering firm and made by Algerian artisans, said the minister.

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Bangladesh Denim Expo begins April 25

DHAKA, April 20, 2016 (BSS) – The two-day “Bangladesh Denim Expo” will begin next week in the capital city Dhaka to promote the country as the prime destination for sourcing latest designs of jeans and other denim products. 

A total of 49 companies from 13 countries will participate in the exhibition to be held at the Bashundhara International Convention City on April 25-26.

The participating countries included Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. 

The host of the expo, Chittagong-based Denim Expert Limited, is expecting around 4000 visitors and nearly 900 companies at the flagship annual event.

“Bangladesh denim expo is a non-profit, non-government organisation, which envisioned to act as a hub where all the people who matter in the denim world can get together and bond on the common factor of denim,” the organiser said in the brochure of the fourth edition of the expo. 

It also said the expo is an international platform for showcasing the entire value chain from all aspects of Jeanswear and aiming to fulfill the needs of the international denim community.

The organiser also expects that this year’s expo would showcase the most innovative trends and techniques that would rule the denim world for the next seasons. 

On the sideline of the expo, six seminars will be organised on focusing some important issues, including current trend in denim industries and Bangladesh prospect for the industry over the next five years.

Industry experts and panel discussants will share their experience on the issues and will put forward some recommendations for improving further the denim industries here. 

According to a document of the organiser, at present the denim industry consists of 26 denim fabric manufacturers, producing around 360 million yards a year. The country was the second largest exporter to the EU denim market in 2014, with shipping denim product worth 932.86 million euro.

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Ten new tourist destinations planned in Indonesia

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 22 April 2016 – Having more than 17,000 small and large islands, Indonesia is known for its amazing natural beauty, which continues to attract tourists from throughout the world.

Endowed with lovely mountains covered by lush forests, waterfalls, unique wildlife, and white sandy beaches with breathtaking crystal clear turquoise water, the beauty of Indonesia is beyond words.

No wonder this archipelago country has become a dream holiday destination for tourists from all over the world, seeking to relax and unwind.

In addition to having multi-ethnic communities and different cultures that are friendly and welcoming, Indonesia also possesses a wide range of marine and natural attractions for tourists to enjoy.

Every year the government allocates significant amounts of funds to develop 60 to 80 tourism sites across the country, with seemingly little impact, as only Bali continues to stands out.

Therefore, the government of Indonesia has decided to emphasize the development and boosting of ten new tourist destinations, which is expected to increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals in the country.

This being a consideration, the government, through the Ministry of Tourism under its “Wonderful Indonesia” program, is developing and promoting Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Tanjung Kelayang beach in Belitung island, Tanjung Lesung beach in Banten, Thousand Islands in Jakarta, Borobudur Temple in Central Java, Mounts Bromo and Semeru in East Java, Mandalika beach in West Nusa Tenggara, Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, and Morotai Island in North Maluku.

These ten new tourist destinations are Indonesias main strengths, and have been classified into three sub-sections, including golf tourism, cruise tourism and diving tourism.

Following the development and promotion of these ten new tourist destinations, visitors can explore these must-see attractions, which offer high-quality amenities and memorable experiences.

These ten new destinations are expected to achieve these goals and generate significant traffic and revenue growth for local communities.

To develop these exceptional tourist destinations, local communities, the tourism businesses and organizations within them need to work together, build on existing infrastructure, and strengthen their competitive advantages.

Even the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs is focusing on the development of these ten new tourist destinations to boost foreign tourist arrivals.

It is the intention of Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli that by focusing on the development of these ten new tourist destinations, the government can concentrate on allocating funds to build access roads, infrastructure, and marine infrastructure.

Developing new tourist destinations and tourist attractions is an inseparable chain in the hotel and restaurant business and, therefore, the Indonesia Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) is also committed to supporting this development.

In light of this, the government is expected to bring together all tourism programs using intensive activities with tourism attractions, summarized in a calendar of events.

The calendar of events is very important to attract both foreign and domestic tourists to travel to all parts of Indonesia, as long as tourism promotions have a positive impact and remain on target.

All ten new tourist destinations are being promoted in South Korea, as the governments target is to attract more than 400,000 tourists from South Korea in 2016.

This number reflects an 11 percent increase over last years target of 360,000 tourists.

For the people of South Korea, Bali is a popular tourist site, but the Ministry of Tourism is promoting these new tourist destinations among prospective visitors from abroad, under a program called Beyond Bali, in a bid to introduce these areas and also showcase traditional dances.

In terms of culture and tourism, most South Korean citizens do not understand the potential of Indonesia, and so, the Ministry of Tourism, through various programs, continues to make efforts to promote tourist destinations other than Bali among South Koreans.

Support for the development and promotion of the 10 new tourist destinations in Indonesia also comes from Citilink airline, through a tourism package cooperative agreement with the Association of Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants.

Citilink President and CEO Albert Burhan has said the airline would support the development and promotion of the 10 new tourist destinations, as long as it is also supported by adequate infrastructure, because the airports at some destinations have not been able to accommodate wide-bodied aircraft, such as some Airbus jetliners.

The tourism sector is one of the main pillars of the local economy, and by 2019 it is expected to create 13 million jobs, attract 20 million foreign tourists and 275 million domestic tourists, and to raise Indonesias world tourism competitiveness index to the 30th rank.

Also, by 2019 the tourism sector is expected to contribute eight percent to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with foreign exchange amounting to Rp240 trillion.

While in 2016 the tourism sector is expected to attract 12 million foreign tourists, earning foreign exchange amounting to Rp172 trillion and ensuring 260 million domestic tourist trips that will collectively spend Rp223.6 trillion.

The contribution of tourism to the national GDP in 2016 is expected to increase by 5 percent, while creating 11.7 million jobs.(*)

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Ngurah Raii receives award for most improved airport

Kuta, Bali Province (ANTARA News), 23 April 2016 – The Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali Province was bestowed two prestigious awards for the most improved airport in 2015 and the third airport with the best services in the world.

