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2 May, 2016

Governor Vows to Put Lagos Jazz Fest On World Tourism Map

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 02 May 2016 (25 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

 

Tourism Third Highest Contributor To Malaysian Economy

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia’s tourism sector saw an improvement from fifth to third highest Gross National Income (GNI) contributor last year in 2014 despite a decline in tourist arrivals and receipts.

According to the National Transformation Programme Annual Report 2015, in terms of tourist receipts, it decreased by 4 per cent from RM72 billion to RM 69.1 billion in 2015, while tourist arrivals recorded a decline of 6.3 per cent from 27.4 million in 2014 to 25.7 million last year.

The drop in tourist arrivals and receipts can be attributed to the global economic slowdown and challenges such as the worst floods in 30 years which affected several states in Malaysia in early 2015 and the earthquake in Ranau, Sabah, in June 2015, regional travel advisory for the coastal areas of the south-eastern coast of Sabah as well as the lingering effects of the MH370 and MH17 incidents.

It said Malaysia’s competitiveness as a leading tourism destination in the region was recognised via numerous awards in 2015: Best Golf Destination in Asia for the second year running by the World Golf Awards 2015; Best International Destination – Food and Drink 2014 in April 2015 by Travel & Leisure magazine; second most popular shopping city in the world for Muslim tourists by the Muslim Travel Shopping Index 2015 and Top 10 Best Travel Destinations for 2016 by the Lonely Planet.

According to the report, the Malaysian cruise industry continued its upward growth trajectory in 2015 with a marked 50 per cent increase in total cruise passengers to 523,272 from 352,322 in 2014.

It said outlet centres for premium items also continued to grow in popularity as Malaysia became the first country to have a Mitsui outlet outside Japan in 2015 and home to the largest Mitsui outlet to-date, which had attracted over one million visitors since its opening.

Tourist spending on shopping also picked up momentum last year, with the total spent on shopping rising by 0.2 per cent to RM21.63 million and shopping representing 31.3 per cent of the total tourist spending in Malaysia.

The report said government incentives and programmes continued to play a major role in developing the tourism industry, for example the Investment Tax Allowance had encouraged the opening of more 4- and 5-star hotels in 2015 including the luxury Kempinski-branded 5-star hotel which will commence construction in 2016.

The 2015 annual report also stated that in moving forward the government remains steadfast in achieving its ambitious targets of 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168 billion tourist receipts by 2020, given that 2015 represents a halfway mark for the Economic Transformation Programme and to take on board the dynamic landscape of the tourism sector. — NNN-BERNAMA

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RM70 million bridge over Sungai Baram to end transportation woes

April 30, 2016 – MIRI (Bernama) – Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday announced an allocation of RM70 million to build a bridge at Kampung Long Lama which is located at the Telang Usan constituency.

Zahid earlier used the ferry services used by the people for their transportation in the area to visit two villages separated by Sungai Baram.

“After experiencing the ferry services myself…I spoke to Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (Rural and Regional Development Minister) about building a bridge quickly.

“I later contacted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and he immediately approved an allocation of RM70 million to build the bridge,” he told reporters after launching a project to upgrade the current logging road in Long Lama and a session with Rela members.

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US$1.5 Billion Sukuk Issuance A Vote Of Confidence In Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia April 30 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia’s recent success in issuing a US$1.5 billion (US$1=RM3.90) global sukuk, to redeem the Government’s existing US$1.2 billion trust certificates due in July 2016 as well as to finance development expenditures, is a vote of confidence in the country, said Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.

The Treasury Secretary-General, who led the country’s delegation across global financial centres for the raising exercise, said the certificates were issued in two tranches, one maturing in 2026 and the other in 2046.

The roadshows received overwhelming response from global investors, attracting an aggregate order exceeding US$6.3 billion from a combined investor base of over 195 accounts, representing a subscription rate of 4.2 times over the offering size, he said in a statement here.

Other representatives were from the Fiscal Policy Office, the Treasury and Bank Negara Malaysia, and they engaged with more than 130 investors across global financial centres including Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, London and New York.

Mohd Irwan said many of the investors placed orders in large ticket sizes of above US$10.0 million, adding that these orders in aggregate made up more than 75 per cent of the final orderbook.

Following the resounding support from investors, the 10-year tranche was finally priced at 3.179 per cent, while the 30-year tranche was priced at 4.080 per cent.

This represents a zero to minimal new issue premium against the government’s secondary curves and is lower than the typical new issue premium paid by sovereigns globally.

The deal attracted interest from diverse domestic and international investors, achieving a well-spread distribution, with 65 per cent allocation to Asia, 19 per cent to the Middle East, 11 per cent to Europe and five per cent to the US for the 10-year tranche; and 54 per cent allocation to Asia, 24 per cent to the US, 12 per cent to Europe and 10 per cent to the Middle East for the 30-year tranche.

The issuance also garnered interest from a wide mix of quality accounts comprising fund managers, pension funds, insurance companies, bank treasury desks and sovereign/central banks/supranationals, said Mohd Irwan.

“The success of the Government’s fifth US$-denominated global Sukuk issuance is a testament of investors’ strong confidence in Malaysia’s track record of macroeconomic stability, sustainable growth and deep domestic financial markets,” he added.

All-in-all, the overwhelming response to the Government’s newly-priced global sukuk issuance reflects global investors’ continued confidence in the country’s economic fundamentals, he said.

“This in turn has enabled Malaysia not only to strengthen its position as a top investment destination but also further affirms Malaysia’s position as the leader in international Islamic finance,” said Mohd Irwan.

Adopting an innovative structure comprising 100 per cent non-physical underlying assets, the first of its kind for a global sovereign sukuk, the extensive roadshows were done via private meetings, group presentations and conference calls over a period of six days.

The joint bookrunners and lead managers for the exercise were CIMB, HSBC, J.P. Morgan and Maybank.

Meanwhile, Mohd Irwan said Malaysia’s strong economic fundamentals, amidst a backdrop of weak global growth and slow global trade, are also mainly due to the National Transformation Policy (NTP) which was launched in January 2010.

The NTP comprises several transformation programmes to steer Malaysia towards the target of a high-income and advanced economy status.

Since the introduction of the NTP, several structural changes have been implemented.

Apart from this, the removal of subsidies on fuel in December 2014 has enabled the nation to slowly move away from the entrenched practice of blanket subsidies.

The implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on April 1, 2015 has further helped ease the burden of the Government with its planned development programmes.

In addition, greater diversification in key economic sectors has also decreased the Government’s dependence on oil revenue.

As a consequence, in 2015, oil and gas revenue accounted for only 21.5 per cent of Federal Government revenue compared with 35.4 per cent in 2010.

“The ratio is expected to be much lower at 14 per cent in 2016,” said Mohd Irwan.

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Swiss Novartis Opens Global Service Centre In Malaysia

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia, April 29 (NNN-Bernama) — Swiss-based pharmaceutical company, Novartis, has picked Malaysia as one of five global service centres to provide services both regionally and globally.

Novartis’ Malaysia Country President and Managing Director, Michaela Dinboeck, said the centre here offered an opportunity for it to operate in a truly international working environment based in Kuala Lumpur, the nation’s capital.

She said this after Minister of International Trade and Industry, Mustapa Mohamed, launched the global service centre.

Mustapa said, Kuala Lumpur, a city with diverse talents, offered excellent infrastructures.

The other global service centres are in Hyderabad (India), Prague (Czech Republic), Dublin (Ireland) and Mexico City (Mexico).

Meanwhile, Novartis Malaysia signed an agreement with University of Malaya last month on an innovative healthcare and life sciences entrepreneurship.

Through the agreement, both parties would explore the improvements in non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Malaysia Generates Rm588 Million In Healthcare Travel Revenue

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia generated RM588.6 million in healthcare travel revenue between January and September 2015, at an average response rate of 79 per cent, with the target for the full year set at RM854 million.

According to the National Transformation Programme (NTP) Annual Report 2015, the health tourist revenue for the three quarters reached RM353.2 million of the full year target of RM516 million.

“Year-to-date results forecast total healthcare travel numbers for 2015 to achieve above 90 per cent of full year targets,” the report said.

The report also stated that while the local healthcare industry has long been dominated by the public sector, growth in private healthcare services has been exponential over the past decade.

Currently, there are over 250 private hospitals in Malaysia.

The report also mentioned that Malaysia healthcare’s strongest markets are Indonesia, consisting 62 per cent of total healthcare revenue numbers, followed by the Middle East (7.4 per cent), India (3 per cent), China (2.6 per cent), Japan (2.6 per cent) and Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom (2.5 per cent).

“Emerging markets such as China, Central Asia and the greater ASEAN region will continue to be active contributors to our healthcare sector,” the report said.

In addition to Malaysia’s medical excellence in cardiology, orthopaedics, oncology, neurology and dentistry, there have been growing demands for its superiority in infertility treatment.

It was due to Malaysia’s leading fertility hospital reporting In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) success rates of 66 per cent in 2013 against the global average of 50 per cent, alongside increasing demands for treatments in cosmetic surgery and rehabilitation.

Moving forward, the report mentioned that emphasis will be given to developing the Senior Living Industry. It also said that the Private Aged Healthcare Facilities and Services Bill is targeted to be tabled in Parliament in the second quarter of 2016.

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Three institutions win 2016 IDB Prizes for Science and Technology

Jeddah, 17 April 2016 – Three scientific institutions from Kuwait, Turkey and Bangladesh have won this year’s IDB Prizes for Science and Technology. Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group, announced the winning entries, which were chosen by an independent selection committee. This is the 14th year the prizes have been awarded.

The 2016 winners are:

• Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research: Overall Outstanding Contribution to Social and Economic Development

• NanoManyetik Bilimsel Cihazlar Sanayi ve Ticaret Ltd., Turkey: Most Outstanding Contribution in a Given Scientific Field

• Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture: Most Noted Scientific Institution from a Least Developed Member Country

“I would like to congratulate the winners of this year’s competition,” said Dr. Ali. “IDB is proud of their inspiring feats in the field of scientific and technological research. I hope other universities and scientific centres in member countries benefit from these admirable examples.”

The prize was established in 1422H (2002G) to promote science and technology excellence and capacity building in IDB member countries. Each year, three institutions are selected by an independent panel of eminent scientists outside the Bank to receive the Prize in one of the three categories. Each prize consists of a cash award of US $100,000 and a trophy.

The prizes will be awarded during the 41st Annual Meeting of IDB’s Board of Governors, which will take place in Jakarta, Indonesia on 15-19 May. Since 2002, the prizes have been awarded to institutions in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Egypt, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, Senegal, Sudan, Tajikistan and Turkey.

Meet the winners

  • Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KSIR) was selected for its scientific and technological contributions and accomplishments, which had a positive impact on the socioeconomic development of Kuwait and other IDB member countries. KISR was established in 1967 in a region endowed with oil resources but facing scarcity in water resources. Its research and scientific achievements are centred on enhanced oil exploration, innovative desalination, wastewater treatment and zero liquid discharge. KISR’s technologies in these fields are being used in the region and around the world. KISR has had a longstanding tradition to foster young talent and promote innovative scientific research.
  • NanoManyetik Bilimsel Cihazlar Sanayi ve Ticaret Ltd. Sti, Turkey, was selected for its high quality of research and its commercial application in applied Nanomagnetics. The company was established in 1999 as a pioneering Turkish company working in the development of sensing, measurements, characterization and manipulation nanosystems. It innovates, develops, manufactures and sells nanosystems to large and reputable institutions and universities around the world.
  • Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture was selected for its outstanding contribution to the field of nuclear technologies in agriculture. The institute was established in 1961 to develop friendly nuclear technologies to enhance the performance of the agriculture sector, one of the major economic drivers in Bangladesh. It has a team of 170 scientists and researchers who focus on biotechnology and crop management. The team has published nearly 300 scientific research papers. The institute has successfully commercialized some of its technologies, with nearly 40 products on the market, and has close collaboration with many scientific

institutions globally. Its reputation is affirmed by several national and international awards.

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Univ of New Orleans Professor Wins IDB Prize in Islamic Banking

Jeddah, 14 April,2016 – The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has announced Professor Mohammad Kabir Hassan of the University of New Orleans as the winner of the IDB Prize in Islamic Banking and Finance for the year 2016.

Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, President of IDB Group, congratulated Professor Hassan for his achievements, and commended his valuable contribution to the development of Islamic Banking and Finance, and wished him greater success in all his endeavors.

The IDB Prize Selection Committee comprising eminent scholars and experts from outside and inside the IDB reached a unanimous decision on Professor Kabir Hassan during a meeting at the IDB headquarters on Thursday 24.03.2016. The Committee noted the quality of the intellectual contribution of Professor Hassan, and the impact of his research in the field of Islamic Banking and Finance. The scholars also took into consideration the services rendered by Professor Hassan to various Multilateral Development Banks, as well as his role in introducing law for Islamic banks to operate with a clear legal code in his home country of Bangladesh.

The IDB has established this Prize since the year 1408H (1988) with the aim of recognizing, rewarding and encouraging outstanding contributions in promoting Islamic Economics and Islamic Banking and Finance. In the past 28 years, 29 researchers, bankers, economists, Shari’a scholars and institutions have been awarded the IDB Prize.

The Prize will be awarded to Professor Kabir Ahmad during the 41st IDB Board of Governors Annual Meeting, to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia from 15-19 May, 2016.

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‘Sharjah My Family Destination’ campaign launched

MENAFN – Khaleej Times – 28/04/2016 – Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) on Wednesday launched the ‘Sharjah My Family Destination’ campaign to strengthen the emirate’s leading position in family tourism.

It was launched at the Arabian Travel Market 2016. SCTDA is launching this campaign in cooperation with Sharjah Investment and Development Authority ‘Shurooq’ Sharjah Museums Department travel agencies hotels and resorts as well as shopping malls.

The ‘Sharjah My Family Destination’ campaign aims to introduce new tourism offers and packages by tour companies hotels and leisure destinations for families visiting Sharjah from within and outside the country. It will establish direct communication with the public and family tourists through the Authority’s social media channels in order to learn about their requirements and enhance the development of Sharjah’s family tourism sector.

The announcement was made during a Press conference organised by the authority on its stand at the ATM in the presence of Khalid Jasim Al Midfa chairman of SCTDA; Hana Al Suwaidi chairperson of the Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA); Ahmed Al Qaseer COO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq); and Aisha Deemas director of executive affairs at Sharjah Museums Department; Ian Phillips acting CEO of Sharjah National Hotels; and Jamal Abdulnazar from Cozmo Holidays as well as representatives from the local and international media.

The conference highlighted the details of the campaign launched by the Authority to support the family tourism sector and strengthen Sharjah’s position as a leading destination for family tourism in the region.

Addressing the Press conference Khalid Jasim Al Midfa described family tourism as one of the major sectors of tourism and a key contributor to the growth of this industry in prominent destinations around the world.

He added that family tourism represents 12.5 per cent of the global tourism market recording a total value of 1.7 trillion in 2012. Family tourism is expected to achieve 4.8 per cent annual growth worldwide according to CrescentRating, the Singaporean website specialised in the field of travel and tourism.

Al Midfa pointed out that the leading status of this sector in Sharjah is the outcome of the concerted efforts and integrated approach of all partners to achieve the common goal of promoting Sharjah’s evens and festivals as well as its mega projects as major family attractions.

As a result of all these efforts and initiatives the hotel sector in the emirate recorded 100 per cent occupancy during the spring holiday in the Gulf region. Significant tourist inflow has been witnessed from the Saudi market which has emerged as the most important source of family tourism in the region Al Midfa added.

“As part of SCTDA’s pursuit to build on the achievements in the family tourism sector and develop it further we are launching today the ‘Sharjah My Family Destination’ campaign to strengthen cooperation between the Authority and all our partners in the emirate’s tourism sector” Al Midfa said.

Speaking on the occasion Hana Al Suwaidi said the authority has opened several new environment tourism projects that offer innovative facilities for families in various cities of Sharjah enhancing the emirate’s position as an ideal tourist destination for families. She noted that these centres have received more than half a million visitors in the past year most of them families.

Al Suwaidi explained that Wasit Nature Reserve a wetland which opened recently is an ideal family destination that offers educational and cultural classes and facilities such as observation platforms.

On the occasion Ahmed Al Qaseer said: “Since Shurooq’s inception in 2009 we’ve focused on incorporating family tourism initiatives into physical objects which are featured in our multiple tourism projects. Our primary objective when developing all our projects is to ensure the establishment and sustainability of facilities project characterisation and services that cater to the demands of families and family tourists.”

Al Qaseer said Shurooq has successfully implemented pioneering solutions in multiple tourism projects such as eco-tourism projects archaeological tourism projects and cultural tourism projects. He said projects such as Al Majaz Waterfront Al Qasba Al Montazah Amusement and Water Park Al Noor Island and the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism project have made Sharjah one of the leading destinations for families and family tourists.

Aisha Deemas said Sharjah Museums Department has 16 museums under its management all of which collectively aim to deliver the highest museum standards to preserve collections and enhance an appreciation of culture and learning through exhibitions educational and community programmes.

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Kish Island to host ICAO seminar on travel documentation

An ICAO TRIP Seminar on machine readable travel documents (MRTDs) and traveller identification management will take place from 9 to 11 May 2016 in Kish Island, Islamic Republic of Iran. The Seminar, hosted by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, will address the ICAO Traveller Identification Programme (ICAO TRIP Strategy), MRTD standards and best practices, document security, identification management and related border security issues.

The ICAO TRIP Seminar will assist Member States in implementing ICAO MRTD specifications and related ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). The Seminar will specifically address the needs of States to further enhance the integrity of the passport issuance process and ensure robust identification management in order to maximize border security and facilitation benefits.

In particular, the Seminar will focus on the ICAO Traveller Identification Programme (ICAO TRIP) Strategy which was approved by the Council and endorsed by the ICAO Assembly in October 2013. The Strategy, responding to the global driving forces and needs of Member States, provides a framework for achieving the maximum benefits of travel documents in the future. It brings together the elements of identification management and builds on ICAO leadership in matters related to Machine Readable Travel Documents.

The key point of the ICAO TRIP Strategy is a recognized need for a holistic and integrated approach to traveller identification management. The approach that links the five elements of traveller identification and border controls into a coherent framework: evidence of identification, document issuance and control, MRTDs, inspection systems and tools, and interoperable applications.

ICAO recognizes the benefits of traveller identification management to aviation security and facilitation. ICAO’s mission is to contribute to the capacity of Member States to uniquely identify individuals by providing tools and knowledge to establish and confirm the identity of travellers.

An industry exhibition will complement the Seminar with a broad range of products and services related to MRTDs, biometric identification, travel document security applications and border inspection systems. Seminar participants will have an opportunity to interact with ICAO industry partners and experts to discuss the latest available traveller identification technologies.

As usual, Seminar speakers and facilitators include top experts in the field, policy makers and senior managers, practitioners and researchers, many from the relevant working groups of ICAO, ISO and other international organizations.

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LEAD STORY: Governor Vows to Put Lagos Jazz Fest On World Tourism Map

Lagos, 28 April 2016, This Day / AllAfrica.com — Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Wednesday expressed optimism that activities lined up for the forthcoming Lagos International Jazz Day would go a long way to showcase the tourism potential of the state to the world.

A statement by his media aide, Mr Habib Aruna, said the governor spoke at the Lagos House, Ikeja, when he played host to some of the groups collaborating with the state government on the forthcoming star-studded concert to commemorate the 2016 International Jazz Day.

Ambode said apart from being the financial and commercial hub of Nigeria, his administration would work hard to equally transform Lagos to the tourism hub of Africa.

He restated his administration’s strong commitment to use tourism, hospitality, sports, entertainment and arts to grow the economy of the state, just as he assured his guests that nothing would be spared in transforming Lagos to the tourism hub of Africa.

He said: “We want to emulate and even surpass the International Jazz Festival in Cape Town, South Africa, and then be on the world stage and that is the significance of this collaboration that we have decided to go into.

“During the electioneering campaigns, we did promise that we will use entertainment and arts, tourism and sports to propel Lagos to the next level and this is one of the ways through which we hope to achieve that.

“We want to use entertainment to grow our economy, create jobs for the people and create that global picture of what Lagos is and what Lagos is not.

“Like you are all aware, Lagos is the financial and commercial hub of Nigeria and we want it to be the tourism hub of Africa and we are going to use the Jazz family to start that journey and that is why we are hosting the concert here at the Lagos House.”

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Dakar-Abidjan Corridor – Highway to Progress

Banjul, 28 April 2016, This Day / AllAfrica.com – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is intensifying its move to actualise the Dakar-Abidjan superhighway plan to transform the road infrastructure in the region.

The Community is presently holding a meeting in Banjul to put in place further touches towards the commencement of the construction of the proposed highway.

This laudable undertaking, known as the Dakar-Abidjan corridor, involves Senegal, The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau and Cote d’Ivoire.

It is believed that if realized, the highway would bring about a lot of good for the region. First and foremost, it will pave way for the economic integration of the region.

Poor road infrastructure has been a constant source of frustration in the region, which has for long time been impeding trade and business transactions, as well as partly responsible for the high cost of transporting goods across the region.

Although some transformation in road construction in the region has taken place over the years, a concern expressed by the former Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade as regards the poor state of roads and weak infrastructure in the region still stands the test of time.

He once said in an interview with African Renewal: “We talk about African unity, we want African unity. Meanwhile, we don’t even have adequate road systems to go from one country to the other. Since 1960, every country has been building roads, but today we in Senegal can’t just drive to neighbouring Guinea. You can’t just get up and go by road to Mali. Why? Because their roads were not our problem. Every little country wanted to build its own.”

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Bahrain flags its multi-cultural achievements

KUWAIT, April 30 (KUNA) — The Kingdom of Bahrain is best described as a multicultural country where people enjoy the freedom to live and work in a hospitable and tolerant environment with an atmosphere full of affection and compassion, mixed with an open dialogue and coexistence among all races and religions.

Many physical and cultural evidences exist in the kingdom that can support the competitive advantage enjoyed by the country, when compared to other countries, especially in the openness of its cultural atmosphere and economic diversification and sustainable growth.

Among such evidences are the “Pearl Road” site, what is known worldwide as “Bahrain pearling trail” which is a 3.5 km trail located in the island of Muharraq, and was used by pearl divers during much of Bahrain’s history until the early 1930s, when the pearl market in Bahrain crashed as a result of the introduction of Cultured pearls from Japan.
 The pathway consists of 17 buildings in Murharraq, three oyster beds located in the nearby sea, a segment of the coast and the seafront Bu Mahir fortress in the southern tip of Muharraq.

The pearling trail was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on June 30, 2012 and is Bahrain’s second World Heritage Site after Bahrain Fort.

The historic site also represents a living museum in the open air and document the history of an era in the Kingdom of Bahrain when its economy was dependent on Pearl.

Meanwhile, Bahrain Culture Authority plays a significant role in the protection of national cultural identity, promote and publicize such sites as cultural identity components.

On another front, the kingdom was also able during 2016 to achieve another milestone in setting up, during January 2016, the Arab Gulf educational Museums network meeting, hosted in Bahrain National Museum and Bahrain Fort site where the goal was to held regularly meetings every three months to discuss ways to enhance the status of Museums in local cultural movement and exchange of experiences and knowledge in the museum field.

Meanwhile, coinciding with the celebration of Arab Tourism Day, which the kingdom celebrates annually on February 25th, but in 2014 the culture and Antiquities Authority in Bahrain hosted in its National Theatre the world premiere (Once Upon a Time) play, a Lebanese based Caracalla theater, directed by Ivan Caracalla.

The kingdom is also preparing to host the Arabian Gulf 14th theatrical celebration, scheduled in next September 24 and 4th October of this year.

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Astana Economic Forum to be held 25-26 May

ABU DHABI, 29th April, 2016 (WAM) – The Ministry of Economy was invited to participate in the Astana Economic Forum (AEF), an annual event held in Astana, the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which brings together representatives from the world’s economic community, current and former heads of states, Nobel Prize laureates, outstanding figures from the scientific world, and businessmen.

In its ninth edition, the event will take place from 25th to 26th May, 2016, and the AEF participants will address the challenges concerning “The New Economic Reality: Diversification, Innovation and Knowledge Economy.”

The invitation was sent to Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehhi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Economy for Economic Affairs, by Kairat Lama Sharif, Ambassador of Kazakhstan, to the UAE, during a meeting during which they explored ways of promoting economic and trade co-operation.

Al Shehi said economic and trade co-operation between the UAE and Kazakhstan had been witnessing phenomenal growth which pushed two-way foreign trade – including free zones trade – to over US$270 million in 2015.

The two countries, he noted, have great, promising potential for joint co-operation in light of the rich natural resources and industrial resources they have in addition to their strategic geographic location.

The Kazakh ambassador expressed his country’s sincere desire to bolster co-operation with the UAE, noting the remarkable progress taking place in bilateral ties as the UAE has become a gateway to launch Kazakh exports to many markets in the region.

Kazakhstan, he said, was interested in having a high-profile trade and economic delegation to the AEF.

He stated that Kazakhstan attaches paramount importance to the UAE’s participation – as the host of Expo 2020 in Dubai – at the Expo Astana 2017.

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Shurooq promotes three women to senior leadership

SHARJAH, 30th April, 2016 (WAM)–In a move to support and empower women, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), has issued an administrative resolution promoting three women leaders working at the authority.

The promotions are in line with the UAE’s national strategy for the empowerment of Emirati women and with Shurooq’s strategic vision to boost its human resources and enable outstanding female employees to assume positions of higher leadership.

The directive sees Marwa Obaid Al Shamsi promoted to Al Noor Island Manager, Hessah Sultan promoted to Director of the Department of Public Relations and Corporate Marketing at Shurooq and Reem Al Badran promoted to Director of Shurooq’s Protocol and Hospitality.

“Emirati women enjoy the full support and attention of our wise leadership, which spares no effort in providing them with all forms of empowerment. Women are now routinely being given opportunities to reach senior positions and to realise their talents in a variety of top roles, with females now working as ministers, governmental members and high-profile directors,” said Sheikha Bodour.

“This stems from the leadership’s belief in the importance of the women’s role in the development of society and the nation, which comes from ensuring that their career advancement is on an equal footing with their male counterparts. These efforts have awarded the UAE to be ranked first in the world for treating women with respect, according to the global Social Progress Index.”