“The award of the most improved airport refers to the quality of services that have successfully improved every year,” General Manager of PT Angkasa Pura I Ngurah Rai International Airport Trikora Harjo stated here on Friday.

According to Harjo, the airport received a score of 2.95 for the quality of services it offered in 2012, and it has increased to 60.7 in 2015.

In addition to receiving laurels for the airport, which has made remarkable progress in offering services to passengers, Ngurah Rai also bagged an award for the third-best airport in the Asia-Pacific region in the category of airport handling 15-25 million passengers per year.

The Gimpo International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, was ranked first, and the second place was occupied by the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport, China.

The award was based on the votes received during the survey conducted by the Airport Council International (ACI) in terms of the airport service quality in 2015.

The satisfaction score for the quality of airport services was based on a survey of 550 thousand passengers at 320 international airports in 80 countries.

The assessment categories are related to access to the airport, check-in facilities, completeness and cleanliness of toilets, airport security, and supporting facilities for services, such as the availability of shops selling food and beverages at the airport.

The prestigious world awards included three regions of the Asia Pacific, the Americas, and Africa.

Two awards were presented by Director General of ACI Angela Gittens to Trikora Harjo during a conference held by the organization of observers for the international airport in Gold Coast, Australia, on April 18-20, 2016.(*)

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“Wonderful Indonesia” echoes in various countries

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 23 April 2016 – Indonesia is currently introducing its tourism potential through “Wonderful Indonesia,” a campaign it is promoting in many countries, such as Montenegro, China, Monaco and the United Arab Emirates.

In Monaco, the Indonesia Pavilion was voted Best Participant by the organizers of the 25th International Tourism Exchange and Tourism Fair and Equipment for Hotels & Catering (METUBES) Fair which was held from April 21 to 23 in Budva, Montenegro.

Through the Indonesian Embassy in Belgrade, the “Wonderful Indonesia” brand was promoted and Indonesia became the first Asian country to become a partner of the event.

The Indonesian Embassy in Belgrade informed in a statement received in Jakarta on Saturday that Indonesian Ambassador to Montenegro, Harry Kandou, is working to strengthen relations between both nations.

One of the steps aimed at fostering relations between Indonesia and Montenegro is the participation in the METUBES Fair.

Indonesias presence in Montenegro is not merely to attract tourists but also to boost business-to-business cooperation in the field of tourism. “The Indonesian Pavilion sprawled over 163 square meters promotes the “Wonderful Indonesia” tourism program with a focus on the maritime sector.

Visitors to the pavilion enjoyed various overviews of the Indonesian tourism experiences, Habadi Soewedo, chief cultural and social affairs information officer of the Indonesian Embassy in Belgrade, said.

The Indonesian Embassy continues to combine various types of promotions including travel destinations, cultural, culinary and fashion, in each of the embassys activities. If these promotions are handled well, the blend of all tourism aspects can further make them more effective, according to the ambassador.

In the fair titled “Wonderful Indonesia,” the Indonesian Pavilion presented a lot of attractions, such as the special coffees of Indonesia and its traditional dances. The various strategies are aimed at instilling in the minds of potential travelers the idea of a “dream holiday” in Indonesia, as well as establishing a brand image of Wonderful Indonesia in the European region.

In China, particularly in the Henan Province, the Indonesian Tourism Ministry also promoted tourism trough the “Wonderful Indonesia” brand at the Nanyang Cultural Festival. The Chinese cultural festival is being held in Henan on April 20-26, 2016.

Assistant Deputy for Asia Pacific Market Development of the Tourism Ministry, Vinsensius Jamadu, said in Jakarta on Thursday (April 21) that the mission of his ministry in the Chinese festival was to attract Chinese tourists to visit Indonesia. China is one of the main market for Indonesian tourism.

In the festival, the Ministry of Tourism staged a number of traditional arts performances and presented various Indonesian special foods such as rendang (meat simmered in spices and coconut milk), fried rice, satay, chicken soup, oxtail soup and rawon (beef stew and other fixings) soup.

“The taste of the Indonesian culinary dishes matches the appetite of Chinese who like savory and spicy foods,” noted Vinsensius Jemadu, who also attended the inauguration of the Indonesian “Wonderful Indonesia” restaurant in Hebei, Anhui province, China, recently.

In the festival, the tourism ministry open a special stand and gave a chance to visitors to obtain information on various flagship tourism destinations in Indonesia.

The ministry promoted at least 10 primary tourism destinations namely the Buddhist Temple of Borobudur, the Mandalaika, the Labuhan Bajo, the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru, the Seribu Islands, the Lake Toba, the Wakatobi, the Tanjung Lesung, Morotai and the Tanjung Kelayang tourist destinations.

This promotion is in line with Tourism Minister Arief Yahyas appeal to tourism officials to ensure that the Indonesian tourism marketing promotion efforts across the world result in better contacts with the media. These should also promote the various deregulation measures undertaken by the Indonesian government to provide easy visa to tourists intending to visit Indonesia.

In the meantime, “Wonderful Indonesia” has also won appreciation from Prince Albert II of Monaco when it was introduced during an Indonesia-Monaco Friendship Night in Monte Carlo on April 20.

The Tourism Ministry Secretary, Ukus Kuswara, said in Monaco on Saturday that Monacos head of state appreciated the campaign when he attended the friendship night, where cultural and arts performances were the highlight.

Apart from Prince Albert II, the friendship night, an initiative of the Indonesian tourism ministry and the Indonesian Embassy in Paris, was also attended by government officials, the head of state palace, the head of Monaco Economic Agency, industrialists and tourism business players of the kingdom state.

As part of its efforts to attract tourists from the Middle East, the Tourism Ministry will also take part in the Arabian Travel Mart in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), scheduled for April 25 to 28, 2016.

The Tourism Ministry will promote the “Wonderful Indonesia” program at the “Arabian Travel Mart” as part of its efforts to develop global tourism networks and attract more foreign tourists to Indonesia.

The Assistant Deputy for America, Middle East, Europe Tourism Promotion at the Tourism Ministry, Nia Niscaya, said on Thursday (April 21) that the Middle East is a big tourism market for Indonesia.