She added, “Since its inception in 2009, Shurooq has given women special importance and created a series of teams with outstanding female staff in keeping with the UAE’s approach to empowering women. Our female personnel have accomplished numerous achievements in different sectors and have been a dedicated source for Shurooq’s success. Through these new appointments we aim to give our women’s team members greater opportunities and to inspire them to lead the company to even greater heights.”

Commemorating the trio’s remarkable achievements, Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), said, “It pleases me to see how far we’ve grown not just from a business perspective, but from a perspective of empowerment and creating the most inspiring and aspiring female cadres in our workforce..”

He added that their achievements today reflect the depth of their dedication and leadership in taking on responsibilities and challenges which made Shurooq the leading development authority that it is today. Under the leadership of Sheikha Bodour “our objective for all our staff, male or female, is to create a sustainable work environment and solid platform that stems from equality, cooperation, support, leadership and innovation allowing them to create their own success stories through Shurooq.”

Prior to her new appointment, Marwa Al Shamsi served as the Deputy Manager of Al Montazah Amusement and Water Park, a tourist destination run by Shurooq. She explained, “The best part from this experience was the level of support, training and attention Shurooq provided me with as part of its overall model to keep their staff involved in all its progresses and development. Shurooq played a big role in building my confidence and character during my 8-year career experience with them, an advantage which I am highly grateful for. I would like to also thank Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi for this honorable opportunity and for her symbolic role in creating a successful and empowering environment for women in the workforce.”

Marwa concluded, “Shurooq’s diversification in its tourism projects hold a library of knowledge, insights and experience, which I’m certain to learn a lot from. I’m looking forward to my new role as Al Noor Island Manager, which will definitely focus on managing and sustaining the project’s image as one of Sharjah’s leading tourism destination for authentic culture, heritage and natural experience.”

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Algeria banks on diversification of its economy

MOSCOW- Algeria has taken necessary measures to face the decline in oil prices by banking on the diversification of production and broadening foreign partnerships, including with Russia, said Wednesday in Moscow Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal at a press conference held jointly with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.

Sellal explained that “Following the 50% decrease in the State’s revenues due to the decline in oil prices, Algeria has taken the necessary measures to cope with the situation,” adding that “oil producing countries like Algeria adapt to price fluctuations.”

As regards the recent meeting of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), Sellal said that “the most important for the time being is to stabilize the output volume, which is the only way to make prices increase.”

“We have noticed that output has started dropping in view of the decline in investments by large firms,” he added.

In order to diversify its economy, Algeria intends to use all forms of energies, especially renewables, and then the civilian nuclear energy, said the Premier.

In this regard, he explained that “nuclear energy will be first used in the medical and scientific research fields.”

As for the Algerian-Russian cooperation, Sellal said that “the strong long-standing relationship between the two countries have been strengthened with the signing of the Declaration of Strategic Partnership in 2001 by presidents Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Vladimir Putin.”

For his part, Medvedev expressed satisfaction at the upward trend of trading between the two countries, and reiterated “readiness of Russian government to further strengthen and diversify cooperation, citing the field of pharmaceutical industry.”

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49th Int’l Fair of Algiers from 28 May-2 June 2016

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

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

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

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“Sinai.. Cradle of Alphabets” exhibition opened at Egyptian Museum

Cairo, 26 April 2016 – The temporary antiquities exhibition titled “Sinai.. Cradle of Alphabets” kicked off on Monday 25/4/2016 at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in Cairo. The exhibition that will last for six months includes 40 various artifacts.

It was inaugurated by Antiquities Minister Khaled el Anani who said the exhibition comes within the ministry’s celebrations of Sinai Liberation Day. It was organized in cooperation with the German University of Bonn. The exhibition celebrates 100 years over the discovery of Sinai alphabets in 1916 by Egyptologist Alan Garner.

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Work on Suez Canal underground tunnels to start in June

Cairo, AlAhram Online, 26 April 2016 – The actual dredging of underground tunnels at the Suez Canal will start in early June 2016 and to be completed in 18 months, Chairman of the Armed Forces Engineering Authority Kamel el Wazzir said.

While inspecting the project site on 25/4/2016, Wazzir said a large dredger has already been installed at the location and final technical preparations are being completed.

The authority has been assigned with carrying out 1,600 projects, including 200 mega national ones, by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi since he assumed power, Wazzir said, adding that 50% of the projects have been completed.

Among the most important national projects is the Suez Canal underground tunnels, he said, adding that the used dredger is German-made and was brought from one of the largest international German companies.

The dredger was exclusively manufactured for the Egyptian tunnels with special specifications and diameters (inner diameter 11.4 meters and external 12.6 meters).

At present, 94 welders are working at the site but 94 more are needed, he said, calling on Egyptian youths to apply for the job even those who have no previous experience as they will be trained beforehand.

Four giant dredgers will dig four large tunnels under the Suez Canal at the same time, he added.

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Bangladesh to allow tower business in telecom sector

DHAKA, April 30, 2016 (BSS) – State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim today said the government would allow tower business in telecom sector considering customer interest as well as environment issues.

She was addressing a seminar as the chief guest on ‘The Prospect of Tower Business in Bangladesh’, organized by Telecom Reporters Network, Bangladesh (TRNB) in a city hotel.

“Uncontrolled tower of telecom would harm environment…….we would first create level playing field to allow new players for tower business, but upgradation of network would also be considered in framing policy,” she said.

The state minister said upcoming policy in tower business would ensure foreign direct investment.

“We would create competitiveness in tower business…monopoly would be discouraged through ensuring level playing field in the sector,” Tarana said.

She said the government would also consider ensuring lower tower sharing cost so the consumers get benefit on it.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood said the BTRC encouraged investment in the telecom sector. He said the BTRC would provide tower sharing licenses to create open market.

“A total of 36,000 mobile towers have been installed against the requirement of 24,000 towers because of lack of tower sharing facility. But the quality of services is too poor,” he informed.

He said tower would be increased after introduction of 4G. He expressed dissatisfaction over the installation of five towers on BARDEM building which happened due to lack of tower sharing facility.

The BTRC chairman said they would formulate new company to run tower sharing. Of the company, BTRC would allow 51 percent investment from local sources and the rest from foreign direct investment.

Posts and telecommunications additional sectary Shawkat Mostafa said the government would formulate tower sharing license guidelines with the consent of shareholders.

GP chief corporate affairs officer Mahmud Hossain said the qualified firm should be allowed to have license for tower sharing business. The existing mobile phone operators’ tower would also be considered in the guidelines, he said.

Robi executive vice president Shahed Alam said qualified and experienced tower sharing company should be considered in the business.

Association of Mobile Telecom Operator Association of Bangladesh (AMTOB) secretary general TIM Nurul Kabir, Banglalink director of GR and Regulation Tymur Rahman, Fiber@home managing director Moinul Huq Siddique attended at the seminar.

TRNB president Rashed Mehdi moderated the seminar while it’s general secretary Shamim Ahmed presented the keynote.

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Mega-projects planned for south-western Bangladesh

KHULNA, April 30, 2016 (BSS)- Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan has said the present government is implementing mega development schemes for changing the lot of people in the country’s south-western region.

He also said livelihood of the people and wheel of economy in the region will be realised after implementing the projects. He was addressing as the chief guest at a view exchange meeting with local BIWTA officials in the city here on Friday evening.

The minister was informed about the Launch Terminal and ongoing repairing works and directed the officials to speed up works of connecting Launch Terminal road for vehicles to ply.

Shajahan Khan also urged all to follow government policy for using the godowns where fertilizers and cement have been stored. He said legal action will be taken against them who had not paid revenue and also asked the concerned officials to increase their supervision for the purpose.

He also gave directions to free Launch Ghats from grabbers immediately and to take necessary steps for repairing residential buildings of BIWTA.

Chairman of Mongla Port Authority (MPA) Rear Admiral Reaz Uddin Ahmed, Executive Engineer of BIWTA Nazibul Haque Khan, Deputy Director of Port Division AKM Kaisarul Islam, Deputy Director of BIWTA Md. Ashraf Hossain, Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Md. Zahangir Hossain, and convenor of Sramik League of BIWTA Md. Zakir Hossain, among others, attended the meeting.

Earlier, the Shipping Minister visited at River Port and Roosvelt Zetty in the city.

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Dance speaks of human feelings, cultural identity

RANGPUR, April 30, 2016 (BSS) – Leading cultural personalities have said dance always speaks of human feelings as well as life and living with love,affection, arts, devotion, emotion and cultural identity of any nation on the earth.

They said this while taking part in a discussion organised in celebration of the International Dance Day- 2016, by Rangpur divisional unit of Bangladesh Nrittya Shilpi Sangstha (BNSS) on the Swasswato Bangla Mukta Munch here on Friday evening.

The BNSS with assistance of Rangpur Sound Touch, Rangpur Nrittya Sangstha,Rangpur Nrittya Academy, Rangpur Nattya Kendra, Rinijhini Nrittya Academy and other dance organisations chalked out elaborate programmes in observance of the day.

The programmes included colourful rallies, receptions to the dance artists,presentation of different dances, cultural functions, distribution of prizes among the dance artists and other activities befitting to the occasion.

Chaired by President of Rangpur divisional unit of BNSS Nasima Zaman, Deputy Commissioner of Rangpur Md Rahat Anwar addressed the discussion as the chief guest.

Noted educationist Professor Rakibul Hasan Bulbul, businessman Zakir Sadek Saodagar, dance artist China Neogi as special guests addressed the occasion moderated by General Secretary of Rangpur divisional unit of BNSS Prof Azizul Islam.

After the discussion, popular dance artists from all over Rangpur division rendered dances charming a huge audience of all ages, including dancers of different ages, socio-cultural personalities, civil society members, professionals and local elite.

The chief guest along with other invited guests handed over ‘Kunjolal Medal’ to dance artists Rawnak Ara Nipa and Khiljee Ashikul Huda Polash for their extraordinary performances.

Besides, medal were distributed among best mothers Advocate Fauzia Naznin of Rangpur and Falguni Tarafder of Kurigram for providing adequate facilities in learning dance to the daughter Oishee and son Durjoy respectively.

The chief guest also handed over “Begum Rokeya Medal” to member of BNSS Shamima Zaman at the divisional level best performer in dance.

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Bangladesh among top 12 GDP achieving countries: World Bank

DHAKA, April 30, 2016 (BSS)- Bangladesh among the top 12 developing countries with a population of over 20 million, who achieved 6 plus percent growth in 2016, according to the “Bangladesh Development Update 2016″ of the World Bank (WB), released here today (Saturday).

“By any standards, Bangladesh economy has done well, but the country needs to focus on the agenda centered on sustainable and inclusive growth”, the flagship annual publication of the Bank noted.

WB country director Qimiao Fan, who is also responsible for Bhutan and Nepal, spoke on the occasion when chief economist of the Bank Zahid Hussain briefed journalists on the Update.

The Update did not estimate the GDP growth for the current 2015-16 financial year (FY16), but predicted 6.8 percent economic growth for the coming 2016-17 fiscal year (FY17).

The government predicted that the GDP for the current fiscal year would be 7.03 percent, and the higher growth would continue in the coming years too if favourable situation sustains.

The Bank’s country director said the number for growth rate is not the most important factor for Bangladesh. But the most significant fact is that the country has been maintaining the higher GDP growth constantly, indicating that the economy is progressing.

Fan said only 12 of 118 densely populated countries around the world attained over 6 percent GDP growth this year while Bangladesh secured its strong position among the top 12 GDP achieving countries.

Referring to this achievement, the country chief hoped that Bangladesh would be a middle-income state by 2021 when the nation would be celebrating the golden jubilee of independence.

He, however, suggested that the government should address the infrastructure development, investment in energy and transport sectors and improvement of environment for business and human resource development through ensuring quality education.

Noting that the country already came out of various problems that prevailed in the financial sector, Zahid Hussain attributed the success to effective regulatory steps, taken by the government.

Citing some major findings of the Update, he said the country’s economy remained strong and resilient despite external and internal challenges, but the future policies and initiatives should focus on sustainable and inclusive growth.

In the Update, the Bank acknowledged that sustained macro stability, disinflation, rising reserves and declining interest rates were playing an important role in stabilising the country’s economy.

The Bank, however, suggested the government that it should be more proactive in accelerating private investment, which remained a major concern.

The Bank also recommended strong structural reforms, boosting energy, infrastructure, financial and private sector efficiency to accelerate and achieve sustainable growth.

The Update drew attention to some factors those would hinder economic growth. These include infrastructure bottlenecks, power and primary energy shortage, remaining difficulties of doing business and lack of reform continuity.

“Bangladesh needs strong structural reforms and effective public investment efforts to be on a higher and faster growth path”, the Bank said.

The Bank also identified the priorities in the financial sector those include improving state owned banks balance sheets through recapitalization on improved loan recovery and credit growth limits, strengthening financial sector regulation and supervision, improving the legal and financial loan recovery framework and addressing risks from concentration and macro-fiscal linkages.

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Kuwaiti tourists spend $170 per night in Egypt

MENAFN – Daily News Egypt – 28/04/2016 – Tourists’ expenses in Egypt during the first quarter of 2016 were ranked and Kuwaitis came out on top, spending on average 170 per night, followed by Saudi tourists who spend 130 per night.

Emirati tourists spent 87.5 per night and Lebanese tourists spent 75, according to the economic adviser to the minister of tourism, Adela Ragab.

Out of the 1.1 million tourists who visited Egypt during the first quarter, 380,000 of them were Arab, Ragab told Daily News Egypt in a special statement.

Arab tourists spend 110 to 120 per night on average. They tend to visit Egypt more than once in a year.

From January to March, Arab tourists totalled roughly 2.5 million nights in Egypt with an average stay of seven nights per stay. Gulf tourism grew by 25% during the first quarter of the year, whereas the growth rate was 50% durin the last two months of 2015, according to Ragab.

Jordanian inbound tourists influx to Egypt increased significantly, especially during the summer months.

In May, the Ministry of Tourism plans to launch an online page for promoting Egypt in Arab markets. This page will provide electronic marketing opportunities for low-cost carriers, according to Ragab.

Egypt is an attractive tourist destination for Arabs, especially young people. During the recent period, this demographic began to increase for cultural tourism in Luxor and Aswan.

Egypt also has a strong investment climate, Ragab said. Arab investors have many questions about the Egyptian pound’s exchange rate, the economic situation, the problem of transferring profits, and the lack of transparency. All these questions will be answered at the Dubai Tourism Conference, according to Ragab.

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Canadian Muslims proud of Canada: Survey

Thursday 28 Apr 2016 Ottawa, (IINA) – “I may look very different but I am a true Canadian and talk with all Canadian references,” said Rukhsana Khan, an award-winning children’s writer who was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and came to Canada with her family at the of age 3, Toronto Star news reported.

“I have been all over Canada except Nunavut. I have lived here for 51 years. This is my country.”

Khan’s pride as both a Canadian and a Muslim is echoed by the one-million-strong Muslim community across Canada, according to a new national survey by The Environics Institute, released on Wednesday.

Researchers asked 600 Muslim Canadians and 987 non-Muslims questions on a wide range of issues from their sense of belonging to their views on national security, attitudes towards Islam and experiences with discrimination.

More than 80 percent of the Muslim respondents said they were very proud to be Canadian, up from 73 percent in a similar study by Environics in 2006. They attributed their greatest source of pride to the country’s freedom and diversity.

Khan believes that has a lot to do with a maturing community, a more integrated second generation and the impact of almost 10 years of the Conservative government, which was widely perceived as anti-Muslim.

“We are starting to get acknowledged and become more visible within the mainstream culture. It gives you a lot of pride that you do not have to disguise to make it,” said the Toronto mother of four.

“The Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper years were just a dark time. It really provoked Muslims to get engaged and vote.”

The survey found a whopping 79 percent of Muslims voted in the 2015 federal election, with 65 percent supporting the Liberals, 10 percent the New Democrats and just 2 percent backing the Conservatives. The rest refused to say how they voted.

One in three Canadian Muslims reported having experienced discrimination in the past five years because of their religion or ethnicity.

One in four Muslims said they had problems crossing borders, and this experience happens regardless of gender, age and country of birth. Muslim youth were also the least optimistic about the next generation facing less discrimination than their own.

Steven Zhou, a Chinese immigrant who converted to Islam in 2011, said his Arab and South Asian friends have a more difficult time in their lives than him because of society’s stereotypes.

Zhou said his generation of Muslims is more vocal about issues of discrimination and equality because they grew up here, feeling an ownership of the problems — and solutions.

“It is difficult and impossible to take on civic consciousness without being rooted here,” he said of what he calls the “awakening” of a sense of responsibility.

The study also found religious observance among Muslims has strengthened over the past decade, especially among young adults aged 18 to 34.

Close to half of the Muslim respondents said they visit a mosque for prayer at least once a week, representing a 7% point increase from 2006, while 41 percent reported attending a mosque a few times a month. Compared with older Muslims, young Muslims also identify primarily as Muslim rather than as Canadian.

Hijabi young woman Fatima Alaso who was born in Canada to Somali immigrant parents, was the target of Islamophobia when she and her friend were recently berated by a man in downtown Toronto telling them to “get out of my country, you terrorists.”

She said the surge in mosque attendance should not be taken as a sign of increased devoutness or radicalization among a new generation.

“That’s misunderstood. People go to mosques for different reasons. Those who attend mosques are less likely to be radicalized because they are comfortable with their religious identity,” said the elementary school teacher from Brampton. “Going to a mosque doesn’t make you more devout.”

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Saudi Arabia hosts exhibition on moderation in Islam

Friday 22 Apr 2016, Riyadh, (IINA) – The Saudi chief of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) Dr. Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah Al-Sanad, has recently opened an exhibition to highlight moderation in Islam, Arab News reported Friday.

The 10-day exhibition was organized by the Cooperative Office for Call and Guidance to engender good deeds among people of faith.

Speaking on the occasion, Al-Sanad encouraged his listeners to avoid extreme acts which have harmed Islam and Islamic nations. “Islam is a religion of moderation, and we must do and follow what is right and proper. We are expected to follow the moderation approach, which is in accordance with the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)”, he said.

“We should be a link in an unbroken act of advocacy, counseling various programs in accordance with the moderation approach”, he said.

He said that the moderation approach had been “followed by this blessed and prosperous country since the establishment by the Kingdom’s founder King Abdul Aziz”.

Al-Sanad expressed his appreciation to Minister of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance Saleh Al-Asheikh for his support.

The exhibition was held within the national intellectual security program which targets young people to promote moderation and combat extremism and extremist ideas through social media and the establishment of training courses and meetings.

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Moroccan Minister Haddad wins “Tourism Personality Award”

28 Apr 2016 Dubai, (IINA) – Moroccan Minister of Tourism Lahcen Haddad was awarded “Tourism Personality of the Year 2015” by the Arab Center for Travel Media (ACTM) as part of the 8th annual Tourism Media Awards, Morocco World News reported.

The Moroccan minister received the award in Dubai on Tuesday at a ceremony in the presence of dedicated industry professionals and representatives of local, Arab and international media.

Haddad scored of 4,569 votes following the Arab Center for Travel Media’s electronic voting process. The competition included 122 nominees listed in 23 categories and representing 18 Arab countries.

During the ceremony, President of the ACTM Hussein Elmanay said that the award pays tribute to Haddad “in recognition of his experience and his efforts for the development of Arab and local tourism.”

According to Elmanay, the objective of the awards is to “support and encourage the efforts and achievements to develop this sector in the Arab countries, boost tourist flows in Arab countries and encourage the use of high-quality services.”

In his speech, Haddad emphasized the importance of tourism in Morocco. “This award embodies the maturity of Moroccan as a travel destination and reaffirms the relevance of the vision established by Morocco to develop its tourism industry as a pillar of the national economy,” Haddad said.

The minister said that he is confident about the future of world tourism. “The culture of travel is increasingly rooted in consumers’ habits. Tourism is a major factor in the global economic shift towards the service and entertainment industries,” he added.

Haddad noted that the challenge in the coming years will be the mobilization of policy makers to focus on innovations in the tourism industry.

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Mashad to host Int’l Congress of Immunology, Asthma, Allergy

Mashad, April 30, IRNA – Third International Congress of Immunology, Asthma and Allergy and First Symposium of Food and Drug Allergy will be held in Mashad from May 3-6.

Secretary of the congress for science affairs, Farahzad Jabbari-Azad told reporters on Saturday that over 300 Iranian physicians and specialists of allergy and relevant courses will come together in the event.

Four foreign distinguished specialists from Germany and India will also take part in the congress, she said.

Of 230 articles presented to the secretariat of the congress, 20 will be presented during the congress, she said, noting that prevention, diagnosis and treatment of asthma, nasal allergy and role of traditional medicine are among the major topics to be discussed during the event.

Holding four educational workshops on diagnosis of allergies, immunology and food and drug allergies is one of the peripheral programs of the congress, she noted.

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Iran ranks 1st in Shanghai 2016 Hyundai Archery World Cup

Tehran, April 30, IRNA – Iranian Compound Men Team beat U.S. team 229-228 and snatched gold medal of the second stage of Shanghai 2016 Hyundai Archery World Cup.

Iran’s team including Esmail Ebadi, Majid Gheidi, Omid Taheri took part in the second stage of Shanghai 2016 Hyundai Archery World Cup.

In quarterfinals, Iran drew the Netherlands 232-232 but in golden arrow Iran beat it.

In semi-final, Iranian athletes overpowered France 231-230 and headed to China Final competitions.

The second stage of Shanghai 2016 Hyundai Archery World Cup is underway in China.

Iranian team is scheduled to have a twenty-day camp in South Korea to participate in third stage of 2016 Rio Archery World Cup which is scheduled to be held in Turkey in Iranian month of Khordad (May-June).

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Sporting industries city in the Suez Canal Special Economic Zone

A sporting industries city is to be established, at a preliminary cost of LE5 billion to LE10 billion, in the Suez Canal Special Economic Zone (SCZone).

The project will be implemented under an economic regime that permits the tax-free importation of raw materials to produce goods for export to Arab and African states and to meet the needs of the Egyptian market.

The city will support 1,260 athletic activities catering to 1,200 athletic clubs and 4,200 youth centres across Egypt, as well as facilities and clubs connected to the Armed Forces, the police, Al-Azhar, and the ministries of education and higher education.

Essam Mohamed Abdullah, a professor of business management at Misr University for Science and Technology and a former deputy minister for youth and sport, is behind the sporting industries project.

He said he will soon meet with Ahmed Darwish, head of the SCZone and the governorate of Ismailiya, along with a representative from a Taiwanese company that manufactures sporting goods, to finalise plans for the project, which will produce sporting goods to international specifications.

After receiving approval for the project from the Ministry of Youth and Sport, he presented the project to Darwish, who in turn put the idea to the country’s political leadership.

Abdullah said that the matter has been discussed at the highest level, and the government has been persuaded to support the project, which will create thousands of new jobs.

The new city will work to attract investors from Arab states, offering them investment incentives, he said. This would allow the project to produce sporting goods for the Egyptian, Arab and African markets at competitive prices.

The project would put Egypt on the path to sporting goods production for the Arab and African markets and would employ more than 20,000 people, Abdullah said. Once the project is up and running, there are hopes it will export up to $10 million worth of goods annually to the Arab market.

Five technical schools will be established to train workers to manufacture sporting goods, and a bank will be set up to finance small sporting goods businesses. The project is also expected to invigorate intra-Arab and African trade.

Abdullah believes various stakeholders need to play a role to help complete the project. Land can be made available for investors from Egypt and abroad, he said, and various ministries will be involved in marketing the goods produced, facilitating the entry of necessary foreign labour, expertise and raw materials and marketing the products in state-owned outlets to government sporting clubs and youth centres.

Legislation would need to be passed to permit the purchase of Egyptian high-quality products that meet international specifications by private and government athletic facilities, Abdullah added.

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Kyrgyzstan leads UN ranking among countries awaiting tourism boom

Bishkek, April 26 / Kabar /. Kyrgyzstan tops the list of countries in which tourism will boom in the next 10 years, according to the Telegraph. The figures come courtesy of the United Nations World Travel Organization (UNWTO).

According to data of the UNWTO, annually tourist flow growth in Kyrgyzstan is projected at 8.2 %.

In this ranking Myanmar is on second place and India closes the top three. Zambia ranks the 4th, Vietnam the 5th, then Tanzania, Mozambique, China, Lebanon and Namibia.

“Adventurous horseback riders have long favoured this rugged country, partly because only riders can really access the fertile valleys and mountain passes. Rural Kyrgyzstan also allows visitors to meet nomadic families, who take to the high ground every summer. High-altitude Lake Song-Köl offers stargazing while camping in a yurt”, says in the ranking.

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Foreign investment in Kyrgyzstan economy grew by 12.6%

Bishkek, April 28 / Kabar /. In 2015, the volume of direct foreign investments in the country’s economy grew by 12.6%, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbai Jeenbekov cited such data at the meeting of the Parliament, making a report on the work of the Government in 2015, the Kyrgyz government’s press office reports.

The volume of foreign direct investments in the economy of the country compared to 2014 increased by 12.6% and amounted to USD 818.8 million. The volume of investments in the fixed capital amounted to 120.9 billion soms in 2015, which is 8.0% more than in 2014.

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Lebanese Ministry of Tourism seeks ban on bird hunting

Beirut, 30 Apr 2016, NNA – Based on law # 580, placing a total ban on bird hunting all over the country especially during the bird migrating season of Spring, the ministry of Tourism has implored both police and gendarmes to enforce the said law by bringing violators to justice.

Also having signed the international treaty AEWA, for the protection of birds migrating back and forth between Europe and Africa, the ministry do herewith stress the importance of Lebanon’s diverse ecosystem arguing that police protection of birds no doubt helps develop our potentially rich ecotourism.

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Museum of Persian Gulf Maps opens in Hormuz Island

Bandar Abbas, April 29, IRNA – Museum of Persian Gulf Maps was inaugurated in Hormuz Island in a ceremony attended by Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Ali Jannati concurrent with National Persian Gulf Day (April 29).

Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Jannati said that the museum will display credited historic maps of the Persian Gulf.

Historic maps drawn by Europeans from 500 years ago up to now are on show in the museum, he said, noting that the major international waterway has been named as Persian Gulf by all the maps.