Currently, Indonesia is trying to catch up with Malaysia, which attracts about 300 thousand tourists from the Middle East, or with Thailand, which receives some 800 thousand tourists from the same region.

“The Middle East market is big, with tourists spending more than the average expenditure norms. Generally, the length of stay for the Middle East tourists is about 8.5 days, with an average spending of about US$1,190 each. In Dubai, we target family tourists, who spend about two to three months of holidays during the dry season,” Nia said.

The participation of Indonesia in the Arabian Travel Mart will be the 14th such appearance. This year, the Tourism Ministry has invited 52 national tourism operators, restaurants and hotels.

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Indonesia partner country at Montenegro tourism fair

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 22 April 2016 – Indonesia is the first Asian nation to be selected as a partner country at the 25th International Tourism Fair for Hotels and Catering being held in Budva, Montenegro, on April 21-23, 2016.

“Tourism promotion is a continuous process. Being a partner country at this exhibition is only the first round in the huge leaps in the relations between Indonesia and Montenegro to intensify cooperation,” Indonesian Ambassador to Montenegro Harry RJ Kandou noted in a press statement received by ANTARA News here on Friday.

Kandou pointed out that Montenegro, located in Central Europe, had a well-developed tourism sector.

In 2015, Montenegro received some 1.7 million tourists, which was almost three times the population of the country.

The tourism sector contributes 70 percent of the state revenue.

Therefore, the presence of Indonesia in Montenegro will not only help to attract tourists but will also encourage “business-to-business” cooperation, especially in the tourism sector, the ambassador stated.

The Indonesian pavilion themed “Wonderful Indonesia” showcased maritime travel at the exhibition, the ambassador added.

Every visitor, who stopped by, had an opportunity to enjoy an overview of the various Indonesian travel experiences.

The Indonesian pavilion also offered specialty coffee and traditional art performances, such as a dance form from Sumatra.

On April 21, the Indonesian Embassy held a reception by inviting the business and media community of Montenegro. The event has attracted several travel agents from Montenegro to cooperate with their Indonesian counterparts.

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Business agreements worth US$20.5 billion during European visit: President Jokowi

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 23 April 2016 – Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) stated that his official visits to European countries have yielded business-to-business agreements worth US$20.5 billion.

“There have been two outcomes I have achieved from these visits. The first is the trust that all businessmen in the European countries and European Union reposed in the economy of Indonesia,” Jokowi stated here in a press conference after a tour of Europe, at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport on Saturday afternoon.

The second outcome, the president pointed out, was the trust that European countries expressed in the role that Indonesia has been playing in establishing peace through advocacy of moderate Islam.

Indonesia’s policies of economic deregulation were also appreciated by a number of European countries, he remarked.

During his visit, the president and his entourage made a number of commitments and underscored the priority for entering cooperation with many countries. These included, for instance, cooperation between Indonesia and Germany focusing on education and vocational training schools.

“Vocational schools and vocational training are aimed at creating skilled manpower in accordance with the needs of the market and global competition,” the president stated.

Then, Indonesia and the United Kingdom reinforced their cooperation in the field of creative economy and industries.

Jokowi also expressed his pride in the Indonesian fashion products being sold in many shopping centers in London.

“Belgium, or rather the European Union, really appreciated the speed with which we completed the scoping papers of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Now, we just need to proceed to the negotiations stage,” Jokowi said.

Moreover, Indonesia and the Netherlands agreed on cooperation in the field of maritime and water management.

“Later in November, the Dutch Prime Minister will visit Indonesia along with business delegations,” the president remarked.

The president had paid a visit to the European countries from April 17 to 23, 2016, visiting Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands.

During his visit, Jokowi also held meetings with members of the Indonesian community living in a number of countries.

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Quartetto Di Venezia To Perform For Opening Of Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. 25 April, 2016: The prestigious Italian string quartet Quartetto di Venezia is holding a concert in Abu Dhabi to celebrate the opening of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Quartetto di Venezia will perform at Abu Dhabi Theatre, Corniche Breakwater, on Tuesday, April 26th as a guest of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and The Embassy of Italy to the United Arab Emirates.

The Quartet has been invited to the emirate as Italy is this year’s Guest of Honour at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. The concert is also supported by the Abu Dhabi Classics international concert season, which runs until May and attracts leading classical music performers from across the world to perform in the emirate during its annual nine month season.

With Andrea Vio (violin), Alberto Battiston (violin), Giancarlo Di Vacri (viola) and Angelo Zanin (cello), the quartet will treat the audience to a rich repertoire from Puccini, Verdi and Beethoven.

The Quartet is renowned for its distinctive precision and passion, the inherited qualities of two basic schools of quartet interpretation: The Quartetto Italiano under the guidance of Piero Farulli and the Mid-European School of the Vegh Quartet. In addition to their appearances throughout Italy, the Quartet has toured extensively all over the world.

The 26th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair will be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, from 27 April to 3 May 2016 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

The Book Fair will highlight its Personality of the Year, the Arabic-Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd, through a dedicated pavilion while Italy will also be celebrated through an integrated programme that consists of cultural and professional events and kids’ activities. Italy will also feature in the Show Kitchen and the Illustrator’s Corner and shed the light on the Emirati-Italian cultural dialogue.

The concert begins at 8.30pm with free entry.# Free textbooks distribution check drop-out rate: Nahid

DHAKA, April 23, 2016 (BSS) – Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid today said the distribution of textbooks free of cost and introduction of PSC and JSC examinations are playing important role in checking children’s drop-out rate in primary and secondary schools.

“The incumbent government has introduced primary education terminal examination and junior school certificate examination to upgrade the country’s literacy rate to 100 per cent. When children of poor families come to their residence with PSC and JSC certificates, their guardians get inspired to educate their children further,” he said.

The minister was addressing a discussion on “Developing Reading Habit in Bangladesh: Progress and Responsibilities” at Bishwo Shahitto Kendro auditorium here to mark the World Book and Copyright Day. 

Bishwo Shahitto Kendro and Secondary Education Quality and Access Enhancement Project (SEQAEP) jointly organized the discussion with Bishwo Shahitto Kendro Chairman Professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed in the chair.

Education Secretary M Sohrab Hossain, Cultural Affairs Secretary Aktari Mamtaz and SEQAEP Director M Mahmud-ul-Huq joined the function as special guests. 

Nahid said some 40 lac students get opportunities of reading books under Secondary Education Quality and Access Enhancement Project.

“Around 16 lac new readers of 9,700 educational institutions in 215 upazilas came under this project till 2016. Besides, 35 more upazilas will have to be brought under this project this year which will make the number of educational instructions at 11 thousand,” he said.

The minister said 28,30,000 books have been provided to libraries in schools and madrasas while 16,60,000 copies of books were given to students as awards.

He said social movement is needed to enhance the reading habit of children.

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Bangladesh Dance Festival begins April 27

DHAKA, April 23, 2016 (BSS) – A three-day Nrityanchal Dance Festival will begin at Jatiya Natyashala and Nandan Manch of the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy from April 27.

“The Nrityanhal Dance Festival will be performed at 7 pm every day. Renowned Indian dance master Lila Shamson will inaugurate the programme as the chief guest while Bangladesh choreographer Mostafa Monwar will be present as special guest,” Director of Nrityanchal artiste Shibli Mohammed told journalists at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) at Segunbagicha in the capital.

He said around 250 artistes, including 25 students of different city schools, will perform in the programme.

Replying to a query of journalist, Sibli said a total of Taka 15 lakh will require to organize the dance festival. 

Director of Nrityanchal Shamim Ara Nipa and coordinator Muhammad Jahangir, among others, were also present at the press conference.

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Pakistan President stresses promotion of sports culture

ISLAMABAD, April 23 (APP): President Mamnoon Hussain Saturday
 stressed upon the promotion of healthy activities among the youth
 through cultivating a sports culture in the country.
 Addressing the inauguration ceremony of Quaid e Azam Inter-Provincial Games here, the President said there was no dearth of talent in the country and through consistent endeavours by all the stakeholders, the youth could excel in different domains of sports.
 The President also called for collaborated efforts for promotion of traditional games, including kabbadi, wrestling, tent pegging etc, besides upgrading the standards in modern games.

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Mauritius President plants sapling at Shakarparian; visits Pakistan Monument

ISLAMABAD, Apr 17 (APP): President of Republic of Mauritius
Dr. Bibi Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim Sunday planted a friendship
tree at the Memorial Garden of Shakarparian here as memorial to her
visit.

The Mauritius President arrived here earlier on the day on
four-day visit, at the invitation of President Mamnoon Hussain.
Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman,
the minister-in-waiting, and senior officers of the Capital Development Authority also accompanied the visiting dignitary.

The practice of planting tree at the Memorial Garden is unique
in the world that began on February 21, 1964, when Zhou Enlai, the
first Premier of the People’s Republic of China, sowed a seed of the
Chinese tallow tree.

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‘National Book Festival’ starts in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Apr 22 (APP): Three-day National Book Festival organized by National Book Foundation ministry of National History and Literary Heritage started here at Pak-China Friendship Center on Friday.

The event was arranged in connection with the annual National Book Day, observed across the country on April 22 with an aim to promote the book reading culture among the people particularly youth.

Advisor to Prime Minister on National History and literary Heritage Division, Irfan Siddique speaking on the occasion said that the three-day event would promote books reading culture among the people particularly youth.

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First Quaid-e-Azam Games held in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Apr 23 (APP): The first Quaid-e-Azam National Youth Games, featuring over 2700 athletes from across the country began in thundering applauses of the enthusiast athletes here at a well decorated Jinnah Sports Complex on Saturday.
President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain was the chief guest on this occasion, who declared the three-day Games open wherein players and officials from Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan have a stunning March Past.
There was an eye-catching laser show, thrilling cultural songs and sky rocketing fire works with good and entertaining cultural dances by the performers wearing specially prepared costumes that depicted well traditional norms of each of the participating contingent.

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China, Brunei pledge further strategic cooperation

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, April 21 (Xinhua) — Top diplomatic officials from China and Brunei on Thursday pledged to further boost strategic cooperation between the two nations and push forward ties between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN).

The remarks were made at a meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Brunei’s Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade YB Phein Dato Lim Jock Seng.

At the meeting, Wang said Brunei is a reliable and sincere friend and partner of China, and China highly values the strategic cooperative relationship between the two countries.

The mutual respect and support between China and Brunei, which are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations this year, has set a great example of equal treatment and mutually beneficial cooperation between big powers and smaller nations, he said.

Wang pointed out that the two countries are especially complementary in cooperation as both are facing the task of economic restructuring and upgrading, as well as accelerating sustainable development.

Therefore, at this point, the two sides should work to inject fresh momentum into their pragmatic bilateral cooperation to open up new prospect for the China-Brunei strategic cooperative relationship, he said.

Wang proposed that the two sides should maintain high-level exchanges to constantly push forward bilateral ties and show support on major issues concerning each other’s core interests.

Wang called for further pragmatic cooperation between the two countries, noting that China is willing to promote the synergy between the China-proposed 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and Brunei’s “Vision 2035″ to help Brunei with economic diversification.

Wang said China will encourage its enterprises to invest in Brunei, expand cooperation in infrastructure construction and financial sectors, and boost the construction of the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor.

China supports enterprises from both countries to cooperate in the integration of the petrochemical industry and is also willing to back Brunei to play a central role in the East ASEAN Growth Area, he said.

China and Brunei should promote cultural exchanges to deepen the friendship between the two peoples, said Wang, adding that the two sides should also enhance dialogue and cooperation in global affairs like combating climate change and ensuring sustainable development.

China supports and advocates the “dual-track” approach on dealing with the South China Sea issue which was first put forward by Brunei, said the Chinese foreign minister.

As an important ASEAN member, Brunei has long been pushing forward the development of China-ASEAN ties and made positive and significant contribution in this regard, Wang said.