The minister also said that Persian Gulf is a section of Iran’s civilizational identity and the historic maps reveal a great emperor with Persian Gulf as its part.

Some 32 historic maps featuring Persian Gulf from different eras are currently on public display in the museum.

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‘Palestine’s Cinema’ to be unveiled in ITBF

Tehran, April 29, IRNA – The book ‘Palestine’s Cinema’ will be unveiled during the upcoming International Tehran Book Fair (ITBF), said director of Revayat-e Fath Publishing House on Thursday.

Hassan Alaei said that some 30 new works will also be presented during the cultural event.

He also said that the book ‘I Am a Revolutionary’ featuring Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei’ s most distinguished stances since the beginning of his leadership until last year will also be unveiled in the book fair.

The 29th International Tehran Book Fair will open in Shahr-e Aftab on Khalij Fars Highway on May 4 and continue until May 14 with the motto of ‘Tomorrow is late for reading’.

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Iranian Art and Architecture Exhibition kicks off in Stuttgart

Berlin, April 28, IRNA – An Iranian Art and Architecture Exhibition started work in the presence of IFA’s officials, Iranian cultural attaché in Germany and some Iranian artists at IFA Gallery in Stuttgart.

In the opening ceremony of the event Head of IFA, Director of art Department of Baden-Württemberg State Ministry of Science, Research and Art and Head of IFA gallery delivered speeches.

Head of IFA said it was necessary for Iran and Germany to develop their cultural ties, adding that this fact can play a major role in broadening economic ties between the two countries.

Referring to recent trips to Iran by Baden-Württemberg economic delegations, Director of Art Department of Baden-Württemberg State Ministry of Science, Research and Art said that Iran is a stable country which needs to reconstruct its economy and German companies expressed their readiness to meet Iran’s infrastructural needs.

Holding Iranian Art Exhibition was inspired by Venice Biennale as one of the most famous architecture biennials in the world.

Growth and development in Iran’s architecture in the 21st century was reviewed and pictures of building and monuments showing a new process of interpreting Iran’s historical heritage were put on display.

The exhibition will run until July 3.

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Disabled people in Iran to get homes

Tehran, April 30, IRNA – Eleven thousand families who have two disabled members or more are going to be provided with homes, says head of Iran’s State Welfare Organization.

‘The Welfare Organization, in cooperation with Mostazafan Foundation (Foundation of the Oppressed and Disabled) and Housing Foundation are planning to provide homes for the families who have two or more disabled members,’ Anoushiravan Mohseni Bandpay told the Islamic Republic News Agency on Saturday.

Mohseni Bandpay also said that the families expected to get homes have been identified by the organization.

They will be provided by the accommodations in the second six months of the next year (Persian Calendar, beginning March 21, 2017), he said.

Disabled people constitute ten to 15 percent of the world population, says the United Nations.

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Qatar Foundation Organizes 3rd Annual Teaching and Learning Forum

Doha, April 30 (QNA) – HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al -Thani, Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairperson of Qatar Foundation (QF), attended the Third Annual Teaching and Learning Forum today. The event, which brought together teachers, leaders and policymakers from across the country, was designed to promote professional development and lifelong learning.

Organised by the Education Development Institute (EDI), part of QF’s Pre-University Education, this year’s event was sponsored by Exxonmobil in Qatar. The Teaching and Learning Forum falls under QF’s year-round professional development programme, and aims to provide educators with the opportunity to share knowledge and discuss industry issues, while enhancing the education system by empowering teachers.

Addressing dignitaries, senior officials and audience members, Sheikha Noof Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani, Executive Director of EDI, Chair of the Teaching and Learning Forum opened the conference. “Today’s third edition of EDI’s Teaching and Learning Forum has brought together approximately 1,000 attendants who will benefit from 95 professional workshops,” she said. “Bringing together such a large number of experts and teachers, this forum is part of Qatar’s continual development.

Not only does the event enhance professional potential, it simultaneously empowers the generation of tomorrow by providing tools to equip teachers with an operational framework to support best practices in Qatar.” Andy Hargreaves, Thomas More Brennan Chair in the Lynch School of Education and Professor in the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, delivered the first keynote speech at the opening session.

“With some of the highest educational standards in the region, Qatar is making sustained advances to improve best practices in the classroom,” he explained. “This is a testament to the commitment and innovation of the country’s educational system, which also recognises and seeks to address its weaknesses.”

“Education is a dream with determination. It’s a vision created by educational leaders and a proactive approach by national educators to motivate, inspire and transform the classroom environment into a haven of engagement and active learning. Best professional practice means adapting international frameworks to address Qatar’s social needs, and supporting the teachers who will lead and develop the generation of tomorrow. We will lift those we serve, by lifting those who serve them, and it’s our task to continue to develop collaborative culture which will facilitate mutual enrichment.”

Dr Simon Breakspear, founder and CEO of LearnLabs, a global learning research and design agency,served as the event’s second keynote speaker. He engaged attendees by focusing on global lessons on leading ‘Innovation For Better Learning’.

“Cultivating learning innovation is crucial if Qatar is to ensure that all of its young people develop the knowledge, skills and attributes to succeed in a knowledge-based economy,” he said. “To be successful, this innovation should be focused on designing effective and engaging pedagogical approaches rather than simply adding technology to the classroom. The work of educational innovation needs to be driven from the passionate and deeply skilled teachers and leaders working in schools. They must find ways to work in collaborative teams, engage all students in deeper learning, and share their innovative practices across the diversity of schools. This type of system-wide innovation and sharing will be key to the next stage of improvement and reform.”

QF firmly believes that education is key to the continual development and prosperity of Qatar, and that teachers are integral to shaping the future of the nation. Therefore, building and supporting a comprehensive integrated learning environment is vital to developing national capabilities, which will help drive Qatar’s continuous advancement.(QNA)

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‘Baku Declaration’ Stress New Partnerships on Inclusive Societies

Doha, April 30 (QNA) – HE Nasser Bin Abdulaziz Al Nasr, the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations on Saturday praised the ‘Baku Declaration’ issued at the conclusion of the 7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations held in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku under the slogan “to live together in inclusive societies: the challenge and goal.” He said the Declaration focusses on new partnerships, initiatives and programs intended to move forward towards the goal of living together in a more holistic manner, Al Nasser told Qatar News Agency (QNA).

Al Nasr said the ‘Baku Declaration’ adopted by the Member States is the essence of the document that focuses on the concept of co-existence and respect for others, the respect for religions and acceptance of cultural and civilizational diversity while focusing on the role of education in promoting these concepts.

He praised the outcome document rejecting any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

He stressed the emphasis on the role of young people who are the most targeted by extremis, which requires the need to integrate them into the development process and protect them from marginalization.

HE Al Nasr expressed satisfaction of the success in providing an excellent platform for exchanging ideas, engaging with existing and potential partners and re-affirming the commitment of various stakeholders representing governments, civil society , religious leaders and academia, hailing the cooperation with the Azeri government.

The Baku Declaration underlines among other issues, the importance of achieving the goals of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations initiative and the implementation of the declarations and commitments that have been approved in Baku so that governments and civil society organizations can cooperate to achieve the goal of living together in communities that provide reasons of solidarity and integration.

The Forum brought together more than 4,300 participants, including Heads of State and Government, political officials, civil society representatives, religious and youth leaders, who exchanged their perspectives. (QNA)

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2nd Middle East Dental Conference kicks off in Aqaba

Aqaba, April 30 (Petra)–The 2nd Mediterranean & Middle East Dental Conference started in the port city of Aqaba on Saturday with the participation of specialists from Italy, India, the United States, Brazil, Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

During the two-day event, which is organized by the Jordan Dental Association, the contemporary dilemmas in dentistry will be addressed in a point-counterpoint format by top speakers in the field to share guidelines, expertise, and their clinical experience with contemporary technologies and procedures.

The scientific program will run in two parallel sessions with world-leading invited speakers, original clinical and scientific research posters as well as pre and post -congress hands-on sessions that will cover the more recent advances and topics of the field.

A wide-ranging exhibition of dental products, equipment and instruments will be displayed by partners from the dental industry and industry experts.

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Saudi King tours Sharm el-Sheikh, hails tourism milestones

Sharm el-Sheikh, Apr.30 (BNA): King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa toured the beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh City and watched the efforts of the Egyptian Government to develop the tourism sector in the beautiful zone which features resorts that attract tourists from all over the world.

The King hailed the tourism facilities at Sharm el-Sheikh resort, rich environment and diverse locations which create a boon for tourists and visitors.

He hailed the projects undertaken in the resorts as well as diverse and rich programmes and activities being lined-up to attract tourists from all over the world.

“These development projects prove that Egypt is the country of security”, he said, adding that Egypt will always be strong thanks to its leadership, Government and people.

During his tour with the accompanying delegation, HM the King swam in one of the beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh resort, played beach volley and golf.

He stressed the importance of practising such sports which enable people to keep fit and entertain themselves so as to perform better at work.

The King stressed the importance for people to profit from holidays to entertain themselves at local, Gulf or Arab tourism resorts.

At the end of his tour, the King expressed his confidence that Egypt would be a prime destination for Arabs and foreigners all over the world, adding that diversified sources of revenues will yield economic prosperity.

The King visited Sharm el-Sheikh City and was welcomed by South Sinai Governor Major-General Khalid Fouda and senior officials who hailed his visit which, they said, reflects strong bilateral relations.

The King toured Naama Bay and King Hamad bin isa Al-Khalifa Highway and met a number of Arab and foreign tourists and held cordial talks with them.

He stressed the importance of Sharm el-Sheikh City which hosted many regional and international conferences and key events, underlining its contribution to Egypt’s economic revenues.

He commended the efforts of the Egyptian Government to ensure security at the tourist facilities and provide premium services for visitors and tourists, wishing Egypt further progress and prosperity, led by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

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9-yr-old Kazakh dombra player shows brilliant performance

29.04.2016 Kazakh-tv.kz – Young dombra player impressed the jury with his singing and playing of the dombra. A 9-year-old Shyngys Askhatuly had a stunning performance at the Republican contest. This was the first experience of the talented boy on the big stage.

Despite the young age, Shyngys already writes his own music and lyrics. At the competition, he sang a song of his own composition, and then performed a well-known folk song ‘Alpamys Batyr’. At this year’s contest, Shyngys is the youngest participant out of 30 musicians from all over the country.

Shyngys Askhatuly said: I am very glad that I participate at competitions. Whatever the result is, I always believe that I perform great. I play dombra and I learn from adults to perform better and better.

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Kazakhstan to export agricultural products worth $379 mln to EAEU states

29.04.2016 Kazakh-tv.kz – Kazakhstan exports agricultural products worth $379 million to the Eurasian Economic Union, said Minister Assylzhan Mamytbekov at the parliamentary hearings on the development of the agricultural sector. According to him, production in the agricultural industry has increased by 41% over the past 10 years, as exports grew by 59% and amounted to more than $2 billion.

The Minister believes that domestic production can withstand competition in the market of the Eurasian Union. Project on the development of export potential of the beef showed good results, however Kazakhstan has even a greater capacity, the Minister said.

Assylzhan Mamytbekov, Kazakh Minister of Agriculture: In the period of 2011-2015, a network of feedlots on 180 thousand places involving more than 10 thousand farmers who grow cattle was created under the project through the private investment and state support in Kazakhstan. As a result, for 2015 it exported more than 16 thousand tons of meat and meat products, including more than 6.4 thousand tons of fresh chilled beef.

Meanwhile, Mamytbekov announced that this year 176 billion tenge will be allocated for state support of the agro-industrial complex. In addition, subsidy reform will continue in the country. It is planned to reduce inefficient public spending and abolish hectare subsidy. The remaining funds, as the Minister of Agriculture says, will be redirected to more efficient spheres which will allow modernizing equipment and technologies.

Mamytbekov said: After Kazakhstan’s accession to the WTO, an agreement was reached on the application on state support of agriculture in the form of direct subsidies that is “yellow basket” at the level of 8.5% of gross agricultural output. For comparison, countries recently joined the WTO such as Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Croatia and Georgia have a limit of 5%. This makes it possible to almost double the measures of state support.

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Syria wins first prize at 8th Baghdad International Flower Festival

29 April، 2016, Baghdad, SANA – The Syrian pavilion won the first prize at the 8th Baghdad International Flower Festival for the third time in a row after it was ranked first at the 6th and 7th editions of the festival held in 2014 and 2015.

This year’s edition’s second prize went jointly to Netherlands and Egypt, and Lebanon and Sudan won the third prize.

The festival’s Secretary Zekra Alloush hailed Syria’s participation and win, saying “It is not surprising for the Syrians to win the first prize because they are creative, diligent and persevering people.”

Syria’s participation, which comes against the backdrop of the aggression it faces, “proves that it is striving with both hands, fighting terrorism with one and planting love with the other,” Alloush added.

For her part, Suhaila Abbas, a member of the provincial council of Babylon city, said upon visiting the Syria pavilion that Syria is soon to achieve victory over terrorism “because people who plant flowers and amity and fight the enemies of humanity at the same time will definitely end up triumphant.”

Head of the Syrian delegation to the festival, Mohammad Shaabani, expressed happiness about the Syrian side being awarded the first prize and the “Ideal Woman” prize that was earned by Fadia Karawan, a member of the delegation.