“China is willing to work with ASEAN for the summit to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relations this year and maintain the good momentum of the development of China-ASEAN ties.”

Among ASEAN’s ties with major countries around the world, the China-ASEAN ties are of the earliest, the deepest, most potential and most promising, the Chinse foreign minister said.

For his part, Lim Jock Seng said Brunei and China have a long history of exchanges and have enjoyed close relations.

Brunei is willing to join hands with China to further deepen strategic cooperation and maintain high-level exchanges between the two sides, boost pragmatic cooperation in the fields of infrastructure construction, finance and petrochemical industry and expand exchanges in tourism, Chinese medicine and youth, he said.

Brunei will always uphold the one-China policy, Lim Jock Seng noted.

Brunei appreciates the important leadership role China has played in meeting the challenges posed by climate change and sustainable development, and is willing to strengthen coordination with China in international affairs, said the minister.

“The ASEAN-China ties are vital to ASEAN, and Brunei is willing to work hard to push forward the development of ASEAN-China ties.”

Brunei has always maintained that related disputes should be resolved through dialogues and consultations by the parties directly involved and the countries outside the region should support their efforts, he added.

The Chinese foreign minister is on a five-day trip to visit Brunei, Cambodia and Laos from April 20 to 24.

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Jewish, Muslim students find common ground on campuses

Pasadena City, California (IINA), 21 Apr 2016 – A large group of students recently gathered outside an Islamic day school in Pasadena in California ignoring the hot sun, enthusiastically jumping up and down, Jewish Journal (JJ) news reported.

Some of the children were wearing yarmulkes and others had on hijabs seemed to be of no concern to anyone.

“I knew that we would be different, but we are really all the same. Even though our religion might show the world who we are, it doesn’t show what’s inside of us, and it doesn’t mean that we don’t want to be friends,” said 13 year-old Kayla Dadbin, at Sinai Akiba Academy.

This is the fifth year of the interfaith exchange, which was started by Rebecca Berger, a middle school Judaic studies teacher at Sinai Akiba who was named a 2009-2010 Professionals Fellow by NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change. The 35 year-old said she was motivated to start the project after asking her Judaic studies class one day, “What do you know about Islam?”

“The answers came back: ‘They pray in a mosque.’ ‘They read the Qur’an.’ And another student added, ‘They’re terrorists,’ ” Berger remembered.

“I was really upset. There was nothing in that moment that I could say that would convince those kids that they weren’t terrorists. I knew that the only thing that could change this kid’s beliefs was if he met a Muslim kid and came to the realization for himself. I said to myself, ‘This is what I want to do.’ ”

She was introduced to Aysha Mehdi, an Islamic studies teacher at New Horizon, which has an ongoing relationship with Weizmann Day School, a Jewish day school in Pasadena.

In May, for example, students from both Weizmann and New Horizon traveled together to Washington, D.C.

Berger and Mehdi spent a year crafting a curriculum for a two-day exchange program between their schools. Students from each school spent a day at the other’s campus. With help from consultants, they created activities and questions that would engage students while promoting the core objectives of creating interpersonal relationships, learning about Judaism and Islam and discovering their shared commonality as minority religions in America.

Before meeting, all of the students take an additional unit about the other school’s faith and exchange a series of three emails with an assigned “buddy.” Berger said she has found this age group is ripe for exchange.

Unlike with many adults, the focus here isn’t on politics.

The two-part program began in February, when 90 seventh- and eighth-graders gathered at Sinai Akiba for a day of activities focusing on the theme “Giving to People.” After hearing a speaker talk about homelessness in Los Angeles, the students packaged toiletry items into hygiene kits for the homeless. Other activities included an art project centered around what it means to make an open-minded community, and an abbreviated Jewish prayer session followed by questions and answers.

The exchange continued in March when New Horizon, which was founded in 1984, hosted students from Sinai Akiba.

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Multi-faith leaders, activists in Denver meet to learn about Islam

Denver City, Colorado (IINA), 17 Apr 2016 – Leaders, activists and people of different faiths met here during an event on Saturday afternoon in order to learn more about Islam and Muslim culture.

About 60 people showed up to the Denver event and listened to an overview of Muslim beliefs, their long history in the U.S., and their current challenges.

Attorney Qusair Mohamedbhai described FBI agents showing up at random Muslim American houses following overseas attacks or prisoners not having access to religious leaders in jails, The Denver Post news reported.

A high school Muslim girl read a poem about her frustration turning to a desire to stand up for her beliefs after a man verbally attacked her on a light-rail train.

“When I look at the history of racism in America, there’s cause for a little hope,” said Robert Price, a retired senior lecturer for the University of Denver. “The people in the affected communities organize and they struggle for their cultural and their political rights and their rights in the society. Essentially it’s what the Islamic community is facing now.”

From his side, Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh, gave a presentation on the work his office is doing, some as part of efforts with attorney generals across the country to protect civil rights and combat violent extremism including training people to secure their houses of worship, and an anti-bullying effort in six schools where students will participate in a mock trial of a hate crime.

“There is no single profile,” Walsh said. “Violent extremism is not confined in any way, shape or form to people of a particular faith or particular ideology.”

Walsh pointed out that in Colorado, violent acts of extremism have not been tied to Islam listing the Aurora theater shooting, the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting and the murder of prisons chief Tom Clements as examples of other forms of extremist violence.

“The solution is not the federal government,” Walsh said. “The solution has to be a community solution.”

In return, Mohamedbhai said people of various communities need to work together because civil rights case law affecting Muslims today could affect others in the future.

“Case law doesn’t change,” Mohammed said. “In order to create space for religious liberties and freedoms we have to fight the battles for other people. I encourage you all, take on a cause that is not your own.”

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Dubai Islamic Bank plans to operate in Kenya by year-end

Dubai, (IINA) 19 Apr 2016 – Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) plans to start operation in Kenya before the end of 2016, despite the Kenyan authorities’ moratorium on issuing new banking licenses, according to sources familiar with the matter, Arabian Business news reported.

The largest Islamic bank in the United Arab Emirates will be operating at a time when Kenyan banks have come under closer scrutiny from the regulator because of increasing bad debts, prompting officials and analysts to conclude the sector is ripe for consolidation.

But DIB had been in talks with the regulator before then, meaning a decision on its licence would not be affected by the moratorium, the sources said.

DIB is now awaiting the final go-ahead from Kenya’s central bank, said the sources, as it has already been granted outline approval for a commercial banking licence having planned to open in Kenya last year, only to find the process had taken longer than expected.

In a statement, the central bank said on Monday it was processing an application for a banking licence from DIB Bank Kenya, without elaborating.

A separate source at the central bank said DIB was one of a couple of banks expected to start operations in the country this year.

No one at DIB responded to a request for comment.

DIB has already recruited staff for its Kenyan operation, which will initially comprise three branches offering consumer, corporate and treasury services, the sources said.

Kenya will not be DIB’s first foray overseas. It holds stakes in banks in Pakistan, Sudan, Jordan, Bosnia and late last year raised its stake in Bank Panin Syariah, the Indonesian Shariah-compliant lender, to 39.6 percent, according to a presentation on the bank’s website.

It would become the third Islamic lender to operate in Kenya, where Muslims account for about 10 percent of the population of some 44 million.

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OIC to Participate in UN Alliance of Civilization Global Forum in Baku

21/04/2016 – A delegation from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is participating in the 7th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan on 25 to 27 April 2016. The Forum is being held under the theme ‘Living Together in Inclusive Societies: a Challenge and a Goal’ with the participation of over 3000 political leaders, representatives of international and regional organizations, private sector, civil society, academia, youth, arts and media.

The OIC is organizing a number of activities during the Seventh Global Forum of UNAOC. The OIC Secretary General, Mr. Iyad Ameen Madani, has contributed an article with the title ‘Bridging the Gaps between the West and the Muslim World through Sustainable Intercultural Dialogue’ to the book ‘Civilizations’ which will be launched at the Forum.

Furthermore, there will be a networking session on ‘Promoting Multicultural Perspectives to Prevent Extremism’, organized by the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), a subsidiary organ of OIC, where a message by the Secretary General will be delivered on his behalf by the Director General of Culture, Social and Family Affairs, Mrs. Mehla Ahmed-Talebna. She will also have an intervention during the Group of Friends of UNAOC meeting.

In addition, the OIC is holding a side event in the form of an exhibition titled ‘Jerusalem: A Convergence of Civilizations’ in collaboration with IRCICA. Around 50 historical photographs will be on display depicting diversity of communities and cultures that lived together and interacted peacefully in Jerusalem during the period from the second half of the 19th century up to the First World War.

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Algeria To Host Seminar On Security And Sustainable Tourism

ALGIERS, April 21 (NNN–APS) — The city of Constantine in northeastern Algeria will host an international seminar on “Peace, security and sustainable tourism” in November, says Minister of National Planning, Tourism and Craft Industry Amar Ghoul.

”

The international seminar on peace, security and sustainable tourism will be held in the eastern province of Constantine, in Algeria, in November, in co-ordination with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the State of Malta,” said the minister in Cote d’Ivoire on the sidelines of the international seminar on sustainable tourism, which coincides with the 58th meeting of WTO Committee for Africa.

In this regard, Ghoul underlined the importance of “complementarity and continuous co-ordination in the tourism field between the different countries in order to achieve sustainable tourism away from any security concerns”.

Ghoul also proposed to put tourism among the priorities of sustainable development and set up a global strategy on tourism, based on co-ordination and complementarity between neighbouring countries of the region to achieve sustainable tourism.

To that end, he stressed the need to involve all the players in the sector of tourism in the debates on themes relating to security and to raise awareness of civil society to achieve sustainable balance between tourism and security.

On the sidelines of the 58TH meeting of the WTO Commission for Africa being held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, this week, Ghoul held discussions with Cote d’Ivoire’s Prime Minister, Daniel Kablan Duncan, and Minister of Tourism, Roger Kacou.

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UAE To Build New US$1 Bln Warner Bros Family Park

ABU DHABI, April 20 (NNN-Xinhua) — United Arab Emirates (UAE) asset management company Miral and Warner Bros. said here Tuesday a new Warner Bros. themed fun and adventure park is set to open in Abu Dhabi by 2018 on Yas Island near the capital.

The first phase of the project, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, is set to open in 2018. Construction is underway.

Mohamed Khalifa Al-Mubarak, Chairman of Miral, said: “World Abu Dhabi theme park is estimated at one billion dollars and is a milestone in the emirate’s journey to put Abu Dhabi on the global map and become one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. 

Situated on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, home to the UAE’s only Formula one circuit, the development will include the only Warner Bros. branded hotel alongside the immersive theme park.”

Miral which provides asset management services to the government of Abu Dhabi, is developing Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi under license from Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi will bring together stories and characters from the Studio’s unparalleled portfolio of DC Comics Super Heroes universe including Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman as well as Warner Bros. 

Cartoons such as Bugs Bunny, Scooby-Doo and Tom and Jerry. Guests of all ages will be able to step inside Gotham City (the home city of Batman) and Metropolis, and experience the cartoon worlds of Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera and more, under one roof.

Located alongside the world’s first Ferrari branded theme park, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, and the Emirati themed water park, Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi will help Yas Island take its annual visitor tally from 25 million in 2015, to 30 million in 2018, reinforcing Yas Island’s leading position as home to ultimate leisure and entertainment experiences, said the firm in an e-mailed statement.

Kevin Tsujihara, Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. Entertainment, pointed out that Warner Bros. has been entertaining audiences for more than 90 years with the world’s most-loved characters and franchises.

A time Warner company, Warner Bros. Entertainment is a global American firm and provides in all forms of entertainment and their related businesses across current and emerging media and platforms.

The Warner Bros. themed destination is expected to create more than 1000 jobs for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, a major oil supplier. 