These wins came to “crown the innovative efforts aimed at showing Syria’s bright face,” said Shaabani.

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Indonesia to lure tourists from UAE

30 April 2016 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Indonesia is trying to attract foreign tourists from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as it anticipates that tourist arrivals from Malaysia may drop in the coming month of fasting.

The Tourism Ministry has predicted that the number of tourist arrivals from Malaysia will drop by about 10 to 15 percent as Malaysians do not prefer to travel during the fasting months.

Therefore, the government is cooperating with Qatars national flag carrier, Qatar Airways, to increase the frequency of flights to Indonesian tourist destinations.

It also established cooperation with Emirates Airlines to increase the frequency of direct flights from the United Arab Emirates to tourism destinations, such as Jakarta, Surabaya (East Java), Denpasar (Bali), and Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara).

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said on Thursday that he recently visited Dubai to promote the countrys Halal Tourism Destinations and its visa-free policy that is designed to lure tourists from Dubai to visit Indonesia.

“Emirates Airlines will fly twice a day to Jakarta and once a week to Bali. This will be good for us. The number of tourists is expected to rise. We also offer direct flights to Lombok,” Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said in Jakarta on Thursday.

In 2015, Lombok won the Worlds Best Halal Destination and the Worlds Best Honeymoon Destination awards.

Indonesia hopes it would attract about 10 to 12 million foreign tourist arrivals this year and about 20 million by 2019.

In the January-February 2016 period, some 1.70 million foreign tourists had arrived in Indonesia, up 4.46 percent from the previous years figure of 1.63 million for the same period.

However, the number of tourists from Malaysia, which contributed some 1.2 million foreign tourist arrivals annually, is expected to drop during the fasting month of June.

Data with the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) showed that last January, the number of tourist arrivals from Malaysia was 83,376, down from the same period last year when it was 91,055.

“During the fasting month, Malaysian tourist arrivals in the country are expected to fall. Malaysians are similar to Indonesians who avoid travelling during the fasting month. Therefore, we should seek and attract tourists from other countries as a substitute (to the Malaysians),” Minister Arief stated after opening a coordination meeting on tourism in Jakarta on Thursday (April 28).

A decline of 10 to 15 percent is forecast in the number of Malaysian tourist arrivals. The number of Malaysian tourists arriving in Indonesia during regular months reaches some 100 thousand per month or 1.2 million per year, Arief noted.

“We hope to cover the decline in Malaysian tourist arrivals by attracting tourists from the Middle East and Europe during the fasting month. I look at Dubai as it has a population of 2.6 million, while its natives account for only seven percent. So, I hope that the people from Dubai will visit Indonesia as they do not observe fasting,” the minister remarked.

Therefore the Tourism Ministry has established cooperation with Emirates Airlines to increase the frequency of direct flights from the United Arab Emirates to tourism destinations.

“We are working closely, and the cooperation will be mutually beneficial,” Arief noted in a statement received by ANTARA News on Wednesday (April 27).

The cooperation was realized with the signing of a Letter of Intent (LoI) with Emirates Airlines during the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2016 in Dubai on April 25-28, 2016.

According to Arief, the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism is participating in the ATM 2016 in Dubai to promote halal tourism, and halal destination, which is also known by the term “family-friendly tourism.”

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

It is also promoting ten tourism destinations which included Lake Toba (North Sumatra), Belitung (Bangka Belitung), Tanjung Lesung (Banten), Seribu Islands (Jakarta), Borobudur Temple (Central Java), Mount Bromo (East Java), Mandalika Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara), Komodo Island (East Nusa Tenggara), Wakatobi National Park (Southeast Sulawesi), and Morotai (North Maluku).

The cooperation with Emirates Airlines aims to increase passenger capacity, especially for foreign tourists, to enjoy the beauty of tourist sites in Indonesia.

Arief affirmed that the LoI was an attempt to open up access and build connectivity from the Middle East to Indonesia.

Emirates, the fourth-best airline in the world, is keen to operate regular scheduled flights of its aircraft to the four Indonesian international airports in Jakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar, and Lombok.

Currently, Emirates operates six direct flights to Indonesia on the Dubai-Denpasar route and 14 flights on the Dubai-Jakarta route per week.

Besides with Emirates Airlines, Indonesia is cooperating with Qatars national flag carrier, Qatar Airways, to increase flight frequency to Indonesias tourist destinations.

Indonesian Ambassador to Qatar Muhammad Basri Sidehabi held a meeting with Head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Qatar Abdullah Nasser Turki Al Subaey in Doha to discuss the cooperation.

Qatar Airways will increase the number of flights to Medan, Batam, and Manado in a bid to increase tourist arrivals in Indonesia. The meeting was a follow up to President Joko Widodo’s visit to Qatar on September 14-15, 2015.

Now, Qatar Airways operates 21 flights from Doha to Jakarta and 14 flights from Doha to Denpasar per week. Meanwhile, plans to start seven weekly flights from Doha to Surabaya are in the process of realization.

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Tourists laud rapid process of yacht checking in Sabang

Sabtu, 30 April 2016 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Paul Von Wiese, captain of Calypso yacht, was impressed with the performance of Sabang officers manning the One Stop Service office at the CT3 BPKS pier for completing the yacht checking process within a matter of minutes.

Sabang officers broke the fastest checking record as in other Indonesian regions, it could take up to five days, according to Paul who had come with his wife, Mauren Von Wiese, to Aceh for the Sabang Marine Festival (SMF).

The festival started on April 26 and will last till April 30, 2016.

He underwent the check-in process at Sabangs pier on April 24. “The process was excellent, very practical, and it did not take much time. Two years ago, we had spent five days to check-in, but this time, it needed just a few minutes at the Sabang port,” he said on April 26.

The Captain of Swift Colin, Michael Wright, also lauded the cutting down of red tape in Indonesias seaports. “We hope this system could be maintained because good services like this will certainly attract many more yachts to visit Sabang,” Colin Wright said.

Deputy Chairman of the Sabang Free Trade Zone in Charge of Commercial and Investment Syarifuddin Chan said the checking process for a yacht now takes just 90 minutes at the most, thanks to the One Stop Service Office.

Rapid checking process has been very useful for those participating in the Sabang Marine Festival being held in Sabang, Indonesias westernmost province of Aceh.

At least 20 yachts are participated in the festival.

The festival is aimed at promoting maritime tourism in Sabang. In particular, it is also aimed at attracting yachts, Head of the Sabang Regional Management Board Fauzi Husin stated in Sabang recently.

“Every activity organized during the Sabang Marine Festival 2016 should have a direct impact on the Sabang community, especially in the economic sector, through its tourism,” he noted.

The festival features wind surfing, paragliding, and cultural and art performances, as well as several competitions, among other things.

Chairman of the organizing committee Fauzi Daud affirmed that the festival was expected to help boost the economy of Sabangs residents.

Sabang is not just an ordinary island, but one of Indonesias best, according to legislator Noor Achmad. He called on the tourism ministry to designate Sabang as a tourism icon for Aceh in particular and the country in general.

“Weh Isle (in Sabang) is very exotic and romantic. The western-most isle of Indonesia is surrounded by small islets,” he said when visiting Sabang.

The strategic location of Weh Isle located between the Indian Ocean and the Malacca Strait is easily accessible for both, domestic and foreign tourists.

“Every tourist will very much love the Sabang waters, because the coast is flat and shallow, very clean and clear. Its amazing,” he said.

Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah has set a target of attracting one million tourists to Sabang in 2017.

He said the number of tourists to Sabang has increased annually, from 450 thousand in 2013 to 500 thousand in 2014, and 700 thousand in 2015.

The governor said the Aceh administration will intensify tourism promotion in order to achieve the one million target next year.

He also hoped to attract many more tourists from Malaysia and Muslim majority countries to enjoy halal tourism in Aceh which has imposed syariah (Islamic laws) in daily life.

Sabang Mayor Zulkifli H Adam in early April said fishing tourism would also be promoted to attract many more yachts to Sabang.

As long as tourists abide by the local regulations and fish only for on-location consumption and not for trading, fishing tourism is environment-friendly, he said.

The Indonesian authorities have eased entry permits for yachts in certain seaports, hoping that their yachting tourism will increase by the year 2019.

According to Tourism Minister Arief Yahya, they are hoping to have 8,000 yachts near their shores by the year 2019, including foreign yachts.

According to the Yacht Forum held in Jakarta last year, the Tourism Ministry is expecting 4,000 yachts by the year 2018.

The minister stated that the government has planned construction of some 100 marina infrastructures designed for maritime tourism.

As the world’s largest archipelagic nation, some 70 percent of Indonesias territory is water and it has 17,480 islands and a 92,000-kilometer long beach and coastal areas, the second longest after Canada.

It also has around 5.8 million square kilometers of marine territory, which constitutes a huge marine tourism potential.

The current government has identified marine tourism as having a huge potential, but it has so far been overlooked.

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ISESCO Director General hails Alliance of Civilizations

Baku (Azerbaijan): 26/04/2016 – The Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, delivered an address at the High Level Meeting of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Group of Friends, held this afternoon in Baku, Azerbaijan, as part of the 7th UNAOC Global Forum.

In his address, the Director General points to the international context surrounding the Forum, which is marked by acute political crises, bitter armed conflicts, and a growing threat of terrorism rejected and incriminated by all religions, which now is taking a global and intercontinental dimension, stressing that at such critical stage of human history characterized by a decline of human ideals and values, there is a crucial need to consider building a fresher and more meaningful formula to promote intercultural dialogue and the alliance of civilizations.

He maintains that the more serious are the threats to world peace and security, the more pressing is the need for safe ways out of the crisis affecting communities all over the world. This, he adds, highlights the role intercultural dialogue and the alliance of civilizations play, through various channels and at various levels, as the only way for addressing the sources of terrorism, limiting its magnitude, overcoming its consequences and investigating the root causes of its wide propagation and evolution into a global scourge and existential danger that requires a well coordinated international response to ensure the conditions conducive to coexistence among the peoples of the world.

He explains that, in practical terms, the Alliance of Civilizations is one of the most effective tools for reforming the world’s conditions, redressing international relations imbalances, saving humanity from a mass of problems and escalating crises that international policy has so far failed to resolve in a fair and decisive manner through conventional diplomacy and other methods lacking in transparency, seriousness, dedication, impact and the necessary humanitarian spirit.

In an international environment fraught with tensions, there is an increasingly critical need for an international partnership to promote intercultural dialogue, and to entrench the alliance of civilizations at all levels, whether at the level of governments, governmental, international and regional organizations, or at the level of civil society organizations of every stripe, Dr Altwaijri says.

The ultimate aim, he adds, is to counter the advocates of hatred and racism, ethnic and religious discrimination, aggression against peoples and denial of their right to self-determination, explaining that this can be achieved through securing their national sovereignty, ensuring respect for their cultural choices, protecting their civilizational specificities, and giving them easy access to their legitimate rights.

“Given the role of this Global Forum’s members as advocates of peace, intercultural and interfaith dialogue, and intercivilizational alliance, the various obstacles to developing a global roadmap for materializing these lofty ideals should not thwart them from moving ahead along this path. Their combined effort will certainly culminate in human harmony as it will eliminate conflicts and tensions, address humanitarian crises and clean the world of the impurities of hatred and racism, ethnic and religious discrimination, using viable means likely to favor dialogue over conflict and establish a new humanistic world order,” the Director General says.

Pushing his argument further, he says: “Based on our experience of devoted action for promoting intercultural dialogue and the alliance of civilizations over the last few years, we affirm that no peace-favoring alliance can take long unless it is set on a solid foundation of dialogue, and no form of dialogue aimed at building peace can be sought away from understanding, as much as no understanding can impart trust unless it is based on mutual respect. But the only way to all these three is the prevalence of tolerance among all parties to dialogue who, by principle, are supposed to understand and respect each other. Such are the requirements of a well-grounded coexistence within inclusive societies.”

He particularly notes that the UNAOC members’ responsibility towards world peace is more than ever weighty at this critical stage of the world’s history, especially amidst today’s exacerbated armed conflicts and political crises, coupled with a sweeping trend of terrorist crimes striking everywhere indiscriminately.“We, at this global forum, are entrusted with a civilized mission to endeavor, with the means available, towards increasing awareness of the importance of a more effective dialogue between cultures and a stronger alliance of civilizations,” ISESCO Director General concludes.

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ISESCO Chair of Alliance of Civilizations set up at Qatar Univ

Doha: 24/04/2016 – The Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, ex-officio Secretary General of the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World (FUIW), spearheaded the official launch ceremony, on April 24th, of ISESCO Chair of Alliance of Civilizations at Qatar University. This Chair is part of ISESCO Programme to establish specialized university chairs across the Member States, dedicated to promoting joint Islamic cultural work in the Muslim Ummah’s broader interest.

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Bangladesh GDP To Surpass 7% This Year – Industries Minister

BOSTON (USA), May 1 (NNN-BSS) — Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu said Bangladesh’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would exceed seven percent this fiscal, with a record 1,466 US Dollar per capita income and a 29-billion dollar foreign exchange reserve at the central bank, because of the political foresight of the present government.

He made this statement before a large audience in Boston, USA while exchanging views with the New England Awami League leaders here.