In 2015, Abu Dhabi welcomed in 2015 for the first time over four million tourists. Yas Island with its attractions and the annual Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Formula one Grand Prix in November has been a major driver of attracting visitors from around the world. — NNN-XINHUA

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AirAsia X Partners My Ecolodge To Offer Green Season Packages To Niseko

KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 (Bernama) — AirAsia X today announced its partnership with MY ecolodge, a reputable boutique travellers’ lodge managed by Fairlane Hospitality to offer special ‘Niseko Super Summer Saver’ all-inclusive travel packages from as low as RM3,900* per person for 5 days 4 nights in the Niseko region of Hokkaido from June to October 2016**.

This partnership was officially launched in Kuala Lumpur by His Excellency Dr. Makio Miyagawa, Ambassador of Japan to Malaysia, in the company of Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, Chairman of AirAsia X Berhad, Ms Low Su Ming, Director of MYecolodge, Mr Benyamin Ismail, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia X Berhad and Mr Darren Wickings, General Manager of Fairlane Hospitality Japan.

The primary objective of this collaboration is to jointly promote Niseko as an all-season holiday destination. This positive collaboration is expected to enable more Malaysians the opportunity to vacation in Niseko at affordable prices.

Benyamin Ismail, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia X Berhad said, “We are glad to have inked this partnership with MY ecolodge as we share the same brand value of providing quality service with high value for money for our discerning guests. Since the commencement of our flights to Sapporo in October last year, it has quickly become one of our most popular routes to Japan as Hokkaido is suitable to visit all-year-round.”

“We are also happy to announce that we will be introducing an additional frequency from Kuala Lumpur to Sapporo beginning 22 April onwards, increasing our flight frequency to 5 times weekly. Coupled with this partnership with MY ecolodge, we are sure that more Malaysians will be enticed to travel to Hokkaido with AirAsia X and enjoy the summer season there,” added Benyamin Ismail.

Darren Wickings, General Manager, Fairlane Hospitality Japan said, “MY ecolodge is a boutique travelers’ lodge newly opened in Niseko, Hokkaido in December 2015. It is designed to be environmentally friendly and many eco attributes have been incorporated into the property’s design and delivery of services, ensuring the beautiful nature that Niseko is so famous for remains green into the future.

MY ecolodge is truly a quaint, alluring and postcard perfect travel destination that is suitable to travel all year round. The direct flight to Sapporo will make the overall MY ecolodge experience so much more convenient and enjoyable”.

“Niseko, apart from being reputed a world-renowned, award-winning ski resort, is also known as a hidden highlight because of its spectacular beauty in summer. MY ecolodge attracts visitors from all over the world,” added Wickings.

The “Niseko Super Summer Saver” is a special group tour package for a minimum of 10 guests per group inclusive of return flights to Sapporo from Kuala Lumpur, 4 or 5 nights’ accommodation at MY ecolodge, local airport transfer, meals and ground activities with prices ranging from RM3,900* to RM4,800* per guest. The travelling period is from June to October 2016 except July 2016. The package price is also inclusive of airport taxes, booking fees, 20kg baggage allowance and standard seat selection. Reservations can be made by contacting Fairlane Hospitality Group Desk at nisekosupersummersaver@fairlanehospitality.com or call 03-4048 3668.

Sapporo is the largest city on the Northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, also the gateway to the neighbouring Niseko region that is about 100 kilometres or two and a half hours’ drive away. Set against the backdrop of Mt. Yotei, an active volcano similar to Mt. Fuji, Niseko is famous for its breath-taking natural landscape and world renowned resorts.

In summer, the pleasant weather that is less humid than the rest of Japan at Niseko attracts a large number of local tourists from the mainland Japan as well as international tourist from abroad. With three National Parks in and around the area, there is more than enough to satisfy even the long-term visitor.

Visitors can lace up their hiking shoes and trek through unspoiled countryside in search for some of Hokkaido’s famed inhabitants such as the elusive ‘momonga’ (flying squirrel), look for some of the island’s unique plant life, rent a mountain bike, spend a day fishing, tour the summer backcountry or explore the region’s rivers by canoe or even rapid water rafting!

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Algeria Expected To Achieve Cereals Self-Sufficiency Through J-V With UAE

ABU DHABI, April 18 (NNN-APS) — Algeria is expected to achieve self-sufficiency in cerelas, fruits, vegetables and fodder within the next five years under a joint venture project bwteeen Algerian and Emirati companies to develop large-scal irrigated farms.

A memorandum of agreement (MoA) for the project was signed here Sunday between Algerian agri-food public company AGRODIV and Elite Agro Llc of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to jointly develop pilot integrated farms.

The agreement was signed by AGRODIV chief executive officer Djamila Ikhneche and Elite Agro Xhairman Murshid Al Rathini, in the presence of Algerian Industry and Mines Minister Abdessalam Bouchouareb, on the sidelines of the first Algerian-Emirati business forum here.

Under the MoA, the Emirati partner will contribute to the development of two previously created pilot farms in the Algerian provinces of Setif and Guelma to improve their yields and boost their production, Ikhneche said

The two pilot farms, each covering more than 1,000 hectares, currently yield between nine and 15 quintals (0.9 and 1.5 tonnes) per hectare.

Through the co-operation with the Emirati partner, their capacity is expected to reach between 50 and 70 quintals per hectare under rain-fed conditions and 100 quintals per hectare through irrigation. 

The partnership is expected to allow Algeria to meet its needs in cereals, fodder, fruit and vegetables in the next five years, the AGRODIV CEO said. — NNN-APS

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World Botanical Expo Opens In Turkey’s Mediterranean Resort

ANTALYA, Turkey, April 23 (NNN-Xinhua) — Turkish President Recep Erdogan announced on Friday night the opening of the Expo 2016 in the country’s Mediterranean resort of Antalya.

A total of 53 countries will join the international horticultural exhibition, also known as the World Botanical Expo, whose theme this year is “Flowers and Children.”

Bernard Oosterom, president of the international association of horticultural producers, said “the Expo has the potential to change the lives of a generation and it is the responsibility of all of us here to promote this message throughout the world.”