Amu said both domestic and foreign investments have increased considerably due to liberal and investment-friendly policies of the government while many Asian and European nations have shown keen interest to invest in Bangladesh’s special economic zones.

In next 15 years, the industries minister said, the government has set a target to establish 100 special economic zones in country for foreign investors and fetch an additional 40 Billion US dollars from diversified exports.

Amu, who is also a senior most Awami League leader, said Bangladeshis living abroad have to project the facts before the world audience and brand Bangladesh positively. He also urged expatriate Bangladeshis to invest in their motherland in order to bring smiles on the faces of others who are not that fortunate like them to migrate in developed world.

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Confucius Institutes Enhance China-Egypt Ties

CAIRO, April 30 (NNN-Xinhua) — The Confucius Institutes have helped to boost China-Egypt relations by promoting mutual understating between the people of the two nations, an Egyptian Chinese academic professor said.

“The Confucius Institutes have achieved great objectives of making Egyptians understand China, and also gave Chinese people a better chance to understand the populous North African country,” Rehab Mahmoud, director of the Confucius Institute at Cairo University, told Xinhua.

There are two Confucius Institutes in Egypt, one in the capital and the other in Suez Canal province, while 470 institutes and 800 Confucius classes have been established across the world.

Mahmoud said the mutual ties between Egypt and China go beyond signing trade and economic deals.

“We share historical background of solidarity and civilization, and we are peaceful people who never sought controlling other nations’ wealth in terms of the colonialism and hegemony,” she said.

Located at the campus of Cairo University, the Confucius Institute has been co-founded by Cairo University and China’s Peking University in 2007.

The institute, the first one in Egypt and North Africa, started its Chinese language courses in 2008, attracting hundreds of Egyptian students every year since then.

Mahmoud noted that the students do not necessarily need to major in Chinese language, and the institute has attracted students from medicine, commercial and engineering colleges across the country.

“The number of students has increased from 30 in 2007 to more than 1,500 in 2015,” said Mahmoud, who is also the director of the Department of Chinese Language and Literature in Cairo University.

The professor said the skyrocketing Chinese economy is one of the most important motivations for Egyptians to study the Chinese language.

Mahmoud expected that within two years, the Chinese will be listed as a second language in many universities and schools across Egypt.

“The Egyptian students graduated from the Confucius Institutes are capable to meet the demands of labor market, due to their direct interactions with Chinese professors, who are real example that embodies the Chinese people,” she explained.

Furthermore, China has been paying much interest to the cultural interactions recently, Mahmoud said.

The Confucius Institute at Cairo University has held a number of different singing and dancing activities, symposiums, photography competitions and calligraphy contests, she said.

“The Egyptian students not only learn the Chinese language at the institute, but could also enjoy Chinese movies and literature among many things,” she added.

The professor said 2016 is the China-Egypt Culture Year, and the Confucius Institutes in Egypt will hold many “Chinese Culture Days” in cooperation with Egypt’s Supreme Council for Culture to further promote the Chinese culture.–NNN-XINHUA

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GCC Calligraphers Display Their Works At Kuwait’s Arts Hall

KUWAIT, Apr 25 (NNN-KUNA) – Kuwait’s National Council for Culture, Art and Letters (NCCAL), Sunday evening, opened the Second Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Calligraphy Forum, at the Arts Hall of Abdullah Al-Salem Area.

The forum is one of the major events of the celebrations of “Kuwait Capital of Islamic Culture 2016,” NCCAL’s Assistant Secretary General for culture sector, Dr Bader Al-Duweesh, told KUNA.

He added that, up to 45 calligraphers from the GCC member states are displaying 83 works, in Arabic.

Five workshops will be held, as part of the forum, open for people of all ages, Al-Duweesh, said.

There is more variety and a “quantum shift” in the works and their number, NCCAL’s Assistant Secretary General for Arts Sector, Mohammad Al-Asousi, told KUNA.

He added that, the five-day forum has booked a place on the GCC cultural scene.

For her part, Najlaa Al-Naqi, State Attorney at fatwa and Legislation, said that, the wonderful event organised by the NCCAL, helps bolster ties among the GCC peoples, as well as, the exchange of views and expertise.

Culture and arts deliver a strong message that affects the society and promotes people’s taste and characters, Al-Naqi said, urging citizens and expats to visit the gallery, and not to miss the fantastic opportunity of getting acquainted with talented and creative artists.

Omani calligrapher, Sultan Al-Defa’i, who has five works in the forum, told KUNA that, he merged modernity with letters, a way out of the classical method that has become hackneyed to some extent.

He added that, he tried to create delight through using a variety of colours.

Al-Defa’i noted that, the forum offers an opportunity to display one’s works and meet with fellow calligraphers from other GCC countries.

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Dubai Is Capital Of Arab Creativity For 2016-2017

CAIRO, Egypt, Apr 26 (NNN-WAM) – The Arab Creators Union, ACU, have officially chosen the Emirate of Dubai, as the capital of Arab Creativity, for the year 2016 – 2017.

The Union also awarded the Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, a medal of Uniqueness in Creativity, in recognition of his efforts, in upgrading the Emirate of Dubai to be the pride of the United Arab Emirates and the whole Arab nation, and to encourage Arabs creators.

The title of the Capital of Arab Creativity was launched by the Arab Creators Union, as an annual tradition, the first of its kind, which is designed to show appreciation for Arab capitals, and the role of their leaders, who push the process of development and innovation to keep pace with the global evolution, encourage the spirit of competition among Arab states, to promote creativity among their peoples, and create a generation capable of innovation and excellence, to confront the terrible developments that are going on around the world today.– NNN-WAM

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Singapore Airlines To Support Indonesia’s Tourism Campaign

JAKARTA, April 28 (NNN-CNA) — National carrier Singapore Airlines and Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism has announced a partnership to boost foreign tourist arrivals into Indonesia.

Both parties signed a memorandum of understanding at the National Coordination Tourism Meeting in Jakarta on Thursday, and they will work to finalise details of the partnership in a memorandum of cooperation at a “later date”, the joint press release said.

Under the three-year partnership, SIA will support the ministry’s tourism campaign “Wonderful Indonesia”, which aims to attract 20 million foreign tourist arrivals annually by 2019.

Joint activities will include advertising and other campaigns to promote travel to Indonesia via Singapore from key source markets, which include China and India for the first year of collaboration, the press release said.

SIA, together with its subsidiary SilkAir, serve 13 cities in Indonesia with more than 150 weekly flights, the airline said. — NNN-CNA

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Kenya Showcasing Attractions At Dubai Tourism Expo

DUBAI, April 27 (NNN-KBC) — Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary (Minister) for Tourism, Najib Balala, is leading members of the country’s tourism sector to participate at this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) exposition in this Gulf city.

The ATM is the leading global event for the Middle East inbound and outbound travel industry and the annual business-to-business (B2B) exhibition showcases more than 2,800 products and destinations from around the world to some 26,000 buyers and travel trade visitors over four days at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC).

The event, in its 21st year, is taking place from April 25 to 28 at the Dubai World Trade Centre where Balala has been holding meetings with key tour operators to drum up support for an increased market share for Kenya.

“The United Arab Emirates (UAE) presents Kenya with a huge opportunity to tap tourist arrivals by virtue of its proximity which Kenya enjoys with a less than five-hour flight time from Dubai to Nairobi,” he said.

“There are many airlines which provide easy connectivity and frequency to Nairobi from the UAE, including Kenya Airways, Emirates Airlines (from Dubai), Air Arabia (from Sharjah), and Etihad Airways (from Abu Dhabi). Kenya has an embassy in the UAE in Abu Dhabi and a Consulate General in Dubai making visa processing in Dubai much more convenient. Most expatriates are able to process their visa on arrival. We must allow these factors to play to our advantage.”

Balala outlined recent incentives such as a reduction in aircraft parking fees, waiver of visa fees for children under the age of16 and the Charter Incentive Programme (CIP) as part of the other programmes which are aimed at growing Kenya as a favoured destination.

“Kenya’s participation is also additionally aimed at increasing the database from the travel trade through pre-set meetings as well as networking, exchanging ideas and sharing best practices with the travel trade.”

There are eight hotels and tour operators participating in the Kenyan delegation this year in the ATM 2016 exhibition.

The UAE is the principal market for Kenya in the greater Gulf Co-operation Coucil (GCC) market which also includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In 2015, the UAE was the fourth largest tourist source market for Kenya globally. — NNN-KBC

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“Yes, It’s Jordan” Tourism Campaign To Attract Gulf Tourists

DUBAI, April 28 (NNN-Petra) –On the sideline of his participation in the “Arabian Travel Market 2016″ taking place in Dubai, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Nayef Al Fayez, Wednesday launched a new summer campaign targeting citizens from Arab Gulf countries.

The minister said that the “Yes, it’s Jordan” campaign aims to promote the Kingdom as home of a wide range of tourism sectors including archaeological, medical, historical, and adventure.

It also seeks to encourage nationals of the Gulf region to spend their summer vacation in the Kingdom and enjoy its historical, archeological and adventurer sites.

The campaign, which is organized by Jordan Tourism Board(JTB), includes ads and TV commercials that will be broadcast on different media outlets to give a clear idea on different tourists attractions in the Kingdom, the minister added .

Special reports focusing on medical tourism, products made in Jordan as well as entertainment facilities for children are also covered in the campaign.

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Malaysia To Host World Youth Jazz Festival 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 (Bernama) — World Youth Jazz Founder (WYJ) founder Nik A. Azmi is expecting a 45,000-strong crowd for the World Youth Jazz Festival (WYJF) from 10 countries including the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, Spain, Germany, Indonesia and Turkey when it is held here on May 6.

He said among the artistes featured would be Malaysian Waris and actress-cum-singer Maya Karin, Janine Annice (United Kingdom), Indonesia’s Dua Drum, Spain’s O’Sister! and Frederick Koster from Germany.

Back for the fifth time, the largest youth jazz festival will offer more than 20 homegrown and international youth jazz artistes performing at the Dataran Merdeka here. Admission to the three-day WYJF 2016 is free.

The event will showcase a saxophone treat, double bass pluckers and guitarists strumming their jazz pentatonic scale.

“We are bringing artistes from various music genres such as hip-hop and R&B to show that jazz can be mixed with any kind of music” he added.

The WYJF 2016, co-organised by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall will also feature the launch of the MalaysiaFeelingGood campaign that aims to inculcate positive values among Malaysians. — NNN-BERNAMA

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AirAsia X Increases Flight Frequencies To Eight Destinations

SEPANG, April 27 (Bernama) — AirAsia X today announced additional flight frequencies to eight destinations in its route network, providing guests with more flight options to Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Osaka, Sapporo, Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei.

To create exceptional values for guests, the airline is also offering special promotion for all AirAsia X flights (flight code D7) with all-in-fares for Economy seats from as low as RM259* one-way to Perth; RM329* one-way to Hangzhou; RM429* one-way to Busan; RM459* one-way to New Delhi; RM509* one-way to Sapporo and many more low fares available for booking at airasia.com from now until 8 May 2016.

Guests can travel immediately from now until 24 November 2016 with these low fares, also available on AirAsia’s mobile app on iPhone and Android devices, as well as the mobile site mobile.airasia.com.

Arik Kumar De, Head of Commercial for AirAsia X Berhad said, “As the pioneer for low cost long-haul travel, we are pleased to offer our guests greater value with additional flight options to selected destinations. Our guests can now enjoy more flexibility in their traveling plans for the coming few months through the added flight frequencies which will be an added convenience factor.”

“We have also included our Fly-Thru service and our award-winning Premium Flatbed seats into this promo, where our guests can experience affordable luxury with all-in-fares from just RM769* one-way from Kuala Lumpur to Nepal or Taipei. This is the best time for our guests to go on an impromptu holiday with immediate departure at the same low fares!” added Arik.

In the next few months, AirAsia X will be gradually adding flight frequencies to Melbourne (to 14x weekly), Sydney (to 11x weekly), Perth (to 14x weekly), Osaka (to 9x weekly), Sapporo (to 5x weekly), Beijing (to 11x weekly), Shanghai (to 11x weekly) and Taipei (to 14x weekly). For detailed flight schedules and more information, please log on to airasia.com.

Keep updated with AirAsia’s latest promotions and activities via Twitter (twitter.com/AirAsia) and Facebook (facebook.com/AirAsia).

  • Promotional all-in-fares quoted are for one-way travel only inclusive of taxes departing from klia2. Terms and conditions apply

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Top 10 Designers Shortlisted At The AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search

KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 (Bernama) — Ten young aspiring designers have been shortlisted for a chance to represent Malaysia and compete at the Grand Finale of AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2016 which will be held in Kuala Lumpur this August.

The Top 10 were selected from a total of 487 online submissions who turned up for the Malaysian leg of the Asean-wide designer search auditions held today in JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur. The auditions will continue in Singapore and Bangkok subsequently to look for top young designers to represent each country.

This designer search, which has entered its second year-running is part of AirAsia’s continuous efforts in developing talents and empowering youth across the region and will be a platform for young aspiring designers across the region to catapult their careers in the fashion industry.

The Top 10 revealed today went through two rounds of judging and were selected based ond design creativity and originality, consistency of their collection, adherence to the Asean theme, practicality and stage presentation.