Up to eight million visitors are expected to visit the six-month event, which will feature “Turkey’s Eiffel Tower,” a biodiversity course, a children’s island, a glass bridge, an agriculture and biodiversity museum.

The Expo 2016 Antalya will open to visitors on April 23, which is also the Children’s Day of Turkey, and close on October 30. Beijing will hold the next event in 2019. — NNN-XINHUA

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New York Mosque Hosts Jewish Passover Seder  

MENAFN – Morocco World News – 21/04/2016 – The Islamic Society of Mid-Manhattan mosque hosted some 100 Jews and Muslims for a multifaith Jewish Passover Seder on April 14 according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

A week before the important Jewish holiday of Passover a mosque in midtown Manhattan opened its doors to New Yorkers of various faiths to celebrate the occasion.

The same source said that the gathering took place thanks to the coordination of the NYC Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee.

Rabbi Allison Tick Brill of Temple Emanu-El a large Reform congregation in Manhattan described the gathering as the first one of its kind in New York.

‘I don’t believe anything quite like this has happened in New York before’ she said. ‘It is particularly powerful to celebrate Passover here at this mosque because unfortunately Muslim Americans are made to feel strangers in their own country.’

Ahmed Dewidar Resident Imam at the IslamicSociety of Mid-Manhattan and a graduate of Al-Azhar University welcomed Jewish guests to the mosque.

‘Isn’t it beautiful to have our Jewish brothers and sisters in the mosque?’ Imam Dewidar said. ‘I think we should be proud of our community here in New York.’

Passover or Pesach is a significant biblically derived Jewish festival that commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses.

During Passover Jews celebrate with the Passover Seder which is a ritual feast that involves a retelling of the story of the Israelites’ liberation from slavery. The meal is marked by many symbolic elements and customs unique to the holiday. In Israel Passover lasts seven days and Jews hold a Seder on the first night. Outside of Israel Passover is eight days and Jews hold Seders on the first two nights of the holiday.

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Qatar-Arab forum on sustainable growth opens  

MENAFN – The Peninsula – 21/04/2016 DOHA: An Arab conference on the ‘Role of Civil Society in the sustainable development agenda 2030’ opened yesterday at Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) with a call for innovative solutions to meet the goals of the agenda.

Under the patronage of H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser the forum is organised by Qatar Social Work Foundation (QSWF) in collaboration with the United Nation Development Programme UN Population Fund/Arab Region UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia the Arab League and other entities. 

The two-day conference is attended by over 200 delegates from 11 Arab countries representing local and international civil society organisations in addition to representatives from the private sector and specialists in the development field.

In her opening remarks Munira bint Nasser Al Missned Chairman QSWF said: “The aim of the conference is to achieve human dignity as only governments can’t achieve development without the help of civil society organisations.” 

She said the ongoing demographic political ad economic events in the region will not only delay development but also negatively affect the region as a whole. These big challenges requires hard work to find innovate solutions and development strategies.

She cited Qatar which is contributing to international cooperation through partnerships between the government civil society organisations and the private sector and its achievements including developing villages health centres and education institutions and training teachers and doctors in addition to humanitarian relief operations. The QSWF is also taking care of vulnerable segments including women children elderly and orphans and working in partnership with the government to provide services for them.

During the first public session on the sustainable development agenda Minister of Administrative Development Labour and Social Affairs H E Dr Issa bin Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaim said development is the responsibility of the government society and individuals and cooperation is necessary to ensure sustainable development.

Dr Abdallah Al Dardari Deputy Executive Secretary ESCWA urged civil society organisations to be independent from governments and donors to cooperate with other civil societies and develop their abilities in international trade and the right in development.

Dr Al Dardari said that since 2012 the Arab world has lost about 1 trillion since due to damage and reconstruction will cost more. The conference is Qatar’s initiative launched by QSWF to increase awareness about the agenda adopted by 193 member states of the United Nations in New York last September.The Peninsula

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Middle East’s M&A deals drop by 17 percent to USD 4.7bn  

MENAFN – 21/04/2016 – Middle East fees reached USD 178.2mn among Q1 this year, a 17 percent fall compared to the value registered during the first quarter of 2015.

Moreover, the value of proclaimed M&A transactions with any Middle Eastern involvement touched USD 4.7bn during the first quarter of 2016.

Additionally, the region equity and equity-related issuance value USD 228.0mn through Q1 of the cited year, a 92 percent decline from Q1 of last year.

Middle Eastern debt issuance reached USD 5.5bn during the cited quarter of 2016, a 22 percent drop compared to the value raised in Q1 of 2015.

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Qatar-Turkish Presidential Symphony Orchestra wows fans  

MENAFN – The Peninsula – 21/04/2016 – DOHA: The renowned Turkish Presidential Symphony Orchestra recently performed at Katara Opera House. 

The concert was organised by the Cultural Village Foundation-Katara in cooperation with the Turkish Embassy. 

Speaking at the event Katara General Manager Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim Al Sulaiti thanked the Turkish Embassy for its cooperation in bringing the finest of Turkish art and music to Qatar in a bid to furtherboost cultural ties between the two countries and the friendship between the two nations.

“This fine musical show represents a unique opportunity for exploring the depth and richness of diverse Turkish culture and heritage” said Dr Al Sulaiti.

Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Demirok expressed gratitude for all the efforts made by “Katara to introduce a taste of cultures from around the world to Qatar.”The Peninsula

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China conducts establishment of many schemes in Iran  

MENAFN – 21/04/2016 (MENAFN) It has become certain that China is showing great interest in tapping Iran’s vast investment opportunities, and its latest move has only proven this very fact.

The 2nd largest economy has funded Masjed Soleyman petchem scheme and developers from the country are now involved in the project in southwestern Iran.

Chinese developers have begun valuation of the scheme and expect to work on the underground part by April, but a 14pct physical progress has already been reached.

The entire project is estimated to launch in just 2 years, and it’s worth mentioning that Masjed Soleyman is the birthplace of Iran’s oil industry, as oil oozed out of its well 107y ago.

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