The panel of judges consists of Aireen Omar, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Berhad; Andrew Tan, Founder of Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week Ready to Wear; Vivy Yusof, Founder of FashionValet; Alia Bastamam, Fashion Designer; and Suzie Adnan, Editor-in-Chief of GLAM Malaysia.

Ms. Aireen Omar, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Berhad said, “AirAsia has always been devoted to support the talents of tomorrow and with that in mind, we have expanded this year’s search to 5 Asean countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines in search for the Top 3 young designers to represent each country.”

“Since the establishment of AARRDS in 2015, we are impressed with not only the growing number of submissions that came in online, but also with the quality of vision displayed in their sketches which continues to highlight the level of talent in the Asean region. It was not easy for us to narrow down to the Top 10 Malaysian finalists today, therefore we will deliberate further and shortlist the Top 3 finalists next month who will compete at the Grand Finale this August.”

Vivy Yusof, Founder of FashionValet said, “FashionValet is honoured to be a part of this year’s AARRDS as the competition expands regionally. FV has always provided a platform for local designers to connect with a larger audience and we are proud to be able to assist the winner in creating their own line that will be exclusively available on FV. The auditions have been tough for the judges so far as the talent we have seen are exceptional, and I cannot wait to see the collection from the finalists in August.”

The Top 3 representing Malaysia at the prestigious runway of KL Fashion Week Ready to Wear 2016 will stand a chance to walk away as ‘AirAsia’s Most Promising Young Designer 2016’ and prizes worth at least RM350,000 including a confirmed show segment to showcase his or her full collection at KLFW RTW 2017; mentorship from the KLFW RTW team; RM25,000 sponsored by FashionValet to produce a capsule collection and sold on fashionvalet.com; 150,000 AirAsia BIG Points sponsored by AirAsia BIG, AirAsia or AirAsia X flights, and more prizes to be revealed soon.

AirAsia is also KLFW RTW 2016’s Preferred Travel Partner and will be flying in fashion designers throughout the AirAsia Group’s extensive route network including from India, Indonesia, China, Australia and South Korea to be featured on the KLFW RTW 2016 runway. Experience KLFW RTW 2016 this August by flying with AirAsia and earn BIG Points.

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“Trans-Caspian East-West Trade and Transit Corridor” Forum to be held in US

Baku, April 14 AZERTAC – The Embassies of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Turkey to the United States of America will organize “Trans-Caspian East-West Trade and Transit Corridor” forum in Washington D.C.

The forum will be hosted by the Central Asia and Caucasus Institute, Johns Hopkins University. The goal of the Washington Forum is to introduce projects and investments along the modern Silk Road to business leaders across a variety of industries. Participants will learn and discuss how multinational companies can benefit from greater cooperation with the region.

The Forum will bring together public and private senior executives in the fields of transportation policy, transit, customs, logistics and value-added services from the regional countries, along with representatives of the international freight forwarders, EU-based companies, China and Central Asia-based US manufacturing companies. The next day forum will be followed by private B2B, G2B meetings.

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Indonesian tourism potential highlighted in Baku

Baku, April 8 AZERTAC – Indonesian Embassy in Baku has hosted an event highlighting the country`s tourism potential. The event has been held within the Azerbaijan International Travel and Tourism Fair AITF 2016.

The event brought together Indonesian Deputy Assistant for Industry, Trade, Tourism and Creative Economy Muchammad Zulkarnain, representatives of the tourism companies and the Media.

Indonesian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Husnan bey Fananie said his country attached great importance to this event. The diplomat highlighted relations between the two countries, adding mutual sympathy and respect lie at the heart of our ties. On prospects of the friendly relations, Husnan bey Fananie provided an insight into business and economic bonds between the two countries. The Ambassador expressed hope that these relations would cover the tourism field “There are small islands in Indonesia. We hope that we will work together following the meetings of the representatives of tourism companies between the two countries. I also hope we will attract the view and will increase a number of tourists from Azerbaijan to Indonesia.”

Indonesian Deputy Assistant for Industry, Trade, Tourism and Creative Economy Muchammad Zulkarnain said about 480 Azerbaijani tourists annually visited Indonesia and the island of Bali is the most popular holiday destination. “But we have other islands such as Papua, Komodo, the Moluccas Islands and Anobon, where tourists can also find a lot of interesting things,” added Mr. Zulkarnain. He stressed the importance of opening direct flights between Azerbaijan and Indonesia.

“Training also can be carried out here for the local employees. Currently, about 20 Indonesians work in Azerbaijan in the sphere of tourism.”

Mr. Zulkarnain also highlighted the aim of their visit, adding Indonesian delegation visited Baku to learn the tourism opportunities of Azerbaijan.

The event featured a demonstration of video on tourism potential of Indonesia.

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Gambian Justice Minister – You Only Know the Value of Peace, When You Lose It

25 April 2016, The Daily Observer (Banjul) – The only time you appreciate how valuable peace is, is when you lose it and you can never get it back, says the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mama Fatima Singhateh.

According to her, “We don’t need to get into violence, we need to talk to our elders and we need to talk to our juniors, in our communities, in our villages, to continue to harness the peace we have.”

The Justice Minister made these remarks on Thursday at a présentation ceremony of vehicles and cash to Dockworkers and staff of the Judiciary donated by the President, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh, Babili Mansa at State House in Banjul.

“No matter how big our disputes are, we should resolve them through courts or dialogue. This is The Gambia and it is our home. We have no place to call home except The Gambia, not only do we have Gambians who call Gambia home, but we have non-Gambians who also call Gambia home.”

She thus urged all and sundry to continue to pray for peace and security in The Gambia, and toeducate each other on how valuable peace is.

“No matter how big your dispute is, you are able to resolve it amicably through the courts system or through dialogue,” the Attorney General and Minister of Justice affirmed.

Minister Singhateh told the beneficiaries that they had been for a very long time receiving a lot of generous giftsfrom His Excellency the President, and the gifts being presented were just one of the list.

She stated that the support to the judiciary shows how well His Excellency has been paying attention to the justice system in The Gambia.

She remarked that through the able leadership of His Excellency, justice has been brought to the doorstep of every Gambian.

According to her, almost every region in the country have a court either a Magistrate or a Cadi Court. “This is worthy of recognition and it is worthy of commendation,” the Minister said.

“Justice is everything; where there are disputes we need an arbitrator to resolve it that is why we have courts in every region to ensure that disputes are resolved.”

She as well cited the establishment of the law school of The Gambia, which graduates lawyers every year to ensure that we do not only have courts but also officials that would sit in those courts to adjudicate amongst people.

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Gambia: Islamic University Graduates and Their Job Ahead

29 April 2016, The Daily Observer (Banjul) – Education, the key to human development, has the potential to unlock a human being’s God-given potential. Cardinal to our development is education to enhance skills and talents that can be used to build a great country. That is why we wholeheartedly welcome the graduation of over 39 students from President Yaya Jammeh Islamic University with aplomb.

Graduation is always a moment of joy for students. It signals a hiatus to a specific academic journey. A journey that can be rough, but always with a light of hope, enthusiasm and prosperity for the students when they wrap up their studies. We hope that the positive mental-stimulation journey that the 39 students went through during their stint at the university has prepared their minds to contribute to promotion, propagation and preaching of Islam to the Muslim Ummah.

Though the world is witnessing one of the worst erosion of the best values of what Islam stands for by the sick death cult fanatics of extremist terrorists who are perverting and twisting the Islamic religion for their own diabolical ends, The Gambia is a leading light for being a tolerant, compassionate, decent, moderate country; and, above all, a melting pot for the followers of people of different religious persuasions.

When the story of the 21st century is increasingly being defined by reactionary forces, angry nationalists and divisive populists pursing parochial religious interest and mudding the waters for tolerance, The Gambia has kept, and continues to keep, its head above the parapet by being haven of a peaceful multi-faith, multi-ethnic and multi-racial country. We should cherish, and jealously guard this precious asset. It is what makes the serene, safe and sane country that we are today.

To cultivate a culture of respect for different religions, the leadership of His Excellency Sheikh Professor Dr Alh. Yaya A J J Jammeh, Babili Mansa is continuing to set the right tone for the country to cement our reputation as a peace loving nation for all – Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others. As we rejoice with the graduates for bagging their degrees, we wish them success in their future endeavours, and urge them to use the knowledge they gained for the propagation of the proper Islamic values, of peace, love and harmony.

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Turkish kebab restaurant owner in Portugal becomes famous after mob attack

ISTANBUL A Turkish kebab restaurant owner in the Portuguese capital Lisbon has become an Internet hero after he defended himself with meat cleaver when a violent mob descended on his store.

According to reports from Portuguese media, a group of 50 young people raided into Mustafa Kartal’s restaurant Palácio do Kebab in Don Luis Street on April 25 after leaving a party, firing guns.

“Give kebab, give money,” Kartal recalled the youths saying.

The mob attack was also was recorded on video, showing Kartal defending himself with a meat cleaver.

Kartal, meanwhile, vowed to keep doing his business, though it has been only a month he opened his business after arriving in Lisbon four years ago.

In addition, Portuguese social media users also reacted to the attack, sending consoling messages and giving the restaurant five-stars on the its Facebook page in solidarity.

“I hope that my family who are in Istanbul do not see these images,” Kartal was quoted as saying by Diário de Notícias.

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New Turkish biometric passports due June 1

ANKARA, Hurriyet Daily News, April/29/2016 — The distribution of new biometric passports containing chips, which are necessary to travel to Schengen countries, will start on June 1, with the government working on the necessary legal regulations.

The new passports are among the 72 criteria required by the body for granting visa exemption to Turkish citizens in light of a Turkey-EU migrant deal signed on March 20.

The chip will be added to all passports, including special, service and diplomatic passports, daily Hürriyet reported April 29.

Turkish citizens will not be able to travel to Schengen countries without acquiring visas with their current passports after the distribution of the new passports starts.

The new passports, which will look exactly like the current ones, will contain biometric data, including personal information and fingerprints, which is a condition set by the European Union.

Those wanting to obtain the new passport will have to pay a fee and if the expiration date of the passport is after June 1, then the remaining time will be added to the new one.

Those holding the new passport will not be able to travel to Britain and Ireland visa-free, as the two EU members are not members of the Schengen zone, but will be able to travel to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra and San Marino, which are non-EU Schengen countries.

The Turkish citizens will also be able to travel to Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia visa-free, which are members of the EU, but are not included in the Schengen zone.

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Ghazni Museum To Be Rehabilitated Soon, Official

Sunday April 24, 2016, Kabul (BNA) Ghazni Museum is expected to be reconstructed, as the Ministry of Information and Culture has allocated the outlay for the project, an official said the other day.

Ghazni Provincial Information and Culture Director, Bismellah Sharifi told that with his proposal and approval of the Ministry of Information and Culture, the rehabilitation project on the museum building was expected to be started, after nine years of remaining shut and heavily destruction during the recent heavy explosion. He said work had begun after nine years and the repair process for the historical relics was completed to have a city with preparation for international festival in 2013.

“Some of the historical relics related to the Buddha age and some with a long background of the Islamic period, which has unfortunately been demolished during the internal conflict, with the provincial department of information and culture collecting all pieces expected to be lodged in the museum, and along with other still intact relics would be put in show, after completion of the reconstruction process,” said Sharifi.

According to him, the museum with two main attracting parts; some reaches to the Buddha era while some relating to the Islamic period is expected to be reconstructed in modern standard through long-term programs. He said the Ministry of Information and Culture would do this with its own outlay, but no still specific donor or sponsor has been reported to fund the project, said Sharifi, adding there was a need for professional personnel to draw attention of the world, as the goal was reached in 2013, in which the Islamic countries had been invited to visit the ancient city.

Many ceramic and copper pots left from the Ghaznavid and Timorid era and some other manuscripts and stone statues were available in the museum before being destroyed, he regretted adding the golden civilization in the Ghazni city had housed the precious relics.

A culturist of the ancient Ghazni city, Seddique Nasrat regretted over what he blamed the unexpected conflicts to have destroyed all the country’s wealth, among them, the provincial rich museum which had recently been looked like a sole ruin, asking the organs concerned to pay attention in this respect and that more importantly collect the lost relics from across the country and abroad to help the city remain attractive for the world visitors, as it had become the center of the Islamic World Cultural Heritages few years ago. Ghazni has a long age in the course of history and had raised the greatest civilizations during different centuries.

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Afghan Disabled National Cricket Team To Face India

Saturday April 30, 2016, Kabul (BNA) Afghanistan disabled national cricket team aiming to launch a match with Indian disabled national cricket team gone to India yesterday.

Farid Hotak spokesman of cricket board today said BNA, Afghanistan disabled national cricket team will launched three matches with India disabled national cricket team.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan disabled national cricket team a week ago for preparedness of the competition doing their practices.

Last year Afghanistan disabled national cricket team defeat Bangladesh disabled national cricket team in their country.

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Tunisia: Exports of dates to North Africa up 40%

by AfricanManager – Apr 28, 2016 – Tunisia has exported 20,311 tons of dates to North Africa in the 2015/2016 season against 14,446 tons in 2014/2015, up 40%, according to the data provided on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries to African Manager.

It should be noted that the dates market in Tunisia revolves mainly around the oases of Tozeur, Gafsa, Gabes and Kebili which produce over 150 varieties of dates.

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